Month: March 2016

Teach Your Children Well: Raising Kids Who Happily Eat Healthily

Strawberry Kid (2)

 

Whether you are a new parent hoping to prevent your child from becoming a fussy eater, or already dealing with a picky kid, there are ways to open up the sometimes particular palettes of the little people in our lives.

It isn’t always easy, but it can be done with diligence, patience and creativity—and with type 2 diabetes and obesity in children continuing to rise, it’s especially important to teach kids the value of good nutrition so they can grow up into healthy adults.

Below are some top tips to help children learn to enjoy a variety of healthful foods.

 

1. The Vegetables Stay in the Picture—

When babies begin their foray into the world of solid foods, we start them off with the healthiest, natural foods, such as pureed vegetables and fruits.

When they work up into being able to handle small pieces, we add whole grain cereal and chunks of fruit like bananas, strawberries and avocadoes. But often, as they become toddlers, processed foods such as frozen chicken nuggets and junky snack foods enter the picture.

One way to raise an older kid who loves vegetables and fruits is to never stop feeding them the healthy fruits and vegetables we use during their solid food introduction. Avoid the temptation of convenient processed foods, or use them in moderation.

 

2. Include Kids in the Gathering and Preparing Process—

You’d be amazed by how excited kids will get about healthy foods if they’re included in the acquisition and cooking of them.

If you have a local Farmer’s Market, this can be a great way to teach kids about where healthy, real foods come from, or better yet, plant a backyard garden and let them watch and harvest the circle of life themselves.

Including kids in the cooking of meals can be a fun family bonding activity that encourages little ones to want to eat their creations.

 

3. Add Vegetables to Favorite Foods—

If your child loves pizza, lasagna or macaroni and cheese, consider adding vegetables to these types of favorite foods to include them in a positive way.

Start slowly if you already have a finicky eater on your hands, and don’t be discouraged if they pick the veggies out the first few times you add them. They are still getting a small taste of the flavor every time, which has been shown to eventually help kids get used to new foods.

 

4. Follow Your Own Healthful Eating Rules—

If kids see their parents eating unhealthy junk food, they will assume this is the way they’re supposed to eat as well, making it very important to model healthy behavior in the kitchen.

To reduce temptation and set a good example, keep healthy snacks like broccoli florets, carrot and celery sticks and apples readily available.

Eliminating sugary or nutritionally empty snack foods from your pantry and refrigerator can also make healthful eating more convenient, and be sure to make fast food a rare treat rather than a lifestyle.

 

5. Don’t Have a Food Fight—

Sometimes when kids are pushed too much in a direction, they will dig in their heels and stubbornly refuse because they’re feeling pressure, rather than because of the actual issue at hand.

Many parents simply ask that their children try a new food once, and allow them to decide if they like it without pressure. It can take over 10 tries for anyone to decide if they enjoy a new food, so don’t give up if the first, second or even third time’s not the charm.

Be patient, introduce new foods slowly, and remain nonchalant to avoid pointlessly combatant refusal to try new things from kids.

 

6. Make Dinner a Family Affair—

Sitting together at the table to socialize and enjoy each other’s company while you eat will create positive associations with the healthy foods you’re serving, as well as keeping parents in touch with kids.

When kids watch the adults in their lives eating healthy foods while chatting and enjoying each other’s company, it demystifies vegetables and other nutritionally smart choices by taking the focus off the food and onto the fun.

 

Remember that baby steps and moderation are best when trying to improve the eating habits of a family, and that it’s okay to occasionally have foods from the naughty list. Depriving everyone completely can backfire, making kids and adults feel resentful about what they can no longer have, setting back your progress.

Use the tips above to gently guide your kids in the direction of better nutrition to set them up for a lifetime of good health.

Four Quick, Convenient Crock Pot Cakes

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We’ve all used our crock pots for stews, soups, and chili; but have you ever wished you could combine the convenience of crock pot cooking with desserts? Surprisingly, there are actually many crock pot recipes for cakes and breads that make baking easier than ever.

We’ve compiled a few simple favorites for you below.

 

1. Quick Chocolate Cake

You will need:

* 1 package (6 serving size) instant chocolate pudding and pie mix

* 3 cups milk

* 1 package (18 ounces) chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix

* Whipped topping (optional)

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Empty pudding mix into crock pot and whisk in milk.

2. Prepare cake mix according to directions, blending well. Pour cake blend into crock pot. Do not stir.

3. Cover and cook on high 1½ hours or until cake is set.

Note: Serve warm, with whipped topping, if desired.

 

2. Berry Perfect Pound Cake

You will need:

* 1 package (16 ounces) pound cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare mix

* ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

* 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and powdered sugar

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Prepare cake mix according to directions, stirring in brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

3. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 1½ to 1¾ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: Serve with berries and powdered sugar, if desired.

 

3. Butterscotch Macadamia Pudding Cake

You will need:

* 1 box (18 ounces) golden yellow cake mix

* 1 cup water

* 4 eggs

* ½ cup sour cream

* ½ cup vegetable oil

* 1 cup butterscotch morsels

* ½ cup chopped macadamia nuts (or any nut you prefer)

1. Spray crock pot slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, sour cream and oil and mix well.

3. Pour batter into crock pot and cook on high 2 hours, or until batter is set.

4. Sprinkle butterscotch morsels and chopped macadamia nuts over surface of cake. Cover, and cook 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Note: Serve warm, with whipped cream, if desired.

