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Archive for November, 2018

This Easy Elf-on-the-Shelf Hack is a Dream If You Need to Declutter

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It also teaches your kids an important lesson.

Elf on the Shelf has become a polarizing holiday tradition for many working moms. Yes, it’s cute and gets kids excited for Christmas, but it’s also a pain to change the elf’s position every day. That’s why we love this popular elf idea that keeps things simple for parents and even helps cut down on clutter around the house.

A photo of the genius hack went viral after it was shared on Facebook last week. The picture shows the famous elf perched on a Christmas tree holding a sign with the message, “You got to give to get.”

The sign continues to explain to the kids that their elf “Trixie” is going to be collecting toys to take to the North Pole this year, and they will be given to other kids in need. The parents also put a basket under the tree for the kids to fill up with old toys they don’t use or want anymore.

The hack is perfect for parents who are desperate to get rid of rarely-used toys that take up space—especially since the holidays are sure to add more to the collection. While some kids may normally be reluctant to part with them, they are unlikely to say no to the elf who is delivering a message from North Pole. You can encourage your kids to get rid of clutter without dogging their footsteps up or doing the work yourself.

In addition to clearing up some room in your home, it also helps teach your kids a lesson about giving and helping others. It may even inspire them to volunteer toys to be donated to needy children all year round.

Since it was posted on Facebook last week, the photo has been shared over 158,000 times and has received thousands of comments from parents who are in love with the idea. Unfortunately, the person who first shared the photo doesn’t know where it originated, so we can’t extend our thanks to the savvy mom who came up with this novel hack.

It’s also worth mentioning you can use this trick to avoid coming up with creative ideas for rearranging the elf every evening. Just set a deadline for donations and keep him posted all season long. Now that’s what we call a win for everyone involved.

 

This article was written by Joseph Barberio from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Easy and Delicious One-Pan Meals

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It’s easy to get lazy on weeknights, especially when the mere thought of cooking an entire dinner is exhausting. That’s where these five one-pan meals come in. Just assemble all of the ingredients on a single baking sheet and pop it in the oven. Because a no fuss, no mess dinner is exactly what you need right now.

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Sausage with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans

An instant dinner with almost no cleanup.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

One-Pan Roasted Salmon with Potatoes and Romaine

The least intimidating way to cook seafood at home.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

One-Pan Eggs with Asparagus and Tomatoes

Serve it for breakfast or dinner.

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

One-Pan Roasted Chicken with Carrots

Cook it all at once on a sheet pan, then kick back and enjoy dinner (without a pile of pots and pans in the sink).

Get the recipe

Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

One-Pan Steak with Beets and Crispy Kale

A proper meat-and-potatoes dinner, minus the fuss.

Get the recipe

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Learning through Meal Prepping: Five Benefits to Letting Children Pack Their Own Lunches

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Letting children assist with packing their own lunches can be beneficial. You can teach your children about responsibility and portion control and boost their creativity and decision-making skills by inviting your children into the kitchen with you for a lesson. Here are five benefits of allowing children to help prepare their own lunches.

It emphasizes portion control. Bento-box lunch containers are an easy and exceptionally helpful tool for teaching your child about portion sizes and meal organization. When your children select their lunch items with you, provide them with a bento-box container and explain what healthy meal portions look like. They can use the bento box to pack their lunches, which helps them visualize and be aware of the portion sizes they are packing.

It introduces the importance of nutrition. Your children’s favorite go-to treats, such as fruit snacks and cookies, don’t necessarily make some of the healthiest snacks. When they’re in the kitchen with you, teach them about what the key food groups are and how those food groups keep their minds and bodies well nourished. Provide different vegetables, fruits, proteins, grains and dairy products, and let them choose what to put into their lunch bags. Guide them to pack meals with all the food groups.

