Friday, January 25, 2013

Good Bye Food Dye

If you look back through my posts, it is clear that I used food coloring on occasion and bought food with ingredients like red #40 or blue #1 here and there.  Admittedly, I have known for quite a while that artificial food dyes are junk and that I probably should avoid them.  Unfortunately, I figured it was just another ingredient that was okay in small amounts once in a while.  How much damage can a few drops of something do?  The more I examined ingredients, however, the more I realized how prevalent food dyes are in the grocery store.  AND, the more I read about food dyes, the more I realized that I have to put my foot down and stop buying this junk.  Would I consider feeding my children food with a few drops of petroleum added to them?  NO WAY!  Well, guess what, food dye is derived from petroleum.

This is what I removed from my cabinets in an effort to rid our kitchen of artificial food dyes.  I did keep liquid food coloring, a few boxes of Jello, and packets of Kool Aid but those will be used for art projects not for consumption!

This was hard for me.  I like to make fun food for the kids and for years these nasty things have helped, BUT I know that I can still make fun food without any of this and my kids will be much better off.

I do want to note that I have no intention of denying my kids treats at birthday parties or school functions.  I am trying to get it out of our house to minimize the amount they consume, but I will not stand over them and tell them they can't enjoy an OCCASIONAL treat on special occasions.  I will tell them why I don't like artificial food dyes and encourage them to make wise choices.

If you need a reason or two to cut it out of your diet, check out this post over at 100 Days of Real Food.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Toddler Times - 16 months Texture Collage

K LOVED this activity.  She was so content the entire time.  This is what we did:

I cut a large piece of clear Contact paper and taped it to the sliding glass door in our kitchen with the sticky side facing out.

We are currently focusing on the color orange, so I ripped up a bunch of little pieces of orange crepe paper streamers (tissue paper or even construction paper would work too) and gave them to her to stick on the Contact paper.

This was K's project, so I did not stick one single piece of crepe paper on the Contact paper.  When I gave her the first piece, I told her she could stick it on the door and that is what she did.  Then she kept coming back for more pieces.  I ripped a bunch of pieces and put them on the floor next to her and let her do her thing.  I also had some orange foam stickers, orange pom poms, and orange masking tape that I let her add to her collage.

This will stay up for a while and K can add to it or remove from it as often as she wants.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monster Smoothies for Kids

Are you a fan of green smoothies?  We have been adding more and more of them to our weekly menu.  To entice my kids, I call them Monster Smoothies.

Appearance is everything to some kids.  This one looks like chocolate!  I have found that as long as the smoothie is icy cold with frozen ingredients, my kids will try it.  My girls will drink any smoothie I make, my boys - not so much.

I don't actually measure my ingredients, so this is an estimate.
To make this one, I used:
2 - 3 cups almond milk
2 frozen bananas (when they start to get too ripe, I put them in the freezer for smoothies)
2 cups of mixed frozen greens, this time it was spinach and kale (again, if I am not going to use greens before the use by date, I put them in the freezer)
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries

I play around with the ingredients and vary the amounts depending on what I have on hand.

I blend the almond milk with the greens first to make sure that the greens are completely blended and there are no clumps!  Then I add the frozen fruit and blend, adding more milk as necessary.  I have found that blueberries are perfect for making the smoothies look more appealing to kids.

Why not read a fun monster book with your monster smoothie?

Everyone is familiar with this book, right?  With each turn of the page, a big green monster comes together, BUT keep reading because you get to make that Big Green Monster go away!  With four kids ranging in age from 15 down to 16 months, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book over and over again and look forward to introducing it to my youngest!

Rush Hour Junior

My middle two kids (8 and almost 7) have been in a revolving door of viruses the past few weeks.  One of the things that has kept them entertained is a game that is new to us, Rush Hour Junior.

See that yellow bag?  All of the pieces go in there for storage - LOVE it!

This is the perfect one player game for kids who like puzzles and mazes (my 8 year old).  The game comes with a traffic grid, plastic cars, and forty cards.  There are four levels of play, from beginner to expert, with cards providing puzzles for each level.  The player selects a card and then arranges the cars as shown on the card.  The object is always to move the ice cream truck out of traffic by moving the other cars out of the way.  If the player gets stuck, solutions are printed on the back of the cards.

They have had so much fun with this game that I had to recommend it here.  We have never played the original Rush Hour, have you?  What are some of your favorite games for kids?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Toddler Times - Teaching Colors

 I put together a bin of red items for K, 16 months, to explore.  This was easy to put together; I just found as many red items as I could to fill the bin.  Most of the items are age appropriate, but a few (pipe cleaners (aka chenille stems), crepe paper streamers, and dot markers) require supervision.  K has requested the bin at least once a day since I introduced it to her.

 Dot Marker

Fun with Crepe Paper Streamers

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wintry Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I made these wintry pretzel treats as a special after school snack today.  I melted chocolate chips in the microwave and then spooned the chocolate over pretzel rods.  Then I added mini chocolate chips, nonpareils, snowflake sprinkles, or blue candy melt drizzle to each of the pretzels.

They remind me of one of our favorite winter books, Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara.

The main character is a young boy who is lonely because all of his friends are hibernating.  Just when he thinks that he hates winter, Jack Frost appears and they have a great time playing in the snow and ice.  Jack Frost warns the boy that he must never mention anything warm in his presence or Jack will have to leave.  I'll let you read the book to find out what happens!

A New Year, A New Direction

The title of this post has been on my mind all day long and every time I say it to myself, I can't help but think of my six year old's favorite boy band, One Direction.  This blog has been a "one direction" blog since I started writing here -- snacks based on stories (books to be exact) and that is it.

I'm just not so sure that I want to stay on the "one direction" track.  I like creating snacks to go with books, but I feel like there is SO MUCH MORE that I want to share here.  I miss blogging about fun products, crafts, ideas, and whatever is on my mind.  I miss sharing things that I love!  (For those of you who may not know, I used to blog publicly at Superheroes and Princesses, but I made that blog private a little over a year ago).

I considered starting a new blog, but honestly, I have been there, done that.  I'm not interested in starting all over again.  So, for now, my intention is to move forward in a new direction, or many new directions by posting more than just snacks and stories here.  I hope you will come along for the ride!

With that being said, I thought I would share some goals for the year.

It's not too late to write down goals for the year.  This printable can be found at Little Wonders' Days.

My two middle children and I completed these 2013 papers this week.  Here are some of our goals:

Me:  visit my sister, learn more about my camera, exercise, menu plan, more saving, and be able to run 3 miles by the end of the year (lame, I am so bad at running)

C (8):  wants to go to Germany (probably not happening this year bud) and be able to compete in Lego competitions by the end of the year

R (6):  wants to go to NY, learn about elephants and pandas, try skiing, and be able to do a backwards flip by the end of the year

Do you have any goals for the year?