Wishing You a Healthy Thanksgiving Menu!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? There are many to choose from: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and candied sweet potatoes. While all of these are yummy foods we look forward to all year long, they probably are not the healthiest of menu items. This Thanksgiving you can explore delicious and healthy alternatives or additions to your Thanksgiving menu.

Thanksgiving and Harvest Festivals Around the World

One way to engage children in trying new foods and exploring new cultures is to look at harvest festivals, similar to Thanksgiving, from around the world. Harvest festivals traditionally celebrate the first, and sometimes the last, crops of a season. Although the dishes vary by region, they tend to focus on grains, vegetables, and fruits. Let’s take a look at some Harvest Festival activities and recipes:

  • The Apple and Grape Festival in Australia celebrates wine and fresh produce. It features traditional apple-related dishes along with multicultural dishes, fireworks, parades, and the popular grape crush.
  • The Harvest Festival in Britain belongs to a long historical tradition and can be viewed as a precursor to the American Thanksgiving. Activities related to Harvest Festival can easily double for Thanksgiving fun.
  • The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in slightly different forms in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Along with fireworks, food, and family, children celebrate this festival by wearing masks and parading with paper lanterns. Here are some directions for making paper lanterns and paper masks.
  • Ch’usok, sometimes known as the Harvest Moon Festival, is celebrated in Korea. The festival celebrates ancestors, family, and the harvest. Fish, vegetables, and grains are primarily consumed along with a special rice cake called a songpyon. Ch’usok is celebrated with activities such as tug of war, a special form of wrestling, music, and dance. Recipes for dishes often found during Ch’usok can be found here.

Although many dishes associated with Thanksgiving are best enjoyed in moderation, there are many healthier options available. How about some pumpkin soup or quinoa stuffing? Find more healthy recipe ideas here.

However you celebrate the holidays, Minute Menu wishes you a safe and enjoyable season!

Fun Ways to Help Prevent the Spread of Colds and Other Illnesses

Ah, Fall…the weather gets cooler, leaves start to turn on the trees, and adults and children start to cough, sneeze and sniffle. It’s that time of year many childcare centers dread – the time when colds, flus, and other illnesses start making their way through our staff and student population. Why not turn this into an opportunity to teach children healthy hygiene habits? Quick lessons on handwashing and containing coughs or sneezes can be fun and educational – and children will take this information back to their homes. Following the tips below might help reduce the spread of sickness at home, at daycare, and at school.

Teach Proper Handwashing with Songs, Videos, Games and Posters

Teach children to sing the “A-B-C” song or the “Happy Birthday” song while washing their hands with soap. Proper handwashing significantly reduces the risk of catching and spreading everything from colds and flu to eye infections, but often children don’t wash their hands long enough or in the right way. Proper handwashing should last about 30 seconds and include the fronts and backs of the hands, as well as the nails. Remind children to use a clean towel or paper towel to dry their hands – dirty towels can spread germs and bacteria.Girl washing Hands

Check out this short video and song created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help kids remember to wash their hands, or this video instructing kids on how to wash and dry their hands properly. The CDC also offers hand-washing fact sheets, posters and stickers that centers can download and display in bathrooms or eating areas, and hand out to children and parents. Visit the Handwashing section of the CDC website for more information and materials.

The website scrub club also has several games, songs, and cartoons that encourage proper handwashing.

Cover that Cough

Many of us were taught to cover our cough or sneeze with our hands, but that can actually spread germs. If a child sneezes or coughs in her hand, she can transfer germs to everything she touches. Encourage children to turn away from people and to cover their cough or sneeze with their elbow or sleeve at the shoulder. Encourage children to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever they use a tissue to wipe or blow their noses – another opportunity for germs to spread. This poster from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and this poster from the Minnesota Department of Health are great reminders to display in centers.

Additional Resources

When children or their friends and family get sick they may have questions about doctors, germs, and sickness. The following are several age-appropriate cartoons and books that can help with discussions about these topics:

Arthur’s Knee- (Season 2, Episode 14) The second half of episode 14 revolves around Arthur cutting his knee and needing to see a doctor. Topics include: infections and how the body works to protect against “germs.”

The Magic School Bus: Inside Ralphie, A Book about Germs by Joanna Cole and B. Degan – Available as both a book and an episode of the television show- Season 1, Episode 03.

The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor by Stan Berenstain

Germs Are Not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen – Intended for toddlers

The Fuyu Persimmon: A Fruit Worth Trying this Fall

PersimmonHave you ever tasted a Fuyu persimmon? If not, try this delicious and healthy little treat now while it’s in season (September – December). This fruit is so delicious that the Greeks actually named it “fruit from the gods.” And yes, it is THAT good! Not only is this exotic fruit delicious, it’s packed with nutrition and low in calories, too. The Fuyu persimmon is a great snack for growing children, dieting adults, and well, everyone!

Preparing and Eating the Fuyu Persimmon
Fuyu persimmons are easy to prepare and to eat. Just wash the outside, remove the leaves, slice, and enjoy! Eating the fruit raw is the best way to get all of the nutrition, the easiest and fastest way to prepare them, and arguably the most delicious way to eat a Fuyu persimmon! I prefer it raw served with a slice of cheese. As an added bonus, the Fuyu persimmon just so happens to be a creditable snack on the food program!  Click here to see a video called “How to eat a Fuyu Persimmon – Tips and Preparation.”

