Are Carbs Really The Enemy?

Bread with wheat and ears

When you decide you’re on a mission to lose weight, what do you sacrifice first? In most households, bread and pasta are the first items to be scrapped off the weekly shopping list. Over the course of the last few years, carbohydrates have developed something of a bad reputation, but is it really warranted, and are carbs every dieter’s enemy?  If you’re trying to slim down, here’s some useful information about carbohydrates.

What exactly are carbs?

Carbohydrates, or carbs as they have become affectionately known, are foods that are predominantly used to fuel your body. The trouble with vilifying carbs is that carbohydrates are a vast food group, which incorporates a huge variety of different foods. Some aren’t hugely beneficial for you, but others are. Under the umbrella, you’ll find simple sugars, but you’ll also find items like whole grain pasta, rice, and bread, which can offer your body plenty of nutrients. Carbohydrates are used for energy, but many foods are also good sources of fiber, which is essential for healthy digestion.

Are carbs really the enemy?

In our society, carbohydrates have taken on the role of the dieter’s nemesis. Diets that restrict carb intake, such as the Atkins and Dukan diets, became very popular a few years ago, and since then, many people have been worried about including foods like pasta, rice, and cereals in their diet.

The truth of the matter is that reducing your intake of carbohydrates can help you to lose weight if you’re used to consuming the ‘wrong’ types of foods, and you take in more calories than you use. If you eat a lot of sugary foods, for example, you’ll find that adopting a low-carb diet will produce results on the scale. Likewise, if you’re used to tackling giant portions of pasta piled high with processed meat and cheese, switching to low carb recipes like those on http://www.tasteaholics.com/recipes/low-carb-recipes/ will help you to lose weight. Although reducing your intake of carbs can have a positive impact, it’s important to understand that cutting out carbohydrates can also be detrimental to your health.

It’s worth noting that when you make healthy changes to your diet, it’s not just about cutting down on carbs. Many meals that include carbohydrates also contain fatty foods. Take a spaghetti Bolognese, for example. If you cut out the cheese and swap beef for turkey, you’ll reduce the calorie count dramatically without having to give up pasta. You can make your favorite meal even better by substituting spaghetti for whole grain pasta. For more healthy food swaps, take a look at http://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/healthy-food-swaps.

The key is to enjoy everything in moderation and learn which types of foods are most beneficial for your body. Losing weight is also not just about eating well. It’s also about using the energy you take on board. If you exercise frequently, you won’t necessarily gain weight just because you have a sandwich or a stir fry with rice for your dinner.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you may dread seeing other people munching on a plate of pasta or indulging in a baguette in front of you. Carbs have a bad name, but they’re not bad for you. If you make the right choices, you can still enjoy carbohydrates and lose weight at the same time.Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory Vote For Me @ The Top Mommy Blogs Directory

 


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The Best Part of Waking Up… Enter the Folgers Jingle Contest

This post was sponsored by Folgers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsement and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

The best part of wakin’ up, is Folgers in your cup!

You all know the jingle. You all know the smell of Folger’s coffee in the morning. Now it’s your turn to put your spin on the famous Folgers jingle.  This year, Folgers has teamed up with country singer-songwriter, Chris Young, to encourage aspiring musicians to create their own version of the famous jingle for a chance to win a mentor session with Chris Young or the grand prize of $25,000.

Photo Credit: Folgers

How to Enter

All you have to do is submit a video of your best version of the Folgers jingle using the link below between January 30th and February 27th.  Your version of the jingle must include the complete melody and complete lyrics of “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up is Folgers in Your Cup.”

Between February 27th and March 19th, Folgers will choose 5 semi-finalists and each will have a mentor sessions with Chris Young before the online voting begins.
The official voting period begins March 27th and runs through April 24th.  Fans around the country will get the chance to vote daily for their favorite jingle. Every vote automatically enters you to win prizes up to $10,000.  The best part is you don’t even have to be a musician to join in on the voting fun.

Prizes:

Up for grabs is a huge grand prize of $25,000, as well as many other prizes valued up to $10,000 for voters.

Listen to what Chris Young has to say about this awesome contest:

Get out there and encourage your musically talented friends to put together their best version of the Folgers jingle.  Who knows?  They might even win the GRAND PRIZE!


 

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“Super Bowl” Food Calorie Costs — in Exercise

Okay, reading most of these made me cringe and makes me want to run some bleachers ahead of Superbowl.  Who knew 7 layer dip would cost me so much (in exercise)?

