Sweet Potato Fries

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are sharing simple, healthy, delicious, and fun recipes for you to try all week!

Sweet Potato Fries [full recipe here]
Serves 8

Ingredients
6 whole Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cut Into Thin Sticks
1 stick Salted Butter
2 cloves Garlic, Pressed (optional)
1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (optional)
1 teaspoon Chili Powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (optional)
Salt For Sprinkling

Preparation Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Melt the butter. If you want to season the butter, add garlic, seasoned salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Stir with a fork.
3. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in the butter/seasoning mixture. Arrange on two baking sheets and bake in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, shaking the pans halfway through, until the fries are sizzling (watch so that the edges don’t burn). Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the pan for 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt.

Note: Sweet potatoes will not be overly crisp, but they should be firm…and, of course, scrumptious!

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Oven-Baked Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are sharing simple, healthy, delicious, and fun recipes for you to try all week!
Oven-Baked Zucchini Parmesan Crisps [from The Kitchn]
Serves 4
2 medium zucchini (yellow or green, or both!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg white
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450°F and lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Using a mandolin slicer (or a handheld knife), slice the zucchinis into 1/4 inch rounds. Transfer the zucchini coins to a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drizzle the olive oil and the egg white over top and toss to coat evenly.

Mix the panko crumbs and parmesan together in a shallow tray. Working with a few coins a time, dredge the zucchini in the panko-parmesan mixture and transfer to the greased baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the zucchini are golden brown and crispy. Allow them to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) on the baking sheet before transferring them to a serving tray with a spatula. Serve warm or room temp with your favorite salsa or dip.

Did you try this recipe? Let us know how you like it!

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Alice Waters’ Greek Salad

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are sharing simple, healthy, delicious, and fun recipes for you to try all week!

Greek Salad [from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food]
4 servings

Cut out the stem end and cut into wedges: 2 small ripe tomatoes
Season with: Salt
Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and thickly slice: 1 medium cucumber
(If the seeds are large, remove them by scraping a spoon down the center of the halved cucumber.)
Peel and thinly slice: 1/2 small red onion or 5 green onions
Cut in half, core and seed, and slice thin: 1 small sweet red pepper
Rinse (and if you prefer, pit): About 1/4 cup black olives (2-3 olives per person)
Break up or cut into small pieces: 4 ounces feta cheese
Make a vinaigrette. Mix:
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Whisk in: 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Season the cucumbers and onions with salt. Taste the tomatoes and season again if they need it. Gently toss the vegetables with about three quarters of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. The salad can sit for a few minutes to let the flavors blend together. Just before serving, gently toss the salad again and garnish with the cheese and olives. Spoon over the remaining vinaigrette.

Variations:
-Serve the salad over a few leaves of romaine or other lettuce.
-Dried oregano may be substituted for fresh, but use only 1 teaspoon
-A Greek salad is a hearty dish; wish some crusty bread, it could be the main event of a dinner

Enjoy! Let us know if you try this recipe!

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Choose to Eat Healthy

With so much information and so little time to plan and prepare meals, it can seem that eating healthy is nearly an impossible task in today’s world. There are small steps that even the busiest families can take in order to improve your family’s health each day. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your daily approach to healthy eating:

Aim for Five Every Day

Be intentional about making the delicious crunch of fruits and veggies a significant part of every meal and snack your family enjoys throughout the day.

Choose Your Drinks with Care

A simple way to improve the overall health of your family is to adjust your approach to beverages. Try cutting out drinks with sugar added and focus on drinking more water, 100% fruit juice and milk.

Check the Label

Look at ingredient lists; if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. By learning to make sense of the information that all food packages are required to provide, you can begin to make choosing healthier foods a little easier.

Control Your Portions

Sure, we all over do it from time to time, but by being careful to consume food portions that are in line with energy output from physical activity, everyone can eat healthier. A good trick is to take 5 deep breaths between bites. This gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full, helping to avoid overeating.

For additional tips and strategies for building these and more healthy habits, visit the YMCA’s Healthy Family Home.

To help you celebrate National Nutrition Month, we will post simple, healthy, delicious and fun recipes here all week!

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Read Across America with Dr. Seuss

Students nationwide will pick up a book to celebrate Dr. Seuss today, March 2, National Education Association’s 18th annual Read Across America Day celebration of reading and Dr. Seuss’s birthday. NEA, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, created NEA’s Read Across America Day in 1997 to promote the joy and importance of reading and to celebrate the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. NEA’s Read Across America has grown into a year-round literacy program engaging more than 50 national partners and millions of children, teens, and adults.

