Finding a nutritious and wholesome snack for our kids that doesn’t take hours to make or cost a fortune is hard to come by. We have discovered a wonderful and quick snack that is not only healthy but delicious too!
A non-GMO Snack
Tiny But Mighty popcorn is our new go-to snack for our kids. It is an heirloom variety passed from Native Americans to a pioneer family in 1850. It was almost a lost variety until the 1970s when the last remaining jar of popcorn was planted and a new business was born. Read the whole story at their website.
There are several reasons why we love this popcorn. First of all, it is non-GMO, and that takes a high priority in our family. It is “virtually hull-less” which means that once it is popped the hull or shell has mostly disintegrated. We have young children, and regular popcorn is difficult and even dangerous for them to eat because the risk of a hull getting stuck in their throats. Tiny But Mighty popcorn is so small and tender that we even feed it to our one-year old son. We have never found anything else on the market quite like it!
Popcorn is a wonderful way to add more fiber into our kids diet, and they love the way it tastes! My favorite way to prepare it is by placing 1/3 cup of kernels into a brown paper lunch sack. I fold the top over once and place it into the microwave. I have a “popcorn” button in my microwave, and it is just the right time for one bag. My kids will eat the popcorn plain like this, or sometimes I will drizzle some Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and sprinkle some Real Salt onto it. The gobble it up,and it is a guilt free snack for mom and dad too.
Our brood hate a lot today, either they’re going through a growth spurt or I just made all the right foods! Either way, it was a good food day. I will have to be sure to remember these kind of days next time they fight everything I give them.
Oatmeal, apple slices, milk
Purple popcorn, juice
Pink Pasta (AKA Italian Mac n’ Cheese), cabbage salad with homemade ranch dressing, carrots, sliced strawberries, water
Scrambled Eggs, whole wheat toast with butter, asparagus (Little Guy ate it, the girls refused it), milk
Pink Pasta A.K.A. Italian Mac n’ Cheese
I was looking for something quick and easy to whip up for lunch today that wasn’t the usual PB and J. We had some leftover tomato sauce from making pizza a couple of days ago, but it wasn’t enough to feed everyone. Eric brought home some ricotta cheese from work that needed to be used up as soon as possible, so I thought we could combine the two into a sauce. The result was a creamy pink sauce that the kids absolutely loved! The girls both said, “It’s pink mac n’ cheese!” I’ve never seen Faithy eat so fast, she even ignored the strawberries (her FAVORITE) on her plate most of lunch time because she was so excited about the pasta. YES! Here’s the recipe:
Napa cabage and carrot ribbon salad with sweet and sour dressing, peanuts, sliced apples, sliced colby-jack cheese, milk
Peanut butter on a spoon, bananas, water
Grilled ham (leftover from Saturday), steamed broccoli, baked potato with sour cream, milk
More on Purple Popcorn:
Eric (hubby) found some Amish Country Purple Popcorn when he was out shopping that we absolutely love as a snack for the kids…and ourselves! Not only does this variety of popcorn have softer hulls, and less of them, but it also has some of the benefits known to be found in purple foods- antioxidants. This particular brand is GMO free (YES!). Grace wasn’t really into popcorn before, she didn’t like the hulls of yellow popcorn. Our kids (minus Little Guy he is too young for popcorn) love to eat it plain- no butter or salt. Making popcorn is fast in the microwave- and you don’t have to stain your hands neon orange with hydrogenated oils either!. Simply put 1/3c of kernels into a small lunch sack-sized paper bag and fold over the top once. Pop the bag into the microwave and cook for 2-3min or until the popping has stopped for 10 seconds. We serve it right out of the bag, and they gobble it down! It’s fun for them to have their own bags to eat out. If they don’t eat it all in one setting, they can have fun writing their names on their bags in crayon. Seal it up tight and keep it in the bag so it doesn’t get stale. They can enjoy the next day.
This week was a challenging one in the food department. We had a case of a stomach bug that affected every member of the family in one way or another. It is always a tricky situation when you have children who have upset stomachs, because the last thing you want to clean up is a carpet covered in bright red vomit after feeding your child jello! The recommendation that has typically been given by pediatricians was known as the BRAT diet: B-bananas, R-rice, A-applesauce, T-toast. We have used this diet in the past for ourselves and our children, but many pediatricians are now saying that the BRAT diet does not provide adequate protein and calories to help the child’s body recover as quickly as it could. Here are a few guidelines we have used when dealing with upset tummies in our family.
