Summertime is for playing outdoors and enjoying time with family – not for sweating it out in the kitchen! These no bake desserts are a cool treat when the weather is hot, so you can get back to enjoying what you love. Which one will be your favorite?
No Bake Desserts: Summertime Treats
Enjoy these no bake desserts! What’s your favorite summertime treat?
June 22, 2021food, SummerComments Off on Healthy Summer Dessert: Greek Yogurt Trifle
When the weather gets hot, it’s a great time to make this healthy summer dessert! Even better, this Greek yogurt trifle is loaded with fruit and other ingredients you can feel good about serving to your family. Imagine your kids’ faces when you tell them they can have this dessert for breakfast!
Healthy Summer Dessert: Greek Yogurt Trifle
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Enjoy this healthy summer dessert! I love no bake treats like these in the summer, when I really don’t want to turn on the oven.
We just made our Greek yogurt trifle in a large serving bowl, but it would look really lovely to serve it in a trifle bowl!
The great thing about this dessert is that it’s so adaptable. I’m listing below the amounts we used, but you can adjust it to your tastes and preferences.
3 ripe bananas, sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
6 cups plain Greek yogurt (you can substitute regular yogurt, but the pudding layer won’t be as firm)
1/4 – 1/3 cup peanut butter
honey, to taste
10 large rectangles of graham crackers
Add a layer of chocolate chips!
Add an extra banana or two in the pudding to pump up the flavor and add more natural sweetness.
Substitute another favorite fruit for the strawberries.
Add cacao powder to the pudding (as shown here). We used 4 T of cacao powder. Be aware that because the cacao is bitter, you will need to add quite a bit more honey, which makes the pudding layer much runnier. The taste is great, though!
Crush the graham crackers into small pieces. Do not crush into a powder, or it will be absorbed completely into the pudding layer. Adjust the size of the pieces by how much crunch you would like.
Mix the yogurt, peanut butter, and honey in the blender until smooth. (If using cacao powder, add now).
Layer the trifle in your bowl as follows:
Repeat layers, ending with the strawberries.
Chill several hours and serve.
This Greek yogurt trifle was a big hit! My oldest gave this healthy summer dessert a “100, on a scale of 1 out of 10”! What are your favorite summer treats?
January 30, 2018food, Kid FunComments Off on Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas
Getting ready for the big game this weekend? Throw a bash the whole family will enjoy with these kid-friendly game day party ideas! From crafts and activities to food and decorations, we’ve got you covered! Includes a review of a great non-alcoholic drink everyone will love.
Disclosure: I received samples of Bottoms Up for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Kid-Friendly Game Day Party Ideas
Anyone else excited for the big game this weekend?? More than just a sports game, it is also an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. Here are some kid-friendly game day party ideas, so you can make sure everyone is having fun! Plus don’t miss our review of a great new drink that the whole family will enjoy.
We love ginger beer, that spicy non-alcoholic brew that makes a great party drink. So I was super excited to have a chance to review the brand new Bottoms Up Ginger Beer from a company that really knows its ginger – The Ginger People!
Bottoms Up Ginger Beer gets its stellar flavor from high quality, unfiltered ginger juice and just the right touch of sweetness. This premium drink is something you can feel good serving to all of your guests, even the little ones, as it contains absolutely no alcohol, is vegan friendly, and GMO free. Even better, it now has less sugar (and so fewer calories) than previous batches!
Enjoy it as is, or try mixing it with some juice!
So if you’re looking for a great kid-friendly drink for your game day party, be sure to check out Bottoms Up Ginger Beer, and have fun watching the big game this weekend!
As parents, life can get so busy that often we have to stop and catch our breath and wonder, where did the time go? I always look forward to spending time with my kids, but practically speaking I actually spend most of my time running errands and doing household chores. Someone is always tugging on my leg asking to play freeze tag or build a fort in the living room, but I usually put them off because there is always a diaper to change, or a meal to cook, or laundry to fold. Trust me, I would much rather build a pillow fort! If you also find yourself struggling to find time to enjoy your family, here are three simple ways to reconnect with your kids – even when you are really busy!
Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Mighty Kong Muffins for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
3 Simple Ways to Reconnect with Your Kids – Even When You Are Really Busy!
1. Take Play Breaks
My four year old could play freeze tag all day long. From the moment he wakes up until time to brush his teeth at night, anytime there is a pause in activity (and usually when there isn’t), he asks to play freeze tag. Somehow it always seems like he asks just as I need to change a diaper or when I’m in the middle of cooking. Rather than put him off completely, I try to take short play breaks with him. Be realistic about how much time you have, then set a timer and give your child your focused attention – no checking Facebook, no picking up toys off the floor, or straightening the furniture – just playing with him.
