Email me!

Send comments, pictures, recipes, links and ideas!

Subscribe Now

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Search This Blog

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sippy Cup Heaven

Baby A does not take a bottle to fall asleep, and she does not seem deathly attached to it, so we decided to begin the switch to sippy cups. She's been drinking water from sippies for the last few months and does pretty well with them, except some leaking (from her mouth, not from the cup!).

Last weekend, starting with the first drink of the day, we used a sippy instead of a bottle.  One week later, we are still going strong. We use a variety of brands, including Explora- our new and current favorite!
They're about $4 and last week were on sale at Babies R Us for buy one get one half off-awesome huh?  I love the trendy pictures, the handle grips and the soft spout!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Make Your Own: Slow Cooker Minestrone

Healthy, yummy and wow, barely any calories!

Slow Cooker Vegetable Minestrone

Slow Cooker Vegetable Minestrone
Recipe Tip
Colorful Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain carotenoids, plant pigments that color them red. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help protect cells from damage.
Savor a veggie-packed slow-cooked hearty Italian soup. From eatbetteramerica.
Prep Time:15 min
Start to Finish:7 hr 35 min
makes:12 servings

4cups vegetable broth or 1 carton (32 oz) Progresso® chicken broth
4cups tomato juice
1tablespoon dried basil leaves
1teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4teaspoon pepper
2medium carrots, sliced (1 cup)
2medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
1medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1cup sliced fresh mushrooms (3 oz)
2garlic cloves, finely chopped
1can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2cups uncooked rotini pasta (4 1/2 oz)

Shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired
1.In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except pasta and cheese.
2.Cover; cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.
3.Stir in pasta. Cover; cook on High heat setting 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Nutritional Information
1 Serving: Calories 90 (Calories from Fat 0); Total Fat 0g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 850mg; Total Carbohydrate 18g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 6g); Protein 3Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 45%; Vitamin C 20%; Calcium 4%; Iron 10Exchanges: 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 2 Vegetable Carbohydrate Choices: 1
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Au revoir, baby food!

Last weekend, we packed up all the baby food we bought and never used and sent it to a family member that has a new baby.  While I felt badly that we wasted the money, I was happy to see it go! We had bought blends of food for "on-the-go", which turned into only my husband using them with Baby A when I was out doing photography sessions. Once I started preparing and laying out meals for her/him to give her, the baby food was no longer given (woo!). While I was at it, I cleared the freezer of leftover babyfood I had made.  Yahoo!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let them eat....

Cake! Or in this case, sandwiches!  We try to allow Baby A to eat whatever we're eating and the other day, it was soup and sandwiches. She's not old enough to handle a sandwich, so I "Ava-ified" it.
Both the cheese and turkey were Mickey-shaped but she devoured the cheese before I could get a picture of an intact Mickey.

Obesity: A Family Affair

Due to President Obama's health care initiative (including Mrs. Obama's childhood obesity initiatives), healthy living has been in the news a lot.   This morning, I read a New York Times article about obesity in children and how, along with society, parents are often to blame.  Check it out here.
I do agree that a conscious effort is required to live healthfully. It's so easy to get pulled in the undertow of life and get "out of control".  I often use that phrase (out of control) to define how I feel when we get too busy- we eat out too much, spend too much money and just don't have the time to take a minute to pre-plan and turn it around.

I will say- as with any situation- there are ALWAYS exceptions.  Sometimes disease is to blame, socio-economic conditions, etc, and this is where Mrs. Obama's plan comes in- she wants to make fresh food available EVERYWHERE. 

As a teenager when I went out with friends, I remember thinking, well I should get McDonalds because it's cheaper than buying a salad. Or, I might as well get soda because water costs the same (or more sometimes) and I will "get more" out of it. Eesh.   Every once and while I still slip into those ideas, but I am USUALLY able to be more rational.

That brings me to another idea. I have long thought of seeing a nutritionist, but for varying reasons.
When I was younger it was because I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease. I went the medication route (along with the support of my mom), and my girlfriend decided to treat hers with diet/nutritional counseling-- avoiding certain foods, mainly.  Oddly enough, we ended up having major surgery within one short year of each other, so that just goes to show that it's not always cut and dry.

