Tag Archives: family

Keeping it fresh and healthy on the road

road trip

Do you find eating healthy on road trips to be challenging? So many of us do, whether we’re wanting to eat fresh food or trying to work around food sensitivities and allergies. Here are some tips based on how my family and I eat healthy on road trips:

  • Bring a cooler. I know you’ve packed the family automobile with everything from toys to clothes, but you must make room to bring a cooler or two. You may want to have a larger cooler in the trunk or back of the minivan or truck along with a smaller insulated bag that will fit up front or underneath the kids’ feet in the backseat. Ask around and see if a friend or relative has a cooler that plugs into the lighter, too.
  • Ice packs or ice? Bring both! If you’re staying overnight at a hotel, many have mini-fridges to freeze your ice packs overnight. You can also ask for ice packs to be placed into the hotel kitchen’s freezer by one of the staff members. If neither are available, you can always pick up some ice at truck stop or supermarket. Bring some zip lock bags to put the ice in so you can easily store the ice in several coolers. It also makes getting rid of the melted ice much easier.
  • Bring healthy snacks that don’t require refrigeration. Nuts, dried fruit, jerky, fresh fruit like apples, snack bars, individual baggies of cereal, pretzels, etc. travel well without refrigeration. You can also store a box or two of fruit juice, water or shelf-stable milk boxes in the trunk – just fill the cooler with them when needed!
  • Bring the kitchen with you. If you’re up to it, you can also bring a loaf of bread, mustard and deli meat and make sandwiches along the way. Don’t forget to bring a roll of paper towels and a knife to spread the mustard and cut the sandwiches! Baggies and garbage bags will come in handy, too.
  • Buy healthy snacks along the way. The variety of healthy food at truck stops and gas stations is improving all the time. You can find fresh food such as small containers of low fat milk, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, hard boiled eggs, sandwiches on whole wheat bread, fruit juices, etc. Leave the kids in the car (with an adult, of course) so you’re not tempted to buy them treats like candy and ice cream.
  • Get it fresh from the farm. If you’re driving through a rural area, keep an eye out for fruit and vegetable stands. Also, before you leave, go online to find farmer’s markets and pick your own fruit farms in the areas you’re traveling through. Kids love to pick their own berries and visit farmer’s markets. Plus, both are a great way to spend an hour or two outside of the car getting some physical activity in before hitting the road again.
  • Map it! A GPS or smart phone can help you find healthier restaurant choices. Stopping at a supermarket for some fresh sandwich fixings or healthy deli choices is an inexpensive, DIY option, too.

Ben and Justin’s Freshpedition journey across America

So why am I sharing tips about bringing fresh food with you on road trips? Well, besides the fact that bringing fresh food with you on the road is easy, healthy and helps save you money, it’s all part of introducing you to GE’s Freshpedition video series. It’s five very entertaining online episodes where Chef Ben Sargent and Engineer Justin Berger hook up a new GE French door refrigerator to a generator in the back of a truck and drive 2000 miles in 10 days to surprise Wildlife Biologist Ron Thompson with fresh food. (You can learn about the cast here.)

Take a look for yourself:

I hope the Freshpedition video series will inspire you to find your own fresh food from farms and dairies along the way! Now if I can only figure out how to bring one of those GE refrigerators with me on my next road trip!

Freshpedition Sweepstakes

FreshpeditionGE is continuing this same passion for fresh food with the Freshpedition Sweepstakes. This sweepstakes uses Pinterest, which means you can actually pin for a chance to win all new GE kitchen appliances. 

But wait, there’s even more to win!

You can also enter each day of the sweepstakes for a chance to win a $100 VISA® Prepaid Card. Entering for this prize is fun as you’re asked to pin your favorite fresh foods or your own recipes. Also, these pins when hashtagged with your state (e.g. #GEfreshTX) become part of a “Best of Fresh” map featuring freshness from around the country. Explore the map here.

