Stuff We Love: Family Favorites to Help You Stay Healthy and Connected

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Busy lifestyles can make family time and connection difficult. It can also be hard to stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle too. One way we found to stay connected while also encouraging and maintaining a healthy, nutritious, and fit lifestyle is to multi-task.

Here are some ideas that might help your family enjoy health minded quality time in your busy lives.

Total Gym (Now 50% Off with FREE Shipping)
I have thought about purchasing a Total Gym for years. The price always kept me from doing it. Over the last year or so, our teens were taking tips from mom and dad and trying to find exercises they enjoyed. While they would exercise with a stability ball from time to time or try my kettlebell, they weren't really overly committed. I saw a Total Gym 50% off with free shipping offer before Christmas and my husband and I decided to purchase one as a family gift. It arrived in a few days, was easy to set up, and has been in constant use by all four of us ever since. While it is an expensive piece of equipment and may not be right for you, if you have been thinking about it I'd say take another look because the sale is still going on.

Xbox Kinect ($150)
Video games are a staple for many teens these days. When you can connect the attraction of the blinking screen with activity, you can typically get children and teens to try it. Our daughter really enjoys the Just Dance game for the Wii. It provides a great way to get moving while hanging out with friends and enjoying many laughs. I have enjoyed the game as well and it provides an opportunity for me to connect with her while also being active at the same time. The Kinect game provides many of the same options without having the number of participants being limited by the number of remotes you have.

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker ($30 plus)
The slow cooker is one of our key tools helping our busy family enjoy healthy meals together. Whether we are making Salsa Chicken or meat loaf, we can have a healthy meal ready for the table when we are ready to eat it.

Rice Cooker and Steamer ($40 plus)
Over the holidays, my sister-in-law brought her well-loved rice cooker that she has had for over ten years. While my children are not big lovers of rice, they are big fans of pasta. The new cookers with a steamer basket do provide another fix it and forget it meal tool. There are even models that combine the slow cooker, rice cooker and steamer all in one for increased meal flexibility while reducing your appliance graveyard.

Waffle Iron ($20 plus)
Weekends can provide wonderful opportunities to relax and catch up over a leisurely breakfast or brunch. Waffles are a hit for children of many ages. There are a variety of healthier waffle recipes that allows me spoil my children with a weekend favorite while also providing them with a nutritious start to their day.

Home Humidification System ($199)
Proper home humidity during the winter months can help prevent dry, cracked skin especially on the lips and hands, reduce static electricity, and helps maintain healthy mucus membranes in the nose and throat. Proper home humidity (35-40 percent) can also help reduce susceptibility to illness from mold, pet dander, and bacteria. For years, we have thought about increasing the humidity level in our home with a console humidifier. This past summer we had to replace our home heating and air conditioning system and included a whole-house humidifier to circulate moisture through the house with the heat. So far we have not been sick this winter (knock on wood) and my husband's hands have not been cracking and bleeding like in past winters. This EPA Humidifier Fact Sheet can help you determine if a console unit is right for your home.

Progressive Chopping Mats ($9.80)
When my children were little and I was the only one managing the kitchen, it was easy to use different cutting boards for different foods to reduce risks of cross contamination. Now that our children are making more and more meals and snacks for themselves, it isn't as easy. These cutting mats can help ensure our son doesn't cut an apple for his snack on the same surface his sister sliced her block of cheese.

Settlers of Catan Board Game
Finding a board game that young adults want to play can be difficult but we found a winner with this one. Players take their role as new immigrants to the island of Catan. They establish a colony by building roads, settlements, and villages by harvesting and trading commodities. Players use their best persuasive approach to trade what they have for what they need. The game also has the ability to ad expansion packs. Not only can you increase in the number of players, you can also add islands with pirates, gold, and ships or battle with barbarians to defend your established colony. Since the board changes with each new game, your strategic approach has to as well. Try this game at your next small group or family gathering to see if you can successfully become the new ruler of Catan.

How does your family stay connected and healthy at the same time? What are your family favorites?

