Tag Archives: family

The family trip to the orthodontist #invisalignMAB

The family trip to the orthodontist #invisalignMAB at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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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


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?

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!


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:

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

Get your kids cooking with Clorox Clean-Up Recipes For Fun and the Ultimate Mess Party contest #RecipesForFun

kid chefs I was recently introduced to a cool new kids’ activity site that will encourage them to “live it up, mess it up, then clean it up” – Clorox Clean-Up Recipes For Fun.

It features two cooking related areas. First, there’s Creative Cooking where kids are encouraged to play with their food and create edible masterpieces. Many of these recipes would be fun for Halloween or birthday parties like Potted Night Crawler Cups, which features gummy worms “crawling” out of dirt made from crushed up Oreos or Ooey Gooey Critters where kids can make “bugs” out of pretzels, peanuts, marshmallows and melted chocolate chips.

Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun also features a Kiddie Cooking section for young Iron Chefs in the making. Sample recipes include "Hands-on" banana muffins, Beans on Toast (one of my kids’ favorites!) and Easy English Muffin Pizza.

While there are a lot of treat recipes in both sections, there are many healthy choices such as Healthy Race Car Snack, Healthy Peanut Butter Dip and Crunchy Cauliflower Salad. Here’s a Creative Cooking recipe I particularly liked because it’s simple, yummy and good for you! And what kids doesn’t like making (and eating) popsicles?

Yummy Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

Ingredients For Fun:

  • 2 cups strawberries cut up into pieces
  • 2 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
  • paper cups (approximately 12)
  • wooden sticks (approximately 12)

How To Make It:

  1. Combine strawberries and yogurt. Mix well.
  2. Fill cups with mixture.
  3. Cover cups with aluminum foil. Insert stick into each cup.
  4. Freeze popsicles until they’re firm.

Win an Ultimate Mess Party

To celebrate their new Recipes for Fun site, Clorox has launched the Ultimate Mess Party Sweepstakes. All you need to do is register to their website. By doing so, you’re automatically entered into the grand prize for a chance to win $10,000 toward an Ultimate Mess Party. Plus, you’ll be eligible to INSTANTLY win one of the daily $100 gift cards just for viewing recipes.

In addition, if you share a recipe, you’ll get a coupon for $1 off Clorox® Clean-Up® instantly and receive 10 extra grand prize entries. Also, Clorox Clean-Up is instantly awarding free Clorox® Clean-Up® coupons and $100 gift cards from a variety of retailers for just viewing their recipes.

Check it out and get cooking!

Clorox Recipes for FunClorox Mess it Up + Clean it Up


Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Clorox Clean-Up Recipes for Fun blogging program, for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on this program, click here and see the Terms link.

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

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


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

Edge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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

Fitbit review: helping you meet iVillage’s Million PALA challenge!

bathing beauties Starting today, iVillage is partnering with the President’s Challenge Program to help 1 million Americans get active – the Million PALA Challenge (MPC). I learned about this terrific program from Shellie Pfohl, the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition who I heard saw speak at the Fitness & Heath Bloggers Conference a few weeks ago.

The MPC is offered by the President’s Challenge, a program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. In partnership with the First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let’s Move!” initiative, the MPC goal is to get 1 million Americans to earn the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) through September 2011.

To achieve PALA, your goal is to be active at least five days a week for six weeks. No matter how young or how old you are, you can join this program to become more active, so make it a family project! Youth (6-17 years) should get moving for at least 60 minutes per day, and adults (18 years or older) should be active for 30 minutes per day.

For support, you can sign up at iVillage to get:

  • DAILY EMAILS  from members of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition like Drew Brees, Grant Hill and Michelle Kwan and chef Dan Barber
  • ACTIVITIES  to earn a Presidential Lifestyle Award (PALA)
  • CHANCES  to win daily prizes

To learn more go to, challenges.ivillage.com/get-moving, presidentschallenge.org/ivillage or presidentschallenge.org.

Measuring my activity with the Fitbit

fitbit In the Getting Started section on the PALA website, it’s suggested that you log your 30 minutes of activity a day. (One hour for kids.) While you can use their free online activity tracker, a more accurate way would be with a fitness tool like Fitbit.

