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Got Snow?

While organizing my recipes, I came across this yummy concoction that is sure to please any sweet tooth.  It is one of our “winter” favorites as my boys always say the coating is “snow”!  Mix some up for your crew this week as a special winter treat!  This recipe is so simple that even little hands can help out!

Winter Trail Mix

3 c pretzels (I prefer sticks)
1.5 c corn Chex or Crispix
1 c nuts (pecans, walnuts or peanuts or a combination)
.5 c dried cranberries or raisins
12 oz white chocolate

Mix all ingredients except for the white chocolate together in a large bowl.  Melt the chocolate (see package for directions) and pour over the mix while gently stirring.  Scoop out and place on wax paper until cool, then bread into bite-size pieces.  Makes about 10 cups of delicious snacking!

Edible Geometry!

Even our little kids will get a kick out of this great idea for using fun food to create some excitement about geometry!  It is a great way to explore shapes, and even older kids can benefit tremendously from this hands-on activity with shapes.

You will need toothpicks and a soft (and yummy) food, such as gumdrops, fruit snacks, grapes or marshmallows.  Use the toothpicks to place the piece of food on each end, then stick another toothpick in to form shapes, such as triangles, squares, and three-dimensional objects.  The food pieces are your “endcaps”.  This is similar to Tinker Toys and K’Nex.  See what interesting and new structures your little architect can create!

5…4…3…2…1 Blast Off With Space Pudding!

Do you have a space fan in your house?  This snack idea is sure to be a big hit for your little astronaut!


1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp instant pudding, any flavor
1/4 c. milk
ziploc bag

Place ingredients in the ziploc bag.  Seal the bag.  Shake, squeeze and smush the bag until the pudding thickens.  Cut off the corner point of the bag, then squirt the pudding into your mouth, just like the astronauts do!

Whose Birthday Is It?

My younger son will be turning three this weekend (and Susan’s middle child will have a birthday soon, too!).  So, you can only imagine the preparations that are happening around our home right now.  Grocery lists are mounting, decorations are being sorted and created, RSVPs are actually coming in, and food is being prepared.  But, in all of this, I have discovered the most important part of pre-party preparation is having my son be an intregal part of it.

With my older son, I always put together everything, from goody bags to cakes to party planning.  And, he enjoyed himself.  However, with my younger son, I am learning to allow a little “help” in the preparation.  Don’t get me wrong; having an extra pair of hands (especially almost three year old hands) around to help out does not necessarily equate to a smoother and quicker go of things.  In fact, I have to allow for extra time in each of my tasks.  But, the payoff is priceless.

Last night, my son helped me assemble his party favor bags.  We stamped trains on brown paper sacks and then used foam letters (with the peel off sticky backs) to spell out each young guest’s name.  He took great pride in stamping the trains just so and finding the right letters for each name.  At almost three, this was definitely a learning experience, but he had so much fun and is so proud of the treat bags he helped create.  I also had him help me stuff the bags.  We made an assembly line on the dining room table and put together our bags.  Granted, what would have taken me 15 -20 minutes lasted almost an hour, but talk about a bonding and learning experience for him (and me!).

Today, we got started on our cakes.  I am usually a stickler about being the lone body in the kitchen, but we were both home together, the house was quiet, and he was curious as to what I was doing.  So, together we made his cakes.  I set up the mixer and measured the ingredients, but he was the one to add them all to the bowl.  He even learned to crack an egg properly, something my older son has probably never done!  Then, he helped me with the mixing bowl and pouring the batter into the pans.  Again, the entire task took me about twice as long, but we were able to work together and my son was able to feel the accomplishment of creating something wonderful.

Tomorrow, my younger son will help hang the decorations, arrange the balloons, and set the table for our guests.  And he has also learned to appreciate the effort that goes into honoring someone.  He’s thrilled about his party, but I have a feeling he’s grown more in the past two days than I could ever think possible.

Invite your child to help out with special occasions, and together you can find ways to learn and share together.

When The Only Veggies They Want Are Bob And Larry…

As infants, both of my boys would suck down spoonful after spoonful of strained peas, butternut squash and mixed vegetables.  Then they hit the common (but not necessarily popular) age of “all things starchy”.  Vegetables were no longer appealing, especially when you are feeding yourself and can CHOOSE not to eat them.  In fact, it wasn’t until about six months ago that I was able to see my now 8-year-old eating green beans again.  Before then, he wouldn’t touch the juicy legumes.

So, when your child hits that picky stage, how can you make sure he or she is getting the nutrients and vitamins so wonderfully packed into nature’s garden of vegetables?  While multivitamins serve a purpose, children’s bodies don’t necessarily absorb all the “good stuff” a vitamin has to offer.  That is not to say children shouldn’t take a vitamin (because mine do), but if you can get those nutrients in them the natural way, it is so much easier on their systems. 

And, while Veggietales seems to take vegetables to a whole new level, it may not be enough to get them in your child’s mouth.  Here are some helpful hints that might make getting the “good stuff” into their diet:

  • The standard “blender” trick: One of my favorite ways to disguise the good stuff is to blend it.  This works especially well with spaghetti or other pasta-sauce dishes.  First I blend the steamed vegetables as much as possible, then I slowly add the marinara sauce, making sure there are no lumps.  My kids have never known the difference.
  • Bake it right in: I’m famous around the neighborhood for my killer zucchini bread.  I used to just shred the zucchini in my food processor, but now I puree it right into the batter.  You can do the same with corn muffin mix as well.  It also works well with cauliflower, which is chock full of all sorts of good-for-you stuff.
  • Anything goes with (macaroni and) cheese: This is probably my most favorite way to get the veggies in, especially broccoli.  After steaming a spear of broccoli, I chop it into fine pieces and mix it in with a freshly prepared bowl of macaroni and cheese.  My boys are a firm believer in cheese makes EVERYTHING better, so you can guarantee it will work with those veggies on their plate!
  • Make it fun: when we went through a “no fruit” phase (which, in hindsight, isn’t THAT bad, considering the sugar content of fruit), we turned to playing with our food.  Kebabs, making artwork (the old mashed potatoes and peas = the “mountain and trees” trick), and even simply serving it up differently sometimes made the difference.  Make a raw veggie plate, grab a skewer and get started!  Bring out the ranch dressing for a bit of dip and you have a veggie party!

Of course, the best course of action for a picky eater is to simply expose them to the “good stuff” over and over again.  While you can ensure they get some of the vegetables they need, you should also continually offer them “as is” to promote healthy eating practices.

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