Monday, December 20, 2010

Quickie snow day lunch

We had a snow day last week, and I wasn't prepared to be at home with the kids - even the bread I had was stale! We made do with a nice, hot lunch on the fly!

Grilled turkey & cheese on whole wheat and black beans mixed with salsa and chili powder.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Annoying Commercial #20

Slogan = Meat Your Vegetables. Need I say more?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Dinner with Harper

At Harper's school, parents were invited to join the kids for a holiday dinner today. Harper was excited for me to go (and I was excited to join her!), so I let her buy school lunch today.

On the menu:
-Turkey (looked "pressed" and not very appetizing to me)
-Mashed potatoes (instant)
-Dressing (no clue on ingredients, but good)
-Gravy (canned)
-Green beans (canned)
-Cranberry sauce (canned)
-Baked apples (I'm assuming canned)
-Roll (whole wheat, and looked homemade - highlight of the meal!)
-White milk (as far as I could see, Harper was the only kid who picked white over chocolate)

Overall, this meal was what I would expect from a cafeteria holiday meal, and I don't mean that in an insulting way - just typical. Harper loved it and ate almost every bite of it.

Couldn't help to see the irony on the message on the chocolate milk carton.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I can think of a better start...

While at the grocery store on Saturday, I decided to take a peak at the label on a Capri Sun product that caught my eye.

Front of box - sounds good so far...

Not so fast!

The ingredients label made me cringe - the second ingredient is sugar!

If you want to serve juice in the mornings, buy the real thing - 100% orange juice, not from concentrate. Doesn't get much easier. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

I made the news!

One of our local newspapers interviewed me for an article regarding the new school lunch reforms. Pretty cool!

Here is the article.

I think our local school system is doing a great job of making changes so far, and I'm excited to see what the reform changes will allow them to be able to do in the future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't toss the peels!

It is clementine season! I just bought a BIG crate of them for $5 at the grocery store, and the kids love them because they can peel them themselves and they have no seeds.

It might not look pretty, but it smells so good!
Instead of throwing away your citrus peels, toss them into a pot of water with some cinnamon (and/or nutmeg, cloves, etc.) and simmer on your stove for a lovely and natural air freshener. My mom used to do this during the holiday seasons, so it reminds me of my childhood. I hope my kids will have the same memory!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I'm still full!

Oh how I love Thanksgiving. It isn't commercialized, it focuses on something so simple and pure (thankfulness and family), and there is massively delicious food involved. Real you have to spend days cooking. Ahhhhhhhh....

My kids thoroughly enjoyed the holiday as well. I have been witness to many Thanksgiving meals where the kids barely had anything on their plates because they didn't know how to react to a "real" meal. How sad! Holidays are a great time to introduce your kids to new foods, especially if you have various family members bringing dishes that might not be what you typically make at home. I've already gotten my sister's pasta salad recipe!

Part of the spread...I couldn't fit it all in one photo!

Grayson's (first) plate - his favorite was the Tofurkey (my sister is vegan).
Harper's favorite was my mom's sweet potato pudding.

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving...keep enjoying those leftovers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday party food

As the mom of a 7 year old and 4 year old, I've gotten to know a thing or two about birthday parties. You can count on tons of junk food being served at most. Don't get me wrong, if there was ever a time for junk food, a birthday party is that time. The thing is, kids will eat junk if it is around (as will most adults). If it isn't, then they won't! (And they probably won't miss it.)

In addition to the delicious cake, I offered pretzels, cheese, veggies, and organic ranch dressing (Grayson's choices). We also roast marshmallows at the end of the day, but the kids care more about the process of that than actually eating them it seems.

So yes, serve up cake and ice cream and any other big treat your kid is dying to have on their birthday, but also remember that kids aren't there to eat, so you don't have to provide a junk food buffet.. They just want to play, have fun, and celebrate!
The main attraction!

Marshmallow perfection!

The healthier stuff!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Grayson!

Seven years ago today, I became a mother for the first time! My journey to healthy eating started that very day, and I have my son to thank for that. I am so proud of him...I couldn't have asked for anyone better to be my kid! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE that he isn't a picky eater and that he loves food! :) Happy birthday baby boy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Annoying commercial #19

Pop-tarts are a breakfast staple in so many homes. I know I ate my fair share of them growing up. But realistically, these should be treated as a dessert and a not a food to start your day with. Two frosted blueberry Pop-tarts (which is how they are packaged, in twos) have 34 grams of sugar, 400 calories, 10 grams of fat, and a bunch of funky ingredients. A package of Twinkies would be about the same. Yes, Pop-tarts are easy, but a piece of whole grain toast with a little jam or a bowl of nutritious cereal is just as simple and a lot healthier.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Southern traditions can be healthy!

