One Amazing Grilled Meal–Grilled Chicken & Vegetables with Rice

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Hey!  Well, I mentioned the other day on Facebook and Twitter that I made an awesome, super-duper-quick, meal the other night and here it is, taadaaa!  This meal could not be easier and it took only minutes (less than 10 minutes, that is . . .) to put together!

First I started out with 1/2 red onion, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper. I chopped up all the vegetable and added 1/4 cup Bolthouse Balsmic dressing and 2 tbsp Italian dressing.

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I added the same amount of marinade (1/4 cup Bolthouse Balsamic dressing and 2 tablespoons Italian dressing) to the chicken and I refrigerated it for at least 30 minutes for the marinade and the chicken to marry.   I added my veggies to a grill pan and here we go grill!

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Yum! I absolutely adore grilled vegetables and could probably eat this entire pan!  The kids did okay with eating the grilled veggies but the rice medley was definitely their favorite! 

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To this simple dinner I complimented it with Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Medley, including quinoa and brown rice with garlic.  Oh boy was it tasty!

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Simple Grilled Chicken & Vegetables

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breast

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 yellow squash, choped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup Bolthouse Balsamic dressing, divided

1/4 cup  Italian dressing, divided

Preparation

Add 1/4 cup balsamic dressing and 2 tbsp Italian dressing to the chicken breast. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  Add the same amount of marinade (1/4 cup balsamic + 2 tbsp Italian dressing) to the chopped vegetables and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Place vegetables in a grill pan and grill until tender.  Grill chicken breasts over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes a side, or until no longer pink in the center. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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Celebrate the 4th with My Skinny Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Cocktail!

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Can you believe that it is already July 4th?  Whaaat, it is unbelievable that summer is flying by this fast!  The fourth always marks the middle of summer and now the rest of the summer is only a blink of an eye, whew!  So today I would like to share with you a super simple cocktail drink that will save you from packing on the unwanted pounds during this holiday weekend. 

I used only three ingredients to make this tasty drink and here they are: lemonade, frozen strawberries and watermelon flavored rum.   Yes, I am sorry to say the rum is left my honeymoon, almost 8 years ago!  We went to the Bahamas and boy oh boy, was the rum super cheap but we probably made up for it by paying extra for our heavy luggage, ha! Oh well .  . . I have been making more alcoholic frozen drinks this summer because I now have a high-powered blender, hmm  . . .  green smoothies or  margaritas? Heehee, I do both but once a week I love playing bartender with my blender and mixing up something fun!  Honestly, I am a true beer girl but making drinks is sure fun!

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Strawberry Watermelon Frozen Cocktail  (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup lemonade

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

2 oz watermelon rum

Preparations:

Blend all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: 122 calories; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g fat; 0 g protein; 11 g sugar

(Most cocktail drinks range from  200-400 calories per serving!)

 

By the way .  . . this makes a good serving, so enjoy (bigger than the picture, woohoo!)!

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Get Real About Breakfast . . . A simple breakfast with tons of benefits!

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Hi friends!  I will have to admit, this dreary weather lately just makes me want to be lazy.  Relax . . .read the paper, surf pinterest, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy a wholesome breakfast.  Ahh . . well, that does not lasts not very long until I hear the words, “Mooooooooommmm!”  I know someday I will miss hearing those cries for mom, but  one of my favorite times during the day is enjoying a late breakfast with a little “me time!”  After the kids wake up and eat their breakfast, I like to enjoy a quiet breakfast by myself while they are playing together. I try to make it last as long as possible and explain to the kids that mommy need some time to eat a good breakfast so I won’t start the day off as cranky-pants-mommy.   Nobody like it when that happens!

I think breakfast is probably one of my favorite meals but let’s face it, I have to make something super quick so I can enjoy more “me time”, right?   And here is what I cherish to eat every morning, well,  most mornings let’s say . . .

