Tips for Healthy Snacking

With school back in session, many of us have kids coming in the door at 3:30 absolutely “starving” after a busy day of learning and playing. While it’s easy to hand them a pre-made, packaged snack, there are much better, healthier, earth-friendly snacks that they will happily gobble down.

So, how do you get your kids to actually eat that healthy snack?

kids vegThis first step is to get them involved. Kids, and most adults, are much more apt to get excited about something that they have some say in. Ask them what they want and have them help prepare it, whether it’s cleaning and chopping fresh fruits and veggies or mixing up homemade granola, if they help make it, chances are they will want to eat it, too.

 

Don’t go overboard. A snack is just that, a snack. It’s not a meal, it’s just a little something to give them a boost until dinner time. Giving too many choices is overwhelming and could also cause them to fill up on snacks and not be hungry when it’s time to sit down for the next meal. Also, finger food is the best snack food. Anything that kids can eat without utensils is way more likely to get eaten!

Make it interactive. Offer some different sliced up fruits or meat and cheese cubes that kids can put on a skewer to make their own kabobs. One of our favorite snacks at Eco Camp is Moose Lips. Each kid gets apple slices, raisins, a spoonful of peanut butter, and a butter knife. They then spread the peanut butter on an apple slice, top it with another apple slice, and stick raisins to the peanut butter that squishes out between the two. This one also makes for fun pictures!

Prep ahead of time. If you want your kids to eat those delicious fruits and veggies, have them all chopped up and ready to go so they don’t have to wait. Spend a little time on the weekend cutting up carrots and celery or slicing up a watermelon so that when your littles are hungry it’s quick and easy for them to grab that healthy snack. Some of that prep work can serve dual purposes, too. Another tried and true, and more substantial, Eco Camp snack is bagel faces. The kids are given half of a bagel spread with cream cheese, then they choose what they want from the assorted cut up veggies and arrange them on their bagel to make a face. All of the veggies you use for bagel faces make great salad additions, too!

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Eat the rainbow. Kids love color! Offer a variety of fresh fruits and veggies and challenge your kiddos to eat at least one item from every color of the rainbow. Or, go the opposite and eat all foods of one color. Have them help pick out snack foods that are all red, like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and watermelon. Or orange like carrots, cantaloupe, and cheese. Each day can be a different color!

Get creative! If you have the time and the interest, there are many ways to present snacks that will make them irresistible to kids! We’ve made rainbow fruit fish, Oscar the Grouch out of broccoli, and Elmo out of cherry tomatoes. If you need a little inspiration, a quick Google or Pinterest search will have your snack schedule set for the rest of the school year!

Introduction to Camping: Camper Camping

In recent years, campers can be seen headed out on adventures nearly any summer day, especially on weekends. For many people, the draw of a camper is being able to enjoy the tranquility of the great outdoors without giving up the comforts of home – you can literally bring the kitchen sink with you!

There are several different types of campers, so let’s start with a basic overview.

Pick-up campers are just that, a camper that sits on your pick-up truck. While there are a variety of styles, they generally include a double bed, a table that folds down into a single bed, a sink, and a small fridge. Great for one person, a couple, or even a small family. With the camper right on your truck, there’s no trailer to back up and your camper is always with you. On the downside, your camper is always with you. If you want to go out exploring for the day, it generally means packing up and securing everything in the camper so you can safely travel, and setting up again when you get back to your site.

Pop-up trailers, with their canvas sides over the beds, give you some of the feels of tent camping with the some of the luxuries of a camper. Most have storage space, a small stovetop, and can include a sink, fridge, and even a toilet. They’re not as big to pull as a travel trailer, but give you more space once they’re set up.

 

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Eco Camp – 3 Down, 1 to Go!

2018 was designated the Year of the Bird by the National Audubon Society, so Birds of a Feather seemed like a natural theme for this year’s Eco Camp. With August now upon us, we have just one camp left. Our first three camps were a huge success and so much fun was had by all!

There are favorite activities that we do every year with each group. The week always starts with introductions, making name buttons, and tie-dying our themed t-shirts. This year, each group also made a version of the bird that was their mascot for the week to put up on our Eco Camp wall.

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For the second year, we were able to take our three oldest groups to the lake! This was a great day with swimming, kayaking, yard games, and jumping off the dock. Each week ends with the campers’ family and friends gathering Friday afternoon to see what the kids have been doing all week. The campers turn into the counselors, with an opportunity to teach their families all about campus and the weeks’ activities!

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Turtle Talks Podcast – Episode 7: Compost & Soil Testing

In the last several episodes, we’ve talked the benefits of following the pillars of soil health. We’ve spread the soil-health Bible far and wide, and now it’s time to start growing.

In our latest episode, we discuss how to measure what your soil has in it. We discuss the “shovel-test” method and the chemical-test method, and once you learn what’s going on in your soil, how to add soil-amendments to maximize your soil’s growing power.

