Beyond Peanut Butter and Jelly – A Five Day Meal Plan

While peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are quick, easy, and get your child to school with food to eat for lunch, there are so many more options! Also, changing up your child’s lunch routine will also expand your child’s tastes and allow them to explore new foods that they may not have tried as well as learn healthy eating at a young age.

Are you ready to break the mold and start preparing your child for a full day of learning? Give your child the motivation with a healthy lunch that will not only be tasty but also good for them.

Along with wanting to send your kid to school with an above average lunch, you also may be forced to come up with alternatives to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as there is such a prevelance of peanut butter allergies among children. While it was less common in the past, over 3 million people have been diagnosed with peanut butter allergies today. So, not only will you be sending your child to school with a healthy lunch, you are also helping the staff and students that your child goes to school with, as they may have the allergy.

Healthy Lunch

Here is a 5 day meal plan that you an stick to so that your child has a healthy lunch every day of the school week:

Monday:

Sandwich: Turkey with avocado, lettuce, and cucumber on a whole grain roll or bread. Then pack this with a variety of fresh seasonal fruit in a zip lock bag.

Tuesday:

Sandwich: tuna fish with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers on while grain bread. Pair this with a bag of chips and an apple. The flavors will compliment each other and offer your child a variety of essential vitamins and nutrition.

Wednesday:

Sandwich: salad with cream cheese wrap on a spinach wrap. For a side, add a banana and a yogurt.

Thursday:

Sandwich: egg sandwich, made using hard boiled eggs, celery, and mayonnaise or hummus. Then add a few leaves of lettuce. From here, add an orange and some carrot sticks.

Friday:

Sandwich: on a whole grain roll, add grated Parmesan cheese, turkey, and lettuce. Pair this with chips and some watermelon bites (or any seasonal fruit).

Your child’s school lunches do not have to be the average peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As peanut butter is filled with sugar (depending on the type you use), it does not offer much in terms of nutrients to your child during the day. Studies show that kids that eat healthier often perform higher academically. While there is no specific evidence as to why this happens, it is most likely due to the fact that they are receiving the nutrients they need that not only allow them to feel full during the day but also make them feel good and therefore they can be attentive in the classroom.

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Spaghetti With Tuna, Lemon, and Bread Crumbs

The great majority of children love spaghetti.  They love to slurp it, and twirl it, and make shapes with their noodles.  They love it with meat sauce, with tomato sauce, with pesto sauce, and with alfredo sauce.  They love it with chicken, and sometimes even salmon or shrimp.  No matter how you mix them though, it can get a little boring for mom and dad. So it’s time to spice it up a little bit!  Here is a great recipe for spaghetti that both you and your kids will love!

Spaghetti With Tuna

  1. * Gather your ingredients.
    1. - Salt and Pepper
    2. - Parsely – I like some oregano too!
    3. - Olive oil – I do this part to sight.
    4. - Lemon zest and juice (about a teaspoon of zest and 2.5 teaspoons juice, you don’t want too much!)
    5. - Tuna (drain any water out first!)
    6. - Bread!
    7. - Some people add olives, but this is definitely not something necessary.
  2. * Preheat your oven to 350 Farenheit – you will be doing some cooking!
  3. * Mix your olive oil and bread in a blender or processor to create some nice, decent sized bread crumbs. Season with some salt and pepper (And add some garlic if you like that too!)
  4. * Get your water to a boil (add some salt and olive oil into it to make the noodles yummier!). Add the spaghetti in.
  5. * Put those seasoned bread crumbs on a cookie cutter, and bake for 6 – 8 minutes. I always think of trying to get the consistency of a crouton.
  6. * By the time you take your bread crumbs out, your pasta should be close to al dente. When it is ready, go ahead and drain the water (save a little bit on the side), returning your pasta to the pot.
  7. * Now, throw in the lemon zest, a hint more of olive oil, a few tablespoons of lemon juice, and the parsley. Put a tiny bit fo the pasta water into the dish to make it easier to coat your noodles.
  8. * Add your tuna and mix well.
  9. * Sprinkle with Breadcrumbs, and enjoy!

Making unique spaghetti can seem like a daunting task – until you actually do it!  As you can see above, this entire dish could likely be prepared in less than 30 minutes. It is a simple dish, and is even simple enough to have the kids help!

Being able to find something that your entire family can enjoy can be difficult.  Finding something they enjoy that is easy to make can be even more difficult sometimes!  With this dish though, you get something with a variety of flavors that is not overpowering enough to cause a problem. The spaghetti will be enough to entice most children into trying it, and once they do, they’ll be asking for it over and over again!  If your child is a picky eater, this is one of the best ways to begin introducing new tastes and ideas!

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Great Lunches to Give Your Kids for School

Great Lunches to Give Your Kids for School

Although you may have had good reasons for doing it differently based on the circumstances, the simple reality is that you can pack a cheaper and healthier lunch for your kids to eat at school than most schools provide.  And believe it or not, there are lots of great lunches that you can give your kids for school that they will love and that will also not be too time-consuming for you to pack.  Here are some of our best ideas!

