Monday, December 9, 2013

Meatless Monday: Winter Fruits Edition

While winter may be cold and blah, we've found some dishes that'll surely brighten your day.  Get ready for a big dose of vitamin C and some sweet tanginess as we explore recipes containing fruits that are currently in season.

Let's kick start this thing with a breakfast smoothie that'll definitely wake up your taste buds.  The Texas Grapefruit Sunriser Smoothie is chocked full of nutrients thanks to the few key ingredients alongside this tart winter fruit.

via TexasSweet
As your day progresses and you think about having the same boring salad for lunch again...why not pump it up with a Citrus-Walnut Dressing that will liven up those leaves?  Make a larger batch and store it in the fridge for an easy addition to any salad.

via offbeatandinspired
It's now time to leave work and return home.  As you leave your car to walk to your front door, you're greeted by that cold winter chill and realize you want something warm and comforting for dinner.  That means it's time for this Vegetarian Black Bean Chili.   It offers the comfort flavors and earthiness you find in most chilis, but has a cut of brightness by the 2 oranges you'll use to make this recipe.

via bonappetit

And if your sweet tooth starts talking to you, try this delicious dessert.  You'll want to have this prepared ahead of time (so maybe it's a weekend recipe to try)...Caramel-Tangerine Parfaits are creamy, dreamy, crunchy, and fresh.  And remember-it's giving you a good dose of vitamin c so don't feel bad about having dessert.

via delish
Here's to good eating!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cooler Weather-Keeping Your Family Healthy
As we push further into the cooler seasons, it's important that we really pay attention to our family's health.  Cooler temperatures seem to bring on more sickness, which is something we all try our best to avoid.  With young children it's important to talk with your pediatrician about what you can do to keep them healthy.  It's recommended that adults get their flu shot, and most pediatricians will also recommend children 6 months and older to get one as well.  Here are some tips to help keep you and your family safe and healthy during the winter months:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy diet (it's hard with all those holidays around the corner!)
  • Take your vitamins (talk to your pediatrician about what kinds your kids can take)
  • Stay well rested
  • Drink lots of water
  • Use a humidifier
  • Wear layers
    • Remember it's important to keep your little one warm at night, but that doesn't mean bundling them up with heavy layers or blankets.  Try adding flannel sheets or a bodysuit under their sleep sack instead.  When outdoors, make sure their head, feet, and hands are covered. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kid Safety-Learning About Strangers

Strangers.  A topic most adults don't much think about until they have children.  As adults, we avoid anyone who we feel threatened by or gives us the instinctual feeling that we should stay away.  However it's important to go back to square one when talking with a child about strangers.

What should you tell your children?  Which strangers are safe to interact with and which ones aren't?  You want them to know the difference on being polite to adults, but also knowing what they should and shouldn't say or what they should or shouldn't do when someone they don't know approaches them.  Keep in mind a traditional stranger is anyone your child or family doesn't know.  The stranger philosophy has changed over the years and new ideas on talking to your child about this are explored more in the post "Tricky People Are the New Strangers," by the Checklist Mommy.  

A doctor or police officer is a stranger, but we classify them as "safe strangers."  You can teach your child that these types of strangers are ok to talk to or approach.  It's also very important to teach your child that not all dangerous strangers look scary.  Cartoons and books tend to make the bad guy look like an evil, scary villain, but this is not always the case.  If your child is ever in a predicament where they feel threatened  or become separated from you or a guardian, it's important they know what to do, and which strangers they can turn to for help.  The National Crime Prevention Council advises parents to point out easy to recognize strangers when out with your child, such as teachers or police officers.  But what happens when these options aren't around?  Some parents tell their children to find another mommy with kids if they get lost in a place like a mall or grocery store.

It's smart to come up with a plan of action or family code in case a child gets separated from their family or guardian or feels threatened.  A meeting area should always be established when you go to any public space such as a shopping mall or grocery store.  Tell your child to meet you there if they get lost and to wait until you find them.

What plans of action or advice do you have for parents talking to their child(ren) about stranger safety?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eco Friendly Birthday Party Ideas

After recently attending a 5 year old's birthday party, a family friend shared some secrets to throwing an economical, eco-friendly bash, that's sure to make the kids and parents happy.

Mrs. B has two children-a boy and a girl.  For her oldest, the boy, she made flag garland to hang outside the house out of scraps of fabric and string.  She has used the same decoration now for 3 years.  She kept the colors and patterns simple-nothing themed, so she can reuse them every year.  For her daughter's 1st birthday, she decided to do the same thing, but with more feminine colors and she plans to hang these each year as well.