For official rules and to enter visit here.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by GE via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of GE.

How to make The Talk less stressful #KotexMom

mother-daughter-2

Now that girls are reaching puberty earlier, moms (and dads) realize that they have to have “The Talk” about periods and puberty with their daughters before they reach middle school. So how do you talk to your daughter without intimidating her with the information? And how do you tell her without becoming a nervous wreck?

Here are some tips should make having The Talk a little less stressful:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel: Do you have friends with teenage or college age daughters? Ask them how they had The Talk with their daughters! I’m sure your friends can give you some valuable insight and strategies.
  • Enlist an ally or two: If you’re nervous about talking to your daughter about puberty and body changes, ask her favorite “cool aunt,” godmother or older female cousin to help out. Maybe they can join you in the discussion or be the designated go-to person if your daughter feels awkward coming to you with questions. Some girls feel more comfortable chatting about personal matters with dad, so don’t be afraid to ask him to help out, too!
  • Go to the experts: There are many wonderful books out there that explain puberty, body changes and periods. Our family’s favorite is What’s Happening to Me?  (There’s a boy’s version, which my son enjoys, too.) Other good ones friends have mentioned are The Care and Keeping of You and My Body, My Self for Girls. These are books that you and your daughter can look at together, or she can read them on her own.
  • Get the facts online: Hello Period from U of Kotex is a terrific website for your daughter to explore on her own to get advice from other girls about periods and products.
  • Start slowly and make it part of your normal day: If you’re at the grocery or drugstore, maybe it’s a good time to discuss body odor or hairy legs when you wander down the personal care product aisle together. Ask your daughter if she’d like to pick out a stick of deodorant or some body wash to keep in her bathroom. Or show her the brand of  leg shavers you like to use. Make purchasing hygiene products as normal as picking up milk or toothpaste.

Kotex Tween also has some great tips on how to have The Talk with your daughter:

  • First, pick the day you’ll have the conversation.
  • Second, start the conversation right. Kotex Tween suggests making time for just the two of you to talk by having at home spa day. If your daughter’s more outgoing, take her out for a meal either alone or with female relatives. It’s all about creating a safe space to talk about growing into a young woman and what that means.
  • Third, be prepared for the questions she may ask. Kotex Tween has an extensive Q&A section here on periods and gives you answers to fit your daughter’s maturity level.
  • Finally, take her shopping for the right products. U by Kotex Tween products feature the same absorbent protection as U by Kotex products, but are smaller than Kotex’s regular pads. They also come in vibrant new colors and patterns that tweens and teens really like. After shopping, find a special place in her bathroom to store her products in. If she shares a bathroom with younger siblings, she may want to keep her pads and other personal care products in her room.

Have you had The Talk with your daughter yet? How did you handle it?

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Have you had the talk? Why I’m a U by Kotex Tween Ambassador #KotexMom

Mother Daughter

Here’s how I learned about getting my period. Back in fourth grade, all the girls were taken to the school cafeteria, where we were shown a movie about getting your period. We also got to take home a little booklet. I read that booklet countless times, so I’m sure my mom knew that I had it. However, we never had “the talk.”

When I did get my period, I told her what happened. My mom congratulated me on being a woman and asked me if I knew where the pads were. But that was about it. We never talked about cramps, hygiene, public hair, using deodorant, leg shaving or any of that other growing up stuff. While I knew she was there if I had a question, I was too shy to ask and tried to figure it out by myself.

That’s why I’ve signed up to be a U by Kotex Tween Ambassador – to help parents and kids prepare for “the talk” in a way that’s natural, informative and loving.

Getting the facts early

Luckily, moms (and dads) have tools like Kotex’s website  to help prepare us to have the talk with our tweens. It’s so important to talk with your kids early because girls are now having their periods as early as eight years of age! Even if your daughter isn’t showing signs of puberty, she may have friends who are and will be curious about it.