The “Big Game” has become much more than a football game: Except for Thanksgiving, it’s the biggest day for food consumption in the United States. So, to choose the most splurge-worthy foods, here are the exercise equivalents for some of your favorite football-watching snacks from Charles Platkin, PhD, MPH, Executive Director of the New York City Food Policy Center at HUNTER College and editor of DietDetective.com. Since a calorie doesn’t mean much to the average person, the idea is to use exercise equivalents to provide a frame of reference that is familiar and meaningful and thus help improve calorie literacy (Platkin’s Study).

TEN BUFFALO CRISPY CHICKEN WINGS = RUNNING THE LENGTH OF 149 FOOTBALL FIELDS
The wings are fried and high in calories, and that blue cheese dressing can be caloric suicide. Ten chicken wings at 95 calories each is 950 calories. Three ounces of Pizza Hut’s Wing Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce have 460 calories. That adds up to 1400 calories.  A few interesting facts, Americans’ consumption of the unofficial staple of Super Bowl Sunday – the chicken wing – is projected to hit 1.33 billion wings during the Super Bowl, according to a National Chicken Council (NCC) annual report.”
Fit Tip: Use hot sauce without the blue cheese, and make the wings yourself. Go skinless, and bake them instead of frying. With all that football action to distract you, you probably won’t even notice the difference.
MEATBALL SUB FROM SUBWAY (FOOTLONG) = 109 MINUTES OF CLIMBING THE STADIUM STAIRS
It has meatballs, Provolone cheese and marinara sauce, double meatballs on a hearty Italian roll, adding up to 932 calories.
Fit Tip: How about turkey meatballs (made with breast meat), low-fat mozzarella and a whole-grain hero? Or if sticking to Subway, try the Oven Roasted Chicken which is 467 calories for a footlong sub.

FOUR SAMUEL ADAMS BOSTON LAGER BEERS = 68 MINUTES OF PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLThe only problem is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, there are only about 11 minutes of actual ball playing in a football game.  That means you need to play more than six games of professional football to burn off 4 Samuel Adams Boston Lager beers at 180 calories per 12 ounces.

Fit Tip: There are some great light beers out there. Do a taste test before the game and see if you can make the event more special with some fancy low calorie beers. Miller 64: 64 calories; Bud Select 55: 55 calories; Michelob Ultra: 95 calories; Natural Light: 95 calories; Miller Lite: 96 calories.

HANDFUL OF MIXED NUTS = 44 MINUTES OF FOOTBALL TRAINING CAMP
Just one handful of nuts can mean loads of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, sprints and more. Just so you know, 1 ounce of mixed nuts has about 170 calories.
Fit Tip: Nuts are healthy if you eat them in small portions – maybe 7 to 10. More than that is a mistake.  
EIGHT POTATO CHIPS WITH DIP = 35 MINUTES OF REFEREEING A FOOTBALL GAME
Each chip is 10.5 calories, so that’s 84 calories. For each tablespoon of Frito-Lay French Onion Dip add another 30 calories, so assume a small dip, a half of tablespoon for each chip, which equals another 120 calories. Grand total: 204 calories.
Fit Tip: Try a low-calorie dip or make your own with nonfat yogurt or nonfat mayo. And use popped or baked chips.
KFC $10 CHICKEN SHARE (HALF A SHARE) = 681 TOUCHDOWN DANCES IN THE END ZONE
If you have half the chicken share, that’s 3 pieces of original recipe:  a chicken breast, thigh, and drumstick, which is 740 calories.  
Fit Tip: Bake skinless chicken and use whole-grain bread crumbs.
ONE SLICE OF DOMINO BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA XL = DOING “THE WAVE” 2194 TIMES
One slice is 450 calories.  
Fit Tip: Try cheeseless pizza topped with plenty of veggies — broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms or even artichoke hearts. Also, avoid personal pan and stuffed-crust pizzas: The thick, oily crust means added fat and calories.
ONE TOSTITOS RESTAURANT-STYLE TORTILLA CHIP WITH 7-LAYER DIP = 25 MINUTES OF DANCING TO LADY GAGA DURING THE HALFTIME SHOW
Just one chip requires some serious rocking out. Twenty calories for each chip (yes 20!!) and 50 calories for 1 tablespoon of the seven-layer dip adds up to approximately 70 calories.
Fit Tip: The answer is salsa — it’s very low in calories. And pick baked, low-calorie chips at about 120 calories per ounce. If you’re eating the chips, have one at a time, and don’t put out huge bowls of them.

