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Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Travel with Kids

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, after Thanksgiving, the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is among the busiest travel periods of the year. During this time of year, the number of long-distance trips increases by 23% compared to the rest of the year’s average. We can help your family have smooth travels with our ultimate guide to holiday travel with kids.

Traveling during such busy times is usually stressful, especially if you add children into the mix. Whether you’re planning a long drive to the grandparents or traveling across time zones this holiday season, these suggestions from Assist America, our emergency travel assistance partner, will keep your family safe, sound, and sane.

Entertainment

  • Apps – Make sure you download kid-friendly apps before the journey.
  • Toys – Coloring books, finger puppets, stacking cups, magic markers, make-believe computer or phone, and sticker books are great options.
  • Games – Our favorites include Bananagrams, Spot It, Mad Libs, Rubberneckers, Melissa and Doug Travel Hangman, and Travel Blurt.
  • Headphone Splitters – Headphones splitters allow two kids to share a device. They’re very practical in situations where it’s inappropriate to use speakers, like on a plane.

Safety and Comfort

  • Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes – Kids get dirty very easily when traveling. Eliminate these germs fast by being prepared with wipes and sanitizer, and improve your chances of avoiding a holiday bug.
  • Child Locator – Busy airports and train stations can quickly turn into a nightmare if your child gets lost. Many companies offer small tracking devices and smartwatches to help you locate them quickly in such a situation.
  • Medicine and First Aid Kit – It’s very important to be able to attend to your child quickly when they’re hurt or sick. Make sure you’re prepared before you leave by putting together a first aid kit and packing must-have medicine.
  • Ease Ear Pain – During takeoff and landing, give your kids a gummy candy, chewy food, chewing gum (if they’re old enough), or a drink to get their jaw moving and ease their ear pain.
  • Temperature – Layers are essential for the comfort of your children, especially on the plane where it can often be cold.

Planning

  • Passports – Keep in mind, children’s passport expiration periods are different than adult passports. Make sure you renew them 6 months before you plan to travel.
  • Monitor What Your Children Pack – Chances are they’ll want to bring many unnecessary things, which will make traveling uncomfortable for everyone.
  • Carry-On Tips – Pack at least one extra outfit for each child in case an accident happens. If you lose your luggage, the extra outfits will also help you avoid buying new clothes for the entire family. In the meantime, remember that Assist America can help you locate and retrieve your lost luggage. Finally, plan on bringing snacks like granola bars, cheerios, individual cheese and crackers packs, applesauce, or individual hummus cups.
  • Bring Surprises – Children love surprises and unwrapping things, and an early holiday gift could be used as a reward for good behavior.

About Assist America

Our plans include Assist America, a unique global emergency assistance program. They serve more than 40 million members worldwide. Their services include medical and non-medical services, like medical evacuations and repatriations, prescription assistance, medical referral, lost luggage assistance, and pre-trip information. Visit AssistAmerica.com or download the Assist America Mobile App on the Apple App Store or Google Play to access a wide range of travel assistance services directly from your phone.

Healthy Potato Recipes

Healthy Potato Recipes

This week, we’re featuring healthy potato recipes that you can use this holiday season without hurting your healthy diet.

First up are The Creamiest Vegan Mashed Potatoes, perfect for your Thanksgiving.

The Creamiest Vegan Mashed Potatoes
Image and Recipe via My California Roots

 

Make this easy Seasonal Leek and Potato Pan Roast for a beautiful side dish.

Seasonal Leek and Potato Pan Roast {Paleo, Vegan}

 

This Skinny Stuffed Baked Potato Soup will be a hit at holiday potlucks.

Skinny Stuffed Baked Potato Soup
Image and Recipe via Jeanette’s Healthy Living

 

This Vegan Avocado Potato Salad is a light and easy side for work events.

Vegan Avocado Potato Salad with Dill & Cilantro

 

Skip the unhealthy fried snacks with Simple Baked Potato Chips.

Simple Baked Potato Chips

 

This Vegan Breakfast Skillet is veggie-packed and will satisfy your potato craving.

Vegan Breakfast Skillet

 

Whip up this refreshing Cilantro Lime Potato Salad for a hearty side.

Cilantro Lime Potato Salad Image and Recipe via Julia’s Album

Healthy Pecan Recipes

Healthy Pecan Recipes for National Pecan Month

It’s National Pecan Month. Ditch heavy pecan pie for lighter ways to love the nut with these healthy pecan recipes.

First up, make these Pecan Pie Energy Bites for snacking on the go.

Pecan Pie Energy Bites
Image and Recipe for Tastemade

 

Whip up Spiralized Apple Salad with Citrus Dressing with pecans for extra crunch.

Spiralized Apple Salad with Citrus Dressing

 

This Maple Pecan Crusted Salmon uses a maple marinade to flavor the fish.

