Archive | FOOD AND DRINK

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall Season

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall SeasonNOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: This article wasn’t written by me. Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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With the kids heading back to school and the seasonal work picking up, preparing supper can suddenly become a great source of stress in some people’s lives. Depending on the number of people who need to be fed, your work schedule, taking care of the kids, and any other responsibilities, you may feel like cooking is a chore that is best left to a restaurant. That is, if you can afford one. Here are some tips to make mealtime at home a little less frantic and stressful.

Make a Weekly Menu
Believe it or not, trying to figure out what you are going to cook on any given night can be quite time-consuming. If you are not really sure of what to whip up, you may be stressing yourself out thinking about all your options. Everything that is associated with food and eating should be enjoyable, so try planning out a menu to follow for the whole week and see if this cuts down on your stress. Don’t use do it for yourself, keep in mind the kids too. If you plan out school lunches in advance, you can save yourself precious minutes first thing in the morning.

Prep on Sundays
Arrange your schedule so you can do all of your meal prep on Sundays. Or, if you happen to work on Sunday, put another day aside that you can devote entirely to meal prep. Don’t use that time to just prepare dinner for the week, prep breakfasts and lunches as well. If you send your kids off to school with their lunches, this kind of prep can be a life saver first thing in the morning. Just grab their lunch out of the fridge, toss it in their bags, and away they go! If you want a few days where you don’t have to cook, prepare double of what you normally do so there will periodically be leftovers to enjoy. Chop up any vegetables you need and, if necessary, separate them. Precooking and freezing meals, so you can just pop them into the oven when you are ready to eat, can be a huge time saver. Also, consider investing into a crockpot or slow cooker so, in the future, you only need to pull a prepped bag of food out of the freezer to toss into the crockpot to cook while you are at work.

Assign Roles
Get your family to help out. The kids should be home from school by the time you start on supper, so their hands should be free! On days when you are making spaghetti, delegate boiling the pasta to someone else and have another person cook the meatballs and sauce. By getting your family involved and helping out more in the kitchen, mealtime can become easier, more enjoyable, and far more efficient.

Buy Easy to Cook Foods
There is nothing wrong with enjoying making all of your meals from scratch. However, doing so does add more work to mealtime. Every now and then, go grocery shopping for easy to prepare foods. These are the kind of foods that you can simply pop into the microwave, or that you can eat straight out the package, like yogurt from Hampton Creek. Either way, easy to prepare foods or premade meals can be a lifesaver on those days where you are just too tired to put on your apron and cook.

Stay Positive
Your mood can dramatically impact your attitude about cooking. There may be many reasons why you may not be in the mood to cook, or even reasons why you dislike cooking. The back to school season can be an exhausting time. However, you should not let those moods overpower your need to stay positive. Maintaining a positive mindset about things you don’t like to do can help to make them more bearable.
Look for ways to keep yourself positive. Listen to some music while you are in the kitchen cooking, or watch one of your favorite shows. Talk with one of your friends or family while you are cooking, as long as you remember to stay attentive to what you are doing! No matter what you decide to do, remember to stay safe and never leave cooking food unattended.

With the right changes to your routine, preplanning your meals, and a little help from your family, mealtime doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and stressful. It can be fun and engaging! Advanced meal prep can also help keep your grocery budget under control as you no longer making daily trips to the store. The best part about all of this is that you’ll feel better, be less stressed, and have more energy to spend with the people that you love!

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna is Perfect for Lunch!

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water 1

Since I am so busy during the week, I really don’t have time to stop in the middle of my work day to make lunch. This means that I have had to come up with several make-ahead lunches that I can grab in between conference calls and projects. One of my favorites is Wild Selection® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water on a bed of lettuce. Wild Selection® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water is one of my favorites because inside you will find delicious, delicate tuna that comes from all-natural sources. There are three ingredients: white tuna, water, and salt. That’s it! Every can of tuna is Non-GMO verified too. Now, I obviously love the product, but what really gets me feeling passionate is the philosophy of the company behind the fish!

People talk a lot about sustainability nowadays but for the folks at Wild Selections, it is their entire business model. The entire product line is the only one in the world that is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified as sustainable seafood. You can trust that the blue MSC eco-label on every can means that the fish inside only comes from well managed fisheries and healthy fish stocks. For even more proof, just log onto the Wild Selections website and actually see where the fish in your can was caught! If we want our oceans to be teeming with life in the future, everyone should start to follow Wild Selections’ lead.

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

Their commitment to ocean health and sustainability goes beyond just their products. For every can of Wild Selection Premium Seafood sold, they donate 13 cents to the World Wildlife Fund for marine conservation and to fishery improvement projects all over America. Wild Selections projects that by 2018, they will have donated a total of $1 Million towards saving our oceans. Partnerships between companies like Wild Selection and organizations like the World Wildlife Fund are helping lead the way to a sustainable tomorrow.

Wild Selections wants to make it as easy as possible for you to find their fantastic products. Check out their store locator to find stores where Wild Selections Seafood is sold. There are many other products available, including salmon, sardines, and shrimp. And you can be sure that every one is as environmentally friendly as their tuna!

