Posted 07-29-2016 at 07:31 PM by JPMP
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
Posted 07-25-2016 at 11:42 AM by JPMP
Birthdays are already so very exciting, but to be able to wake up on your birthday to something extra fun would just be the icing on top!
1. Balloons Everywhere. If they open their eyes and see colorful balloons all over their room, maybe a few helium on the ceiling and a bunch tossed on the floor and dresser, they’re going to definitely wake up on the right side of the bed.
2. A Banner. You can make your own “Happy Birthday” banner, or you can buy a cute one from the store. String it from the ceiling or across the window. When they wake up to your message reminding them (as if they really need reminding) that it’s their birthday, they’ll be extra excited.
3. Birthday Pancakes. Waking up to the smell of homemade pancakes is always what I remember from my birthdays growing up. My parents would always make mine into a Mickey Mouse shape, and then top it with candles. Then everyone would sing “Happy Birthday” and I’d blow out the candles just like I would on a birthday cake.
4. Confetti. Nothing beats waking up to the popping of those little confetti shooters. Though you’re sure to startle them at first (which is part of the fun) they’ll love the raining down of confetti everywhere.
5. A Surprise Outside Their Window. Toss small rocks at their window until they wake up and look out. Have a big banner outside, a chalk mural, or a bunch of balloons. (If it’s still dark outside, stick glow sticks inside the balloons, they’ll glow!)
6. Scavenger Hunt. Place the first clue by their pillow, and then have it lead them, clue by clue, to a present they get to open that morning!
Whether you do just one of these or a combination of a few, you’ll make their day for sure. It doesn’t have to cost much money, it’s just the thought you put into it and the element of surprise that they will cherish in their memories forever.
Do you have any fun Birthday Morning Surprises? Let us know in the comments!
Posted 07-23-2016 at 11:35 AM by JPMP
I will come clean, I am totally in love with Orzo. There is just something about how light and versatile it is that makes it the perfect pasta for Summer. Honestly, there are countless recipes that use Orzo. (Just type “orzo” into Pinterest to see what I mean!) I’m here to narrow down a few of my favorites for you just in time for them to be used as the perfect side dish at your next Summer Barbeque!
Italian White Bean Orzo Soup:
Soups are usually thought of as a dish for a cold Winter’s day, but I happen to disagree when it comes to this Italian Bean soup. It is so light that it is the perfect entrée any day, any season.
Parmesan Basil Orzo:
I just made this for the first time a week ago, and it was absolute heaven. If you are a cheesy comfort food fan then this is the perfect dish for you. The recipe is so simple and it is all done in less than 30 minutes! This would work great as a side dish, or it could be prepared in a larger quantity to be used as a dinner entrée. Honestly, I’d recommend at least doubling the recipe, I promise it will go fast.
Rosa Marina Salad (or Orzo Fruit Salad):
This is one of the reasons why I love Orzo so much, it is so versatile that it even works in a fruit salad type of dessert! You will absolutely love how creamy this Rosa Marina Salad is.
Greek Orzo and Spinach Salad:
If you’re going for a lighter option, I highly recommend this Mediterranean inspired salad. It is salty from the olives and feta and tastes absolutely refreshing. This would be absolutely perfect to make ahead and take on a picnic!
I hope that after trying even one of these recipes you will come to see just why I am so obsessed with Orzo! Especially in the Summertime, when the options are endless. But after scrolling through recipes online, I’ve seen options that would work great as a Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner side dish as well.
Do you have a favorite recipe that uses Orzo? Please share it with us!
Posted 07-20-2016 at 11:32 AM by JPMP
Your mouth is already watering just after reading the title, right? I’m dying over here just from typing it out. Seriously, these are the yummiest.
My grandma is a fantastic cook. Whenever we go over to her house for a Sunday dinner, we make sure to head over hungry so that we will have plenty of room for all of her amazing food. Her desserts are what I get most excited for, and she never disappoints.
