Campfire Treats

Healthy camping treats, and some new spins on old campfire classics

Photo courtesy KidzWorld Kitchen


Camping has been a longstanding summer tradition throughout my childhood and adult life. My favorite vacations have always been our trips to the northwestern coast of Michigan with friends and family, spending our days on the pristine beaches of Lake Michigan, followed by evenings of unwinding by the campfire.

And if a camping trip isn’t in the cards, maybe you can pop the tent in the backyard and make some of these treats over a backyard campfire, or on the grill!

It is so easy to pack the car full of processed convenience foods for quick and easy traditional camping treats. Your family will feel better, though, if you plan some healthy treats into your camping adventure. And the good news is, there are plenty of ways to have all the nostalgia of the classic campfire treats and still feed your family the good stuff their bodies need. Here are some ideas:

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Activities that help develop motor skills

Play-based exercises you can do at home!

mott blog - motor skill development activitiesSometimes what looks like “play” can be really important ways to exercise your child’s fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. They involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity.  These skills are important foundations for school activities as well as in life in general. Weaknesses in fine motor skills can affect a child’s ability to eat, write legibly, use a computer, turn pages in a book, and perform personal care tasks such as dressing and grooming.

Taste a rainbow

Let colors help diversify your child's diet

mott blog - taste a rainbow post imageAs a pediatric dietitian, a common question parents ask me is how to get their child to eat more fruits or vegetables. Summer is a great time to teach children about the value of eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. A trip to the supermarket, farmers’ market or your own garden can quickly show the plentiful options. When children are involved in choosing foods and preparing meals, they are more likely to eat what is served. You might be surprised at what your child will eat when he or she helps to make it!

Using colors can be a good way to increase your child’s intake of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. This is a fun way to introduce new fruits and vegetables while providing a variety of essential nutrients. Different colored fruits and vegetables provide various nutrients. For example, orange fruits and vegetables provide beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A, an important nutrient for vision. Green vegetables supply vitamin K, which our bodies use to build strong bones. Other colored fruits and vegetables provide other important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Here are some ways to use colors to teach your kids about food, while increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables:

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Keeping curiosity alive during the summer

mott blog - keep learning post imageSchool may be out, but learning never ends. That doesn’t mean sitting your kids down for a classroom session each day. It means simply incorporating learning into everyday activities and encouraging your child’s natural curiosity. When your child shows interest in a topic and asks you questions, use that as an opportunity to encourage his or her inquisitiveness.

If your child is in school, most teachers will include progress report comments on areas in which your child may need improvement. Keep those areas in mind when engaging in learning opportunities throughout the summer. Seek out activities that focus on those specific areas. If it’s something like memorizing multiplication tables that might not lend itself to casual engagement, get some flash cards and set aside practice time or use a fun online site (search multiplication table games, there are many fun, free options).

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New support group for parents of children with eye disease and visual impairment

Bringing parents together to talk about the challenges posed by pediatric eye disorders

children's vision support groupWhen a child is diagnosed with a serious eye disorder, it can be extremely unsettling to both parent and child.  The parent’s first challenge is to learn about the disease, its treatment, and what this means for the child’s eyesight.  It’s understandable that parents often feel alone in their struggle and are unsure and anxious about what lies ahead.

A group of physicians at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center want to help parents find the resources they need — whether these are aids for low vision or advice on navigating the school system.  Even more important, we realize that parents can benefit greatly from discussing shared experiences with others in a group setting.  It gives them the opportunity to learn about how others in the same situation are handling challenges.

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Saving a baby’s life with a 3-D laser printer

Kaiba's story

Ever since he was six weeks old, baby Kaiba often stopped breathing.  The part of his windpipe that carries air to his left lung would suddenly collapse, leaving him unable to breathe and requiring emergency assistance every time.

Kaiba had a condition called tracheobronchomalacia. It’s a rare condition – about 1 in 2,200 babies are born with tracheomalacia and most children grow out of it by age 2 or 3, although it is often misdiagnosed as asthma that doesn’t respond to treatment.

Severe cases, like Kaiba’s, are even more rare, and they are very frightening.

It’s a condition that has bothered me for years.  Children die from tracheobronchomalacia, but I hoped that help could be found for these children.

Kaiba’s parents, April and Bryan, were left watching helplessly each time he stopped breathing, praying that something would change and doctor’s predictions that he would never leave the hospital again weren’t true.

They lived in Ohio but they were willing to go anywhere if it meant they could get help for Kaiba.  Fortunately, they didn’t have to go far.

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