For me, this is usually 10 or 15 minutes at a time on a weekday. (I make sure to do non-timed, longer play times together on the weekends, but these are usually not practical during the week). This seems like a really short amount of time, but it always seems surprisingly long, considering I am really focusing on him and not multi-tasking like I usually do.
It doesn’t stop him from asking to play again 5 minutes later, but he is more understanding when I have to say no, and I feel less guilty about getting my work done.
2. Play a Game after Dinner
Our kids get screen time in the evenings, yet we noticed that this often resulted in a race to leave the dinner table and get back to electronics. So now we have instituted the rule that we play a game (or do a puzzle, etc) after dinner before we all retire to our corners to relax before bedtime. The kids love it, especially since Daddy is home to join in as well, so no one is watching the clock and rushing to leave the table. As much as I love game nights, this abbreviated version works for us during the week, so we can still get in play time together as a family and make sure we really reconnect with our kids in the evenings.
3. Do Read Alouds
We all know how important it is to read together, and most of us tend to do this at bedtime, which is such a snuggly, cozy time to share a good story. Yet I noticed that we tend to do this with our kids individually (as they all go to bed at slightly different times), plus the stories tend to be shorter because of the late hour.
I loved that old-fashioned idea of a family sitting around reading a great book together, so I started doing family read alouds during the day. It is wonderful bonding time, plus it is a great way to engage kids with slightly more challenging material or to read stories they might not have considered. For example, a younger child might be more inclined to stick with an easy chapter book because of the excitement of reading with older siblings, and another might be surprised to find that they like a story outside of the genre they tend to favor. (For great reading ideas, see my book reviews!)
I have found that the easiest way to keep everyone’s attention, despite the range of ages and interests, is to involve food. Give the kids something to eat at the table, and they are more likely to be sitting quietly and listening as you read. As homeschoolers, we can often do our read alouds over lunch, but it’s also a great way to relax together over an after school snack. This is especially true if you have a child that doesn’t like to sit and talk when they first come home – here is a great way to reconnect with your kids without forcing conversations they aren’t ready for.
Finding a Great Snack to Share
We have recently discovered a new favorite snack, which is perfect to share during our family read aloud. While we do have the occasional treat, I am rather picky about making sure my kids have healthy snacks. So I was excited to find out about Mighty Kong Muffins, a family-run and locally-owned Sacramento business that makes the most delicious gourmet bran muffins in a staggering 22 varieties. (See their interview on a local news show).
I know what you’re thinking: Gourmet bran muffins? Yes, it’s true! The ingredients are all high-quality and non-GMO, with fresh fruits and nuts and high grade dark chocolate. You won’t find any flour in these muffins – or any preservatives or artificial ingredients, for that matter. These mini-muffins are a great snack you can feel good about sharing with your kids.
We received a variety pack of the Mighty Kong Muffins and so had fun sampling four different flavors: Ape Dates (date walnut), Naner Naner (banana walnut), Wapple Apple (apple raisin), and the seasonal Rumplepumpskin (cranberry pumpkin). (Note: all flavors are available without nuts). My younger son loved the Wapple Apple, which my older son couldn’t decide between the Ape Dates and the Naner Naner. Personally, I loved the Rumplepumpskin. In other words, every single one was a hit!
This post was sponsored by Ling Ling and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Do you love Asian cooking but feel like you don’t have the time to experiment with complicated dinners? Too busy taking the kids to soccer practice or chasing after your toddler to attempt new flavor combinations? Now you can serve something both easy and delicious to your family. Feel like a rock star when you sit down to a no sweat dinner of Asian-inspired dishes that taste straight out of a restaurant!
I love our family dinners, but most evenings I don’t love cooking them. After a full day of caring for three young children, the last thing I feel like doing is spending lengthy amounts of time cooking, and I certainly don’t have the mental energy to experiment with anything new.
That’s why I was so happy to learn that Ling Ling, long popular because of their pot stickers, now has a new line of fried rice dishes! As someone who loves to introduce her children to flavors from around the world, I am glad to be able to serve them authentic Asian-inspired dishes at home, without having to spend hours laboring in the kitchen!