Super duper simple and so very filling!  Eggs and toast!  Yep, you  got it, just real eggs and toast with a little bit of real butter, yum!  No egg substitutes, no soft-tub margarines and no low-calorie breads! These last few years, I have jumped on the real-food bandwagon and have been devouring real wholesome foods in proper portions.  I used to be so freaked out by the amount of calories and fat in butter that I decided that soft-tub margarine spreads was a better choice.  But have you ever done a taste test between margarines and real butter?  Umm . . . yeah real butter wins by a landslide. I only use a half tablespoon (maybe less) on a slice of bread, so yes – keep the serving small.  I see more and more new research claiming that fat may be not as bad as we think it is after all, hmm . . . (BTW, I hear Jillian Michaels has the same breakfast – eggs and sprouted toast!)

As for the eggs, I am not against egg substitutes and I actually do use them in my egg protein wrap when I am trying to really bump up the protein grams!  But I like the fact that eggs are good for you and are an excellent source of protein!  Egg are packed with essentials nutrients such as vitamin D, choline (aids in brain function), vitamin E, lutein, zeaxanthin, (promotes eye health) and many more!  Don’t fret the fat and cholesterol, eggs can be apart of a healthy and balance diet everyday! Eggs & Heart HealthBreakfast & Weight Loss

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Side note : here is my new coffee that I am in love with . . . Starbucks Via is an instant coffee that tastes wonderful!  This is how I pass on the flavored creams – by drinking really good coffee!

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The egg puffs up so pretty!  I crack two egg and place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook in the microwave on HIGH for two minutes.  Then I top the eggs with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and pop it back it back in the microwave for an additional 12 seconds for the cheese to melt. Or sometimes I cook the eggs on the stove in a skillet. I make 2 eggs because I (lesson learned)  usually have some little munchkin coming to me asking, “Mama, can I have some egg too?” 

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Now let’s talk bread!  Back in the day when I worked at the grocery store, I used to stock these frozen Ezekiel breads and think “Why in the heck would someone pay $5 for  loaf of frozen bread?”  Well, honestly I was not aware of how this bread was made and did not know that it is packed full of nutrients.  Now, I know why and love the taste of this bread toasted with a spat of butter! 

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Okay, let me explain . . .this bread contains sprouts of different grains and then used to make bread.  The process of sprouting grains actually increases the level of different vitamins and minerals, therefore increasing its nutritional profile!   This bread is also a low-glycemic food, meaning that after you eat this bread your blood sugar does not spike as high as it would if you would have eaten a slice a bread made with flour. 

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I adore this bread toasted!  I will admit the bread is a little dry when eating plain so I have found that by toasting the bread and topping it with a little butter is pure heaven!  My kids also love, love the bread toasted but I add a little bit of cinnamon and a sprinkle of sugar to their toast for snack or breakfast! It tastes like a cinnamon roll, omg!  Did someone say cinnamon roll? 

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So here we have it folks, cheers to eggs and toast, the breakfast of rock stars!

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How To Make The Perfect TO-GO Lunch

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Heeellloo!  You got it, if I haven’t been posting I have been crazily organizing and cleaning. There is still more to do but I have went through the girls’ closets, pantry, coat closet and onto the dreaded storage room, ahh!  I have realized (like most people) that when I am super, super busy I eat whatever is in sight,aka, meaning whatever is left of my kids’ meal and snack plates.  That’s right, my diet is now consisting of chicken nuggets (all-natural brand), pretzels, apple slices, bits of broccoli and dip, popcorn and the best yet, left-over ice cream cones, times three, ha!  Yep, just call me the human garbage disposal. Uuuugggghhh, how do I get out of this cycle and still try to get a 101 things done?  Well, I thought about making up my own ready-to-go lunches on the weekend and hopefully it will be a no-brainer for me to reach into the frig, open container and eat.  Hmm . . . . 

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Here is my option #1, I hope to make up a gizillion more ready-to-go lunches, so I won’t get bored and keep up this great idea!  I know, it is not a new idea but I am motivated to make this happen, hopefully every week!  I have made up four lunches (all the same) and this week has been going great, except that some of the lunches got pushed back in the back of the frig and now some of the vegetables froze a bit, grrr! Lesson learned! Anyway, here is my format for each lunch.

