Kids in the Kitchen: Healthy Living

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This blog was originally written for Explore McAllen dot com: We visited with the McAllen Parks and Recreation and McAllen Junior League this morning to find out how they're helping kids stay healthy this summer.

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When we arrived, a gaggle of hungry kids were crafting their very own nutritious Hawaiian pizza, with turkey substituted for ham.  We resisted the urge to join in the pizza making and observed as a volunteer and nutritionist taught the kids about how to portion out the right amount of toppings.

Another group of kids learned about how much sugar was in popular snacks like Skittles or how much fat was really in those tasty fast food fries.

We joined another group making "apple smiles", slices of apples with a dollup of peanut butter and a couple of marshmallows (you have to make it fun for kids!)

Finally, the kids rocked out with a dance lesson to a Kidz Bop version of Tanio Cruz.

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Do you take steps at home to make sure your kids have a healthy lifestyle? 

Here's 5 ways you can make a difference in their healthy habits.

1. Play video games with them: The revolutionary innovations of X-Box Kinect and the Nintendo Wii have made it possible to sneak a workout in.  May I suggest Michael Jackson: The Experience. (Insider tip: You'll sneak a singing lesson in there too).

2. Replace sodas at home with juice, tea and water: I will admit I'm completely addicted to drinking Coca Cola.  I've made it a point this year to cut back to be what was one a day to one a week to once in a blue moon.  Now I drink lots of water, fruit juices and tea.  It's much healthier and you won't pump your kids full of carbonated caffeine.

3. Go for a walk in the park: Sure it can be a little warm out, but isn't that what the 29th and Zinnia Splash Park is for?  Take the kids for a walk in the park and then play on the neat playground equipment!

5. Switch out junk food for healthy alternatives: Celery and peanut butter, apples, fruit cups...the possibilities are endless.  Eating healthy food is even more fun when you bring the kids in the kitchen to show them how to make these snacks too, just like the Kids in the Kitchen program does.