If you are a Strawberry Shortcake fan, you will love her recipe. In fact, even if you’re not a big Strawberry Shortcake fan, you’ll still love these. Because they’re made with a buttermilk biscuit type of shortcake, they aren’t as crazy sweet as standard angel food cake. Give this recipe a try, you will be so happy you did.
(Note: The shortcakes don’t keep for very long (that’s because they’re homemade from scratch! Super fresh, with zero preservatives!), so be sure to make them the day of your next event or gathering.)
Buttermilk Strawberry Shortcake
Shortcakes (makes 6)
1 ½ c flour
2-½ tsp Baking Powder
2 TBS sugar
Lemon zest (opt)
Pinch of salt
½ c buttermilk (or milk with 1 TBS lemon juice – set aside while mixing rest of ingredients)
1 stick cold butter or margarine (cut up in small pieces)
3 cups fresh berries
1 TBS lemon juice (opt)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Line pan with parchment paper
• Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a bowl.
• Add butter pieces and cut into flour mixture with a fork or pastry blender until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk until all is mixed. Don’t over mix.
• Turn out onto lightly floured surface and shape into a thick round, and cut with a biscuit cutter, or drop in large spoonfuls onto the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon zest. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
• Split biscuits and layer with berries and cream. Store with loose covering or dry towel over biscuits to keep the crisp texture.
Posted 07-19-2016 at 11:47 PM by JPMP
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Posted 07-19-2016 at 02:00 AM by JPMP
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Posted 07-18-2016 at 11:28 AM by JPMP
When was the last time you hand wrote a letter? When was the last time you received a hand-written letter? I bet that you can’t even remember. But I’m sure that you can remember just how excited you got as a kid when you received something in the mail with your name on it! Nowadays, if a piece of mail has your name on it, it’s usually opened with dread at the payment information inside. This Summer, let your kids experience just how exciting it is to give and receive letters in the mail. Set up a person that you and the kids know to have as a recipient. I’m sure grandma would love to receive hand-written letters from her grand kids! This is an especially good idea for relatives and friends that may not live close by. That way your kids can still chat with their cousins that they don’t see very often!
Aside from the pure joy of giving and receiving letters in the mail, this is also a great activity that helps your child with their writing skills. Depending on their level, they can start out with drawing pictures on the paper and adding their name and a few words to writing a full page about all the fun things they’ve done this Summer. With school out, kids often regress in their academics during the long break. This is a great way to make sure that they stay on top of the spelling, grammar and handwriting that they’ve worked on the year before. This could also be a great time to teach new vocabulary words as well!
The whole process of writing a letter can be a learning experience. Teach them about addresses; the one that the letter is being sent to (grandma’s house, for example), and their address so that the recipient knows who sent them mail. If they still haven’t memorized their address, this is a great activity to help with that! Teach about how sending mail costs money, and go to the post office to pick out some fun stamps. While you’re there, you can even talk to a post-worker about what they do at their job.
This is a great idea that is practically free. It provides a learning experience for the kids, and helps them to create memories that they’ll cherish throughout their lives.
Comment below if you’ve done this with your kids, and how they liked it! I’d love to hear from you!
Posted 07-16-2016 at 11:23 AM by JPMP
I think that s’mores are my favorite food. I regularly find myself heating up a marshmallow and chocolate in the microwave to put on a graham cracker for breakfast, I’m addicted to the s’mores frappuccino Starbucks has during the Summer, and any chance I get to start a fire in our backyard fire pit so that I can roast some, I jump on it.
Now, with them being my favorite food and all, there’s no way I could ever think that the original is boring. But I appreciate change, so mixing it up a little couldn’t hurt, right?
Here are a few different s’more variations you’ve got to try at your next bonfire!
Peanut Butter Cup S’more: Simply sub out the Hershey’s for a Peanut Butter Cup! If you’re a peanut butter lover, then this will be heaven.
