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Sponsored: 5 Healthy Eating Habit Tips for Kids

farmers market

The tiny dancer at the farmer’s market – strawberry face says it all – she samples everything.

We’re already half-way through summer and before we know it, the kids will be back in school. Sometimes it’s hard to get your kids to eat healthy so if we can start the healthy habits now, they’ll be second nature once the kids are packing lunch. Here are quick five tips to get your kids to eat healthy…

1. Farmer’s Market
Take the little ones to the farmer’s market with you so they can see all the gorgeous fresh produce. Most vendors offer samples — let the kids try all the yummy fruit. I take my little one every week and she wants samples of everything.

2. Cook with the Kids
Let the kids see the process of cooking. Even better, let them help out in small ways. If they feel invested in what you’re making they’re more likely to eat it.

3. Lead by Example
You can’t expect your kids to eat healthy if you’re stuffing fast food and soda in your face. Most kids, especially when they’re really young, imitate their parents. So, if you eat healthy, chances are your kids will too.

4. Cut Out Processed Foods
Try to cut out processed foods as much as you can. They’re bad for you. Period.

5. Dessert = Fruit
I have a giant sweet tooth and if I could, I’d eat cupcakes, cookies and ice cream every day. But those are treats and they should be for special occasions. Instead, for daily desserts, opt for nature’s sweets – fruit!

Hope these simple tips help you get your little ones on track to eating healthy. Eating well will make your kids feel great, and will help them fight off all those germs they’ll encounter at school.

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L’il Critters™ are the #1 child gummy vitamin. We are the better tasting gummy vitamin that is preferred by Kids and trusted by Moms. “We Make Nutrition Taste Good.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Church & Dwight via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Church & Dwight.

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Mama’s Kitchen: Raw Banana, Berry & Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

raw banana ice cream with berries

Last year I posted a recipe for raw one-ingredient banana ice cream with chocolate chips. Since berry season is here I decided to throw some berries in the mix and the result is one tasty dairy-free frozen desert. This raw banana, berry and chocolate chip ice cream is easy and delicious. You won’t be missing the heavy creaminess of ice cream – especially in the hot summer months. You get the refreshment without the heaviness – you won’t miss ice cream at all.

Ingredients:
6 over-ripe bananas
Frozen berries

Steps:
1. Peel bananas and cut into chunks. Lay banana pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for a minimum of two hours.

2. Process the bananas in a food processor until smooth – this process will take a few minutes. Every so often when the bananas rose above the blades or shifted to one side I would push the bananas down with a spatula and then continue pureeing. I repeated that a few times.

3. Once the bananas are a smooth, creamy consistency add in almost half a bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and berries. Blend in the food processor until combined.

4. Put the banana mixture in a container and re-freeze for a minimum of two hours.

5. Scoop and serve.

Buon Appetito!

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New Hello Kitty x Vans for Infants, Toddlers and Kids

New Hello Kitty x Vans for Toddlers and Kids

Hello Kitty and Vans have released a new collection of sneakers for infants, toddlers and kids. The sneakers feature Hello Kitty printed all over – you can never have too much Hello Kitty, right? There are four styles available for toddlers, five for kids and one for infants. There’s even tote bags for mama that could double as diaper bags and no one would even know it. You can find the new Hello Kitty x Vans collection on the Sanrio online shop.

New Hello Kitty x Vans Tote Bag

New Hello Kitty x Vans for Infants

New Hello Kitty x Vans for Toddlers and Kids

New Hello Kitty x Vans for Toddlers and Kids

New Hello Kitty x Vans for Toddlers and Kids

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Happy Mother’s Day!