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I think this article was written before Instant Pots - but to clear the counter off - buy one Instant Pot and skip over the Ricer Cooker/Steamer and the Crockpot! We love our Instant Pot. We're a smaller family so the 6 quart size is plenty big for us. (Got it on a summer sale at Amazon.). Ours has 14 programs built into it - slow cooker is one option, another is rice, another for porridge, one for meats, one for soups/stews, one for yoghurt, one for beans, a manual setting, a saute' setting etc.). Well worth it!! Report
Even though it's early...thanks for some Christmas ideas.......I have 3 sizes of crock pots and an electric roaster....use them a the crock pot for veggie soup and roasts.

Pools are great "bring the family together" things also.

I am considering getting a Wii----I have been gathering information on it and will soon make my decision.....thinking of it for the winter as I am outside a lot in the spring and summer. Report
I use a crockpot at least once a week, we probably only have one maybe two times a week when we DON'T sit down to a family meal in the evening (two kids 13 and 15). We also try and exercise as a family. We are all members of the local gym, we sometimes play badminton there and last Sunday we all went out for week 3 run 2 of the C25K programme. Report
I have two CrockPots - one 6 qt and one 4 qt. In addition, I have an electric pressure cooker. It is the best - and most used - tool in my kitchen. Report
Can't wait to make the waffles :-) Report
We dance together. Swedish folk dance and contra dancing. Report
We have the Settlers of Catan game and all of it's expansions. It is a lot of fun for kids of all ages as the saying goes. This Christmas we found a new game that we love as much (if not more right now) at the local Barnes & Noble. It is also available online at Dominion is a card game my husband call Magic in reverse. There are about 2 dozen cards in the box and each game you use 10 different cards and try to get as many victory points as you can by buying and using the cards available. We bought all the expansions and each game is well balanced even with random card shuffling from all the expansions. Report
I LOVE my crock pot !! Report
Being from the South, I'm more interested in a dehumidifier. During the summer months, we fight to keep the humidity in our home below 50%. The thought of adding humidity just doesn't compute for us. Report
I too took advantage of the 50% off free shipping for the Total Gym. Best investment I've ever made. I love working out on it. It makes working out so easy. You don't ever have to leave your house, just get out of bed and workout. I am doing both weight workouts and the Pilates workout. I started seeing change in my body after just 2 weeks. All this and it's fun too. Report
I love my slow cooker! Report
I love my Kettlebells. Steve Cotter on YouTube has great work outs. I use the Crockpot often. Report
I love the Wii for indoor fitness fun on these cold snowy days. One of my favorites: Walk It Out. It will count your walking steps as you explore and island and "build" items with your steps, all as you walk to music. Report
One useful gadget is my air-pop popcorn maker. Great to make your own healthy popcorn while watching a movie with the family. We have a traditional weight set and ellipitical machine, so not really a need for a "total gym". My daughter does fitness DVD's with me sometimes. We also like to go hiking as a family, and a dog really comes in handy for that! haha! Report
Haha, We are OBSESSED with Catan and play it every chance we get! Report
I bought a Total Gym which was sitting my my bedrm gathering dust until I joined SP last month. Now I'm using it for strength training & really love it. My daughter uses it too. I love my crockpot & have made some really good healthy meals on it. We're thinking of getting a Wii when we move to the city so that we can work out at home. Report
I've been hearing much good things about Settlers of Catan, that's something I'm definitely interested in. I've been wanting a waffle iron forever--a rice cooker too. Report
I've been wanting to get a rice cooker for quite some time....Any suggestions/comments on what brands are good? or not so good, that's important to know too.... Report
Wii. We have Wii Fit, Active, Active 2, and on the weekends we go to the gym to play basketball. Report
My family and I go out to the Basketball court and play Basketball together for a couple hrs on weekends. We love it! Report
Our family loves to play games on the Wii if we need to be inside. Yesterday we had a sledding outing with 10 of the grandchildren. The familly that plays together stays healthy together. Report
Love my Total Gym , have had it for several years now. It is nice way to get core work out. Report
I use the Progressive Chopping Mats all the time. Report
Only used our slow cooker once (to make Salsa Chicken - yum yum) but I know we will be using it more and more! Love it.

Love Settlers of Catan, it's a great game. I'll have to look into the Total Gym. Report
We have Kinect! Love playing it with the kids! Report
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