I love traditions. It is nice to be able to count on something familiar happening at the same time every year and look forward to it. One local tradition we always participate in is making Brunswick stew every fall. Every church and fire department around seems to make one, plus various charitable organizations and families make them as well. It is a great way to make a large quantity of food at one time to freeze and eat all winter long.

My best friend's family made a stew on Saturday, and my family pitched in to help. If you turn it into a party, no one has to do all the work. :) We cut potatoes and onions Friday night and came over on Saturday morning to help stir. The stew is made up of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, beef, chicken, corn, Lima beans, and seasoning. The way it is cooked makes it thick and delicious!

So yes, the South is known for fried, buttery foods, but we also have some pretty healthy traditions as well...traditions I am proud to be part of and teach my children the way my grandparents and parents taught me.

Grayson packed a thermos full of stew for his lunch today. YUM!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hard boiled eggs

I made a big batch of egg salad for the rest of the week's lunches, and I was thinking to myself how many hard boiled eggs I've ruined over my lifetime until I learned how to make them just right. I've read many "recipes" on how to do them perfectly, but this is what works for me.

-Start with eggs that are about 5 days old (from day you bought)
-Place eggs in single layer in the bottom of a pot
-Cover with cold water, 1-2 inches over eggs
-Bring to a boil, cut heat off, and cover
-Let set for exactly 10 minutes
-Drain hot water off and cover with cold water
-Let set until cool, about 20 minutes
-Roll eggs gently on counter, crack, the peel

This method works for me every time, and I hope it works for you too!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New week, new lunch

Last night, I asked Grayson what he wanted for lunch today - the choice between a sandwich or a salad. He said he wanted both. At first, I told him to pick one, then I said...what the heck, you can have both! Sometimes the simplest ideas make the most sense.

Turkey & cheese on whole grain bread,  salad with mixed greens, cucumber, carrots, turkey pepperoni, mixed nuts, and cheese

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Annoying commercial #18

Several things bother me about this commercial:
1. Hiding vegetables (the new "in" thing to do)
2. Chef Boyardee for a snack?
3. Punishing a child for telling the truth
4. Where are the vegetables? Aren't tomatoes considered fruit?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Improvements in packaged fruit!

We all know that the healthiest fruit is fresh fruit, but as the weather gets colder, good produce can become harder to find and more expensive. When packing my kids' lunches, I sometimes like to include those little plastic fruit cups. It has been hard to find many that weren't packed in syrup and covered in added sugar or artificial sweetener.

During my last trip to the grocery store, I noticed that Dole has a fantastic new selection of fruits packed in juice (I saw pineapple, peaches, tropical fruit, and pears - but it seems more are offered.). Big improvement! And yes, I'm still going to pick fresh fruit whenever I can, but these are a good alternative when you need it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Seasonal smoothie

Since our town did trick-or-treating on Saturday, I didn't want to let the actual day of Halloween float by with no recognition. We spent a lot of time outdoors on a gorgeous fall day, which was lovely. After dinner, I made pumpkin smoothies to enjoy while watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. They turned out great, the kids loved them, and they were a healthy way to end a very unhealthy weekend!

I didn't measure my ingredients, but here is what I included in this smoothie:

-pureed canned pumpkin
-1 banana
-fat free plain yogurt
-sprinkle of brown sugar
-spoonful of soy nut butter

It was like a nutritious pumpkin pie in a glass!

I hope you all had a fun Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Announcing the Healthy Habits Plate winner...

Congratulations to entry #15 - Amanda! We hope you and your kid(s) enjoy this plate as much as we have!
If you didn't win, you can still get 20% off a Health Habits Plate of your own by entering the code "KELLY" at checkout, so order a few!

Thanks to all that entered!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Candy, candy, and more candy!

Is it just me, or does Halloween seem to take up more and more time each year? Our festivities started last night at church with Trunk of Treats, and both kids got loaded up with more candy than they'd need in a year. Friday, they will both have Halloween parties at school (more candy). The Fall Festival fundraiser at Grayson's school is Friday night (more candy), then there is still trick-or-treating on Saturday (of course, more candy).

So how do we handle the candy overload? I'm not a Halloween candy Scrooge. After trick-or-treating, I will let them indulge in more candy than they need - tis the season, right? After that, I usually allow one piece a day for a week or so, then they usually start forgetting about it. Since Grayson's birthday is mid-November, I save the rest for his pinata, then I get rid of all of it!

I have to send goody bags to school with both kids (someone PLEASE stop this madness!), so I'm sending the Utz Halloween Pretzels, Annie's fruit snacks, and a little Halloween trinket of some sort. My kids love these treats, so I'm hoping I can spread the love a little.

