Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Avocados

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Avocados

Trying to make kid-friendly meals is one of the toughest challenges I face as a mother. Well, that’s not entirely true; sleep deprivation definitely takes the cake in regards to parenting challenges. However, making three meals a day and preparing snacks takes a lot of time! Prior to having a child, I would often just eat a small salad or even a bowl of popcorn for dinner. I ate pretty healthy (popcorn is healthy, right?), but I never put much thought into meal preparation.

My toddler, who once ate anything I put in front of him, has become quite a picky eater. My husband has always been a picky eater, but at least he’s more open to trying new things recently. So these days I spend a lot of time thinking about food and trying to get creative.

One thing I can typically get everyone to eat is beans and rice. I have a great black bean recipe if you want to try it, but my palate really prefers to switch things up. Today I tried out a new recipe and it was a hit with the whole family. To make this a toddler-friendly meal, simply cut up the avocado. I hope you love it!

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Vegan, Creamy and Delicious! Lemon Cashew Salad Dressing

Vegan, Creamy and Delicious! Lemon Cashew Salad Dressing

Enjoying a plant-based diet does not mean you have to give up creamy salad dressings. This nut-based, vegan salad dressing is bursting with flavor. The cashew-based dressing is hearty and loaded with nutrition, so a large portion is sure to fill you up!

Salad Ingredients

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 cups butter lettuce, chopped
1 cup purple cabbage, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 avocados, diced
2 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges

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Vegan Black Bean Recipe

Vegan Black Bean Recipe

This black bean recipe is one of my favorites. We typically eat black beans between three and four times each week. We eat something as simple as black beans and quinoa, or we pair the beans with other ingredients to make tacos, breakfast burritos and even veggie burgers. You’re going to love these beans!

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Yoga Chow – A Trail Mix Made with Superfoods

Yoga Chow – A Trail Mix Made with Superfoods

Today we decided to make a trail mix from some of our favorite foods. We went to the store and looked for our favorite superfoods that we could add to a trail mix that fits into our on-the-go lifestyle. Admittedly, my two-year-old didn’t pick out the cacao nibs, but he was thrilled about the pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and goji berries.

I measured out everything we wanted in our mix, which I named Yoga Chow, and he poured everything into the bowl to mix it together. This activity was great to teach him about eating healthy, measuring ingredients and preparing our own food.

Here is the recipe we came up with:

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Vegan Acai Superfood Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie bowls are filling, packed with nutrition and most importantly, they’re delicious! My husband, son and I all have very different palates, but one thing we can all agree on is that smoothie bowls are always a welcome breakfast meal.

Making smoothie bowls is easy. Let’s be honest, how can one go wrong with lots of fruits and mouth-watering toppings? This recipe is one of my favorites. It’s a great way to get your picky kids and significant others to eat some greens. If you are missing a topping ingredient, just switch it up with something you have in your kitchen. Some suggestions are blueberries, strawberries or hemp seeds. Really, the options are limitless. Enjoy!

 

 

Vegan Acai Superfood Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 Sambazon frozen acai packet (100 grams)
  • ½ chopped mango (frozen or fresh)
  • Optional: 2 dates to sweeten

Toppings

  • 2 TBSP goji berries
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 TBSP cacao nibs
  • 2 TBSP granola

Instructions

1. Place the spinach and bananas into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

2. Add the frozen acai packet, mango and dates to the blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour smoothie into a bowl and garnish with toppings. Serve immediately.

Yield: 1 large smoothie bowl

Product Reviews: So Delicious Dairy Free Salted Caramel Cluster

So Delicious Dairy Free Salted Caramel Cluster

So Delicious Dairy Free Salted Caramel Cluster

So Delicious Dairy Free recently sent me a very welcomed package of its cashew ice cream. These little pints of heaven don’t last long in my house. The Chocolate Cookies & Cream flavor was new and didn’t disappoint. It was creamy and packed a flavorful punch. The Chocolate and Vanilla flavors were also delightful.

In my opinion, the best product So Delicious makes is Salted Caramel Cluster cashew ice cream, so I want to dedicate this review to the perfection this flavor provides. I tried it last year for the first time and was hooked. Every time I wanted a treat, this sweet and salty flavor combination came to mind. Then one day it disappeared. The good news is, it’s back!

At first, I scooped out just enough to satiate my sweet tooth, but I couldn’t stop. I inhaled a heaping spoonful because I couldn’t contain my excitement. After that I slowed down and savored each bite as the perfect ratio of caramel, chocolate and cashews blended into a creamy perfection that brought every taste bud to life.

