Although most of our kids are too old for Sesame Street, there are some exciting things going on over there in the area of health and wellness. The show found that "there were really very few resources engaging young children...in healthy [eating] habits." So four new Super Foods Muppets will teach children about healthy snacks and the importance of sharing meals with their families. While singing and dancing, of course.
(Also, because really we are never too old for Sesame Street: have you heard that Cookie Monster wants to host SNL? Check out his audition tape.)
Today a Cougar Run first-grader has an almond butter and blackberry jam sandwich with popcorn, watermelon, and veggies on the side. This little guy has carrot, celery, and asparagus with yogurt ranch dip.
Have you ever had fresh-squeezed lemonade? It is available, from time to time, at places like the Highlands Ranch Town Center farmer's market or other events around town (the kind where they leave the lemon peel in the cup), but it seems rare enough that it is a real treat for me. So I searched out a recipe to try at home.
Honestly, this recipe is not for the weak-of-heart or the weak-of-arm: there is a lot of lemon-squeezing involved. Gather up all the family members you can find and take turns. I promise you, it is worth it. Especially for a special occasion like the 4th of July.
Best Lemonade Ever
13-18 lemons (or go until your arm gets tired)
hot water (as hot as the tap will go)
sprig or two of fresh mint
Juice the lemons. All the lemons. Don't give up; soon you can rest with a glass of lemonade!
Now, in the juice pitcher, stir one cup of sugar into one cup of hot water until it dissolves. Add one cup of your freshly-squeezed lemon juice and two cups of nice cold water (in other words: 1 part lemon juice to 1 part sugar and 3 parts water). Repeat this process until you run out of lemon juice. Add one or two sprigs of the mint--the whole length, stem with leaves--right into the pitcher. Chill for a bit, then serve.
Best lemonade ever, right? Even my kids agree, and they are highly suspicious of green leaves in their drinks.
My kids LOVE popcorn. And it's one snack food that I can get behind, seeing as it is typically minimally processed and really high in fiber. It also may be a good source of antioxidants, which are found in the crunchy kernel in the middle (my favorite part). When I first mentioned to my kids that they could bring popcorn to school as a snack, they were pretty happy about it. So happy, in fact, they haven't ever mentioned missing the melted butter: while absolutely essential to them at home, it's not so appetizing congealed on hours-old popcorn. I do add salt.
But they haven't gotten popcorn as often as they'd like, unfortunately; although we do have an air-popper, it usually seems like too much trouble to drag out before school and I never seem to think of it at a more convenient time. Of course you can buy bags of popcorn pre-popped and there's always microwave popcorn, and we've done both. However, you may have heard some of the concerns about chemicals used in microwave popcorn. And there's no question that the very cheapest way to buy popcorn is unpopped.
Well, get this: it turns out that there isn't anything special about those microwave popcorn bags. Microwave popcorn is something you can do at home much more cheaply and without any chemicals at all, in just a plain ol' brown paper lunch bag. Check out these instructions from the Food Network: Alton Brown's recipe Plain Brown Popper (obviously, leave out the spicy seasoning mix unless your kids are more adventurous than mine).
I also found instructions online that make the process even easier: pop the popcorn right in a glass bowl! No oil required and it comes out ready to eat. I have to admit, when I tried these recipes I hovered right by the microwave and counted obessively (one mississippi, two mississippi). Of course everything has always been just fine. In a bowl, I find that about a 1/4 cup of kernels takes about 4.5 minutes in our microwave. The toughest part is balancing the plate just right so that the steam escapes but the popcorn does not.
Trying to survive this crazy-hot weather? Our family recently bought some silicone ice pop molds and have been making our own ice pops to help deal with the heat. They're really easy to use and so far my kids have been really excited about making them with me.
The molds we are using are inexpensive silicone molds with little tops. I fill them up, put on their tops and prop them all up in the freezer (they take up very little space). A few hours later: delicious ice pops!
They are the kind your kids push up from underneath--they don't use sticks. I find they are a little less messy (just a little) and I don't have to worry about pulling out the stick without the ice pop, like I've had happen with other types of molds. Of course any kind of mold will do; have you ever made ice pops out of little dixie cups and popcycle sticks? Very fun.
Anyway, we've filled ice pop molds with everything from applesauce to leftover Jamba Juice and they've been a total hit, especially when served at breakfast. Why not, when they're made of fruit?
3 cups of cubed watermelon (I had one of those 1/4 watermelon wedges from the supermarket and it took almost the whole thing)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix it all up. Taste, and add a little honey if you want (usually watermelon is sweet enough, but you might get a less sweet one). Pour into the molds and freeze for a few hours. Enjoy!
(And, if you are in the mood, try these spiked ice pops for grown ups only. Not recommended for breakfast. ;)
After happily putting away our lunchboxes at the end of the school year, I have to admit, I have happily taken them back out again. For us, summer is about trips to the pool and to the park. We have been to the natural history museum and the zoo. And through all of these field trips, of course, the kids and I have to eat. After watching them scarf down more chicken fingers than I can count (why are all kids' menus the same??), I dug our lunchboxes back out and put them to work again.
My kids were actually excited about them ("Picnic!"). So I'm done with buying food every time we go out the door. This is much cheaper, much healthier and seriously more fun. Here's one of our lunches from today--it's not chicken fingers again!
For a day at the park we have some cut up cantaloupe and watermelon, carrot sticks, a mini banana chocolate chip muffin, a Babybel cheese, a slice of ham on a toothpick, fruit leather, some Annie's brand fruit snacks and a gumball for dessert. We brought water to drink.
Seriously a lot of food for one kid and no, he didn't eat all of it. He ate most of it though (and, since we have heavy-duty ice packs, the stuff he didn't eat became his snack at home later--ha ha!). Oh, and this is packed in a Easy Lunch Box.
P.A.C.K. Week starts on Monday! P.A.C.K Week (Pack Assorted Colors for Kids) is all about packing more colorful fruits and veggies into children?s diets. If you pack a snack or lunch for your child, please pack a fruit or vegetable based on the color of the day.For children who buy lunch, be sure to encourage them to include a fruit and vegetable in their meal. For more fun, have your child wear something to match the color of the day!
Monday, April 23rd is Pack Purple Day: A child-friendly way to "pack purple" is with 100% grape juice made from Concord grapes, snack-sized raisins or blueberries (fresh, dried, or frozen). Don't forget to wear your favorite Rockies gear. (More purple food ideas.)
Tuesday, April 24th is Pack White Day: Bananas, white peaches, or even cauliflower with dressing makes a nice choice. (More white food ideas.)
Wednesday, April 25th is Pack Red Day: Strawberries are a favorite, and other tasty options are red pepper slices, tomato wedges, or a delicious red apple. (More red food ideas.)
Thursday, April 26th is Pack Yellow/Orange Day: Baby carrots are easy to pack and so are dried apricots or orange segments. (More orange food ideas.)
Friday, April 27th is Pack Green Day & the FUN RUN: Go green with celery sticks, broccoli florets or a crisp green apple. (More green food ideas.)