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Note the largest section will have me eating more vegetables! Let’s see if I can do it?  For this lunch option I did not actually include the protein source in the container because I thought it might ruin my vegetables.  Above my container, I have two options for protein sources.  These sausages are very tasty and lean on the high side of sodium, therefore the rest of the meal is almost very little or no sodium at all.

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I love, love, love guacamole but do not buy it that often because it is a bit pricey and sometimes it goes bad before I am able to finish the container.  I did find a huge container of homemade guacamole at Hy-Vee for a pretty reasonable price. Oh my, is this stuff goood! Next time I think I am going to look for a container half the size.  The price is not bad considering the name-brand versions contain about half the amount of guacamole for about $4! I was able to finish all the guacamole this time around.

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Now like I said my goal is come up with more creative lunch ideas and maybe have a different ready-to-go lunch each day! But for now I thought I would test this idea out and see how it goes for the week. 

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Estimated nutrition facts: 281 calories; 18 g carbohydrate; 10 grams fat; 16 g protein, 740 mg sodium; 7 g sugar

Now my biggest questions I ask myself, “Did these lunches fill me up? Yes, and no . . .the first day I think I was too busy to find anything else to eat but on the second day I was ravenous to find something else and I did, a kind bar and a glass of milk.  I think they make a wonderful nutritious base for my meal and I may have to include a couple things to complete them but for now I love it!  Definitely room to improve!

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Easy Beef Stir-Fry

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Happy Friday!  This week is flying by and the kids and I are having a great summer.  I was a little worried about having all the kids home for the entire day but our trips to the pool, zoo, library, science center and more sure help make the day go smoothly!  Well, here’s to a super simple meal that can made and put together in just minutes.  Perfect for those busy nights when you get home and everyone is hungry now!  Don’t ya just love those night, ha, when the kids go straight to the freezer and grab a popsicle or cookie right before dinner, ugh! A big huge ugh! Anyway . . .

First I browned some cubed stir-fry beef. Once it was cooked I set it aside and started sautéing onions with olive oil in a skillet. Then I added an entire bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables plus an extra can of water chestnuts because at our house we just can’t get enough of them!

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Next comes the special simple soy and ginger sauce.

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Cover the pan with lid and let it cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add beef to mixture and dinner is done! 

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Easy Beef Stir-Fry  (Serves 4)

Ingredients

1 pound cubed stir-fry beef

2 tbsp canola oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetable blend

1 (8-oz) can water chestnuts, drained

Sauce:

3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp water

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation

In a non-stick skillet sauté beef until brown.  Remove cooked beef and set aside (may use a separate skillet) Add oil, onion and frozen vegetable to pan and sauté vegetables until slightly tender.  Add water chestnuts.  In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, water, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour mixture over vegetables.  Add cooked beef and cover pan for 8 to 10 minutes until flavors have combined. Serve on a bed of your favorite rice!

*(Nutrition facts per the beef and vegetable mixture, rice not included)

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories: 240; Carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Fat: 2g; Protein: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Sodium: 600mg; Sugar: 3g; Trans Fat: 0g; Daily nutritional values: 10% vitamin A; 25% vitamin C; 4% calcium; 20% iron

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Getting Organized! My favorite food storage containers!

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Okay, I may be pushing it a little by writing an entire post on food storage containers but let me share a little secret with you . . . “these are my little tricks into getting my family eating better, shhh!”  Sounds crazy, I know but I have some very good reasons to my madness.

1) When I can present good-for-you-foods in pretty, organized and cute containers, a boxed lunch is waay more fun, right?

2) By having a designated and organized vegetable tray I keep up on providing fresh veggies on hand at anytime: lunch, snack, dinner,  . . .whenever!

3) My special vegetable tray looks very pretty so those little fingers just want to dig in! 