That’s why my daughter, Lucie, who is 9, and already knows about puberty and periods thanks to franks discussions with both her parents and reading What’s Happening to Me?, a terrific book about going through puberty from Usborne Books. She’s nowhere near puberty, but has older gal pals from karate, school and camp who are. Lucie’s naturally curious about body changes, but sees them as normal and something to look forward to – except for eyebrow plucking, which she think sounds horrible, go figure.

I’m glad we’ve been matter-of-fact with Lucie and her brother. I hope it’ll save them some of the mortification I felt as a young girl when learning about body changes and periods back then.

Preparing for the talk

The Kotex website is a great source of reference that can help you prepare for your talk with your daughter. It has great tools such as a calendar with facts about puberty, questions your daughter may ask, ways to start the conversation, and more. I especially liked the information on Getting the Facts and Preparing for the Talk

There’s also a  Aimee Teegarden Gets Real Video by Kotex & Nickelodeon ParentsConnect that you should check out. In it she talks about how she and her mom have always had an open line of conversation about everything from Aimee’s career to going through puberty. Aimee also relates a story about a 14-year-old friend getting her first period during a slumber party. Her friend hadn’t had the talk with her mom yet and had to rely on the other girls at the slumber party to help her figure out what to do. Aimee called it “on the job training,” which was kind of ironic yet a little sad, too.

Finally, there’s the U by Kotex website page for tweens and teens for your daughter to browse and find information on periods, products, and puberty. It’s a great website for your daughter to look over on her own, especially if she’s too shy to come out and ask you a question about pads or pubic hair. Or you can look it over together to get the conversation started!

Have you had the talk with your daughter yet?

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Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Simple ways to make the morning rush less stressful

morning coffee

One of the most stressful times for me and my family is during the week day morning rush to school. Everyone wakes up grumpy and moves at the pace of a tree slug. Besides making sure everyone gets ready and out of the house on time, I also have to keep the kids on task – including reminding them to eat instead of staring at the wall!

Here are a few things I do to make the morning rush less stressful.

The weekend before

  • Groceries – go through your cupboards and refrigerator to make sure you have enough breakfast, lunch fixings, and school snacks on hand for the week. There’s nothing worse that starting off Monday morning realizing you don’t have any cold cuts to make sandwiches.
  • Hot lunch – if your kids get hot lunch at school, print out the monthly calendar and place it on the refrigerator. My kids are allowed to order hot lunch once a week, so I try to get them to pick what day they want it the weekend before. Also,  make sure you have cash on hand to pay for lunch if your school doesn’t have electronic billing.
  • Laundry – make sure everyone has enough clean school and work clothes for the week. If the seasons are changing, you may need to check the weather report to plan appropriately. Also, if you find that your child is constantly running out of pants or short sleeved shirts (probably because they’ve grown out of a few things) maybe it’s time to visit the store.
  • Backpacks – make sure that the kids empty their backpacks of any unnecessary stuff and put important papers, books, Friday folders, and homework in their backpacks Sunday night. This is a good time for mom or dad to make sure any important paperwork is reviewed or signed, too.

The night before

  • Showering – My kids like to shower in the evenings. I think most younger kids can get away with bathing the night before. However, many tweens and teens may need to shower in the morning to smell and look their best. If so, make sure everyone’s up early enough and knows to keep their shower time short.
  • Backpacks – see above.
  • Clothing – Some kids (and adults) do better if they choose an outfit and set out their clothing the night before.
  • Breakfast – Make sure you have food on hand that’s easy to make and eat in the morning. A couple of ideas are hard boiling and peeling eggs the night before, or making extra pancakes on the weekend to reheat during the week. Meal replacement shakes are a quick meal that can be consumed in the car. Cups of yogurt, minute oatmeal and cut up fruit are all healthy ways to start your day. If necessary, set the table the night before to have a jump on the morning’s rush. Set out your vitamins and don’t forget to prep the coffee pot, too!
  • Lunch – We don’t do this, but some families like to prepare lunch the night before. I find that the sandwiches get to soggy for my kids’ liking, so we make it the morning before.

