Archive for October, 2011

October 25, 2011

Apple & Banana Fruit Dip

The first time I had this dip was when my friend Jen brought me dinner after I had my second baby.  I almost immediately asked her for the recipe; I really like it for the colder months when you eat more bananas and apples.  I just recently made it to bring to my daughter’s first grade class to celebrate her birthday.  Her teacher requests that parents bring in healthier birthday treats, and this is what I came up with.  This picture shows Lyla sampling the dip before I packed it up to take to school.  I made a double recipe so I could take some to a work party that evening.

Jen’s Fruit Dip

1 (8oz) fruit yogurt (you choose the flavor)
2 T sugar
1 T lemon juice
½ cube cream cheese
2 C Cool Whip

Mix the first four ingredients until well blended and then fold in the Cool Whip.

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October 19, 2011

Halloween Crafts & Music

Below is a slideshow of some ideas for crafts to do during Halloween; they may also spark some of your own ideas for family fun.

Here is our Halloween playlist we listen to as we do the crafts!

  • Thriller – Michael Jackson
  • Ghostbusters – Jr. Ray Parker
  • Addams Grove – MC Hammer
  • Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
  • Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett
  • The Munsters – Jack Marshall
  • Witch Doctor – The Pop Royal
  • Harry Potter Prologue – Harry Potter Soundtrack
  • Haunted House – Jumpin’ Gene Simmons
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost – Original Cartoon Cast

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October 16, 2011

Monster Mouth

Genevieve made this yummy, edible, and healthy Halloween craft in her first grade class.  She wanted to make it again the following week and requested I put it in my blog, so here it is:

1) Put a bit of yogurt on a plate and use the bottom of a spoon to swirl it down flat.

2) Cut an apple and use two slices to shape a mouth.  She likes green because then it really looks like a monster.

3) Place white yogurt covered raisins to look like the monster’s teeth.

You can give it one or two layers of teeth.  I think Genevieve just likes to get as many yogurt raisins as she can. Another variation it to use peanut butter, with mini marshmallows as the teeth.  No matter how the outcome looks, kids really love it.  And it makes a pretty perfect after school snack.

October 12, 2011

Get Your ‘Pumpkin’ to a Harvest Festival

I mean really, is there any better time of the year?  I absolutely love fall and going to farms and pumpkin patches.  I know that different things are available depending on where you live, so we all can’t experience the same type of fall fun.  For example, this is the first year in my life that we have actually cut our pumpkins off the vine! Also, this is the first year that I have had freshly baked pumpkin donuts at not one, but two farms.  Here is a slideshow of some of our family’s fall adventures:

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October 8, 2011

Healthy Homemade Kettle Corn

Kettle corn is one of my favorite snacks!  You can actually make kettle corn at home; you don’t have to wait for the fair.  I am going to show you a healthy version, but if you are looking for a treat rather than a healthy snack, simple add more oil and sugar.

Popcorn is an inexpensive and healthy snack (as long as it isn’t slathered in sugar or butter), so it is worth adopting as a snack for the family.  You will want to stay away from microwave popcorn and  most of the prepared stuff in the chip aisle (if you can pronounce all the ingredients it is probably an okay purchase).  Your best choice is air popped, and stove popped(the method I am about to explain) comes in second. Popcorn is considered a whole grain.  One cup of air popped popcorn contains only 20 calories, a whopping 7 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein!

I like to use different types of healthy oils and not stick to olive oil all the time.  Coconut oil has a yummy taste when making popcorn and can withstand the heat used to cook the kernels.  All oils have a smoke point–a temperature which when exceeded will diminish the oil’s nutritional qualities and actually introduce harmful free radicals to the body.  Another reason to use coconut oil is its wonderful health benefits.  Studies have shown it to increase metabolism, provide anti-fungal and anti-bacterial protection both internally and externally, help mental clarity, balance blood sugar, and much more.  Considering its yummy taste, its ability to be heated at high temperatures, and its health benefits, it is a good choice for popping popcorn on the stove.

The directions are under the picture on the slideshow, but sometimes they can be hard to read, so here they are as well:

(1) Put 1 T Coconut oil in a saute pan with a lid.

(2) Heat the pan to medium high and place two popcorn kernels in the pan.

(3) While the pan is heating get out a big bowl and measure ½ cup of kernels (start with 1/4 cup if you have a smaller pan) and 2 packets of Truvia (a natural sweetener) or 2 T of sugar.

(4) When the kernels pop, you know the pan is at the right temperature to pop the popcorn.

(5) Dump in the popcorn kernels and sprinkle the Truvia or sugar on top of them.

(6) Cover with a lid and shake the pan back and forth to move the kernels around a bit.

(7) Keep shaking the pan and when the popping slows down, and the majority of the kernels seem to be popped, dump the popcorn into a big bowl.

(8) Sprinkle the popcorn with salt.

(9) Enjoy!

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October 4, 2011

Pistachios – How to Open Them

If you are a pistachio lover like me, you are well aware that you lose around 15% of your precious and expensive pistachios because some of the shells are too tightly closed to pry open with your fingers.  I have broken many nails trying to get at that magnificent meaty nut, but I eventually give up and throw the ‘unopenables’ away.  This was my sad reality until I learned that you can use another pistachio shell to help pry them open.   It takes a little practice, but you basically hold the bottom of the shell you are trying to open, and use the bottom lip of another pistachio to push up on the top lip of the one you are trying to open. It works pretty well, but I think you need a nut cracker for the shells that have a small opening on the side rather than the front; this trick will not help with shells as stubborn as those. That said, I am still very excited about this trick and think it is worth knowing, if only to salvage a few more pistachios out of the batch.

October 1, 2011

Yummy Salsa Dip & Eating Canned Tomatoes

We all know that dips are typically something we should just have a little of because they are usually high in calories.  Well not this dip.  I like salsa, but it is so much yummier if you add just a bit of low-fat sour cream and mix.  Just add it to taste.  I find 1 part sour cream to 4 or 5 parts salsa to be a pretty good ratio.  You can also try adding plain yogurt or Greek yogurt if you prefer.  I find that putting a little bit of sour cream in salsa makes the kids (and myself for that matter) much more likely to eat it, and we want to encourage eating salsa.  If you read the back of even a processed bottle of salsa, you will find that you can actually pronounce all the ingredients.  Salsa is a whole-food with lots of cooked/processed tomatoes.  Now you may be wondering why I would be suggesting eating the tomatoes cooked rather than raw.  Cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than eating them raw.  Tomatoes are the only exception I know to the ‘eating raw fruits and vegetables’ rule and that is due to a very powerful antioxidant called lycopene.

Lycopene is what gives red and orange fruits and vegetables their color (tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, etc.) It is an antioxidant that protects against free radicals (counteracts cellular damage),  thereby helping protect against cancer, heart disease, macular degeneration and other diseases.  When you cook a tomato, its level of lycopene has been shown to increase up to 250%!  So eat spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, etc., and for goodness sakes eat some yummy salsa dip.

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