Photo courtesy of Sparkle Power
Mrs. B's house is right across the street from a neighborhood park.  She has utilized the playground (free of cost) for her son's birthdays, however decided this year, due to a more active child and his more active friends, not only would they use the park, but she would set up an obstacle course in her backyard with items that can be played with over and over again.  They had a hula hoop ladder, bean bag throw, and soccer ball dribble.  They also purchased a moon jump for less than $200 that they plan on using for their daughter's next few birthdays.
This moon bounce can be purchased at Walmart for less than $200.
Paint this board over and over to fit a new theme-courtsey of Pam-a-rama ding dong

Dribble the soccer ball thru the cones via The Soccer Essentials

Hula hoop hop via Learn, Play, Imagine
After the kids have worn themselves out, they go inside the house for homemade cupcakes and are sent home with a simple paper bag with some yummy sweet treats.

By timing your event effectively, you can avoid having to serve big meals items.   For example, schedule the party for late afternoon, so that you don't have to serve heavy meal items like you would during lunch and dinner hours. Instead, opt for simple snacks like trail mix (be careful for nut allergies among the children), chips and dips, and simple finger sandwiches for the adults.  Or schedule it during the late morning hours and serve bagels and doughnuts.  

For more birthday and green birthday ideas, check out our Pinterest board-Birthday Parties.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Carb Lovers Edition

Carbs...who doesn't love 'em?  Today's recipes are based off filling carbs that are paired with a healthy dose of yummy vegetables.  But enough with the chatter...let's get to it!

Our first meatless recipe is from the queen of Italian cuisine, Giada de Laurentiis.  Her Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree offers the best of an in-season favorite and because the veggies are all pureed, you can introduce this dish to any picky eaters in the family, without breaking a sweat!

Need something with a little more zing?  Then try this Spring Vegetable Fried Rice recipe by Laura B. Russell.  Don't let the name fool you though, all veggies in this dish can easily be found at your local grocery store, year round.  Or if you want to shop at the farmer's market and only want to use in season goods, substitute the vegetables for what is available in your area.

Spinach and artichoke go together like peanut butter and jelly.  So for this next dish, why not go with such a winning combination?  Spinach Artichoke Pasta offers the creamy goodness you know and love from the traditional dip, but add some cayenne pepper for a little kick and this pasta dish will have you making it over and over for your family.

And if you're feeling just a little guilty for consuming all these carbs, don't be afraid to make the switch from regular pasta to whole wheat.  Or for today's Spring Vegetable Fried Rice, use brown rice or even quinoa as a healthy substitute.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teething & All Its Glory

It's happening...the drool, the crankiness for no apparent reason...  Just after your baby has started sleeping through the night, all of a sudden you come to this-teething!

As early as 3 months old, you may notice your baby showing signs of teething.  Although this time may be dreaded, here are a few simple tips to alleviate your baby's pain, the natural way.

It's been said pressure helps alleviate the pain a baby experiences when his or her teeth come in.  Simply massaging their gums with a clean finger can help.  Some parents offer their children a whole carrot or celery stalk to gnaw on.  It's important that you are offering clean, whole pieces and not baby carrots, as this can be a choking hazard.  Also be aware that if your child has already cut some teeth, they do have the ability to bite off chunks of these vegetables, which again, can be choking hazards.  Always supervise your child with any edible or non edible teething item.

Other natural pain relieving methods include freezing a clean, wet washcloth and letting your child chew on that.  You can briefly freeze or refrigerate pacifiers or teething toys, but make sure to remove from the freezer before it becomes completely frozen so that your child doesn't damage his or her gums when chomping down.

Toys and teethers are available that offer different textures (and even flavors) for your child.  The Nuby Nibbler, holds fruits and veggies that you can freeze, and it's BPA, phthalate, PVC, and latex free.

Wooden toys are also a great option-just make sure they have non toxic paints or finishes and always inspect  for splinters, before giving to your child.  Sophie the Giraffe is a very popular item, as it is made from 100% natural rubber and is BPA and phthalate free.  This toy has a squeaky center that can also help entertain your baby.

Although this time may be rough for both you and your baby, remember that it will soon pass, and besides, who can resist those toothy grins!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Meatless Monday: No Bake/Cook Recipes

Summertime is the perfect time to sit back and relax.  Why waste your time being stuck in the kitchen, cooking all day?  Today's meatless recipes are no bake/no cook,  just mix and go!  From easy veggie salads, to a delicious cheesecake dessert...did we mention they are no bake/no cook recipes?  So try one, and spend the rest of your down time doing the things you really want to...or do nothing at all-we won't judge!

