LHI Niks Picks- Guest Blogger Anne Cundiff Shares Her Healthy Back to School Plan

How are you planning to get your kids ready for school?  You need the backpack with the school supplies.  You probably need some new clothes and shoes to accommodate the healthy growth over the summer.  A haircut is in order as well.  That just about covers all appearences, but what about the “insides” of your child?  Have you thought about getting a nutrition plan together for a successful back-to-school transition?


Here have a few quick tips to consider:

  1. Your goal from day one should be to include a healthy breakfast before you send your child off to school. Studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better on tests, that they have improved concentration and attention in school and that they have more energy to make it through the day.  Start them off right with some cereal, fruit, an egg and a glass of low-fat milk.
  2. Most school children have two choices for lunch – eat what the school offers or bring a sack lunch. While school lunch programs offer the healthy selection of a well-balanced meal, you may want to have the makings of a good sack lunch available for the days your child won’t eat what’s offered at school.  Bring home some whole grain bread and lean lunchmeat for a healthy sandwich topped with lettuce and mustard.  Have fruit available for the packed lunch, as well as for after-school snacks.  Fruit juice or milk in a thermos will be good for them and good for the environment.  In fact, all the packed lunch items can go into reusable, re-sealable containers.
  3. Have a variety of healthy snacks available for those after-school activities. A good trail mix is a perfect option because it provides quick and stable energy. Another easy idea is serving sliced cheese on wheat crackers.  Add a piece of fruit and your child will be full until dinnertime.

In this edition of  Nik’s Picks, Anne whips up a quick and easy Fruity Trail Mix which provides a balance of protein and carbohydrates that will surely please growing active eaters.

Fruity Trail Mix Serves 15

All you need: 3 cups Hy-Vee Deluxe Fruit & Grain Medley Cereal 1/2 cup Hy-Vee banana chips 1/2 cup Hy-Vee dried cherries 1/2 cup Hy-Vee dried cranberries 1/2 cup Hy-Vee quartered dried apricots


All you do:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Store in airtight container.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 120, Carbohydrate: 23g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Fat: 2g. Protein: 2g, Sodium: 60mg


Submitted by Anne Cundiff , Registered Dietitian with Hy-Vee

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Helping Kids Eat Right for Their Back to School Best

In the midst of chaos with back to school shopping, meet the teacher nights and squeezing in those last minute summer events, August is also National Kids Eat Right Month.image

To help organize your back to school healthy eating plan,  here are a couple of my favorite go-to resources to refocus on getting our kids the best nutrition they need to grow healthy and succeed in school.

Try out some of these helpful tips from Kids Eat Right to encourage your family to eat healthy as a back to school routine.


  • Shop smart – To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that
    will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.
  • Cook healthy – Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.
  • Eat right – Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful                                              meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one                                        another.

The perfect tool for a picky eater and a budget is the Spend Smart Eat Smart  program by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It provides tips on shopping, storing, cooking how-to videos and tasty recipes that use simple ingredients.

My favorite recipe to serve for the first day back to school breakfast is the Breakfast Splits. It is a nutrient packed BreakfastSplitsPhotobreakfast that looks like dessert.


To stay in the know,  make dinner a date! I make it a priority to pita pizza_0schedule family dinners on the calendar at least twice per week. It’s hard to accomplish with all the family member commitments, but when scheduled you are more likely to keep it as a date. For family meal nights, try out a recipe that is easy for everyone to dig in and help, such as Pita Bread Pizza. This recipe allows the kids to make it their own way with the veggies they love to eat.

Good luck with your fall adventures!

Written by Nikki Stahr, Registered Dietitian and Live Healthy Iowa Assistant Director


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LHI- Nik’s Picks- Cherries are Ripe and Ready

cherrybowlThis time on Nik’s Picks,  I am highlighting the sweet, tangy cherry. Boasting a mere 90 calories per cup, they are what dietitians call a nutrition powerhouse. Enjoy this short clip on how cherries may benefit you and your fitness goals.

Check out these tasty tips and delicious cherry recipes.

  • Add cherries to a fruit or green salad to add color, flavor and variety
  • Build a frozen yogurt sundae with poached cherries
  • Dried cherries add sweetness to oatmeal or trail mix
  • Top low fat vanilla yogurt with frozen cherries

Cherry Almond Farro Salad featured in Hy-Vee Dieititian Anne Cundif’s Blog Crazy Cool and in the Kitchen

Grilled Chicken & Fresh Cherry Salsa by Iowa Girl Eats Kristin Porter

So, if you are inspired to go out and buy a big bowl of cherries but you think, now what?, Web MD offers advice on picking, storing and additional health benefits in the fruit of the month. article.

Written by Nikki Stahr RD, Assistant Director; Live Healthy Iowaphoto(12)
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Live Healthy Iowa Rolls Out Nik’s Picks

spinachsmoothieAdding just a few simple foods or ingredients to your active eating plan may help
improve your chances of reaching your fitness goals. By keeping it simple and making small changes, you are more likely to stick with it and adapt healthier behaviors for life. Each month Live Healthy Iowa’s Assistant Director and registered dietitian Nikki Stahr, will feature Nik’s Picks. Nik’s Pick video blog series will showcase a food containing key nutrients important for active kids and adults. So kick back and enjoy!