4) My special vegetable tray keeps my vegetables organized and therefore my frig is neat and I won’t forget about that bunch of broccoli stuffed in the way back of the frig because I cut it up and put in my container!  How many times have you had to thrown out fresh produce because it got pushed in the back of your messy frig and you forgot about it? 

5) I save the earth from throwing away a million plastic baggies! I used to always (and still do occasionally but try to reuse) put ever single item for lunch in a plastic bag.  Either I would throw them away after use or my child would at school, but now with my cute containers I do not use as many baggies!

Here is an example of my daughter’s lunch. I also pack many lunches for my other kiddos in this container, too!  Easy to clean, very sturdy and easy to for the little ones to handle, even in the car, which saves me from a going through a drive-thru! Making sure you have food on hand for a toddler is always essential!

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Okay, maybe now you understand my excitement!  I have been searching online trying to find reasonable food storage containers for lunches and especially find a handy vegetable container and I happen to just come across on these containers when I was shopping at TJ Maxx. Here is my vegetable storage container and I think I paid $7.99.  It has 4 plastic compartments that can be taken out separately.

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I like the separate containers because a few times I have noticed some veggies looking a little rough at the bottom and I am able to throw them away and wash that compartment separately, while keeping the other veggies fresh!

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My only con about this container is the lid takes in a little moisture and when you open up the container  I have to wipe the water off.  But I am totally fine with this little problem because it keeps my veggies so darn organized and I haven’t found anything better . . . .sometimes I have too many vegetables on hand and would like a bigger container but come to think about it, it is actually the perfect size for our family because by the time those few last veggies are at the bottom, it time to get fresh veggies again. 

Here are a couple other containers that I found.  Yes, once I found these containers I probably went a little crazy but let me tell ya, I use every single one of them daily!  The smaller containers are about $2.99-$3.99, gotta love that price!  Even though it is now summer and I am no longer providing lunch for my school-aged daughter, I actually make even more to-go lunches in the summer as we are off to swimming lessons, library, pool, zoo, science center etc.

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Look!  Even a cereal or yogurt and fruit container! It is nice to change lunch up for my daughter and send cereal or vanilla yogurt and frozen berries.   We have had no problems with mess either! 

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Here is another one: whole wheat crackers, provolone, cured turkey sausage, cauliflower, carrots and dip!

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I just love this picture, so pretty, it makes me very happy!

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Enjoy my friends! I may have to post again before school, huh?

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Half Marathon–Done! Check! Thoughts, Pre-Race Fuel. . . . Is carb-loading overrated?

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Hey, Hey! Still a bit sore almost three days later and totally miss my ranch house!  These stairs are killing me this weekend, especially carrying kids up and down, arg!  Dang, I swear practically every single race at about mile 9, I say to myself, “This is the LAST half marathon I will do this year, seriously!”  I finish the race and then say, “I think I can do better, I better start training for my next half for the fall this week, ha!”   This year definitely went much better than year last year’s race: my first Dam To Dam.  For some reason after baby number three,  my love for running diminished immensely, probably due to my lack of sleep last year, but now my baby is almost two-years-old and I have started to enjoy running again, ahh! First let me say, this post is not promoting any type of eating pattern but just bringing up a question that I have been thinking about these last couple of months.  I am not a specialized sports dietitian, but I am just using myself as my own personal experiment and trying to find what works best for me.

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Anyway, I think this is my 7th or 8th half marathon and I always seem to follow the same running program, eat the same pre-race breakfast, drink the same drink and carb-load as usual.  This year seems to be a bit different because my goals have changed. I have found that during these training times I tend to put on a couple more pounds, not a big deal but always nice to not have this happen, ya know? You would think I would lose a couple of pounds with the training but not, grr.   What I have found is that my body can actually run just fine on my typical diet consisting of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, some dairy and a sprinkle of whole grains.  During my long runs I am just fine with a couple of Smarties and water.  Seven years ago, I remember shoving down one or two gel packets at mile 6 and eating a granola bar at mile 10, and of course always getting in a good meal the night before of spaghetti and bread sticks.  Is my body adjusting or I am getting smarter at this whole refueling thing?  I also think I give myself a “free eating pass” when I am training too, hmmm . . . .