Cucumber is one of those ingredients that can really refresh your palette.  There is nothing quite like a delicious cucumber salad on a hot summer day.  This Cucumber Salad with Sour Cream and Dill Dressing, compliments of Martha Stewart, is absolutely perfect for a picnic.  Just mix lemon juice, sour cream, dill, and a pinch of salt and pepper together and toss in your cucumbers...easy, breezy, just how we like it.

Or try a slightly different variation, this time using broccoli.  Eating Well adds a few more ingredients to their Broccoli Salad with Creamy Feta Dressing that mimics the above recipe, yet takes it in a completely different direction with the bright flavor of red bell pepper.

A Watermelon Gazpacho can really liven up your day, and give you plenty of extra time outside the kitchen, without disregarding your taste buds.  This recipe, also from Eating Well, only requires the press of a button on your blender or food processor to ensure yummy results.

With all these cool, refreshing flavors, let's bring it home with a cool, creamy dessert!  Oreo Cookies and Cream No Bake Cheesecake from Bakers Royale appears too good to be true, but we wouldn't lie to only requires the use of a hand mixer to concoct this creamy, dreamy goodness.  Is your mouth watering yet?

With all the time these easy no cook/bake recipes saved you, why not get around to organizing that hall closet you've been putting off...or take that much needed nap (we said we wouldn't judge!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meatless Monday: Cheesy Dishes

Cheese.  It's good on pretty much everything, don't you think?  Unless you're lactose intolerant, we think you'll find these 5 recipes, featuring all sorts of cheesy goodness, to die for!

Starting with a  breakfast dish that can be served all day long, this mini quiche features feta and mushrooms with caramelized onions.  Featured on, you can find easy directions and delicious pictures that are sure to make your mouth water.

photo courtesy of  Jaymi Heimbuch

This Zucchini Parmesan dish can either be a snack or a side.  And all you need is zucchini and Parmesan cheese!  Can't make it any easier than that! For the nutritional information of this dish, check out Spark Recipes.

This next dish is quite the light fare.  Again featuring feta cheese, it's the perfect appetizer or poolside pick me up.  Cucumber-Feta Bites from are fun and fresh, not to mention delicious!

Love cheesy potatoes, but need something different?  Try adding cauliflower!  A Potato, Cauliflower, and Cheddar Bake from Martha Stewart gives you a little bit of help lowering your risk of stroke, according to Men's Health.  This lovely white vegetable is also a great source of potassium and folate.  And because it's white like the potatoes, you may be able to hide it in all that cheddar-y goodness, so you're kids will eat it all up without any complaints!  It's a win-win!

Check back next week for some easy no bake, Meatless Monday recipes!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Meatless Monday: A Little Side Action

Side dishes can take any meal from blah to a-ha!  Today we've got some great recipes that can go with many different dishes and are anything but boring.

For starters, you've a quickie night and need something fast...whatever it is you're making, why not pair it with some good old fashioned onion rings?  But these aren't the usual greasy, fried onion rings, these are Crispy Baked Onion Rings from Closet Cooking.  Check out his recipe and some of the other great veggie sides he's done with a twist!

Feeling something a little lighter, maybe a nice spring side dish?  Then this Marinated Zucchini Salad is the perfect compliment for your meal.  This would also be great for a side to a picnic at the the park as it can be served chilled or at room temperature.  Check it out at

This next side requires a little more cooking time in the oven, but it's a prepare and forget kind of dish.  Rosemary Polenta Fries from EA Stewart.  Simply cut the polenta into fry size, place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven.  For extra crispy fries-try turning them as they bake. 

We'll end today with a vibrant dish that is surely going to liven up your palette.  If you want to be totally meatless-sub the chicken broth for veggie stock.  Otherwise, this Cauliflower and Couscous Pilaf from Eating Well is easy, fresh, and a great side to try any day of the week.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Monday: Pizza Edition

Happy Monday AND Happy Earth Day to those of you who are celebrating.  Today's post, as well as all of our Monday posts, are brought to you with eco-living in mind.  Our Meatless Monday posts not only highlight delicious vegetarian recipes for you and your family to try, but they are brought to you with health benefits and green living in mind.

By serving meatless (or seafood-less) dishes one day a week, you can reduce your risk for various cancers, as well as slim down your waistline AND reduce your carbon footprint by utilizing less water and reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted from the manufacturing processes used in the meat industry.

Now that you have a little background of why we post these yummy meatless recipes, let's dive in to today's recipe series featuring an easy family favorite-PIZZA!

