Monday, December 17, 2012

DYI Cardboard Boat and Oven

I love simple eco-friendly projects with huge impact. At this time of the year we receive lots of boxes from online orders or appliances, etc. Using the boxes to make toys is a great way to promote pretend play at home. Check out these 2 projects from ikatbag.com. Genius!




Source: ikatbag.com (check out more projects!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Current Recalled Toys: Check this List Before Your Holiday Shopping



Before you start holiday shopping, please check the list of recalled toys, from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Click here to access the list

DIY Aquarium

A cardboard fish tank...how awesome! Another great DIY project that kids LOVE!! You only need a box, glue, thread and little pieces of colored cardboard paper to make the creatures. Easy, enjoyable and very green!


Source: DikaKids Brazil

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creative Tree

Check out this awesome idea to spur kids' creative juices this Christmas. You can easily make the trees and ornaments with felt. No sewing needed!! 
We are making one for each one of my kids this year! They can't wait to start decorating.....

Source: Dika Kids Brasil

Friday, November 16, 2012

Healthy Holidays Recipes: Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Boneless Turkey Breast

During the Holidays, turkey breast is a star on the table. Our family couldn't care less for the legs and other parts of the turkey. So, if you are like us, this recipe is a must. The breast comes out juicy, delicious, the flavors of the meat and the stuffing blend in together. Believe me...you have to give this one a try!

Mushroom and Sausage Stuffed Turkey Breast (Roulade) with Gravy
Servings: 10 portions
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice 
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms (use other mushrooms if you prefer)
  • 1/2 bunch sage, leaves finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 pound bulk Italian Chicken or Turkey sausage, crumbled
  • 1 turkey breast, removed from the bone, about 4 pounds
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Thyme bundle
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Coat a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, with olive oil, add in half of the diced onion, season with salt, to taste. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and very aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms and sage, season with salt, to taste. Cook until they are soft and wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chicken or turkey sausage and use a large kitchen spoon to chop up the sausage. Cook until the sausage is brown and a little crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the sausage mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool.

While the sausage mixture is cooling, cut the turkey breast into 2 separate halves and remove skin. Butterfly each half to make a wide, flat surface (Most of them will do it without charging anything). Cover each half with plastic wrap and gently pound each breast half, to flatten.

To the mixing bowl with sausage mixture, add the bread crumbs, grated cheese, the eggs, the olives and 1/2 a cup of water. Mix together until it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Arrange a turkey breast flat on the plastic wrap. Lay half the stuffing mix on the turkey and roll it up, creating a neat even log.  Tie with twine to secure. Repeat with second turkey breast.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put a large roasting pan on a burner, coat it with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the turkey rolls and brown on all sides. Remove the rolls from the pan and add in the remaining diced onion, carrots, celery. Season with salt, to taste, and cook the veggies until they start to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of low sodium chicken stock and 1 cup of white wine to the roasting pan with a thyme bundle. Return the turkey rolls to the pan, cover with foil and roast for 25 minutes, remove the foil and roast for 10 more minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the turkey to a tray or platter and cover with foil to rest and keep warm.

Put the roasting pan over 2 burners to make the gravy. Remove the thyme and skim the fat. Mix the flour with 6 tablespoons chicken stock and slowly whisk it into the roasting pan. Whisk in the remaining chicken stock and bring it the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened to a gravy consistency. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

Remove the string from the roulades and slice into medallions. Arrange the roulades on a serving platter and serve with the gravy.

Sources: Based on multiple recipes including recipes from the Food Network 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

GMO FAQs and More...


Did you know that all organic foods sold in the US must be certified to the USDA National Organic Standards, which prohibit the use of GMOs? Check out this very insightful GMO FAQs published by WholeFoods. Here is a summary:



What are GMOs?
Genetic Modification is a technique that changes the genetic makeup of cells, including alteration of genetic materials and other biologically important chemicals, and allows genes to move across species. It produces new combinations of genes and traits that do not occur in nature. Plants that have been altered in this way are called GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, or GE, genetically engineered. GMO plants are modified to include genes allowing them to survive the application of chemical herbicides, or cause the plants to produce pesticides.

What foods are most likely to contain GMOs?
With regard to our North American food supply, approximately 93% of soy, 88% of field corn, 94% cotton, and over 90% of canola seed and sugar beets planted in the U.S. (2012 data) are genetically engineered.According to the Non-GMO Project, the following are considered High-Risk Crops (in commercial production; ingredients derived from these must be tested every time prior to use in Non-GMO Project Verified products (as of December 2011):
  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
More information on other high-risk foods, monitored crops and common ingredients derived from GMO risk crops can be found on their website, nongmoproject.org.
What can I do to avoid GMOs in the grocery store?
  • Choose organic products. All organic foods sold in the U.S. must be certified to the USDA National Organic Standards, which prohibit the use of GMOs.
  • Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal on products.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jerk Chicken Heaven

Mmmmm, this recipe is fantastic, Jerk Chicken, Jamaican style. We cooked it this past weekend, and it was just as delicious as it looks!
So easy to make, healthy and delicious. Enjoy!