 

4. Pecan-Cinnamon Spice Cake

You will need:

* 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

* ½ cup granulated sugar

* 1½ teaspoons baking powder

* 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

* ½ teaspoon ground ginger

* ½ cup milk

* 5 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted

* 1 cup chopped pecans

* 1½ cups water

* ¾ cup packed brown sugar

* Whipped cream

1. Stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger in a medium bowl. Add milk and 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter, and mix until blended. Stir in the pecans and spread mixture across bottom of crock pot.

2. Combine water, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons butter or margarine in small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Pour melted butter and sugar mixture over batter in crock pot.

3. Cover and cook on high 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until cake is set and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let stand uncovered for 30 minutes, and serve.

Note: This cake goes well with glazed pears. Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

 

It may seem like an unusual way to bake, but crock pot and slow cooker cakes and pastries are a great way to make tasty, traditional desserts in half the time. Treat your party guests or family to one of the unconventionally sweet and scrumptious cakes above today.

The Future is Fun, Flirty and Fabulous: 8 Top Prom Dress Trends for 2014

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Whether you’re buying a gown for prom, or any other formal occasion, there are some absolutely stunning new trends headed for all fabulous fashionistas in the coming year.

Some of last year’s styles will be sticking around, but designers have been adding new and exciting additions to the what-to-wear list that you won’t want to miss.

Read below about 8 of the fun and flirty new prom dress trends predicted for 2014:

 

1. Loving the Lace—

Lace has been popular for decades, but in 2014, it shifts to center stage to be featured as the star of the show, rather than simply an embellishment.

Last year, having a subtle touch of lace was popular, but now this feminine fabric is taking formalwear even further with dresses that feature dramatic lace necklines, large insets, and elegant, eye-catching lace hems.

 

2. Passionate for Purples—

Pantone recently kissed last year’s Emerald Green goodbye, voting Radiant Orchid the Color of the Year for 2014.

This paler, pinker shade of purple is flattering for nearly every skin type, giving the wearer an enigmatic energy reminiscent of exotic flowers, and adds a naturally playful feel to any gown.

With models walking the runways in shades of this gorgeous hue and celebrities like Kelly Osbourne sporting lovely lavender locks, Radiant Orchid is going to be everywhere in 2014, so get ready for dresses, accessories and make-up in this ultra-girly color.

 

3. Pretty, Pretty Peplums—

The peplum profile hearkens back to a stylish era when women had curves, and is a time-tested favorite for its ability to flatter any body type. Seen lately in the structured mini and longer, more formal design, this beloved style is here to stay.

Tailored in a way to give girls of all sizes a sexy hourglass shape, peplum is particularly popular this year, having been spotted on red carpet-celebrities like Michelle Williams and Emma Stone.

 

4. Say Hello to High-Lo—

Especially flattering on girls whose best asset is a great pair of legs, the high-low hemline combines the flirt factor of a mini with the princess appeal of a long, trailing or floating back hem.

Mysteriously sheer, ruffled and ladylike, or patterned inside for a splash of surprise, the high-low hem is going to be more popular than ever in 2014.

 

5. Knock-Out Neons—

Bright colors have risen above the horizon like so much sunshine, making dresses that dazzle and glow a hit on the runways and in the world of formal gowns.

Pantone recommends brightening its Radiant Orchid with complimentary tints like Tangerine Orange and Mimosa Yellow, but many fashion-forward ladies are choosing these upbeat colors as the main focus.

Don’t be afraid to wear coral, teal or mint prom dresses this year to stand out from the crowd in a beautiful way.

 

6. Mesmerizing Mermaids—

Evoking a sense of fairytale whimsy with its delicate and womanly classic shape, the mermaid silhouette will be prevalent in prom wear this year, giving girls the chance to turn heads with this dazzling design.

Fitted in the bodice, this style is a great choice for ladies seeking to support and showcase a beautiful décolletage, making the wearer stand out like a shining star in a sea of dresses.

 

7. Captivating Cap Sleeves—

This modest and arm-slimming sleeve style has been around since the ‘50s, but has officially made its way back into the word of fashion for 2014.

If you don’t feel confident in strapless dresses, or simply seek a more retro look, cap sleeves are an elegant alternative.

Cap sleeves come in every hemline, so find the dress that suits you best and wear this sophisticated style with grace and charm.

 

8. Illuminating Illusions—

Illusion necklines and covered back cut-outs are extremely current, with Kate Middleton as a frontrunner for starting the trend.

The impression of a revealing neckline or back area combined with the demure and tasteful coverage of a sheer fabric cover is a delightfully classic blend of nearly naughty with a splash of tasteful nice that makes a breathtaking impression.

 

If you’re looking for vintage, edgy colors, interesting elements or simply stunning, you won’t be disappointed by the prom dress fashions happening in the year ahead. Find a favorite trend above to wear for your next dance or formal occasion, and have fun giving it your own fabulous flair.