Make-A-Meal Mondays: President’s Day Special

A pair of cherries from the same stalk. Prunus...

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Every four years, the citizens of the United States have the opportunity to choose a new president who will hopefully lead the country on an upward path of economic and social reform, while staying within the budget.

Every day, three times each day, moms (and sometimes dads) have the opportunity to choose a new dish to serve to their families that will hopefully provide good nutrition and good taste, while staying within the budget.

Hmmm…have you also seen the similarity between running the country and running a household? 🙂

It is true, though, that the responsibility of putting high quality, highly nutritious¸ good-tasting, affordable meals on the table is a heavy one.  I thought that since today is President’s Day, I should offer up a recipe that includes CHERRIES as one of the ingredients.

Why cherries you might ask? 

I’m sure most of you know the story of our first president, George Washington, and the incident with the cherry tree.  As it was told when I was in school, young George went out into the garden with a new hatchet and chopped down a young cherry tree.   When questioned by his father as to whether or not he did it, George replied, “I cannot tell a lie.  It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.”   His father, impressed with his young son’s honesty, did not punish him, but praised him for telling the truth.

Of course, the moral of the little tale is that we should always tell the truth…no matter what we have done or what the consequences of our actions might be.  I know this is what we teach our children…and this week I’ll be examining the topic of honesty in many of my posts.  And, if you are looking for any information or resources about President’s Day, hop over to Mirth and Motivation.  The author of that blog is the consummate researcher…a great writer and funny to boot!  And she is having a Mega-Blog Hop…if you join, you will meet a bunch of awesome bloggers!

But for now, I’d like to provide you with a recipe for lovely child-friendly fruit crisp…full of super foods…and with the option of using cherries (sometimes they are available only in season and can be quite expensive) or substituting other fruits.

CHILD-FRIENDLY COLORFUL FRUIT CRISP

You will need: 5 cups mixed fruit, washed and then sliced if necessary (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples), ÂĽ cup white sugar, ÂĽ cup orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 Tb flour (for the fruit), ÂĽ cup flour (for the topping), 2 cups rolled oats, ÂĽ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ÂĽ cup healthy margarine softened, a greased 9×13 inch pan, and 2 large bowls.

1.     In a large bowl, gently toss fruit with white sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.

2.     Sprinkle with 3 Tb flour, toss gently again and spread in the greased pan.

3.     In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining flour. 

4.     Add the margarine and mix till crumbly.

5.     Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.

6.     Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.

8.     Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

9.     Serves about 12.

This recipe has so many super foods: oats, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and all of the fruits…even though it is a dessert, you can rest easy giving it to your family because it is so high in nutrition and fiber while being fairly low in added sugar and fat.  Plus, it is really simple to prepare…your young children will love to help with the measuring and mixing.  It’s only one of the 100 easy-to-make child-friendly healthful recipes you’ll find in my new parenting book, on sale now for a limited time on my website for half price!  Check it out…I think you’ll be glad you did…it takes the hassle out of planning activities with preschoolers.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays…for an honest look at honesty.

Keeping Tabs on Your Health: What, When and Why!

Phs

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Do you procrastinate when it comes to scheduling necessary medical checkups?

Do you even know what exams and tests you should have, when you should have them and why they are important?

Keeping yourself healthy is important for everyone…but especially for parents who need to be there for their children on a daily basis.

Before we get any further into 2011, why not think about scheduling a visit with your doctor.

I try to schedule my routine annual physical around my birthday every year.  This helps me to remember that another year has gone by and it is time to make sure everything is ok.  Going to your family doctor for this is probably a good idea.  Based on the results of that checkup, you will know if you need to see any specialists or have any other tests.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has several websites that provide a wealth of information on this subject.

1.   www.healthfinder.gov

Guides and tools for healthy living.

2.   www.medlineplus.gov

Gives health information from government agencies and health organizations, plus a medical encyclopedia.

3.   www.healthfinder.gov/prevention

Helps you make healthful food choices.

4.   www.ahrrq.gov/ppip/healthywom.htm

Important information for women of all ages regarding what tests to have and when to have them.

 

In addition to getting checkups on a regular basis, we need to follow through with taking any prescribed medications, stay hydrated, move at least 30 minutes a day (dance, walk, jog, climb stairs), eat quality foods, find at least a few minutes every day to de-stress (meditate, take a bubble bath, read a chapter in a good book) and last, but certainly not least, get enough sleep!  How much is enough?  Probably more than you are getting.   Researchers have now made the connection between lack of sleep and obesity in children and the dramatic rise in juvenile diabetes. 

