Are you getting ready for a unit on the stars, or do your kids love looking at the night sky? Maybe you are thinking ahead to holidays like the 4th of July, or the Bahá’í holiday the Declaration of the Báb. Or maybe your kids just love those stars! Either way, here is a collection of great star crafts, activities, and recipes that kids will love!
December 7, 2018music, recipes, WinterComments Off on 20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy
As we settle into colder weather, we all could use a little something to warm us up. Here are 20+ kid-friendly winter drinks to keep the whole family feeling cozy and snug this winter! And don’t miss our review of a fabulous new children’s album that will help everyone beat cabin fever all winter long!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Winterland 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 commission at no extra cost to you.
20+ Kid-Friendly Winter Drinks to Keep the Whole Family Cozy
Enjoy these kid-friendly winter drinks, including egg nog, hot chocolate, apple cider, tea, and more!
What are your favorite kid-friendly winter drinks?
New Children’s Album for Winter Fun
Just in time for the cold weather is a new album of 16 original songs from GRAMMY® Award-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers. Winterland is an upbeat, toe tapping album that celebrates everything that is glorious about winter, from playing out in the snow to getting to know a Yeti. My favorite is “Keep Me Warm,” (see the video on their YouTube channel), while my kids keep requesting “The Abominable Yeti.” (I love the rhymes on that one!)
This fun loving pair of childhood friends will catch children up in the excitement of exploring and enjoying the outdoors in winter. In a time where children often experience the world via screens, it’s refreshing to have music that takes us back to the wonders of nature and appreciating the changing seasons.
Looking for a simple, flavorful dessert the whole family will enjoy? Try one of our family favorites: budín, Costa Rican bread pudding. This version of bread pudding is delicious and easy to put together – even the kids can help!
Costa Rican Bread Pudding: Budín
3 loaves of week old French bread*
1 liter of milk (just over 1 quart)
1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 stick melted butter (1/2 c)
*Note: Traditionally stale bread is used; however, my sister-in-law told us that often they prefer to use fresh bread because it is softer. Try it both ways and see which you like better!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Break bread into small pieces (about the size of a grape) in a large mixing bowl then add the remaining ingredients except for about a 1/4 of the can of condensed milk.
Mix well then pour into a large baking dish. (How large really depends on how thick you want the final mixture to be. We made ours about 2 inches deep. Keep in mind that if you go for a thicker bread pudding, this may affect the baking time).
Bake for 25-30 minutes, then drizzle with the reserved condensed milk and bake for a few minutes more, until golden.
I like budín straight out of the oven, but Costa Ricans agree it is best served cold!
June 1, 2018recipes, SummerComments Off on Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade
Lemonade is the quintessential summer drink, so why not whip up a homemade batch? It only takes minutes! Adding strawberries makes it even more special, and now you have a guilt free version that uses honey as the sweetener, so there is no reason not to enjoy a tall glass (or more!) this weekend. Honey sweetened strawberry lemonade is a refreshing drink the whole family can enjoy!
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.
Honey Sweetened Strawberry Lemonade
We are blessed with lemon and orange trees in our backyard, so when we found some ripe lemons on a particularly hot day last week, we immediately thought of lemonade! I found this wonderful homemade lemonade recipe and adapted it for our tastes, mainly by switching out honey for sugar in the simple syrup. Also, I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh to make strawberry lemonade because, let’s face it, if we have fresh strawberries we tend to gobble them up right away!
As for the honey, this recipe is very easy to adjust for your tastes and how tart your lemons are. Because you mix it all up in the blender, if you need to add extra honey later, it will mix it perfectly well.
We juiced 4 large lemons with our Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor to yield approximately 2 cups of juice. If you end up with a different amount, the important thing is to make sure it is roughly a 1:1 ratio with the simple syrup. Again, as you can see, this is a very easy recipe to adjust!
