Healthy After School Snacks

Posted 08-25-2016 at 01:02 AM by JPMP

Children making fruit hedgehog

 

After a long day at school kids tend to get very hungry. The hours between the end of school and dinnertime are usually filled with frantic snacking and the persistent “what’s for dinner?” Kids are not likely to spend time putting together a healthy snack, and most often want to go for what’s most convenient and fast. Most of those quick options end up being bags of chips or cookies, which are not great choices. I have put together a few of my favorite after-school snacks that are easy enough to be thrown together quickly (whether you do it for them, or you teach them how to make it) and are filled with nutrition to get them through their homework before dinnertime.

Ants on a Log

If Ants on a Log don’t scream after-school snack, I don’t know what does. The standard peanut butter and raisin variety was always my favorite, until I discovered all of these other variations of the classic snack. It doesn’t get much cuter than Ladybugs on a Log!

Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Up

This is so simple, it won’t take you longer than a couple minutes to spread peanut butter on a wheat flatbread or tortilla, add some sliced bananas and roll it up!

Apple “Cookies”

Another cute finger-food to add to the list with protein-packed peanut butter! Check out the simple recipe here.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This isn’t just your standard strawberry banana smoothie, it’s made with both almond milk and almonds to add some protein into the already fiber and vitamin-filled smoothie. 

 

It doesn’t have to take much time to put together something healthy to tide your kids over until dinner is done. After a long day of classes they’re in need of an energy boost, and these simple recipes all provide that for them.

 

Let us know what your kids’ favorite after-school snacks are in the comments!

Diaper Swapers

School Shopping Season Is Upon Us, Don’t Panic!

Posted 08-23-2016 at 01:01 AM by JPMP

Shopping cart with school supply and apple

 

School supply shopping can invoke panic in the minds of many. The kids who are not happy that Summer is coming to an end, and most definitely the parents who are not happy that they’re going to empty their wallets buying crayons and rulers. Though getting the supplies your kids need for their new classes is so important, it is not necessary to spend a ton of money. Here I have compiled a list of simple ways that you can save big this school season.

 

Re-use What You Have

Lots of school supplies can be re-used. Resist the temptation to buy the brand new sparkly pink scissors if your daughter already has a pair from last year. Instead of buying a bunch of new mechanical pencils, just stock up on some led and re-use the ones you already have. Rulers, pencil cases and backpacks can all be re-used if they’re still in good condition.

Dollar Store Deals

Dollar Stores have a wide variety of school supplies and organizational tools for a much better price than the typical store. You can stock up on dollar pencil cases that may normally be $5 elsewhere!

Garage Sale Shopping

This time of year there are lots of garage sales each weekend. Stop by a few of them and see if you can grab some gently-used supplies. Lots of times they will even have brand new items!

Find Those Coupons

This time of year there are loads of great coupons out there for school supplies. Before heading out for your shopping trip check our coupon section for the best deals on school supplies. That way you’ll head to the store feeling prepared and ready to snag the best prices!

 

Do you have any practices for getting the best deals on school supplies? Let us know in the comments!

Etiquette For Visiting A New Baby

Posted 08-10-2016 at 07:50 PM by JPMP

Beautiful Moment

I’ve had quite a few babies being added to the family lately. A new niece and nephew in just this month alone! The second that I heard they had been born I wanted to head right over and congratulate the happy little family, but I knew that simply popping over was not the right thing to do. There are some rules of etiquette when it comes to visiting the new family, and they’re very important to follow in order to make sure that everyone stays comfortable and happy.

1. First of all, do not go over unannounced. You may think that you’re being cute by surprising them, but I assure you that the sleep-deprived couple will not appreciate you arriving without giving them the chance to clean up a bit and prepare for your arrival.

2. Do not ring the doorbell. And if they have dogs, don’t even knock. Send them a text letting them know you’ve arrived. They will be so grateful if baby is napping.

3. Don’t stay very long. Pay close attention to the parents. If they look overly tired, make the visit short so that they can get some rest.

4. Offer to help around the house. Take out the trash, do a load of dishes, fold some laundry. Even a small task could take a lot off of their shoulders.

5. Don’t comment on the physical appearance of the mother. (This should be a no-brainer.) She knows she looks tired. She knows that she hasn’t showered in two days.

6. Bring a gift. Whether it’s a card with well wishes, a cute outfit for baby, or a casserole, it will be much appreciated by the new parents.

7. Don’t give advice unless it’s asked for. Nothing will irritate an exhausted couple more than your unsolicited advice. If they do ask for tips though, feel free to give some!

8. Wash your hands first if they let you hold the little guy or gal.

9. Do not go over if you’re not feeling well. Even a small cough can be really dangerous for the little one.

10. Ask before picking up the baby. He may have just been put to sleep, or he may have an extremely underdeveloped immune system, you never know.

Do you have any etiquette faux-pas that you’ve personally experienced? If so, please comment them below!

