Going Organic: Dandelion Root Tea

I’ve been changing my kitchen over to whole, fresh, and organic products over the past year and I’m about 80 percent there. I truly believe in balance and enjoying life, so there will still be cookie dough ice cream in the freezer and my kids love their regular honey mustard dip. But it’s been super helpful to move out the soda and juice products and exchange it all for water. I’ve also become really obsessed with my nightly cup of tea.

I love when I find an organic tea that also has a ton of health benefits. This organic dandelion tea from Kiss Me Organics is awesome. Not only is it exotic and unique (Hibiscus! Cinnamon!), but it helps support healthy digestion. It’s also caffeine free, so it’s the perfect end-of-day treat while I relax on the couch and watch Watch What Happens Live with my buddy, Bravo Andy. My son loves to drink it after school with a teaspoon of honey.

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Are you a tea drinker? What is your afternoon tea break or nightly tea ritual? Comment below!

Disclaimer: I was offered a free sample of Kiss Me Organics Organic Dandelion Root Tea in exchange for this review. All words and opinions are my own. Powered by Brandbacker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

I love when I find easy and healthy dinner recipes! I found this Slow Cooker Chicken Taco recipe on HappyHourProjects.com and decided to give it a try last night. It was delish! And so super easy. Here’s how I made our Mexican feast!

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1. Place 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker on low. I added a half cup of organic chicken broth, but you can place the chicken in the cooker without any liquid. Sprinkle a packet of taco seasoning over the chicken. I picked this organic southwest taco seasoning from our local natural foods store.

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2. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken breaks up easily. Warning: Your house will smell amazing!

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3. Prepare the toppings for the taco bar. I chopped up lettuce, tomato, and avocado. I had Mexican blend shredded cheese, sour cream, and mild salsa in bowls.

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4. I shredded up the chicken with a fork and the Mexican buffet was ready!

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I bought the soft taco shells because the kids love to roll up mini burritos. But you can use hard shells too.

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I added organic sweet corn as the side and the meal was complete. The hubby and kids loved it and gobbled it all up! There were no leftovers, so next time I might double the recipe. I can use the chicken for a taco salad the next day.

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Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? Comment below!

Healthy Kids Lunch Option: Homemade Pizza “Lunchable”

My kids have been asking me to pack them Lunchables for school for awhile now. After looking at the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, sodium nitrates, and more), I thought I could put together a healthier alternative. I decided to start with the Lunchables Pizza and it was SO EASY. I am mediocre in the kitchen, and time is always an issue, so something that is fast and easy is perfect for me!

First, I bought whole wheat One Bun bread from the local natural foods store. I was looking for whole wheat pitas and found this great option instead. I can also use this bread as hotdog buns and for paninis and soft tacos.

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I cut one bread piece into four triangles to create the pizza “crust.”

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I bought organic pizza cheese and placed it in a teddy bear silicone baking cup which is a cute way to separate items in the plastic containers. You can buy them in all shapes and colors.

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Then I spooned all-natural pizza sauce into a small container.

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My plan is to search for a divided container that will hold all three ingredients. Now that I’m really digging into healthy school lunch options for my kids, I want to stock up on the items that will make it easy and fun. I’ll keep you updated!

My kids are not fans of pepperoni, so I did not search for a healthy option to include. They do love veggies, so next time I plan to add organic black olives for my daughter’s pizza and organic red peppers and shredded carrots for my son’s pizza. I also included a Peter Rabbit fruit pouch with their water bottle and school lunch was ready to go!

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Let me know if you have ever recreated a homemade “Lunchable” for your kids. Leave a comment below!

Healthy Sports Snacks for Kids

I was assigned snack mom duties this past weekend and I tweeted this:

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I work hard to keep it healthy and organic in our home. I don’t do EVERYTHING organic, but I always get the organic staples and I try my very best to buy items with ingredients I can understand, or, at the very least, pronounce.

When it comes to snacks for other kids, I don’t want to scare anyone away with some healthy nut muffin they’ve never seen before. But I also don’t want to go against my philosophy of keeping it healthy.

I never tell my kids they can’t eat a bag of Doritos someone gives them. What’s great about keeping it healthy at home, is that you can allow your kids to enjoy special treats at birthday parties or play dates.

For Saturday, I came up with fun little treat bags filled with organic apple slices, organic string cheese, and two organic cookies. I baked the cookies the night before. They were the break-and-bake variety that you can find right there next to all the others. They were so fast and easy. The apple slices came in two big bags that I had to divide up. And I knew the string cheese would be fun for the little ones.

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One of my all time favorite discoveries has been clear cellophane gift bags that you can find in any craft or party store. They are perfect for collecting items together and the bags come with their own twist ties. I’ve also sealed them closed with fun ribbons and added stickers to the front when I used them for party favors or last day of school treats. Tip: I have used that large wicker basket for everything! It’s much prettier to transport items in a cute basket instead of a cardboard box or grocery bag.

I was so glad our flag football players loved the snacks and Daniel had an awesome game too!  Win-win!

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Make-Your-Own Pizza Night!

Annabel was a little under the weather on Saturday, the day we planned to head to a cool restaurant at the beach where kids can make their own pizzas for dinner.  So Daniel had the awesome idea to do the pizza making at home.  So we did!  And why didn’t we do this sooner?  It was so much FUN!