I had the opportunity to try out some of these new fried rice dishes recently at a blogger event in San Francisco, sponsored by Ling Ling and hosted by Parties That Cook.
During the event we were treated to samples of three of the new fried rice dishes, based on authentic Asian-inspired recipes: Yakitori Chicken (Japan), Chinese-Style Vegetable, and Bibimbap Beef (Korea). (You can also look for their Yakiniku Beef and Thai-Style Chicken). They were all so flavorful, thanks to Ling Ling‘s use of high quality ingredients and their unique preparation method – rather than simply giving you a sauce packet to stir into your meal, Ling Ling actually infuses the rice with the sauces so that you get amazing flavor in each bite.
Which was my favorite? I couldn’t make up my mind! Chinese-Style Vegetable, of course, is the traditional favorite I grew up with, while Yakitori Chicken had that wonderful umami flavor everyone talks about. (Plus it really did have big chunks of grilled chicken in it!) But I was most intrigued by the Bibimbap Beef, since I was the least familiar with it. The gochujang sauce has just a bit of heat to it but is also a bit sweet – I loved it!
But first we got some expert cooking tips from Chef Mike Chapter from Parties That Cook. One of my favorites? If you are tired of peeling ginger, you can either use the back of a spoon to make it easier – or skip peeling altogether! Simply grate the ginger – peel and all – then squeeze it to wring out the juice. The juice is what you’re really after, so just add the same quantity of the juice as you would of the ginger – no more peeling!
We also had the chance to try our hand at making some side dishes to pair with the Ling Ling fried rice: Crispy Kale Salad with Shiitake Mushrooms, Raisins and Almonds paired with the Ling Ling Yakatori Chicken; Hand Rolled Scallion Pancakes paired with Ling Ling Chinese Style Vegetables; and Asian Cucumber Salad paired with the Ling Ling Bibimbap Beef.
I was on the team that made the Asian Cucumber Salad – doesn’t it look great?? And it was so simple to make!
The days are so long, but the years are so short: Doesn’t it seem like you look up one day and realize how much time has gone by? And you wonder, did I waste it all on things that at the end of the day weren’t so important, like the laundry, the dishes, etc.? One way to make sure the world isn’t passing you by is to connect with the rhythms of the seasons. Seasonal living can help you feel more grounded and connected to the world around you, which is an important lesson to teach our children as well. Because children that are connected to the natural world will feel compelled to protect and nurture it as adults.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commissions at no extra cost to you.
5 Tips for Seasonal Living
1. Connect with Nature
This is an obvious tip but one that we often skip as we rush through our days. So many times I’m focused on the chores I need to complete that I don’t look up to appreciate the changing colors of the trees or the way the light hits the clouds just so at sundown. Luckily my children have not lost this sense of wonder at nature and frequently remind me to slow down and look at all the little crawling bugs and funny shaped clouds. When you are connected with nature, you are more in tune with the subtle changes as one season turns into another. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or spending an afternoon at the park. Pick some wildflowers and display them in a pretty vase so you can bring the outdoors back home with you as a reminder of what matters.
2. Study the Natural World
Seasonal living means not just playing in nature but really learning from it. Our home school adviser got us started on nature journals – they are such a great way for kids (and adults!) to really pay attention to what they see around them. By training ourselves to really see what is in front of us, we notice details we normally miss and appreciate the long-term changes we may miss in our day to day observations. Pick a favorite tree or spot in your yard or local park, and have your child draw it every few weeks. It is so fun to look back and see how much it changes over time! You could also track how the constellations move across the sky with the seasons or how animals’ coats transform with the changing weather. Anything to get them to attend to the rhythms of the seasons – follow their interests and build on them!
There are few better places to discover seasonal living than the local farmer’s market. Most supermarkets import so much of their food that it can be hard to tell what’s really in season in your own part of the world. Farmer’s markets (and CSAs) are wonderful ways to explore local crops when they are at their peak. Make it into an adventure with your kids to see what is available at the farmer’s market that week. It could be a family challenge to try something new that has just arrived – a great way to introduce spontaneity into your weekly menu planning! Get ideas from the farmers themselves: Ask them about their favorite way to prepare the produce they are selling!