As I got older, I thought a nutritionist could help me learn to eat better, and leading into pregnancy and now motherhood, I have found myself considering it again.  As a teacher, I always think education is the best way, but like anything, money does thwart your plans sometimes... :)

What do you think about Mrs. Obama's childhood health plans? 
What about seeing a nutritionist for family meal planning/education?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Make Your Own: Chicken Noodle Soup

I am embarrassed to admit- I have never made chicken noodle soup!  I got this recipe emailed to me by babyfit, so I thought why not?

All three of us loved this.  I added carrots to up the nutritional value.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves: 8
Serving Size: 1 cup

Nothing beats a bowl of fresh, homemade chicken noodle soup. Here's a super quick way to enjoy a classic favorite.

2-1/2 cups wide egg noodles
4 cups water
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
12 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3 cups diced, cooked chicken meat

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add noodles and oil, and boil 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool running water, then drain again.
In a large saucepan, bring broth, salt, and poultry seasoning to a boil. Stir in celery and onion. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
In separate bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved, and gradually add to soup, stirring constantly.
Add noodles and chicken, and heat through.

(per serving)
Calories: 327.1
Fat: 6.5 g
Carbohydrates: 18.4 g
Protein: 45.9 g

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nitrates...Diving In

After my Dr. Oz post the other day, I came to the realization that I need to learn more about nitrates.  By web-surfing, I was able to find a lot of information...

  • What: Nitrates Many foods, especially cured meats use nitrates to preserve color and maintain microbial safety. Nitrate is harmless, but it can convert to nitrite, which can form nitrosamines, a powerful cancer-causing chemical, in your body. Whenever possible, look for nitrate-free preserved meats. 

Nitrates are naturally occurring nitrogen/oxygen salt compounds found in almost every vegetable that we eat and the soils they are grown in. Nitrates are also laboratory formulated and used in fertilizers. Nitrates are ingested either from vegetables or drinking water. Nitrates/nitrites have been found to be responsible for "Blue Baby Syndrome." Adults are not affected by nitrates or nitrites because their stomachs produce acids that fight the bacteria that help convert nitrates into nitrites.

  • Examples of Meats with Nitrates: This includes foods that are typically pink in color like bologna, salami, pepperoni, hotdogs, corned beef, pastrami, bacon, and cured ham. The Cancer Blog

  •  Examples of Veggies with Nitrates: spinach, beets, cabbage, carrots, broccoli Wholesome Baby Food 

Apparently, organicly-grown veggies may not have nitrates but it's not 100%.

Also from The Cancer Blog, Children are especially susceptible to nitrite poisoning. These carcinogenic compounds have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain and child leukemia. One study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. So take the time to help your children eat right and set good eating habits from the beginning. If you just have that uncontrollable craving for a hot dog, be sure to buy a brand of hot dogs that do not contain nitrates. Or when the pizza craving hits, order a veggie pizza and learn to leave off the pepperoni and ham and other processed meats with nitrates.

  •  What to look for: Natural, nitrate-free meat.  According to message boards I have seen, Hormel and Boars Head might be good to start with, just be careful, because not all products are nitrate-free, so read before you buy.  Trader Joes and Whole Foods seem to be recommended a lot for their availability of nitrate-free meats.

More Info:
TLC: What is it and is it harmful?
MSNBC: The 5 things you need to know about deli meats
EHOW: How to avoid nitrates in babyfood 
Wholesome Babyfood: Nitrates and Babyfood 

photo photo2

5 Foods You Should NEVER Buy

Oh Dr. Oz, how I love thee! This week, he did a segment on the five foods you should never have in your grocery cart.  The full article can be found here.

Have any guesses? Here they are in all their glory:

1. Simple Sugars or Carbs and Unhealthy Fats
Skip foods laden with simple sugars, also called simple carbohydrates. Sugary breakfast cereals, donuts, pastries, cookies, ice cream, cakes and soda are loaded with them. Often referred to as “empty calories,” simple sugars are rapidly absorbed, spiking blood sugar levels for an initial energy high. This triggers an insulin reaction, driving levels back down and creating fatigue. You’ll feel hungrier and crave even more sugar. Plus those rapidly absorbed extra calories are stored as fat, putting you at risk for obesity.

Make smart choices by selecting fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, including 100% whole grain bread, brown rice or steel-cut oats. Select whole foods such as fresh vegetables and lean meats. These all provide slow, sustained releases of energy for long-lasting fuel.  If you do crave something sweet, head for the produce aisle and pick out your favorite seasonal fruits such as pears, apples, or blueberries.

Processed sweets and goodies also contain saturated and trans fats that clog arteries and stunt weight loss. Instead purchase items rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like avocados and nuts.