Hubbie picked up already made pizza shells, organic pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and black olives (Annabel’s absolute favorite).  We also bought fresh basil, feta cheese, red onion, and spinach so we could make a yummy Greek pizza.

The kids loved the hands-on pizza prep.  The bake time was about 15 minutes.  Then we made it a family picnic in front of the television while we chowed down and watched a couple episodes of House Hunters on HGTV.  (Annabel fancied up her space by using the vintage butterfly cuff I bought that afternoon as her napkin ring.) My kids are officially addicted to House Hunters and love to scream out their house pick at the end (“Number ONE!  No, No, No, Number THREEEE!  Number One is over their budget and only has a one car garage!!”)  Seriously.

I suggest you and your family find time for a make-your-own pizza night this holiday weekend.  It’s perfect family bonding.  With, or without, the House Hunters.

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Thanksgiving ’12

Thank you to my friend who posted this quote on Facebook yesterday.  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more…”  I am grateful for my healthy and happy family, my good friends (new and old), and the amazing feast my hubbie makes every year.  (I’m also thankful I did NOT go Black Friday shopping.  Cheers to drinking pumpkin coffee and watching The Today Show on the cozy couch with my family.)

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The Snack Bag Series: Kindergarten

I thought my little man was done with the snack bags in PreK.  But I was wrong.  They are back!  (It turns out they DO get snacks in Kindergarten too.)

So….The Snack Bag Series returns!  Daniel still loves to draw cars and trucks and buildings.  But now we have some food and seasonal inspirations.

“Frankenstein”

“Witch”

“Parking Garage”

“Strawberry with Blueberry and Banana”

“Hamburger”

“Pumpkin with Daddy in Orange Ghost Costume”

“Red Building”

The Snack Bag Series: Part One is HERE.

The Snack Bag Series: Part Two is HERE.

The Snack Bag Series: Final Edition (so I thought) is HERE.

 

The Snack Bag Series: Final Edition

Daniel “graduated” from Pre-K last week so I wanted to feature some of his final snack bags.  His passion for only drawing buildings surprisingly changed and he wanted to draw bridges, ships, and even birds.  (But he still threw in the Eiffel Tower.)

I love this kid.  I told him I’m saving all these photos so he can do an art showing in New York City one day.

The Snack Bag Series: Part One is HERE.

The Snack Bag Series: Part Two is HERE.

Fun in the Sun

Mother Nature threatened us with rain and thunderstorms all weekend long, but we ended up with sunshine and perfect temperatures.  Sure there was some rain here and there, but it was just enough to cool things down and create some fun puddles for the kids.

My parents were in town from Maryland for three days and the kids were so thrilled to spend some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa.  They saw Daniel play in a T-ball game and hit off the pitch.  We took them to Jacksonville Beach and ate some crabs by the water.  We went to our local town center and tossed wish pennies in the fountain.  And the rest of the time was spent hanging out and catching up.  Oh, and checking out their hotel room which, for some reason, was one of the highlights for the kids.

All in all, an A+ weekend.

Facing My Fears: Sugar Cookies

I’m not a good cook.  My hubbie is the cook in our family, or, rather, he is the CHEF.  He’s amazing and I’m not motivated to go head to head with his skills.  It’s fine by me.  I like to bake. Sometimes.

Now that Bean is in preschool he is anointed with the “star of the week” title about 3 times during the school year.  As part of the fun, he has to bring in a toy and a book to share each day.  He loves it.  He gets to show off his collection of trucks and cars and books that he loves to read.  On Friday, he has to bring in a special snack to share with the class.  When I think “snack”, I think apple slices or peanut butter crackers or popcorn.  But I quickly learned that when the kids think “snack” it means cupcakes, cookies or brownies.  SUGAR, basically.  In the fall we made cupcakes with leaf sprinkles.  They were a hit!  Yahoo! This time Bean wanted to make sugar cookies.

I loved the idea because the letter they were studying last week was “S.”  So we decided to make SUGAR cookies in the SHAPE of STARS with SPRINKLES!

Easy, right?  Well, not for me, the amateur baker mom.  I know I need to amp up my baking skills since I soon will have TWO kiddies in school.  I didn’t go all homemade but I did buy the sugar cookie package instead of the “bake and break” variety.

The tough part turned out to be the star shapes.  The dough was a bit sticky so pushing the cookie cutters on the dough and then trying to lift up each individual star shape was not working.  Bean and I used our creative skills and made each one directly on the cookie sheet.  It took longer, but it worked!

I found this recipe for the sugar cookie icing.  I give it two thumbs up.  The icing was smooth and shiny.  We used paint brushes to spread on the icing.  That was super fun for Bean.  I personally love, love, love the almond taste and it did not overpower the sugar icing too much either.  Then we quickly tossed on the sprinkles before the icing dried and Voila!  All done!

Since I always anticipate a hiccup when I’m cooking or baking, I decided to use crafty packaging in order to make the cookies SEEM more delicious.   I bought the cellophane bags from Hobby Lobby (my new favorite place) and tied them with ribbon. Each kid would get one star cookie and then we bundled extra cookies together for the teachers.  Then put everything in a fancy basket and there is no way they could be bad.

The cookies actually DID taste good, despite a nightmare I had which involved all the kids throwing their cookies back at Daniel and demanding a cupcake instead.  That didn’t happen at all.  In fact, Daniel said some of the kids asked for seconds!  Awesome! Always leave them wanting more.  I now have 8 weeks to figure out my next sugary creation.