So please…check your calendar to see when you had your last checkup.  If it’s time, don’t put it off.  And, if something is bothering you, don’t wait…make an appointment and get it checked out.  Worrying about something doesn’t make it go away…it just adds to the stress in your life.

Restful Sleep…Crucial Factor in the Fight Against Obesity

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

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I know I feel out-of-sorts when I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. And I had heard (thought it was a rumor) that lack of sleep could cause weight gain. 

Tonight, one of our local TV stations ran a special report on kids who get too little sleep being at risk for obesity and diabetes.

So I did a little research and found that studies have shown that “insufficient nighttime sleep among infants and preschool-aged children appears to be a lasting risk factor for subsequent obesity.” (WebMD Health News) http://children.webmd.com/news/20100907/sleep-linked-to-childhood-obesity

I’m always blaming fast food, super-sized meals and lack of exercise on the increase our country is seeing in childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes.  But, now it seems that we can add another villain to the mix.

And that is one more reason to set up those bedtime routines for your children…and STICK to them.  One of the pediatricians on the TV report had several suggestions: 

  • Bedtime should be the SAME time EVERY night for your child. 
  • Wind down 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. 
  • Children should be getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night. 
  • If you are missing an hour or two of sleep for the week, you can catch up on some sleep on the weekends. 

You can refer back to yesterday’s post about bedtime routines for more tips. https://viviankirkfield.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/bedtime-routines-rituals-and-can-i-have-one-more-glass-of-water-please/

In that post, I suggested you read CORNELIUS P. MUD, ARE YOU READY FOR BED? with your child and I provided a recipe for Overnight Cookies.  Bedtime is a very special time for young children, but without routines and limits, many try to delay going to bed as much as possible.  I promised to give you a simple craft project that may encourage good bedtime routines.  With your help, your child can “set” his clock to the particular time when he will need to be ready for his bedtime story.  Then he can check that time against the real clocks in the house and will know when he has to complete his toy cleanup in order to be ready for that special treat…the bedtime story.

NO TICK-TOCK CLOCK

You will need: A piece of cardboard (from a cereal box would be fine), metal paper fastener, construction paper, marker and scissors.

  1. Cut a large circle (the clock face) from the cardboard.
  2. Cut two “hands” (one longer and narrower than the other) from the construction paper.
  3. Attach the hands to the center of the clock with the paper fastener.
  4. Draw the numbers in the correct order on the clock face.

Parents…keep in mind that if you’ve been trying to lose a few pounds yourselves (as I have been), perhaps getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis may do as much for you as cutting back on calories and exercising.  In fact, if you treat all three elements…restful sleep, nutrition (not diet) and exercise with respect, you may be rewarded with better health than you ever had before.  Believe me, I know how difficult it is to call it quits for the night…there always seems to be something else that MUST be done…laundry folded, dishes put away, lunches made for the next day, bills to pay and checkbook to balance…the list goes on and on.  This is another reason that making lists of short and long-term goals as well as a daily to-do will help organize and prioritize what needs to be done.

P.S. This post somehow got put in drafts and didn’t get posted on Tuesday…sorry. 🙂

Stop by tomorrow for a look at a very special lady…my grandmother…she was a role model for Positive Parental Participation in an era before spending quality time with your children was a catch-phrase.

The Calendar Doesn’t Lie

Hourglass

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I glanced at the calendar this morning and almost went into shock.  January 18, 2011.  The month of January is already half over and it feels like I just put away the Christmas decorations.  Well, actually, I did just put away the Christmas decorations.  Please tell me yours are still up so I will feel better.

So we are halfway through the first month of the new year and I think it’s time to check and see how I am doing with my goals…or New Year’s Resolutions for those of you who like that title better.  Here is my list…I’ve graded myself so I can see where I need to improve or what goals I might need to modify…I’m allowed to do that, right?

  • BLOG EVERY DAY…A.   However, I’m not sure this is something I can continue throughout the rest of the year…at least not on a daily basis.  It’s not that I don’t LOVE writing…because I do.  The problem is TIME or the lack of it.
  • EXERCISE EVERY DAY…C+.  I planned on doing my 25 minute low-impact Kathy Smith aerobic sequence 4 days a week and walking a mile the other 3 days.  I’ve done the 4 days a week…but have found it difficult to get out and walk the other three days.  Is it the weather?   It has been pretty cold and I am not a cold-weather lover…however I just got my routine blood labs back (everything normal!!!), but my doctor wants me to take a vitamin D supplement because my D is on the low end of normal…if I could just get out in the sunshine several days a week, that would probably take care of it.
  • DRINK 8 GLASSES OF WATER EVERY DAY…C.  I need to work harder on this!  Does everyone have a problem with this?
  • GREET EVERY DAY WITH A SMILE…A.  Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and stateswoman in her own right, said something that is so very true, “Today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”  For me it is not too difficult because I am by nature a very positive person…but I know for some, this is not an easy task.
  • DO 5 THINGS EVERY DAY TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT MY NEW BOOK…B.  It seems that no matter how much I accomplish, there is always something more I need to do.  And not being too savvy about social networking often makes it take two and three times as long to post something or connect with someone.  I truly welcome all feedback and insights into how I can do it better!

