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Top 10 Fun Outdoor Activities to Get your Kids off the Couch

Top 10 Fun Outdoor Activities to Get your Kids off the Couch
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As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, it’s becoming more and more important to get those kids off the couch. Like you need an excuse! Outdoor activities are oftentimes the most memorable, both for children and adults.

Outdoors, you’ll have experiences that engage all of the senses. The deep green of a pine forest, the sharp, bright scent of pine needles, the rugged texture of bark, the sweet yet bitter taste of cocoa from a thermos, the sound of rust-orange needles crunching beneath the feet…

There’s only so much a computer screen can teach kids. The rest – the unbidden lessons that engage the entire being – come from nature.

  1. Treasure hunting

treasuremap

    If you think about it, hunting for treasure is every kid’s dream. Ever seen The Goonies? That’s what I thought. Bury some fake doubloons and create your own map, pirate-style. Then set off on an adventure. Or, if you want to get official, there are metal detectors made for kids. Take them on a real hunt for coins, lost jewelry, and trinkets. A great educational exercise is to research the area first before you take them out. You’ll learn a great deal of history and geography. When you’re actually hunting, you’ll notice geographical features you never noticed before.

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    1. Surfing

    kidsurf

      This is another activity kids love, but for many, it’s just a pipe-dream. Why not change that for your child? Kids make for great surfers because it’s a high energy sport and kids have less fear than adults. To kids, surfers are just plain cool. Contrary to the typical image, surfing’s not all about twenty-foot waves and beach-bumming it. Start small. Consult surfing tips for beginners. Find a used board at least one foot taller than your child (and yourself, since you’ll be doing it too!). A wetsuit is important because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water. Find a less crowded area. You might want to hire an instructor. Then go, and if your kid likes it, why no make it a regular thing?

      1. Camp

      kidscamp

        Yes, kids act like they don’t want to go to a camp. But you don’t always have to listen to the complaints – in this case, complaints stem from a fear of the unknown. Great memories come from camp, and the bad ones, well, they give your kid a story to tell and adversity to overcome. But it does help to put careful thought into which camp is right for your child. Consider tips on finding the right camp. There are over 11,000 camps in the U.S., so you’ll want to think about whether it should be co-ed, religious, sports-oriented, highly structured, lengthy, etc.

        1. Fishing

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        kidfish

          I don’t know what it is about fishing, but many a kid has a knack for it. The whole beginner’s luck cliché rings true. Kids don’t try too hard when they fish, and if you’ve ever been fishing before, you know trying too hard doesn’t work.  To get your kid interested in fishing, don’t overwhelm them with an intense, hard, long experience. Provide them with polarized glasses, which eliminate glare on the water. Take them out on a nice day, bring snacks, plan ahead, and if you’re fly-fishing, check out a Tenkara rod. They’re simple—rod, line, fly—the easiest fly rod to learn on.

          1. Fort-building

          fort

            A fort can be as big or little as you want, depending on how big or little your kid is. Do it in your backyard, or do it in the wilderness. The backyard fort is as simple as sheets over a lower branch or a clothesline. Or use scrap wood and nail together a basic hut. In the woods, gather branches and create a lean-to. Kids love forts so much because their imagination knows no bounds.

            1. Horseback riding

            horseback

              Whether your kid is old enough to hop on a horse, or at pony-riding age, this is an exciting activity for kids. Doubtless, you remember the connection you shared with animals as a child. Horseback riding takes that connection to the trail and gives them a chance to learn about these magnificent animals. Before you put them on a trail horse, consider lessons and whether or not they’re ready. Get professional input, and help them understand the sensitivities of horses. Once they’re ready, riding can help them build confidence, strength, coordination, and focus.

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              1. Canoeing

              canoe

                Find a river or lake, hopefully, one with an island, and take off on a canoe. This is the type of adventure any kid wants to experience. Time on the water with just you and your child is peak quality time. Make sure you bring life vests in case the unexpected happens. Also bring snacks, lunch, and basic survival supplies. Give your kid a chance to row. Especially if your child has never done this before, you won’t believe their enthusiasm.

                1. Building and flying a kite

                kite

                  The great thing about flying a kite is that it doesn’t take a lot to build one. Get a plastic bag, kite string, two sticks, scissors, and ribbon. Tie the sticks together like a cross, then cut the bag in a diamond shape to fit. Tie the bag to the frame. Tie the flying string onto the horizontal stick. On the end of the kite, tie ribbon for balance. Then, find a windy place and let it go! This actually takes a lot of practice and work with the wind, but it’s a blast.