I’m wishing s all the Lil’ Miss-reading Mamas a Happy Mothers’ Day! As a mama myself I know how important it is to feel like all of your hard work and sacrifices are appreciated. I came across this video from a fellow mama on Instagram and I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me – albeit a tiny part – that doesn’t relate to this video. Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day and hoping you can have five minutes of peace on your special day :)

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Book Review: Prudent Advice and My Prudent Advice

prudent advice books

As you get older you learn so much about yourself and life in general and we all have little pearls of widsom that we want to pass down to our little ones.  If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, then Jaime Morrison Curtis has you covered with her Prudent Advice: Lessons For My Baby Daugher (A Life List for Every Woman).  In this little gem of a book she lists 500 lessons for little women – everything from advice on hem lines, places to see and things to do in a lifetime.  My very favorite advice is #171 “There Is No ‘Man’s Work’”.  Prudent Advice is a very quick read and a lovely keepsake.  These lessons are just important for you as they are your your daughters.

prudent advice books

If you want something a little more personal, then try out Morrison Curtis’ My Prudent Advice: Lessons For My Daughter.  This is less of a book and more of a journal.  My Prudent Advice basically provides you with an outline and you fill in the pages with your own advice to your daughter.  I can’t wait to start filling in the pages with my own personal advice for my tiny dancer.

These books would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for your mom friends and sisters. We can forget the importance of passing on our knowledge and experiences to our little ladies.  It’s priceless.

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Mama’s Kitchen: Fusilli with Peas, Dill and Lemon

fusilli with peas

Last week I received my new issue of Fine Cooking and my menu planning for this week was done within minutes. Just within the first four pages I found four recipes that I had to try out this week. Last night I tried the Fusilli with Peas and Feta recipe. I didn’t add the feta because I’m laying off cheese as much as I can but the dish was refreshing and delicious. It actually reminded me of a lighter version of a dish I grew up eating Pasta con Piselli (Pasta with Peas). My husband and I downed this dish quickly and before we were even done he said this recipe was a repeater – I couldn’t agree more! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Recipe from Fine Cooking 123 , pp. 17

Kosher salt
1-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
1 lb. fresh or frozen peas (about 3 cups) *[I used frozen peas]
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill *[I was a little heavy handed with the dill because we like dill]
Freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. dried fusilli pasta
4 oz. feta, finely crumbled (about 1 cup) *[I skipped this]
Lemon wedges for serving *[We were liberal with lemon because we love lemon and it really brightened up the sauce]

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat.

In a 3-quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a slotted spoon, remove and reserve 1 cup of the peas. Transfer the broth and the remaining peas to a blender. Add the olive oil, all but 1 tsp. of the dill, 1-1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and blend until smooth. It’s fine if the sauce looks thin at this point.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Toss the pasta with the sauce, the reserved peas, and 3/4 cup of the feta. Serve garnished with the remaining 1/4 cup feta and 1 tsp. dill, with lemon wedges on the side.

This was so easy to make! Monday nights are difficult for me because the tiny dancer has dance class in the evening so I don’t have a lot of time to make dinner and this came together in less than 30 minutes.

Buon Appetito!

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Sponsored by HP & Intel: Travel In Style

To recognize the launch of the Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook™ with Intel® Core™ processors I was asked to write about Traveling in Style. As mamas, we try to be prepared for everything which leads to over-packing. Since we have to travel with so much gear for the little ones, it helps to keep our own stuff on the light side. As an avid over-packer, I know that’s easier said than done but I know in my heart what I SHOULD be doing. Here are some tips for packing light – if only now I could follow my own rules!

Make a list – check it twice

Travel

The key to packing light is planning. I have a travel checklist saved on my computer and before I start packing I print it out so I know what I need. Having a list that you can stick to makes it easier to avoid over-packing and bringing things that you may not need. Having the list also helps save time and helps you remember things that seem obvious but sometimes get left behind. The one time my husband didn’t use the list for a business trip he left his pajamas behind! You can download the full travel checklist here. Feel free to customize it for your family.

Pick a color scheme and stick to it

color coordinate

One of the ways to avoid over-packing is to pick a color scheme and stick to it. First, you avoid bringing extra items that don’t fit into the color scheme. Second, if everything works together color-wise, you can pack fewer pieces and make different outfits made up of coordinating pieces.

Choose items that you can roll or lay flat and don’t need ironing
flat

When packing, lightweight jersey and linen are your friend. Choose items that you can easily roll or lay flat as that method of packing takes up less space and leaves you more room to bring back items that you bought on your vacation.

Pick versatile items you can dress down or up and re-wear them
dress down or dress up

In order to cut down on the amount of pieces you need to pack, choose items that you could easily dress down or dress up so you get more mileage out of every item you have with you. You’ll have more options and you’ll have something dressy in case you have an unexpected fancy event.