Makes 2 liters
2 cups fresh lemon juice (approx. 4 large lemons)
2 cups simple syrup (see below)
1 cup frozen strawberries
To make simple syrup:
Mix 2 Tbs honey in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool.
In a blender, mix lemon juice, simple syrup, and strawberries until smooth. Add water and ice until you have 2 liters total, then mix again and adjust for sweetness, adding more honey if desired. Enjoy!
The weather is finally warming up in our neck of the woods, so we celebrated by concocting some fruity, chocolate-y pops! Inspired by a traditional Puerto Rican treat, these tropical chocolate mango popsicles are full of fruity goodness – mango, banana, and coconut – plus a touch of decadence from the chocolate. What better way to celebrate the fact that summer is just around the corner? Plus, you don’t want to miss our giveaway of a wonderful new children’s activity coloring book all about Puerto Rico!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Puerto Rico, the Island of Enchantment 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 commission at no extra cost to you.
Tropical Chocolate Mango Popsicles
Summer is coming, which makes us all think about tropical beaches and relaxing by the waves. To bring a little taste of the tropics to our home in Northern California, we decided to make these scrumptious tropical chocolate mango popsicles. I was inspired by Puerto Rican limber, a frozen treat similar to popsicles and often made with fresh fruits and juices. You can do all kinds of combinations, but we were especially interested in mango – which was great because I had a huge bag of frozen mango in the freezer! Of course, if you have fresh, by all means use that, but it is often hard for us to find really good mangoes in our area, plus with kids, it’s so much easier to use frozen since it’s already peeled and chopped for you.
If you want an authentic mango limber, then I highly recommend trying this recipe from Modern Mami, or you can browse this great collection of healthy limber recipes! I wanted to do something a little different, so we added a little twist to our recipe by adding shredded coconut and banana, as well as chocolate. Cocoa powder alone is quite bitter, so I actually used hot chocolate mix (!) but if you don’t have this, just use cocoa powder and sugar to taste.
Ingredients (makes 6+ popsicles)
4 cups of mango (frozen or fresh)
honey to taste
3 cups water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup hot chocolate mix (or combination of cocoa powder and sugar)
Combine all ingredients in blender. Taste and adjust for sweetness. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
I am endlessly impressed by the author’s talent as an illustrator but also the depth of her knowledge about the subject. Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto – Cuaderno de Ejercicios: Puerto Rico, The Island of Enchantment – Workbook is incredibly comprehensive, covering topics as varied as history, geography, government, religion, sports, food, and the arts. It contains nearly 200 workbook pages (plus answer keys) appropriate for elementary school and even older (though younger kids will definitely enjoy the coloring part of it!) There is so much to explore here, no matter what your child’s interests, so it is sure to be a hit!
The book is completely bilingual, so whether your kids read/write fluently in Spanish, just un poquito, or not at all, this is the perfect book to expose them to Spanish and the rich culture and history of the Island of Enchantment.
Even better, all of the profits from the first year of its publication go to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. This book is a true labor of love, dedicated to the author’s homeland during its time of need. It is a great way to support Puerto Rico and teach kids about this beautiful island that they have surely been hearing about on the news.
And now you can win your own copy! Simply comment on this post, letting us know which topic about Puerto Rico you think your child would be most interested in! Geography, history, the arts, sports, or … ? Let us know!
Contest ends Tuesday, May 15, 2018, at midnight PT. Winner chosen by random selection. US Shipping Only
Hispanic Heritage Month is here, and it’s one of my favorite times of year! Not only do I get to throw a virtual party with my blogger friends (see below for details on our big HHM series and giveaway), but it’s such a fun excuse to celebrate Hispanic heritage with my kids! While we often do crafts and read books, I also really love getting them in the kitchen to make some traditional recipes! So whether you are hosting a cultural event, teaching a group of students, or cooking with your kids at home, here is a collection of some wonderful Hispanic Heritage Month recipes to try!