I've heard that several dentists are now paying kids by the pound for their candy and shipping it to troops overseas. Cool idea! How do you stay healthy during Halloween madness?

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Fall, Y'all

This weekend, I decided to take my own advice and we took the kids to an apple orchard about 1.5 hours away. We had to drive through the mountains to get there, which was beautiful this time of year. The weather was lovely, and we enjoyed a really fun family day together!

Picking the perfect apples

Good time to teach why all the apples don't look perfect like they do in the grocery store - no pesticides!

Gorgeous view from the orchar

Posing with a very large Johnny Appleseed

Enjoying a fresh apple while driving through the mountains

"These taste better than the ones from the grocery store."

There isn't much easier or simpler than teaching your kids where food comes from, but it sure can make for a fun day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review & giveaway - Healthy Habits Plate

After seeing the Healthy Habits Plate featured on another blog, I asked the makers to please send me one to review and one to giveaway to my fantastic readers...and they did! I got the plate in the mail yesterday, and was immediately impressed. It is a very durable kid plate, and I can tell  that it will hold up to the wear and tear of my children for a long time. The pictures on the plate are very cartoonish, which my kids love. As soon as I showed my children the plate, they understood it's purpose and told me exactly what foods should go where and why. Great conversation starter!

Harper was anxious to use the plate this morning - she asked about it as soon as she woke up! So we made breakfast together, and I let her pick what she ate and where it would go on the plate. She chose apples and carrots (not a typical breakfast food, but she saw it on the picture and had to have it, lol!), a Kashi bar, and cheese cubes. My four year old easily made a healthy, balanced breakfast just by using the pictures on the plate.

Want one for your kid(s)? Leave a comment on this post, and you'll be entered to win! U.S. residents only, and please only one entry per person. Please make sure I know how to contact you if you win. Contest will end on Thursday, October 28 at 11:59 pm.

If you'd like to purchase one (or more!), the folks at Healthy Habits Plate are offering 20% off to my fabulous readers - just use the code KELLY at checkout! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soup's on!

Both of my kids LOVE soup. With colder weather right around the corner, soup makes a perfect lunch on the go. I love to make homemade soup because most are pretty quick, affordable, and easy to make (I recently posted a recipe for a super easy chicken noodle soup), but canned soups have their place in our home as well.

When choosing a canned soup, reading the ingredients and nutrition label carefully is a must. Many contain too much sodium, MSG, preservatives, etc. Lately, it has been easier to find good stuff. Simple canned soups like tomato and beans (lentil, black beans) are going to have the shortest ingredients list and make it easier to find a healthy option. Plus, studying the ingredients will help you see how easy it would be to create similar soups yourself!

I heat up the soup in the morning, pour it in a thermos, and send my kids off to school knowing they are going to have a hot, healthy lunch to warm their bellies. Don't forget the crackers! :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Funny!

(AKA - I have no time for a "real" post today!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Annoying commercial #17

As I'm sure you've picked up on by now, I'm not a fan of PediaSure products. I think they have their role for kids with actual health problems, but are only an enabling tool for kids who are simply picky eaters. PediaSure has done it again with a new product called SideKicks. This commercial will have you believe that this supplemental beverage will help create a sports star, but when the second ingredient listed is sugar, you might as well give your kids a soda and a vitamin.

This commercial hasn't made it's way to youtube yet, but it is available here on the PediaSure web site.

Two points I do agree on - you are what you eat, and yes, you should have skipped the drive through, lady! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The fruits of fall

It is mid October, and fall is in full force. What a lovely time of year! With the change of the seasons also comes  a change in fresh produce. Just because it isn't summer anymore doesn't mean you can't enjoy delicious and affordable fresh just have to know what to look for!

During the autumn months, the following fruits are most likely to be on sale at your grocery store:
-cranberries (and they freeze beautifully!)

If you are lucky enough to have an apple orchard near by, take advantage of it. Your kids will learn a lot about nutrition simply by seeing where good food comes from, and so many orchards have fun activities for families to enjoy. Plus, you'll get the freshest produce around! Find an orchard near on this web site or here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Homemade goodness

I live in a small Southern town where a lot of people still enjoy the fine art of canning their own foods. My best friend and her grandmother picked wild blackberries this summer and made jam that my kids can't get enough of. We finished up one jar and had to beg for another! I can't think of a better (or healthier) way to dress up an average PB&J.

My aunt used to make plum jelly that makes my mouth water just to think about. Note to self - I need to try to make some next year!

