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Happy Leap Day. For Me, It Just Means Finding One Extra Dinner Idea.

Leap year.  One extra day.  Some people are positioning it as the chance to do something you normally wouldn’t.  A free pass.  Woo hoo!

For me, it’s like adding and extra “What’s For Dinner?” to my calendar.  Fortunately, I ripped out a recipe for Southwestern Stuffed Peppers from the February 2012 issue of Real Simple and…yum!

What a great combination of colors, flavors and foods.  I did sub in brown rice for white, but other than that, I was really excited by their recommendation.  I prepped everything in the morning while my girls were eating breakfast and then popped it in the over when we got back from the playground in the afternoon and it was done in time for dinner.  The best part?  LEFTOVERS!  Ok, I’m ready to leap with the rest of you.

I have to admit that my girls initally loved the strips of pepper more than the filling but I wasn’t suprised.  They love peppers as much as cupcakes.  But their curiosity got the best of them when the peppers were gone and they dove into the filling when the peppers were gone.

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You Might as Well Face it, You’re Addicted to Fat

By now you know that we really buy into the idea that the way we eat and the behaviors we establish are passed on to our children.  And they matter.

Check out the (disturbing) link below about how fat and sugar are addictive substances.  Several studies are highlighted in the article and at least 1 cites rats preferring sugar water to cocaine.  If that doesn’t keep you up at night, I don’t know what will.

(It’s a long article, but worth the read.)

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Make these pancakes and freeze the extras for breakfast this week

I am notorious for messing with the heat setting on my stove while I make pancakes.  Too light.  Too dark.  Too mushy.  Or my husband’s favorite question, “is this cooked all the way through?”  The perpetual trial and error of the “perfect” cake is both my joy and pain.  But I refuse to give up.  Thankfully, I recently came across Cooking Light’s Common Cooking Mistakes and celebrated that #40 made the cut.  “For pancake perfection, prep the pan.”  Thank you very much!

So, this weekend, when I pulled out a Ricotta Pancake recipe from, I was excited to not only try my new skills, but try this yummy new recipe.  I did make one alteration, by adding whole wheat flour.  The recipe doesn’t specify what type of flour to use, so I chose my own.

As my daughter’s asked for “more” again and again, I knew I had a hit.  Make some for your family this weekend and save the extras in the freezer.

Sources: and

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Soft, mushy, gray broccoli? No thanks!

When I was a kid, broccoli was an occasional guest to the dinner table.  Soft and mushy, kind of a green/gray color.  I rarely asked for seconds.  Or firsts.  Sorry, mom.  But it’s true.
At 27 years old, I finally learned how to make broccoli.  Delicious, beautiful broccoli.  Now it’s a favorite.  (OK, I’ll tell you how I make it: Add broccoli, 1/4 C water and 1 T minced garlic to a pot.  Cover with a lid and cook on high for 5 minutes.  Only 5 minutes.  It will be bright green, slightly crunchy, and delicious.  You’re welcome).
My girls love broccoli.  I’m not taking all the credit for this one.  (Even though the way I just went on about my amazing recipe would probably have you assume differently.)  I’m not exactly sure why they love it, other than the fact that I introduced it early and often.  In a variety of ways.  I modified my recipe above and cook for 7-8 minutes for them.  It takes out a bit of the crunch and appeals more to their 2-year-old pallet. But either way, it makes me really happy that they dig in.
Aside from being a vegetable and gaining immediate mommy points, broccoli is a very powerful superfood.
Here’s why:
1. Broccoli is cited as one of the most effective cruciferous vegetables at fighting several types of cancer.  Other cruciferous vegetables are cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy.  According to SuperfoodsRx, “at least 30% of all cancers are believed to have a dietary component.”  Since cancer starts at the cellular level, and can take a decade or more to show itself, the benefits of introducing kids to ways of loving vegetables is critical.
2. Fiber, fiber, fiber.  Helps them feel full and (more importantly) helps with digestion.
3. Per serving, broccoli contains over 50% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C and potassium (vitamin K) – that’s more than an orange!
4. There’s more vitamin A in a serving of broccoli than in a glass of milk.
Get broccoli of their plate and into their stomach:
1. Steam them on the stove for 5-7 minutes and drizzle with parmesan cheese and olive oil.
2. Let them dip raw broccoli into a small cup of 1-2T of hummus.
3. Mix steamed broccoli into pasta sauce, soup (chop into small pieces first), scrambled eggs with cheese, or any rice dish.
4. Add it to any dish they already love!
Sources:, and
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Three Simple Steps To A Healthy Breakfast, Everyday

We’ve heard it over and over and over again, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  While that is true for all of us, it is even more important for children, especially school age children.  Dozens of studies studies dating as far back as the 1950’s show that children who eat a healthy breakfast actually perform better in school and retain more information than those who do not.  But what qualifies as a “healthy breakfast”?  The consensus is that a healthy breakfast must contain the following.

1. Whole grain carbohydrates will provide them with the energy they need to kick start their day, look for foods which list the whole grains as one of the first ingredients.