Each ½-cup serving is 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and has 18 grams of sugar, but it’s worth it. This isn’t something I can eat daily, but it’s my go-to snack when I want to indulge. For me, it’s worth every single calorie.  

Monkey Food - A Three-Ingredient Snack

Finding healthy snacks for toddlers is easy. Discovering healthy snacks that your toddler will actually eat and are easy to make is a different story.

One of our family’s favorite snacks is something we have named Monkey Food—simply because it’s main ingredient is bananas. I’ve found that silly names for healthy foods increase the likelihood of my toddler consuming them. This plant-based snack is made with three raw ingredients: bananas, peanut butter and hemp seeds.

Gather your ingredients and whip up these healthy, protein-packed bites in three steps: slice it, spread it and sprinkle it.

Ingredients

2 bananas
¼ cup peanut butter
2 TBSP hemp seeds

Directions

1.       Slice the bananas so they are about 1/4 -inch thick.

2.       Spread peanut butter on top of each banana slice.

3.       Sprinkle each peanut butter-covered banana slice with raw hemp seeds.

4.       Enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings

Books We Love: Counting Kisses

Title: Counting Kisses

Author: Karen Katz

Illustrator: Karen Katz

Reading level: 1 - 5 years

Publisher: Little Simon

Overview:
This sweet book is a favorite bedtime read in our house. The book counts backwards from 10 to one with kisses. The book starts with ten kisses on the toes and the final kiss is on the baby’s sleepy, dreamy head.

Things to Love:

  • The best part of the book is the interaction that ensues from kissing your child as you count with book. My child squeals with laughter each time we read this book. It warms my heart.
  • By reading this book, your child learns the names of different body parts and also how to count backwards from 10 to one.
  • The book is a quick read and it’s interactive, so it’s perfect for a toddler’s short attention span.  

Creamy, Yummy Hummus

Hummus is my favorite go-to snack that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes. Not only is it good for you, but it’s something my toddler loves to eat. Like many toddlers, he is obsessed with dipping his food in condiments. Basically, he will eat most foods if he can dip them in something, so hummus has proved to be a great side dish to help my kiddo load up on carrots, celery and other veggies. It’s also great on chips, crackers, panini bread or as a spread on a sandwich. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 can (15 oz.) of chickpeas/ garbanzo beans
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP tahini
1 tsp paprika
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP water (use the water from the canned chickpeas)
Salt to taste
 

Directions

1. Drain the chickpeas in a strainer. Rinse with cold water.

2. Add all ingredients to food processor. Process between 45 to 60 seconds, or until your hummus reaches desired consistency. Add more water if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time.

3. Place in bowl and serve with whatever your heart desires.

Servings: 3-4

Walnut and Cranberry Cheese Ball - Vegan and Gluten Free

This is one of my favorite holiday appetizer recipes. I have made this cheese ball several times and served it to guests without telling them that it was a plant-based dish and it has won over even the pickiest eaters. The sweet cranberries paired with salty flavor of the cheese will leave you craving more with every savory bite.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 - 8 oz. bag of vegan mozzarella style shreds
1 - 8 oz. container of vegan cream cheese alternative
3/4 cup parsley
1 tsp sherry
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped walnuts

 
Directions
In a bowl combine the shredded cheese with the cream cheese.
Mix in parsley, cooking sherry, dried cranberries, scallions, salt and one-half of walnuts.
Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for one hour to set.
Roll the cheese ball in the remaining 1/2-cup of walnuts to create a nutty coating.
Serve with crackers or vegetables.

Serves 4-8 as an appetizer

Crafts for Kids: Handprint Elf Ornament

It seems as if every time I blink, my child is reaching a new milestone. Create a fun holiday tradition with handprint ornaments that you can keep as a keepsake for years to come. Every year when you bring out the ornaments to hang on the tree, you can remember how small you children once were and how quickly they are growing into independent, beautiful and unique individuals.

You will likely have most of these ingredients in your home, so this is an easy project that won't cost a lot of money.