That morning

  • Check the weather – Whatever way you check the day’s weather – the newspaper, TV news, your computer or smartphone – you need to know if it’s a long sleeves and jeans or short sleeves and capris day before everyone starts getting dressed.
  • Preparing breakfast – Older kids can prepare their own breakfast.Younger kids can help get the cereal or bread. Everyone should clean up their own dishes – not mom!
  • Fixing bag lunches – Older children can make their own lunches. If the kitchen is too crowded, have one child in charge of lunches one week, another child the next, and maybe mom or dad the following week.
  • Ban electronics in the morning – They’re distracting and prevent kids – and parents – from keeping on task and on time.
  • Use the kitchen timer to tell you when it’s 10 minutes before you have to leave. That should give everyone enough time to brush teeth, use the toilet, and gather up their stuff. Add another 5 minutes if mom or dad always misplace their keys!

I hope some of these tips help you make the morning rush less crazy.

How have you made your mornings less stressful?

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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sprint via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sprint.

© Rafalulicki | Stock Free Images

Join me at Driscoll’s Berries #MyPlate Healthy Kids Twitter Chat on Wednesday!

MyPlate

Join me and Driscoll’s Berries on Wednesday, March 14th at 7pm EST for a live, one-hour Twitter chat in celebration of National Nutrition Month! We’ll be discussing how #MyPlate guidelines can help you get your kids to eat healthier. We’ll also be chatting about how to use #berries to build well-balanced, kid-friendly meals.

Here are the details:

  • What: Driscoll’s #MyPlate Healthy Kids Twitter Chat
  • When: Wednesday, March 14th at 7pm EST | 6 pm EST | 5 pm MST | 4 pm PST
  • Why: Learn how to get your kids eating healthier by using #myplate guideline and #berries to build balanced meals.
  • Hosted by: @Driscollsberry and @amnichols – be sure to follow us before the chat!
  • RSVP: You can RSVP for the #MyPlate Healthy Kids Twitter Chat here.

Feel free to submit any questions you’d want us to discuss during the #MyPlate chat in the comments below!

Learn more about healthy eating at Driscolls.com

The Driscoll’s Berries website is a great resource for everything from recipe inspiration to nutritional information:

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Disclosure: Driscoll’s Berries is compensating me for my efforts on their behalf. All opinions are my own.

Dining at the Edge at the Four Seasons Denver

Dining at The Edge

Last month, I attended a Denver food blogger tweetup at the Edge Restaurant & Bar at the Four Seasons in Denver. The purpose was to introduce us to their “Business Quickie” lunch meals at their gorgeous facility in the heart of Denver's downtown on 14th and Arapahoe.

The Edge is known for their happy hour and dinners. However, they want to get the word out that you can stop by during the week for lunch and for only $18 get a fabulous meal off their prix fixe menu.

We were served samplers of four dishes (above from left to right)  – Summer Halibut Ceviche, Petit Steak Frites with House Cut Fries and Peppercorn Sauce, Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella with Torn Basil and Aged Balsamic, and Sesame Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing and Crisp Wantons. It’s hard to say which lunch dish was my favorite. The steak was perfectly cooked and tender. The ceviche was spot on and tasty. The heirloom tomatoes were fresh and perfect. (I could have eaten a large bowl of just the tomatoes.) The sesame chicken salad was excellent - crunchy and spicy. (Note: since I’m gluten free and avoiding potatoes, I didn’t have the tortillas, frites, bread or wantons.)