2. Meats High in Nitrates and Saturated Fats
Processed meats such as cold cuts, bacon, sausages and hot dogs contain nitrates, chemical additives that preserve freshness. Nitrates have been linked to stomach cancer and other degenerative diseases. These fatty meat products are also full of unhealthy saturated fat that can raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.

Ditch preserved meats altogether or look for ones that are advertised as “nitrate-free.” Buy meats low in saturated fats such as chicken and turkey or eat more fish, like salmon or tilapia, rich in healthy omega-3 fats. If you must have red meat, choose lean cuts like sirloin or tenderloin.

3. Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce
Does ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate or partially hydrogenated soybean oil sound appetizing to you? Follow this rule of thumb: if a food product is made of stuff you need a course in chemistry to comprehend – or —if you can’t pronounce the first 5 ingredients, don’t let it near your cart.

Stay focused on buying whole foods comprised of only 1 ingredient. Instead of snacking on neon-orange cheese curls, slice up some carrots or celery sticks. Invest in an air popper and enjoy fiber-rich popcorn. Make homemade veggie chips: cut up kale, thinly slice beets, sweet potatoes or yams, sprinkle them with herbs and a little olive oil and bake in the oven.

4. Fake Health Foods
Fake health foods are those deceptive foods, billing themselves as “low in fat”, like certain cookies, salad dressings or yogurt brands. Look closely at their labels. To make up for flavor, these items are inevitably high in sugar or salt. Other tricky foods include packaged breads and crackers with labels stating “contains whole grains.” This often translates into considerably less fiber than 100% whole grain products.

Again, choose real foods as much as possible. If it’s a sweet tooth you need to satisfy, buy tasty dried fruits, such as apricots or mangos.

5. Canned Foods High in Sodium
Eighty percent of our sodium intake comes from processed and canned foods. In fact, many canned foods are so chockfull of salt, they contain half or more of your daily recommended intake. A diet high in sodium is dangerous since it can lead to high blood pressure.

Instead of buying canned soups, try making your own simple versions, like a healthy cream of carrot soup or hearty lentil. If you don’t have the time to cook, purchase canned soups low in sodium.

To lower your overall sodium intake, try seasoning foods with more herbs, both dried and fresh. You’ll rely less on table salt for flavor.

Hmmm.  So, this makes me realize a few things- I need more information on nitrates.
I also need to read more about levels of sodium and what is acceptable.  Dr. Oz says 2300 milligrams per day is okay.  I rarely add salt to meals, but I guaruntee I am consuming food with too much sodium.  Email me ( if you have any good resources for me to check out. Until then, I'll be googling!

I Heart Kitchen Kapers!

Yikes, I have become domestic!!!
Look at the sweetness I found at Kitchen Kapers in King of Prussia!!!! Look forward to cut out cheese, meat, veggies, the possibilities are endless! *

I found them even cheaper on amazon!

*As my girlfriend pointed out--Ava's 10 months old- she doesn't "get" that her cheese says her name, so at this point, I'm experimenting and having fun for me.  Hey- an old saying goes, "If mama's not happy ain't NOBODY happy" ;)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Check out the new features!  There are now tabs for produce and resources.  If you have any to add please feel free to email me!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The almighty bean

Beans beans, they're good for your heart.....

we all know how that one ends.   Beans are pretty awesome.  "They’re low in fat, cholesterol-free, cheap, and a good source of protein and fiber, and there is a huge variety to choose from." (

Baby A can eat them easily and they are cheap!

Check out this nice tutorial from : Know Your Legumes 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Make Your Own: Tuna Casserole

Great for those snowy winter nights!

Campbell's® Tuna Noodle Casserole
From: Campbell's Kitchen
Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Serves: 8
You won't believe how easy it is to make this classic casserole featuring that favorite combination of tuna, noodles, peas and cream of mushroom soup.  This version serves 8, so everyone can dig in!

2 cans (10 3/4 oz. each) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular, 98% Fat Free or 25% Less Sodium)
1 cup milk
2 cups frozen peas
2 cans (10 oz. each) tuna, drained
4 cups hot cooked medium egg noodles
2 tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Stir soup, milk, peas, tuna and noodles in 3-qt. casserole.
Bake at 400°F. 30 min. or until tuna mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir tuna mixture.
Stir bread crumbs and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over tuna mixture. Bake 5 min. or until bread crumbs are browned.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with steamed cut green beans. For dessert serve fresh orange wedges. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Helpful Links- Picking Produce

How to pick the best produce!