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LHI Tip of the Week- When and How to Hydrate: Sports Dietitian Jennifer DeWall Shares Tips and Guidelines

It’s late July,  and as the tempuratures rise we need to pay more attention to our hydration status.  This is especially important during exercise and sports related activities, so that we don’t become dangerously overheated and dehydrated.  Choosing what to drink and when is sometimes a difficult decision with all the choices of beverages available.  As a youth softball coach, I often see the overuse of sport-type beverages when water would be a more appropiate choice.  According to the American jenndewallAcademy of Pediatrics, sports drinks are beneficial in both adults and youth althletes when used to replenish carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluids after endurance or high-intensity exercise. Water is recommended for the average athlete that is involved in regular activity. It is also important to know when to re-hydrate because when you feel thirsty it may be too late. Sports Dietitian and owner of Nutrition in Motion, Jennifer DeWall, has had the opportunity to council a wide variety of athletes and recommends the following guidelines when it comes to being properly hydrated before, during and after physical activity.

Hydration Guidelines

2 hours before: 14-22 oz.
10-20 minutes before: 7-10 oz.
Note: this can be a sports beverage if exercising on an empty stomach

During Exercise
6-12 oz. every 15 min. or as tolerated
1+ hour exercise add in sports beverage
Note: in extreme conditions, sports beverages or other electrolyte sources may be needed sooner.
Post Exercise
24 oz for every pound lost
Low-fat chocolate milk, water, sports drink

General Tips:
• Make sure you are drinking half your weight in ounces of water daily. Add in at least 10% if exercising. For example, a 140 pound athlete needs 70 ounces of water daily minimum.
• An easy way to judge general hydration status is by urine color. Light, straw colored urine is optimal. Anything darker may indicate your body is already dehydrated which may impair performance.

Prepared by Jennifer DeWall RDN, CSSD, LD – Sports Dietitian

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Running Shoes? A Happy Feet Investment

3rd place division finish.. I love running!

I am hooked!

If you are like me, a want-to-be better runner, one place to start is your shoes. Happy feet for a happy run! I started my running quest last fall when a friend asked me to run a charity 5K. My first thought,  “I hate running”, but would give it a shot.  Just to be clear, my history with running has been more of a punishment in competitive sports. I finished 3rd in my age division and admit at that point I was hooked. I am a competitor at heart and liked the fact that I could still compete in activities.  As my passion for running grew, so did my desire for the right apparrel and equipment.  Selecting running shoes usually involved a quick trip to the department store to buy a pair on sale. So, basically the cheaper the better.  It’s the runner’s form not the shoe, right?

Loving my morning run

A very hilly morning run

I found with my self-selected, cheaper version of running shoes my feet hurt and occassionally would experience tingling in my toes, as though I had a pinched nerve. After talking with a few of my experienced runner friends, I ventured out to invest in a pair of better running shoes.

Off with the old tired soles

Off with the old tired soles

I was lucky to find Kyle’s Bikes in Ankeny, Iowa. Kyle’s Bikes, like other outdoor active sports stores, offers a great selection of shoes paired with the latest technology. At Kyle’s they have the Dartfish gait analysis, which examines your posture and foot strike when running. This latest technology helps to place you in a more appropiate shoe.
Not being an experienced runner,  I was excited about finding a shoe that could make my feet feel better during and after my short distance runs. So, off to the shop where I met Bill Lorenz, otherwise known as the “Guru of shoe.”  Bill was extremely helpful pointing out that losing a toenail should not be a right of passage for runners to celebrate. This happens when the toenail bed is bruised and could be the result of the shoe being to tight or small. He advised that buying a running shoe the same size as your dress shoes is not the right approach. On average, running shoes should be a half size to full size bigger to allow feet to swell during a run.  Running shoes, just like any shoe have a mile limit. The mileage limit depends on the brand, but usually should be replaced an average of 300-400 miles. Bill suggests purchasing a new pair about half way through your mileage and alternate from old to new to help extend the life of each pair.




Happy Runner

After selecting a shoe size just a half size bigger and performing the Dartfish Gait Analysis, we selected the perfect shoe in the perfect color. What a difference it made. My feet and body are very happy and the investment is worth it to my health and safety. No matter what level runner you may be, consider seeking an expert like Bill to help you find the right fit shoe. It can help you stay happy and healthy. Now, off to some 5Ks this summer.

Happy Running!

Written by Nikki Stahr, Registered Dietitian with Live Healthy Iowa 
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LHI Tip of the Week: Beachfront Fun

July marks the start to several summertime activities from family reunions to picnic northiowabeachoccasions. This year let’s celebrate National Parks and Recreation Month by hitting the water and getting active at one of your favorite state park beaches.

You might be thinking that going to the beach can be a little overwhelming because of all the “stuff” we feel we need to pack for the day.  My thoughts exactly, when the kids say “let’s go to the beach.”  Once we get there and are settled in for the day, it’s quite relaxing. Try these ideas to make your next venture to the beach more healthy and happy.

  • Less is best. Only pack essentials such as sunscreen, beach towels or a blanket,  a small cooler and maybe a game. Pack them the day before to create less hassle the morning you head out.  You will find it much easier to carry less and that hands are the best sandcastle building tools.
  • Plan to use two towels per person, one to sit on and one to dry off and cover up. To keep the sand under control, place a large blanket down first under the towels.
  • Stock the cooler full of everyone’s favorite fruit and veggies for refreshing and hydrating beach day snacks.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after. Remember, sometimes swimming can dilute the thirst buds so be sure to set a timer, take a break and hydrate.
  • Chill out in the shade with a fun game to take a break from the sun.
  • Relax and soak up the scenery. Enjoy the sounds, smells and view at the beach, or play beach I spy to create lasting memories.

beachworkoutRelaxing at the beach is a great way to free your thoughts from the busy week, but so is working out. Use some beach time to get active. Try a quick and fun beach workout to get you up off your beach towel.


 photo(12)Written by Nikki Stahr, Registered Dietitian with Live Healthy Iowa 






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