This Valentine’s Day, show your heart some love. What a better time to think about heart health than this time of year? Especially since even the youngest Americans are turning up with precursors of heart disease—most overweight kids already have at least one risk factor for heart disease. With heart disease remaining as the nation’s #1 killer, we have a lot of work to do to help our children. But it’s not all terrible! By making heart health entertaining, we can help our families make healthy changes that everyone can agree to.
With so many exciting hands-on educational activities and healthy food ideas available online, teaching kids and families to live heart-healthy has never been easier! This February, say “no” to an excess of traditional sugar-laden Valentine’s party treats and say “yes” to more heart-healthy fun! Have the kids start with some fun Valentine’s Day coloring, then dive into fun food art as a family!
Here are some great ideas to help revamp your Valentine’s Day activities at home or in the classroom.
Instead of attaching traditional candy to your Valentine cards, choose a special sticker, pencil or an eraser to include this year. It’s a simple way to cut down on sugar for your kids and their classmates and friends!
Create Valentine’s Day cards with healthy foods. Skip store-bought Valentine’s Day cards this year. Use cardstock, paint, and the natural beauty of fruits and vegetables to create one-of-a-kind creations. Slice apples, strawberries, star fruit, and pears in half and use as fruit “stamps” by dipping in paint and then stamping on cardstock. You’d be surprised how creative you can be!
Or plant your own herb garden and watch it grow with love! Grab an old egg carton and fill each section with soil. Have your kids pick out their favorite herbs, like parsley, basil or chives, and plant the seeds according to directions on the seed packet. Place in a warm and well-lit area and wait for your seedlings to sprout– make sure to transfer them to a larger pot when they are big enough! Growing herbs will help your kids to understand where our food comes from and will encourage them to try new tastes and flavors!
Instead of soda or fruit punch, try a healthier red beverage. Add any combination of frozen raspberries, strawberries, cherries, or slices of blood oranges or grapefruit to a big water pitcher. The natural fruit will infuse into the water to give it a delicate flavor. Use seltzer instead of water for a bubbly alternative!
Give the most important muscle a workout! Have a Valentine’s Day dance party, a jumping party, or balance-a-balloon-on-your head party. You’ll get everyone moving with hearts pumping. The possibilities are endless! Or go on a heart hunt. Hide paper heart cut-outs or heart-shaped stickers around the house. See who can find the most hearts for a fun Valentine’s day activity that will keep your kids on their feet!
If you’re cooking Valentine’s Day dinner at home, spice it up with red spices like cumin, red pepper, cayenne, or sumac instead of salt. Your dish will be lower in sodium but higher in flavor! You can also cook something the night before, and pack a Valentine’s Day themed lunch for your little sweetheart. Don’t stop there – have fun making Valentine’s day food art. It’s all good for your heart!
Try some festive fruit kabobs! Keep your kids busy with this healthy Valentine’s snack. Use fingers to pull off the stem of strawberry, slice in half. At the top center of each strawberry half, use a paring knife to cut a small “v” shape to make a strawberry look like a heart. Have your kids place strawberries and other favorite fruit on a wooden skewer for a lovely snack.
Indulge in sweets with added benefits. Make your desserts heart-healthy by dipping fresh and dried fruits in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that can protect your heart.
Another great Valentine’s day activity for kids is to teach them about their heart, how to find their heartbeat, and what they should do to keep their hearts healthy. There are a variety of age-appropriate Super Crew activities for kids here.
Run a food or clothing drive in your school or neighborhood and donate the items to local shelters. Or, give the gift of a water bottle and a healthy snack to a homeless person. A small, kind gesture goes a long way.
Try out one of these heart-healthy Valentine’s Day activities this year. The best way to show our kids how much we love them is to help them live a healthy life with a strong heart!
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