Here is what you will need:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Circle cookie cutter
  • Straw or toothpick
  • Cookie sheet
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Ribbon or ornament hooks

How to Make the Holiday Ornaments:

  1. Mix the salt, flour and water in a bowl. If the mixture is sticky, add a teaspoon of flour at until the mixture is soft, but not sticking to your hands. If the dough starts to crack, it is too try and you will need to start over.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250°F
  3. Roll out the dough on parchment paper. The dough should be about ¼-inch thick.
  4. Use the circle cookie cutter to create the circular shape. An alternative is to use a small bowl or a large glass to create the circle-shaped dough.
  5. Take your child's hand and firmly press it into the dough to create the handprint.
  6. Use a toothpick or straw to create the hole at the top of the ornament.
  7. Carefully pick up the parchment paper and place it on a cookie sheet.
  8. Bake the ornament for two hours.
  9. Remove the ornament and allow it to cool. Place the ornament in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
  10. Paint the palm, pinky finger and thumb a skin-tone color. This area becomes the face and ears of the elf.
  11. Paint the middle three fingers -- the index finger, the middle finger and the ring finger -- a green color.
  12. Allow the skin-tone color and the green color to dry.
  13. Paint they eyes, nose and mouth on the elf's face.
  14. Optional: Paint red circles on the top of three middle fingers, which is the elf's hat.
  15. Allow the ornaments to dry. Use ribbon or ornament hooks to hang on the tree.

Superfood Hemp and Chia Seed Pudding

For me, one of the most challenging parts of raising a toddler is coming up with three different meals per day, plus snacks. Prior to having a child, I was not too adventurous in the kitchen and the majority of my meals were extremely simple or they came from a restaurant. A typical day would entail some fruit for breakfast, some Chinese food for lunch, nuts for a snack, and a bowl of popcorn for dinner.  

After having a child, my husband and I have had to make major adjustments to our diet. It's important to me that my son tries a variety of different foods so he doesn't turn out to picky eater. Chia seed pudding has an interesting texture and it really packs a nutrition punch. I made this for breakfast, but we ended up eating it as a snack over the next two days because it was so amazing.

I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients
2 cups fresh hemp milk
2 bananas
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of sea salt
3/4 cup chia seeds
Plant-based sweetener (optional)

Directions

Blend the hemp milk, bananas, cacao powder, vanilla, and sea salt in a blender until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Mix in chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

This chia seed pudding has a very subtle sweet taste. If you are adding additional sweetener, sweeten to taste.

Four Ways to Teach Your Children Mindfulness

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.
If you are attentive, you will see it.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness is paying attention to what you are doing in the present moment without judgment. Children shouldn’t have to worry about the past or future. They should enjoy the activities that make being a child so magical. Teaching children about mindfulness helps them enjoy the wonders of the world and can also be beneficial when concentrating and staying focused in school.

Here are four activities to teach children about being mindful.

1. Mindful Eating
Turn off electronics at meals and enjoy mealtimes as a family. Teach children to slow down and chew their food. Enjoy the flavors, textures, feelings and sounds of food. If it helps, get a small timer and teach children to chew their food for a full 30 seconds.

2. Coloring Books
Find coloring books with a lot of details. Ask your children to focus on the details. Activities like this can prevent the mind from wandering as children are focused on the task at hand.

3. Take a Walk
Walk to school, the library, the store or just take a stroll around your neighborhood. Keep your children focused on the present moment by asking questions and talking about all the things you see: birds, grass, houses, trees, water, people or whatever else is around.

4. Play Music
Children love to dance. Put on some uplifting music and dance around the living room. Ask your children to focus on the rhythm of the music and each movement of their arms, legs and body.

Tips to Create Meaningful Relationships with Kids

Kids grow up fast, so enjoy the years  you have with them to create loving experiences and bonds that will last a lifetime. Here are five easy tips to improve relationships with your children and facilitate meaningful conversation.

1. Turn Off the Television
Whenever your child wants to spend time with you, turn off the television. The fond memories are much more rewarding than catching up on the latest episode of any television show.

2. Game Night
Plan a game night once a week. There are few things as precious as interacting with your kids. Laughing and friendly competition make really fun family nights.

3. Dinner
Even if dinners together every night are not possible, do it as often as you can. The next step is to get your kids involved. Teach them how to cook. It might take longer to get the job done, but the real treasure is the time you get to spend with your children.

4. Ask Open Ended Questions
Get to know your children by asking them questions. One suggestions is to ask your child, "What was the best and worst part of your day?" This helps give you insights into what is going on in their world. You can celebrate their successes and help them work through any challenges.

5. Gratitude Journal
Teach your children the importance of being grateful by staring a gratitude journal together. Every night, help your child write down three things he or she is grateful for (i.e. a visit from grandma, spaghetti for dinner, kisses from mom, etc.) Teach your children to view the glass as half full.

