Make-Ahead Meal Tips


5 Quick Make-Ahead Meal Tips

Meal in a Muffin
So many great meals can be made entirely in a muffin tin! Meatloaf, quiche, lasagna, pizza and more, can be made ahead, individually frozen and then re-heated in time to head of the door!

Vegetable Soup
Soups are ideal for packing in the vegetables and being a quick healthy meals.  Add less liquid for a thicker soup that is easier to eat while at the arena or in the car.  Make soup ahead of time and freeze in individual containers for a quick option.

Crustless Quiche
Skip the crust and add in the secret filler of cottage cheese and cauliflower and you have a complete meal that freezes well.   This is one of my favorite recipes on this list of kids favorites that I make and freeze in slices. It’s easy to defrost and makes a filling meal pre-dance practice.

Fabulous Mac n Cheese
Every kids favorite can be transformed into a healthy meal that includes whole wheat, dairy, protein and vegetables!  Make your own sauce with flour and butter, adding milk until it thickens then add in grated cheese and pureed squash, cauliflower and zucchini!  Make extra sauce that you can freeze, so all you have to do mid-week is boil noodles and you are ready to go.

Veggie Red Sauce
Kids love pizza but plain crust and cheese doesn’t offer a ton of nutrients. Boost your sauce with pureed vegetables and add vitamins to any pizza melt on the run. Start with your jar of favorite sauce and add in your own pureed veggies then freeze in ice cube trays to have just the right amount ready for pizza melts on the go.

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active.  You can visit her websites to learn more and

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Healthy Eating and Vitamins


There is no question that the best source from which to get your vitamins and minerals is by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, grains, protein and omega 3 rich fish.  The fact is many families are on the go and busy and quite often the side of vegetables is not served at the drive thru and the only fruit you may get your kids to eat is a glass of orange juice.

Whether or not to take a multi vitamin, or any vitamin, depends on a number of factors.  If you eat a well balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, dairy, eggs, grains and meat and alternatives then it is likely you don’t need an additional source of vitamins. If you are lactose intolerant, your kids are picky eaters, there are food allergies in your family or you are eating on the run more nights than you are sitting at the kitchen table, then there may be health benefits to taking vitamins.

Key Vitamins
This list shows the key nutrients that should be a part of your families diet to maintain optimal health.  If you know you are not getting these vitamins on a regular basis, then looking for a multi vitamin that includes this alphabet on its ingredient list may be a good option for your family.

Vitamin A for eyes, skin and immune system found in mango, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and grapefruit.
Vitamin B for energy and creating red blood cells found in peas, spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, bananas and mango.
Vitamin C for growth and tissue repair and stronger immune system from oranges, red peppers, broccoli, grapefruit and strawberries.
Vitamin D for strong bones, teeth as well as nerves, muscle and immune systems found in eggs, dairy, chicken, beef and fortified juice and cereals.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant important to boost your immune system and fight viruses and is found in spinach, blackberries, kiwi and raspberries.
Omega 3s –  Protect against heart disease, reduces symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), dementia, joint pain and boosts immune system.  Found in fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and in some fortified eggs and juice.
Fiber – in addition to preventing constipation it helps lower blood cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels and may also help prevent and treat a variety of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Good amounts of fibre is found in peas, apples, pears, grains, barely, and beans.

If you have healthy fruit and vegetable eaters but they don’t like fish, then perhaps just an Omega 3 supplement is what is right for your family.  Talk to your family doctor to determine if you or your kids need to take a multi vitamin.  They will review your typical weekly meal plan to determine what nutrients may be lacking and then look to increase those foods in your diet, or consider a supplement.

Remember, it’s the nutrients we need and not artificial colouring, flavours or sweeteners. Read the label carefully for the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients and choose one that is specially formulated to meet your needs. 
Good nutrition for all ages starts with serving a wide variety of whole, fresh foods as much as possible. A good multivitamin acts like a back up plan and is a great way to enhance this balanced, healthy diet – not replace it.  Including a daily multivitamin alongside fruits and vegetables will help to ensure your family gets all of the vitamins they need to be healthy and active!

Deb Lowther is a mother of 3 young daughters who, when not running after the kids, is running in the trails! She blogs on dozens of websites about Raising Healthy Kids and ensures her own have fun while eating healthy & staying active.  To read more articles and see her favorite recipes starring squash and spinach that she promises even your kids will love, visit her websites and or visit her on Twitter @KidsGummyMum or Facebook at IronKids.Health and Adult Essentials.


