Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Snowman Lunch for #GivingTuesday!

A Snowman Lunch for #GivingTuesday!
Happy December 1st! Today is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving back. This year I am honored to be a part of the Fresh Kids Advent Calendar Campaign. Each day of the advent calendar they will be sharing a fun food plate and also highlighting different charities to encourage connecting and giving back to your community!

Today my fun snowman is starting off the advent calendar! My fun food plate is paired with No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry is the campaign of Share Our Strength's to end child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

Head on over HERE and check it out! (be sure to check the advent calendar every day this month for more fun food plates!!)

This fun snowman is an open faced sandwich, with cheese on top. His hat and scarf are bell peppers, his nose is carrot. His eyes, mouth, and buttons are made from plum. I used FreshKids Pretzel Stix to make his hands, and FreshKids Clean & Simple Popcorn for the snow. He was so simple and fun to make!

Both of my kiddos LOVED this snowman. I hope you do too!

Check the Fresh Kids Advent Calendar every day this month for more fun food plates!

*Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links*
**I was compensated to make this plate for the campaign. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are my own**
Linking up here :)

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Food for Thought: Thankful

Food for Thought: Thankful
"There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for"

For me the month of November is taking time to think about what you are thankful for; grateful for, spending time with family, and good food.

This year as a family, instead of just talking about what we are thankful for, we wrote it down on paper leaves and made a Thankful Tree. I can say that I have truly enjoyed watching the tree grow throughout the month. Even Samantha added to the tree -- she scribbled on a few leaves and put them up :)

Among many things, I am thankful for my family; my husband, my girls, and our dog. I am blessed to have them all in my lives. Each one of them has added something special to my life. Just watching my children grow, watching their personalities develop is an amazing blessing I never want to take for granted. It is very easy to forget when we are exhausted, running on no sleep, cranky and stressed, but at the heart of it all, there is always love.

And one of the reasons I make fun lunches for Eliana is out of love. I certainly don't have to make fun lunches, and if I don't it doesn't mean I love her any less. But it is one of the ways we show love to each other. What can I say? We like good food ;)

So in the spirit of being thankful and Thanksgiving, I made Eliana this Fun and Simple Turkey Lunch:
In her PlanetBox she has raspberries with mini chocolate chips, cucumber turkeys, bell pepper slices and a turkey sandwich.To make the turkey I used a circle cutter and used wowbutter to "glue" the details down. I added some carrots for feet then used a pastry leaf plunger on whole wheat bread for the feathers. Super simple!

You can read this full Food for Thought post on my personal blog HERE.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links*
Linking up here :)

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Granola Bar Turkey Snack

Granola Bar Turkeys: A Healthy and Simple Thanksgiving Snack!
We are almost one week away from Thanksgiving! I keep saying it but wow. It feels like time is flying this year. Perhaps it is because I am always running after my 23 month old these days ;)

I made these Granola Bar Turkeys as an after school snack for Eliana. She loved them!  Samantha wants anything Eliana has so she kept asking for a "gobble gobble", and of course I made her one too :) These snacks are completely kid and toddler friendly! Samantha wanted me to assemble it, but if your kids want to assemble these they will have so much fun doing it themselves! They are really so simple to make! Both Eliana and Samantha gobbled up their "gobble gobbles" and asked for more :)

To make these Turkey Granola Bars you will need:
Homemade Granola Bars (recipe below), or store bought 
Pretzel Sticks
Dried Cranberries
A knife
8x8 baking pan
Aluminum foil
Non-stick baking spray (I used coconut oil)
To assemble:
1. Start off with your granola bar and place it at the center of your plate.
2. Take as many pretzel sticks as you want and gently push into granola bar to make feathers.
3. Cut some carrot noses and feet, put them into place.
4. Add candy eyes and dried cranberry "gobbly thing" and you are all set! Now: EAT!

*You can assemble everything and let your kids build their own turkeys! FUN!
Samantha went for the feet first! Smart girl. Making sure her gobble gobble can't run away! 

To make these we used our favorite NO BAKE Granola Bars, but feel free to use your favorite granola bar recipe, or use store bought. These are great for Thanksgiving because you could easily transport everything, no need for refrigeration, and let your kids eat and play with their food while you are finishing up preparations!