It aids in independent learning and decision making. When your children are preparing their lunches with you in the kitchen, give them options for what to pack. Allow them to choose from two or three different things. Do they want a chicken sandwich, a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Do they want carrots or cucumbers? Do they want strawberries, apples or grapes? Once they decide, let them gather and pack their choices, and then help them focus on the next food group. Once you establish a routine, they will make quicker decisions. Picking their own meals lets them feel independent and accomplished.

It boosts creativity and introduces the art of cooking.
 Getting your children into the kitchen at a young age helps them start cooking and learning the steps it takes to create a meal. Instead of providing them with premade and wrapped turkey sandwiches, let them make some with you. Start by letting them select the bread, get out the condiments and select the meat, cheese and toppings they want on their delicious sandwiches. This shows them how much time, effort, creativity and skill it takes to make a proper lunch.

It teaches responsibility, routines and time management. Whether you pack meals after dinner or after your children get home from school, make sure to schedule a meal-preparation time that works best for your family. Meet in the kitchen at your designated time, and start preparing the lunches. By establishing a routine, such as meeting every night or twice a week at 7 PM, you will be familiarizing your children with following a schedule, helping them plan meals. If you want to make meal preparation more fun, consider getting a small chalkboard or whiteboard to keep in your kitchen. Have your children write out the days of the week and the foods they want in their lunchboxes each day. This can keep you organized, and it encourages your children to start planning meals.

How to Raise a Reader, According to Experts and Parents

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Want your child to fall in love with reading? We asked parents, teachers, and librarians for their tips for inspiring kids to read.

Everyone wants his or her kid to grow up to be a great reader. After all, childhood reading skills have even been shown to predict success not just in school, but also later in life. It isn’t too hard to get a child to read. But fostering a love of reading? That’s the hard part.

You can tip the scales in your little reader’s favor though. Learn how to raise a reader by following these expert tips.

Stock Up on Books

Having a home library—even a small one—is a big deal, especially when it comes to raising readers. Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between the number of books in a household and kids’ overall educational outcomes. In other words, kids whose parents keep books in the house have a big advantage. This is because when kids are constantly exposed to books, they become a normal part of everyday life.

“I have always had books in the house,” says Jaime Herndon, a writer and parent. “I read to Micah when he was in utero, read to him as an infant, and he’s always reached for books. They’ve become part of the everyday for him, and he ‘reads’ at least 2-3 books a day, plus our nightly reading.”

Lead by Example

The best way to raise a reader is to read yourself. Don’t do it secretly. Read where your kids can see you. If your kids think that reading is something adults don’t do, they might be less inclined to do it as they get older.

“Modeling” what to do is one of the best ways to teach any behavior, because kids love to copy adults—especially their parents.

“Adults need to model reading for children,” advises Carol Ann Moon, reference and instructional outreach librarian at St. Leo University in Florida. “I read because I had many models in my family.”

Read to Your Kids

You can also model by reading aloud to your kids. Making reading a group activity has several benefits. Kids not only learn to love reading because it’s something they do with the people they love, but they also learn how to pronounce the words they see on the page and pick up reading fluency skills, too.

When they’re old enough, ask your kids to read books aloud to you. If they’re nervous, get them to read to the family pet instead. Dogs are fantastic listeners.

“I read to [my son] Prose and now he wants to read me the books,” says author and mom Fabienne Josaphat. “It’s amazing how he can’t read yet—he’s only 3—but he memorizes the lines, and he recites them. … I try to put down my phone more and show him that I am either paying attention to him or reading.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting to read out loud to your child at birth.

Engage Kids’ Natural Curiosity

If you’ve been raising a reader, they may already think of books as sources of fun. Still, they may not know the variety of books out there. So when you’re out and about and your child starts asking questions about the world around her, make note.

“When [my children and I] are doing other things and become curious, we make an effort to learn more by finding a book on the topic on our next trip to the library,” says Kelli Casey, a secondary reading and English language arts resource teacher. By doing this, Casey shows her kids that nonfiction books are great resources for learning new things.

Make Reading a Habit

Just like with many other healthy things, reading becomes second nature to kids when they make it a habit. As a parent, you can foster a reading habit early by setting out a time each day to share a book with your child. Habits are made and kept by repetition, so try your best not to skip a day, even when you’re busy.