Giving a score of 90 for an A, 80 for a B, 75 for the C+ and 70 for the C, it looks like my report card average is an 80.  Not GREAT, but not too bad. J  Hopefully, with a little tweaking of the fluid intake and a little more effort on my part to get out and walk, I can improve my “grades”…but more importantly, I’ll be improving my overall health and that’s really my goal for 2011.

Do you review your goals at different times during the year to see if you are on track?  And if you’re not, do you beat yourself up over it and give up for the year or do you find a way to re-motivate yourself?

 

 Stop by tomorrow (especially if you are a parent or teacher of a preschooler) for a peek at the reading and crafting program I’m offering to local Pre-K and kindergarten classes.  It’s based on the stories and crafts that appear in my new book…educational fun-filled ideas that build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond!

The Big Picture: Will We Ever See It?

Winding road

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 One of the most amazing things about this blogging adventure is that it puts me in touch with so many other people. 

Reading what others write is like living in a house with hundreds, thousands or even millions of windows…all equipped with a set of curtains, shutters, window shades or blinds.  Each time you click on someone’s blog post, it is like pushing aside the curtains or opening the shutters, shades or blinds on that person’s mind…because in what they write, they are revealing their thoughts, hopes, dreams, concerns and beliefs.

Sometimes the posts are funny and sometimes they are sad.  Some are informative and others are just very entertaining.  But all of them have the potential of opening our minds and helping us find some inner truth we have been searching for.

This happened to me late last night as I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers: Eof737MirthandMotivation http://eof737.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/kismet-it%e2%80%99s-all-good%e2%80%a6/.  She began her post with a quote that is a favorite of mine about everything happening for a reason.  I do believe this is true but it got me thinking, especially in the aftermath of the Arizona tragedy, about how unfair life sometimes seems and how bad things happen to good people.

Picture you are walking down a road.   This is your life’s journey.  You can see what is in front of you and, if you turn your head, you can see a little to the sides and behind you as well.  But you can’t see around the corner, nor do you know what you will find way down the road or what will happen if you take one of the side streets or forks in the road. 

If, however, you could view the road from a plane or a point of really high elevation, you would see a lot more of what was ahead.   However, you still wouldn’t be able to see the entire journey.

And perhaps that is one of the reasons why people who have a belief in God or a High Power or a Universal Creator can be more peaceful and positive about this difficult journey of life.  They KNOW that there is a plan to all of this often bewildering, confusing and frustrating existence.  They believe that even if they can’t see the whole journey, the Planner can, and they take comfort in that knowledge.

Whatever your beliefs, there are some basic things that we can do that will help us meet each day at our best.  If you are a parent, these simple steps will help you give your children your best as well.  Each day is a precious gift and should be used with loving care.

  • Get enough sleep…if you wake up refreshed and ready to meet the day, you’ve probably had the right amount…the number of hours needed is different for each person…but it should normally be about 8 hours…more for young people.
  • Eat healthy…fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nix the processed, fatty and sugary stuff and fast-food take-out.
  • Stay hydrated…if you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated…eight glasses of water may seem like an impossible feat…I know it is really hard for me.
  • Meditate…find at least a few minutes every day to step back, be still, and embrace peacefulness.
  • Keep a positive attitude..and smile…did you know that when you answer the phone, the person on the other end can tell if you are smiling? 
  • Stay connected to others…whether you go out to work or you are home with a houseful of young children (maybe especially if you are home with a houseful of young children), social interaction is important for your well-being.

Maybe that’s why social networking has become so popular world-wide…we all have a need to be connected with others. 

And where does blogging fit into the scheme of things?   It allows us to share our thoughts and find out what others are saying.  What do you think?

IBS, GERD and CHILD-FRIENDLY CARROT CAKE

Carrot cake in pan

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Have you had to give up many of the foods you LOVE because of medical conditions like GERD or IBS?

Did you resolve to start the New Year eating in a healthier manner?

Are you looking for a nutritious and delicious dessert to serve to your family?

