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5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp!

7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp!

1.Talk to your child’s camp. Establish a friendly relationship and ask them how you can make their lives easier. Then they won’t think you’re a nudge when you ask questions and make suggestions! And, you’ll know more about camp without having to ask and make them feel like they’re on Twenty Questions.

What you need to know: Find out what they’re feeding your kids, how often they give them water (or if they’re giving them something else to drink), and if they have a routine for reapplying sunscreen.

2. Sunscreen. In addition to finding out how and when your children are helped with sunscreen throughout the day, buy thoughtfully. Most mainstream sunscreens contain a number of chemicals that can contribute to cancer, hormone disruption and nervous system changes. Here’s a link to information about healthier sunscreen options. They’re not all more expensive and sometimes they go on sale or are cheaper online.

3. Keep them hydrated. Step away from the Gatorade and Powerade! You don’t need food coloring and corn syrup to hydrate. Cold, filtered water is plenty refreshing. Counselors can also make it fun by giving kids a choice of frozen fruit to use as ice cubes (and then gobble up, of course). You can either blend the fruit first and put it in mini ice cube trays or give them pieces of frozen fruit right out of the bag. Fruits like diced mango, cherries and pineapple are easy to simply purchase. You can also freeze fresh grapes. Trader Joe’s and warehouse clubs probably have the best deals on frozen fruit. If you really think your children need extra electrolytes you can give them a natural alternative: coconut water.

4. Plan before you pick them up. In the summer my kids always want me to take them for ice cream after camp. “It’s such a hot day. You know it’s perfect weather for ice cream!” Gee. Thanks. I hadn’t thought of that. They’re less likely to demand cold refreshment if I’ve already provided it for them, usually in the form of cold watermelon or green smoothies (tropical or chocolate flavor).

5. Give ‘em a break. Chances are, your camp administrators and counselors are working very hard to make your kids happy this summer. Sometimes they just don’t have time to think through whether the popsicles have food coloring. Give them suggestions for healthier options and, if you can, even use your time to help. If you can’t, maybe someone else can. It could even be a daily activity for kids to make their own popsicles out of juice (no sugar added) or fruit puree. “Bunks” can go in on buying cool ice pop molds or simply use small paper cups and popsicle sticks.

6. Pack a healthy lunch. Here are some helpful resources for this. Websites: Lunch Box Bunch, Blogher.com. Books: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, Vegan Lunch Box.

7. Bring in a sample. Bring some fun and colorful foods to camp to try out with the kids (with camp’s permission of course). That way you’re taking some pressure off the counselors. Here is one idea for Rainbow Fruit Skewers (from Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel). Don’t be afraid to use frozen fruit for the mango and pineapple!

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Here are pictures from some fun we had making flowers, hearts and stars out of fruit last year. We even found a natural watermelon heart!

Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Using wooden skewers, here is your rainbow:

Red: Watermelon (or cherries or strawberries)

Orange: Mango (Cantaloupe and oranges would work too)

Yellow: Pineapple

Green: Kiwi (or Green Grapes)

Blue: Blueberries

Purple: Purple Grapes

Have fun and let me know how it goes!

The Mexican Menu + New Recipes

T minus 1 day until Shavuot started, my Mexican feast totally planned and shopped for…then I realized that I’d invited someone to lunch who happens to be from Mexico. By then I couldn’t make a whole new menu. Besides, I love Mexican food and I wanted to eat it! My guest was quite gracious in insisting that I did just fine but he did inform me that in Mexico tacos are actually made with soft tortillas. The closest thing they have to what we consider a taco is a tostada. The good news is that I was just trying to make a delicious menu and not a completely authentic one!

Here is the complete menu, for your copying pleasure, along with the recipes, resources and shortcuts that I used. The point is healthy and delicious, not to kill yourself in the kitchen.

