Off to a Great Start!

Branton Tara Lc

Off to a Great Start!

Registered dietitian Kelsey Kasel and I sat down with the Cram family to discuss their health priorities and zero in on what they feel is important for them as a family for the Fit Family Challenge. As a primary care doctor, it really is one of my favorite things to do – meet with a family and talk about their wellness goals.

What did we find out? Well, the Crams are a lot like any other family. Mom and Dad and their four kids (Kelleen, Breanna, Regan and Neave) would really like to focus on two things:

1-Making time to exercise as a family on a regular basis.

2-Starting the day off (out the door before 8 a.m.!) with a healthy and QUICK breakfast each morning.

Family Exercise

The Crams are already doing a great job of making health and wellness a family priority! I encouraged Mom, Kathleen, and Dad, Charles, to remember that balance is the key in all of this. If there is a day when they do not get as much physical activity as they’d like, or do not eat the healthiest of diets – it’s okay!  In fact, if the children do not have a balance, they may even “crave” inactivity and foods that are not considered as healthy.

So the Cram parents already exercise several days a week – Mom runs in the morning, and Dad works out at lunch; the children participate in soccer and lacrosse. The parents want to do more active things together, but time is always an issue.

I suggested two things to help them get started – actions they can take at home that will be fun.

1-Make family TV time a little less couch focused and more active! When they gather to watch TV, get up and do a series of exercises during each commercial break! Have each family member choose the exercise. Sit ups, jumping jacks, pushups. It’s bound to get their hearts pumping, and they’ll have fun doing it together, cheering one another on.

2-The other suggestion I had was investing in Shaun T’s T25™ DVD workout program. For the parents it’s a 25-minute, intense work-out program, which also comes with a nutritional plan. The kids can participate at the same time, doing a modified version of the workout. This gets the whole family participating, each member at their own level.

Breakfast, Anyone?

Making sure everyone gets something nutritious in the morning, before dashing out the door, is something we all struggle with. But it’s not impossible. Kelsey makes recommendations for families just like the Crams all the time. She shared these terrific breakfast tips with the family:

• Prepare breakfast burritos at night or on the weekends when Mom or Dad has free time. Get the kids involved too! Then, pop them in the freezer and simply microwave them on busy weekday mornings.  

• The family enjoys smoothies, so Kelsey suggested a fun way to prepare them ahead of time. Make the smoothie and freeze silicone ice pop molds. Again, put them in the freezer, and the children can grab one for breakfast.

• The Cram’s eldest daughter loves waffles, so Mom asked for a healthier option than store-bought frozen waffles. Kelsey suggested the family make large batches of waffles and, again, freeze them!

• One of Kelsey’s favorite waffle recipes is courtesy of

Whole-Wheat Waffles
Serves: 4 to 5

2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Warmed 100 percent pure maple syrup for serving
Fresh fruit for serving

Instructions: Preheat your waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, honey, cinnamon and baking soda until well combined.Add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together just until the large lumps disappear. When the waffle iron is hot, dab it with a little butter and then ladle some batter onto the center of the iron. Follow the instructions that came with your waffle maker to know how long to cook. (Mine takes 3 to 4 minutes each.) Keep waffles warm until you finish cooking all of them. Top with pure maple syrup and fruit. Enjoy!

Looking for more healthy recipes the family will love?
Download Carolinas HealthCare System’s free recipe book “Food for Thought” for great, family-friendly meal ideas.

Dr. Tara Branton is a physician at Weddington Family Medicine, part of Carolinas HealthCare System. Kasey Knasel is a registered dietitian with Carolinas HealthCare System. Dr. Branton and Knasel are two of the six members of the Fit Family Challenge Team of Experts.

Be a part of the Fit Family Challenge, win prizes, get healthy as a family and take advantage of free fitness classes around town. Register NOW!