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Taking in good carbs . . .

During my training program (here the one I followed this year, 20 Week Training Schedule) I have shied away from simple carbs such as crackers and some breads and stuck with whole fresh fruits such as apples and berries and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and no-sugar-added Greek yogurts.  So I am not eliminating carbs I think I am just picking out better sources of carbs during these last couple of months, eh?

What did I eat pre-race?

Well, the night before I ate a bit differently than I have these last months and enjoyed some vegetable pizza, not greasy and loved the crust! I didn’t go crazy with carb-loading but nothing was off limits for me that night including a little bowl of ice cream, wink, wink. 

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In the morning, at the butt crack of dawn I choked down some peanut butter toast and grabbed an iced coffee drink, candy, race bib, phone, head phones and I am out the door, let’s do this, I think?!

I love having an iced coffee to give me a little edge early in morning. Oh and just in case took some meds (immodium (just in case) and aleve (ankle pain))  I felt pretty good during the entire race and came in just 40 seconds after my PR. I clocked in around 1:56, not too bad but always room for improvement! Every race is always an accomplishment and always fun to do, right?! Well, after it is over, it is definitely fun!  I figured out I am one of those weird looking runners with a smile on face when I pass the crowd.  Wanna know why?  Because, it is a mind game, if I smile, then I am happy and keep my mind positive!  I seriously enjoy seeing people on the route cheering with their funny signs, cowbells and cute kids high-fiving!  I always want to say, “more cowbell,”  you know from the SNL skit, makes me laugh just thinking about it!

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So anyway, what do you think about carb-loading? I am sure I will experiment again this fall but as for now this was a great experiment for me and 15% of time, I totally did give myself a “free eating pass” and the other 85% of the time I ate good wholesome, real food!

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Raising Healthy Eaters–Plus my trip to school!

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Hi Friends!  Well, last week I was lucky enough to go into my daughter’s kindergarten class and talk a little bit about nutrition.  Man oh, man let the fun begin!  This was actually my third time going into my kids’ classrooms and promoting healthy eating to the students.  In February, I talked to two preschool classes at my son’s school and had a blast!  I did have to step out of my comfort zone just a bit, ahh, it was tad stressful but worth it.

Let me tell you why I was a little nervous . . . my goal was to provide a fun and memorable event for the kids while instilling some great nutrition concepts for the little ones.  I wanted every child to go home and actually remember something about what they did in school that day.  How many times do we as parents here the answer to our question, “So what did you do at school today?” Child’s response: “Oh, nothing . . .”  Parent’s reply, “Whaatt?”   

I wanted to get the children excited about my message to eat more fruits and vegetables and always try new foods!  I wanted them to go home with pure excitement and say, “Mom, I need to eat lots of colorful foods! Can we go to the grocery store and buy some new fruits and vegetables?  I really liked the jicama Mrs. Mitchell brought can we buy some?”  Okay, I may be pushing it a bit but this might happen.  And if it was at my house, my kids would be more than willing to try new fruits and vegetables they picked in the produce aisle but then ask to go buy some candy, haha, right?

So, anyway, I decided that in order to get the attention of children ages 3 to 6-years-old, I had to come to their level, meaning I had to be somewhat funny, entertaining and that would be only possible with . . . .a puppet! This was totally out of my comfort zone but hey, I love teaching kids about eating better and if I have to be a little crazy just so a child will be more excited to try a new foods then hey, I am all for it! 

Here I am with Pirate Max talking about eating foods that are the colors of the rainbow.  Pirate Max thought we were going to eat the rainbow and the little leprechaun guy, too. I kind of look angry but I am desperately trying to  do my best pirate voice as you can see my straining vein, hahahaaahaa!