5 Stretches to Transition from Work-Time to Relaxation.


Perform these easy stretches to relieve work-day stress and ease your body (and mind) into relaxation of evening-time. The following stretches are for those without injury. Please consult your physician before beginning this or any exercise program.

Single Knee to Chest Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend both legs straight on the floor. Exhale; Pull your right knee in toward your chest. Inhale;Release your right leg. Exhale; Pull your left knee into your chest. Release your left knee back to the floor.

Hamstring Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Extend your right leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; extend your left leg straight up, perpendicular to the floor and hold.

Figure 4 Stretch. Lie on your back. Inhale; Cross your right ankle onto your left thigh, pull both legs off the floor and in toward your chest. Exhale; Hold ten to twenty seconds. Change leg position; place your left ankle on your right thigh, pull both legs in toward your chest.

Cat-back Stretch. Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Inhale; Round your back up. Exhale; Arch your back.

Standing lunge stretch. Standing, inhale and step your right foot back about three feet. Keep both feet flat on the floor and pointing forward. Exhale; Bend your left knee and hold ten seconds. Change leg positions; step back with your left foot back about three feet, keeping both feet flat and pointing forward, bend your right knee and hold ten seconds.


Cardio Basics for Beginners


Many people are not patient enough to go about starting aerobic (cardio) exercise correctly and often quit soon due to injury or exhaustion without achieving any real results. My first word of advice is to be patient, and proceed slowly. There are 4 things to consider when starting cardio known to fitness professionals as the FITT principle (Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time). Simply put, that means choose something you like to do (Type) several times a week (Frequency) for a particular amount of minutes (Time) at a certain effort (Intensity.) It is important to increase only one of these things at a time as you continue your cardio program to keep you safe.  

The type of exercise you choose is entirely up to you, but to be considered cardio, it must keep your heart rate elevated for a minimum of 10 minutes. Do not choose an activity you don’t enjoy simply just because it burns more calories. You will end up quitting. There are many appropriate exercises such as walking, biking, hiking, dancing, running, rowing, and kickboxing. At first choose one thing, but as you get going, feel free to add as many as you like. Variety will keep you exercising for life. The types of exercises you choose should also be based on your ablility. Just as a baby doesn’t start walking before crawling, do not start running before you can walk. Also, it is important to consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program to rule out any possible medical issues, especially if you are over 40 and have health risks such as smoking or family history of heart disease.
Frequency and Time:
Beginning exercisers should start with no more than 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week at a moderate pace. Build slowly and appropriately toward the standard recommendation of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week (30 minutes, 5 times a week.) If you have done nothing for a long time, it’s important to allow your body sufficient time to adapt to exercise. When what you are doing feels easy, that is the time to add more times per week or more minutes per session.  Add frequency and time slowly. It will keep you injury free.
One of the most misunderstood concepts of fitness is intensity. Somehow people think they either have to work so hard that they can hardly breathe, or be able to have a full-on conversations to exercise safely. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many people use heart rate to guide their intensity. It is a good method, but can also be confusing. Subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by .80 and .60 to give you a range. For example, if you are 40 years old, you would want to stay inside a heart rate range of 144 and 108 beats per minute (220-40=180;180x.80=144 and 180x.60=108.) Heart rate range is only an estimate and does not necessarily mean you are at the right intensity to achieve your goals. A simple way to gauge this, in addition to using appropriate heart rate guidelines, is called the “talk test.” Simply, can you say a phrase or two, but not have an easy conversation? If so, that is probably a good intensity. As it feels easier to talk, that is a sign that you can increase your intensity. 
Now that you know the basics of beginner cardio, it is time to get off the couch and get started. 

Top Tips for Active-Aging


Top Tips for Active-Aging

Active-aging expert offers “e-tips” for attaining and maintaining health.

Whether you’re turning 30, 40, 50, 65, or 90, there’s no reason to assume you’re doomed to decline after a certain age—especially if you’re doing everything you can to stay healthy and active.”

Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging offers the following “E-tips” to help you extend a healthy life, or embark on one if you haven’t yet done so.

Expectations. If  you’ve been following a healthy lifestyle up ’til now, simply keep going; if you need to make changes, anticipate succeeding, not failing—and don’t let age be a barrier. Research has shown that thinking positively about getting older can extend your life by as much as 7.5 years.

