Healthy Children - December 2013

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site not just for overweight children but the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding heavy children and healthy lifestyles -- be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or via email. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen.


Here, Here for Holiday Cheer!

The holidays can be a great opportunity to spend time reconnecting with your children after a busy school year and work schedule. Take time to catch up with your son and daughter while you decorate the house or prepare this simple, healthy calzone.

Ingredients for calzones

  • 1 16-ounce container of frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup light ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 cup pizza or marinara sauce


  1. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Divide bread dough into eight sections.
    Place dough on lightly floured surface, then cover with a towel.
  2. To prepare the filling, cook the vegetables and garlic in a small amount of boiling water for
    3 minutes, then drain.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables with the egg, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and Italian seasoning.
  4. Roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch circle. Fill each circle with 1/3 cup of filling. Moisten
    the edges of the dough with water, then fold in half before sealing edges and pricking the top with a fork.
  5. Place calzones on baking sheet. Brush with water and add more Parmesan, then bake in a
    375-degree oven 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Heat pizza sauce in a pan and serve alongside calzones.

Nutritional Information

Servings: 8
Calories: 264
Carbohydrate: 34g
Fiber: 2g
Protein: 16g
Fat: 7g
Sodium: 503mg

Growing Healthy

5 Fruits and Vegetables a Day

  • Go for the Rainbow. Each month, pick a color from the rainbow and try to eat a new fruit or veggie of that color (green, purple, orange, yellow, red). It’s a great way for little ones to learn colors while you’re all eating healthy.
  • Whenever possible, let your child help get fruits and veggies ready to serve. Maybe he can wash an apple or mix the salad. Your little chef may be more likely to try foods that he helps to prepare.
  • Ever feel like fresh fruits and veggies are just too expensive? Try using frozen ones for a few meals every week.

2 Hours or Less of Screen Time a Day

  • A great way to cut down on screen time is to make a “no television (or computer) while eating” rule.
  • If your children are watching TV, watch with them. Use commercial breaks for an activity break – hula hoop, dance, or come up with a crazy new way to do jumping jacks.
  • If you need a break and want to let your child watch TV, set a timer for 30 minutes. You can get a lot done and you’ll know how long they watched.
  • Television in your child’s bedroom might seem like a convenience but watching TV close to bedtime can affect your child’s ability to sleep.

1 Hour of Active Play or Physical Activity a Day

  • An hour of active play might seem like a lot, but you don’t have to do it all at one time.  Try being active for 10-15 minutes several times each day.
  • What were your favorite active games when you were a child? They might seem old school to you but they’ll be new to your child. Try one today.
  • Rain or bad weather has you stuck in the house? Don’t let it keep you and your child from being active together. Try one of these fun activities:
    • Have an indoor parade.
    • Set up a scavenger hunt inside.
    • Start your own indoor Olympics – who can jump on one foot the longest or do the most sit ups?

0 Sugary Drinks a Day

  • Serve milk with meals and offer water at snack time.
  • Let your child pick their favorite “bid kid” cup to use for water.
  • Think plain water is too boring? Try adding a fruit slice (like orange) for natural flavor.
  • Avoid buying juice – if it’s not in the house, no one can drink it.
  • If you’re still trying to cut sugary drinks down to zero, keep up the great work! Young children should never have soda pop or sports drinks, but if you choose to give juice, please remember:
    • Make sure the label says 100% fruit juice.
    • Limit the amount to 1 small cup a day (4-6 ounce if you measure it out).




Organized sports are great ways for kids to exercise, but they aren't enough. All the instruction leaves too much time where young athletes are standing still, so parents need to give kids more chances for fun physical activities.

To stay healthy, children need a full hour of physical activity every day, and many parents assume that's provided at team practices. Unfortunately, not all of the practice time is used to keep kids moving. Much of it is spent listening to instruction or waiting in line for practice drills. This doesn't mean organized sports aren't useful; they just shouldn't be the only source of activity for your child.

"I tell parents to start their children in organized sports or dance when they are in preschool and early elementary school," says John Galgani, MD, community pediatrician and board­ certified pediatric endocrinologist at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "However, unstructured activity, where kids are regularly moving, is even more important."

Worth Every Minute
It can be challenging to make sure your children get the exercise they need, but the benefits are worth the work.

• Girls who exercise regularly are less likely to experiment with drugs in adolescence.
• Boys use activities to socialize, so their unstructured exercise helps them adjust to community life.
• Children who exercise regularly are at a lowered risk for obesity and related complications.
• Exercising can improve a child's self-esteem.



Healthy Holiday Eating

Many fall and holiday foods contain fat, salt and sugar. Party buffets tempt us to over eat.

Make a plan to enjoy healthy holiday foods – without a need to diet.

  • Keep mealtime routines. Fix healthy food. Do not skip meals.
  • Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables – in bags. Eat fruit salads. Season vegetables with herbs and lemon juice. Skip heavy sauces.
  • Change your chili recipe. Use a small amount of lean meat. Add extra beans and vegetables. Skip the cheese or use small amount of low fat cheese.
  • Make a healthy dish to bring to a party. Try a spinach salad with candied walnuts, dried cranberries, red onion slices, feta cheese and an oil/balsamic vinegar dressing.
  • Instead of whipped cream on desserts, use low fat or fat free vanilla yogurt.
  • Skip the chips and dips. Make homemade seasoned popcorn or a hummus dip with vegetables. Serve salsa and baked tortilla or pita chips.
  • Instead of caramel apple eat apples slices with low-fat caramel dip.
  • Do not skip holiday treats. Eat small portions. Do not go back for seconds.
  • Instead of mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, fix oven roasted potatoes. Cut potatoes in ¼ inch slices or small wedges. Drizzle with olive oil, crushed dried rosemary, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Roast in a 375 degree oven until brown and tender.

Celebrate the season with family and friends – and good healthy food!


Illinois Farm to School Harvest of the Month:  KALE

Did you know?

  • Kale needs to be exposed to the first winter’s frost so some of the plant’s starch can be changed to sugar.
  • Kale became very popular during WWII, when food was rationed, due to its high nutrient content.
  • Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk.
  • Types of kales are differentiated by color (green, white, purple, or bluish green) and leaf shape.
  • One cup of chopped raw kale provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Hot weather turns kale bitter

Krispy Kale Chips

  • Bunch kale, washed and dried thoroughly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and other spices

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Remove the ribs from the kale.

Cut or tear into inch pieces.

Toss with olive oil.

Lay kale on baking sheet in single layer.

Bake 20 minutes until crisp turning the leaves halfway.

Check often to prevent burning.

From: Monroe County Wisconsin Farm to School


Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating out

  • As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches.
  • In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
  • Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
    Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried  or sautéed.
  • Choose a small" or "medium" portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
  • Order an item from the menu instead  heading  for the "all­
    you-can-eat" buffet.
  • If main portions at a restaurant are larger than you want, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
    • Order an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead  of an entree.
    • Share a main dish with a friend.
    • If you can chill the extra food right away, take leftovers home in a "doggy bag."
    • When your food is delivered, set aside or pack half of it to go immediately.
    • Resign from the "clean your plate club" -when you've eaten enough, leave the rest.
  • To keep your meal moderate in calories, fat, and sugars:
    • Ask for salad dressing  to be served  "on the side" so you can add only as much as you want.
    • Order foods that  do not have creamy  sauces or gravies
    • Add little or no butter to your  food.
    • Choose fruits  for dessert  most  often.
  • On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.