We’ve all been told to eat our veggies, drink our milk and stop eating so much sugar and other junk food. While there has been a much-renewed focus on health and nutrition even in the last few years, there’s still the problem of obesity and lack of exercise. For some a healthy lifestyle is a must. Others may find it a little harder to get on board with proper nutrition, and with an astounding 34.9% of adults and approximately 17% of children (Source) in America suffering from obesity, it has never been more important to emphasize proper nutrition and good health.
Sometimes, it’s just too hot to be outside. When you and your children want to spend some quality time together but don’t want to brave the heat or spend money on indoor activities like going to a movie theater for the latest blockbuster, it’s time to get creative!
Make a taco bar with the whole family! Get out of the sun for a little while with this delicious, creative recipe from Food Network Magazine. Everyone can play “chef,” with each person in charge of his or her own part of the taco bar, from the guacamole station to the hot sauce station. An extra perk of this family friendly recipe? With a multi-compartment lunch box, you can even take your taco bar with you for work or school lunches for a tasty lunch that is much cheaper than dining out!
To make 2-4 servings, you will need:
- 4 thin slices roast beef (about 3 ounces)
- 4 (6-inch) soft flour tortillas
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 cup store-bought fresh guacamole
- 1/4 cup store-bought fresh salsa
- Mini bottle hot sauce
- 2-4 multi-compartment lunch boxes
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
- “chefs” to help out
- Fold 1 slice roast beef inside each of 2 soft tortillas, and put in the biggest compartment of the lunch box
- Sprinkle cheese onto the roast beef and tortilla
- Pack other compartments with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and other favorite toppings each.
- Seal and send off to school or bring to work!
Everyone has the chance to contribute to the meal, and you get to spend a little extra time with the family!
On lazy summer days, sometimes we just don’t feel like being active, and even cooking a meal together seems too ambitious. Even energetic children need some downtime! Take the opportunity to read to your kids. You can even act out scenes from the stories to get them involved! Scholastic’s Parent & Child magazine has a few recommendations for places to start.
- Charlotte’s Web
- Tuck Everlasting
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Anne of Green Gables
- Where the Wild Things Are
Reading together will stimulate your children’s imaginations and will build memories that will last a lifetime! Support local literacy and save money by renting these books from your local library. Need more reading ideas for children? Magazines like Highlights can turn a lazy afternoon into a time of learning and discovery for children!
Indoor camping is another budget-friendly way to get the whole family involved. All you need are a few household materials before you and your kids are ready for a camping adventure!
- Graham crackers
- Small candles
- Additional snacks (optional)
Choose a “campsite” – a room with enough space for the project – and tie the rope to furniture. Drape the sheets over the furniture to create your tent. Once you are ready for the camping to begin, get the small candle, chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers for mini s’mores! Turn out the lights and use the flashlight to make the camping experience more realistic.
Even when the temperatures a tipping the 90s, you and your family can find fun, inexpensive ways to enjoy the summer. Let us know which of these ideas is your favorite!
Are you ready for the most patriotic day of the year? Whether you have a fully planned 4th of July event or still have more on your holiday to-do list than you would like to admit, add a little more red, white, and blue to your weekend with these American themed cooking and decorating ideas!
What is more American than apple pie? Red, white, and blue-themed cherry and blueberry pie! Try a twist on an American classic for an easy, delicious Independence Day dessert. Whether you are cooking for a potluck or a small event with family and friends, this mouth-watering recipe from Food Network Magazine is sure to please everyone. Preparation time is only 20 minutes, and Food Network Magazine gives this treat an “easy” level rating.
What You Need:
- 1 package double pie crust mix
- 1 (20-ounce) can cherry pie filling
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 pint fresh blueberries, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups vanilla ice cream
What You Do:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Divide into 6 equal portions, roll into balls and refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll each into a circle about 1/4-inch thick.
- Place each of the rolled out circles onto the baking sheet. Divide cherry pie filling into the center of each of the 6 pie crusts and sprinkle each with the pumpkin pie spice. Fold the edges of the pie dough over the cherry pie filling, making sure to leave the center of the pie exposed. Place a few of the reserved blueberries on top of each pie. Brush the sides of the pies with milk and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Place pies in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
For Blueberry Topping:
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, stir together blueberries, sugar, and two tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- To serve, place 1 warm pie on 6 plates, top each pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of the blueberry sauce.