The steak and the ceviche were my favorite. However, if you’re dinning with a friend or two, get a few entrees and share. They’re all terrific!

panna cotta 300

The Edge also treated us to two of their fantastic desserts. First there was the Organic Chamomile Panna Cotta and a Lemon Oat Crumble with Sweet Roasted Apricots, which you can see on the left. the Meyer Lemon Tart, Candied Kumquats, and Passion Fruit Gelee on the right. It was hard to pick which one I liked more, but if I had to, it would be the lemon tart. Sublime!

chocolate cow pops molten chocolate cupcake

As take home gifts, were were given chocolate cow lollipops and a molten chocolate cupcake (with cute little Twitter chocolates), which I took home to the family. I really appreciated the special touch and the warm welcome the Four Seasons and the Edge showed the food blogging community. Can't wait to go back!

Budget conscious and family-friendly dining at the Edge

Just because the Edge is in the Four Seasons, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune or leave the kids at home. There are two weekend dining options that are perfect for families, and both are very reasonably priced for such a fine dining establishment.

The More than Just a “Sundae” Dinner For $28, the adults get a three-course dinner. Also, you can add a wine or beer pairing for $12. This is family friendly dining at it’s best. Kids can eat off a special kids’ menu and then go off to a special room set aside for them to play or watch videos in a safe, kid-friendly environment while mom and dad enjoy dinner in relative peace.

The Sunday Brunch A three-course specialty brunch menu which includes your choice of appetizer, entrée and unlimited trips to our dessert buffet for only $28 per person. Or you can order items à la carte and add the dessert buffet for $12. There are also endless mimosas or bottomless bloody marys for $10, though you may have to walk home after those! Also, kids under 12 can have their choice of kid's entrée with dessert buffet for $10.

You can also check in at the Edge on your smartphone using Foursquare and get a free drink on the house. (Ask your server or bar tender for details.) Of course, there are 50% off selected bar food & happy hour priced drinks during the week from 5 to 7:30 pm, too - $3 Draft & Bottle Beer Selections, $5 House Red & White Wine, $5 Well Drinks, and select items off the EDGE Bar Menu (many around $4).

There's also complimentary valet parking for all bar and restaurant guests.

And while you’re there, check out the wine room. I need me one of these!

Edge wine room wine trees

More on the Edge

Address:
1111 14th Street
Denver, Colorado 80202

Hours of Operation:
Breakfast: 6:30am – 10:30am
Lunch: 11am – 2:30pm
Brunch: Sat & Sun 9am – 2pm
Dinner: 5pm – 10pm
EDGE bar: 10:30am – 12 midnight. Weekends till 2am

Phone:
303.389.3343(EDGE)

Check out the Four Seasons Denver on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Edge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Disclosure: I was a guest of the Edge and received a complimentary meal and parking. All opinions are my own.

Role model a healthy lifestyle for your family this summer

summer fun Recently a friend asked me, “How do you feed your kids healthy meals everyday?” She told me how hard it was trying to change her habits and theirs. I told her it’s all about taking small steps and role modeling healthy living for your kids.

With the kids home for summer vacation, it’s a great time to role model a healthy lifestyle for your kids – and change some of your unhealthy habits, too. Thanks to those long summer days, you can do this whether you’re a stay (or work) at home parent or you work outside the home and the kids are in camp or daycare all day.

Plan healthy meals and snacks. Take the family for a walk after dinner. Go to the city pool, the beach or the lake to swim and be active. Make a healthy picnic to share with the kids after work in a local park or at the beach.

Here are some other suggestions on role modeling healthy choices for your kids!