HOT! Culturelle – SAVE $5 ON PRO-WELL 3-IN-1 TODAY

Posted 08-10-2016 at 01:18 AM by JPMP

Daddy-Daughter and Mother- Son Date Ideas

Posted 08-7-2016 at 07:46 PM by JPMP

Pastry for kids

 

Growing up, it is so important that kids get to spend quality one-on-one time with their parents. It doesn’t have to be Daddy-Daughter, it could be Mother-Daughter or Daddy-Son as well. Any combo works. It’s just so crucial that kids can have the full attention of that one parent, even if it’s just for an hour. It presents an opportunity for that child to open up to that parent and feel more comfortable asking questions and talking about things that are personal to them. No matter what the age, one-on-one “dates” can help forge stronger relationships and form great memories.

 

It’s not always easy to come up with something that can be fun for both the parent and the child, so I’ve compiled a list for you! They could be big things that you need to plan ahead of time, or impromptu activities that can be done any day at home. Pick a few of these and start planning the dates today!

 

1. Go out for Ice Cream

2. Take a class together (cooking, painting, dance… etc)

3. Walk to a park

4. Go out to breakfast

5. Go for a bike ride

6. Get dinner at their favorite restaurant

7. Let them stay up past their bed time as you do an activity at home together

8. Make a craft

9. Buy a bunch of LEGOS and build something together

10. Cook a meal together (pizza is always a fun one)

11. Go volunteer somewhere together

12. Head to the movies (make sure to plan time to talk about the movie afterwards, as there isn’t much talking during the movie itself)

13. Fly a kite

14. Plan a scavenger hunt

15. Get all dressed up and go to a fancy restaurant (this is a great opportunity to teach manners)

16. Pretend to be photographers and take pictures around the neighborhood

17. Mini Golf

18. Challenge each other at an arcade

19. Play your child’s favorite video game with them

20. Watch a sporting event

21. Go to the museum

22. Picnic at the park

23. Create your own slip ‘n slide in the Summer

24. Board game night

25. Go horseback riding

 

These are just a handful ideas compared to the hundreds of fun activities that are out there! If you’re feeling stumped, you can always ask your child what they’d like to do, I’m sure they have lots of great ideas. These dates don’t have to be planned out completely. They don’t have to cost money, and they don’t even have to last all night. Just spend some quality time with your kids doing something that you both enjoy, one-on-one, and you’re sure to make lasting memories.

The Best Minestone Soup Ever

Posted 08-4-2016 at 07:38 PM by JPMP

bowl ofminestrone soup

If you’re in need of a super easy and super yummy soup recipe, look no further. I have one of the simplest and tastiest Minestrone recipes you’ll find. I found myself constantly heading to Olive Garden for their Minestrone, but buying bowl after bowl really started to wear out my wallet. So I went on the hunt to find a Minestrone that was similar to Olive Gardens’, and I found a few that fit the bill, but I tweaked them a bit to make this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1cup diced celery
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup small shell pasta
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can white (or cannelini) beans
  • 1 halved and chopped zucchini
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I love the seasoned type)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional, spinach
  • lots of Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot (extra large if you choose to double) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and saute until it starts to turn a light brown (this should only take about 30 seconds, be very careful to watch it as the garlic will burn quickly). Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften. Stir in the green beans, kidney beans, white beans and all of the seasonings then let that saute for about 3 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, zucchini and the veggie broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Once you’ve achieved a rolling boil add the shell pasta. Reduce the heat slightly and let cook until the pasta is tender. If you choose to, add a handful of spinach to cook for about a minute before you serve the soup. Ladle into bowls and top with lots of Parmesan cheese.

Honestly this is one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. As long as you have the veggies chopped and prepared beforehand, it’s super easy to just toss them in when the timing’s right. Then you just let them all boil together and you’re done!

Give this soup a try tonight and you may never need to head to a restaurant for Minestrone again!

Sign Up For Petcentric Today!

Posted 08-4-2016 at 01:03 PM by JPMP

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Let Your Freezer Work To Save You Money

Posted 08-2-2016 at 07:35 PM by JPMP

Frozen berries and vegetables in bags in freezer close up

 

I’m sure you know that freezing some foods will extend the life of that food by a lot. It can help you save money if you bulk buy something when it’s on sale, and it can save you a lot of time preparing a meal if you just have to reheat the item, or toss it into a soup or casserole.

One of the worst feelings ever is opening up your fridge and pantry to see that most of the food has gone bad. The yogurt is now expired, the bananas are attracting a swarm of fruit flies, and your bread is turning a beautiful turquoise color. All that money spent on groceries two weeks ago is officially being tossed in the trash.

Freezing bananas (and just about every other fruit) is very popular, along with sticking that loaf of bread into the freezer, and making your own frozen yogurt. But I’m sure that there are a few foods you didn’t know you could freeze! I have put together a short list of a few of the items that I never thought to freeze:

Tortillas

I feel that tortillas go bad way too fast, which makes me really sad since I love cooking with them! Place a piece of parchment paper in between each tortilla and seal them in a bag to freeze, that way they won’t stick together after they’ve thawed.