This colorful pizza really adds a zing of flavor with pineapple mango chipotle salsa.  Brought to you from Parents Magazine, "Tropical Pizza" offers several servings of vegetables, plus it takes about 20 minutes from start to finish to make!  Great for a night when the family is rushing around due to extracurricular activities.

Want something with just as much flavor, but a little more mainstream, in terms of ingredients?  Try Martha Stewart's recipe for Ricotta Pizza with Fresh and Roasted Tomatoes.  This savory pizza would also be great as an appetizer for your next party or get together.

This next dish really piles on the veggies.  Simone Anne's Easy Homemade Veggie Pizza is just that-easy!  Bake the veggies 'til they are nice and tender and enjoy.  Don't be afraid to sub in/out veggies based on the season.

Last, but certainly not least, this recipe has a tried and true partnership that always works!  Spinach and Artichoke Pizza takes 30 minutes total based on this recipe from Real Simple.  If you want something a little lighter on calories, sub out the cream cheese in favor of a little olive oil and fresh garlic.

These recipes are a great way to introduce your family to Meatless Monday and to show them there are more pizza toppings out there than just pepperoni and cheese.  Want to add a little competitive edge to your Meatless Monday?  Host a pizza bake off-loser has to do dishes!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Meatless Monday: Pasta Edition

If you're a carb lover, then you'll love today's post.  We've got some pasta recipes with panache.  No plain jane spaghetti here, but instead some great, easy to make dishes that will liven up your weekly dinner menu.

Let's kick things off with a Creamy Squash Rigatoni by Big Girls Small Kitchen.  This recipe is for two so double or triple up if you need more!

Here's another recipe containing a member of the squash variety, but this time it's zucchini! Spinach Ravioli with Zucchini Ribbons sounds fancy, but by using premade fresh or frozen ravioli, you can cut your cook time down significantly to make this very simple dish.  The recipe, found on calls for frozen ravioli.

Our last recipe really adds a twist to spaghetti night.  It's fresh and light due to the lemon, and has a nice little kick thanks to some red pepper flakes.  Spaghetti with Kale and Lemon from Bev Cooks, contains kale, an ingredient that's been trending all over the place in the last few years thanks to its health benefits being acknowledged by nutritionists.

So these hearty dishes are great for Meatless Monday or any night of the week!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meatless Monday: Hidden Veggies

As a parent we do our best to feed our children healthy, wholesome meals.  No one understands the struggle of having a picky eater more than a parent.  Today we have some great recipes that sneak in a serving or two (or seven) vegetables into these kid approved foods.  Try one out and see what your little one says (bonus points if you let them know they ate veggies after the plate is clean!)

Our first recipe today is a family favorite-mac & cheese.  What no one, other than the cook, knows is there are not one, but TWO hidden vegetables in this recipe.  Carrots and squash that have been grated are added to the mix and are undetectable both to the eye and your little one's taste buds.  For an faster/easier way to get small portions or for a confetti like look-just toss the veggies into your food processor.

Our second recipe again uses pasta as a base, but will satisfy everyone at the table.  And with 7, yes you read that right, 7 different vegetables, you can't go wrong.  The secret is the sauce.  Amongst the tomatoes lie spinach, bell peppers, and many other nutritious items. Try this Spaghetti with Hidden Vegetable Tomato Sauce from Chef Michael Smith and be comforted knowing your family is getting all the daily vegetables they need.

Now if everyone eats their whole meal, why not reward them with a yummy dessert.  Little do they know, the hidden goodness isn't going to stop.  Try this Chocolate Avocado Mousse for a final hidden veggie trick.

For more ideas on how to sneak in veggies visit B-Inspired Mama. Let us know how the hidden vegetable recipes go, as well as if you have any good tips to share on how you get your kids to eat their veggies.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 Easy (and Green) Weekend Projects

We've got some great projects you can do around your house that can remove clutter, lower energy bills, and make your home a little greener. These 5 quick projects can be done as time permits and many only take a few minutes to complete, but can have a great impact for your household.

Project 1-Conserve some H2O and reduce your energy bill
What to do:  Fill a water bottle up with water and rocks, pebble, or marbles, tighten the cap and place in your toilet's water tank.  This will displace some of the water, which means you won't need as much water to flush, thus saving you money on your monthly water bill.

Project 2-Clean vents and replace air filters
What to do: Use a rag to clean all air vents in your house.  Use your vacuum to clean the refrigerator and dryer vents.  Finally, replace your HVAC air filters -we recommend every two to three months or sooner if you live in a place with a high pollen count during spring and summer months, you have pets, or you live in a place with a high level of air pollution or construction work nearby.