Wild-Selections®-Solid-WhitIf you want to learn more about how Wild Selections is helping to save our oceans with sustainable fishing, you can check out this infographic. Or you could visit their YouTube Channel to learn more about their partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Marine Stewardship Council.

When all is said and done, it is just a delicious product. And one that will help you do your part to save our planet. You can’t ask for more than that!

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

5 Spooky Fruit and Vegetable Halloween Treats for Healthy Kids

Halloween is my favorite holiday – mostly because it is an anything goes, don’t hold back, get as creative as you want holiday! I have been adding a little spookiness into Eben’s snacks by getting creative with fruits and vegetables. He seems to enjoy these “sweet” treats just as much as a sugary alternative – maybe even more. Read on for 5 spooky fruit and vegetable Halloween treats that I have used as inspiration for celebrating the holiday with my healthy kid.

#1: Jack o’Lantern Fruit Plate
This may be one of the easiest treats in the bunch – simply peel, cut and arrange a selection of organic strawberries, clementines, blueberries and grapes and you have a Halloween treat that is sure to please everyone!

+ Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate
+ via Wholesome Dinner Tonight

#2: Veggie Skeleton
Looking for a fun way to get your child to eat more vegetables this autumn? Look no further than this adorable veggie skeleton. This, along with the Jack O’Lantern Fruit Plate would be perfect for your child’s class Halloween Party or your family’s spooky get together!

+ Veggie Skeleton
+ via Feeding Four Little Monkeys

#3: Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
Yum! These goodies are definitely calling my name – I bet the bananas would be even better if they were slightly frozen! These would be great for a kids party – just grab and go.

+ Pumpkin Oranges + Banana Ghosts
+ via Kid Party Food Ideas

#4: Apple Teeth Treats
While these little yummies might take a little more time to prepare – I bet they are worth all of the compliments you would get at your Halloween party.

+ Apple Teeth Treats
+ via All Recipes

#5: Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
I want to whip up a batch of these yummy sweet potato fries to go with Halloween dinner. Not only does my family love them – but the spook factor will win them over for sure.

+ Halloween Sweet Potato Fries
+ Babble

6 Healthier Halloween Sweet Treats for Green Kids

My family loves Halloween, it is our favorite holiday! You get to dress up like anything you want, decorate your home with pumpkins and ghosts, spend time sipping hot apple cider with family and friends and then, there are the goodies! Oh my! What’s not to love? Well, I am not a fan of treats packed full of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or high fructose corn syrup or the tons of non-recyclable candy wrappers! Instead, I like to choose goodies that are good for my family and the environment! Read on to learn my favorite 6 healthier sweet treats for Halloween and give a couple a try this year!

1. Yummy Earth 
If you are looking for yummy, natural and organic sweet treats that your whole family will love, look no further than Yummy Earth. Yummy Earth’s Natural Sour Jelly Bean and Organic Gummy Bears and Lollipops are fantastic! These yummies contain NO artificial colors, flavors, or high fructose corn syrup. These are a staple at our house during Halloween. We are huge fans of the pomegranate pucker lollipops! And all of Yummy Earth’s goodies are gluten-free and vegan too! Perfection!

+ Yummy Earth
2.  Bitsy’s Brainfood
If your child loves animal crackers, put these treats on your grocery shopping list! With yummy flavors such as Lemon Broccoli, Zucchini Gingerbread Carrot, Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin, and Chocolate Orange Beet, the flavor combinations are great. They contain Omega 3’s, Vitamins A, B12, B6, D3 and Folic Acid and No GMO’s. We really enjoyed them – especially the zucchini gingerbread carrot. Yum!

+ Bitsy’s Brainfood

3. Unreal Candy 
I have to admit Eben loves a sweet treat – and while we like his sweet spot to be satisfied with whole fruits – he really enjoys a candy treat here and there. Unreal Candy fit that bill! We were talking about making our Unreal Candy caramel apples last night. Made with NO artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and NO GMO’s! We keep these on hand for the trick or treaters, as ice cream toppings and even used them (but up) on our caramel apples this year! They are available at your local retailer and taste better than their toxic-chemical counterpart.

+ Unreal Candy

4. Plum Organics
You may know Plum Organics for their certified organic foods for babies and toddlers, but now the company is offering goodies geared especially for the older kiddos! Hooray for Eben! The new certified organic goodies include; soft baked graham bars filled with yogurt, yummy bite-sized granola clusters,  squeezable fruit and yogurt smoothies, fruit and veggie gummy snacks, freeze-dried yogurt dots, and mini peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yummy for Halloween and everyday!

+ Plum Organics

5. CLIF Kid’s
Every year a Halloween favorite at our home is CLIF Kid’s Full Moon Brownie organic Zbar! These are perfect for everyone in your family! Not only are the Zbar’s certified organic, they are the yummiest chocolate brownie bar sprinkled with white chocolate chips! Packed full of 12 vitamins and minerals, 8 grams of whole grains  – these are the perfect treat for that added boost of energy before your children head out to trick or treat! We pack these for our hiking and paddleboarding adventures.