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I had some very generous friends let me borrow their awesome Melissa & Doug’s puppets.  I think I will have to invest in a puppet for years to come and perfect my skit a bit more for future events.  I wrote up a little skit where my puppet was crazy for donuts (just like my kids) and did not want to try any new foods but with the help of my persuasion (and the kids) our new friend tried some new fruits and vegetables (I used play food) and actually liked them (this may only happen in a perfect world but you get the idea).  I talked about eating the colors of the rainbow and the different types of foods: everyday foods and sometimes foods.  Pirate Max gets the idea that maybe he should only have his favorite donuts on his special Saturday with the family. We talked about how good-for-you-foods help us grow and give us energy.

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We also tried some new foods such as jicama, frozen mango, edamame, plus we made our own green smoothies.  The children loved seeing all the vegetables and fruits get blended up into liquid. Thanks to my pretty awesome blender I won (My first green smoothie, plus Green Smoothie Girls class).  I would say about 85% of the kids were loving the smoothie and eager to try all the new foods.  We had a couple kids in each class that were not so thrilled about the foods but that happens, I am just so happy the majority of the kids were excited to try everything! 

In my daughter’s kindergarten class, I also read this book, “The Gulps” written by Rosemary Wells  (author of Max & Ruby) and illustrated by Marc Brown (author/illustrates Arthur).  In a previous post (Kids Summer Snack Swaps) I also mentioned this book.   In this book, the Gulps family enjoys convenience food and sitting back and watching TV.  As they travel in their Dreamliner (RV filled with TVs and microwaves) they get stranded  near the Spratt family farm. 

Luckily the Spratt family takes them in and shows them all about the hard work it takes to  harvest food on the farm.  And they even learn to love green food! 

As told in the story, “Bit by bit they got out and got fit.”  “Bite by bite they began to eat right.”  They eventually slimmed down and learned to eat healthy food and enjoy doing physical labor on the farm.

A very cute story for children.

I also provided fruit and vegetable food trackers to the students, here are some super cute resources I found at Super Kids Nutrition.

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In addition to this resource I also included my tips for Raising Healthy Eaters.”

Feeding your child nutritious food can be one of the most challenging jobs as a parent but also very important to teach your child at a very early age. Here are some tips for any picky eater or great to use when times get a little tough feeding good-for-you-foods!

· Bring your child grocery shopping and have them pick out a fruit or vegetable according to the color of the rainbow. (This is a tough tip as I totally get the stress of bringing kids to the grocery store, trust me! But I try to do this occasionally when I don’t have huge list of groceries.  Sometimes we even sit down in the eating area and enjoy some new foods from the salad bar!)

· Rotate foods! Sometimes kids get bored with the same foods so try incorporating a new fruit or vegetable at snack or meal time.

· Get your kids involved in meal time! Maybe have them help you make a smoothie or even help dish out some of the food on each plate.

· Always offer a healthy option! When your kids are asking for junk, it is their way of telling you “I AM HUNGRY!” Make sure to offer some protein and fiber first and then they might forget about the junk. Check out the Kid-Friendly Snack Ideas!

· Have fun! Try making a monster face out of a whole-grain tortilla or even a slice of cheese. This is a wonderful distraction to get any kid to eat better!

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I also included these recipes that have been hits at my home with my kiddos!

Homemade Mini Pizzas and No-Bake Chocolate Chip & Oatmeal Cookies

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As always, enjoy my friends!      

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My Favorite Summer Recipes! Simple, yet delicious, no-cook creations!

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Hey! Yep, summer is officially here! Where did the time go?  I mean, I am excited but almost a bit shocked that next week is June and we will be in full force with swim lessons, vacations and sleeping in, ahhh!  Well, I hope the kids sleep in a bit so I can have some me time in my beloved mornings!  Anywho, here are some of my absolute favorite recipes that scream summer to me!  Pretty much every single recipe can be made as a no-cook supper (or snack)!  Yahooo, that is my kind of cookin’ in the summer!  Now let’s begin!

1) Italian Pasta Salad:  If I am having a party and you are invited, yep, this one is on the list for sure!  Can’t beat it and sometimes I do it for a meal by adding a little chicken.  Add any kind of vegetables you have on hand, this is perfect for using all those fresh garden veggies.