2. Protein will help kids feel full longer and help them keep focused until lunch.  Look for protein sources from low fat/non fat dairy, eggs, nuts/nut butters, beans/hummus, leans meats/fish

3. Fiber will regulate blood sugar, preventing the spikes/drops caused by sugary breakfasts.  It will also help keep them satisfied until lunch.  Look for at least 3 grams per serving.

As a mom, I realize how difficult it is to get children dressed and ready to go in time for anything, so squeezing in a healthy breakfast is much easier said than done, but with just a little planning, it’s possible.  Here are a few quick breakfast ideas:

– Toast 2 whole grain waffles and make a sandwich with peanut butter, you can even add some sliced bananas or strawberries. I use Kashi 7 grain waffles which contain 7 grams of fiber and only 3 grams of sugar for two waffles.  You can pack them in a ziploc so they can eat it on the way to school with a milk box.

– Whole wheat pita filled with sliced hard boiled eggs (can be made in advance and refrigerated ) and shredded cheese

– Whole grain cereal mixed with fruit and yogurt instead of milk

I also try to make batches of healthy muffins and pancakes, always adding some wheat germ and flax or chia seeds for extra nutrition and fiber and freeze them for those days where we need breakfast on the go.


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Put Your Kids to Work…In the Kitchen!

Every time I read an article highlighting tips to raising healthy eaters, I always see one tip toward the top of the list that makes me nervous.

Get your kids in the kitchen and let them help.

Ok, the nerves come from the control freak in me.  I’m aware of this.  But the idea of my two-year-old twins donning aprons and calling each other “chef”?  I just have trouble picturing it.

Thank goodness for some of those list makers taking it a step further and painting the picture of how exactly “getting the kids in the kitchen” works.  The Food Network has put together a quick and easy list of these exact ideas.  Check it out here.   My favorites that I’ve already tried?  Measuring and stirring.  They love both!!  Of course, not as much as tasting…

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Say Cheese! It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month

It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.  Who knew?  Clearly not me.  Aside from giving me lots of great tips, the American Dental Association is handing out free tips on the link below.  Not only are they helpful daily reminders, but good reasons to call and make a family appointment to get in for a cleaning.

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Is Your Child’s Shampoo Safe?

To be perfectly honest, I never really gave hair and skin products much thought until I had children.  I was always aware of how my body would be affected by the foods I ate, but not by the shampoo or moisturizer that I used.  Then along came my preemies, one with eczema, and so the research began and I was shocked to learn that cosmetics industry (that includes everything from shampoo to toothpaste and makeup) is largely unregulated.  Many of the products we use contain known carcinogens and toxins, but unfortunately there is no governmental review of the safety of these products before they enter the market.  There’s a laundry list of ingredients you should avoid, especially for children since their bodies are still developing and some of these chemicals are neurotoxins, but they are too long to remember and it is too arduous a task to review the ingredient list of every product in your bathroom.  To make our lives a little easier, the Environmental Working Group  developed a Skin Deep Cosmetics Database where you can simply enter the name of the product and it will rank it from 0-10 (low to high hazard) and provide a detailed explanation of the worrisome ingredients.  You’ll be surprised to learn that some of the most trusted names in baby and child bath and body products are the worst offenders.  Considering our skin is our largest organ, we should be more aware of what we are exposing our bodies to on a regular basis.

The EWG site can be found here.

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Active Family, Healthy Kids

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I love having dance parties with my girls.  Sometimes I even use their play time as an excuse to bust a move.  Especially since they are still young enough to think I’m not embarrassing them.  Even when no one is around.  (Trust me, I know this day is coming…)

But the other day, just as I was having a ton of fun myself, I stopped to watch my girls and noticed how loud their laughs were, how pink their cheeks had gotten, and how they were jumping, kicking and spinning so much that they were out of breath.  Forget centerstage.  Watching them in that moment truly made me happy.

You don’t have to read too many articles to realize an active FAMILY makes active kids.  The good news is, everyone will enjoy fantastic health benefits and you’ll be creating fun ways to spend time together. 

Nourish Interactive has come up with a great list of 83 ways and means to keep your family fit and active.  Fortunately, one of their overall tips is one that is easy for everyone to remember.  Find activities your children like to do and get excited about them!

If you need me, I’ll be looking through my ipod for our afternoon dance off.

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Valentine Treats For Your Loves

Happy Valentine’s Day!  My children are just approaching the age where they get really excited about sweet treats, especially new ones, so today, I’ll be making a few these healthy ones for their afternoon snack and after dinner dessert.  Do you have any Valentine snack ideas that your kids love?  We’d love to hear them!








1. Healthy Peanut Butter Rice-Krispie Treats – this snack idea from the NapTimeChef is a SuperTreat packed with whole grains, protein and dried fruit.  We’ll be having these with a tall glass of milk this afternoon, here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try.










2. Valentine Pancakes – Breakfast for dinner anyone?  These red pancakes are made with roasted and pureed beets, providing some veggies with every bite, it really doesn’t get better than that!  Here’s the recipe from Weelicious.

For some quick ideas try:

– Valentine fruit kabobs – with strawberry, watermelon, grapes

– Cut out whole wheat bread and strawberry jelly sandwiches with heart shaped cookie cutters

– Make pink and red yogurt parfaits by alternating yogurt with raspberries/strawberries and granola (mix half strawberry with half plain yogurt to keep sugar down)


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