Anytime your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, they are at risk of dehydration. We have seen this happen to each one of our children to an extreme extent and it can actually be a scary and even life threatening condition if not addressed quickly. When your child is sick, and having difficulty keeping anything down, start by offering one sip of fluid every 5 minutes. This will only introduce a small amount of liquid into the stomach and allow for your child to absorb it easily. If your child is able to keep down what they take in, a few good options to keep them hydrated are: water, diluted fruit juice (not citrus), chicken broth, Popsicles, ice chips, gelatin (not brightly colored!), pedialite, fruits high in water like watermelon or grapes. If you can keep your child hydrated they will feel much better and be able to fight off their illness more easily.
2. Bland Foods
To help your child settle their stomach, bland foods are the best choice. Nothing with lots of salt, spices or grease is best. But remember, your child needs protein and some fats in his or her diet to have energy! Yogurt is a great option for this. It contains active cultures that aid in replenishing the natural bacteria in the gut, which will help with digestion. Yogurt is full of protein and some sugar to provide your child with energy, and it is easy to swallow. Things like saltine crackers, toast, dry cereal, or pancakes are good choices too. Fruits like apples, bananas, and pears are gentle on the stomach. Oatmeal is also a great choice, our children LOVE it, and usually request it when they are sick. Stick with giving your child foods that they normally love to eat, this will also make them less stressed when you offer them food.
3. Get Back To Normal
As soon as your child’s stomach will handle it, getting back to a normal diet is best. Offering your child their normal foods will give their body a chance to build the strength it needs. Anyone who has had a stomach virus knows how exhausting it can be on your body when you can’t eat much for 24-48hrs. The sooner you can eat a normal meal, the better. Just take it slow and make sure to do it gradually. I have found that even in the midst of a very bad bout of sickness, our children fare much better when we encourage them to take even a few bites of cereal or fruit even if they are not completely well yet.
Thankfully, we are all back to our normal selves, and everyone has a big appetite again. I hope this was able to help you navigate the tricky times when your child has an upset tummy!
We’re getting ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and of course we had to make some cookies. Grace And Faithy love using sprinkles (they call them sparkles) whenever they can. We decided to make some shamrock shaped chocolate cookies with some green mint frosting sprinkles.I took the girls to our favorite cake decorating store Bakers Nook and they picked out some beautiful gold flecked sparkles to decorate with along with the green sugar and rainbow sprinkles we had at home. I used a piping bag with a star tip to frost the cookies, and the girls went to town at decorating! It is so much fun to watch a child create their own edible masterpiece, they get really into it!
This week we celebrated a very special day- our daughter Grace’s 5th birthday! I try to make a unique cake for each of my children’s birthdays as part of their celebration. Grace has been planning her cake for the last year, and settled on a Super Mario Galaxy Cake many months ago. For a long time I couldn’t decide on a design, or how to construct the cake. I knew I wanted to have characters on the cake, but piping butter cream is definitely not my forte. So, I decided to try using modeling chocolate! Here is a step-by-step walk through on how I made this (might I say) adorable cake. Step 1- Baking the cakes
Grace wanted the cake to be in a mushroom shape. I used Alton Brown’s Devils Food recipe (check out Eric’s review of that recipe) for the batter, but added some mini chocolate chips in for extra moistness. I baked one batch in a large pyrex bowl for the top of the mushroom, and the second batch of batter in a more flat-sided pyrex storage container. This gave me exactly the shapes I needed without having to do too much carving. I had enough extra batter to make 6 cupcakes too. Tip: make sure to grease and flour your baking vessel! It is the only way you can ensure that the cake will come out clean. Baking time will be increased significantly when baking in a bowl. It is deeper and takes longer to set. I didn’t keep track (sorry!) but I am guessing I baked the large one for about an hour, and the smaller one for 50 minutes. Once the cakes were baked, I allowed them to cool for about 20 minutes in the bowls, and then turned them out, wrapped them in cellophane, and popped them into the freezer to firm up.
Step 2- Modeling Chocolate
Since a Mario cake is NOTHING without Mario and Luigi, I decided to take a little risk and try out some modeling chocolate.
I found these two videos on youtube that gave me some hope that I could do this on my own!