                  1. Touring the zoo

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                  zoo

                    This is a great chance for kids to learn about different animals, and it’s a classic activity for kids. It’s also a great chance for you to let them make up their own mind on whether they agree with the idea of zoos, to begin with. At the end of the day, the zoo requires a lot of walking and a lot of observation. These are both good for kids.

                    1. Hiking

                    hike

                      Can’t forget this one! Hiking is fun for young and old. There are some fantastic destinations for hikes, such as Yosemite’s Valley Floor Loop, the Appalachian Trail, Jay Peak, and more. These can be the focal point of your next vacation. Find a hiking stick for yourself and your child, all the better if it’s a stick you whittle until it’s smooth. Get the supplies and set off to immerse yourself in nature, in the engagement of all your senses. You and your child will never forget the experiences you have on your hikes.

                      Featured photo credit: flickr.com via flickr.com

                      More by this author

                      Dan Matthews, CPRP

                      A Certified Psychosocial Rehabilitation Practitioner with an extensive background working with clients on community-based rehabilitation.

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                      Published on July 22, 2021

                      20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week

                      20 Healthy and Tasty Family Meals Ideas to Try This Week
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                      It’s 5 p.m., and you’re exhausted. The kids are hungry, but no one knows what they want to eat for dinner. With very little energy, you force yourself into the kitchen and look through every cabinet, hoping for a spark of inspiration. Eventually, you toss a few ingredients together and hope for the best. It won’t win any prizes and falls short of what you consider “healthy,” but it fills everyone’s stomachs.

                      Feeding a family can be stressful, even tiresome. It’s hard to find the energy and creativity needed to cook healthy but simple family meals. It’s easy to fall into the “anything goes” mentality. When you’ve got a busy lifestyle, meals become more about survival and less about nutrition.

                      Here are 20 quick and healthy—but tasty—recipes followed by tips on making these family meals more nutritious. These recipes can help you have a healthy family meal on the table in an hour or less. Remember, swap ingredients out if someone in your family has dietary restrictions or if you avoid certain foods.

                      1. Mini Meatloaves With Green Beans and Potatoes

                        These miniature meatloaves come together quickly and cook faster, too. You can have a family favorite on the table, paired with seasoned potatoes and fresh green beans, in just 40 minutes.

                        Get the recipe here.

                        2. One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta

                          This classic will taste like you spent hours cooking, but the preparation and clean-up couldn’t be quicker. One-pot cooking makes this dish practical, while fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic add a special touch.

                          To try this recipe, go here.

                          3. Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas

                            Skip the restaurant and make fajitas at home. The ingredients go on one sheet pan, meaning you won’t spend all night cleaning. Zesty chicken, bell peppers, and warm tortillas can be on the table in 40 minutes. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, diced tomato, and any other favorite toppings.

                            Check out the recipe here.

                            4. Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

                              Lose the carbs but keep the cheesesteak flavors with this quick family meal. Kids will love the pepper “bowls,” and you’ll love giving them a meal full of veggies and protein to keep them healthy.

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                              Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                              5. Chipotle Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowl

                                This veggie-packed meal adds an extra boost by using the superfood quinoa instead of rice. Flavorful yet simple, this meal makes an excellent packable lunch or dinner for your whole family.

                                Find the recipe here.

                                6. Spinach and Chicken Skillet With Lemon and Parmesan

                                  The complex flavors of lemon and parmesan come together nicely in this gourmet-like dish, but you don’t have to exert the effort or spend as much as a gourmet meal.

                                  Get the recipe for this dish here.

                                  7. Oven-Fried Fish and Chips

                                    Fish and chips can also sometimes be healthy as evident in this oven-fried version. You won’t miss the calories with this favorite family meal.

                                    You can find the recipe here.

                                    8. Pineapple-Teriyaki Chicken

                                      Tangy pineapple and sweet teriyaki will have everyone coming back for seconds. Frozen vegetables make this simple family dish even easier to make and enjoy.

                                      Find the recipe here.

                                      9. Mozzarella, Basil, and Zucchini Frittata

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                                        This egg dish is usually served for breakfast, but a frittata can make a fantastic dinner, too. High in protein, packed with zucchini, and delicious, there’s no reason to wait until morning.

