Thursday, September 3, 2015

Best Bets for Back to School

First, let me start off by saying school is officially underway here. My kids started yesterday and they are off and running. it's funny how even after a long Summer, they get back into it quickly. They're both pretty excited about the upcoming year but things don't really get moving until next week. A lot of activities don't start until after Labor Day.  This year, my Back to School series will focus on things to make your lives better, easier and healthier. I realize a lot of you have been back to school for a while now but I'm hoping these tips will still be useful!
Today I want to talk about school snacks and lunches. I know what you thinking, "you and every other blogger with kids this time of year". While that may be the case, I know the value of fueling my children throughout the day with food that is healthy, satisfying and energizing. Since I volunteer a lot, I often see snacks that make me want to cringe. In general, anything that leaves your fingers with a neon orange glow probably isn't the best choice. I know it's hard as a parent, that struggle to keep your kids happy while still choosing a lunch or snack that's healthy. That being said, I do realize that this is no longer the 70s, the food revolution of sorts has been started, I'd say within the last 10-15 years to really help kids eat healthier. Even with that focus, the childhood obesity epidemic is a real problem in the United States.  Over the next few weeks, I'm excited to showcase a few of our favorite snacks and lunchbox ideas that help to keep kids fueled and satisfied! 
I'm certainly not re-creating the wheel here but I'm excited to bring you some of the things that work for us. I'll also be introducing you to a few brands you may already know but they are ones that I have recently discovered and I'm excited about adding into the mix this year! There might even be a giveaway thrown in!  Even if you know a lot about healthy and nutrition, you can still learn more, try new recipes and add a new color on your plate! I also read A LOT! One great resource is the internet and blogs like Healthy Appetites!  Alyssa is a certified health coach and a wonderful resource!  Sign up for her newsletter for information, recipes and tips!  There's always room for more information! 
With that being said, I sincerely hope you'll join me. We're all in this together!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Next Chapter

We are quickly closing in on our last Summer vacation day, this is it! Here in the Northeast, my kids start school tomorrow. I always seem to have the same emotions running through my head this time of year. It's bittersweet. Of course I'm excited for them to start a new year, when I think about how much they accomplish over the course of the school year, it's pretty amazing and always filled with great things. I also have a part of me feels particularly nostalgic about a new school year, thinking back on years past, thinking back to a simpler time when my girls were with me all day long starting preschool, or entering kindergarten.  Sometimes it's hard to believe that those days are passed us. I know some others are excited about a new school year, a new routine and getting back on schedule. I get that but I'd be lying if I told you I was one of those mothers. I think about the glorious summer we've had and I honestly wonder how these past weeks could have flown by at this speed! Do I wish I could spend another endless day at the beach? Absolutely, but reality has set in and I know tomorrow morning will be the start of the next chapter.
This year Sydney starts second grade. She feels particularly proud not to be one of the "little kids" anymore. She's most looking forward to going into her old kindergarten room and reading to the class, something she had the opportunity to do last year and loved it. She's also excited to harvest those vegetables they planted this past Spring. It's wonderful to see her stepping out on her own and thriving. She loves her school, and her friends so we are hopeful it will be a wonderful year! Riley starts sixth grade this year, not sure how that happened but there you have it! They start middle school in fifth-grade here so last year was a more difficult time, with a new school and lots of new faces.  Im relieved that she feels more confident, relaxed and excited to go back. Her locker is ready, we have all the supplies, she's met her teachers and made connections with friends. Now we're just waiting for the first day.

That being said, we are heading back to school today so we can officially meet Sydney's teacher and bring a pasta salad for the welcome back teacher luncheon.  My hope for the afternoon is that it will be relaxed and stress-free. Tomorrow is the big day, I'm not sure I am ready but happy to say they are!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Italian Lentil Salad

This Lentil Salad is a delicious and healthy side dish or something a little different to take to your next picnic. Easy, economical and healthy, we love a salad that includes yummy and hearty lentils. Filling and satisfying, it's one I make a lot, especially this time of year when our schedules become more rigid with Back to School and everyone seeming to be heading in different directions. This salad keeps them fueled through a busy day!
Italian Lentil Salad
1 cup lentils
1 Red Pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 Green Pepper, deseeded and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small jalapeƱo, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup good quality Italian dressing, I used Newman's Own Organic Italian (or make your favorite!)
Directions: Prepare lentils as directed on package and while cooking, chop your veggies. Once lentils are cooked, remove from heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine lentils and all the vegetables, then the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy! Do you have a favorite salad that you make for Labor Day picnics?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fresh Eats: In Season!

We are pretty thrilled to be in the thick of fresh fruits and vegetables right now. This past month has brought us so many deliciously fresh favorites that we will certainly be sad to see go. I don't think there is anything like freshly picked raspberries! Lucky for us, our local farm as a short September pick your own crop we will most definitely heading back for some of those! Here are some other items we've enjoyed this past month...
While vacationing in Cape Cod, we stopped at a farm stand that had the biggest, most beautiful blackberries! When I was a kid, my grandmother had tons of blackberry bushes that lined her property and I have beautiful memories of sitting in her yard for endless amounts of time picking and sampling those beauties! It's so funny how I taste have a specific food can bring you right back to where you first fell in love with it. That may sound dramatic but I'm seriously in love with blackberries ��
August was the month where my girls were busy making all sorts of flavored water combinations with all the fresh fruit of the season! Strawberry/lime, blueberry/lemon, orange/lemon/lime, watermelon/strawberry…you get the idea! I usually just throw slices of cucumber or lemon in my water but we found these cool water bottle infusers that have a chamber in the center for your fruit/veggies/herbs. Smart idea!
And of course our garden, we have had a wonderful season with a lot of hot weather and have resulted in a lot of fresh vegetables and flowers! We have more tomatoes than I know what to do with has meant a lot of bruchetta, pasta with fresh tomatoes and herbs and salads. I think these little gems are best eaten solo! There is nothing like a fresh tomato off the vine!
We will enjoy every bit while it lasts! Like Summer, it doesn't last long! 

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