TWO HANDFULS OF CHEX MIX = 30 MINUTES JUMPING UP AND DOWN AFTER YOUR TEAM SCORES
At 280 calories for 2 handfuls the mix is still high in calories in spite of being lower in fat than chips.
Fit Tip: Don’t eat them by the handful, or skip them altogether and go for some low calorie homemade popcorn. Or better yet, make it air-popped.
FIVE PIGS IN BLANKETS = 70 MINUTES PERFORMING IN A MARCHING BAND
Hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll or biscuit dough add up: Each one of those you pop in your mouth has 66 calories.
Fit Tip: Use low calorie franks, maybe skip the dough? Get some fancy mustard instead.
ONE DEVILED EGG = 12 MINUTES OF CHEERLEADING
Ever try doing one of those cheerleading routines? I didn’t think so. Deviled eggs are made with mayo, and in case you weren’t sure, mayo is very high in calories.
Fit Tip: You can use low-fat mayo, or how about just hard-boiled eggs with hot sauce or mustard?
ONE CUP OF CHILI = FACE PAINTING 22 WILD FANS
A cup of chili packed with beef, beans, peppers, onions and other assorted vegetables comes to about 350 calories. A blob of sour cream and some shredded cheese adds another 150 calories or more, for a grand total of 500 calories.

Fit Tip: Replace the beef with ground turkey breast, or make the chili vegetarian. Top it with low or nonfat sour cream and cheese.

FOUR PITA CHIPS WITH GUACAMOLE = 51 MINUTES OF PREPARING, COOKING, SERVING AND CLEANING UP AFTER THE SUPER BOWL PARTY
The chips are about 13 calories each, and each scoop of guacamole is at least 25 calories, for a total of 38 calories. Guacamole is high in calories, but the good news is that avocados are packed with antioxidants, vitamins B6, C and E, as well as folate and potassium (60 percent more potassium per ounce than bananas), and they’re a great source of monounsaturated fat, which studies have shown reduces serum cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fats.
Fit Tip: Eat one at a time. Don’t just sit with a big bowl of chips and guacamole in front of you while you mindlessly watch the game.

You also might like my article:  Superbowl Halftime Craft for the Kiddos



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Broaden Your Horizons With These Middle-Eastern Dishes

muhammara

We live in a post-takeaway world, where the cuisines of all kinds of various exotic nations really don’t feel so exotic anymore! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’re almost an expert in Asian and Mediterranean food. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons a little, then why not try some genuine middle-eastern dishes? Here are a few that everyone should try at least once…

Jeweled Rice (morasa pulao)

Iran has made a lot of contributions to international cuisine, but their one staple that stands out from the rest is pulaos, a class of rice dishes. Morasa pulao, or “jeweled rice”, has to be the most stunning of them all, and is a starter traditionally served at weddings and grand banquets. Find a few pictures of this dish, and you’ll see exactly why it’s called “jeweled rice”. It’s full of appetizing, shimmering stripes of fruits and nuts, poking out and scattered over delicious saffron rice. Aside from the rice, you’re going to have to prepare a range of fruits and nuts. Pistachios, almonds, raisins, cranberries are the usual choice, but there are many variations of this dish to try out.

Ottoman Lamb

Ottoman Lamb
Image source: Wikimedia

This dish is not only delicious, but has a certain mystique behind it. According to a Turkish legend, this dish was first rustled up by a masterful cook, who ran into a sultan who had become lost in the forest, and saved him from starvation. The sultan apparently loved it, and I’m sure you will too! If you really want to make it genuine, it may be worth looking for a halal import leg of lamb. Aside from the meat, all you need is some red wine, tomato puree, yoghurt, olive oil, and a few herbs and spices (bay leaves are a must!) Simply remove the skin from the lamb and expose as much meat as possible, then make deep incisions all over it. Then, mix the ingredients for the marinade, and pour it all over the leg of lamb, rubbing it thoroughly into all of the cuts. Be sure to leave yourself a few hours before you actually start cooking, as the longer it marinates the better. After that, you roast the lamb for just over an hour, let it stand and dig in!