“Some nights I’m just so tired, but I remember that I don’t want [my son] to lose interest in reading,” says Donna Ho, a mom and former language arts teacher. “So I suck it up and read to him. When he asks to read a second book, I do.”

 

This article was written by Rebecca Renner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

One-Minute Ways to Calm Down During the 5 Most Chaotic Moments of Your Day

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Keep your cool, even when you’re feeling hot.

Life demands more from us every day, thanks to everything from a nasty political climate and natural disasters to cranky kids. Moms need ways to deal with stress swiftly and with ease. Life can feel overwhelming and exhausting much of the time, which is why we need simple and effective techniques to help us come back to center when life gets tricky. It only takes one minute for all hell to break loose at work or at home, so we need tools to center us that work just as fast! Here are some tips that will help you go from chaos to calm in one minute or less:

1. How to Stay Calm During the Morning Rush

Each new breath we take is another opportunity to decide how the next moment will unfold. If our morning starts to go a tad haywire with kids who don’t want to get out of bed, or we realize we never picked up the cleaning and have nothing to wear, it doesn’t mean we can’t regroup and move forward in a way that feels better to us and our family.

In these moments where we are one step away from losing it, it feels helpful to find an anchor point. Pause for just a moment and notice where you feel your breath the strongest. Is it moving in and out of your nose? Is it your ribcage expanding and contracting, or your belly rising and falling? Wherever it is, spend a few moments breathing and focusing on your anchor point. You will be calming your nervous system so you can respond to each part of your morning thoughtfully instead of simply reacting and usually having regrets about how that went. Return to this anchor point anytime during the day as you need to.

2. How to Stay Calm When Your Kids are Fighting in the Back Seat

There were days during the “hot mess” phase of my life when my kids would fight in the back seat on the way to school. I’d be yelling and inevitably someone would get out of the car crying, and I’d feel remorseful all day for allowing their day to begin like that. It felt terrible!

I began implementing “morning mindfulness” into our car ride routine and now everyone gets out of the car feeling great and excited for their day. We started years ago, and even now at 13 and 11 my kids still want to do it, and so do the friends we carpool with. They love it!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Have everyone close their eyes and take 3-5 deep breaths, really feeling their belly rise and fall. I suggest having them imagine they are blowing up a balloon in their belly on the inhale, and then letting all the air out on the exhale. You can join them, just keep your eyes open while you drive!
  2. Have each child think of three things they are grateful for. They can be big or small, and they can decide if they want to share. If the kids are under seven, they can think of one thing.
  3. Everyone shares out loud why today is going to be awesome.

If you don’t drive your kids to school, this can be done waiting for the school bus or at the breakfast table.

3. How to Stay Calm When You are Exhausted

When you are exhausted, you need a little extra TLC. I find that creating a mindful pause with a cup of tea always does the trick to soothe my soul.

When making your tea really pay attention to your senses. What does the warm mug feel like in your hands? What does your tea smell like and taste like? Find three descriptive words for each. Using your senses is a wonderful way to be present in the moment, and who doesn’t love a cup of chai with a bit of almond milk and honey?

4. How to Stay Calm When Your Calendar is so Full It May Burst

When I feel overwhelmed, I use my favorite affirmation. I repeat “I get everything done with ease and grace” to myself until I feel calm and centered. It reminds me to take my day one step at a time, and to mindfully make my way through each task.

5. How to Stay Calm When You Walk in From Work and Get Hit With Everything At Once

The trick to this one is actually acting before you walk in the door. Spend an extra minute in your car before you get out to give yourself a minute come back to center and recalibrate. You want to walk in your door feeling like the best version of you, so take a moment to decompress and release any stress you are still holding from the day. While sitting in your car you can do a quick body scan. Relax your body from head to toe, hitting all of the major areas of the face, neck, shoulders, chest, belly, hips and legs. You will be amazed at how much tension you are holding in your body.