Hispanic Heritage Month Recipes to Try with Kids
I’ll never forget returning to the US after a year in Bolivia, and so many people commented to me, “You must be so tired of eating tacos!” It seems funny now, but at the time it was slightly incomprehensible: Bolivia is thousands of miles and an entire continent away from Mexico, so my friends in Bolivia had little concept of what tacos were or how they should taste. Despite some commonalities, the cultures and cuisines of Latin America are incredibly varied. Hopefully this list will give you an idea of just how diverse these food traditions are.
We hope you enjoy cooking these Hispanic Heritage Month recipes with your kiddos! Let us know in the comments your favorite dish to cook from Latin America.
Giveaway begins September 15 and goes through October 15, 2017. Enter below for a chance to win one of these amazing prize packages! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. In the event that a winner lives outside the designated shipping area, that prize will then become part of the following prize package. For more information, read our full giveaway rules.
Looking for a fun, relatively healthy dessert your whole family will enjoy? Here is a dairy-free version of a traditional Indian treat for Eid, sheer khurma. It is a unique vegan dessert that is easy to make and delicious!
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 commission at no extra charge to you.
Let me begin by saying that this is NOT a traditional Indian dessert. It is my own reworking of sheer khurma, a dessert that usually has a milk base, because I wanted a version I could serve to my son with a milk allergy. If you search for “vegan sheer khurma” or “dairy-free sheer khurma” online, you are unlikely to find any real results. In the original Persian, sheer khurma literally means “dates with milk,” so not a recipe you would think of making without the milk!
But when we read Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (see my review below), we became curious about this traditional dessert mentioned several times as a delicious treat for Eid. When I discovered it was made with milk, I decided I had to make a non-dairy version, a vegan dessert we could all enjoy. It may not be traditional, but it is still delicious! And it is so different from the desserts that we’re used to that it did give us a flavor of what celebrating Eid would be like in places like India.
I just love the creaminess of sheer khurma, combined with the crunch of the roasted nuts. And the cooked dates add even more body as well as natural sweetness. I must admit for my kids at first it was hard to get past the idea of having pasta in a dessert, but once they tried it, they loved it!
Sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional dessert served for Eid, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. I adapted my recipe from this version from the Veggie Indian. The main change I made was to substitute coconut milk for regular milk and coconut oil for ghee. I also reduced the amount of sugar from 1 & 1/4 cups to 1/3 cup, since it already has a lot of natural sweetness from the dates.
4 cups of full fat coconut milk (this is slightly more than 2 cans)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vermicelli, broken into 2 inch pieces
3/4 cup mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc) chopped fine or crushed with mortar and pestle
1/2 cup dates, seeded and chopped (about 8-10 dates)
Golden raisins, handful
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 to 1 tsp rose water
Extra nuts for garnish (I used sliced almonds)
Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a skillet, and roast the vermicelli on a low flame till golden. Set aside to drain on a paper towel. In the same skillet, heat a tbsp of the coconut oil and roast the mixed nuts for 1-2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Heat coconut milk in a sauce pan and let it come to a boil. Lower the flame and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the milk thickens slightly.
Add the roasted vermicelli, and let it cook in the coconut milk for 5-7 minutes, until the pasta becomes soft.
Add the sugar, nuts, dates, and raisins and mix well. Continue to simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until the dates grow soft and the amount of coconut milk reduces by nearly half. The vermicelli should be fully cooked.
Adjust the sweetness and consistency, if needed, by adding more sugar or coconut milk. Keep in mind that the mixture will thicken even more with time.
Finally, add the cardamom powder and rosewater, stir, and remove from heat.
If desired, garnish with additional nuts and serve warm. Enjoy!
In addition to sampling a tasty vegan dessert inspired by a traditional treat, I also wanted to teach the kids more about Eid and Ramadan. A great way to introduce them to this special time is with the wonderful new book Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4). It is part of a series of books exploring Indian culture. What is surprising to most Westerners is that there is a large number of Muslims in India, though we tend to associate that country with Hinduism or Sikhism.
