‚ÄčNutritional tips for packing brain-boosting school lunches


(BPT) – Parents know kids can’t concentrate when they’re hungry. But did you know that what children eat – especially in school lunches – can also affect their ability to focus, learn and behave well in the classroom? Packing your children’s school lunches is a great way to manage their nutritional intake and help feed their ability to learn.

It will take some creativity, however, to ensure you pack lunches that not only meet a child’s nutritional needs, but also his or her taste preferences. Keep these tips in mind as you’re packing your child’s nutritious lunches this school year:

* Brain-building foods: Research supports the ability of certain foods to enhance cognitive function. Foods like fish and nuts, which contain brain-building omega-3 fatty acids, can support focus. So tuna fish salad not only supplies protein, but is also brain food. Not every child is a fan of fish, so look for other kid-friendly options like a handful of nuts. From pistachios and almonds to walnuts and peanuts, a serving of nuts not only contains healthful fats, but also a healthy dose of fiber and vitamin E.

* Fill-them-up foods: “Empty calories” are empty for several reasons, including how quickly they can leave children feeling hungry again after they’ve dined on nutritionally poor calories. Foods that are high in protein and fiber, such as a sandwich of deli meats on whole grain bread, can help kids feel full longer and provide them with nutrient-rich calories.

* Liquid power: Sugary sodas are notorious sources of empty calories. One can of regular soda, sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, packs about 150 calories, adding up to the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Consider packing lunches with more nutritionally valuable beverages like skim milk or water. Skim milk is low in calories and contains calcium and potassium. Water, of course, contains no calories at all and is the best source of hydration.

* The choice is yours: Making sure kids get the nutrition they need while providing the great taste they love can be a challenge. A classic sandwich can achieve both if you choose ingredients wisely. Hormel(R) Natural Choice(R) pre-packaged deli meats provide kids with familiar favorites, such as Honey Deli Ham, Oven Roasted Deli Turkey, Roast Beef and Rotisserie Style Chicken Breast, that are 100 percent natural and free of preservatives and additives. Low in fat and free of trans fats, Hormel Natural Choice meats have no MSG, gluten or artificial ingredients. When paired with other nutritious options like whole grain breads, and a side of fresh fruit with non-fat yogurt as a dip, a sandwich of Hormel Natural Choice deli meats can be the foundation of a nutritious lunch. You’ll be amazed how simple making a better choice can be.

* Kid-friendly presentation: How you present lunch can encourage kids to eat it. When it comes to packed lunches, a great presentation could be as simple as having one or two favorite lunchboxes on hand and allowing your child to choose which one he would like to carry today. Or, it could be as inspired as creatively arranging a sandwich and sliced veggies to mimic a smiling face when he opens his lunchbox at school. Remember, kids love color, so providing a colorful mix of foods can be very appealing to them. It also gives you the opportunity to incorporate the concept of a rainbow of nutrition, and the value of eating foods from all colors in the spectrum.

With the right recipe of creativity, fun and nutritious foods, parents can be confident they’re packing school lunches that will keep kids full and happy throughout the school year.

Courtesy of BPT

Smart home improvements for growing multi-generational households


(BPT) – The American family continues to evolve, with multiple generations living under the same roof in more households than any time since the Great Depression. Of America’s 76 million households, 5.6 percent (4.3 million) were multi-generational, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Homeowners are finding it’s more important than ever to ensure every home improvement project delivers benefits for every member of the family – children, parents and grandparents.

Whether your family grows with the birth of a child or because a grandparent has moved in with you, here are some home improvement projects that are multi-generational family-friendly:

Adding/updating a bathroom

Few household situations are as stressful as too many people sharing just one or two bathrooms. If your home population is growing, but you’re still making do with too few bathrooms, adding a bath or upgrading an existing one can make life more pleasant for everyone. What’s more, it’s a smart investment of your renovation dollars. If you decide to sell your home down the road, you can expect to recoup about 53 percent of the construction cost for a modest bathroom addition, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report. And a modest bathroom remodel recoups about 64 percent of your investment.

Finishing a basement or an attic bonus room

If you’re looking for more usable living space, finishing a basement or attic bonus room is almost always easier than adding square footage to your home. A finished existing area can be a versatile investment, affording you the space to add a bedroom, bathroom, recreational room, home office or even a second kitchen a la in-law suite style. Upstairs, finishing an attic bonus room can provide a well-lit and airy retreat with the inclusion of fresh air skylights. Downstairs, advances in basement finishing technology have compressed the time-frame of this once pricey and drawn-out home improvement. Remodeling Magazine says a basement renovation pays back more than 70 percent of its cost at the time of resale.

Healthful upgrades

The quality of light and ventilation in our home speaks directly to the safety and health of its occupants. Aging eyesight often needs better lighting, and poor indoor air quality can affect everyone’s health, but especially that of young children with respiratory ailments such as asthma. One improvement that addresses both concerns, is a skylight. When opened, an Energy Star-qualified fresh-air skylight, like those made by Velux America, can help exhaust stale unhealthy indoor air and bring fresh air into your home. Skylights especially make sense if you’ll be creating more inexpensive living space by finishing an attic.

Add remote controlled solar powered blinds to solar powered fresh air skylights in your home and the products, as well as installation costs, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. To learn more about no leak skylights that close automatically in case of rain and how they can help improve indoor air quality, visit www.veluxusa.com.

Upgrading key appliances

Whether the hot water heater shudders when your teenager takes a shower or the furnace just can’t work hard enough to keep Grandma’s bones warm in winter, upgrading key appliances in your home can significantly improve the comfort of its occupants. What’s more, replacing older appliances with new ones can help you save money on your utility bills over the life of the product. Replacing an old water heater, furnace or air conditioner with an Energy Star-certified product can trim utility bills significantly.

For example, according to EnergyStar.gov, replacing a central air conditioning unit that is 12 years old (or older) with an Energy Star-qualified one could reduce cooling costs by 30 percent, and switching to a solar water heater could cut your water heating bill in half. What’s more certain energy-efficient home improvements may qualify you for a federal tax credit. If you install a residential solar water heating system, you could qualify for federal as well as state tax credits and other incentives. You can find a calculator to help tally the potential payback on a solar water heating system and a federal tax credit estimator to calculate your savings on new or replacement solar powered skylights at www.veluxusa.com.

Courtesy of BPT