Jerk Chicken Jamaica Style
Servings: 5 people

One 3 1/2 lb organic chicken (3lb of chicken breasts may be used if preferred)
6 sliced jalapeno peppers
2 Tbsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. ground allspice
8 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Medium onions, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tsp. ground black pepper

1 to 2 Tsp of the following (to taste)
-ground cinnamon
-nutmeg
-ginger

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
Juice of one lime
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white vinegar

Chop the onions, garlic and peppers. These do not need to be chopped too fine as they will be liquified by the blender.
Blend all of the ingredients (excluding the chicken) in a blender to make the jerk sauce. Rub the sauce in to the meat, saving some for basting and dipping later. Leave the chicken in the fridge to marinade overnight.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turn the meat then bake for a further 30 minutes. An even better option is to grill the chicen slowly until cooked, turning regularly. Baste with some of the remaining marinade whilst cooking.

If using the whole chicken, chop each quarter of the chicken portion into 5 or 6 smaller pieces using a heavy cleaver. Use a wooden spoon (or something similar) to hold the chicken in place whilst chopping (you will be chopping with enough pressure to cut through bone!!!)

Serve with salad or rice and peas (or beans).

Based on the recipe provided by the Jamaica Travel and Culture.


Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Better Future is a Priority



If you are an American, few things are more important than voting today! Having a better future for our kids is a priority.

Simple Steps for a Healthier Family

I've just come across this fantastic anti-cancer list of actions from Prevention magazine, and really wanted to share with you. Here is a summary of simple steps that we can all take into consideration when planning our daily routine:


Buy organic.
Exposure to certain pesticides is linked to at least nine different cancers. Buy foods with the USDA-certified organic seal. (Think you can't afford it? Pick ingredients based on the Dirty Dozen list)
Make fruits and vegetables daily companions.
Consume a range of fresh, colorful produce. Berries, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage), tomatoes, and dark-green leafy vegetables are especially potent cancer fighters.
Add fiber to your diet.
Every 10 g of daily fiber intake reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10%. Good sources include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Aim for 25 g daily.
Eat more fish.
Fish that are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, Atlantic mackerel, Arctic char, and sardines, reduce inflammation, which is linked to cancer.
Drink green tea.
Green tea contains catechins, antioxidants in a class of compounds called polyphenols, which may protect cells from DNA damage, strengthen the immune system, and activate enzymes that curb tumors.
Get enough vitamin D.
Higher blood levels of this vitamin are associated with lower rates of colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Have your blood level tested, and discuss supplementation options with your doctor. For more on vitamin D research, check out the work of the GrassrootsHealth organization.)
Flavor your food with turmeric.
Another polyphenol, this Indian spice has anti-inflammatory properties.
Avoid red meat.
Beef, pork, and lamb are linked to cancers of the colon, prostate, pancreas, and kidney.
Limit alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is a risk factor for oral cancers; cancers of the esophagus, liver, colon, and breast; and possibly pancreatic cancer. Women should have no more than one drink daily; men, no more than two.
Don't eat trans fats.
Trans fatty acids, used in baked goods and deep-fried foods, raise the risk of prostate and invasive breast cancers. Don't buy anything containing partially hydrogenated oil, code for trans fats.

Keep out toxins.
Clean with products that use organic ingredients; filter tap water; and look for cosmetics, moisturizers, and hair-care products without parabens, chemicals that have estrogenlike properties that may stimulate hormone-related cancers.

Avoid BPA and BPS.
Research suggests there are links between cancer and BPA and BPS, both of which are found in plastic bottles and the inside coating of cans. Look for cans labeled BPA-free and plastic containers with the recycling numbers 1, 2, or 4.
Minimize dry cleaning.
Perchloroethylene, a dry-cleaning solvent, causes cancer in animals. Find a dry cleaner that doesn't use it, or air your clothes out after bringing them home.
Keep your cell phone away from your face.
Mobile phones use a form of electromagnetism that has been classified as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." When on your phone, use a headset, speakerphone, or Bluetooth device.
Get cancer-prevention vaccines.
Everyone needs to get the hepatitis B vaccine, which helps prevent liver cancer. The HPV vaccine, which protects against many viral strains that cause cervical cancer, is advised for all females ages 11 to 26 and all males ages 11 to 21.
Be screened appropriately.
The colonoscopy is the gold standard for detecting colon cancer; the Pap test, for cervical cancer; and mammograms, for breast cancer.
Limit exposure to medical radiation.
Ask your doctor why a test is recommended and whether there is an alternative that does not use radiation.