If you're not in the canning business and don't know anyone who is, check with your local farmer's market, flea markets, local grocers, etc. A lot of people make jams/jellies/preserves and sell them. You will definitely appreciate the variety of flavors, freshness/quality of the produce used, and the extra love that goes into homemade products.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Five minute homecooked breakfast

A nice, hot breakfast does not have to take up your whole morning. I literally don't have a minute to spare in the mornings, because I'm certainly not getting up any earlier than I already do! Here is a hot, healthy breakfast you can have on the table in about 5 minutes.

Scrambled eggs with 2% cheese on a whole wheat wrap, gala apple slices, and a Simply Gogurt.

Friday, October 8, 2010

We've got a new look!!

I'll be honest...when it comes to computer graphics type stuff, I'm 99% clueless. My blog design was straight off a template...I didn't have an ounce to add to it myself. Thankfully, Jen at :: real ideas for real parents generously came to my rescue with her time and talents. I look pretty cool now, thanks to her! Be sure to check out her blog, and give her a "like" on Facebook!

So, what do you think of the new look?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sometimes you have to cheat...

There are a few times during the year where I let my kids break all the rules and eat whatever the heck they want - birthdays, Christmas, and the fair come to mind. Last night was the fair, and boy did we indulge! I find that if we let the kids do this every now and then, they don't see healthy eating as a punishment, but a way of everyday life. Nights like last night are like the days they represent - they only come around once a year, and we make the best of it!

I've debated letting you see it is ugly. But it is the truth, so here you go! We don't eat perfect *every single day*. Who does?
(For the record, we shared the majority of these treats as a family, each of us only having a few bites. Oh, and they felt lousy this morning...good lesson.)

Blooming Onion

Bologna Burger

Candy Apple

Cotton Candy

Fried Moon Pie

Homemade Ice Cream

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Annoying commercial #16

The first ingredient is sugar (22 grams/serving), and there is plenty of saturated fat as well. Is that really what you want to start your kids' day off with? No thanks, Nutella! Let's keep this as what it is - a dessert item. Instead , try smearing your kids' toast with a healthy nut butter instead.

I can't find the video on, but you can watch the commercial here:
Nutella Breakfast Commercial

Monday, October 4, 2010

Salads for lunch

My kids love salads! They are great to pack for lunches because you can fit so many yummy and healthy items in one container. I set out all of the items I had to choose from (sort of like a salad bar), and I let my kids pick out the items they wanted to include. That way, they felt some control over what they were eating, and they can vary their lunches all week if they want. Be careful in what dressing you chose - we always get lighter dressings and make sure there is no MSG.

Today's salad selections:
Grayson's salad - mixed greens, carrots, cucumbers, cheese, turkey pepperoni, , croutons, and sunflower seeds.
Harper's salad - mixed greens, grape tomatoes, craisins, cheese, carrots, croutons, sunflower seeds, and turkey pepperoni.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lookie at what I've got!

Gorgeous tomatoes growing in October! The kids are excited for them to turn red (and so am I!).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Product review: Birdseye Steamfresh products

It has been a while, but I have talked about Birdseye Steamfresh products before...I'm a huge fan. I understand if some people aren't into microwave cooking for various reasons, but I'm personally okay with it. If you are too, then please continue reading! :)

Recently, Birdseye has put out more rice dishes that are excellent - Brown & Wild Rice with Broccoli & Carrots, Multi-Grain Blend with Spinach, Tomato & Onions, and Brown & Wild Rice with Corn, Carrots & Peas.  They don't have added salt/sodium, flavors, or preservatives - just simple rice and veggies. I can heat one up in 4-5 minutes for a quick meal for one, a side dish for the family, or add a sauce and meat for a one-pot meal. I'm also able to find these on sale on a regular basis, plus coupons are readily available.

*I don't get any compensation for these reviews...I just do them because I assume other parents like to hear honest reviews before purchasing products!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Product review: Yogi Granola Crisps

I had a good coupon for Yogi Granola Crisps, so I decided to give them a try. They are normally too expensive for me, but $1.50 off made it more affordable. I have to say, my kids are in love with these! We tried the strawberry crunch variety, and they have a very rich strawberry flavor. They are a perfect anytime snack. I found them at Food Lion, but their Web site allows you to search for a retailer near you.

I post a lot of healthy coupons on my Facebook page, so come on over and "like" me to hear about more good deals, news stories, etc. I don't just post links to today's blog post - I try to keep the material different. Thanks!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Annoying commercial(s) #15

And so it begins...commercials to make us parents believe that HFCS (my bad...corn sugar) is A-OK. Please keep in mind that these commercials are put out by those who stand to profit from HFCS being used in all the products you love to buy (Corn Refiners Association).

I'm not allowed to embed apparently, but here are the links to two commercials with the same message.

Doesn't everyone play with their kids in corn fields and have picnics?