Cook with 95 percent lean ground beef instead of ground round, to cut saturated fat and calories. Your family won’t even notice the difference.
To reduce your kids’ fat intake, seek out low-fat alternatives to their favorite treats. Choose pretzels instead of potato chips and frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
Talk as a family instead. Research shows that eating together actually helps improve kids’ achievement scores and reduce behavioral problems.
Administer a “take home test” by interviewing prospective sitters in your home and letting the sitter watch the children while you clean another room in the house.
Exposing your eyes to morning sunlight resets your body clock, telling your brain it’s time to wake up and boosting your energy.
Buy a kid-friendly cookbook and whip up one dish a week with your kids. You’ll have some family fun (and good food!) in the kitchen, plus kids will love eating their creations.
Sick of putting sandwiches day after day in your kid’s lunch box? Add a little variety with a healthy turkey wrap that’s just as easy and kid-friendly as the sandwich standby.
According to research, the smell of a strawberry candle can motivate exercisers to work harder, boosting their calorie burn by as much as 19 percent.
When introducing young children to swimming, don’t use those inflatable arm rings. They give kids and parents a false sense of security, since they can easily fall off or leak air.
Harvard Medical School researchers have dubbed aerobic exercise “Miracle-Gro for the brain,” since engaging in it several times a week makes brain cells bigger, better and more resilient.
You can adopt a penguin, lemur, panda or one of 40 other animals when you make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund at the organization’s Web site.
Sick of hearing the old “but there’s nothing to do” routine? Next time, send your kids to the “Boredom Box,” which you can fill with games, crafts and more fun stuff.
Having trouble falling asleep? Fill your tub. Studies show that a 45-minute hot bath taken two hours before bedtime beats prescription medications.
A flirty fringe is perfect for hiding forehead lines and can make you look instantly younger -- no injections required.
Cut clothes or figures from old magazines and catalogs, and glue them to construction paper or cardboard. You can stick the clothes on the dolls with either taped paper tabs or paper clips.
Goldfish are classic no-fuss pets, but tadpoles offer an even better learning experience. All you need is some de-chlorinated water and a bit of lettuce to get them started. When they’ve grown, have a release party in your garden!
Instead of giving in to your kid’s latest toy obsession, raid the old toy chest in your own parents’ house and give your kids some blocks, dolls and games from your childhood. Your children and their grandparents will love the exchange.
Instead of tossing those unused, brand-new toys and gifts, put them in a box for future, last-minute gifts. Does your kid’s friend have a birthday party, but you don’t have time to shop? Now that untouched art kit has a home!
If your kids have a penchant for drawing all over your pristine walls, go with the flow and buy some chalkboard paint. Paint a square (or a whole wall) in the playroom or basement and let your kids go crazy. It’ll erase and clean just like the chalkboards at school.
Here’s a project for science-savvy kids: Tape a ruler to the inside of a glass or pot (make sure there aren’t any holes in the bottom), put it outside in a clear area, and measure rain or snow fall together.
It may just be a home remedy, but many people swear by local honey as a fix for seasonal, pollen-related allergies. Pick up a jar at your local farmer’s market to test the theory.
On the next rainy or snowy day, lay down some newspaper and give each of your kids a bar of soap and a dull knife, then tell them to start sculpting. It’s easy to carve and even easier to clean up!
Can’t get your little ones to eat their vegetables? Gather toothpicks, peanut butter and lots of veggies in different shapes and colors, and have your kids build an animal with the supplies. But remind them: All creations have to be eaten at the end!
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that familiar, soothing music can relax both children and adults. Choose a moderate-volume playlist for your morning routine, playtime and dinner to add fun and focus to each activity.
If your kids ask for everything when you’re out shopping, give them a small, fixed amount ($2 or $3) and let them choose what to spend it on. The choices will keep them busy and teach them basic budgeting.
Not feeling up to matching all those socks at the end of laundry day? Have your kids roll them into balls. At the end of the chore, split up the pile, choose teams and start a sock-throwing war!