Muhammara with Flatbread Triangles

Muhammara

The original Arabic title of this rich dip, muhammara, literally means “reddened” or more accurately “crimsoned”. This is drawn from its distinctive, deep red color. Traditionally, it’s made from sun-dried Aleppo peppers, finely chopped and then mashed to a coarse paste. The ingredients lists you’ll find are a little daunting, but for your first time you may want to leave out some of the spices anyway. Once you’ve made your muhammara, there are all kinds of things you can do with it. It can add a unique tang to stews, whether middle-eastern or not, as well as pasta dishes and potatoes. However, it’s also lovely to have by itself as a dip with flatbreads. There are many different ways to prepare muhammara, so get reading!




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New Year, New [Morning] You | Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Weekday mornings are always a struggle in our house.  My kids wake up full-blast in the morning and I’m so focused on getting them dressed, fed and my oldest to school, that I don’t ever get to finish my own breakfast.  I look forward to the weekends when I can enjoy a nice hot breakfast with my husband, since he’s typically already out of the door by the time we wake up on weekday mornings.

Last year I relied on basic breakfast foods to get us through the year.  This year, I’m hoping to be able to switch things up a bit and make breakfasts that my husband and I enjoy that are healthy and fun –   breakfasts that I can even prepare the night before to make mornings easier.

I don’t know what it is about a new year, but it changes something that, in a sense, allows me start over and start fresh.  It’s almost like everything that didn’t work well for me last year can be wiped away and I can start with a clean slate.  Obviously nothing has actually changed and it’s all in my head, but I always feel the need to try something different at the start of a new year.


After browsing Pinterest for quite some time this week, I was inspired to try some healthy breakfast recipes that could become staples in our house.  This weekend I made egg stuffed bell pepper rings and chocolate-cherry overnight oats, and paired them with my favorite Trop50 juice beverage.  Trop50 offers the great-tasting goodness of orange juice with 50% less sugar and calories.

I’m typically just a water drinker in the morning because I can’t drink a big cup of sugar when I first wake up.  Because Trop50 is squeezed from fresh oranges, but doesn’t taste overly sweet, has no artificial sweetener and provides 100% of my vitamin C needs, it’s the perfect breakfast companion for me.

Trop50 also makes the perfect breakfast smoothie base and cocktail or mocktail base.  I may or may not have enjoyed a Trop50 Screwdriver last night, but we’ll leave that for another article (wink).

Healthy (and Practical) Breakfast Ideas for Adults

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are such an easy prep-ahead breakfast.  You can literally add just about anything you like to them to jazz them up, too.  Here is a basic overnight oats recipe to get you started:

– 2/3 c Unsweetened Milk of your Choice
– 1/2-1/3 c Greek Yogurt (plain or flavored – I used Cherry-Chocolate)
– 1/2 c Rolled Oats
– 1 tbsp Ground Flaxmeal or Chia Seeds (whole or ground)
– 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
– Pinch of Salt
– 0-2 tbsp Simple Syrup, Agave, Honey or Maple Syrup

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit, covered, in a jar or cup overnight.  Serve with a glass of Trop50.

* Some of my favorite add-ins are mini chocolate chips, tiny pieces of banana, pumpkin spice flavors (pumpkin puree, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg) or fresh strawberries.

Egg in a Bell Pepper Ring (egg in a port hole)

Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Adults

This is a very simple way to jazz up basic fried eggs.  Start by washing and drying the bell pepper of your choice (I prefer red).

– Slice your bell pepper into rings, remove seeds
– Place bell pepper rings in a low-medium heat pan with a little bit of olive oil
– crack an egg into a bowl, then carefully pour into one egg ring (LARGE eggs might be too big for your rings, so divide them between two pepper rings)
– Season with salt and pepper, flip to finish cooking.

Serve hot beside your overnight oats with a cold glass of Trop50.

I hope these simple recipes have inspired you to step-up your breakfast game in 2017.  Take more time for yourself and plan ahead if necessary.  You deserve a good breakfast!

Click to learn more about Trop50.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System
Just about everyone I know has been sick these last few weeks which has me looking for ways to boost my immune system.  Sara Siskind has shared five great tips to help us boost our immune system in the kitchen.

5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

1. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis, and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they are also rich in antioxidants which give your immune system a boot and help build up your digestive track.

2. Add in pistachios as a heart healthy, protein rich snack. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants and the heart healthy fats to help your body absorb vitamin E. Vitamin E is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6 which also helps prevent infection and create healthy red blood cells your body needs. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are an easy way to eat pistachios on the go or simply adding to your lunch bag.