+ CLIF Kid Zbar

6. Homemade Organic Treats
One of my favorite Halloween treats are those that you make with your children! This October, Eben and I have made organic vegan pumpkin carob cookies, vegan peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, and vegan peanut butter cups! I like to make our own treats because I can ensure that we are only using the freshest, organic, vegan ingredients and it’s a great excuse to spend a day with my favorite person!

How about you – what healthier Halloween sweet treats do you choose for your littles?

New: Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks!

Stonyfield Gummies 2

What kiddo doesn’t love fruit snacks? Now, you can feel happy about giving your kids this sweet treat. Stonyfield’s new organic fruit snacks are made using real fruit and vegetable juice and are free from artificial flavors, preservatives and GMOs. And they are shaped like cows too!

We excited to receive a delivery of the fruit snacks and we loved both the strawberry and mixed berry! They taste great and have a great consistency too!

Wouldn’t these treats be fun to add to your Halloween party goody bags? I think they would be a hit!

 

This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield – all opinions are my own.

Sick of PB&J? 3 Delicious Organic Lunchbox Lunch Upgrades

lunch-box-200762_1280

Sometimes making a simple sandwich is just the easiest, but if your student is sick of seeing the standard PB&J in his lunchbox (or you’re sick of making it!) it’s time for a box-lunch upgrade! Read on for three new lunchbox standards that we love in our home and think you will too.

#1 Wraps and Burritos
Wraps are a great way to get a few servings of healthy vegetables into your kid’s day. I like to make extra chicken breast at dinner the night before and combine it with cucumbers, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots—you name it!—into a hearty wrap the next day. Make sure to include a healthy fat like avocado and a protein like garbanzo beans or feta cheese so that your student gets a balanced meal. Burritos are one of my all time favorite lunch foods and I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t like them, too! Create a healthy version by combining black beans and brown rice and a sprinkling of cheese. Send some avocado slices, lettuce, or tomatoes in a separate container and the meal is complete.

#2 Homemade Soup
Hearty, homemade soups and chillis are a great winter lunch to send to school with your kid. The next time you make a big pot for the family, portion some out into jars or Pyrex containers and freeze or store the portions in the fridge. On lunch morning, simply heat up the soup and pack it in a thermos. Add a slice of seedy, whole grain bread and the meal is complete!

#3 The Re-done Lunchable
Instead of serving your kids the highly-packaged, preservative-laden lunchables that come from the grocery store, create your own using healthy ingredients. Put together whole grain crackers and cheese with fruit and nuts or hummus with carrots, celery, pita bread, and almonds for a more filling, much more nutritious alternative.

What are your favorite organic lunches to send to school with your little ones? What’s the new PB&J in your household?

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

Back-to-school time is a lot like Christmas—there’s excitement, stress, and a lot of buying. Most parents with school-aged children have spent a small fortune on school supplies and snacks at the beginning of the year only to discover a mountain of barely-used pencils and notebooks at the end of the year—not to mention a car littered with fruit snack wrappers. As parents, we lead by example, and the practices we employ today will rub off on our kids. Here are 4 simple ways to reduce waste this school year and set a green example for your kids.

#1 Avoid Buying in Bulk
Those bulk packages of pens, notebooks, snacks, and juice boxes are tempting, but the truth is that many of these products are sold cheaply in bulk because they’re unhealthy, cheaply made, or don’t follow environmentally-friendly productions standards. Instead, compile a list of everything you need based on all your kids’ school supply sheets and look for supplies that are made from recycled materials or that can be recycled or refilled later. As far as snacks, shopping locally for healthy fruits and veggies and setting aside a couple hours a week to bake a batch of granola or whole grain muffins to send the school will ensure that your kids eat healthy without creating a ton of trash.

#2 Use Resusable Lunchware
The average American family creates 4,320 pieces of unnecessary lunch waste, mostly plastic packaging. That adds up to a lot of trash in the landfills and ocean with a lot of dollars down the toilet. Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks and milks and sending lunches to school in brown bags and plastic baggies, purchase non-toxic, reusable lunch boxes and snack cups for your kids to take lunch to school in and send water and milk in stainless steel bottles. Throw in a cloth napkin and reusable cutlery and you’ll eliminate ALL of the 4,320 pieces of lunch waste your family would normally produce!

#3 Choose Minimally Packaged Products
When possible, buy notebooks and supplies that don’t come in plastic wrappers or extra boxes, which are totally unnecessary. Every piece of non-degradable plastic trash that you throw away ends up in a landfill or adding to the island of trash in the ocean.

#4 Green Your School Commute
A great, easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is by having your kids walk, bike, or ride the bus to school. Walking or biking will give kids a little exercise to boost their energy and sharpness before class and let them enjoy the outdoors at the same time. If safety is a concern where you live, walk or bike your kids to school instead of driving them, or see if another student who already walks to school has a parent who can tag along.

What are some simple ways your family has reduced waste during the school year?

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