Browsing all articles in Fun Ideas

Today’s the Day!!!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in featured, News and Events, Uncategorized     Comments No comments

It’s What’s On Your Plate Day!! Since it is National Nutrition Month, we are working with  to encourage people to make changes to their eating habits for a healthier lifestyle. It is also a time to recognize what changes people have already made! We know that people are making small AND large changes to their plates and achieving success throughout the country!

If you are looking to make a healthy change to your diet, here are some suggestions:

– Enjoy your food, but eat less. Focus on portion sizes.
– Keep it simple. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Make them the star of the plate!
– Check out Super Tracker at This great tool can help you plan, analyze, and track your diet and physical activity.
– If you are on twitter, use #MyPlateYourPlate to see changes that others are making and post your own!

If you have made some healthy changes recently, share with us what you have done, how it is going, and words of wisdom for others!

Getting Geared Up for What’s On Your Plate Day!!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in Fun Ideas, News and Events     Comments No comments

Thursday, March 8th is National What’s On Your Plate Day! Check back soon to see what all the buzz is about!! (And if you are on Twitter, follow #MyPlateYourPlate for details!)

An Exlusive Interview

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in Articles & Inspiration, featured, Fun Ideas     Comments No comments

By Sofia Horvath, Master Facilitator and Mother of 3

This month I had the opportunity to sit down with our resident reptile, Lana, and learn more about the LANA approach to nutrition education. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was afraid I would be intimidated, but she was so open and friendly that I felt like I was chatting with an old friend. As I drank my coffee, she nibbled on some kale chips and talked about the LANA program.

Sofia: Lana, thank you for sitting down with me. I know you have a very busy schedule- a lot of schools to visit and a lot of children to meet! My first question for you is: LANA stands for Learning About Nutrition through Activities. Why is it so important and effective to use activities with kids when teaching about nutrition and healthy eating?

Lana: Activities help kids learn by creating memorable experiences. If you can tie positive experiences with fruits and vegetables to activities, then kids are more familiar with those foods and are more willing to give them a try.

Sofia: The LANA program targets 8 fruits and vegetables. Can you tell me why those 8 foods were selected for the program?

Lana: Well, they were picked because I really like red, green and orange colored fruits and veggies – they’re my favorite colors! No really, the 8 fruits and veggies are included in the LANA program because they’re nutrient rich and they usually are new fruits and vegetables for kids to taste and eat. The best part is that you can find them in your grocery store and they’re affordable too.

Sofia: So there are several reasons for those foods being in the program. Interesting! Do you have a favorite fruit or vegetable among the ones in the program? Can you choose just one that you love the most?

Lana: Oh, I don’t think I can pick just one! Each is tasty and delicious in its own way. I love all the fruits and veggies in the LANA program – I even love fruits and vegetables that aren’t a part of the program! I just LOVE to eat all fruits and veggies!

Sofia: The program has a cookbook that contains recipes using the program fruits and vegetables. Can you tell me what it was like to create your very cookbook? What is your favorite recipe in there?

Lana: Writing my own cookbook was honestly a dream come true. I love fruits and veggies and I want kids to learn to love them just as much as I do! I think the recipes in my cookbook make fruits and veggies a lot of fun. My favorite recipes are the ones that look like something else – like the Pretend Fried Egg, the Veggie Bagel Face, the Stoplight Snack or the Mousetail Snack. They’re just so much fun to make and then eat!

Sofia: Looking at your cookbook, I can say that Rachel Ray and Pioneer Woman have some competition, for sure!

Parents and teachers who have used and participated in the LANA program have seen fantastic results. They have seen the children eat more fruits and vegetables and, in general, be willing to try more new foods as a result of the program. Your program has gotten some rave reviews! Why do you think that LANA makes such a difference? What is your secret?

Lana:  I think the LANA program works because there’s no pressure placed on the kids to like the fruit or vegetable during tasting activities. It’s OK and perfectly normal to not like how something tastes the first time you try it. There’s a lot of fun involved- incorporating fruits and vegetables into the classroom and cooking activities.