3. Look for omega 3 fatty acids and selenium which are found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel, and herring. These foods help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs pathways. This can help protect from colds and respiratory infections.

4. Make yogurt your go-to breakfast or snack. Yogurt contains probiotics; “healthy bacteria” that your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keeps your digestive free of disease causing germs. Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.

5. Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down. I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice, and poultry. Fresh grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.

About Sara Siskind  

Certified Nutritional Health Counselor, Sara Siskind is the founder of Hands On Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. Sara has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health, and how to make the right choices to look and feel your best each day. Sara translates the complexity of integrated nutrition into usable tools with easy-to-cook recipes that appeal to the entire family. Sara counsels privately to offer highly customized health and nutrition plans for her clients. She also works with parents on shopping and cooking smarter to create healthier homes. In addition, she teaches beginner to gourmet cooking classes with her signature “toss it in” approach. In addition, Sara regularly works with corporations and non-profit organizations to lead workshops and lectures on healthy eating.



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Tips to Throw the Ultimate Dinner Party


Photo Credit


Throwing a dinner party is one of the hardest things you can do as a host. It’s up to you to make sure everything is completely organized from the get go. From invites and guest, to menu planning and wine. You need to ensure all the little details are taken care of, not to mention making sure your guests have a great time. A dinner party can be a great event for almost any occasion. It could be a special birthday or anniversary. Maybe even something more casual like celebrating a child’s birth or a get together the night before a wedding. There’s a whole host of reasons why you may decide to ost a dinner party, but how do you go about it?

Let’s be honest. We have all been to a dinner party ourselves that perhaps hasn’t gone to plan. As a guest you notice the little things that could have been done better. Needless to say you still have a perfectly enjoyable evening. But how do you give your dinner party the wow factor? How do you ensure nothing goes wrong on your night? This is why I thought I would share with you some top tips to help you throw the ultimate dinner party. Whatever the occasion you will be ready to perform.

Know your guest list as soon as possible

The first thing you need to know is who is coming and how many people are there. This will help you plan for every other detail for your dinner party. It is also essential to know who is coming so you can accommodate for vegetarians, lifestyle choices and even allergies. Knowing your guest list enables you to plan a menu and the evening’s proceedings in advance. The more you plan, the better prepared you are. Which means you can enjoy the evening as well as spending it stressing over tiny details. Getting invitations out is important as soon as possible. You could decide to send something out formally or even set up an email group or text message. How you decide to do it is immaterial to your evening, just make sure everyone has plenty of notice. 


A great thing about an advanced guest list is that you can also determine your seating plan way ahead of time. You may have to invite guests like family or friends who perhaps don’t get on so much. This means you can strategically position certain guests around your table enabling a drama free evening.


Photo Credit


Menu plan

Now you know who you have to come this is where the fun can begin. Menu planning is great and an essential part of your dinner party preparation. It will allow you to source the best ingredients, make things in advance and even try out the recipes before your guests arrive. Your family will be sick of eating the same meal by the time you are through. It will also allow you to work out the timings as well. This means you can relax a little knowing everything is on hand for the big night.

A menu plan not only needs to work with each course, but also the drinks you may want to serve. Ensure that any wine you choose works well with any meat or protein you are serving. You may even want to consider other options and even a dessert wine to finish off. It’s details like this that can enhance your evening. Planning in advance helps you work out how to source the best ingredients. But it also ensures that you can take into consideration any lifestyle choices like veganism or vegetarianism. It will also help you recognize any allergies you will have to consider.


Photo Credit


Serve up something extra special

Give your dinner party the extra edge by serving up something special. This might be a special ingredient or an aperitif like caviar. It will make your dinner party that little bit different from the normal ones and gives yours the extra edge. It would be nice to consider offering your guest something a little different to experience. It will certainly be a talking point.

Where are you hosting the dinner party?

Once you have your guest list and potential numbers another crucial thing to decide is the location you want to host your dinner party. Do you plan on doing at home or somewhere else? Of course, if it is a small party then being at home would be the obvious choice. However, you may prefer the grander location for a larger amount of guests. It could also help determine your location by the occasion in which the dinner party is being held. Perhaps you want something more special than your home because it’s a specific occasion. Like a milestone birthday or anniversary date.


Photo Credit

Do you have a theme for your dinner party?

Of course, knowing the occasion for the dinner party may help with whether or not there is a theme. This tends to be for the decoration side of things. You might want to consider a color scheme or even have something a little different to coincide with your menu choices. The options are endless.

