Create fun, healthy, active activities

June 05, 2012|Lynn Little

Family meals and get-togethers are good times to show how to eat new and healthful foods and to be more active. 

Set an example for your family and friends. Make your own healthy choices about food and physical activity. Arrange for children to play and be physically active in safe places. Allow children to make choices from food and activities you provide. Try new foods with kids. Remember that with time, children will learn to like the taste and texture of the foods adults enjoy.

Use MyPlate ( to plan foods for your event. Offer a variety of foods, whether it is a full meal or a mini-meal. Use MyPlate to help you choose a variety of foods from all the food groups. Offer whole-grain crackers, serve a spicy bean dip and a veggie tray, make fruit kabobs, layer yogurt and fruit to make a parfait. Use whole grains and veggies to make a savory, healthy salad. Add a few eye-catching fruits to a favorite dish.

Try something new, such as adding new ingredients to a favorite recipe or serving a new side dish with a favorite main dish. Try out some healthier recipes. Find ways to cut back on sugar, salt and fat as you prepare your favorite recipes. Try some of the recipes on  

We eat with our mouth and nose as well as our eyes. Prepare foods that look, smell and taste delicious. Decorate foods so they look interesting and appealing. Make foods look festive by decorating with nuts or seeds, green onions and herbs. Use cookie cutters for new and different shapes for sandwiches, vegetables and fruits. 

Offer thirst quenchers that please. Make fun ice cubes from 100-percent fruit juice or add slices of fruit to make water more exciting. Create a float by adding a scoop of low-fat sorbet to seltzer water.

Offer milk or drinks made with low-fat or fat-free milk. Make blender drinks such as smoothies. Go easy on juice. 

Shop smart to eat smart. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season. They can cost less and taste better. Save money by offering foods that fit your budget. Plan in advance and buy foods on sale.

Make sure foods are properly stored and cooked. Serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Milk tastes best cold.  Most soups are more flavorful when hot. 

The right temperature helps foods taste better and keeps them safe. For more information on keeping food safe, go to 

Keep it simple. Have others participate by bringing a dish to share, helping with clean up or keeping the kids active and moving. 

Make healthy habits part of your get-togethers with family and friends. Serve tasty, healthy foods in a fun active environment. Focus on enjoying friends and family.

Explore the United States Department of Agriculture's web sites for recipes:; www.choose for sample menus and recipes.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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