Sofia: So no bribery or coercion. Got it. As a parent, that is something I have to remember! Speaking of parents, I know that the LANA program is not something that stops when the children leave school/daycare. There is a very important home/school component. Can you talk to me a little about how the LANA program bridges the learning between home and school?

Lana: The LANA program is really great because it gives parents amazing resources to reinforce classroom learning at home. There are tasting kits with samples of the fruits or vegetables for kids to take home to taste with mom and dad. There are also great resources for parents to learn about handling food battles.

Sofia: That is so important! Parents have a lot of questions when it comes to feeding their kids. It is great that the LANA program gives them some support.

Last question- I’m getting personal, here! Children love you! Those that participate in the LANA program see you often and learn a lot from you. Who are some of YOUR idols? Who do you admire?

Lana: So many people inspire me… teachers, Michelle Obama, kids, Oprah… oh gosh, I love Oprah – really miss her show… Jamie Oliver, parents, farmers… I could go on and on. Really any one who has a passion for healthy eating inspires me!

Sofia: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and give me some insight into the LANA program. It is rare to see a program that not only delivers a strong message, but also does it in a fun and engaging way. After talking with you, I can see why you are so popular!

Nerd Alert!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in Articles & Inspiration, featured     Comments 2 comments

By Sofia Horvath, Master Facilitator and Mother of 3

I’ll admit it. I get a bit star struck at times. But instead of movie and rock stars, the people that make me silly and giddy are usually celebrity chefs and big names in the health and nutrition industry. I recently attended a webinar hosted by RD, Ellyn Satter. At the end of the webinar, she had time to take only two questions. Mine was one of them. I called my husband at work to tell him. I called my mom. I shared with friends! It was the highlight of my month!

Part of the LANA program is based on Satter’s Division of Responsibility In Feeding. The LANA program reinforces the concept that adults are responsible for what food is served as well as when and where food is served. Children can choose whether or not they eat and how much they consume.

In addition to the Division of Responsibility, Satter stresses the importance of family meals. To hear someone discuss mealtime in a way that promotes it as a pleasant, enjoyable time, where food and family interaction can be viewed positively, is refreshing. It reminded me that meals with young children need not (nor should they!) be a battleground. Mealtimes give us the chance to enjoy food in an appropriate setting, enjoy the company of our family, and share about our day (or the day to come – if the family meal is breakfast). It reinforces for me that family mealtimes have far-reaching effects for both the children and adults. Adults who partake in regular meals are healthier, eat better and are slimmer. Children that participate in regular meals are healthier, do better in school, feel better about themselves, and get along better with other people.

Reading about and listening to Ellyn Satter helped me recommit to more evenings where my entire family eats together. At the table. With no TV or other distractions. I want my children to know that this time is important. I want them to have the chance to talk to their parents when we are not driving or focused on something else. I want them to have the opportunity to enjoy food and family in a pleasant setting and to reap the benefits that positive mealtimes provide!

For more information on Ellyn Satter, creating positive mealtimes, and helping your children become competent eaters check out her website:

A New Tool to Help With Health Goals!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in featured, News and Events     Comments No comments

The USDA has released a comprehensive tool to help track your health, nutrition, and fitness goals. With this tool, users can do everything from a quick food look up to in-depth diet and activity tracking and analysis over time and weight management.

This video explains how SuperTracker works:

You can check it out and create your (free) account here:


LANA and MyPlate for a Healthy New Year!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in Articles & Inspiration, featured, Fun Ideas     Comments No comments

By Lana the Iguana


Does this look familiar to you?


Maybe you learned about the food pyramid in grade school? Maybe you taught about it to kids in school? I won’t make you date yourself and say which one.

If you haven’t heard, there is a new kid in town. And its name is MyPlate.

The MyPlate icon was developed in an effort to promote the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By using the plate image, it simplifies the message of healthy food choices and makes it easier to visualize what a healthy plate should look like. Instead of trying to keep track of how many “servings” you have had during the day (half the battle is figuring out what a “serving” is!) you can now just look at your plate, aim to fill half with vegetables and fruits, followed by (whole) grain, and a small portion of protein and dairy.