Role modeling in the kitchen

  • Keep healthy stuff in the house and no junk like chips, candy, cookies, and soda. If you aren’t eating it, neither are your kids.
  • Keep the refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy treats – frozen fruit pops, dried and fresh fruit, healthy breakfast cookies, non-fat Greek yogurt, and so on. My mom always kept Dannon yogurt in the fridge when I was growing up, along with fresh fruit like grapes, bananas and apples. Plus, what child doesn’t love Cuties oranges and kiwis, both of which are fun to eat?
  • Don’t keep juice in the house! Eat your juice (fruit) don’t drink it.
  • Serve skim milk. On our pediatrician’s recommendation, I limit my children to one glass of milk per meal. They can have water afterwards. It’s all about moderation, even with healthy foods like milk.
  • Make eating healthy easier by cooking up big batches of healthy stuff – chili, soup, roast chicken, whole wheat spaghetti and homemade sauce, etc. That way you can heat up leftovers on those busy nights instead of ordering take out. This was how my mom cooked and my dad loved having the leftovers the next day for lunch.
  • Start slowly. Buy whole grain bread instead of white bread, then graduate to organic whole grain bread. Start using whole wheat pasta instead of semolina pasta. Use corn or whole wheat tortillas instead of flour ones.
  • Make it fun! Having the kids dip cucumber, cherry tomatoes and carrots in a lite ranch dressing is a good start to getting them to eat salad.
  • Take advantage of summer – corn on the cob, fresh fruit and berries, and farmer’s markets! Fire up the grill and cook up fish, shrimp and lean meats. One of my favorite memories growing up was all the seafood my mom cooked up during the summer at home and at the beach like steamers, lobster and crab.
  • Stock the pantry with healthy convenience foods like the light Progresso soups (my kids eat the chicken noodle for breakfast!), V8 juice (the one juice that I don’t mind the kids guzzling), Amy’s frozen foods and soups, and Healthy Choice Naturals. Many of these can be taken to work instead of getting fast food.
  • Other easy to cook up foods include eggs and lean deli meats, both which you can use in chef salads and sandwiches.
  • Try a healthy, low saturated fat buttery spread instead of real butter. I LOVE I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and so do the kids. They like saying, “I can’t believe it’s not butter, mom!” almost as much as they like eating it.
  • Find a healthy pancake mix. Fiber One is good as are the ones by Bob’s Red Mill. Get lite syrup or try agave syrup. Use a fruit spread on the pancakes. Get a good start in the morning for those busy summer days!

Role modeling an active lifestyle

  • Plant a garden with the kids or visit a pick your own farm. Both are great forms of exercise! Look into signing up for a CSA  (community supported agriculture) share in your area. Participating in a CSA share or having a garden forces you to cook up a lot of healthy produce.
  • Celebrate the release of Kung Fu Panda 2 by going to an Asian market with the kids just to look at all the funky produce and the chicken feet! (Can you say field trip?) Get some bok choy, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, etc. and make stir fry after a trip to the movie theater. Have the kids suggest veggies they’d like to add to it. Don’t forget to make a big batch of brown rice to go with it.
  • Find ways to walk or bike instead of driving. Can you walk to the library or store? Are there bike trails nearby? During summer vacation, take the time to do an outdoor physical activity with your family once a week.
  • Moms and dads need to make exercise a priority, whether that means getting up early to work out or coming home a bit late a few nights. If the kids see you taking care of yourself, they’ll learn good habits. My mom always played tennis when I was growing up - and still does even though she’s in her late 70s. To this day she inspires me to keep active.
  • Don’t forget your vitamins! Kids and adults should take a multi-vitamin every day.

Role modeling at got milk?

As my kids grow older, I realize how my mom continues to shape me as a mother. It’s all about the time we spent together as I grew up and the memories she made for me and my sister from the trips we took to the fun activities we did like berry picking, cooking, and painting.

Now moms can have fun with their kids online. For example, the Milk Mustache got milk? Campaign’s new interactive section on their Facebook page. First, “like” the Milk Mustache Facebook page then go to their Role Modeling page. Click on “get started” to send an e-postcard to someone you love. (Send dad or your favorite uncle the Angie Harmon e-postcard. I’m sure they won’t mind.)

Moms can spend some time reading the Like Mother Like Daughter – A revealing look at the crucial link between mothers, daughters, food and health report. Or click on the “pour one more” for all kinds of healthy recipes that use milk like fruit smoothies and veggie soups.

Have a wonderful summer role modeling a healthy lifestyle for your kids.

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Disclosure:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the National Milk Mustache got milk? Campaign and was compensated for my time.