by Becky Levin
Last Wednesday, CHML launched our Health and Wellness Club. Thank you to the 30 students, 10 parents, and Mr. Taylor who had fun exploring wellness and our school garden and making watermelon slushies.
- Wellness- how to keep our bodies and minds healthy
- Components of a Health Diet
- The basic science of Gardening.
And we made watermelon slushies! Click here for that and more healthy summer recipes.
We hope our updates provide you with useful information on nutrition, exercise, and gardening- and some easy, healthy recipes. We will post once a month following the club’s meeting. We are also starting a wellness blog, The Feed Bag- Feeding the Absorbent Mind and Body. Sign up there, if you’d like updates on nutrition, exercise, gardening and recipes that come to your inbox about once or twice a week.
We hope to see folks at the next club meeting on Wednesday, October 3rd at 4:45 pm. We will distribute a signup at the end of September. And remember, club is free! Parents are welcome to join, but it’s not a requirement.
In the meantime- we’d like the students to consider what they would like to name the club. So be ready with suggestions for next month’s meeting! And check out the new farmer’s market sponsored by Watkins Elementary and Tuscarora Organic Cooperative every Wednesday at 12th and E Streets SE from 2:30- 6:30pm!
The club will focus on:
- selecting preparing and eating nutritious meals and snacks;
- learning where food comes from and how it grows; and
- promoting health in our bodies/minds and in our families, school and communities.
Even though it was hotter than expected, we gathered in the outdoor classroom to explore how we keep our bodies and minds healthy, including:
- eating healthy food most of the time (treats in moderation are ok, too if you get the good stuff in);
- drinking water- and more when it’s hot;
- getting enough sleep and going to bed early;
- brushing our teeth;
- keeping our bodies clean- washing hands (especially before cooking and eating) and regular baths/showers;
- going to the doctor and dentist regularly; and
- following safety rules (i.e. listening to teachers/parents and following directions, wearing a helmet when biking/scootering, looking both ways before crossing the street).
On a Healthy Diet
We talked briefly about what a healthy diet is-
- vegetables- especially colorful ones- dark green, orange and red);
- grains- with at least half coming from whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, bulgur wheat (taboule), farro, whole wheat breads and pastas, etc);
- proteins- lean meats, fish, tofu and beans;
- dairy- milk, yogurt, and cheese;
- good fats- good fats (like olive oil and even butter in moderation) are important, especially in young children as the brain is still developing. Fat is crucial to protect our organs and keep us warm; and
- water- lots of water.
We will talk about each nutritional component and how much you need in subsequent club sessions. A good guide to a healthy diet is at ChooseMyPlate.gov. Start by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. It also helps to eat fresh foods and avoid or minimize pre-packaged, processed foods to keep your eating patterns on the right track. Pre-prepared and processed foods often have a lot of unneeded salt, sugar, and fat that our bodies don’t need. Over the day, it’s important to include foods from all food groups. It can be a challenge to eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, especially, without including multiple servings throughout the day. Yup- especially with those picky eaters. Remember- you are what you eat! So, put good stuff in your body to feel good and stay healthy.
Why Watermelon is Good for You
Watermelon is a fantastic food, supplying fiber, vitamins C and A, sodium, potassium, lycopene and other good stuff in a delicious package. Potassium and sodium are important electrolytes that are lost when we sweat a lot or participate in intense exercise. Instead of reaching for a sugary, pricey Gatorade- bite into a hunk of watermelon! Lycopene may lower the risk of heart disease, macular degenerative disease, and lipid oxidation (the damage to normal fat molecules that can cause inflammation and disease). Tomatoes are also a great source of lycopene. Watermelon can also lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).
Watermelon Slushies Recipe
It’s fun and easy to make these with children. Cut the watermelon off the rind, and let them chop up the melon with kid friendly knives. We are using these- and these- but any plastic knife or not-too- sharp knife will work, too.
An adult should slice the limes in half, and then children can juice them.
Come visit our gardens and pick mint! Pull off the leaves and toss them in the blender with the lime juice and melon. Blend and drink! If you want to make it frostier, add some ice before blending.
You can make popsicles by pouring them into molds or dixie cups. The popsicle sticks will fall over unless you let them freeze a little bit first. Or you can puree frozen watermelon, and they will stand up easily. Hill’s Kitchen has a variety in fun shapes (stars, rockets, etc.), there are a lot online, and Frager’s sells popsicle sticks. Make sure your mold is BPA-free.
For an adult version- it’s easy to turn into your favorite Mexican beverage. You know what I mean!
We made slushies in club, but check out the following recipes for additional ideas. Many thanks to Kathy Pugh for the nutritional information and smoothie recipe!
Hungry for more watermelon recipes? Click here for Watermelon Slushies, Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Mint and Feta, Watermelon and Tomato Salsa/Gazpacho and Restorative Watermelon Smoothie.