How to Stay Fit Without a Gym

By Erika Johnstone

Edited by Andi Champion, CHEF

Staying Fit from Home

Staying active has many benefits to the body. Exercising can lower a person’s risk of developing diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Exercising also gives you endorphins which can make you feel happier and stronger. With more families staying home due to the COVID- 19, finding ways to stay active from home an important aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

As a parent, it may be hard to find the time to exercise. It may help if you make exercise part of your family’s nightly routine. Visit your local park to walk for 45 minutes a few times a week or enjoy the great outdoors with your family by taking your pet on a walk around the neighborhood. Is there a school or community center nearby with a basketball hoop or track? Challenge your family to a game or a race!

Online workout videos are also a great way to stay active from home. Many workout videos don’t require an extra equipment but if you do need weights you can get creative and use items around the house such as canned goods or water bottles as weights.

If structured fitness is not fun for you, try setting small goals such as trying to walk around the house or do crunches during television commercials, dance your way through chores such as mopping or sweeping, or take up gardening! These activities may not seem like much but they will add up during the week!

If you are having trouble finding the motivation to exercise, the best way is to get the family involved! Remember, fitness does not always have to be a planned activity.

Family Time = Fitness Time

Here are some activities to stay fit with your family.

  • Take a walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park with the family.
  • Have a dance party with the kids!
  • Make chores into fun games! Create a competition on how can finish chores the fastest!
  • Find family-friendly workout videos online. Toddlers and babies can make excellent gym weights.

References (link to add above)

Image: la=en&h=504&w=896&mw=896&hash=3DE98EF0B6DB1DC35A776BD5BFC41444F6DC2E C8

<a href=””>People photo created by prostooleh –</a>

Enjoy a Safe, Socially-Distanced Picnic This Spring!

By: Anahi Reyes, Dietetic Intern, Baptist Health System

Reviewed by: Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD

Edited by Andi Champion, CHEF

Spring has sprung! Now that the weather in Texas is finally warming up, why not plan a picnic? Enjoying the great outdoors with your family can help you to destress and bond. If your family has been cautious about eating in restaurants, it can also be a fun way to mix things up and get your children excited about eating outside of the house.

Here are some tips on how to prepare the perfect picnic getaway.


Make a list! Don’t forget to take a blanket and the food you will eat. Preparing food at home will be easier than making it once you’re at your picnic spot. Once it’s ready, make sure to store it properly to limit your family’s exposure to foodborne illnesses.

  • Avoid foods that must be reheated.
  • Take plates for the food or make individual serving sizes in mason jars for each person.
  • Food that is meant to be refrigerated should be stored and packed with an ice pack for food safety (40℉ or below).
  • If perishable foods are exposed to hot temperatures, make sure to refrigerate them within 1 hour.1


Invite all of those that are in the same household. Limit contact with those that don’t live with you. A picnic is a great way to create a stronger bond and get to know those that live with you better. Since you’ll be away from the television, technology, and daily chores you’ll be able to chat and catch up.

Choose a location.

Chose where you would like to have your picnic and make sure to find out if there are any specific rules or hours of operation ahead of time.

  • Look for a shaded area.
  • Find an area that is at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Maintaining social distancing is important since you will be enjoying your meal without your mask on. 

Check park rules here:

New Recipes.

This is the perfect time to try new recipes! Trying something new during a different setting can help make the experience fun and easy. How many times have you told your children “Eat your vegetables” while sitting at the dinner table? Bringing vegetables or trying a new recipe with vegetables during a picnic can encourage a new opportunity for food testing. Below are some recipes that would be amazing for an ideal picnic!

Include Masks.

Include masks and hand sanitizer in your picnic basket. Remember to disinfect your hands.

Hands should be disinfected:

  • Any time before eating.
  • After you touch pets.
  • After you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose.
  • Climate

We all know that Texas weather can be unpredictable. Try to check the local weather the night before your picnic and the morning of, to be prepared for any changes. If it will be too sunny or hot, remember to take plenty of water and sunscreen.

More Resources:

Make sure to check City of San Antonio Website, the CDC, and San Antonio COVID19 Website for any updated regulations. 


  2. People photo created by freepik –

Top 10 Ways to Relieve Stress During COVID-19

By: Erika Johnstone

COVID-19 has affected every family across the world. With futures on hold and life-changing daily, this can be especially hard on young children and parents. Here are some helpful tips to relieve stress during a COVID-19 era.

Take a break from the news. Put the cell phone away, turn off the tv, and avoid stressful news.

Stay connected with friends and family. Keep in touch with loved ones by calling, texting, or scheduling a Zoom call.