 

Healthy and Balanced

The Basics of What to Pack for a School Lunch

Think carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables.  That’s it.  Those are the four basic essentials that your kid needs for a healthy and balanced school lunch and here is why: growing bodies and developing brains use a lot of energy and your kids need carbohydrates to keep their energy levels up.  Most active kids will appreciate some heavier energy-packed carbohydrates in the form of a sandwich, crackers or a granola bar.  The healthy part is balancing those carbohydrates with fruits and vegetables.

 

Keeping it Real

Tricks for Easy School Lunches

Kids are also not always reliable for bringing home the lunchbox, let alone any packing containers!  We recommend that you stay away from packing lunches in anything more than a plastic bag so that expensive storage containers don’t get lost or accidentally thrown away.  Because we know that there is a balance between healthy and practical, here are some easy items to stock in your pantry for adding to your kids’ school lunches that will help to make your job easier!

  • Rice cakes – inexpensive and they come in chocolate, caramel, apple cinnamon, sea salt, cheddar and more!
  • Pre-packaged, single serving, peanut butter crackers or other combinations
  • Box of crackers or bag of chips that you can portion out into a snack bag
  • Pre-packaged string cheese
  • Pre-packaged granola bars
  • Pre-packaged Go-gurt – it doesn’t need a spoon.

Of course, the less pre-packaged and the more you purchase in bulk, the more you will be able to make affordable school lunches for your kids.

 

Five Lunch Combos

Ideas You Can Work With

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, apple slices, carrot sticks
  • Deli meat sandwich, mandarin orange and cucumber slices
  • Crackers, pepperoni slices, cheese stick, bell pepper slices and grapes
  • “Ants on a log” (celery sticks filled with peanut butter and topped with raisins), rice cake, pear slices
  • Tortilla wrap with cheese and refried bean spread, avocado slices, peach slices

 

Some of these foods may be new tastes to your kids so feel free to add a fun snack to the meal such as a granola bar or those beloved gummies here and there as both a surprise and incentive for your kids as they explore some new healthy food choices.  These are just a few ideas, but we hope these suggestions will inspire you in creating terrific school lunches for your kids that are healthy, affordable, and enjoyable for your kids!

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Second Trimester Of Pregnant: Foods You Can Eat

Second Trimester Of Pregnant

As you begin your second trimester, the fatigue and morning sickness that plagued you throughout the past three months typically fade, leaving you more energetic. For this reason, most women find this period to be the most enjoyable because it often introduces a renewed sense of well-being.

This is also the time to be audacious in your food choices and even satisfy your cravings. However, ensure you make nutritious choices and focus your efforts on maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Bear in mind that food quality is crucial for your baby's development and growth.

In case you're wondering what to eat during this phase, check this out.

What to Expect in the Second Trimester

An increased appetite marks this stage because of the baby's development and growth. During this phase, your baby's vital organs undergo development. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet that incorporates the essential nutritional requirements is important.

Ensure your diet comprises iron, calcium, protein, trace minerals, and calcium. While you can expect some pleasant occurrences such as renewed energy levels and a growing belly, expect some uncomfortable changes as well.

Some of the uncomfortable occurrences include a backache, heartburn, skin changes, gum, and nasal problems. Nevertheless, you can find relief for some of the common complaints.

Foods to Eat

During this stage, your baby's growth rate is a great reminder of the changes the both of you are undergoing and the importance of consuming the right foods to stay healthy. Here are some foods to incorporate in your diet during this period.

Artichoke

An artichoke is particularly great if you're feeling sluggish. The vegetable offers a great source of iron-an energizing nutrient. Artichokes also contain folate, which helps prevent birth defects in addition to aiding the metabolism of protein.

Proteins are the building blocks for the enzymes and hormones that build your body. During pregnancy, you may experience constipation, which you can alleviate with some extra dietary fiber. These vegetables also provide fiber, which soothes indigestion, another common complaint.

Basil

This herb comprises the essential nutrients for your pregnancy. It is a good source of vitamin E, niacin, protein, and riboflavin. Basil also contains iron, crucial for maintaining high energy levels; calcium for strong teeth and bones; and folate, which is important for numerous processes, including fetal cell division and growth. Whenever possible, opt for fresh basil, which comprises more of these nutrients compared to the dried herbs.

Kale

Kale is great for expectant mothers owing to its nutritional value. The dark vegetables comprise high levels of fiber, calcium, and vitamins. Its fiber content offers additional roughage while aiding digestion. The fiber further prevents conditions such as constipation.

Kale is rich in calcium, which helps builds strong teeth and bones besides being a significant prenatal requirement. You can eat the vegetable in various ways from semi-boiled, cooked, to including it in salads. Furthermore, it's available in different varieties, allowing you to try out different recipes.

Grains

Grains offer essential carbohydrates-the body's main energy source. Numerous enriched and whole-grain products also comprise iron, fiber, and various minerals.