Cheese

I think this one surprised me the most. I never pictured cheese as an item that could freeze well. Especially since one time as we put away groceries the cheese accidentally ended up in the freezer and it turned all crumbly once I placed it back in the fridge. The trick to avoid the crumbling is to let the cheese thaw completely in room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

Grating cheese is the worst, so we always buy bags of the already grated cheese. If you want to extend the life of your shredded cheese just add one or two tablespoons of flour and shake it so that it’s well incorporated. This will prevent the cheese from clumping together when it thaws.

Milk

Unless you have teenagers that seem to go through a gallon of milk a day, you may have a jug in there that gets touched infrequently enough that you often run into sour milk. To avoid this, or to save money by stocking up on milk when it’s on sale, simply place the jug in the freezer. After it’s frozen let it thaw and then shake it really well to make sure that it’s properly remixed.

Rice

Cook the rice normally and then spread over a parchment-paper covered pan to freeze. Once it is frozen you can relocate the rice into a Tupperware container and continue to store it in the freezer until you’d like to add it to your next soup or stir-fry.

Mashed Potatoes

Instead of letting your potatoes go bad and start sprouting, whip them into an extra large amount of mashed potatoes. Then take a portion of that and scoop into balls to place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once they are frozen you can store them in a Tupperware container for up to two months!

Eggs

Yep, I’m serious, you can freeze eggs! Make sure you don’t freeze them in their shell, though. Crack them into a Ziploc baggie and store in the freezer. Once you need them again let them thaw in the fridge and use them as you normally would.

 

That’s it! Wow, who would’ve thought that you could freeze most of that? Now here’s to hoping that you have enough room in your freezer to actually store them. ;)

Do you have any suggestions for foods to freeze? Let us know in the comments!

The Absolute Best Zucchini Bread You’ll Ever Have

Posted 07-31-2016 at 07:31 PM by JPMP

Freshly baked zucchini bread on rustic wooden boards

 

Back when I was about 11 years old we rented a house next to this adorable elderly lady who would invite my mother, sister and I over to her house for tea and sweets. This sweet lady was the first to introduce me to Zucchini Bread. When she first handed me a slice I was a bit apprehensive, I didn’t even know if I liked zucchini, but I fell in love after just one bite.

Fast forward to present day, and I now have another sweet neighbor who has a gigantic garden that seems to always be overflowing with yummy produce. Lucky for me, she always has way too much, and likes to stop by every couple weeks with a grocery bag filled with veggies. Just a couple days ago she came by with a bag filled completely with zucchini. And I’m not talking the small zucchini you usually find in a standard grocery store; these babies were massive, at least double the size of their usual counterparts.

As soon as I saw the vegetables I knew that I would make bread with them. I really wish that I had gotten the recipe from that sweet neighbor of mine years back, but unfortunately I never did. Though after browsing the web and trying a few out I was able to find one that tastes just like the one I remembered. You’ll have to give this decadent recipe a try.

I loved that I was able to double the recipe and use up a few of the massive vegetables. I also knew that it would keep well, so it could be a dessert and snack (and mostly my breakfast) for the next week. It was also nice because even the picky eater in my family, who probably wouldn’t ever even touch a zucchini, loved it as well!

Don’t be afraid to try this; it honestly is one of the best breads I have ever eaten. And if you top the bread with some cinnamon and sugar once it’s halfway done baking you’ll love it even more.

How did you like the bread? And do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Let us know in the comments!

A Few Small Tips For Healthy Eating

Posted 07-29-2016 at 07:31 PM by JPMP

 

Healthy Food Graphic

It’s not always easy to make healthy choices all the time. A day can start out with good intentions and then end with a Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. But that’s okay! Dessert is one of the best parts of the day and it’s totally okay to have sweets every once in a while. And sometimes there is just no time to make that “Quinoa Black Bean Spinach Salad” for dinner before running the kids to their activities so Wendy’s has to suffice. That is okay, too. Being healthy doesn’t mean that you never give your kids French fries, it’s all about incorporating healthy options in each day so that even if you don’t have time to put together a super healthy dinner, everyone’s still getting the nutrients and vitamins they need.

  1. Swap out the fries for apples. Don’t get me wrong, I love fries. I may even go as far as to say that they are one of my most favorite foods. As delicious as they are however, apple slices (or any other fruit or veggie) are a much better option with the fast food Kids Meal. It’s just one of many easy swaps that you can make.
  2. Limit the soda. Save soda for special occasions or as a special treat every once in a while. With the massive sugar content it would be so much better to substitute with a fruit juice or water.
  3. Have healthy food in reach at all times. Put a bowl of freshly washed fruit on the table. Have a snack drawer available for the kids to get into when they’re hungry, and keep the junk food somewhere that isn’t as easily accessible.
  4. Try preparing healthy foods in a creative way. Form carrots and broccoli into a smiley face on a plate, stick melon and grapes on a skewer and serve with a yogurt dip. Even if it’s a food that your kids swear they hate, they may find they enjoy it after seeing it in a new light.

These are just a few tips that I put together. There are endless new ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables and other healthy choices into you and your family’s diet.

What are some of your best tips and tricks to get your family to eat healthier? Let me know in the comments!