Let’s Celebrate Ramadan & Eid! (Maya & Neel’s India Adventure Series, Book 4) gives an easy to understand overview of Ramadan and Eid as it is celebrated in India, in addition to highlighting traditions from other countries. One thing I love about this book is that it shows children at different stages in their participation in Ramadan, from an older child who is practicing fasting to younger children who give up toys or sweets in lieu of fasting. This book is perfect for the classroom or home setting, as a way to help children understand why Muslims observe Ramadan and Eid and what it would be like as a child to experience them (such as by eating sheer khurma!).
This month we’ve been learning about Haiti, and in particular Christmas treats from this beautiful but beleaguered country. We really loved the sweet potato pudding, so we were looking forward to trying pineapple nog, a wonderful kid-friendly holiday drink. The flavors are quite different than eggnog, but it has a similarly creamy consistency. It is traditionally served at Christmas time, but these tropical flavors would also be well suited for summertime.
Christmas in Haiti
But first we took a step back to learn about Haiti and how they celebrate Christmas there. For our character-building classes at home we’ve been focusing on courage, so we talked about how the people of Haiti have incredible courage. First, because they successfully waged one of the first revolutions in the Western Hemisphere, which was also the largest successful slave rebellion in modern times. Haitians today also demonstrate incredible courage in the face of widespread poverty and repeated natural disasters. (For information on charities that operate in Haiti, see the end of this post). For those that want to delve deeper, you can read about how in many ways Haiti’s current suffering stems from its incredible victory more than two centuries ago and the fear it invoked in Western powers.
But back to Christmas! Here is a wonderful first hand account of how Nwèl (Christmas) is joyfully celebrated in Haiti despite the lack of material wealth. One beloved tradition mentioned there are the Christmas fanals, paper lanterns made in the shape of houses, churches, or animals and lit with candles or Christmas lights. Celebrating with family and friends is at the heart of the festivities, and most families attend midnight mass together on Christmas Eve.
While the cocktail kremas is very popular at Christmastime, a kid-friendly holiday drink is pineapple nog. It is light and creamy, with a blend of tropical flavors that all ages will enjoy. Plus, it literally takes 2 minutes to make! It honestly took me longer to write the recipe here than it did to actually make it.
The original recipe does not call for any sweetener, but for my crowd I knew I needed to sweeten it up a bit. (It is actually really refreshing just as it is, so try it before you add any sugar!) To keep it relatively healthy, I used a banana for much of the sweetener, which was great because it’s in keeping with the tropical flavors.
I also wanted to make it dairy free for my son, so instead of the traditional mix of coconut milk and regular milk, I used all coconut milk. If you prefer you can make the traditional version.
1 can of coconut milk
20 oz can of crushed pineapple
1 ripe banana
2 T sugar (optional)
sprinkle of nutmeg
Put all ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly. Delicious as is but even better chilled!
Makes 3 large servings or 4-5 small servings
What is your favorite kid=friendly holiday drink?
He is a little suspicious of those brown flecks. It’s just nutmeg!
Organizations to Support in Haiti
There are many charities operating in Haiti. Here are two of my favorites:
Lidè: An educational initiative in rural Haiti that uses the arts and literacy to empower at-risk adolescent girls and help them transition into school or vocational training. Established by Author Holiday Reinhorn, Actor Rainn Wilson and Executive Director Dr. Kathryn Adams in response to the devastating earthquake of 2010, the Lidè program seeks to uplift women and girls who have been denied equal access to education.
New Horizon School, Mona Foundation: Recognized as one of the best in Haiti, New Horizon School is educating the next generation of graduates trained as agents of change in the sustainable development of Haiti through its focus on academic excellence, personal transformation through building moral capabilities and commitment to community service.