One is “how to” and one is “how not to” by the same person. It is such a simple process- I was shocked at how easy it looked. TIP: I didn’t leave it overnight to set, I left it for about 15min, and it was perfectly set up and ready to use. I also used wax paper instead of saran wrap, and it worked perfectly.
To make modeling chocolate you melt your chips in the microwave until just melted in 30 second increments. Once completely melted, allow the chocolate to cool to room temp (but still liquid). Then corn syrup is added to the melted chocolate to cause it to sieze up. I had 12oz of white chocolate chips to work with, so I used 1/3c of corn syrup. TIP: Don’t over mix the chocolate once the corn syrup is added. Allow it to just come together into a big lump, then turn it onto some wax paper and wrap it up. Allow it to cool and firm up a bit.
Once your chocolate is firmed up, it is very easy to break off pieces and work them in your hands until pliable and soft. Color can be added at this time too. I recommend using gel paste food colors for this step, but I had good success using regular food coloring too. You can’t get as vibrant of a color with the regular colors because they will cause the chocolate to become too soft to work with, but it can work.
Working with modeling chocolate is very similar to using fimo clay or even play dough. It is pliable and can be blended and smoothed. This part was so much fun! Make sure you work on a piece of wax paper so that it doesn’t stain your table. I enjoyed sculpting the faces and bodies, and making all of the other characters in the game that my daughter loves. I love how they all turned out. TIP: if your pieces start to get too soft let them sit on the wax paper for a few minutes and harden up. Once you are completely done with your pieces, allow them to fully firm up for 10min or so and they will be very sturdy, and they also taste great. I also made a door and some stones out of the scraps of chocolate.
Step 3- Frosting the cake
I decided to use butter cream frosting for the cake, because I just don’t have enough experience with fondant, and I didn’t have the materials I needed to make it that day. Butter cream is very forgiving, and can be smoothed out pretty well with the right tools. I make a very simple butter cream, and I have never had any issues with it. I use 1lb of softened butter, and whip it in the mixer until light and fluffy. At this point I add vanilla or other flavors. Then a start adding powdered sugar 1/2c at a time until I reach the consistency I like. Make sure not to get it too stiff or it will be difficult to pipe or spread. If it does get too stiff you can add a teaspoon of milk or cream to loosen it up. I added red gel food coloring to get the dark red color I need for this cake, and kept some to keep white, and some to make the green for grass. I used a total of 2lb of butter!!
When frosting a cake, it is important to crumb coat your cake first. Crumb coating means putting a thin layer of frosting on the cake surface to catch all of the crumbs so they don’t show up on the final layer of cake. I crumb coated both of my pieces of cake and put them back into the fridge for 30 minutes. Then I brought them out and frosted them again. I put the top of the mushroom onto a small circle of cardboard to support its own weight when stacked, and then stacked the cakes together. At this point the cake is really coming together!
Step 4- Assembly
I assembled the cake on a round pizza stone covered with foil. I then put the different characters on the circle where I wanted them to go. I wanted some of the stars to appear like they were flying, so I strung them onto some craft wire and shaped the wire into a rainbow shape. Once everything was placed I used a grass tip and some green butter cream to make the grass all over the base. Using a grass tip is also a great way to cover up mistakes! The bottom edge of the mushroom was a little jagged, but the grass all around it made all of the imperfections disappear! I also piped some white frosting to make the spots on the mushroom cap. Now the cake is done, and of course, Grace loved it. It makes me feel really proud to make something that brings her so much joy, and tastes SO delicious!
Today we ate like no one else! Here’s what the kids ate:
Faithy and Grace- Sweet Wheat by Three Sisters, milk, Cherry Pomegranate Juice
Little Mister- Blueberry yogurt with puffed millet mixed in (He LOVED this!)
Blueberry muffins, bananas and orange juice (we went to a home school co-op meeting today and they had refreshments!)
Faithy and Grace: Fresh pineapple chunks,whole milk strawberry yogurt, peanut butter on a spoon, homemade gelatin made with Cherry Pomegranate Juice
Little Guy missed lunch today because he was napping!