Enthusiasm. Few people are thrilled with every aspect of their lives, but many have at least one area—family, friends, work, avocation—they feel good about. Identify an activity or connection that sparks your enthusiasm and make it your lifeline; try to extend that enthusiasm to other areas of your life.

Energy. Having the energy and motivation you need to age well are hallmarks of healthy living. If you’re fatigued all the time, don’t let apathy and lethargy bring you down; pursue a check-up to try to determine the cause—and the solution.

Eating. Eating a balanced diet and attaining/maintaining a normal weight are keys to physical and mental health; if you need to lose weight or make changes in your diet, keep your expectations high—you can do it.

Exercise. Staying physically active fuels the body and mind. If you’re already exercising regularly, keep it up; if you’re getting started, know your skill level, set goals, progress at your own pace, and be consistent.

Engagement. Volunteers have higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction than those who don’t volunteer; volunteering and other forms of civic and social engagement can play an important role in maintaining good health in later life. “Get involved,” Milner urges.

Emotions. Everyone feels down at times, but full-blown depression is a major cause of disability. If you’re feeling out of sorts for two weeks or more, talk with your doctor or take an online screening test at In many instances, simply exercising and eating right can improve your mood.

Education. Life-long learning is important to living an independent and fulfilling life. Start now to learn a new area of knowledge or physical activity. It’s good for the brain.

Effort. Changing expectations and embarking on a new behavior takes energy and effort, but the results are well worth it.

Enjoyment. A healthy life generally is a joyous one. “Savor the process of being or becoming active, engaged, and truly alive,” Milner enthuses.

“Now is a great time to take stock and ask yourself, where do I want to go from here?” Milner says. “Emphasize the positive and don’t let your age, or anyone else, deter you.”


The Powerful Benefits of Antioxidants


Antioxidants are powerful molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules in the body. This process of cell oxidation is what creates free radicals. Free radicals can lead to diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune system impairment, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease when there aren’t any antioxidants to create balance in these molecules.

While having antioxidants readily available in your body is necessary for preventing these diseases, they’re also beneficial for creating an overall well-functioning body. For example, the beta carotene you find in carrots and sweet potatoes can help protect your eye health. Lycopene which is found in tomatoes helps to protect prostate health. In addition, the flavonoids in tea, cocoa and chocolate are great for your heart.

There are plenty of fresh organic fruit and vegetable sources of antioxidants, so as long as you’re eating these – you’re helping fight off free radicals and disease for your future and maintaining good overall health.

Here are a few powerful sources of antioxidants that you can begin eating now:
Beans (red, kidney, pinto, black beans)
Cherries, prunes, peaches, plums and other stone fruits
Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples
Artichokes, broccoli, kale, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes
Chocolate and cocoa powder

From this list you can see that the most beneficial foods to get adequate amounts of antioxidants and fight free radicals are whole foods straight from nature. Fill up on a few of these each day to help keep your body functioning at it’s peak and fight off future disease.


Fresh Herbs: Great for the Body


Fresh herbs contribute mouth-watering flavor to dishes without adding salt. But their usefulness doesn’t stop in the kitchen. Since ancient times, herbal remedies have been used to treat all sorts of ailments. Herbs contain antioxidants, substances with disease fighting properties. Antioxidants protect our bodies from cell damage caused by free radicals, which contribute to heart disease and cancer. In addition, certain herbs may soothe muscle spasms, reduce inflammation and fight infections.

With so many potential benefits, why wouldn’t we want to incorporate them into our diet. Start by adding fresh herbs to your favorite recipes. From salads to entrees, adding fresh herbs can make an ordinary dish extraordinary. Experiment with fresh herbs in homemade marinades and rubs. Basic marinades are comprised of herbs, spices, condiments, oils and an acid such as citrus fruit juice, vinegar or wine. Rubs can either be wet or dry and are a great way to infuse meat, poultry or fish with flavor. Try various combos of fresh herbs. Create flavors that excite the taste buds, but don’t overpower the other ingredients. An added bonus, homemade marinades and rubs do not contain the high levels of sodium, sugar and preservatives found in packaged products.

Use fresh herbs when making dressings, dips and sauces as well. Pesto is one of my all time favorites. This is my personal pesto recipe, so feel free to adjust it to your taste. Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until it reaches a paste consistency. Freeze some in an ice cube tray for later use (freezes better without the parmesan). Pop out a cube, heat it up and add it to any dish for a quick, preservative free meal.