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2) Asian Sesame Salad: Not much to say here except, OH. MY. GOODNESS.  This is always a winner and perfect as a light lunch on a hot summer day!

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3)Thai Chopped Salad:  I will be honest, lately, I am sick of making salad with same ole’ super healthy leafy greens and dressing but this salad is out of this world!  I don’t know why in the heck I don’t make it more! Just as good as Panera Bread’s, I think that is saying a lot!

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4) Sweet Bean & Pepper Dip:  Another party favorite!  So darn delicious and simple, breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack, you just can’t go wrong with this dip!

5) Buffalo Chicken Pizza:  Call it a night with this recipe!  This is the epitome of healthy eating that never tasted so good!  Share this one with all your picky-eating friends, they will love you for it!  Just use a pre-baked pizza crust and leftover chicken to save on the heat!

6) Roasted Red Pepper, Avocado & Jicama Salsa:  So fresh and so good!  The star of this dip, avocado! Ahh, yum!  Gotta try if you are an avocado lover!

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7) Nectarine Avocado Salsa:  Another exceptional dip except this one shines with it’s sweetness from the nectarine!  Who knew?  So darn good! This would be perfect over some grilled fish or even chicken!

8) Fruit Salsa: Even though I use frozen fruits in the link, definitely don’t be shy to use fresh strawberries in season!  The best time ever to make this salsa!  You can also use the leftover on ice cream!

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9) Frozen Fruit Treats:  I had to pull this out because this is a favorite at my house, it helps cut down on all the popsicle eating, ya know.  And this is perfect for using up grapes and bananas that are about to go bad. Kids love ‘em and mama feels good giving them as a treat!

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10) Pineapple Raspberry Sorbet:  Another fun favorite!  Make a lighter dessert with these ingredients! Isn’t that picture just gorgeous?

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11) No-Bake Caramel Apple Pie:  Wow, all words I love, no-bake, caramel, apple and pie!  Delish!  This is another one of my favorites to make when hosting a party, except I usually make this into one giant salad instead of putting it in graham cracker mini pies.  I will have some granola or crushed graham crackers in a bowl right beside this salad so my guest can use as a topping! 

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12) Watermelon Slushy:  So refreshing and for the adults, don’t be afraid to add a shot of vodka or something.  I have added a shot of watermelon rum, now we are taking summer! 

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Are you catching onto my mantra? Simple, yet delicious and of course good for you, but we won’t tell anyone, eh? Cheers to summer!

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(Teacher) Gift Ideas–Fill a basket with your favorite products!

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Ah, time is flying by and summer is just around the corner, wow!  As my kids end their school year, we wanted to say thank you to our special teachers.  With teacher appreciation week last week, I saw many students bring in flowers, gift cards, special hand soaps and more, but I wanted to show my gratitude to our teachers with something different!  But what? So this is what I came up with . . . .

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Yes, it may be a little dorky but who doesn’t love food, right?  I put together a basket of my favorites! Ah-ha!  Why not share with them some of my favorites products?  You know just like how Oprah gives away her favorites, har,har,har! Except I am not Oprah and my standards of “favorites” do not come to par with hers, eh?  Oh well, I love food and made up the baskets anyway! Luckily our teachers enjoyed them, whew!

So, here are my some of my favorite snack foods: Hy-Vee Black Bean & Quinoa Tortilla Chips, Protein 02 Water, Brookside chocolates, Hy-Vee HealthMarket Pineapple Salsa, Think Thin Crunch Bar (Caramel), Newman’s Own Organic Popcorn, Stash Teas (Ginger Peach & Acai Berry), and non-food item, a generic version of (Burt’s Bees) beeswax chap stick, love them all!