                                        Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                        10. Chicken and Sweet Potato Grill Packets

                                          Skip the pans and throw everything into foil with this fun family recipe. Kids will love loading ingredients into their pack, and you’ll love its versatility and simplicity.

                                          The recipe for this meal can be found here.

                                          11. Chicken and Spanish “Rice”

                                            Cauliflower takes the place of rice in this low-carb family meal, but it’s so flavorful and filling, no one will miss it.

                                            Find the recipe here.

                                            12. Honey Chicken Stir Fry

                                              This honey chicken stir fry is the healthier version of a restaurant favorite that can be served up quicker than you can order it.

                                              Find the recipe here.

                                              13. Chicken Skewers With Tzatziki

                                                Greek chicken and tzatziki sauce will have you yearning for the Mediterranean, but you can make this recipe at home for your family to enjoy.

                                                This easy recipe can be found here.

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                                                14. Healthy Walking Tacos

                                                  Traditional walking tacos are a party favorite, but they’re not usually healthy. However, this recipe keeps it fun while making it more nutritious.

                                                  Find out how to make it here.

                                                  15. Slow-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

                                                    This classic comfort meal can be ready when you walk in the door. All you have to do is add noodles, and it’s ready to serve.

                                                    The recipe can be found here.

                                                    16. Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

                                                      This usually takes a little over an hour, but the preparation time is only 30 minutes. You’ll love how easy it is, and the cheesy rice is sure to please.

                                                      Find the recipe here.

                                                      17. Crockpot Rotisserie-Style Chicken

                                                        Skip the checkout line and have a rotisserie-style chicken ready at home. A staple in many quick meals, you might find this family meal recipe among your most-used.

                                                        Get the recipe for this flavorful chicken here.

                                                        18. Santa Monica Street Tacos

                                                          Named after a simple taco found on the streets of California, you’ll be surprised that something with only a few ingredients can be so flavorful. Your kids will surely enjoy them.

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                                                          Find the recipe here.

                                                          19. Pizza Pasta Salad

                                                            Enjoy the flavor of pizza without the hassle of making a crust. Use a fun pasta shape to make this even more appealing to your family, especially kids.

                                                            Try it tonight. Get the recipe here.

                                                            20. Slow-Cooker Lasagna Soup

                                                              Everyone loves lasagna, but it can be time-consuming and messy to make. However, this soup version has the taste you want but with the ease of a crockpot.

                                                              Get the recipe here.

                                                              Bonus: 3 Simple Ways to Make Meals Healthier

                                                              Eating healthy doesn’t have to take a lot of money, time, or thought. Any improvements are a big step in the right direction.

                                                              Here are three easy ways you can make meals healthier for your family.

                                                              1. Lose the Sugar

                                                              Are you looking to improve your health? Cut processed sugars from your diet—the more, the better, and that includes artificial sweeteners.[1] Why? Studies show that sugar increases the risks for weight gain, heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cancer, fatty liver disease, cellular aging, and low energy levels.[2]

                                                              2. Avoid Highly Processed Foods

                                                              Many processed foods are fine to eat. Even fresh fruit and vegetables go through some processing to stay fresh longer. However, highly processed foods have added salt, sweeteners, saturated fats, preservatives, and artificial colors. These types of food have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.[3]

                                                              3. Replace Simple Carbs for Complex Carbs

                                                              Lowering daily carbs can do wonders for your health. Studies show that low-carb diets lead to lower insulin levels, lower bad cholesterol levels, visceral fat loss, weight loss, reduced appetite, and can be therapeutic for many brain disorders.[4]

                                                              When eating carbs, choose complex carbs over simple carbs. Simple carbs, such as white flour, rice, and degermed cornmeal, lack nutrients and spike blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as sweet potato, brown rice, and oats, are usually more nutritious and aren’t digested as quickly, giving more sustained energy and less of an insulin spike.[5]

                                                              Enjoy Family Meals With Less Stress!

                                                              Dinner can be enjoyable again now that you’re armed with simple and nutritious recipes for your family. These healthy and tasty family meal recipes can help you feel even better about what you serve. Best of all, you’ll have the extra time and energy you saved from cooking and spend more time with your family.

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                                                              More Healthy Eating Tips

                                                              Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

                                                              Reference

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