Best Guacamole Recipe

One of my favorite snacks in the entire world is guacamole. It’s healthy, easy to make and it’s pretty versatile. I use it as a veggie dip, on salads and of course, with chips. After many attempts at finding the perfect ratio of ingredients, I finally nailed it. I hope you enjoy it.

Guacamole

Ingredients

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced tomato
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Place avocados and lime juice in a large bowl and mash with a fork or a potato masher. Add in the remaining ingredients and gently stir until the guacamole is well blended.

Servings: 3-4

Minestrone Soup Recipe

Not too long ago, we had a very chilly day in Florida. It was reminiscent of my childhood years growing up in the Midwest. To warm up, I headed to the kitchen and took an inventory of what ingredients I had available and whipped up a savory minestrone soup that was a hit among my husband and toddler.

This recipe is dairy-free, vegan-friendly, kid-friendly, gluten-free and will warm your soul.

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

8 cups vegetable broth
2 large tomatoes diced
1 can (15-oz.) of cannellini/ navy beans - drained
1 can (15-oz.) of tomato sauce
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
2 tbsp dried or fresh parsley
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 tbsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-1/2 cups uncooked pasta (use gluten-free pasta if desired)
1/2 cup chopped spinach

Add all ingredients to the crock pot, except for the pasta and the spinach. Cover the crock pot and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Thirty minutes before the minestrone soup is done cooking, add pasta and spinach. Cover the crock pot and cook an additional 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley, if desired.

Servings: 6-8

Crafts for Kids: Homemade Holiday Ornaments

Create a holiday tradition with your children. Create one-of-a-kind holiday ornaments that you can cherish for years to come. Ready? Okay!

Here is what you will need:

  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • Parchment paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Straw or toothpick
  • Cookie sheets
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Glitter/ gemstones/ decals
  • Ribbon or ornament hooks

How to Make the Holiday Ornaments:

  1. Mix the salt, flour and water in a bowl. If the mixture is sticky, add a teaspoon of flour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250°F
  3. Roll out the dough on parchment paper. The dough should be about ¼-inch thick.
  4. Create the ornament shapes with the cookie cutters.
  5. Use a toothpick or straw to create the hole at the top of the ornament.
  6. Carefully place all ornaments on the cookie sheet.
  7. Bake the ornaments for two hours.
  8. Remove the ornaments and allow them to cool. Place the ornaments in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process.
  9. Allow your children’s creativity to run wild. Paint the ornaments with the acrylic paint. Sprinkle with glitter while the paint is still wet for an extra dazzling ornament. Glue gemstones, decals or other decorations on ornaments.
  10. Allow the ornaments to dry. Use ribbon or ornament hooks to hang on the tree.

Books We Love: The Pout-Pout Fish

Title: The Pout-Pout Fish

Author: Deborah Diesen

Illustrator: Dan Hanna

Reading level: 3 – 6 years

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Overview:
Mr. Fish has a pout-pout face and despite the coaxing of his friends to cheer up, he insists on spreading the dreary-wearies all over the place. He learns that being glum is not his destiny when he meets a very special fish who changes his outlook on life.

Things to Love:

  • The rhymes, repetitious verses, alliteration and fun noises make this an enjoyable read for small children.
  • This is also a good vocabulary-building book.
  • The Pout-Pout Fish can be used as a tool to teach children about taking responsibility for their emotions.
  • Dan Hanna’s illustrations are bright, cheerful and bring the creative characters to life.

Books We Love: The Three Questions – based on a story by Leo Tolstoy

Title:  The Three Questions – based on a story by Leo Tolstoy

Author: Jon J. Muth

Illustrator: Jon J. Muth

Reading level: 6+

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

Overview:

Muth brings the timeless Leo Tolstoy story to children through a beautiful picture book that teaches mindfulness. The story’s protagonist, Nikolai, wants to be the best person he can be. He asks three questions: What is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do?

To answer his questions, Nikolai seeks the wisdom of the wise turtle, Leo. Through the events that unfold, Nikolai learns about being mindful of others in the present moment.

Things to Love:

  • Teaching mindfulness to children at an early age will benefit them throughout their lifetime. The Three Questions provides teachers and parents with a beautiful story that shows children, rather than telling them, about being kind, present and mindful.
  • The watercolor pictures in The Three Questions beautifully complement the words of the story to enrich the powerful message.
  • This touching picture book is written for older children, but younger children, and even adults, will take away the moral lessons of the book.