Welcome to our fourth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, and 2015), plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!
The holidays are fast approaching, and this year I decided to try a new treat: a Christmas pudding from Haiti. It is heaven, a sweet combination of flavors we typically associate with the Caribbean, like coconut and banana, with those we associate with the winter holidays, like cinnamon and sweet potatoes.
Pain patate is a traditional treat in Haiti, served throughout the year but particularly at Christmas. It is sometimes translated as sweet potato cake or bread, but in other places as sweet potato pudding, which is more how ours turned out.
The recipe is very easy, but it does require quite a lot of cooking time, since the sweet potato are not cooked ahead of time but instead grated and cooked in the batter itself. If you decide to use orange yams like I did instead of the white sweet potatoes traditionally use, be warned that your pudding will take much longer to set, as the white sweet potatoes are much drier and so hold up better in the batter.
2.5 cups of sweet potatoes (I used one large sweet potato)
½ cup raisins
1 cup evaporated milk
1 ¼ cup coconut milk
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup butter
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ripe banana
1 lime (zest only)
1 T ground ginger
2 T vanilla
Soak the raisins in boiling water. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Grate them with a box grater or (much faster!) cut into pieces and grind in a food processor.
Put the grated sweet potatoes in a pan, along with the evaporated milk, coconut milk, brown sugar, butter, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Cook on medium heat for 45-50 minutes, stirring frequently. As it cooks, mash the banana and add to the pan, along with the raisins, lime zest, and ginger. Continue to stir frequently.
Add the vanilla then stir and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the batter begins to thicken.
Pour into a greased 8 x 11 baking pan and cook at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 ½ hours. The dish is done once the pudding has set and turned a golden color.
For a more cake like consistency, refrigerate for 24 hours.
You’ve heard of the holiday cookie swap – here is a virtual swap, hosted by Crafty Moms Share, with recipes from around the world! Visit the linky below to find new multicultural recipes to try this holiday season, and link up your own!
This is a time of year I savor spending with my family. There are so many special traditions we’ve built up over the years. One of my favorites is making gingerbread houses with my kids. I love to vary the ingredients each year, such as by making a healthier version of this holiday classic. One year we even did a pizza bread house!
I always buy some special ingredients for decorations, like candy or dried fruit. This year we used one of our new favorite cereals, which we picked up at Target (Save when you use this coupon)!
Honey Bunch of Oats® (Honey Roasted and Strawberry) were the perfect addition: the flakes make great leaves for leaves and tiles for roofs, while the granola clusters can…oh, let’s be real! We may never know because they always get eaten before they can be used!
In his mind, a gingerbread house is anything you can put sprinkles on!
I love how creative the boys are with this project, which always goes differently than I imagine it will! This year my oldest built a skyscraper, while my youngest built a factory (which looked suspiciously like a big mound of ingredients, since he didn’t have the patience to fool with any actual engineering).
The trees, unfortunately, were eaten before I could snap a picture!
To fuel my little architects, I made these absolutely scrumptious crunchy chocolate peanut butter balls. I’ve made peanut butter balls for years, but this year I wanted to do something a little different and, well, fancier. I also know that my kids get bored with eating the same old snacks all the time, and these crunchy, chocolate peanut butter balls were just the ticket to shake things up a bit.
Mix peanut butter, cocoa powder, and honey. If you would rather skip the chocolate (really??), add coconut flour to help absorb the liquid and give it a milder flavor. If, on the other hand, you want more chocolate, you can also add mini chocolate chips once the first three ingredients are blended together.
Form the mixture into balls (any size will do, but larger balls will hold up better in the next step).
Roll the balls in the crushed cereal. Enjoy as is or stick in the refrigerator for a (slightly) neater treat!
These are a great, healthier treat for kids and moms! They are a balanced, bite-sized source of energy, plus they make a great midnight snack, moms! (Although be careful, because they are so crunchy you might wake up the kids!)
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