If you think about your typical family dinner plate, it may not – yet – resemble the MyPlate icon. It might be 1/3 meat, 1/3 grain, and 1/3 vegetable. Maybe. If we are lucky. I know plenty of people who go heavy on the proteins or starches. However, both the LANA program and MyPlate encourage people to pile on the fruits and vegetables first. Make vegetables and fruits the star of your meal while allowing the protein to take a supporting role.

As 2011 comes to an end and we begin thinking about changes we want to make in the new year, let’s start by giving our plates a makeover. Make 2012 a healthy year by focusing on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet!

For more information about MyPlate:
For MyPlate-related products:






LANA Takes Orlando By Storm!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in Articles & Inspiration, featured, Fun Ideas     Comments No comments

By Lana the Iguana

This time last week I was basking in the sun in Orlando– and by “basking in the sun” I mean hanging out at the expo and sessions at the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) annual conference. It was a wonderful couple of days, filled with learning, socializing, zumba, and even a concert! I could go on and on about how much we did, the people we met, and what we discussed, but that might be akin to forcing someone to look at your vacation photos. They might want to look at a couple, but not 3 albums-full. So in the interest of keeping things…. well, interesting, I am going to give you my highlights.  So here you have Lana’s top 4 highlights from the NAEYC conference!

#4. Sharing the Lana-themed products with the conference attendees. I was so proud to share my stuff!  The biggest hits were the “I tried it stickers” and my cookbooks – especially my wipe-off snack recipe/cookbook and the cookbook with LANA I Tried It Stickersmy favorite recipes. (Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray!)

#3. Partnering with some great people! Being a part of the Learning ZoneXpress booth meant that I got to hang out with the Garden Heroes. Buddy Broccoli, Adam Apricot, Kimi Kiwi and I bonded a lot over those few days! I also got to help highlight My Plate products like the Preschool 1 Great Plate (which I love because it aligns nicely with the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign). It really is about teaching young kids healthy eating habits and it was so great to work with other people who have the same goal. We were like the 3 Musketeers – or superheroes. Whatever you find more inspiring and heroic.

#2. Eavesdropping. I loved listening to all the comments people made about me. Very good for the ego! My favorites were: “Is Lana on Twitter?” (I am! @lanaprekprogram), “Please scan me!” (Scanning conference badges got people on the mailing list.), “I love Learning Zone,” and “I will take your stuff, not anyone else’s!”





And the number one favorite moment of the NAEYC conference for me was………

#1. Anne Roy’s well-attended NAEYC session on Learning about Nutrition through Activities (LANA).  Anne (who was my guest blogger last month!) gave a wonderful presentation that resonated with many as the U.S. looks to incorporate nutrition education into early childhood development programs. This is key to moving the needle on the fight against childhood obesity. It takes people by surprise that childhood obesity often begins before the age of two and that one in five children is obese by their 6th birthday. Anne’s presentation was not only informative, but also enjoyable. I am grateful that she spoke on my behalf…. I get horrible stage fright!

NAEYC was a wonderful time and I am already looking forward to what we will do next year in Atlanta!


I would love to hear about YOUR NAEYC experience! Feel free to share your comments and experiences!






Lana the Iguana Growing in Popularity!

Posted Posted by SofiaLZX in News and Events     Comments 1 comment

Reprinted from:


LANA program distributed by Learning ZoneXpress recognized in local school by CBS Minnesota.

We don’t know who gave vegetables such a bad rap, but according to a recent story from CBS Minnesota, kids at Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center in Roseville, MN are changing that with the LANA Preschool Program distributed by Learning ZoneXpress.

LANA stands for “Learning About Nutrition through Activities.”It is a 24 week research-based program developed by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota. For multiple years, teachers and students have been exploring this program which includes a fun hand puppet of the program’s mascot, Lana the Iguana. This is an exciting way to get kids thinking about health and nutrition, both by tasting fruits and vegetables and creating easy recipes.