4. Plant a Garden
Planting a garden is another key factor to seasonal living. Besides teaching children the rewards of patience and hard work, a garden demonstrates in a very hands on way how the natural world has its own rhythms, as plants sprout then blossom and give fruit. Tuning into that gentle pace can be calming for children and adults alike, as we align our own expectations to this slower rhythm. If you don’t have outdoor space for a garden, you can create planters on your balcony or even grow herbs or small plants indoors. Many areas also have community gardens, where you can rent a plot for a small fee. This is a great way to meet like-minded neighbors as you tend your plants!
And of course, with all that great produce from the farmer’s market and your own garden, you will bring seasonal living into your kitchen as you stretch yourself to prepare foods in new ways that highlight the flavors of the season. Living in harmony with natural rhythms helps keep you from getting into a rut, plus it ensures that you are enjoying produce when it is at its most flavorful!
That is why I’m so excited about the wonderful new cookbook Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season from Tuttle Publishing. It makes seasonal living so easy! The book is divided into sections by season, with recipes that feature the flavors that are available that time of year. I also love that it simplifies many traditional recipes to make them accessible to modern cooks – without sacrificing any of the flavor. Author Patricia Tanumihardja draws on her experiences in several different food cultures to blend traditions to make fresh, appetizing dishes, all using ingredients and equipment that you already have or can easily find.
One example is the Asparagus in Lemongrass-Coconut Cream Sauce. I have to admit I had never even cooked asparagus before, much less attempted a lemongrass-coconut cream sauce. But the steps in the recipe were so straightforward that even a newbie like myself was able to make a wonderful tasting dish in the brief period of time that all three of my kids were cheerfully occupied! I honestly felt like I was serving a dish right out of a restaurant!
Now that the school year is halfway over, it is easy to get in a rut with lunches for the kids. Want something fun to pack for them that you can feel good about? Here are some great healthy and fun lunchbox ideas for you!
As the links above show, “healthy” doesn’t have to mean boring or even complicated to make. There are also a lot of healthy, ready made snack options these days. One recent discovery is Deep River Snacks’ HONCHO Organic Tortilla Chips, which come in fun flavors like Nacho Cheese, Ranch, and (my favorite) Peach Habanero. These tasty chips are gluten-free and use 100% organic ingredients – no GMOs allowed!
I also love supporting businesses that are passionate about giving back to the community, which is why I was so happy to discover that Deep River Snacks helps raise awareness by featuring charities on their snacks, giving in-kind donations, and donating 10% of their net profits to charity.
But enough about why I love them – the real test for the lunchbox is what the kids think! Let me just say this was a difficult photo shoot because, well, we could hardly stop eating long enough to get pictures! We got to try all three varieties, and none of them lasted long in our pantry.
When it’s so good you just want to eat your hand
I asked the boys which was their favorite flavor, and they really couldn’t decide. Try doing a taste test with your kids and see if they have any easier time making up their minds! They are all so flavorful, your kids won’t miss the junk food they could be eating instead!
June 29, 2016food, Kid FunComments Off on Sibling Bonding: 5 Things My Kids Actually Agree On
As anyone with more than one kid can tell you, getting siblings to agree on anything is a Herculean task. What should we have for lunch? What do you want to watch on TV? What’s your favorite color? All questions likely to start World War III in my house! My boys are as different as night and day. That’s why it’s great when they actually agree on something! Here are 5 things that will bring them together for a little sibling bonding no matter what!
Sibling Bonding: 5 Things My Kids Actually Agree On
5. Ice cream (but don’t ask them to agree on a flavor!)
4. Running around the house shouting at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason
3. Leaving their shoes in the middle of the entrance hall (or kicked off in the middle of the living room)
2. Yummy snacks like Honey Nut Cheerios (as long as there is plenty for both of them!)
While I do have to limit #5, and #4 and #3 drive me crazy, at least I can fully support #2 & #1!
As the mother of three young children, I love it when easy snacks are also healthy snacks. Honey Nut Cheerios is a great snack or breakfast I can feel good about giving to my kids: It’s made with real honey, and whole grain oats are the first ingredient. And now it is also gluten free!
Starting in July specially marked boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and Regular Cheerios will have 6 free collectible key chains with characters from The Secret Life of Pets! My kids are so excited to see this movie – it looks hilarious! Because haven’t you always wondered what really goes on when owners leave the house and pets are finally alone for the day??
There are 6 collectible Pets characters in all. We got Max, the adorable terrier mix! My guys were so excited, they both ran to show it to my husband when he got home from work!