In conclusion, healthy food choices form the foundation of pregnancy nutrition. After all, smart choices promote your baby's development and growth. If you're unsure of what to include or exclude, collaborate with your health provider to create a meal plan.

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Dessert for Dinner – What Every Kid (Young and Old) Loves

Dessert for Dinner

If you want a great idea to surprise your family, give them dessert for dinner.  This is a terrific treat at the end of the school semester or marking period to acknowledge great grades and achievements.

And this idea isn’t just for kids.  No, adults deserve it too.  So here are a few creative ideas to go along with the usual platters of brownies, bowls of ice cream and boxes of cookies.

Cupcake Cones

This is a fun twist on ice cream cones that substitute the ice cream with cupcakes.  They do take a little bit of time but they are well worth the effort. These ideas come to us from our friends at instructables.com.

Ingredients

Cake type ice cream cones –these are the ones that are squat with a flat bottom rather than the pointy sugar cones

Cake mix

Frosting

Sprinkles for decorating

Empty egg carton – These work well to hold the cupcake cones but cut off the tops of the egg cartons so ink doesn’t burn in the oven

Instructions

Cut the bottoms out of empty egg cartons and place the cones into them.  After mixing your favorite cake batter, fill the cones 2/3 full.  Bake them in the egg carton at 350° for about 30 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick or skewer just like you would for regular cake mix.  Decorate with frosting and sprinkles and serve as an appetizer.

Easy Apple Tart

You can make this dessert look like fruity pizza using some puff pastry and apples.  This recipe is courtesy of Ree Drummond on Food Network.

Ingredients

  • One sheet puff pastry cut in half and then into rectangles
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Three whole apples, cored, halved and sliced with the peels on
  • Caramel sauce (store bought)
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425°. Prepare a baking sheet with nonstick spray and parchment paper.

Place the pastry rectangles on the baking sheet.

In a bowl, combine sliced apples, sugar, salt and lemon juice.  Stir to mix well and let sit.

Next, arrange the apple slices on the pastry rectangles in a straight line overlapping them as you go.  Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Take the rectangles from the pan and arrange on a plate.  Serve with caramel sauce and pecans.

Other Ideas

Our kids always loved the chocolate spin on rice crispy treats using chocolate rice krispies instead of regular.

You can also make individual molten lava cake and serve it with fresh whipped cream.

And for a beverage, how about a root beer float?  Get your favorite root beer and some vanilla bean ice cream and let the kids make their own floats.

Dinner does not just have to be on the nutritious, savory side so treat your family to dessert for dinner soon.

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Kid Friendly Restaurants

Kid Friendly Restaurants

When you think of the phrase “kid friendly” and pair it with restaurants, it really has everything to do with their menu.  Having options for younger kids and even older ones makes taking your children out to eat so much more fun.

Here are some ideas for kid friendly restaurants.  Not all of them will be in the area where you live but, hopefully, some of them will be.

Denny’s

This restaurant may be the butt of some jokes in TV commercials, but is a fabulously kid friendly restaurant.  Who wouldn’t love pancakes for dinner?

One of the things we’re really like about Denny’s is that they make an effort to give diners nutrition and allergy information right on the menu.  This is really helpful if you have a kid who’s allergic to nuts and you need to make sure that a particular dish is safe for her.

Red Robin (Yum!)

Besides having a very catchy theme song, this restaurant is a great place to take the family especially for a kid’s birthday.  They have a mascot that comes out and makes a special appearance and there are tons of balloons for your birthday girl or boy.  They are always enhancing and changing their child’s menu and even adding some healthy options like veggie burgers and side dishes of fruit and vegetables.

Is your 6 to 12 year-old a future top chef?  Every year, Red Robin sponsors a recipe contest that goes into their cookbook.  All proceeds from cookbook sales go to charity.

Chili’s

This popular chain has been adding to its kids menu steadily for years.  There are some entrees like grilled chicken, pasta and pizza.  They also have side dishes like corn, mandarin oranges and pineapple.

Mimi’s Café

If you come into the restaurant with some hyper kids and you really need to get some food into them quickly, this is the restaurant for you.  They have a free appetizer plate that includes Cheerios, oranges and crackers.  Just the thing to quiet down some antsy kids.

Their kids’ menu options include choices like soup and salad and spaghetti.  Side dishes include mashed potatoes, fruit and applesauce.  Bibs and hand wipes are given to all families with young children and there are changing tables in all of the restrooms.

Soup Plantation

This chain also goes by another name outside California which is Sweet Tomatoes.  The thing we adore about this chain is that it’s perfect for frugal families.  Adults can eat for less than $10 and about five bucks for kids three and over.  It features a pasta station, soups and a 55-foot long salad bar with plenty of fruits and vegetables.  And they don’t forget the dessert in their fabulous bakery section.

Chuck E. Cheese

This wouldn’t be a kid friendly restaurants blog post without mention of Chuck E. Cheese.  This seems to be the place to take kids for blow-out birthday parties and fun entertainment in addition to fantastic pizzas.

So get ready, pack up those kids and take them to your nearby kid friendly restaurants for family fun and a great meal.

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