Double Chocolate S’more: Instead of the regular graham crackers, try the chocolate variety. It’s every chocoholics dream!
Raspberry S’more: Make your s’more as you usually do, but add fresh raspberries. This was by far my favorite of all the s’mores I tried.
Pina Colada S’more: I have to admit, I’m also addicted to coconut. In fact, just about every s’more I make is with these coconut marshmallows. (You can also find these in Wal-Mart.) To make a Pina Colada S’more use the coconut marshmallows and add a little fresh pineapple. It is tropical paradise in each bite.
Andes Mint S’more: Just as you did with the Peanut Butter Cup variety, substitute the Hershey’s chocolate with one or two Andes Mint pieces.
Mmm now I’m really itching to get a fire started so that I can make these all over again.
Do you have any tried-and-true s’mores recipes you’d like to share?
Posted 07-14-2016 at 11:22 AM by JPMP
Frozen fruit is the best. Not only is it super yummy and cool, but it’s healthy as well! If you have kids, trying a few of these could help you to get your kid to try a new fruit, or look at a fruit they may have previously refused in a new light. (Be careful though, frozen fruit can pose a serious choking hazard, make sure that you supervise your kids as they eat some of these.)
A few of my most favorite fruits to freeze are listed below. I am not 100% sure of how long you will need to keep each in the freezer, so I’d just play around with it, checking on them every couple hours.
Pineapple: Cut up some pineapple into small chunks and freeze them! Bonus points for dipping them into chocolate beforehand for an extra yummy treat.
Banana: Have you ever had a frozen chocolate covered banana? They sell them at theme parks, and they are divine! But even if you choose to just slice up the banana and freeze that, it will still be delicious.
(Also, to make healthy and super creamy ice cream, simply place a couple frozen bananas in a blender and blend them with some milk. I like to add a few tablespoons of peanut butter as well. In no time you’ll have amazing ice cream!)
Grapes: An old favorite, we’ve been freezing grapes at home since I was a kid. I completely prefer frozen grapes to the regular ones.
Blueberries: My new favorite! Frozen blueberries are amazing. Just toss a handful into a Ziploc and place it in the freezer for a couple hours.
Cherries: I just tried this yesterday, and it was a success! I had actually frozen them overnight because I forgot about them, so I left them out on the counter for a few minutes to thaw out a tiny bit. With the cherries, you will need to be careful with the pit. It is quite a bit harder to get rid of in the frozen cherry.
Raspberries: These only need to be frozen for a couple hours before they make the perfect topping for your yogurt, or they can always be eaten just by themselves!
Do you have any fruits that you love to eat when they’re frozen? I’d absolutely love to hear what you like to freeze! Let me know in the comments below.
Posted 07-7-2016 at 01:15 AM by JPMP
Are you sick of the same-old frozen treats? If you’re looking for a unique treat for yourself or the kiddos, try freezing a few of these candies! Honestly, the possibilities for candies to freeze are endless, but these are a few options that I have personally tried and enjoyed.
Junior Mints: These are my favorite frozen. In fact, if I ever buy a box of them, they end up right in the freezer.
Chocolate Covered Raisins: These are also super yummy when frozen. They thaw out fast, but when they are frozen they are a bit more chewy and crunchy.
Gummy Bears: Frozen gummy candies are so great.
Peanut Butter Cups: Some may argue that when these babies are frozen, they taste even better than when they are at room temperature. I didn’t think that there was any way to possibly make them taste better, but when I tried them frozen, I had to agree.
Charleston Chews: I love Charleston Chews. I really, truly, do. But I do find that they can be a bit exhausting to eat after a while with all of their gooey goodness. Popping them into the freezer for a bit totally solves that issue though, and I find that it even enhances the flavor!
Snickers: Cut them up into bite size pieces and put them in the freezer for a few hours. Soon you’ll have a crunchy, and once they’ve thawed out a bit in your mouth, extra chewy candy!
Please tell us in the comments, do you have any candies that you love frozen?