Maple Pecan Crusted Salmon

 

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Granola is a great replacement for your favorite candy bars.

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Granola

 

This Triple Berry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans is a perfect springtime lunch.

Triple Berry Spinach Salad with Candied Pecans

 

Whip up this Clean-Eating Cranberry Pecan Quinoa for a healthy picnic dish.

Clean Eating Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Recipe

 

Add flavor and crunch to bland chicken with Honey Pecan Chicken.

Honey Pecan Chicken

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Deciding on a Balanced Diet

Eating a Balanced Diet

Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.

The Importance of Healthy Eating

Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Include in a Balanced Diet

A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:

  • Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving  size.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
  • A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans,  soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
  • Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.

Limit in a Balanced Diet

  • Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.

A Balanced Diet with MyPlate

MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.

This chart can help you divide your own plates appropriately: MyPlate

Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.

Making Smart Choices

Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.

Tracking Your Food

Then, you can target the number of servings you should be getting of the different food groups.

These can help you figure out calorie counts and limit sodium and sugar.

This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.

Making and Meeting Food Goals

  • Start small.

Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:

  • Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
  • Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
  • When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
  • Plan for all of the places you go in life:
    • Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
    • If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
    • When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
    • Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
    • Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.

Results and Rewards

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.

Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.

  • Plan your cheat day.

Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.

  • Find healthy ways to treat yourself.

For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.

Up Next:

Now that you know the value of a balanced diet, learn to prepare before you go grocery shopping and shop smart to meet your goals.

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Healthy Peanut Recipes

Peanut Recipes for National Peanut Month

It’s National Peanut Month, and there are plenty of healthy peanut recipes to make the most of the popular nut in your diet.

Thai Peanut Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Bowl is a great substitute for Thai takeout.

Thai Peanut Chicken Zucchini Bowl

Thai Peanut Chicken And Zucchini Noodle Bowl

 

Make Homemade Peanut Butter with your food processor to ditch store-bought.

How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter

 

This Peanut Coleslaw will be a perfect side for upcoming spring barbecues.

Peanut Coleslaw

 

Get a taste of the world at home with this hearty West African Peanut Soup.

West African Peanut Soup

 

Peanut Tofu Bowls are a great way to go meatless without losing flavor.

Peanut Tofu Buddha Bowl

 

Spicy Peanuts are a great snack to munch on during afternoon slumps or on game day.

Spicy Peanuts

 

Thai Chicken Chopped Salad with Peanuts is a light lunch as the weather warms up.

Thai Chicken Chopped Salad with Peanut Dressing

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Ditch the Unhealthy Snack Food

National Snack Food Month

It’s National Snack Food Month, and we want to help you snack smart and ditch processed snacks with healthy snack food recipes.

First up, skip the snack aisle and make Clean and Fudgy Dark Chocolate Frosted Brownies.

http://cf.amyshealthybaking.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/fudgy-dark-chocolate-frosted-brownies_4323.jpg
Image and Recipe via Amy’s Healthy Baking

 

If you’re a dipper, you have options with these 29 Healthy Hummus Recipes.

29 Healthy Hummus Recipes
Image and Recipe via Dr. Axe

 

Make Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pops that your kids will love after school.

Healthy Chocolate Pudding Pops
Image and Recipe via Make the Best of Everything

 

Skip the grocery store granola bars with these homemade Strawberry Oat Bars.

https://i1.wp.com/www.myfussyeater.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Strawberry-Oat-Bars-Recipe-Kids_002.jpg?w=680
Image and Recipe via My Fussy Eater

 

Ditch the store-bought bags for this Healthy Trail Mix that’s easy and tasty.

Healthy Trail Mix
Image and Recipe via Mom Spotted

 

You’ll feel like you’re eating candy with Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt Bark.

Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt Bark
Image and Recipe via My Fussy Eater

 

Skip cookies and eat No-Bake Loaded Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites on the go.

No Bake Loaded Oatmeal Cookie Energy Bites
Image and Recipe via Cotter Crunch

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National Slow Cooking Month

National Slow Cooking Month

January is also National Slow Cooking Month. Your slow cooker can make meals easier.

First up is Super Skinny Spinach and Artichoke Dip that’s perfect for game day.

http://busy-mommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/IMG_0856.jpg

Super Skinny Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip

 

Whip up an easy app with these Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Drumsticks

 

Choose Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Potatoes for a great side without effort.

Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

 

Make bowls, tacos, and more with this Slow Cooker Mojo Pork.

Slow Cooker Mojo Pork
Image and Recipe via Iowa Girl Eats

 

Keep snacks simple with Slow Cooker Applesauce.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

 

Toss the takeout menu and make this Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef instead.

Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef

 

Dessert is done ahead of time with this Slow Cooker Granola Berry Crisp.

Slow Cooker Granola Berry Crisp

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