The Best and Easiest Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe Ever

Child obesity is a big problem in the United States.

With the holidays approaching, what can parents do to help their children maintain a healthy weight?

  • Provide healthful snacks: vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumbers, celery); fruit slices (apples, pears, orange sections), cheese cubes, whole-grain crackers.
  • Watch meal portions: for example, make a habit of measuring cereal before you pour it into the bowl (most cereals call for ½ to 1 cup as a serving size); use salad plates instead of dinner plates, especially for young children…you will be less likely to serve too much…this works for adults as well.
  • Keep eating out to a minimum and avoid fast-foods as much as possible: if you make food for your family yourself, you can pass on the additives and preservatives and high sodium content present in most restaurant offerings…and you will probably save money.
  • Make a batch of these nutritious cookies with your child: they are high in fiber, low in sugar, salt and fat…and no preservatives or artificial colors.

OVERNIGHT COOKIES

You will need: 2 egg whites, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, large bowl, electric mixer and a lightly greased cookie sheet.

1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.

3.    Add the sugar and mix in.

4.    Add the raisins and the ground almonds and fold in gently but thoroughly.

5.    Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.

6.    Bake for 5 minutes.

7.    Turn off oven.

8.    If you like softer cookies, you can remove them from the oven after about 30 minutes.  If you like crispier cookies, you can leave them in for an hour…or overnight.

9.    This recipe makes about 12 – 18 cookies, depending on the size you drop onto the cookie sheet.

 

What a fun recipe to prepare with your child during this holiday season!  You could even make several batches and give some away as gifts.  Cooking with children is a super learning activity…science (how do the runny egg whites change when you beat them), math (fractions, counting), better pre-literacy skills (reading the labels of the egg carton, bag of sugar, etc.).  Best of all, cooking with kids is one of the best ways to strengthen the parent-child connection and build their self-esteem as they master tasks and skills.

Please visit the Show Me How website where you can find out more about the book that provides many more quick and easy cooking activities for kids along with simple arts and crafts activities and story summaries of the 100 picture books every young child should hear.

The book has received praise from many mom and dad bloggers as well as picture book authors and self-esteem experts. http://areelcoolsummer.blogspot.com/2011/08/five-gold-stars-for-show-me-how.html

The New Year is almost here…make a resolution to spend 15 minutes a day, reading or crafting or cooking with your young child…the positive impact it will have on your child cannot be measured. 

Have You Abandoned Your New Year’s Resolutions: Healthy Habit Thursday

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If you’re like me, you start the New Year off with good intentions.

All of us probably KNOW what we should be doing to stay healthy.

Every January 1st, I make a list of New Year’s resolutions or goals.

Many of them focus on good health habits like walking every day, drinking 8 glasses of water, eating nutritious foods and getting 8 hours of sleep each night.

Then, life gets in the way!

We all lead busy lives and many of us have so many responsibilities that we often push our own needs to the back burner.


Can you believe that 2011 is almost half over?

I’m revisiting those resolutions and goals to see how realistic they were and whether or not I need to revise them.

Taking a time-management class would probably be a great thing for me to do.  I know that 24 hours should be enough time to accomplish what I want to do…the problem is making sure that I am devoting the right amount of time to each task.   Blogging always tends to take more time than I thought it would, but I love connecting with everyone. 🙂

I think what I need to do is write down a schedule of how I think each day should go…and then keep a log of what is actually happening…I’ll then see where I am spending time that might be better used in some other activity.

How do you plan your time?  I’d really appreciate your input because right now, unless I give up sleep, there is no way I can fit everything in. 🙂

I do know that I must walk and exercise…if I let a few days go by without doing it, my muscles tighten up and my back hurts.

I do know that I need to stay hydrated by drinking enough water…if I don’t, I wind up eating more…my body seems to tell me it is hungry when really all it wants is a glass of water.

I do know that I have to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night…if I try to make do with less sleep; I have a lot less energy in the morning and am less productive throughout the day.