I was sent a Fitbit awhile ago to review and finally started using it last month. I really like it compared to similar devices, like the Gruve that had previously tried. Here’s why:

  • Fitbit is a small wearable 24/7 activity monitor tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and activity level throughout the day. Unlike the Gruve, you can add fitness activities it can’t detect, like swimming. (Fitbit is NOT waterproof and cannot be taken in the pool.) You just login and report what kind of activity you performed and how long you did it. This makes a huge difference as some seriously strenuous activities, like Pilates, hardly register on the device. By self-reporting your activity, you get a more accurate picture of how many calories you’re burning a day.
  • The Fitbit wirelessly syncs with an online profile where you can log nutrition, sleep, physical activity and even mood and allergies to get a complete picture of your health.
  • The Fitbit motivates you to take more steps and do more physical activity. I constantly check to see if I’ve been more active today than I was yesterday. It gets me moving more!
  • You can update the food diary and your activities with your smart phone, too, with Fitbit Mobile (available for Android and iPhone only).
  • It’s very easy to use. You just clip it on your bra or put it in your pocket. It’s so small that no one will know that you’re wearing it unlike those other fitness monitors that strap on to your arm and are hard to hide when you want to dress up or look professional.
  • The sleep monitoring is very interesting. It shows how restless a sleeper you are and how much quality sleep you get. While it’s not something I consider necessary to losing weight or improving your fitness, it’s an interesting feature.
  • To charge it, you clip it on to a small device that plugs into your computer’s USB port.
  • It’s affordable at $99 with free standard shipping. You can purchase online coaching and in-depth data analysis for an additional $49/year.

When private activity goes public

There’s a community aspect to Fitbit, which I haven’t used. There was also some controversy early this month about privacy of self-reported activity. It seems that people were reporting their sexual activity – and those reports were searchable – you could find out who was having sex and when. Ooops!

According to Kasmir Hill on her Forbes.com blog:

To limit the exposure, the company has currently hidden all activity records on Fitbit.com, no matter what the user’s current privacy settings are. (I can’t see any of my old records, even privately.) Fitbit also contacted Google, Yahoo, and Bing to get the sex stats removed from search engines.

Good to see that the company responded so quickly. Personally, I had nothing to worry about since I didn’t realize you could report sexual activity. I’ll be doing that from now on. Every calorie counts, I guess!

Disclosure: Fitbit sent me one of their fitness tracking devices to try out to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

July is Family Golf Month – get out and play!

family golf month My husband and son are avid golfers and they’re getting my daughter, Lucie interested in playing golf, too, this summer. (Having a set of really cool, pink clubs from Santa certainly helped.) That’s why I wanted to share with you that not only is July Family Golf Month, but this week (July 4-11) is Take Your Daughter to the Course Week.

PGA/LPGA Professionals at golf facilities in your area are offering special events, rates and programs to families in July and throughout the summer, making it a great time to try out the game and spend quality time as a family.

During Take Your Daughter to the Course Week, over a thousand courses nationwide offer a free greens fee to young women accompanied by a paying adult, making it a great opportunity to take daughters, granddaughters or nieces to the local course and introduce them to playing golf. Many facilities also host special promotions and a free clinic during the week.

The updated list of Family Golf Month events can be found at PlayGolfAmerica.com.

Why golf is a great sport for children and the whole family!

Suzy Whaley, a PGA and LPGA Professional, is one of the nation’s most acclaimed golf instructors and public speakers. Here are her tips and reasons why you should play golf as a family and how to get your family and children started in golf.

  • It provides uninterrupted family time outdoors and is also a great way to spend quality time with your family (and friends!)
  • It’s great exercise in a beautiful setting. Studies show that walking the golf course reduces levels of bad cholesterol, burns calories, prevents heart disease, and helps oxygenate the body and improve posture.
  • Golf helps children learn how to focus and teaches great life lessons - respect, integrity, sportsmanship, camaraderie and problem solving.
  • Golf’s a great business tool for networking for when they get older – for both boys and girls!
  • Golf is a game for a lifetime and can enjoyed by the young and old. How many other sports can a parent, child and grandparent participate in together?
  • Golf is a non-contact sport and does not require a great deal of athletic prowess.
  • Many golf facilities offer discounted junior rates and discounted “locals only” rates, making it an affordable family activity.
  • It’s fun!

Ways to get your family to start playing golf

  • Visit PlayGolfAmerica.com to find family programs in your area.
  • Contact your local PGA of America Section at PGA.com for a list PGA Professionals in your area.
  • Contact your local parks and recreation departments for children and family programs.
  • Visit your local public golf facility and gather information on their children and family programs.
  • Enroll your children in the “Golf in Schools” program if they are offered in your area.

How to get your kids started in golf

  • Encourage your children to hit balls with you at the driving range.
  • Make golf a family activity.
  • Watch or attend a golf tournament together.