Soup

  • Gazpacho (Super fresh and tasted homemade, but purchased from Goldberg’s Bagels in Potomac)

Salads

  • Roasted Corn, Pineapple and Black Bean Salad (Click for link to cooking.com recipe)
  • Jicama Mango salad. I got the idea from a Kimberly Snyder recipe from The Beauty Detox Foods that called for papaya, basil and dill. See my recipe at the bottom of this post.

Main Dish

  • Taco “meat” made with walnuts. I used the recipe from Kimberly Snyder’sThe Beauty Detox Foods” book. I don’t have permission to reprint her exact recipe. However, if you grind raw walnuts in the food processor (to the consistency of ground meat) and add taco seasoning (make your own or buy a pre-made spice mix without additives or too much salt), you’ll get a pretty similar result. My guests loved it and they are not people who normally skip red meat! It’s actually kind of creepy how similar it tastes and feels to ground beef (minus the gross parts anyway).
  • Taco fixings: Garden of Eatin’ organic blue corn taco shells with Wholly Guacamole taco bean dip and guacamole, Wholly Salsa regular mild salsa and roasted tomato medium salsa. Tofutti and regular sour cream (If I’d had more time I could have made a healthier alternative to the processed store-bought non-dairy sour cream. Alas, I did not.) Shredded lettuce (purchased already shredded!).

Dessert

  • Freshly cut watermelon (When desperate, feel free to buy overpriced already cut watermelon. Better yet, ask a guest to bring it already cut up).
  • Non-dairy cheesecake. I used an organic graham cracker crust. Because it only made enough filling to fill it half way, I took the top of the crust and used it to dust the top of the cheesecake and served it with fresh blueberries, raspberries and non-dairy whip. Here is the filling recipe by Paul Jarvis that I found on Kris Carr’s website: Blend 2 cups raw cashews (soaked, rinsed and drained), juice of 1.5 lemons, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour into crust and freeze for at least 1 hour. Was that easy or what?

Jicama Mango Salad Recipe

(Image courtesy of www.bulldogbistro.com)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 medium jicama

1 avocado

1 mango

3 small kirby cucumbers

1 organic lime, juice and zest

Directions

Peel and dice jicama, avocado, mango and cucumber. Add zest and juice of 1 lime and mix.

Easy, right? Let me know how it turns out!

New Recipe! Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia… Pudding!

Watching those Chia Head commercials growing up, did you ever imagine it would become the next Super Food? Did you know what a Super Food or Kale was? Chances are you didn’t. I know I didn’t and my parents were always into healthy food.

Per your request, here is the basic recipe (and some fun options) for the chia pudding I tricked my kids into eating. It’s not really a trick…it’s just reverse psychology. I eat it. It’s MY food. Then they want it.

Oh and in case you didn’t know, I wanted to trick my kids into eating it because it is full of healthy plant protein, antioxidants and omegas.

Chia pudding

Ingredients
1/4 cup chia seeds

2/3 cup liquid (water or non dairy milk)

Options:

liquid: water, unsweetened chocolate or vanilla almond or rice milk

sweetener: maple syrup or agave nectar

sweet: cinnamon, sliced fruit and berries

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other: nuts and toasted unsweetened coconut

Always add the sweetener and fruit right before serving.

2 great versions that I love:

1. Chocolate Banana: Use unsweetened chocolate almond milk, agave nectar and bananas.

2. Vanilla Berry: Use unsweetened almond milk, maple syrup, blueberries and strawberries.

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Directions

Mix the chia seeds with the water (or milk substitute) and place the bowl in the fridge to firm up. The minimum for this is 10 minutes, but the longer you leave it in, the firmer it will become. For breakfast, it’s easiest to make this the night before. Then, in the morning, just pull it out and add any optional ingredients of your choice. If making it as a dessert, put the pudding together and in the fridge before you start making the meal.

You’ll want to mix it well when you take it out of the fridge. In addition, if you are leaving it in for longer than the 10 minutes, feel free to give it a mix once or twice if you think of it.

Let me know on my Facebook page which combinations work for you and your family!

 

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