I do know that I need to watch what I eat…if I eat “fast food” or highly processed foods, my body complains.

So I am rededicating myself to my 2011 New Year’s resolutions and goals that focus on staying healthy.  The warmer weather is here, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming…it’s time for my walk!


Please stop by tomorrow for Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian?  I have several exciting upcoming local events (Summer Soulstice in Monument, CO – June 18, and PBS kids Fun Fest in Acacia Park, Colorado Springs – June 11) to tell you about and also a new special book offer that will go up on my website this weekend.

The Calendar Doesn’t Lie

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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!

De-clutter Equals De-Stress

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Did you know that living in a cluttered environment actually adds to your stress level?

It’s doubly hard for me because I would like to be organized and live more minimalistically, but my husband is a collector…of many things!  Books, all things flyfishing, art supplies (he has taken up painting and is really very good).  So you can imagine how difficult it is to keep things neat and in their proper places because we have so much STUFF that we sometimes run out of the proper places and stuff winds up on tables, chairs…even the back of the couch!  If this sounds familiar, maybe the list of books below will help.  

 I am always waiting for the BIG block of time to REALLY get organized 🙂 but I think the secret is to simply make a decision to DO IT and when you have an hour or a half hour, clear one drawer or one table and just keep at it.  Even if it takes a month or more, eventually you will be more organized and surrounded by less clutter.  AHHHHHHHH! 

There are hundreds of books available on organizing and cleaning up clutter.  I’ve listed just a few you might want to get from the library or bookstore if you’ve decided to organize and want some more direction.  Some of the books listed are geared for homes with children…children definitely benefit from living in an organized environment also!  You can also go online and find a wealth of ideas.

1.    Helping Kids Get Organized – Activities That Teach Time Management, Clutter Clearing, Project Planning and More by Robyn Freedman Spizman

2.    Organized Kidz: E-Z solutions for Clutter-Free Living by Debbie and David Williams

3.    Stop Clutter From Wrecking Your Family: Organize Your Children, Spouse and Home by Mike Nelson

4.    Organized Living: Clutter Clearing Strategies and Creative Storage Solutions by Dawne Walter and Helen Chislett

My husband asked me the other day what my New Year’s resolutions were…now I know.  In addition to trying to blog EVERY day with something of value, I am going to take my own advice and grab an hour or half hour every day and clear out one drawer, cabinet, counter or whatever…I promise to blog in a month and update everyone with my progress.

10 Simple Steps to a Simplier Life for 2011

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            I don’t know about you, but two of the biggest stressors in my life are clutter and disorder…often found together in the same drawer, closet or room.  So, it stands to reason that simplifying and organizing…drawer, closet, home or life…will go a long way to minimizing the stress in our lives…helpful for all of us, wouldn’t you say?

1.    Whether you are cleaning out a closet, room or garage…look over what you have and toss, give away or sell what you don’t need.

2.    Group your possessions into categories: for example, in your closet, hang all the slacks together, all the shirts, etc.  with your child’s toys, store puzzles in one section, balls in a separate box, etc.

3.    Keep things you use often easily available.  Items like Christmas decorations can be boxed and stored in attic or basement or on that hard to reach shelf in the closet.

4.    Identify storage spaces and containers so things are always where you can find them and put them away again…bills, health care info, coupons, etc.  Inexpensive storage bins and tubs can be purchased at stores like Home Depot or Target.

5.    For your child, cut out pictures of clothing items and tape them to the appropriate drawers to help him locate and put away his clothes.

6.    Ditto for toy shelves…use stackable plastic bins or similar storage containers (like the ones you will make in the Creative Corner project) to house toys and supplies such as drawing paper and crayons.  Paste a picture, as well as the word, of the contents on the outside of the container to help your child locate the proper place when he is cleaning up his toys.

7.    Utilize under-the-bed storage bins if closet space is at a premium for out-of-season clothing and items such as wrapping paper and old photos.

8.    Regarding your clothes…two important mantras…if it doesn’t fit, get rid of it AND if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it or give it away or sell it.