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First off,  I had to include my absolute favorite salsa, Hy-Vee HealthMarket Pineapple salsa (if don’t have this store brand, try Annie’s). This salsa is so fantastic and because it is a little sweet it is perfect for little kiddos, too!  I always put this salsa on my egg wrap in the morning, so darn awesome! IMG_0112IMG_0133

Since I included a salsa I had to include a tortilla chip.  I have lots of favorites but this one seemed to go well with this salsa!  Hy-Vee Black Bean & Quinoa chips,  I don’t know if I have had a tortilla chip that I really don’t enjoy, hmmm?

And there always has to be something sweet, of course, that would have to be my go-to Brookside chocolates.  They come in a variety of flavors and they are all good.  Whenever I have a sweet-tooth craving I pull out 4 or 5 of these little guys and pair them up with a handful of almonds, yum, just perfect!  The. Best. Snack. Ever! Plus, they contain dark chocolate (even better for you!) matched with a some antioxidants from the different flavors: goji berries, blueberries, raspberries or acai berry.  Not sure how many antioxidants I am really consuming with this snack, it may just a be a marketing pull, but they tastes great! My one-year-old even loves these chocolates but my older kid are not fans, they would rather have their Hershey milk chocolates.  I still would have to say, even if you are not a fan of dark chocolate you will probably enjoy them anyway!

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Next up, I wanted to showcase one of my favorite drinks, Protein 02 water.  This is great drink to have on-hand during an afternoon when you just want to eat and eat or after a hard workout!  The protein is filling and the flavor is a refreshing carbonated, berry (or lemon) flavored drink.  I always have one on the weekends after a looooonnng run! This drink is perfect for a post-workout when you don’t want to mess up the calorie burn that you just worked your butt off for, right? However, I have one request for the manufacturers, please change your sweetener to stevia, thanks! This product has 15 grams of protein per serving (entire bottle) with the benefits of added electrolytes..  It is really hard to find a product similar to this one with that much protein and electrolytes!

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I could have included a variety of protein bars but I only included just one, Think Thin Crunch Caramel Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts.  This is an awesome bar and I will usually treat myself to a yummy bar while the rest of the family enjoys a donut on Saturdays, ha!  I don’t know if I could stop with just one donuts?  Anywho, this bar contains 190 calories; 12 grams of fat; 2.5 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fat; 115 mg sodium; 15 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 6 grams sugar; 9 grams of protein.  A wonderful balance of nutrients!  Not too much bad fat (saturated), not too much sugar and a good amount of protein and fiber. Ingredients are very basic and it does not contain any artificial sweeteners!

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Next up is good ole’ popcorn!  Ahh, microwave popcorn.  I do buy organic microwave popcorn because 1) tastes great 2) no harmful chemicals in the packaging.  Correct me if I am wrong, but to my understanding organic microwave popcorns do not contain the toxic bag liners with the harmful chemical, PFOA, or no chemical flavors such as diacetyl butter flavoring, and that is why I tend to buy organic popcorn! (I also included the chap stick, very good!)

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And my favorite teas! I love trying new varieties of tea but I still stick to my old favorites, Stash’s Acai Berry Herbal Tea and Ginger Peach Green Tea.  If you are not a tea drinker, try an herbal tea for starters, you may need a to add a little sweetener at first but your taste buds will grow to enjoy the flavor. By trying this herbal tea is how I kicked my habit of diet soda!  I do like to have this herbal tea before bed, cold or hot, for me it helps curb my sweet cravings at night.  Instead of a late night bowl of ice cream, I try to be a good girl and opt for my acai berry herbal tea, of course we coming upon DQ blizzard season and I will obviously have splurge once a week for a mini Snickers blizzard, right?

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My next favorite is Ginger Peach Green Tea.  I came across this tea when I was pregnant, trying to fight off all those yucky nausea feelings, ugh! I remember having to choke down my ginger chews (oh that feeling was just awful!) and wanted to find an easier way to relieve my nausea and lucky for me this tea did help! And I still love this tea today!  Plus, it is nice to find a yummy green tea as we hear about all the benefits of green tea.

So, you may want to have fun and try some of my favorites yourself or share them with your friend, teacher or family member, but as always enjoy!

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