Decorate the room

Think about how you present the table and the room you’re serving your food in. Many people don’t do anything with the room, but it can offer quite a bit of ambience to the evening. A decorated room could set the tone for the evening. So if it’s a celebration make sure that’s evident in the decor. You can find inspiration on websites like https://pinterest.com/.

Make sure you have the right dinnerware and cutlery
How you serve your drinks and food is just as important as the food itself. Often we eat with our eyes and if something looks well presented then it just tantalizes the taste buds even more. Think about the glassware you serve your drinks in. If you are wanting something a little more unique then head to websites like withmywine.com. Many people choose to serve their food on their best china. Just make sure you consider this little ahead of time in case you need to make any new purchases before the big day.


Photo Credit


What about gifts?

It seems that there is a growing trend where a host will give a gift to their guest for attending their evening. A little bit like when you would receive a wedding favor when attending the big day. So what do you think of this? Is it something you should do? The decision is truly up to yourself. There is no right or wrong answer. What it does do is show thought ad it is a little details that will often make an evening.

You may also want to consider letting people take food away with them. Perhaps a piece of cake from dessert or even anything leftover. It’s an excellent way to not waste any food and I’m sure your guest will love this. Especially if the food you served was super tasty.

Make sure you get RSVP’s back in ample time

It’s not always possible to get a reply back straight away about somebody’s attendance. But it’s important to know who will or will not be attending within ample time. This helps you plan your whole evening. It might be worth including a deadline response in the invite or on the message you send inviting your guests in the first place.


Finally, make sure you relax

After all it is your evening and you are the hostess with the mostess. Planning way ahead of time presents you with the perfect opportunity to enjoy the evening festivities yourself. You will want to socialize with your guests to make your evening the ultimate dinner party.

After-School Snack Ideas for Kindergarteners

This post was sponsored by a2 Milk® as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central.  I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

After-School Snack ideas - Pretend Cookie Dough Dip

Family Fun Magazine


Do you remember coming home from school as a kid feeling absolutely starved?  I remember just being mentally exhausted and so hungry after school, as if I hadn’t eaten all day.  There’s something about learning and playing all day that just takes it out of you.

Now that my daughter is starting Kindergarten (which I still can’t believe), I’ve been trying to get as prepared as possible.  I even started a Pinterest board featuring food for kids because I am struggling to come up with new snack ideas for after school.

After-School Snack Ideas

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Kabobs


I found this recipe on Pinterest via Be A Fun Mum and I thought it was perfect for my little blueberry lovers.  You simply place fresh blueberries on skewers, cover them in your favorite yogurt and freeze.
Frozen Blueberry and Yogurt Kabobs


Faux Cookie Dough Dip (made with chickpeas)


Ingredients:
Chickpeas
Brown sugar
Peanut butter
Oats
Milk
Vanilla
Salt
Baking soda
Chocolate chips
Apple slices

Directions:
In a food processor, blend 11/2 cups chickpeas, 6 tablespoons brown sugar, 1/4 cup peanut butter (we used a natural, unsweetened variety), 3 tablespoons oats, 1 tablespoon milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and baking soda. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Serve with apple slices or other fresh fruit. When snack time is over, tell your kids they are now full of beans!  

Recipe c/o Family Fun Magazine – shared on The Naptime Reviewer on 4/1/14.


Snack Baggies or Bento Boxes


I also really love the idea of creating a dedicated spot for snacks.  Create a bin in the fridge just for snacks or make a snack drawer like I did.  Pre-package snacks with baggies or little Gladware containers.

Some examples of foods you can pre-package are:

Dried Fruit
Pretzels
Gold Fish
Trail Mix
Yogurt-Covered Raisins
Craisins

I also love the idea of doing snack Bento boxes with things like apples, peanut butter and cheese.

After-School Drink Ideas

Strawberry Smoothie

After-School Smoothie


My girls love smoothies as long as they don’t know they are good for them, so by offering smoothies loaded with healthy ingredients that are equally as filling as they are nutritious, I feel like I’m winning!  Here is one of our go-to smoothie recipes:

Ingredients:
2 Cups of a2 Milk® Whole Milk
Two Handfuls of Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
1 Ripe Banana (I like to freeze mine)

(Optional) 2 T Chia Seeds or Flax Seed
(Optional) 1 Handful of Spinach
(Optional) 1/2 Avocado

Toss your favorite ingredients into a blender and serve ice cold (with a fancy straw, of course).