Source: Prevention

RECALL ALERT: Britax Convertible Seats

Britax is recalling certain convertible child restraints, models Boulevard 70 G3, Advocate 70 G3, and Pavilion 70 G3, Model Numbers: E9LJ91A, E9LJ91M, E9LJ91S, E9LJ92E, E9LJ93P, E9LJ93S, E9LK91A, E9LK31A, E9LK31Q, E9LK32D, E9LK32Z, E9LK33Q, E9LL11A, E9LL11Q, E9LL12D, E9LL12Z, E9LG81A, E9LG83N, E9LG83P, E9LG83X, E9LG83Y, E9LL21A, E9LL23P, E9LL23Y, manufactured from June 2012 through August 2012. These seats were manufactured with a softer chest pad material that may be bitten or chewed into pieces by a child using the seat. If the child bites off a piece of the softer pad, it could be a choking hazard, resulting in injury or death. Britax will provide owners with replacement HUGS pads that are made from a firmer material and instructions on how to replace the pads free of charge. To view a video on how to remove and replace the HUGS chest pads visit www.BritaxUSA.com/support/safety-notices and select the product from the menu on the right side. Owners may remove the HUGS pads and continue using the seat until replacement pads are received. The safety recall is expected to begin shortly. Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829 with questions or to request replacement pads in the event their restraint is not already registered with Britax.

For more information for this particular recall, please go to SafeCar.gov

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wholesome Pumpkin Bread

I've just made this amazing whole-wheat pumpkin bread. It was really easy, and the taste is divine. Great way to use pumpkin pulp. Kids LOVE it!!



Wholesome Pumpkin Bread
Servings: 3 loafs


2 cups of baked pumpkin pulp (click for recipe)
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Cocoa powder for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Decorate with cocoa powder.

Best of all, my little one loved to help!


Source: Based on recipe from allrecipes.com






Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Pulp for the Winter!

This is the best season to freeze pumpkin pulp, and use it for the next 6 months! It's so easy to prepare and freeze. I do it every year, and use the pulp for cakes, cookies, smoothies, side dishes... 

First cut the pumpkin in halves. Place them, face down, on baking sheets with about 1/4 inch of water (see picture 1). Put the baking sheets in the oven for about 50 minutes, at 400F.

Cutting in halves


Once the pumpkin is tender, let it cool. The hard skin is now very soft and can be peeled with your fingers. Use appropriate bags to freeze the pulp. Can't get any easier!

Deep freeze for up to 6 months



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Stir-Fry with Brown Rice Noodles: Divine!

Stir Fry is one of my favorite foods. The combination of vegetables, brown rice noodles and soy sauce is simply divine. What's more, it is very nutritious!
Here is my recipe, I bet your kids will love it too.


Stir-Fry
Servings: 6 portions

- 1 package of brown rice vermicelli (rice noodles), 7oz or 200 grs
- 1/2 lbs carrots, dices
- Approximately 10 broccoli florets
- 1 chicken breast, sliced in small pieces (optional)
- 1/4 lbs sugar peas
- 1 large onion, diced
- Soy sauce to taste
- Black ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons butter

Soak the brown rice noodles in water, as recommended by the manufacturer.
In a saucepan, sautée the onions with canola oil. Add the chicken and ground pepper. Sauté until the chicken slices are golden color. Add vegetables and 1/2 cup water. Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the already softened noodles, soy sauce and butter. Stir delicately. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste it to ensure enough soy sauce was added.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spooky Witch Fingers

Wanna be the scary neighbor this Halloween? How about homemade spooky fingers instead of sugary candy for Trick-or-Treat? LOL
Spooky Witch Fingers

               1 cup butter, softened
               1 cup confectioners' sugar
               1 egg
               1 teaspoon almond extract
               1 teaspoon vanilla extract
               2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
               1 teaspoon baking powder
               1 teaspoon salt
               3/4 cup whole almonds
               Raspberry jelly

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, rand vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating; refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets.
Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. You can also cut into the dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red jelly into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the jelly to ooze out around the tip of the cookie. 

Source: based on recipe from AllRecipes 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Top Toddler Books


Yesterday one of my dear followers asked our help for book suggestions for toddlers. I posted it on my Facebook page and was so pleased with your answers! Thank you so much for your input!!! Wonderful ideas for great books. Here is the top list for your next bookstore or library trip:

Llama Llama Red Pajama
The Color Kittens
Brown Bear, Brown Bear. What Do You See? (This is an Eric Carle classic)
Dr. Seuss books (pretty much all of them!)
Bear Snores On
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Go to Bed Monster
Eric Carle books (all of them!)
Goodnight Moon
Runway Bunny
I Love You All Year Long
Where The Wild Things Are
I Love You Because You're You
On The Night You Were Born
Seven Silly Eaters





Thursday, October 4, 2012

RECALL ALERT: List of all brands affected by the Peanut Butter Recall

Are you losing track of all brands affected by the peanut butter recall?  Every day we see yet another brand with the scary salmonella recall!
Here is the latest list of brands provided by the FDA.