Take part in this exciting celebration! Here are some ideas:

1. Take the Reader’s Oath

2. Visit your local library and read one of Dr. Seuss’ books

3. Make reading fun at home! Find great ideas on our Pinterest!

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Art Impact

The Arts leave a lasting mark on youth, inspiring self-expression, self-esteem, and critical and creative thinking. According to research by the John F. Kennedy Center, youth who regularly participate in arts programs tend to display more intellectual curiosity, experience higher levels of excitement from their school work, and apply more effort during their attempts to complete school projects and assignments. Parents of these youth noticed their children taking more risks, solving problems with ease, and respecting other people’s ideas and opinions. Students in the Kennedy Center’s Arts in Education Research Study were more confident, intellectually curious, and positively challenged citizens who may be better equipped to generate original ideas to improve their communities and contribute to a creative global economy.

To help nurture the potential of our youth, the Y offers a Y-Arts programs to help improve creative and tactical skills, learn to socialize and build relationships. The Y-Arts program can make all the difference for some children, keeping young minds creating and discovering.

Community member and parent to a former Y-Arts student, Rosanna Salcedo tells us “the Y-Arts program gave my child the freedom to express his creativity, and encouraged him to explore new forms of artistic expression, in a supportive environment. Thanks to Y-Arts, he has experience using a variety of materials and techniques.”

Learn more about Y-Arts! Registration is open for the next Y-Arts Session. Classes meet once a week from 4-5 pm for 6 weeks at the YMCA in Exeter, 30 Linden St. Each class costs $85 for 6 weeks. All classes are taught by local Exeter artist, Marissa Vitolo.

Y-Arts Session 2: Tuesday, March 10th – Thursday, April 16th

Tuesdays: Painting and Drawing

Thursdays: Hand building (clay)

Register today!

Fall in Love with Heart Health during American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month and as a leading voice on improving the nation’s health, the Southern District YMCA urges everyone in our community to take steps to make sure they are heart healthy so they can lead longer, healthier lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. The Y offers community-based healthy living initiatives that support people in changing their lifestyles, and encourages organizations and communities to adopt behaviors that promote healthy living and promote the public’s health through advocacy.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. As part of this commitment, the Y is developing a new national program that will help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure through coaching support and a proven self-monitoring practice. Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

Here are some tips on how to live heart healthy.

  1. Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
  1. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep has been associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
  1. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
  1. Feeling the Pressure: According to the American Heart Association, lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 78 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor.
  1. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park.

Heart disease is critical issue for all New Hampshire residents and it’s never too late to get heart healthy!

The Right To Play

At the YMCA, we believe the pillars of a healthy family home are eat healthy, play every day, get together, go outside, and sleep well.

Now that school is back in session and kids will spend much of their day indoors, we encourage parents to help their children spend time outside. Protect your children’s right to play! Parks and playgrounds are wonderful environments for unstructured outdoor play. They provide opportunities for children to test out their abilities as they climb, slide, swing and hang. Parks are also good environments for parents to watch but not hover as children interact with one another in a safe setting. Having the opportunity to explore, problem solve and resolve the occasional conflict will help your child develop a healthy sense of independence. Balance independent exploratory time with your own efforts to be active with your child.

There are incredible resources for families looking for information and ideas to support their healthy family home. The YMCA website is a great place to start!

Download this quick start kit to help your family accomplish Healthy Family Home goals to play every day!

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FUN With Your Family

August is Family Fun Month! There are only a few weeks left before school starts. Here are some fun and creative ideas to have fun with your family. How many can you complete this month?

1. Visit a local park: Go for a walk, toss a frisbee, pack a lunch, and don’t forget your picnic blanket!

2. Host a dance party: Turn your living room into a party zone by dressing up in funky clothes, dimming the lights, and turning on your favorite dance music. Disco ball is optional!

3. Beach outing: We are lucky to live in an area close to the beach, take full advantage while there is still a little bit of warmth! Take your kids out to the beach and let them boogie board while you soak up some sun and relax.

4. Book Night! You don’t always have to leave the house to have fun. Take a trip to the local library and check out some books so you can huddle up with your family and read. You might want to include a longer novel where everyone can read a chapter or two.

5. Scavenger hunt: Give your kids a list of things that they will need to find around the house or in your neighborhood. Have some prizes ready for the person who finds all items on the list!

6. Backyard movie night: Why not watch a movie in your own makeshift movie theater? Play your family’s favorite movie using a projector and a blank wall. Make sure to pop some popcorn!

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Every Duck Makes A Difference

Thank you to everyone who purchased a duck as part of the Every Duck Makes A Difference fundraiser on July 12! We raised more than $1,200, all of which will go towards scholarships for local children to attend year-round YMCA programs such as School Age Child Care or summer camp at YMCA Camp Lincoln.

The winning ducks were:
First place- 222, Second place- 261, Third place- 197, Fourth place- 259, Fifth place- 69

Congratulations to our Rubber Duck Race winners!

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