All great info..thanks The Kitchn!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Try it, ya never know!

Since we give Baby A everything that we eat (unless it's seafood...or junk, like tonight haha), I decided to give her some caesar salad! I will admit, it was a bag salad--I had a long day at work and was going for quick and easy to go with the pizza my mother-in-law was bringing over.

I figured, as long as it's small enough, why not? 

No surprise, A loved it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


We did it! 
Baby A tried strawberries tonight! And she LOVED them....!

I had held off due to allergy warnings but now that she's 10 months, I decided to give it a try ( suggests 10-12 months).

Benefits of strawberries:
high in vitamin c
a cancer-fighting fruit
tons of anti-oxidents

From Wholesome Baby Food. Click here for strawberry recipes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Meal Plan

This meal plan includes a few different things- very simplified list, lighter meals (just cruised for a week, we need to recover!), and no recipes. I will add them through the week if it's something exciting. :)

And...we're back!

Secretly on 2/7, we left for Baltimore and cruised to Florida and the Bahamas! It was really chilly for most of the trip but we had a great time. We have actually not traveled with Baby A until now, so we did not know what to expect.   Thankfully, A eats a lot of regular/real food in addition to her bottles, so we didn't have to worry about pureeing ANYTHING.

Above is Baby A at the buffet with one of her favorite members of staff, Nur.

We packed:
a bag of cheerios
sippy cups
a nalgene bottle to keep stocked on water for bottles/sippies
tons of bibs

Baby A ate:

At breakfast, we always went to the buffet.
She enjoyed a variety of-

scrambled eggs
diced fresh fruit 
plain yogurt 
(the other kind was light & fit--which I didn't give her due to the artificial sweeteners)
pieces of pancakes
pieces of pancakes
pieces of bagels

For lunch, we generally ate in the buffet, was relaxed and easier than the nice dining room. We were usually in the dining room for dinner. Our main rule of thumb was- no seafood, no strawberries (she hasn't had them yet), and it has to be soft enough to cut up and for her to gum.

Lunch & dinner foods included-

veggie soup
minestrone soup
navy bean soup
wheat baguettes 
(great for teething too!)
different varieties of pasta
(penne & sauce, farafale & turkey etc)
baked potatoes
mashed potatoes
cut up chicken
fresh fruit
stir fry

Those are just off the top of my head. She missed the awesome Bahamian meal we had because she was sleeping- I probably would have only given her the rice and beans we ate, and not the conch, but she was OUT!
Baby A LOVED sampling the desserts which were oh so plentiful! Her favorites included ice cream and warm melting cake. YUM!

My main goal was not to order off the "kid's menu" because she has never had chicken nuggets, fries, hot dogs, etc. It's a combination of two things- 1) I don't even think she could eat them at this point, teeth-wise. 2) I want to avoid fried foods as often as possible. 

Will I be one of those moms who NEVER lets her kid had those yummy things? Of course not! But I plan to make sure she eats "real meals" more often-- basically, she eats what we eat, unless we're eating crap:) haha!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Make Your Own: Smoothies

Happy Valentines Day!
Okay okay, I know it's winter, but bundle up and make yourself a smoothie--they're SO good!

Strawberry Banana Smoothies

Serves: 2
Leftover shake can be frozen in pop molds or 5 ounce paper cups with popsicle sticks.

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup orange juice or skim milk
1 banana, sliced

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Calories: 221
Fat: 0.6 g
Carbohydrates: 34 g
Protein: 2 g


Friday, February 12, 2010

Make Your Own: Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

This sounds SOOOOO good!

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

Serves: 8

This substantial salad offers a healthy balance of vegetables and protein. It provides a wide range of textures, colors, and seasonings. Printed with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

1-1/2 cups quinoa
1-1/2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups cooked corn (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced fine
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve under cold running water until water runs clear.
2. Put quinoa in a pot with 2-1/4 cups water.
3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.
4. Fluff quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
5. While quinoa is cooking, in a small bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
6. Add beans, corn, bell pepper, scallions, garlic, cayenne and coriander to the quinoa. Toss well.
7. In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt, cumin and add oil in a stream while whisking. Drizzle over salad and toss well with salt and pepper. Salad may be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Calories: 277
Fat: 11 g
Carbohydrates: 39 g
Protein: 8 g