Ali Katz is a certified meditation teacher, and creator of the Hot Mess to Mindful Mom brand. She has been featured on ABC, NBC, FOX News and many other outlets. Find out more about Ali, her work, and her books at www.hotmesstomindfulmom.com. You can find many more tips and tools like these in the latest book in her series One Minute to Zen: How to go From Hot Mess to Mindful Mom in One Minute or Less available on Nov. 6, 2018.

 

This article was written by Ali Katz from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

THE 11TH ANNUAL GODDARD SCHOOL PRESCHOOLER-APPROVED TOY TEST NAMES LITE BRITE AS THE WINNING EDUCATIONAL TOY OF 2018

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Goddard Systems, Inc. (GSI), the franchisor of The Goddard School® preschool system, announces that the public has selected Lite Brite from Basic Fun Toys as the winning toy in the 11th annual Goddard School Preschooler-Approved Toy Test. To help more children learn through play, GSI will purchase and donate 100 units of Lite Brite to Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that provides children in need with holiday gifts every year.

 

In the summer, The Goddard School Toy Test Committee, a team of early childhood education experts, reviewed numerous submissions from the world’s leading toy manufacturers. The committee judged each submission on how affordable it is, how the toy encourages interactive and child-initiated play, how well it promotes creativity and collaboration and how well it maintains the children’s interest over time. Then, a select group of 50 Goddard Schools across the country received the top-evaluated toys for infants to six-year-old children to play with and critique. With the help of their teachers, the preschoolers selected their favorite toys, and GSI compiled the results.

 

The following are the top 10 educational toys for 2018 in the order of their suggested age ranges:

  • VTech Touch and Discover: Sensory Turtle (3+ months)
  • Mirari Shellby Snail (9+ months)
  • Leap Frog Learning Friends: 100 Words Book (18+ months)
  • SMARTMAX My First Farm Animal (1-5 years)
  • SMARTMAX My First Tractor Set (1-5 years)
  • Peaceable Kingdom Acorn Soup (2+ years)
  • Popular Playthings Magnetic Mix or Match Animals (2+ years)
  • Popular Playthings Magnetic Mix or Match Vehicles (3+ years)
  • Basic Fun Lite Brite (4+ years)
  • PlayMonster Don’t Rock the Boat (5+ years)

 

“The Preschooler-Approved Toy Test allows children to learn in the most effective way: by playing with educational toys that enhance their communication, creativity, collaboration and critical-thinking skills,” says Dr. Craig Bach, vice president of education at GSI. “We are thrilled to continue leading the way in play-based education, setting up children for lifelong social and academic success.”

 

For more information on The Goddard School, please visit www.goddardschool.com.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Real Moms (and 1 Dad) on Their Social Media Strategies for Their Kids

 

Twenty20

You want your kids to be current, but you also want to protect them from the big bad digital world, which makes navigating whether or not to give them social media access a tricky decision. The pros of social media access, in particular for pre-teens and teens? It can strengthen friendships, provide a sense of belonging when they’re grappling with something tough, and help them learn how to express themselves, according to studies. The cons? They’re mostly the ones we’re familiar with (sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression), plus a new biggie: Social media use for teens can become addictive and cause them to live in a world that’s activated by likes, says a recent study out of UCLA. We checked in with five moms—and one dad—to hear more about their approach. 

Element 1

Nope, Not Even a Little

“My daughter is nine years old and we don’t allow social media at all. She has a Kindle with a couple of game apps on it and the only online game she has access to is Prodigy, a math game she plays in class at school. Apparently, my husband and I are really old-school. ‘Social’ anything for her right now is face to face or on the phone, period. She does, however, have an email account that she uses to keep in touch with out of state family and friends. She hops on one day a week to check it and return emails. (I monitor her incoming and outgoing messages.) We told her that when she turns 13, we’ll revisit our decision on her social media use.” — Katie, MA