Most kids lose their first teeth in kindergarten and don’t stop until they start middle school. That’s a lot of tooth fairy visits! Instead of giving your kids cash for their choppers, slip some antique coins under their pillows. They’re more memorable than bills, and kids will have a great show and tell the next day.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by your kids while running errands, pack a bag of small (quiet) toys -- silly putty, playing cards, a yo-yo -- to keep in your purse or the car. Kids will be occupied, and you’ll be happy while you ferry them from place to place.
Got a sunny place in your home that could use some greenery? Plant a basil or mint plant, pinch back the top buds for fuller leaves and get ready for homegrown flavor all year long.
Switch it up with quinoa, a South American staple that cooks in about 10 minutes and takes the flavor of almost anything. Plus, it has a ton of protein and great, nutty flavor.
Everyone needs calcium for strong bones, but kids between ages 9 and 18 (especially girls) need the most: 1,300 mg a day. (One 8-ounce glass of milk has about 300 mg.)
Pour your kids’ favorite juice into an ice tray, cover with plastic wrap & stick a toothpick in each one. Soon you’ll have mini-popsicles!
Everyone wants to ride next to the driver, but little ones need to wait. To keep everyone safe, only kids 13 and up should be sitting in the passenger seat.
What to do with all those T-shirts from plays, sports teams and camps? Turn them into a keepsake quilt. Just cut squares from the shirts and sew them together in a patchwork pattern.
For a fun afternoon snack, set out some sauce, cheese and crusty bread so kids can make their own pizza pies. Help them spread the toppings, then stick the pies in the oven, and you’ll have a tasty snack in no time!
Since sports are the leading cause of eye injuries and blindness in children, be sure your kids wear safety glasses when they’re on the field or court.
Kids quickly learn they can get parental attention by picking fights with one another. Instead of meddling, let them develop their own conflict-resolution skills.
Try geocaching, a high-tech scavenger hunt that uses a GPS unit. Go to the geocaching Web site to review coordinates and clues with your kids, and then head out for a hike outdoors.
Avoid using scented soaps and lotions, and wearing bright colors or flower prints, which encourage insects to bite. Apply repellents containing 10 to 30 percent DEET, safe for children over 2 months old.
Ditch the car and hop on a bus, train, trolley or boat. Any mode that's out of the ordinary will become a big part of your kids' vacation memories.
Even if you use a mattress cover and pad, protect your family from allergy-causing critters by stripping your bed and vacuuming your mattress twice a month.
This summer, resist the urge to schedule every moment of your child’s time, even if he or she complains, “Mom, I’m bored!” Boredom often motivates kids to create interesting things to do all on their own.
Gabbing to a pal immediately lowers blood pressure as well as stress hormones. Research shows that maintaining friendships can positively affect your health over time, as can being active.
Present your kids options for doing chores, such as tidying up the playroom or cleaning their room.
Frequent trips to the sink will kill cold germs -- even if you don’t use hot water. The key: suds up for at least 15 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
Calculate the "longcut" when walking to school, the store or a friend's house. Add a few hills, stairways or secret paths through the woods too.
Fix chicken breasts tonight and use the extra to prepare enchiladas for tomorrow. Or make meatloaf and stow extra chopped onions and browned meat in the fridge for chili night.
Cut a 2-liter plastic bottle in half. Then layer pebbles, activated charcoal, Spanish moss, soil and an easy-to-maintain houseplant like a Begonia. Your kids will see life grow before their eyes!
One can of cola a day can add up to 1050 empty calories by the end of the week, so save soda for an occasional restaurant treat.
Repurpose empty plastic bottles by washing, drying and filling with dried beans to make easy musical instruments. Encourage your kids to parade around the house or block with their instruments.
Monitor your kid’s snacks without having to serve them by filling one cabinet with healthy snack foods that he or she is allowed to eat after school.