More Fuyu Fun!
Fuyu persimmons can also be used in baking breads, cakes, puddings, jams, and more. Click here to see some of the ways Martha Stewart uses persimmons.

Fun Fact: Persimmons are more common in some parts of the country than in others. Did you know that Indiana has an entire Persimmon Festival every year!?

Happy eating!

Children Not Seen At Review Report

Increase your program integrity by using the Children Not Seen at Review Report to detect claimed children that are consistently missed during a home visit. Then, conduct parent contacts on any children who have been consistently missed.

In Minute Menu HX, navigate to Reports >> Reviews >> Children Not Seen At Review Report. A Provider Filter will appear. To include ALL providers, just click Continue. Or to filter by a specific monitor caseload, click the Monitor box, select a name, and then click Continue. Select any other filters you want. To select specific providers from a list, click the Choose Providers from List box at the bottom.

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Operation Lychee

Lychee FruitHave you ever had a lychee fruit? These delicious little fruits are packed full of vitamin C and many other important vitamins and nutrients. But most importantly, they are delicious! Click here to read more about the lychee fruit and to see a picture of it on the USDA website.

Serve More Fruit, Less Juice. Fruit can be a fun and delicious way to improve nutrition in children’s diets, and you have the chance to change the lives of children in your very own community by serving more fruit. We challenge you to pick a fruit to serve at snack, and to serve fruit instead of juice at meals. Eating the actual fruit, instead of just drinking the juice, ensures that children get ALL of the nutrition of the fruit, and less sugar! Click here to read “Tips to Help You Eat Fruits” on the ChooseMyPlate.gov USDA website.

Start Your “More Fruit” Campaign. Find and share some fun recipes that the kids will go bananas over! Start by searching for recipes submitted by providers on the ChildCareInfo.com website. Recipes created by kids themselves can be found using the Healthy Snack Finder on the Kids Teaching Kids website.

Print a cute flyer that you can display on the wall. Get some inspiration from this kid-friendly flyer on fruits and veggies from ChooseMyPlate.gov. You can see a list of flyers available for download here.

Start a vegetable garden with the children! Children love to be involved, and studies have shown that children are more likely to try new fruits and vegetables when they participate in planting and growing them! Start a small garden with easy-to-grow vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce. The KidsGardening.org website is a great resource for planning and maintaining gardens for kids.

Share Your Results and Inspire Others. Start a social media account for your day care home (if you haven’t already) and post your pictures of healthy eating on your social media page(s). You will inspire others and potential parent customers will be impressed when they see your page!

Join the Campaign for Whole Grain

Natural Healthy  FoodYou have the power to improve the health of children in your very own community by launching a campaign to serve more whole grains in day care homes and centers!  And what better time than now since September is National Whole Grains month!  Eating at least one serving of whole grains daily can help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and can help maintain a healthy body weight.  Barley, wheat, bulgur, rye and oats are all whole grains that can be incorporated into a healthy diet. Some whole grains are even gluten-free , such as buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, and rice. Start training providers now to ditch processed foods and start serving more whole grains!

Click here to check out some whole grain recipes with demonstration videos with cooking tips for making whole grains easy to prepare AND taste great!

Click here for a quick refresher on whole grains on the Whole Grains Council website. Read more of this post

The Quinoa Project

Want to serve a food that kids love, and that is healthy? Looking for an easy-to-make food that is packed with protein so that you stay full for longer?  Try quinoa!

Organic Quinoa.

Quinoa, pronounced “KEEN-wah,” is a small, grain-like seed that can be used as a substitute for rice or pasta, mixed into salads, and eaten plain or with a little cheese on top. Quinoa is a WHOLE GRAIN, naturally gluten free, and is a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids.

The best part? Quinoa is easy to make…and delicious! You can cook quinoa in advance, and use it throughout the week. Just store it in the fridge and serve it at multiple meals or mixed into other foods. Quinoa can be cooked in a pot on the stove or in a rice cooker. (See the package for exact instructions.) Read more of this post

6 Steps to Getting Started on hx2go

Are you are interested in using hx2go, but are not sure where to start? Here’s some help.

1. Give yourself access to the hx2go Administrative Website. To get access to the Admin Site, you will need to edit your user permissions in the Manage Users screen. Please click here to watch a training video on how to Manage Users for hx2go. There is no charge for accessing the ‘Admin Site’ (as we like to call it), but using the hx2go app does incur a small fee.

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Internet Essentials – Low Cost Internet and Free Training

If you are a Sponsor who would like to have more providers claim online using Minute Menu Kids, or a child care provider who wants to claim online, but access to a computer or Internet isn’t available, we have a solution. Internet Essentials from Comcast is a way to bring the power of low cost Internet to child care providers and children across the country.

Four ways Internet Essentials gets you or your providers connected — for less. Read more of this post

How to include a professional-looking hyperlink in an email

Would you like to send your centers professional emails with links to training materials and videos, documents, and more!? If you simply copy the URL (www.blah.com/blahdiblah/blah) and paste it into your email, your reader will see the entire URL, forward slashes and all.  Instead, you can make your words the hyperlink. For example, you can type “click here to view the website” and make the word “here” the hyperlink. Read more of this post