Yes, But Only Snapchat

“I have two boys, ages 8 and 12. My eight-year-old is too young and doesn’t care about social media at this point, but my 12-year-old is in the seventh grade and wants to interact with his peers. I agreed to let him have Snapchat, which I also have access to, but he’s never on it. That said, he’s a gamer and loves YouTube. This will probably become a heated debate when he turns 13. He’s a good kid—respectful and trustworthy—but I know what’s out there. I’ll likely give in and allow him to start his own channel…and then monitor it like a madwoman.” — Ayana, MI

We’re All About Monitoring Access

“My son will be 12 just before Christmas and has a Facebook account and an email address. He is *only* allowed to use Facebook to message me, his dad and his nana and papa—not for posting. And the email is for logging into certain games and YouTube, all of which we monitor his activity on. He uses pretty good judgment about what’s appropriate and what’s not, but I check his web history once a week and log into his email account and YouTube accounts weekly as well. In my opinion, communicating with him daily about what he’s doing is most important, but also trying to keep up with all the new apps and trends kids use to hide their app use is helpful, too. The only thing I struggle with: Minecraft, where they can basically be talking with anyone.” — Kate, SC

It’s Not Even Up for Discussion

“My daughter is 11 and is not allowed on social media, but many of her friends have Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. She has asked to join several times, but she knows the rules are set. I have had consistent rules with social media and restrictions on internet usage her whole life, so there aren’t too many arguments. She does have an email account, but only for school work. Her cell phone screen time is restricted to three hours and I need to authorize downloading any apps.” — Matt, MA

Snapchat is Allowed…But Only On Our Phone

“My 11-year-old daughter is not allowed to have any social media accounts. She is allowed to Snapchat with her teammates from my phone under my account. She understands the rules and regularly informs me that ‘only old people use Facebook.’ So I am old.” — Lara, CA

Yes, Every Single Platform

“My 15-year-old son is on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. He’s been on social media for a while. I don’t believe it’s realistic to keep teens away from social media. Plus, in high school, they’re using Facebook groups and chats as virtual study accounts, where one is for the parents to see and the other is for their friends. What I do instead of monitoring is make sure he knows that anything he posts could wind up public at any point. There’s no such thing as privacy on social media. Also, since he was in elementary school, I’ve talked to him about how things can come across differently on text or social media than in a personal interaction. I took this approach to help him understand that if you’re joking with someone on text or social media, it might be offensive and it’s much harder to register that—and offer a sincere apology—when you’re missing a personal dynamic.

Though I know a lot of parents who have their kids’ passwords for social accounts, I don’t. I’ve always worked on a trusting relationship and allowing some personal space. If I sensed he was in trouble or participating in something upsetting, I’d pursue that route, but as long as his grades are good, he’s engaged with school and activities, and he’s not showing any signs of emotional problems, I’m OK with giving him some privacy online.” — Sam, NY

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

9 Wholesome Recipes Made Fun for Kids

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Kids will love preparing these foods as much as they will eating them.

Getting your kids to eat healthy can be tricky. Which is why Shannon Seip and Kelly Parthen, the duo behind Bean Sprouts Cafe, created playful and imaginative meals that get children excited about eating healthy. In their new cookbook Bean Sprouts Kitchen, Shannon and Kelly share 60 recipes the whole family can prepare and enjoy together. Bean Sprouts Kitchen comes out November 6, 2018, but you can make nine of their fun and wholesome meals any day.

Grilledzilla

Make sure the ends of googly-eyed Grilledzilla’s mouth are pointing up in a slight smile, so he doesn’t scare anyone away.

Cooking spray
2 slices cheddar cheese
¼ cup (30 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 zucchini rounds
2 olive slices

  1. Preheat skillet over medium heat.
  2. Spray cooking spray on one slice of bread. Flip over and layer one slice of cheddar, shredded mozzarella, and the other slice of cheddar cheese. Top with other slice of bread and spray the top slice of bread with cooking spray.
  3. Grill sandwich in pan until lightly browned and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.
  4. Cut a zigzag line through the bottom third of the sandwich. Place zucchini rounds at the top of the sandwich and top with olives for eyes.