Kids can get two chalk colors -- one light shade, one dark -- for the price of one by dipping one end of the chalk in water before drawing.
Want to keep a journal but don’t have the time? Put together some quick lists, such as places you’ve seen or hope to visit. Get ideas at the Listography Web site.
Save money by creating a child care co-op with friends or neighbors. Take turns watching the kids or share a baby sitter’s weekly time and fee.
Turn your trip into a map-reading lesson: Before you leave, have the kids map out the route you're planning to take. Then, they can let you know when you’ve arrived.
Help your stay-at-home preschooler adjust when siblings return to school by planning school-related routines such as packing a lunch box to open at lunchtime, just like his or her older siblings.
It’s OK -- and downright healthy -- to nicely say no to requests for favors. If you must say yes, make it a qualified yes: “Sure, if you can take over next week.”
Hang a list of chores on the fridge and encourage your kids to compete to get them done. Whoever finishes the most gets first dibs on choosing the next family outing.
Let your child revel in royalty by putting him or her in charge of planning a menu with four of the five food groups (review them at the MyPyramid Web site).
Ambrosia salad is a hit with kids: Just mix mandarin oranges, pineapples, apples, coconut and mini-marshmallows with plain yogurt for a healthy snack or side dish they’ll love.
Add some pizzazz to snack time: Toast a few pieces of wheat bread, then use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes (teddy bears, stars, hearts -- anything your kids like!). Serve with hummus dip for a healthy treat.
Put a peeled banana on a wooden craft stick, dip it in chocolate syrup, roll it in chopped nuts and put it on wax paper. Freeze for three hours, and your kids will have a frozen chocolate banana treat.
Before dinner, ask your kids if they want to cook the dessert in an Easy-Bake Oven. They’ll be so proud to have contributed to the meal -- especially when everyone “ooh”s and “ahh”s over their creation.
Are you left with a lot of cooked meat after a big dinner? Whether it’s chicken, turkey or pork, it’ll make great burritos: Just add cheese, salsa, refried beans and sour cream. Ole!
For a special treat, put stripes of red, yellow, blue and green food coloring in vanilla pudding. Your kids will love the new twist on an old favorite!
Lasagna is a great way to add some healthy vegetables to kids’ diet. Put some pureed carrots and broccoli in your favorite recipe, and they’ll never suspect a thing.
Not sure what to make for dinner? Post a list of your kids’ favorite foods on the refrigerator, and you’ll always have ideas on hand -- no thinking required.
Pass the peas, please: Top a frozen cheese pizza with fresh or canned peas for a nutritious “peas-za” surprise kids are sure to love.
Ready for a bunch of no-bake desserts? When your kids get oodles of candy at holidays or special events, let them have a few pieces, then save the rest for desserts and special rewards.
Prepackaged noodles make a great go-to dinner, but they’re not always healthy. Next time, use only half the seasoning packet to cut back on the sky-high sodium content.
Does your kid love a certain variety of soup? Buy lots of it (more than you think you need!), and you’ll always have a healthy meal on hand in a pinch.
Why not serve fortune cookies instead of the more traditional variety? Young readers will love deciphering the little notes inside.
Moms and dads are sometimes too swamped to whip up a full-on meal. For a quick, nutritious dish, serve tomato soup or stew with crackers.
Never take your multivitamin on an empty stomach. You need food to best absorb the nutrients -- and prevent an upset stomach.
After brushing, use your toothbrush to massage your gums in a gentle circular motion. This will promote better circulation, which helps prevent gum disease and bone loss.
A Yale University study found that optimists -- regardless of gender, health and money -- live at least seven and a half years longer.
Instead of sitting around the conference table, hold walk-and-talk meetings to burn some calories with your co-workers.
When using sunscreen, people often overlook their feet. Apply protection generously and often to the tops of your feet -- and lather up the bottoms too if they’re exposed.
According to a new review of more than 100 studies, exercises that increase strength, flexibility and balance are the best way to prevent seniors from taking dangerous falls.