Accessorize

accessories

If you’re staying in your color palette and choosing items you can dress down or up the way you can really jazz up your outfits is with accessories. Using accessories is one of the easiest way to dress up or dress down an outfit. Since we’re trying to avoid over-packing, accessories are a great way to change your look without taking up too much room in your luggage. Just make sure that the pieces are in your color theme!

I hope these tips help you and your family travel in style! Buon Voyage!

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook™
The HP + Intel + Project Runway Pin Your Style Contest

Want to participate?
Pin a photo of the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook™ via the Pin It button on the Pin Your Style contest page. Then, build a board that represents that week’s theme. Check out the weekly Pinsetter images on the site for inspiration.

Submit your board’s URL into the site to enter. Then, share your board with friends to earn the most votes!

Win prizes like an HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook™ and a gift card to bring your style to life by getting the top votes for your board.

Don’t forget to to vote in the contest between April 29 – May 12 by viewing the Pinterest board submissions on the Pin Your Style contest page and vote for your favorites based on the theme.

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

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Mama’s Kitchen: Baked Coconut Shrimp

baked coconut shrimp

It’s funny, as soon as I became a mom I received a mysterious free subscription to Fitness Magazine, and a year later I received a free subscription to Women’s Health. The issues just started showing up in my mailbox – I figured some mom/pregnancy site sold my info to these health magazines because they knew new moms are trying to lose weight. Whatever the case, I actually enjoyed reading the magazines. I was however a bit weary of the recipes in them. They’re fitness magazines so the recipes are healthy but I didn’t know how good they would actually taste.

In the March issue of Women’s Health there was a recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp. I love shrimp, I love coconut but I don’t fry anything so when I saw a recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp I had to try it! I tried it tonight and it was ridiculously easy to make and so delicious. It would be wonderful with jasmine rice but I wanted a healthier starch so I made baked sweet potato fries. I also made some teriyaki sauteed mushrooms and a kale salad with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and pineapple. I’m definitely adding this dish to my regular rotation. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Adapted from Women’s Health, Baked Coconut Shrimp

20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp chili powder
2 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 egg white, beaten
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp pineapple or mango jam or preserves (I used apricot jam)

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and spray with olive-oil cooking spray.

2. Rinse shrimp and set aside. In a plastic ziplock bag, combine panko, coconut, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Shake to mix, then set aside.

3. Put flour and egg in separate small dishes. In batches of five, dredge shrimp in flour, then dip into egg. Shake gently in the bag with the coconut mixture until coated.

4. Place breaded shrimp on the baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray, then bake for 10 minutes, or until shrimp are firm to the touch and coconut begins to brown.

5. Combine chili sauce and jam in a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or on High in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then serve with shrimp.

Buon Appetito!

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Sponsored by HP & Intel: Add A Touch of Luxury To Your Life

To recognize the launch of the HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook™ powered by Intel® Core™ processors I was asked to write about adding a Touch of Luxury to our lives. As a mom I know first hand laziness that could set in when it comes to personal appearance when you have to worry about getting everyone else ready. I will admit, I drop off my tiny dancer to school in sweat pants. Not yoga pants, but grey fleece sweatpants. But I draw the line there. Any other time I leave the house I try to look put together. It only takes a few more minutes and makes me feel a lot better than when I look like a scrub.

When you take the time out to make yourself look good, it automatically translates to you feeling better about yourself. Not only that, but you’re setting a good example for your kids. Here are some quick ways to add a Touch of Luxury to your everyday style…

perfume

Wear Perfume
This is probably the quickest way to add a Touch of Luxury but one of the most worthwhile. Scent is so intertwined with memory and emotion just a spritz of your favorite scent will make you smell lovely and lift your spirits.

Wear Clothing – Not Workout Wear
Aside from dropping off the little one at school – or when I’m actually on my way to or from the gym – I wear clothing in public. I don’t dress to the nines, but a pair of chinos and a collared-button up shirt are very comfortable and make you look put together in snap. It takes just as long to put on pants or jeans as it does to put on sweat pants.

makeup

Put On Some Lipstick (0r lipgloss, or mascara…)
So you don’t have time to make yourself up completely? Then what’s the one thing that you rely on for a face pick me up? Lipstick? Mascara? Whatever it is for you – put it on. You will look and feel better. I personally don’t just use one item but I’ve gotten my casual, everyday makeup application down to less than five minutes and I don’t leave the house without makeup (except when I’m wearing sweat pants and dropping off the little one to school).