Bean appétit!

Makes 1 Grilledzilla

Bean There, Ate That
Give your Grilledzilla some zip with these additional combos:
• Turkey + Mayonnaise + Cheddar cheese + Apple slices
• Grilled chicken slices + BBQ sauce + Gruyere cheese

Dino S’mores

 

Dino S'mores

 

Your whole family can work together to create this edible prehistoric scene.

Photo: The Quarto Group

We’ve found chocolate to be a much friendlier tar pit for our prehistoric pals.

¾ cup (94 g) whole wheat flour
½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (28 g) ground flax meal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup (56 g) butter, softened
¼ cup (60 g) packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons (60 g) honey
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 ml) milk (of your choice)
1 cup (175 g) chocolate chips
2 green pears

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Waxed paper
Rolling pin
Dinosaur cookie cutters
Child scissors

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Mix the flours, flax meal, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to blend the butter, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Add milk. Stir until blended.
  4. Place dough on a piece of waxed paper. Flatten into a big circle and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough to about ¼-inch (6 mm) thick. Press the dinosaur cookie cutters in the dough. Place shapes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Spoon 2 tablespoons (28 g) of melted chocolate on a small piece of waxed paper and quickly place a dinosaur upright in each chocolate glob.
  7. Place the dinosaurs and chocolate in the freezer, until the chocolate hardens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully peel off the chocolate tar pits from the waxed paper and stand dinosaurs upright on a plate.
  8. Cut pears into slices, and cut slices into tree shapes for the background. Use the pear slices in place of marshmallows for fruit-filled s’mores.

Makes 10 to 12 Dino S’mores

Behind the beans
Many of the science centers and museums where Bean Sprouts cafés are located offer dinosaur exhibits. We even call our fossil friends Bean Names, like “Pea-Rex,” “Tri-Carrot Tops,” and “Eggasaurus.”

Xylofun

 

Xylofun

 

This sweet tasting dish will have your child forgetting they’re eating vegetables.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Try multicolored carrots to make this dish really ring.

Cooking spray
8 carrots
1½ teaspoons (7 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure maple syrup
⅛ teaspoon salt
12 capers
2 pitted olives (optional)
Cooking spray

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Pastry brush (optional)
Lollipop sticks (optional)
Child scissors

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Peel the carrots. Carefully slice in halves lengthwise.
  3. Mix the butter and maple syrup in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush or the back of a spoon to brush the mixture on both sides of the carrots. Place the carrots rounded side down on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  4. Place the two largest carrot halves, rounded side down, turned inwards at a slight angle, like you’re making a “greater than” math sign. Balance remaining carrots flat side up across the two large, angled carrots.
  5. Trim the ends of the carrots with the scissors so they don’t extend beyond the bottom carrots. Place a caper on the end of each carrot key.
  6. If desired, place an olive on the end of each lollipop stick for mallets.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 Xylofuns

Broctopus

 

Broctopus

 

A fun way to get your child to finish their broccoli.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Place the tot upright and surround with 8 legs. Dip the sea creature into ranch dressing or ketchup or enjoy plain.

2 cups (142 g) steamed broccoli florets
¼ cup (40 g) diced white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons (8 g) chopped parsley
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
⅔ cup (33 g) panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup (38 g) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Parchment paper
Pastry brush (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Add broccoli, onion, and parsley to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add salt, egg, panko breadcrumbs, and cheese to the food processor and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Use your hands to roll 1½ tablespoons (17 g) of mixture into a tot shape. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat three times for a total of four tots.
  4. Use the rest of the mixture to create 4 sets of 8 Broctopus legs (32 legs total) on the parchment paper. Form skinny legs and pinch to create curves.
  5. Use the pastry brush or your finger to brush extra-virgin olive oil on the tops of all the pieces. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, without flipping the pieces over.
  6. Place the tot upright and surround with 8 legs. Dip the sea creature into ranch dressing or ketchup or enjoy plain.