A Glass of Milk (with cookies)



Milk and cookies are always an easy go-to snack for hungry families.  The milk is packed with protein and calcium and it’s easy to grab in a hurry.  What’s milk without cookies, though?  There are a ton of healthy cookies on the market these days, so you don’t have to go with sugar-loaded junk.


Lots of families avoid dairy products because of a sensitivity, but we have found that we don’t have any tummy troubles with the a2 Milk® products.  Their milk comes from specially selected cows whose milk is free of the a1 protein, which is the root of many’s milk-related issues.  If you have milk-related tummy problems, this might be a good option for you.

About a2 Milk®

Milk contains different forms of beta-casein in the milk solids, which makes up about 30% of the protein content of milk. Thousands of years ago in Europe upon the domestication of cows, the a2 variety of beta-casein mutated to what is now known as the a1 protein. Nowadays, cows are producing a mixture of a1 and a2 beta casein, which is not the way nature intended it to be. The a1 protein has been known to be the cause of lactose intolerance issues in many people. The a2 Milk® Company™has figured out a way to produce milk only containing the a2 protein from carefully selected cows. This is the way milk was supposed to be – pure, chemical-free, and naturally fresh tasting.


Studies show that one in four Americans experience some level of abdominal discomfort after drinking milk. Most of these cases are self diagnosed, with only 5-7% being clinically diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

a2 Milk at Sprouts Market

Where to Buy

The a2 Milk Company™ has partnered with US family dairy farmers to produce and offer consumers milk – the way is was meant to be.  I have found a2 Milk® at my local Sprouts market.  You can visit a2milk.com/find to find a retailer near you.

a2 Mil® is a real milk product and is a replacement to overly processed alternatives on the market these days.  Rather than cutting milk out of your diet, I encourage you to give their products a try.  Visit www.trya2milk.com to learn how a2 Milk® is giving you the chance to try their milk for free.  You can also enter to win a trip to Australia!


Infused Water

Infused Water ideas
A fun, fancy alternative to juice boxes is flavor-infused water.  Some tasty flavors that we have tried are:
Basil and Strawberries
Lemon and Strawberries
Pineapple
Watermelon
Watermelon, Basil and Strawberries
Lemon and Lime
Orange
You can find water bottles that have a little cage in them to store your fruits on Amazon pretty cheap.  You can also make a pitcher of infused water by simply filling the pitcher up with cold, filtered water, and dropping your favorite ingredients inside.  Be sure to dump any leftovers at the end of the day as the fruit will begin to rot.

The Best Breakfasts For A Busy Day

You’ve heard it before, but breakfast really is the most important meal. Having a good meal will set you up for the day ahead, giving you the strength and energy to get through your busy day! But sometimes, with all the rushing around in the mornings, it can be difficult to find enough time to make something nutritious and healthy. A slice of toast or cereal bar is all we can grab, and by 10:30 you’re checking your watch and reaching for the most unhealthy quick snacks you can grab.




Well here are some breakfast ideas that take very little time to prepare; meaning there is no excuse for you not to be able to have a real breakfast, and start your day off well.



Overnight oats



This breakfast can be prepared the night before. So in the morning all you need to go is get it out of the fridge, and eat!



Ingredients
35g Oatmeal
150g Fat free natural yogurt
Mixed berries



Layer the ingredients in a jar or bowl, cover, and leave the fridge overnight. In the morning, just mix it up and eat. This recipe can be easily adjusted, so you could try almond milk or flavored yogurt, and try different fruits and berries depending on your taste. Honey, simple syrup or nuts can be added as toppings as well.
To enhance the flavor of your overnight oats, try a flavor infused simple syrup from Sonoma Syrup Co. Try flavors like lavender or vanilla bean.



Smoothies



There are many different smoothie recipes available, as they can be made from anything you like or have in the house. This coffee smoothie recipe is great for waking you up, and a banana and oats one will keep you feeling full for hours.



Ingredients
One Banana
25g oats
1 tsp Peanut Butter (optional)
Almond milk/coconut milk
Simply blend the ingredients together, and use enough milk to get your desired consistency. This can be made really quickly, and enjoyed from a tumbler cup on the go.



Egg Breakfast Muffins



Another recipe that can be made in advance and the whole family will love them.