9.    Regarding your child’s clothing…even if you are saving it all for future children or giving it all away or selling it at a consignment shop…do save a few favorite items from babyhood on.  A lovely memory mini-quilt can be sewn (or glued onto a piece of cardboard if you aren’t handy with needle and thread) from small pieces of the different fabrics and then framed.  This would make a lovely wall hanging in your child’s room or a wonderful gift for a beloved grandparent.

10.In a cardboard box, plastic storage bin or upscale organizer, store necessary items by category: stationery/mailing, essential tools/flashlight, first aid kit, etc.  Keep the box or bin or organizer located in the area where you will most likely be carrying out that particular task.  This tip alone will save you hours of time you would have spent looking for a stamp, hammer or gauze pad.

Tune in tomorrow for a picture book suggestion and craft project  and cooking activity you will be able to do with your preschooler with the time you saved not having to search for those missing keys. 🙂

How to Avoid the “Last Minute” Blues

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Mary glanced at the clock and felt her heart start racing…the doctor’s appointment was in 15 minutes and the doctor’s office was 10 minutes away.  The breakfast she had set out on the table was still uneaten and her 4-year old son was running around upstairs, searching for a missing shoe.  Hurrying up the stairs, she shouted, “We are going to be late because of you!”

Are you shaking your head up and down because you recognize this scenario?  I can replay in my mind several similar episodes that occurred when my children were young.  Anyone who says that keeping a family running smoothly (and on time) has obviously not been a parent. 

But, there are solutions to this problem!  Lack of planning and organization are the root causes…there is a saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.  If you sometimes (or often) find yourself searching for that missing shoe or you would like to put in place a few simple routines for the New Year that will help de-stress your life, perhaps the following simple suggestions will help.

  1. Put a calendar near the phone for logging in appointments and other important dates and times.  You can even set up a calendar for your child to keep in his room (free ones are usually available at pharmacies and other stores at this time of year).  He will enjoy marking his own calendar with his own very important dates (his birthday, his friends’ birthdays, special outings, etc.).
  2. Before going to bed (maybe as part of his special bed-time ritual), help your child choose his clothes for the next day (or let him choose his own…just make sure that if it is winter, you have put the bathing suits away).  In addition, check the calendar to see what is scheduled for the next day and get ready any other items needed (i.e. library books that are due at the library).
  3. Attach a short clothesline (about 12 inches long and equipped with clothespins) or a store-bought or homemade rack with hooks or pegs on a wall near your exit door (front, back or side, wherever the family goes in and out) and have your child hang up his gloves, hat, scarf, etc. when he comes in.  If the items are damp, they will dry out much better this way than if left in coat pockets or stuffed in a book bag.  In addition, they will be ready at a moment’s notice when your child needs them and you will immediately be aware if one of the mittens or gloves is missing.
  4. Hang a key rack in a convenient place so that all family members who have keys (house, car, etc.) will automatically hang them up when they come in.  This will save many precious minutes (or hours) of time because no one will have to look for the keys when it is time to go out.  I can’t tell you how many times we searched our home looking for a set of keys that turned up to be “hiding” under a pile of papers on the dining room table.  How stressful….and what a waste of precious time!
  5. Try to avoid the pitfall of too much activity…although it is important for our children to be offered many different types of activities (karate class, dance class, nursery school, etc.), one-on-one quality time with YOU is the most important, whether it is reading a story or participating in a craft project or cooking activity or just sitting together watching cloud formations roll by.

For more great tips and tactics to help you simplify your family life, check out the blog carnival starting on January 8th at http://babyproducts.about.com/b/2010/12/28/join-the-january-blog-carnival-simplify-your-life.htm?nl=1

IBS, GERD and CHILD-FRIENDLY CARROT CAKE

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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, ¾ tsp baking soda, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 egg lightly beaten, ½ cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla, zest of one orange, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 cups grated carrots (I use a pound package of peeled baby carrots). ¾ cup pineapple chunks with ¼ – 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!