If any of the above applies to you, here is the PERFECT CARROT CAKE recipe.  Easy to prepare and easy on the stomach, this child-friendly recipe is so yummy, you will want to serve it to company…and so high in nutrition, you will not hesitate to serve it to your family.  Check out the ingredients and you will find 4 of the SUPER FOODS recommended by health experts. (I’ve underlined them in the ingredient list)  And, as if that isn’t enough to get you started on this recipe, the preparation is easy-peasy and your kids will enjoy helping you measure and mix.

So, what are you waiting for?

 

PERFECT CARROT CAKE FOR 2011

You will need: 1½ cups unbleached white flour, 1½ tsp baking powder, Âľ tsp baking soda, Âľ cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg lightly beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of one orange, ÂĽ cup brown sugar, 2 cups grated carrots (I use a pound package of peeled baby carrots). Âľ cup pineapple chunks with ÂĽ – ½ cup of the juice (I use pineapple canned in its own juice – no added sugar). 2 large bowls, blender to chop carrots and pineapple, Bundt pan sprayed with canola oil.

  1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl (a whisk works great) and set aside. 
  2. Mix 1 lightly beaten egg (I substitute egg beaters), canola oil, zest of an orange (you can use a fine hand grater to grate the zest from the orange…and this is one of those items that SHOULD be organic if at all possible as you are using the outer peel), vanilla and brown sugar in another large bowl…I use a wooden spoon.
  3. Chop or grate carrots (I use a blender…you could use a food processor or do it with a hand grater).
  4. If you are using a blender or food processor, add the pineapple chunks and the juice from the can.  If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you could purchase crushed pineapple in a can instead of the chunks.  You can blend or food process to a fairly smooth consistency or you can leave the carrots and pineapple in a more chopped state…your choice.
  5. Add the carrot/pineapple to the bowl with the egg mixture and mix well.
  6. Add this mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix gently until well-mixed.
  7. Pour into the lightly greased Bundt pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  9. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

10. When cool, turn over onto a dinner-sized plate.

11. I cover the cake with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge.  It can keep for about a week…but it won’t last that long. J

The great thing about this recipe is that it is very forgiving…a little more or a little less of any of the ingredients and the cake still turns out GREAT.  In fact, I once realized I didn’t have any pineapple AFTER I had started making the cake.  I substituted applesauce and it was delicious.  Another time I found that I had run out of baking powder…I added a little more baking soda and the cake still looked and tasted wonderful.  I’d love to know if you try this recipe…let me know how it turned out!

Super Foods for a Super You in 2011

This image shows a display of healthy foods on...

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Next time you are shopping in your local supermarket, think about putting some of these super foods in your cart.  Each one on the list provides important health benefits for you and your family. 

  1. Apples
  2. Avocado
  3. Beans
  4. Broccoli
  5. Carrots
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Garlic
  10. Honey
  11. Kiwi Fruit
  12. Low Fat Yogurt
  13. Oats
  14. Onions
  15. Oranges
  16. Pineapple
  17. Pomegranates
  18. Pumpkin
  19. Soy
  20. Spinach
  21. Tea
  22. Tomatoes
  23. Turkey
  24. Walnuts
  25. Wild Salmon

If some of these foods are unfamiliar, why not resolve to try a new food every week.  There are many online recipe sites you can go to: http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Main.aspx and http://www.foodnetwork.com/ are two excellent sites to start at.  Your local library probably has a wonderful selection of cookbooks that you can borrow for free.  Of course, there are some people who just LOVE cookbooks (like me and my sister) and enjoy collecting them because we love seeing how many ways there are to make a particular dish.   If reading this makes you smile in recognition, a trip to new and used bookstores, as well as garage or tag sales can result in finding a cookbook treasure.

How about a dinner menu that’s beautiful to look at, delicious to taste, and contains several of the super foods…so you know it will be bursting with health benefits for you and your family.  Let your children help you prepare the meal and you will reap several other benefits: fussy eaters often eat what they have helped prepare and children gain confidence and develop competence when they master kitchen tasks and skills.

 GRILLED SALMON WITH ORANGE SLICES

You will need: 1 lb salmon fillet, 1 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb dried dill (you can substitute basil or thyme), 1 Tb honey, 1 orange

  • Wash the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Mix the olive oil, honey and dill in small bowl and brush some on the salmon, reserving the rest for basting.
  • Heat the grill and place the fillet, skin side up, on the grill.
  • Grill on low for 5 minutes, turn and baste with the oil/honey/dill sauce.
  • Grill an additional 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Slice the orange and use it to garnish each serving of salmon.

This should feed 4 people…add some steamed broccoli and multigrain rolls for a Super Food Extravaganza!

Tomorrow…some more reasons to serve your family Super Foods…and the best Carrot Cake recipe ever!