Bean appétit!

Makes 4 Broctopi

Under the Z

 

Under the Z

 

A healthy alternative to your typical pancake.

Photo: The Quarto Group

This silly use of zucchini noodles brings the “z” to under the sea.

Cooking spray
2 cups (240 g) spiral zucchini noodles plus 16 to 20 zucchini noodles
½ cup (40 g) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg¼ cup
(31 g) flour

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Round waffle maker

  1. Preheat the waffle maker. Lightly coat the iron with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, blend the 2 cups (240 g) spiral zucchini noodles, Parmesan cheese, egg, and flour. Pour into the waffle maker and spread evenly across the surface sothe mixture reaches the edges of the iron.
  3. While the waffle is cooking, place the remaining zucchini noodles on the bottom halves of two plates.
  4. Remove the waffle and cut in half. Place each waffle half at the top of the noodles to create the jellyfish.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 jellyfish

Note
You can use store-bought zucchini noodles or make your own if you have a spiralizer. Or cut zucchini into long, thin noodle-like strips (a mandoline works great for this)

Dare-Deviled Eggs

 

Dare-Deviled Eggs

 

A perfect way to introduce kale into your child’s diet.

Photo: The Quarto Group

If only all deviled eggs had the moxie of these go-getters!

3 large kale leaves
1 tablespoon
(15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
¼ cup (60 g) mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
12 thin red bell pepper slices, about ½ inch long (13 mm)

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors
Toothpick

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Use the child scissors to cut one of the kale leaves until you have ⅓ cup (22 g) little confetti-like pieces. Set aside.
  3. With the other large kale leaves, cut 6 triangle shapes for capes, about 3 to 4 inches (7.5 cm to 10 cm) long. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to coat both sides of the capes with olive oil. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.
  4. Cut a tiny slice off the bottoms of the wide ends of each egg so they can stand up. Cut off the top third of each egg and carefully remove the yolks and place in a small bowl.
  5. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and kale confetti and stir until blended. Carefully spoon the egg yolk mixture back into the hollowed-out eggs.
  6. Use a toothpick to poke 2 small holes in the top of each egg white and push in 2 red pepper pieces for horns.
  7. Carefully press the short end of each baked kale cape onto the top of the egg yolk mixture so that it’s “flying” straight out. Top with the smaller piece of the hard-boiled egg.

Bean appétit!

Makes 6 Dare-Deviled Eggs

Note
Try serving the Dare-Deviled Eggs on top of tall, clear cups turned upside down, so it looks like they’re flying.

Spagiggles

 

Spagiggles

 

Great with spaghetti or all on their own.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Unleash your inner stylist with these sassy bites.

¼ cup (35 g) cooked spaghetti
2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 turkey-black bean meatballs, warmed (from Mash of the Penguins, page 25)
Marinara sauce or your favorite pasta sauce for dipping

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Toss the cooked spaghetti with the olive oil, garlic powder, and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Use child scissors or your fingers to pinch off the spaghetti strands into different lengths. Place the noodles on a foil-lined baking sheet in whatever hairstyles you like—curlicues, spikes, etc. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Let cool slightly. Fix the spaghetti hair onto the meatballs and serve with your favorite pasta sauce for dipping.

Bean appétit!

Makes 12 stylin’ meatballs

Bean There, Ate That
Try using the noodles to create stick figures for your Spagiggles.

Crocamole

 

Crocamole

 

A snack that’s delicious and safe for anyone who’s gluten free.

Photo: The Quarto Group

This croc pot is delightful for dipping veggies.

1 avocado, sliced in half lengthwise
½ cup (113 g) hummus
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 zucchini rounds, plus more for dipping
4 olive slices
14 matchstick carrots
Other favorite veggies for dipping, such as baby carrots or celery sticks

  1. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado pulp and place in a bowl. Set avocado skins aside.
  2. Add the hummus and lemon juice to the bowl and use a fork to mash ingredients until smooth.
  3. Scoop the green hummus back into the avocado skins. Place 2 zucchini rounds and olive slices in the hummus at the wider end of each avocado skin for eyes. Add carrot matchsticks at the narrow end for teeth.
  4. Enjoy with your favorite veggie dippers.