We all know there’s nothing worse than a picky eater, and LANA can remedy that. The iguana gets kids excited about fruits and vegetables and encourages them to try foods they may have never dreamed of!

The program encourages parents to try these foods with their kids. Children tend to be more willing to explore when others are doing the same right beside them. Learning ZoneXpress distributes the complete LANA curriculum filled with fun activities, recipe books, and story books that parents, teachers and kids can all do together!

The program being implemented in child care centers like Kinderberry Hill makes it easier for parents at home to continue these fun and healthy practices. And LANA doesn’t have to be just for kids. It’s been known to teach us a thing or two as well.

Owatonna, Minn.-based Learning ZoneXpress is a leading source of award-winning teaching tools. Its mission is to help improve the health and vitality of children by providing relevant, creative and affordable learning tools about life skills, healthy behaviors and nutrition. Learning ZoneXpress offers a wide variety of affordable educational DVDs, posters, MyPlate products, prizes, and PowerPoint presentations. They are dedicated to responsive and personalized customer care. For more information about Learning ZoneXpress products, visit the Learning ZoneXpress web site or call Toni Gnasdoskey at 888-455-7003

LANA Featured on WCCO – CBS News Minnesota

Posted Posted by Lana the Iguana in Articles & Inspiration, News and Events     Comments No comments

Reprinted from:


Video viewable here: WCCO/CBS News MN Features LANA

ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – Children and vegetables can be like oil and water. They just won’t mix.

So when 3- and 4-year-olds are grabbing slices of green pepper by the handful, it’s easy to wonder how they grew to love eating their veggies.

During snack time at Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center in Roseville, teachers have been trying a new way to teach kids about healthy eating. A green iguana puppet named Lana encourages the kids to try fruits and vegetables.

“As soon as you put Lana on, (the kids’) faces light up and they know it’s time to try something new,” says Megan Recksiedler, a teacher at Kinderberry Hill.

LANA stands for Learning About Nutrition through Activities. The program was developed by the University of Minnesota for caregivers, whether at home or in a child care setting.

One example of snack time is having the kids learn about different types of peppers. Each of the children try a red, green, and yellow pepper and are then asked which one they liked the best.

“I liked all of them,” one student said.

The teacher then asks the children if they’d like “kisses” from the puppet Lana, which they really seem to enjoy.

Recksiedler says parents should be able to apply some of the techniques used in the LANA program at home.

“If you taste it with them, that’s a great way for them to try it too,” says Recksiedler.

Before the kids can eat their snack, they get familiar with the food, touching it and learning what color it is.

Teachers say including a “fun” sauce to dip the veggies in always helps as well.

If you want to learn some of the ways to get kids interested in eating healthier snacks, try out some of LANA’s recipes. Here are their tips for kiwis and strawberries.

Love for Lana at NAEYC Conference!

Posted Posted by Lana the Iguana in Articles & Inspiration     Comments No comments

By Anne Roy, Executive Program Director at Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center

Is it crazy to love an iguana named Lana?

Perhaps, but the NAEYC Conference is less than a month away, and I am so excited for the opportunity to talk about her and the LANA preschool program! At the conference I will share how we have been successful implementing the LANA Preschool program at our center. We love it!

Before LANA, I never would have thought we’d be serving the children sweet potato smoothies for a snack….or that they would actually enjoy it! The LANA program has so
many wonderful activities and ideas to get children excited about eating fruits and vegetables, and amazingly they work! The teachers and I are even eating healthier…when we need a little snack, instead of reaching for the animal crackers, we head to the kitchen for leftover sugar snap peas! So you see, I love the iguana and what she has to offer, and I am looking forward to letting everyone know more about it!

At the NAEYC conference, I will talk about all the various components of the LANA preschool program, the ways you can modify it for your needs, tips on how it has worked for us, and then you’ll even have the opportunity to make and eat a LANA snack! I hope you join me!