Little Hands that Cook with Books: Heart Healthy Foods

Let's talk about Eating Heart Healthy Food with Little Hands that Cook with Books! We love our children and want what is best for them and their health.  I thought this would be the perfect time to teach our little ones about their heart and how to make it strong and healthy. 

Heart Healthy Books

Here are some book we found to learn about our Heart. {Contains Amazon Affiliate links}  

Hear Your Heart (Let's-Read-And-Find-Out Science: Stage 1 by Paul Showers 

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

American Heart Association Kids' Cookbook

My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall

I just added this one for fun.  We had fun creating Heart Animals inspired from this book. 

Make your Heart Healthy Energy Bar

They're so easy to make at home, not to mention versatile (you can play around with the types of nuts and additional dried fruits you use)  We decided it would be fun to make our own Larabar-type energy bars. All you need is a food processor, dried fruit (mostly dates), nuts, and spices. Here's a basic recipe (the amounts are approximate) Since you are using a food processor with child present please use extreme caution.  Children can be great helpers but this is a perfect time to talk about kitchen safety and following directions at all times in the kitchen. 

Heart Healthy Energy Bars


  • 1 pound of dates
  • 1 cup of nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • Couple of dried apricots
  • Spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Handful of coconut flakes


  1. Put the dates and nuts into the food processor
  2. Chop the dates and any other dried fruits that you are using in a food processor(Adult Job).
  3. Scoop the resulting paste aside
  4. Finely grind the nuts and spices. (Adult Job)
  5. Mix the fruits and nuts together, kneading the mixture into a lightly greased pan (or one that is covered in wax paper).
  6. Flatten the mixture down by covering it with plastic wrap and pressing down and shaping with the back of a spoon.
  7. Then cool in the refrigerator overnight.
  8. Cut the mixture into individual bars or use a COOKIE Cutter to create shapes, tightly wrapping each with plastic wrap and storing in the refrigerator

Other Great Sources for Energy Bar Recipes

Heart Healthy Recipes from the American Heart Association

Heart Healthy Activities for Kids 

After reading our books about our heart we played a few activities. 
  • Can you Feel It?
Exercise is so important for children and adults.  We spent some time talking about ways that we can move to make our heart move and exercise and made a list.  We also played a game called "Can You Feel it" to find out if we can feel our hearts beating.  As we were doing the lesson I had them feel their hearts during idle moments and then I would have them do different activities to change their heart rates.  We recorded our results on which activities made our hearts exercise and added some more suggestions. 
  • Activities for Heart Healthy Game  
Jumping Jacks
Listening to story
Push Ups
Coloring picture
Sit ups
Yoga Pose-Butterfly
Mixing ingredients

  • Mommy and Me Heart Themed Movement Activities 
Week 1

  • Heart Healthy Food Sort
I created pictures of foods that are heart healthy and foods that are not so healthy.  We played a game by sorting them into groups
  • Heart Healthy Facts Printable

Printables for Heart Healthy Activities from Nourish Interactive

The American Heart Association recommends this eating pattern for families:
  • Energy (calories) should be adequate to support growth and development and to reach or maintain desirable body weight.
  • Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  • Keep total fat intake between 30 to 35 percent of calories for children 2 to 3 years of age and between 25 to 35 percent of calories for children and adolescents 4 to 18 years of age, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Choose a variety of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients.
  • Eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight for your height and build. Be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day.
  • Serve whole-grain/high-fiber breads and cereals rather than refined grain products. Look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on the food label and make at least half your grain servings whole grain. Recommended grain intake ranges from 2 oz./day for a one-year-old to 7 oz./day for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables daily, while limiting juice intake. Each meal should contain at least 1 fruit or vegetable. Children’s recommended fruit intake ranges from 1 cup/day, between ages 1 and 3, to 2 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy. Recommended vegetable intake ranges from ¾ cup a day at age one to 3 cups for a 14–18-year-old boy.
  • Introduce and regularly serve fish as an entrĂ©e. Avoid commercially fried fish.
  • Serve fat-free and low-fat dairy foods. From ages 1–8, children need 2 cups of milk or its equivalent each day. Children ages 9–18 need 3 cups.
  • Don’t overfeed. Estimated calories needed by children range from 900/day for a 1-year-old to 1,800 for a 14–18-year-old girl and 2,200 for a 14–18-year-old boy.
This eating pattern supports a child's normal growth and development. It provides enough total energy and meets or exceeds the recommended daily allowances for all nutrients for children and adolescents, including iron and calcium.
Source:  American Heart Association

This post was written to promote the heart project.  Need more info?  What is The Heart Project

Hope your little ones enjoy learning about their heart and how important it is to our health.  If you are looking for more Healthy Eating Tips stop by our Food Groups Series called Balanced Eating Fun from Little Hands that Cooks with Books
Wishing you Happy Healthy Hearts!  


maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Love all your heart-healthy tips - SO important!!!

Kim @ The Educators Spin On It said...

Thanks Maryanne! I hope our children grow up knowing what the right things are for a healthy body!

Raising a Happy Child said...

This is a great write-up. My daughter goes to afterschool program where every week they learn about a different body part and cook things that are good for that body part. They made granola bars for the heart.

Kim @ The Educators Spin On It said...

Thanks Raising a Happy Child. That sounds like a great afterschool program when they are teaching life skills and cooking with them.

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