Use a Real Handbag Not a Diaper Bag
I don’t get the design of most diaper bags – just because your carrying baby products the bag does not need to scream “baby!”. We’re adults – you can use an adult bag. All you need is a large tote or a bag with lots of pockets. If you opt for a tote, be prepared to have small pouches so that you can keep similar items together. Whatever your preference, you don’t need to carry around a pink diaper bag. You can carry a women’s bag that happens to have diapers in it.

Keep Your Hair Long
I grew up on Long Island and all of the moms there – once they hit a certain age – chop off their hair and have men’s haircuts. I don’t know if it’s the water or what but I cannot comprehend this phenomenon. Whenever I see it I think, there’s another person that just gave up. Keep your hair! It doesn’t have to be to your waist – or even to your mid back – but please don’t get a men’s haircut. You don’t need to fully style your hair everyday. A good blowout lasts a couple of days and when in doubt you can opt for a chic bun or pony tail.

I hope these easy tips help you to add a Touch of Luxury to your busy lives!

HP-&-Intel_-Project-Runway-'Pin-Your-Style'---HP-Spectre-XT-(Touch-of-Luxury)

Spectre XT Touchsmart Ultrabook™ The HP + Intel + Project Runway Pin Your Style Contest

Want to participate? Pin a photo of the HP Spectre XT Touchsmart Ultrabook™ via the Pin It button on the Pin Your Style contest page. Then, build a board that represents that week’s theme. Check out the weekly Pinsetter images on the site for inspiration.

Submit your board’s URL into the site to enter. Then, share your board with friends to earn the most votes!

Win prizes like an HP Spectre XT Touchsmart Ultrabook™ and a gift card to bring your style to life by getting the top votes for your board.

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

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Mama’s Kitchen: Chocolate Pots de Créme with Banana Caramel & Kahlua Cream

pot de creme banana caramel kahlua whipped cream

I like to spend Valentine’s Day at home, rather than at a restaurant with lots of other couples, and to make it festive I plan a special menu for us. This year for dessert I knew I wanted to incorporate chocolate and bananas. I was thinking of making Chocolate Pots de Créme but wasn’t sure how to bring in bananas until I came across a recipe for Chocolate Pots de Créme with Banana Caramel. I knew it was risky to try something new on a special occasion but I broke my rule and gave it a try. Luckily, my husband and I loved it! And it wasn’t difficult to make it at all. All three elements below can be made separately and used in another dessert recipe. Feel free to mix and match and experiment.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème
Adapted from Fine Cooking

1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
Kosher salt

Heat the half-and-half and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until scalding hot. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the eggs.

Return the milk mixture to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and whisk until it thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, sugar, and a pinch of salt; whisk until melted. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Divide the mixture between two 6-oz. ramekins or serving glasses. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

*I took the lazy route and did not strain the chocolate mixture and it turned out fine.

Banana Caramel
Adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

1/4 pound sugar
3 tbsp corn syrup
2 oz butter
1/2 pound ripe bananas, pureed

Puree the bananas. Place the corn syrup in a small saucepan. When it starts to melt and bubble up, sprinkle a third of the sugar on top. As soon as that starts to melt and caramelize, add some more sugar. Let that caramelize and add the rest of the sugar. It’s ok to stir with a wooden spoon. If some crystalizes, it’s ok, let it melt. Add the softened butter, stir and then add the banana puree. At this point, turn the heat off but let any chunks of harden caramel melt on the stove.

Pour in a bowl and let it cool. Once cold, pipe on top of the chocolate layer.

Kahlua Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp Kahlua

In a bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks begin forming. Add the Kahlua and continue whipping until it’s the right consistency.

Layer all the items in a glass or jar. I just used a spoon but to make a really neat presentation I think it may be better to pipe each item in. Dust the whipped cream with some cinnamon and you’re done!

Buon Appetito!

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