Bean appétit!

Makes 2 Crocamoles

Spaceadilla

 

Spaceadilla

 

The jicama adds a little sweetness to this dish.

Photo: The Quarto Group

Silly shapes of crunchy veggies blast this dish to infinity and beyond.

4 flour tortillas
½ cup (58 g) shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup (113 g) shredded rotisserie chicken
¼ cup (65 g) salsa (optional)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small jicama
12 olive slices
1 each red and orange bell pepper
1 can (16-ounce or 455 g) refried black beans, warmed

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:
Child scissors
Mini star and moon cookie cutters

  1. Use the child scissors to cut out 8 identical rocket shapes from the tortillas. On 4 of the rocket shapes, evenly divide the shredded cheese and chicken. Top with salsa, if desired, and the remaining tortillas.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add extra-virgin olive oil. Carefully add the rockets to the skillet. Cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
  3. While the rockets are cooking, cut the jicama into thin slices. Use the mini cutters to cut 16 to 20 stars and moons. Use the child scissors to cut flame shapes from orange and red bell peppers.
  4. Use the back of a spoon to spread the warmed refried beans across 4 plates. Place a rocket quesadilla in the middle of each plate. Add pepper flames at the bottom of the rocket and olive slices in the center for portholes. Add jicama stars and moons on the refried beans.

Bean appétit!

Makes 4 Spaceadillas

 

Bean Sprouts Kitchen

Bean Sprouts Kitchen

Beat Sprouts Kitchen by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen

Photo: The Quarto Group

 

This article was written by Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen from Working Mother and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Five Ways to Encourage Children to Give Back

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Part of being a good citizen includes giving back to the community and the world at large. Here are five ways to encourage children to be charitable.

1. Start small. Rake the leaves in an elderly neighbor’s yard, take food to an ailing relative or just hold the door for someone. These deeds show your child that small acts of kindness can make a big difference.

2. Donate clothes and toys. Go through your child’s closet and toy chest and ask him which items he would like to donate, and then take him to an organization that accepts donations of clothes and toys. You can even make this a regular habit.

3. Participate in local drives. Whether it is a bake sale, canned food drive or other charitable initiative, get involved while enlisting the help of your child.

4. Build on your child’s interests. For example, if your child shows an interest in cooking, you and he can volunteer at a soup kitchen when he is old enough. If your child likes animals, you can donate gently used items, such as pet beds and grooming tools, to your local animal shelter. You should contact your local shelter first to find out what items it accepts.

5. Select a charity to support. Ask your child how she would like to change the world. Based on her answer, select a charity to support regularly. If she wants to help find a cure for cancer, you can raise money for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. If she wants to help find homes for people who do not have them, you can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Sharing is a Significant Skill for Young Children

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Demonstrating the act of sharing with young children helps them build friendships and create a peaceful playtime with others.

Your children will learn best from what you do, so remember to practice the art of sharing. You are a role model for your little ones. Incorporate sharing in your daily activities with your children by using small examples.

1. Show your children that there is one granola bar left in the box. Explain how all of you are hungry and ask your children what they think you should do.

2. Play games that require taking turns with your children. Watch how well your children do with waiting for their turn and explain how important patience is.

3. Be proactive with your explanations. Instead of waiting to witness that your children are not sharing with a friend, talk with them about how they will need to play nice and share their toys when a friend comes to visit.

Depending on your children’s answers and actions, be sure to explain that all the children may not get what they exactly want, but sharing creates a compromise for everyone involved.

You also could explain the consequences of not sharing. If your children are caught hiding toys from their friends, they should know the consequences. Explain that not sharing may result in not being able to play with any toys for the entire day. However, if they share, although they may not get what they exactly want, they will have more than they had when they started. If they do not share, they will end up without any toys.