February is American Heart Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and learning ways to prevent it. It’s the perfect month to think about easy ways you can promote healthy living at home. We’ve rounded up some creative ideas for heart-healthy activities, including outdoor fun, healthy foods and volunteering with the family.
Read on for four creative ways to spend “A Day with Heart” with your family through heart healthy family activities.
Create with Heart
Spend time making a fun and easy craft with your little ones. They’ll use their own two hands to create a keepsake that can be cherished for years to come. This Heart Craft from Princess Preschool can be planned in advance or set up on the spur of the moment with materials already in your house.
-Toilet Paper Rolls
-Construction or Poster Paper
- First, flatten the toilet paper rolls.
- Fold one side towards the middle to form a heart, rounding the edges as needed.
- Pour paint onto paper plates.
- Dip rolls into paint and stamp paper with the hearts.
- Let the masterpieces dry.
Get your Heart Pumping
Feeling shut in by the cold? If your kids are bouncing off the walls, bundle up and head outdoors to get everyone’s heart pumping. Spend the afternoon exploring the Freylinghuysen Arboretum, taking in the fresh air and beautiful landscape. Tap into their brain power too by taking part in the Winter Weekend Photo Scavenger Hunt. Stop by the Education Center for a list of items to search for, then head out with your phone to take pics on the grounds. February’s theme is “A Pop of Color.”
Share your Heart
Volunteering as a family benefits everyone involved. It improves teamwork, boosts your mood and allows your family to make a difference in the community. There are many opportunities throughout the Garden State to get involved. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey offers a range of options at their Hillside and Egg Harbor Township warehouses. Volunteers can sort through donated food or help assemble Family Packs and supplemental food boxes for seniors. Children ages six and over can volunteer on designated Family Days too. Jersey Cares is another great organization that offers one-time and ongoing volunteer projects.
Nourish Your Heart
Having a conversation around the dinner table nourishes the heart and soul as well as the body. After a day of family fun, parents may not be in the mood to roll up their sleeves and mess up the kitchen. Multi-award winning chef, restaurateur and author Eric LeVine shares one of his signature dishes at Morris Tap & Grill and Paragon Tap & Table. This prep-ahead heart healthy family recipe will get the kids begging for more veggies. “The Acorn Squash is loaded with heart-healthy vegetables and chestnuts,” he explains. “It’s vegan, but hearty enough for carnivores.”
Stuffed Acorn Squash (serves 2)
-1 ea Acorn Squash
-½ cup Brown sugar
– Then ½ cup Brussels Sprouts, cut into quarter pieces
-½ cup Oyster Mushrooms, sliced thin
– Another ½ cup Dried Cranberries
-½ cup Garlic Bulbs
– Plus ½ cup Chestnuts, cooked, peeled & lightly chopped
-½ cup Olive Oil
-1 cup Vegetable stock
-Salt and Pepper
- Cut top of acorn squash, and slice bottom of squash so it is balanced and will not tip over. Scoop out seeds.
- Combine brown sugar, 2 teaspoons oil, salt and pepper.
- Rub inside and outside of squash with oil mixture.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and cook squash on sheet pan for 20-30 minutes or until acorn squash is tender.
- In the meantime, prepare the other vegetables.
- Once squash is ready, heat sauté pan with remaining olive oil.
- Add Brussels sprouts, garlic and mushrooms and sauté until golden brown and tender.
- Add Dried cranberries and chestnuts and sauté until cranberries and chestnuts are warm.
- Finish with vegetable stock.
- Place acorn squash in the center of the plate. Fill with vegetable mix and sprinkle the remaining mix around.
This can be done up to two days before serving. Before serving, heat oven to 350 degrees, and heat for 10 minutes or until warm.