Read a book. Check out your local public library for books, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs.

Have a family game night. Play a board game or a fun card game with the family or check out family game night apps on your smart phone.

Find a new hobby. Try something new like painting, drawing, or baking.

Enjoy family meals. Eating meals with your children can help build strong relationships.

Reorganize your home. Take some time to clean and organize your home.

Maintain a schedule. Involve your children in making a weekly schedule. The schedule can include mealtime, school time, and more.

Stay active. Find ways to stay fit, such as walking around your neighborhood or follow a workout video from home.

Eat nutritious meals. Check out the CHEF webpage on tips and recipes for delicious healthy meals.

Sneaky Sodium in Salad Dressings

Erika Kertz, Baptist Dietetic Intern

Reviewed by Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD

Edited by Andi Champion, CHEF

A good dressing can help take a salad from boring to delicious! Homemade versions can be loaded with nutrients, heart-healthy fats, and tasty herbs to help add flavor without the extra sodium. Unfortunately, when you purchase a pre-made dressing from the store, you don’t always get the same health benefits. Like many pre-packaged foods, store-bought salad dressings can be loaded with extra sodium and hidden sugar.. Including too much sodium in your diet can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Next time you’re craving a salad, skip the pre-made version and try making your own at home. It’s much easier than you may think and you likely already have some of the ingredients in your kitchen. You can start with an acid such as apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice. Then add some heart-healthy olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices. You can even add minced garlic or dijon mustard for even more flavor!

Some of our favorite salad dressings are Ranchy Dip and our Italian Dressing. Ranchy Dip is a better-for-you take on traditional Ranch dressing. It’s lower in sodium than store-bought Ranch and contains more protein and herbs for flavor. This kid-friendly dressing is also a great way to encourage your children to eat more vegetables. Just like regular Ranch dressing, Ranchy Dip  can be served as a dip with raw vegetables.

Our Italian Dressing is lighter option for a salad and packs tons of flavor. It can also double as a marinade for your favorite lean protein such as chicken or pork. Store any leftovers in a mason jar in your pantry for next time.

Now that you know how easy is it to make salad dressings at home, you can include the entire family in the process. Play around with ingredients and explore different flavor combinations. By making nutritious, wholesome dressings you can enjoy vegetables without the added sodium.

How to Maximize Your Kitchen Space

by Katy Bowen, RDN, LD, MS, CHEF

Does making a meal in the kitchen feel a little overwhelming? Do you feel like a larger kitchen would make cooking less of a chore? Regardless of the actual size, here are some tips to get the most out of your kitchen space and make cooking more enjoyable!

Declutter your utensils. If you notice you have five whisks, but only really use two of them or three muffin tins but you never use all of them at once, try clearing that clutter out of your kitchen. Place the extras in a plastic bin to store outside of your kitchen or donate to a second-hand store.

Simplify your counter space. Move small appliances that you don’t use daily to a cabinet or other storage space to free up your countertop. This will increase your workspace so the whole family can make the meal together!

Start off on the right foot. Before you begin making a meal, do a quick clean in your kitchen. Emptying the dishwasher andsink or wiping down the counters only takes 5-10 minutes to complete, but a clean kitchen will make cooking much more enjoyable!

Clean up as you go. As you begin to chop produce, open cans of vegetables, or finish off a box of pasta, the scraps and trash can really start to add up. Try using an empty bowl to place produce scraps in as you chop orsimply move your trash can closer to your prep area. Also, as you finish using a bowl or utensil, place it in the sink to keep your countertop clear.

Get creative and include your family If prep space is limited in the kitchen, set up a cutting board at the kitchen table and ask your children to help chop ingredients. You can also make or buy a small, mobile island on wheels for extra counter space!

Organize your pantry. A cluttered pantry makes looking for ingredients a chore and can cost you extra money. When you’re cooking a recipe, sifting through a bunch of cans and boxes in the pantry is the last thing you want to be doing. If you can’t easily find ingredients, you might end up purchasing items you already have at home. Use our CHEF approved pantry guide to organize your space and make sure you have all the essentials!

Check your kitchen flow. When your whole family is in the kitchen making a meal, moving around the kitchen can be frustrating. Think about your path from the refrigerator or stove to the sink – is there anything in the way that you could move?

Are you moving into a new home or apartment soon?

When you are house or apartment hunting, you will want to look for a kitchen that works for your family. Your kitchen is one of the most important areas of your home and having a functional workspace can make all the difference. A kitchen should not only be large enough to move around in but should have the necessary features to allow you to cook with ease. If your family enjoys cooking together in the kitchen, here are some other features you may want to consider.