Project 3-Check your car's tire pressure
What to do: Look up what the tire pressure level should be for your car (found in the owner's manual).  Check the tire pressure using a pressure gauge when the tires are cool-hot tires can expand when warm giving you a false reading.  Add air if needed.  Tires that are filled with the correct level of air can improve your mileage by approximately 3%, saving you tons of gas.

Project 4-Used rolled up magazines to properly store winter boots
What to do: Roll up old magazines and insert them into the opening of your tall boots to help them keep their shape while in storage.  This is a great recycling project and clutter eliminator all wrapped into one!

Project 5-Recycle paint cans (full or almost empty)
What to do: If you have a relatively full paint can that is just taking up space in your garage, consider donating it to Habitat for Humanity in your area.  They accept lots of different home improvement products-paint, appliances, etc.  If you have little to no paint left in your can-remove the lid and either let dry in the natural sunlight, or add kitty litter, saw dust, or another drying agent.  Earth911 is a terrific site to help find paint and other recycling centers in your area.

(in order of appearance) photos courtesy of,,,,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meatless Monday: Breakfast Edition

Welcome back!  Today's edition of Meatless Monday features some scrumptious breakfast recipes that are great for an everyday occasion, great for your next brunch party, or serve one up for an Easter celebration.  We are featuring both on the go recipes, as well as dishes that you can enjoy while sitting with your family.

To start off, let's get things going with some Lemon Blueberry Granola from Stetted.  This can literally be thrown on anything - yogurt, ice cream, fruit, cereal, milk, or eat it all by itself.  This recipe adds nuts for an extra boost of omega 3, vitamin E, along with many other vitamins and nutrients.

These fun Banana Sushi Bites are simple to make and fun for the kids to eat.  All you need is a banana, peanut butter, and some Rice Krispies (or any crunchy cereal).  What's great about these is there is no added sugar that you usually get from a bowl of cereal.

Here's another 3 ingredient breakfast that can kick start your morning.'s Pomegranate Berry Smoothie is as yummy as it is pretty.  Featuring TONS of nutrients and antioxidants (look for Pomegranate juice that is unsweetened or sugar free for added health benefits).

This fun idea is great for a brunch party and can be made to be as simple or as decadent as you want.  Val So Cal's Donut Hole Breakfast Skewers are easy to put together, and she adds some yummy dipping choices-coconut, chocolate sauce, and salted caramel sauce.  Don't these look fabulous!?

Want something a little more traditional for breakfast?  Then this take on scrambled eggs is the dish for you.  Garden Scrambled Eggs featured on adds a ton of flavor thanks to some added veggies like tomato, zucchini, and spinach.

And the great thing is these recipes don't have to only come out in the early morning hours-use them as snacks, desserts, or even dinner on a crazy night!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meatless Monday: St. Patty's Day Edition

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to have today's Meatless Monday post focused around GREEN ingredients.

Let's start off with a nutritious ingredient that has a lot of parent's dying to figure out a way to get their children to eat it...BROCCOLI!  These fun sized, tasty bites will have everyone at the table reaching for more.  Broccoli Cheese Bites from Stacey Snacks are easy for toddlers to eat with their hands (if they haven't mastered the fork yet) and easy for anyone to throw together and pop in the oven for a side that takes less than 30 minutes to make.

This next dish has another ingredient that kids are hesitant to try-spinach-but this recipe for Parmesan & Spinach Orzo will be both satisfying and beneficial-thanks to all the vitamins found in this leafy green.  Life As A Strawberry features easy directions as well as many mouth watering pictures, including this one...

Here's another green side that's a little more grown up, but still can be a family favorite. Green Beans with Walnuts and Balsamic from Healthy Seasonal Recipes is a quickie recipe that can be prepped and cooked in less than 30 minutes.  We also think this could be a new holiday side you add to your table.

This pretty spring dish has a beautiful pop of green throughout it due to 3 accent ingredients.  Tortellini with Asparagus, Peas, and Mint can be made with all fresh ingredients, all frozen ingredients (minus the mint), or a mix of both depending on your time crunch.  Betsy from Betsy Life does use frozen peas, but everything else is fresh-she even uses her own home grown mint!

We'll end today's green blast with a celebratory Shamrock Shake to satisfy your sweet tooth and offer the kids a new, fun dessert.  This low calorie drink from Skinny Mom has healthier ingredients than a traditional milkshake, but if you need or want the extra goodness of using icecream as opposed to frozen yougurt (we won't tell anyone!)

Happy St. Patty's Day!