We also talk on the subject of compost, how it’s made, and how we apply it. Moreover, we go into how to make our compost tea. Now, this isn’t your English grand-marm’s tea. It’s a fluid based mixture seeped with our very own homemade compost.

Included is our weekly Garden Update, where Dave discusses moving towards (finally) a more warm season, and our very first WWOOFer. You can read more about Alayna here. Lots to listen to. Let’s get started!

 

For those that are interested in a more detailed “recipe” of compost, you can find a pretty good video below. They cover the necessary “ingredients” for a well-functioning compost pile.

Our First WWOOFer

We’d love to introduce you to our first WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF connects farms with those interested in learning more about them and their practices.

Hailing from the farming community of Winsted in central Minnesota, Alayna Karas has a first-person perspective of modern farming. Karas grew up learning the techniques her parents, and her parents’ parents (and THEIR parents) have been using for over one hundred years.

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Alayna stepped right into the planting season her first day.

Yet, despite living on a century farm, bucking tradition seems to be in Karas’ nature. As a child, all of her siblings were expected to do their share of chores. One of these chores, Karas shared, was to take a calf, nurture it to maturity, and then eventually butcher it. She laughed as she told me that she could never bring herself to take that last step.

“My parent’s just admitted that I wouldn’t do it,” Karas laughed. “I’m sure my cow is still alive and running around the farm.”

It seems that Karas has embraced the ability to see what works for her and what doesn’t, and she saw something in her community that wasn’t working.

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Screen Free Week Observations

Last week children, families, entire schools, and communities across the nation participated in Screen Free Week, endeavoring to not use any screens during non school and work hours. That meant no smart phones, no video games, no TV, no computers, no screens of any kind. Several of us here at Happy Dancing Turtle participated as well, including me and my two daughters, 8 year old K, and 6 year old B.

Screen Free Week started on Monday, April 30, so the Saturday before that I told them all about it and that we would be participating. This news was met with some protest and with the girls watching TV or using their tablets every spare second they could! On Monday, I had an afternoon appointment, so their grandma picked them up from daycare and brought them home. When I arrived home, the girls were happily playing outside on the swing set. After a quick supper, we all headed back outside. The girls rode the go kart with their dad while I putzed around the yard. We headed in at 8:00 and got them ready for bed. After they were in bed, I turned to the giant pile of laundry that had amassed over the past week and got everything folded and put away. With the little time I had left until my bedtime after that massive undertaking, I finished a book I had started a few days before.

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Reducing our Landfill Output

Reading that an item takes eleventy bazillion years to break down in the environment makes for great attention grabbing stuff when writing articles on green living, but the more I research various related topics, the more I find differences in estimations.

Recycling is great as it keeps our landfills from filling up. However, even if we choose to purchase biodegradable plastics and post-consumer made notebooks, it’s not even a guarantee that we’re making a difference.

Take a look at how our modern landfills work. Modern landfills have mountains of regulations and environmental concerns to deal with, making their task of keeping up with the amount of trash we produce to be an extreme duty. Kudos to all who do! It’s truly a thankless job.

What this post is trying to point out is that even despite all the hard work that landfill workers and administrators do to minimize the harm, they can’t do enough in the face of a planet that doesn’t help.

If we continue to purchase more items, with little concern for how those items are made, packaged, delivered, and eventually tossed into the trash, little progress is going to be made on the landfill front.

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Happy National Pancake Day

Tuesday, February 27 is National Pancake Day (with International Pancake Day on March Sunday March 4 following close behind). Historically hosted as the last day before Lent, the date moves yearly and always occurs on Fat Tuesday (also known as Mardi Gras).

Since pancakes are universally loved, we thought we’d share out favorite recipes from around campus.

Jim’s Homemade by Hand Pancakes

Food & Water Security Coordinator, Jim Chamberlin thinks it’s better to take your time with your batter and that it’s not too important to be exact.

Chamberlin begins, “I start with four hand fulls of Natural Way Mills Gold N White Flour. Then I add two eggs, a couple capfuls of raw apple cider vinegar, and a couple blobs of melted butter. I pour in milk until I get a consistency of wet cement. Then I let it stand for two to 12 hours.”

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I went to the St. Cloud IHOP to research some other famous pancake recipes.

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Top 5 Indoor Garden Ideas

1) Indoor Succulent Garden succulents

One of the best things about succulents is their variety. You can fill your dining room table with so many varieties of succulents without repeating that you may have to eat your dinners in the kitchen. Not requiring constant attention, succulents are a perfect entry to putting some green in your house.

Go to Jessica’s Design Blog for more ideas.

2) Regrowing Veggies from scrapscelerychopped

Getting your kids to eat their veggies can be difficult sometimes, but now you’ve got a trick up your sleeve. Tell your child that once they eat their green deliciousness, they can turn their scraps into a living, growing plant. Some tasty veggies only require being set in a cup of water to get it sprouted again, such as celery, bok choi, and cabbage. Super easy and a great way to reuse. Check out here for more ideas.

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