Taking care of children and household is a rewarding job but can also be draining. Here are some favorite new means of self-care for moms. Inspired by the traditional wisdom and aesthetic of Asian cultures, these books are unique and beautiful ways to treat yourself, body and soul.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below from Tuttle Publishing for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own.
Asian Inspired Self-Care for Moms
I love smoothies and make several a week for the kids and me. So I was excited for a chance to review Healthy Smoothies: Traditional Chinese Medicine Inspired Recipes – Ancient Traditions, Modern Healing. It has more than 30 easy recipes for healthy smoothies, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is so much more than just a recipe book, though, as it gives an explanation of TCM and its holistic approach to wellness. You learn how to discover your own constitution and the principles of how to choose the best recipes for you. In other words, some super foods may be really helpful for me and others less so, depending on the needs of my constitution and of the climate/season. So if you have particular ailment, you can use these principles to find recipes that can help. So it’s really a wellness book, not just a collection of recipes – perfect for self-care for moms- plus the smoothies are delicious!
A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on
And I love that the recipes are so different than ones you’ll find anywhere else. I’m used to smoothies being sweet, for example, not savory, as several of these are, and would you have ever thought to put beans in your smoothie? What’s great is that this is a book that stretches you to try new things (such as goji berries or mung beans) but it’s also very practical: there were no ingredients that I couldn’t find at my grocery store or at a health food store or nearby Asian market. It is a wonderful introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine and how it can help you!
Adult coloring pages are very popular now, and it’s easy to see why. Coloring is so relaxing, but sometimes using your kid’s Winnie-the-Pooh coloring book just doesn’t cut it! The Colors of Asia: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book for Calm and Creativity is a gorgeous collection of more than 90 designs inspired by Asian art. Rather than vegging out in front of the TV during naptime – or frantically trying to clean the house – try getting some self-care by taking some time to color in these elegant works of art. I dare you not to feel yourself transported away from the dirty dishes and dirty diapers into a realm where you are an artist. A wonderful stress reliever and active meditation, important elements in self-care for moms.
Many of us have an admiration for Buddhist thought but only a superficial understanding of it beyond the basics. Dharma Delight: A Visionary Post Pop Comic Guide to Buddhism and Zen is a joyful exploration of Buddhist teachings through the use of graphic novel style illustrations and short stories. It is a feel-good look at the path to enlightenment, making use of gentle humor to explain spiritual concepts. One of my favorites is a drawing of Buddha vacuuming, explaining to the dust that He is helping transport it to a better place where it can be a part of the cycle of life. But this isn’t a “lite” version of Buddhism, though the text is simple. It delves into bigger concepts such as how we can be a light to ourselves and who the Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) were, but in a very engaging, readable way. Wonderful food for any mama’s soul, and would be great to introduce older kids to Buddhism as well.
And if you have small children, the idea of spending time thoughtfully selecting your produce at the store will likely seem a bit far-fetched!
Enter Farm Fresh to You, an easy way to go organic! This wonderful service brings local organic produce right to your doorstep. You set up your deliveries on their easy to use website, picking and choosing exactly what you want in your box.
It is so easy – and fun! – to use. I love that it is so easy to customize your service and modify it as your needs change. You choose not only the frequency of your delivery, but also the type of box. For example, we chose a small box of fruits and vegetables. I love the option of a “snack” box filled with ready to eat produce, designed for offices! (Wouldn’t you love to work somewhere that had organic fruit delivered for you to munch on??) If you are the more adventurous type, you can choose the traditional CSA box, with the best seasonal local produce – including some you probably wouldn’t find in your grocery store!
I have seen other services that say you can customize your box, but really just within limits. (You can remove the carrots, but not the kohlrabi!) But Farm Fresh for You really lets you pick and choose exactly which items you want to include – and you can change your mind up to just a few days before your next delivery!
Monkey had a blast helping me customize our order. I think it was like a computer game for him, except with organic fruits and veggies – score! It was a fun way to get him involved in the process, which of course meant he was much more likely to actually try the food when they actually arrived! Thanks to Farm Fresh for You, my picky eater tried pomegranate for the first time – and loved it!
I must say the quality of the food we received was exceptional. The taste of the apples, for example, was out of this world! This is even compared to the organic apples we purchase from our local grocery store. Much of the fruit we ate right away, while the kale I used to make muffins and the pumpkin was made into pie!
Does organic produce delivered to your doorstep sound like something your family would enjoy? Now is a great time to try it out and go organic! My readers can use the code LEAN4714 to get $10 off your first box!
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