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indoor-family-fun-e1390855020913About this time of year, snow has stopped being charming.  You and the kids just want to get outside and walk somewhere without bundling up and trudging through slush.  As creativity for indoor activities and winter meals runs low, TV and take out begin looking like sensible, healthy options.  But wait—there are other options!

For some variety in your indoor activities, call or look online for discounted or free admission days at local museums.  Your local library may also have free passes for museums and other attractions.  To stay active, try at-home bowling with balled-up socks and toilet paper tubes, children’s workout videos, hide-and-seek, or acting out favorite storybooks.  No matter your age, a dance party is always a fun way to get moving!

On a day that you are stuck indoors, cook large quantities of meal components to freeze for later.  You can have the kids help with tasks like measuring ingredients to shredding cheese, depending on their age.  This saves you time and teaches them a number of important skills.

On a less-slushy day, visit one of Massachusetts’ 40 winter farmers’ markets.  Look for local ingredients that naturally grow in wintertime to add some variety and color into a gloomy winter day.  Delicious wintertime crops include beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and kale.  If any of these crops sound unusual, try roasting them.  Toss cut-up pieces of the vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs and spices you like, and roast them in the oven at 425 F until they are soft and lightly browned.

To use the roasted vegetables in a new way, make a batch of Roasted Vegetable Soup (adapted from Barefoot Contessa):

Ingredients (3-4 servings):

  • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 quart roasted winter vegetables
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of chicken stock. Mash or puree the Roasted Winter Vegetables and the chicken stock using a masher, food processor, or handheld blender.   Pour the soup back into the pot and season to taste. Thin with more chicken stock and reheat. The soup should be thick but not like a vegetable puree, so add more chicken stock and/or water until it’s the consistency you like.

Serve with whole wheat bread or tortillas for a great lunch or snack to warm you up when you come in from the cold!

Do you have good ideas for keeping the kids entertained and active in the winter?  Share them with us!

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