Ingredients
3 Spring Onions
6 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Red Pepper
6 Eggs
A pinch of Salt



Chop up the vegetables and place in a big bowl. Crack the eggs into the bowl and whisk until everything is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to your taste. After greasing a muffin tray, pour the mixture in and place in a pre-heated oven. Leave to cook for 25 minutes before removing and allowing to cook. These can be eaten straight away, or reheated the next morning for a few seconds in the microwave. There are lots of extras that can be added to these, such as cheese, spinach, hot sauce or bacon.



Eggs and Avocado on Toast



The perfect combination of fats and protein, this meal will keep you full until lunch. While it takes a couple more minutes to cook that the other recipes, it is still a fast meal and worth the effort.



Ingredients
1 Slice of Whole Grain Bread
2 Eggs
1/2 a ripe Avocado
Salt and Pepper
Crushed Chilli Flakes (optional)

Put your bread in the toaster and start on your eggs. You can either fry or poach them for this meal, but if you fry make sure you don’t use too much oil. Mash the avocado onto your toast and place your eggs on top. Season to taste, and add crushed chili flakes.

Grab and Go Options

If you are really in a rush, these grab and go options are great to keep on hand.
Mamma Chia Greens Beverages – These filling, nutrient-rich drinks combines wholesome chia seeds with greens, that taste so fresh that you’d think they’re freshly made.

Mamma Chia – Chia Squeeze 
These tasty, filling Chia Squeeze pouches aren’t your baby’s squeezies.  They’re just as filling as the Greens drinks, but are easier to toss in your purse for an on-the-go breakfast or snack.
Mamma Chia – Chia Vitality Bar 
These bars are like a meal in the palm of your hand.  They are loaded with every flavor you could ever want and are super convenient.  Toss one in your purse and eat on the road!
Yogurt and Granola

Grab a cup of yogurt and top it with your favorite granola, like the Mamma Chia flavored Vitality Granola.  I personally love a bit of crunch with my yogurt.

Summer Cooking Tips All Foodies Should Know

Cooking is so much fun, which you’ll know if you’re a big foodie; and most people enjoy eating different types of food in the summer than they do in the winter. Winter is all about comforting stews and things like that, while summer is all about those healthy salads and other cold foods that don’t require heating up the kitchen.
Up your cooking game this summer with the following tips, great for all foodies:


Create A Summer Menu To Make It Easier

To make your life easier during summer, when you want to really enjoy your time eating and not spend all that much time cooking and worrying, create a summer menu. Creating a menu can help you at any time of year, but it’s particularly useful during summer. You can do this weekly if you like. You can simply match up recipes to what is on offer in your local supermarket, making your shopping super cheap too. It can be hard when you have to pack your fridge full of fresh fruits and veggies, but if you plan carefully you can save money and still eat delicious summer food.

Get Accustomed To Barbecue Cooking

Cooking on the barbecue is a lot of fun, and you don’t need to have friends round to do it. Heck, the sun doesn’t even need to be shining! You can grill your meats and things perfectly on the barbecue, and even create fun ways to cook your vegetables. Some people don’t like eating vegetables at the best of times, but grilling them on the barbecue can make them really yummy.

Invest In Quality Kitchen Tools

Investing in quality kitchen tools is going to make a huge difference to how everything turns out. Having a blender or a juicer means you can have delicious, fresh drinks made from fruit and veggies every day. Sharp knives are also a must! If you want to learn more about the best knives you can see sites like http://www.knifeista.com/choose-your-knife-tool/. Do your research on different tools. Summer is a great time to treat yourself.

Use Fresh Fruits In Your Salads

Salads don’t need to come out of a bag or be boring. There are lots of ways you can spice your salads up. Using fresh fruit in your salads is something that could very well change your opinion on them. Fruits such as pears, apples, and pomegranate seeds work a treat. Especially if you’re using things like goat’s cheese too. If you don’t think you’re quite ready for that yet, try a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime and see what you can do.

Stay Clean

Summer is a time where bacteria can spread quite easily, so just make sure you stay as clean as you can. Always be hygienic by washing your hands, wiping down surfaces and keeping your tools clean. You can find more information on this with pages such as http://startcooking.com/kitchen-hygiene-and-how-to-cook-cleanly.

Make The Most Of Being Able To Grow Your Own

Why not make the most of being able to grow your own fruit, veg, and herbs during summer? You’ll save so much money on your shopping and your food will always be fresh and delicious. If you ever want to knock up a quick salad, you’ll be able to!