Why This Mama Cooks! loves golf

  • I’m not a golfer, so playing golf gets all the noisy, messy people out of the house so I can get some work done around here.
  • It gets the kids outside doing something physical. Plus it lets them spend some one-on-one time with their dad.
  • You can play golf even if you’re pretty beat up physically. If your knees are bad, get a cart!
  • You can always find good deals on golf, from Twilight Rates to discount coupon books.
  • When you’re child is old enough, you can drop them off at the course by themselves to take a lesson and play in a junior league with other kids. Give them a few bucks for lunch so they can hang out even longer. The pros and course staff love having kids around and always keep an eye on them for you. (A cellphone in their golf bag is a great idea, too.)
  • High school golf teams – great competitive sport without the risk of serious injuries like concussions from football. Also, if your child is good enough, talk to their coach or a golf pro about applying for golf scholarships for college.
  • High school golf team members can usually get local caddying jobs during the summer. Great way to earn money, improve their skills and build a resume.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen, hat, glove, band-aids, bug spray and a water bottle!

Dishing on the USDA new food icon, MyPlate

MyPlate Today’s guest post is by Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, a nutrition and health communications consultant who advises for the Egg Nutrition Center.

Dishing up MyPlate

Served up earlier this month, Americans are trying to digest the newest version of the food group’s icon, MyPlate. Reaction to the new icon by and large has been positive especially compared to the old MyPyramid, which was confusing and a great mystery to many.

Replaced by a circular plate, the new icon’s meant to give consumers a fast, easily understandable reminder of the basics of a healthy diet. Reflecting what a balanced meal on a plate is supposed to look like, it’s hailed as realistic since we eat on plates, not pyramids.

MyPlate is divided into four differently colored wedges representing sections for fruits (red), vegetables (green), grains (brown) and protein (purple). Beside the plate is a smaller circle for dairy (blue), suggesting a glass of low-fat milk, or perhaps a cup of yogurt. Please don’t call the wedges “pie-shaped” as nutrition messages associated with the icon stress limiting calories and portion sizes, addressing concern with American’s increasing body sizes.

The launch was highlighted by the appearance of first lady Michelle Obama, who had this to say:

“Parents don't have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of chicken or look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. That has confounded me as a parent for a very long time. But we do have time to look at our kids' plates. As long as they're eating proper portions, as long as half of their meal is fruits and vegetables alongside their lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, then we're good.”

The new guidelines emphasize filling half the plate with fruits and veggies, and 1/4 with grains and 1/4 with protein. By simply eye-balling the plate consumers can see the amount of one food group compared to other food groups. It’s an easy tool for you and your family to use as a visual guide for eating well and healthily.

A quick look wedge by wedge

Fruits and vegetables groups: Fruits and vegetables are nutrient-rich, containing a wealth of compounds such as phyto-nutrients, fiber, minerals and vitamins for the amount of calories they provide. Consuming a generous variety of fruits and vegetables can help protect against disease including chronic diseases, stroke and certain cancers. Make choices from this wedge  by color: vibrantly colored red, orange, dark green such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers and broccoli, and the reds and yellows of naturally sweet fruits such as oranges, peaches, mangos and kiwi.

Grain group: Divided into two sub-groups, whole grain and refined, make at least half your grains whole grain. On the label, look for “100% whole grain” on cereals, breads, crackers and rice. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm, and are good sources dietary fiber, iron, and B vitamins. Try adding whole grain whole wheat flour, oatmeal, corn meal and brown rice to your family’s grocery list in place of the refined versions.

Protein group: Vary your protein choices, placing seafood twice a week on the plate. Fatty fishes such as tuna and salmon provide omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with heart health. Serve a vegetarian meal once a week featuring beans which are natural sources of fiber and protein. Keep meat and poultry portions small and lean.

Make eggs part of your weekly choices. New research shows that an egg yolk contains 185 mg of cholesterol, easily fitting into dietary guidelines recommendations limiting cholesterol to 300 mg. per day. Only the egg yolk contains cholesterol and saturated fat, so include as many egg whites as you want.

Choose lean cuts of beef, chicken and pork which provide high quality protein and fit into nutrition guidelines. Tip: Look for the term “loin” to help identify the lower fat cuts of meat.

Milk group: Switch to skim or 1% milk which have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories. Keep milk as the preferred beverage at mealtimes and water for snack time.

