Baking with Preschoolers: Easy-Peasy Gluten-Free Overnight Cookies

                                                                                      

When my children were young, one of their favorite places to be was in the kitchen, helping me prepare meals and snacks.  Even though there might have been some additional cleanup…it was definitely worth it…for me and for them.

If you are looking for a simple cookie recipe with just a few ingredients, this is it.

If you are not great at measuring ingredients and, like me, you need a recipe that is very forgiving, this is it.

Overnight Cookies

You will need: 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, 1 large bowl, 1 mixer, 1 greased cookie sheet.

1. Beat egg whites in bowl till stiff peaks form. (Your little ones will LOVE watching how the liquidy egg whites turn to stiff cream)

2. Add 1/4 sugar and fold in gently.

3. Add ground almonds and raisins and fold in gently.

4. Drop by tablespoonsful onto the greased cookie sheet…I use a canola oil spray.  If you want a smaller cookie, use a teaspoon.

5. Place the cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the cookies in at least an hour…or overnight if you wish. 

6. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen, more or less, depending on the size cookie you make.

  

This cookie is so easy to make and it always tastes delicious and it is so very nutritious.  Kids especially love the idea of waking up in the morning to cookies fresh out of the oven.  Because they are so healthy (and gluten free, come to think of it), you could probably let them have one or two with breakfast.

Happy New Year to All!

 

Contests – Alive and Well in Cyberspace!

When I was a little girl, there were a few contests around that you could enter and a few shows on TV (most families didn’t even have one) where people could win money and prizes like Queen for a Day and The $64,000 Question…nothing like the contests and shows that are around today where a person can win millions of dollars.

I never realized that there is a whole world of contests out in cyberspace and I am glad to say that there are many moms (especially stay-at-home ones) who not only enter these contests and win prizes for their families, but they also broadcast the news of the contest to others.  In order to enter the contest, one has to leave a comment on their blog or website and, for additional entries, you can tweet about it or post it on your Facebook page.  I think it is wonderful, especially for those who are not able to get out and about much.

Today I was responding to someone who is now following me on Twitter and I discovered a contest with a fantastic prize…offered by Target to promote their support of reading and literacy program.  Kudos to you, Target.  It is great when big companies take some of their profits and return them to the community. So I am providing the link to the site where you can enter to win.   Best of luck, everyone.  I’ll try to pass along other worthwhile contests when I find them.

Go to Frugal Family Fun Blog to enter to win an iPad and an assortment of children’s books courtesy of Target!

5 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier 2011

5 Simple Steps to a Happier, Healthier 2011

The great thing about the New Year is that it gives us the opportunity to make a fresh start…in just about anything!  I know that at the end of every December, I sit down, look back over my progress (or lack of it) and make a list of resolutions that I hope will help me do better.  Many people don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions…but they work for me.  We can make broad, sweeping resolutions like EAT HEALTHIER…and we can make more specific resolutions such as I WILL STOP EATING BEFORE I FEEL FULL.

“To insure good health, eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness and maintain an interest in life.” William Londen

So here are my 5 simple steps to a happier, healthier 2011.

  1. Eat Lightly: many of us eat too much of the wrong things…nutritionists recommend eating 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big ones.  In addition, make every meal count by using more fresh foods instead of highly processed ones.  Should you buy organic?  Yes, if you can.  The most important foods to buy organic are meat (including beef, pork and poultry), milk (and other dairy products), eggs, peaches, nectarines,, apples, bell peppers, celery, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes, pears, potatoes, coffee, and baby foods and juices.  If you are a parent, you are probably the one who decides what to buy and what to serve.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to buy organic when I purchase the above items.
  2. Breathe Deeply: I know it’s hard to find the time to exercise, especially when you work, take care of a home and family and have lots of other things that take your time and energy.  However, moving at least 30 minutes a day will provide great health benefits…and make you feel more positive.  Resolve to be more healthy and more positive for your children and for yourself.  Dance while you clean the house or take a walk while listening to great music.  Get together with a friend and exercise together with a new tape in your living room if you don’t have the time or money to go to a gym.  In addition, take time every day to meditate…even if it is just for 5 minutes.  It will refresh and renew your spirit.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to walk a mile twice a week, do my 30 minute low impact aerobic exercises four times a week and meditate 5 minutes EVERY day.
  3. Live Moderately: This rule applies to all aspects of our lives…eating, drinking, sleeping, surfing the Internet. J  I think if people would get enough rest…and eat, drink, exercise and pursue all other activities in moderation, the soaring medical costs in this country would decline.  The cells in our bodies repair themselves during restful sleep…and people tend to gain weight if they are sleep deprived.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to do less computer work so that I can get to bed at a reasonable hour so that I can sleep the required 7-8 hours.  
  4. Cultivate Cheerfulness:  Doesn’t it lift your spirits when someone greets you cheerfully, in a store, on the street or on the phone?  Thinking and acting cheerfully does have a positive effect…on EVERYONE!  Cultivating cheerfulness does not mean ignoring problems or pretending that everything is rosy when it is not.  If something is troubling you, please share it with someone who cares about you.  Set in motion steps that will change the situation.  If it is a situation that can’t be changed, join a support group or ask for help.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to let others know how much I appreciate their help and encouragement.
  5. Maintain An Interest In Life:  Isn’t it amazing when we see elderly people who get college degrees after they have retired from a life-long career?  Or middle-school children who raise money for the children in a village that is situated thousands of miles from where they live? How can you maintain an interest in life?  Read a book about something you always wanted to find out about, volunteer in a local school or hospital, reach outside your normal routine to help someone…the possibilities are endless.  For 2011, I am going to resolve to reach out and volunteer in our local schools by reading stories and doing craft projects with the Pre-K and kindergarten classes.