Click here to see the list of all peanut butter brands affected by the recall

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Bread

As mentioned in previous posting, I love how versatile pumpkin is. Here is another awesome recipe for this season.

Pumpkin Bread
Servings: 2 loafs
  • 3 ½ organic white, fresh-milled, or store-bought whole-grain flour;
  • 2 ½ cups of dark brown sugar or to taste add more of any kind of sweetener you prefer
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (if desired lightly toast for a few moments in oven and cool before adding)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 8″ x 4″ loaf pans.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar (or preference of other sweeteners), baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Add the pumpkin puree, oil, and coconut milk, and mix until all of the flour is absorbed.
Fold in the flaked coconut and walnuts. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes.
Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent loosely with the foil, and allow it to cool completely.

Source: Eat Drink Better

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mighty Pumpkin

At this time of the year we have multiple pumpkins decorating the house, and I wanted to make a greater use of them! Pumpkin is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and very low in calories. So, yesterday I made a pumpkin smoothie. Kiddos loved it, and momma loved it too! So, we had some more this morning with a slight variation...Yumm

It is so simple to make, and you can freeze the rest of the pulp for up to 5 months!

Start by washing and splitting the pumpkin in half. Get rid of the seeds. Place both sides facing down on a baking sheet filled with about 1/3 inch of water. Roast them in the oven for 1 hour at 400F. Turn off the oven and leave them there for another hour. Once they cool down, scoop the pulp with a spoon and store it in ziplog bags. Freeze about 2/3 of the pumpkin for future use in soups, desserts, cookies or more smoothies.

Pumpkin Smoothie
Servings: 4 cups

- 2 cups of roasted pumpkin pulp
- 2 tablespoons of honey
-1 1/2 cups of organic milk
- 2 or 3 drops of natural vanilla extract (optional - I didn't use)

Blend all ingredients together and taste a delicious smoothie loaded with vitamins and minerals.
For the variation this morning:

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie
Servings: 4 cups

- 1 cup of roasted pumpkin pulp
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 1/2 cups of organic milk

Blend all ingredients. Another great, nutritious smoothie is ready! Best of all, kiddos loved it all again!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Spicy Pumpkin Latte


If you prefer pumpkin spiced coffee over hot chocolate (recipe below), this one is for you!

Spicy Pumpkin Latte
Agave syrup and soy milk promise lots of full-bodied flavor without breaking the calorie bank.
Ingredients:
1 c. coffee
1/3 c. soy milk  (or use regular organic milk)
2 tbsp. agave syrup
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Directions:
Brew coffee and pour into a mug . Add soy or regular milk. Stir in agave syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Garnish the top with pumpkin pie spice if desired.
Makes one serving.


Sources: based on recipes from Shape Magazine

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk and Curry

It's pumpkin season.....what's not to love! 
This recipe is fantastic...traditional pumpkin soup with coconut milk and curry. Delicious! Always making the most of seasonal veggies.

Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk and Curry
  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • curry paste of your choice
  • curry powder of your choice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small onions
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • salt
How to prepare and cook:
Wash the pumpkin, cut it into quarters (or even smaller slices), remove the seeds, and peel it.
Cut the peeled pumpkin slices into small chunks.
Cook the chunks of pumpkin in water until soft — to start, some of the pumpkin chunks should be partially above the water.
While the pumpkin chunks and water are cooling, fry chopped garlic and onions in olive oil on the stove.
Once they have cooled a bit, blend the pumpkin chunks (with the “pumpkin water” that remains in the pot).
Add 2 tsp. of curry paste, coconut milk, the fried garlic and onions, a pinch of salt, and curry powder to taste.
Chop parsley and add to the soup.

Source: EatDrinkBetter

Spiced Pumpkin Hot Chocolate


Are you a fan of spiced pumpkin lattes? At Starbucks they cost as much as $5 (but worth it!). Try this spiced pumpkin hot chocolate....your kids (and you) will love it too!

Spiced Pumpkin Hot Chocolate
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons hot cocoa mix
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (if you can't find it, try acorn squash!)

Combine the milk, hot cocoa mix and pureed pumpkin into a saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir the contents of the saucepan until it begins to steam, then remove it from the stove and add the vanilla. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend for 15-20 seconds. Once the content has been blended, pour it into a cup.
Source: based on recipe from Babble.com