Grace and Faithy- Blue Corn Tortilla Chips by Garden of Eatin’
Again today, Autumn refused to even TRY dinner today. I haven’t met a kid that didn’t like mashed potatoes until her. We made sure she had plenty of
How To Make Homemade Juicy Gel-O
Grace has always loved Jello. It is so much fun to eat! When she was about 2 years old she called it “googles”…but I didn’t feel right about giving her that sugar laden snack that offered no nutritional value at all. We came up with a great alternative that gets the same exciting result, and packs a great nutritional punch! It’s also JUST as easy to make as the box you buy off the shelf, and no more expensive, so why wouldn’t you!?
Phew- I kind of fell off the wagon last week, but I’m back on!
Today the kids ate:
Grace and Faithy- Three Sisters Sweet Wheat cereal, milk
Little Guy- Banana spears and puffed brown rice
Grace and Faithy- Ground turkey soup (see recipe below), sliced strawberries, sliced baby gouda cheese
Little Guy- Quinoa and ground turkey, blueberry yogurt
Grace and Faithy- Brown rice and quinoa mix, sauteed boneless chicken thigh cut into bite sized pieces, green beans (Faithy ate 1 bite of rice, that was all.)
Little Guy- Diced pears, diced baby gouda cheese
Hiding Ground Turkey in a Delicious Soup
Our precious little Faithy never (OK, maybe once or twice) chooses to eat any sort of meat. Not even …gasp…hot dogs! Even so, we have found a way to sneak it into her without her noticing too much. This recipe came about on accident. It was late, there was no dinner planned, and the kids were starving. All I could find in the fridge was 2 leftover turkey meatballs from the night before. Neither of the girls ate them, but I still was determined to get them to try again. I decided to shred the turkey meatballs up into tiny bits so small that they wouldn’t notice them in a soup full of fun shaped pasta and yummy turkey stock. It worked! Faithy gobbled up her bowl and asked for more, I was so excited! Here’s the recipe:
This weekend was a fun one! We decided to take a break from the deep freeze here in Michigan and visit our local Conservatory. A Conservatory is a very large greenhouse with several different biomes on display. How does this relate to food you say? Let me tell you!
We feel it is very important to teach our children where food comes from and how it grows. We plant our own garden every year and the children are involved in every part from choosing the seeds, sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting. The know that green beans are grown on a plant, not made by grocery stores. We pick strawberries, peaches, apples, and cherries every year in season. Our conservatory has several excellent examples of food we eat that we can not grow here in Michigan. Here are a few examples:
There were great opportunities for learning, and we involved all of our senses! We felt the smooth cacao pods, and the conservatory had some samples of what is made with cacao (cocoa powder, cocoa butter, cocoa nibs). We smelled the grapefruits, felt the pokey spines on the lime tree, saw the enormous agave plants. The kids really loved this little mini-vacation, and we did too. Another neat thing that came out of this was that Gracie was able to see bamboo growing. She has been learning about Panda bears during school and was so excited to see that there was a large black bamboo plant growing at the conservatory. She talked about grapefruits and bamboo all afternoon!
Faithy and Grace- Scrambled eggs, tortillas, milk, clementines
Little Man- Grated apples, oatmeal, bottle
Faithy and Grace- Kale pesto on whole wheat bowties. They both love this meal! More about this below.
Little Man- banana spears, whole o’s, whole milk yogurt with probiotics
Faithy and Grace- Yellow and Green Split Pea Soup with Ham (made from the ham bone from last week), salad, strawberries, milk
Little Man- 2 tamales (he loves these things!) shredded jack cheese, diced strawberries
Getting Your Kids To Eat Kale–It’s Easy!
I’ve always enjoyed a good pesto. It’s colorful and full of flavor. Unfortunately my kids aren’t the biggest fan of the traditional basil pesto. We came across a recipe for pesto made with kale and decided to give it a try, and it was a huge hit! The recipe can be found here on Weelicious.com. This is a very inexpensive meal that packs a great nutritional punch.
Some of the health benefits of Kale:
High in Iron, Vitamin K, A, and C
High in calcium
Filled with antioxidants
Contains Omega-3 fatty acids
—You really can’t go wrong here!
In our house, we call this meal “Grinchy Pasta” because my kids LOVE the Grinch. The bright green color of the pasta is fun and exciting for them. I think one of the main reasons they love this pesto more than the traditional basil pesto is it’s mild flavor. It doesn’t have that stringent punch that basil has. They gobble this stuff down, and it puts a smile on my face!