So there you have it…my 5 simple steps to a happier healthier 2011. 

Are you making New Year’s resolutions this year?  I’d love to hear them if you are!

Happy Holidays to All and may the coming Year bring Peace to at least some parts of the World!

Top Ten Children’s Picture Books for 2010

TOP TEN CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS OF 2010

Every year, thousands of new picture books are published.  Many are excellent.  Some are outstanding.  And a few are in a category all their own…to be read and savored, over and over again, by adults and children alike.  These are the books that will be the classics in the decades to come.  These ten books are my choices for the must-read children’s picture books published in 2010.

1.     SHARK VS. TRAIN written by Chris Burton and illustrated by Tom Lichtenhedd

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – ISBN9780316

           A boy with a toy shark faces off against his companion who is holding a toy train.  Awesome cartoon illustrations depict the distinct personalities of the two competitors and will have young children cheering from both sides.  In some of the battles, the shark has the upper hand and in others, the train.  And neither is very good at keeping quiet in the library.

2.     THE QUIET BOOK written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska

Houghton Mifflin Books for Young Children – ISBN9780547215679

               Exploring the many different kinds of quiet with understated text and subtle yet engaging illustrations, this book will soon become a favorite with little ones.  Various young animals – bears, rabbits, mice, owls and others – are placed in situations that will strike a chord of recognition with young children.  In the “first one awake quiet” a young rabbit is doing his morning stretches.  In “right before you yell, ‘Surprise’, quiet”, three animals hide behind a couch.  This is a book that will rank right beside GOODNIGHT MOON as a perfect book to read before bedtime.

3.     CITY DOG, COUNTRY FROG written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon Muth

Hyperion Books for Children – ISBN9781423103004

               This beautiful book is a journey through the seasons and through the natural cycle of the emotions of a friendship.  When City Dog ventures into the country one spring, he meets Country Frog who teaches him “jumping and splashing and croaking”.  Summer finds the two companions together with Frog learning “sniffing, fetching and barking”.  In the fall, because Frog is tired, they play remembering games, recalling all the things they did in the spring and summer.  When winter arrives, City Dog goes looking for Country Frog, but cannot find him.  When spring returns, City Dog meets a chipmunk who asks him the same question he had asked Frog – “What are you doing?”  And City Dog gives the same answer Frog had given him, “Waiting for a friend…but you’ll do.”

4.     ART AND MAX written and illustrated by David Wiesner

Clarion Books – ISBN9780618756636

               Max and Arthur are friends who share an interest in painting.  Although Arthur (Art) is an experienced painter, Max is just a beginner and his first attempt at painting has unexpected results.  This is a wonderful book for all young children who may question their ability as they grow up to master certain tasks and skills.

5.     THERE’S GOING TO BE A BABY written by John Burningham and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Candlewick Press – ISBN9780763649074

               A young boy learns that he will soon have a new brother or sister.  Young children will identify with his conflicting emotions over the next several months as he and his mother talk about the new baby while walking in the park, visiting the zoo and going to the bank.  The author and the illustrator are husband and wife in real life and have created a wonderful book for siblings-to-be.

6.     LITTLE  PINK PUP written by Johanna Kerby

G.P. Putnam’s Sons – ISBN9780399254352

               This is touching and true story of Pink, the runt of his litter and Tink, a new dachshund mom who adopts him as one of her pups and nurses him back to health.  Simple text and full-color photos will make this book a favorite with very young children.

7.     FARM written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper

Orchard Books – ISBN9780545070751

               The author brings a farm to life with lyrical writing and beautiful illustrations.  The book takes readers through a year of farm life with planting, chores and good and bad weather.  Young children will enjoy the involvement of the farm children in their daily tasks and perhaps gain an appreciation for the hard work that results in the food we eat every day.

8.     THE CHICKEN THIEF written and illustrated by Beatrice Rodriguez

Enchanted Lion Books – ISBN978159700929

               When a fox runs off with one of the hens, bear and rabbit interrupt their peaceful lunch in the garden to join rooster in his chase to recover hen.  The fox seems always to be a step ahead, tenderly clutching the pretty white hen.  Is the fox intending to eat the hen or does he have something else in mind?  This wordless book will be enjoyed by children and adults alike, especially the surprise ending.

9.     OLIVIA GOES TO VENICE written and illustrated by Ian Falconer

Atheneum Books for Young Readers – 9781416996743

               Olivia is back – on a trip to Venice.  She has to dodge pigeons in the Piazza San Marco and barely stays afloat on a gondola ride.  Full of curiosity, Olivia appeals to the very young, but even parents will appreciate the comic ending when Olivia finds the perfect souvenir – a stone – and a bell tower collapses.

10.    BIBIOBURRO: A TRUE STORY FROM COLUMBIA written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter

Beach Lane Books – ISBN9781416997788

               Luis, a schoolteacher with a passion for reading, shares his over-abundance of books with the children in the remote villages of Columbia.  With two burros, he makes the trek across mountainous terrain and perseveres, even when challenged by bandits along the way.  Spreading literacy one child at a time, Luis reminds all of us of the pleasures books bring and the difference one individual can make.

Do you agree?  Any favorites from 2010 that I missed?  As soon as I can, I’ll post my choices for the top ten all-time favorite children’s picture books.  What would be your top choice…the book you loved as a child and want to read to your children and grandchildren?