Focusing on simple messages

One major complaint of the old MyPyramid was the amount of dietary recommendations provided. Not only were many considered complex and confusing, but the sheer number overwhelmed consumers, causing them to throw in their napkins in frustration.

Enter the era of simple, actionable, doable, easily understood MyPlate food recommendations, launched one at a time. First up: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It may be a shock to people to learn much fruits and vegetables they should be eating. But summer’s a great time of the year to start, with the wealth of fruits and vegetables coming into season, and readily available at the supermarkets and the farmers’ markets.

Make a habit of adding fruits and vegetables to family favorite dishes. For example, load up pizza with mushrooms, spinach, sliced squash and chopped tomatoes. Or try topping it with baby arugula and sliced pears. Frozen vegetables are as nourishing as fresh. Keep bagfuls in the freezer and toss handfuls into your soup, casseroles and meatloaf.

Serve fruit-based desserts. Parfaits layered with berries and yogurt is simple and refreshing. And a great treat? Dip some of those strawberries of summer into melted chocolate.

More healthy eating messages

Overall, the new MyPlate is simpler and more understandable than the old MyPyramid. While it doesn’t address exercise, the idea’s to place dietary recommendations within the context of an active and healthy lifestyle, and the actions you take to make good health and food selections for you and your family. Bottom line, MyPlate simply makes it easier to make those food choices.

Keep an eye open in the future as other “eat better messages” roll out, so people can focus on changing one habit at a time. Here are a few:

  • Enjoy your food but eat less
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Make at least half of your grains whole grains
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose food with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

For more information on MyPlate go to www.choosemyplate.gov. Check out healthy MyPlate recipes. And you can connect with @MyPlate on Twitter.

Take the #daycation SOYJOY Challenge {giveaway}

soyjoy lucie and nathan

So what’s a daycation? It’s a one-day getaway to a local destination that offers the same perks of a vacation without the expense, time off from work, and other hassles that go into vacation planning. You get a chance to get out of the house, see your local area, and have some fun with friends or family. It also gives you a chance to explore new places or visit old favorites.

One of my favorite nutrition bars, SOYJOY, was kind enough to sponsor me and my kids on a daycation to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. After renewing our membership, we explored the Real Pirates exhibit, visited Expedition Health and took in an IMAX movie, Mysteries of the Great Lakes 2D.

We brought our own snacks in a cooler bag including the new pineapple SOYJOY bars, and took a break in the museum’s north atrium between activities. We had such a great time that we’re going back this weekend to see all the things we missed. Thanks SOYJOY for such a great time!!

Our daycation slideshow

Win a SOYJOY Daycation Kit

I’m giving away one SOYJOY Daycation Kit ($250 value) to one lucky reader so they can take a daycation challenge of their own.

Each kit includes:

Here’s how to enter to win a SOYJOY Daycation Kit:

  1. Share where you’d go on your daycation along with your name, email address, and blog URL (if you have one) in the comments below for ONE entry.
  2. If you have a blog or giveaways listing site/post/page, feel free to post about this contest on it for ONE additional entry.
  3. Sign up for This Mama Cooks! Review’s RSS feed for ONE additional entry.
  4. Sign up for my enewsletter for ONE additional entry.
  5. Spread the word about this giveaway by submitting a link to this post on Twitter for ONE additional entry. You must leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.
  6. If you have done any of these activities you MUST come back here and leave a comment telling me what you did. I will be checking!
  7. Maximum amount of entries at This Mama Cooks! is FIVE – leaving a comment here (1), posting about it on your blog or giveaways listing site (1), signing up for my enewsletter (1), signing up for my RSS feed (1), and using Twitter (1).
  8. You have until midnight MT on Friday, June 24, 2011 to enter.
  9. ONE winner will be chosen at random.
  10. You must be willing to send me your full name, mailing address and phone number so I pass your info on to SOYJOY’s PR people so they can mail out your SOYJOY Daycation Kit.
  11. I’ll announce the winner on this blog. I’ll not share your mailing info with the public, just your name. If you have a blog, I’ll link back to it when I announce the winners.

The giveaway is valued at approximately $250 and is only open to legal residents of the United States 18 years of age and older. No purchase required. Up to FIVE entries per person. ONE SOYJOY Daycation Kit will be given away. Some items in the kit may vary due to available supplies. Void where prohibited by law. By submitting your name and email address, you agree to receive relevant promotional emails and contest follow up communications from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet in compliance with my privacy policy and giveaway rules.


Disclosure: SOYJOY provided me with the daycation kit to give away. I also received a daycation kit to share with my family. All opinions are my own.