EASY {Peanut and Nut FREE} NO BAKE Granola Bar Recipe:
2 1/4 cups rice cereal*
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats*
1/2 cup wowbutter or sunbutter**
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (or brown rice syrup)
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup (more or less depending on your preference) mini chocolate chips***

1. In a large microwave safe bowl measure out your wowbutter, honey and brown sugar.
2. Place in microwave for 2 minutes on HIGH.
3. Remove bowl (carefully) and stir ingredients. Add vanilla and stir again.
4. Add (in this order) chia seeds, shredded coconut, old fashioned oats, and rice cereal to bowl with honey and wowbutter mixture.
5. Mix ingredients until well blended and all oats and cereal is fully covered in wowbutter mixture.
6. Fold in chocolate chips (reserve a few for the top).
7. In a 8x8 baking pan, lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray, pour your granola mixture.
8. With the back of a spoon press mixture down.
9. Sprinkle some chocolate chips on top.
10. Let granola bars cool completely. (you can place in refrigerator to speed process)
11. Cut and enjoy!
12. Keep in an air tight container for up to a week. I usually put a layer of parchment paper to help the bars not stick while stacked on top of each other.

*Be sure to use certified gluten free cereal and oats if you need it to be gluten free.
**If you do not have a peanut or tree nut allergy, you can always sub with any nut butter.
***Enjoy Life Foods Brand mini chocolate chips are top 8 allergen FREE. 

Some tips: 
>You could make this over the stove top instead of the microwave. Just make sure to stir until well blended, and to watch it so it doesn't burn.
>I have found that some honeys do not stick as well -- so use your judgement and add more if needed!
>If you add the chocolate in too quickly it will all melt. (which isn't a problem, but just make note!)
>Make sure to press down hard, but not too hard that you crush all the rice cereal!
>Let the bars cool completely first. Every time we cut into them and they hadn't cooled, the bars fall apart. They taste just as good.. so if you can't wait it really doesn't matter I suppose ;)

Some other Thanksgiving Fun Food Ideas (click on the link below the picture for more details):

What fun snacks will you be making for Thanksgiving Day?

*Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links*
Linking up here :)

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Friday, November 13, 2015

World Kindness Day School Lunch

Happy World Kindness Day!
Today is World Kindness Day! 
It is also Friday the 13th, but I think kindness is much more important to focus on ;)

Kindness can mean so many things. It can be the smallest and simplest of things, like just saying hi to someone, saying good morning (afternoon), making eye contact, a smile, holding the door open for someone else, and basic manners. Or kindness can be bigger and complex; like going out of your way to help someone, holding back your personal thoughts to not hurt someone else's feelings etc. 

Food For Thought:
You can never underestimate the power of kindness. And likewise-- the power of its absence. 

Ever since Eliana started kindergarten, one of our mantras is: "Be kind, Be nice, and Be respectful." I even made her first packed school lunch as a reminder to this. As parents we sometimes think of ourselves as record players... repeating the same thing over and over. But this is one thing I don't mind repeating. I say it every morning before she goes on the bus to school.

I know we could all look back at school days and remember those people or incidents that were unkind to us. One thing I've always wanted to instill in my kids is to always be kind to all. Even if you don't agree with someone, even if you aren't the best of friends, you can still be kind. You can still use your manners. There is no joy in hurting someone's feelings. There is no joy in being rude.

I was worried if Eliana would remember all her manners and treat everyone kindly, and with that concern came the birth of our mantra:
"Be kind, Be nice, and Be respectful".

I don't think I can ever talk about being kind too much, but I'll get off my pedestal now and let's move on to food! I packed Eliana a fun lunch to celebrate kindness:
Packed in her PlanetBox Eliana has cucumbers, carrots, blackberries (with alphabet bento picks), a wowbutter sandwich, clementines and pomegranate seeds. She also has some Enjoy Life Foods mini chocolate chips with one of the bread cut outs. I thought this Lunchbox Love Note fit perfectly for today too!

I chose hearts as flowers for the symbolic representation of how one act of kindness can bloom into something amazing, like a friendship or a relationship.

Eliana also made a sweet card for her teacher and we gave her a little gift. Just because :)

What did you do for World Kindness Day?

*Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links*
Linking up here :)

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