Sometimes a delicious dessert alone is not enough. Go the extra mile with tasteful red, white, and blue DIY decorations! BrightNest’s DIY patriotic firework placemats are a simple, quick way to add a nice touch to your 4th of July event.
What You Need:
- White, beige, or light-colored fabric placemats
- Red and blue fabric paints
- A kitchen scrub brush
- A paper plate
- Water for rinsing the kitchen scrub.
What You Do:
- Pour a quarter-sized amount of red fabric paint onto a paper plate; repeat for blue paint.
- Dip the scrub brush bristles one of the colors of paint and firmly press the bristles into the fabric to start making your design.
- To create the appearance of fireworks, alternate and overlap paint colors. Make sure to rinse the kitchen scrub in water between alternations to avoid overly blending your colors.
- Let the placemats dry in a safe place and – voila! You have your own patriotic placemats.
Tip: Want to add a little more flair to your fireworks? Use a second, smaller kitchen scrub to create smaller fireworks!
As you prepare for an all-American celebration full of potlucks, get-togethers, fireworks shows, and more, these quick Independence Day extras will add a little more bang to your weekend. Have a fun and safe 4th of July, and remember those who sacrificed for our freedom.
If you want more easy DIY decoration ideas, check out http://bit.ly/1o7EWSd. Have any other 4th of July cooking or decorating ideas? Feel free to share them below in the comments section.
“Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.”
– George Washington in his Farewell Address
I am not much of a vegetarian evangelist. An “evegalist,” if you will. That is, I don’t do much to recruit omnivores, but I will gladly provide information if requested. So when someone asks me why I became a vegetarian, I start out slowly. My typical reply is “for a variety of health and ethical reasons.” From there, I can gauge how much a person really wants to know. The last thing I want to do is turn anyone off to vegetarianism and vegetarians. There is a perception among many that we can be pretty obnoxious (and condescending) about our diet.
The process to becoming a vegetarian was pretty simple and easy, actually. I never really cared much for meat. As a child, I had issues with the texture of ground beef and chicken and was pretty queasy about bones and whole cooked animals. During my teen years, I got to know some vegetarians and discovered alternative proteins, such as tofu. I learned that it could really be good as long as it was prepared properly. A block of plain tofu is pretty unappetizing, but it’s delicious fried!
I still didn’t go all the way for quite a while, though. But one day, I was shopping for books and came across “Garden Cuisine,” by the creator of Gardenburgers. Gardenburgers had been a staple of my diet for some time because they were easy and delicious. This wasn’t just a cookbook, though; there was a fair amount of information included on factory farming and other unsavory facts about meat and dairy production. It was enough to turn me off for good. I decided right away that I would not eat meat again as well as significantly cut back on dairy products and eggs.
However, I quickly gained about five pounds and realized I was less a vegetarian than a pastatarian. So I researched ways to have a healthy, meat-free diet. I cut out a lot of white pasta, bread and refined sugar in favor of whole grains and well-prepared vegetables, beans and soy products. I still indulge once in a while, but overall, I have a very healthy diet.
These days, I tend to get different questions. I suppose because more people are aware of vegetarianism, know more vegetarians and have learned about factory farming. The questions I get now are:
“So, do you eat chicken and fish?” Uh, no. People who eat chicken and fish are omnivores, not vegetarians.
“Don’t you miss meat?” I’ll admit that I miss raw oysters, really good sushi and fast food roast beef sandwiches. Otherwise, no.
“What about your husband and daughter?” My husband gratefully and graciously eats whatever I make, and I don’t cook with meat, so he’s vegetarian at home. He’s otherwise an omnivore, though. As for my daughter, she’ll be vegetarian until she can make her own choices about food.
“What do you eat?” That’s the easiest question of all! This: lesleyeats.com. I’m a big fan of eating seasonally and locally, so check out some of my more popular fall recipes: pasta with butternut squash cream sauce, squash soup, beer cheese soup and Venezuelan arepas, empanadas and pigeon peas and rice. These are all recipes that are so good, you won’t even miss the meat.
And be sure to check out the World Vegetarian Day website. There’s even a contest for omnivores who pledge to go meat-free during the month of October. You could be a winner even if you go meat-free for just one day!