Peanut, Almond and Nut Butters Recalled Due to Potential Salmonella

Before you make a peanut butter sandwich, check your bottle. nSpired Natural Foods Inc. is voluntarily recalling peanut, almond and other nut butters due to a fear of potential salmonella contamination. The products (in glass and plastic jars) include Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butters, MaraNatha Almond Butters and Peanut Butters and specific private label nut butters sold under the Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Kroger and Safeway brands. The recalled nut butters include the following products with"Best-by" dates ranging from Dec. 4, 2014 through July 25, 2015: Arrowhead Mills organic crunchy and creamy peanut butter, 16 oz. MaraNatha roasted creamy and crunchy almond butters in regular and organic varieties, 16 oz. MaraNatha raw almond butter, 16 oz. MaraNatha organic creamy and crunchy peanut butter, 16 oz. MaraNatha no-stir creamy and crunchy peanut butter with salt, regular and organic, 16 oz. MaraNatha organic creamy almond butter, 8 oz. MaraNatha roasted creamy almond butter and organic crunchy and creamy peanut butter with salt, 26 oz. MaraNatha no-stir creamy and crunchy almond butter, 12 oz. MaraNatha organic no-stir creamy and crunchy peanut butter with salt, 16 oz. MaraNatha organic no-stir creamy and crunchy almond butter; MaraNatha creamy maple almond butter, 12 oz. Trader Joe's crunchy and creamy almond butter, 16 oz. Whole Foods 365 creamy, crunchy and organic creamy roasted almond butter, 16 oz. Kroger no-stir creamy almond butter, 12 oz. Safeway open nature almond butter, 12 oz. For more information on these products please visit Salmonella can casue serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immunde systems. Typically the symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. You do not need to return the product, you can throw it away and call the Company at 1-800-937-7008 for a replacement or refund.    

When One Parent Travels... A Lot

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that. So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago. Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned: The FIFO parent: Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”. Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s. Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is. Lesson for the FIFO: Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening. Stay at Home Parents: I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone. It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family. Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

Baked Beets Recipe

I love fresh beets, and I finally figured out a sure-thing recipe that blows my friends away.   They are sweet, just like candy, and I can serve this dish with any meal. Ingredients 5-10 multi colored fresh beets (canned will NOT work) 1/2 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (mixed) salt and pepper   Directions Cut the stems off the bulbs. Peel and slice the bulbs in halves or quarters, depending on the size of your beets. Use a small baking dish so that the beets are touching, almost crammed (I use a meat loaf dish).  Toss the beets with 1/2 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.   Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 350 for about 1 hour, until soft. Delish!!!!  

Hot Hair Trend: Messy Braids

Messy braids are the latest and hottest hair accessory - from Fishtail Braids to Side Braids to Classic Braids, you can’t go wrong! It's a great way to style your hair that looks casual and chic at the same time. Pro tip - use a salt beach spray for better handling while braiding. And of course, don't be afraid to experiment! Here are a few of our favorites styles: Loose Side Braid Gather a small portion of your hair and weave it into a loose braid, finishing down the side of one shoulder. Rough up the hair a bit before braiding to make it look tousled. Scrunch up and tease the rest of your hair so that it flows about your head in a tousled, wild manner. Then give a spritz of finishing spray to set the style. Fish-Tail Braid The fish-tail braid got its name because it looks like the tail of a fish. While the fish-tail is casual enough for every day, it does take a little longer to do than a regular braid, so you may want to save it for a night out or another special occasion. You make a fish-tail by dividing your hair into two equal sections. You then move small portions from the outside of each section into the inside of the other section until you reach the end of your hair. Watch a video tutorial here. Half-Up Braid For this braid, gather the sides and top of hair and hold loosely at the back center of head. Braid 4 or 5 times. Then, turn braid under to one side and criss cross pin with bobby pins until secure. Finish with a shine spray or oil on the ends.   What's your favorite braid style?

The Sneaky Mom: 7 Ways We Show Our Stealth

Mothers are appreciated for many reasons: our nurturing tendencies, our ability to multi-task with multiple children, our quick reaction time for when they vomit in the car, the fact that we can problem-solve when our kid poops in the bathtub… But what often goes unnoticed is our stealth.Seriously, we’ve got incredible stealth. Here are just a few examples: 1. The Sneaky Chef: We sneak vegetables into our kids’ foods. Any good mom understands the importance of eating fruits and veggies; unfortunately, some kids don’t get it, or they just don’t care. After all, they feel invincible. So, many moms have devised great -- and often covert -- ways of “adding” veggies to their children’s foods. Strategies range from pureeing them into a pasta sauce to blending them in a smoothie. There are even cookbooks that offer tips. It was only until recently that my boys learned that spinach was the reason why their “mean green” smoothies were green. 2. The Sneaky Room Invader: We check on our children without them knowing. New moms quickly learn stealth maneuvering skills. I have yet to meet a new mom who hasn’t at least once checked on her sleeping baby to make sure he/she is still breathing. The art is being able to sneak into the dark room, lower the ear to the child’s chest, confirm the breathing, and sneak out…without waking the child. One time I held my hand a breath away from my son’s face just to make sure I could feel his breath. When he sneezed and woke up, I knew I’d have to improve my stealth skills. 3. The Sneaky Teacher: We help with homework even if we might not be “helping.” There may come a point when your children are learning things in school that you either forgot or never truly got. Of course, sometimes we don’t want them to know that we don’t know the answer, so we act like we know…and we do our best. The moment my son told me that his teacher marked wrong one of the math word problems I had helped him with, I realized that he would soon figure out that his mother, despite all my talking and encouraging and calculations, may not always have the right answers. 4. The Sneaky Actress:  We act like everything’s fine, when it’s not. Moms need to shelter and protect their young children from the harsh realities of this world. This can include our emotions in some situations. For example, when a bungee cord hook was snapped and stabbed my 5-year-old son in his eyeball, my first desired emotion: to hysterically freak out and run away. Of course, instead I heard myself saying, “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. The blood isn’t coming from your eyeball…it’s from…um,…a scratch.” Somehow I managed to hide my sobs and control my shakiness as I drove him to the hospital. I’m pretty sure I deserved the Oscar that day. 5. The Sneaky Thief: We sneak our kids’ food. Some of us moms like to “borrow” from our kids’ plate. This is especially true when we’re at a restaurant and it looks like the child is finished, and we sneak that French fry. We don’t want the entire box of fries - otherwise, we would have ordered it for ourselves. We just want a taste…or two. Halloween candy is my weakness. And, apparently I’m not alone. Check out this funny video that shows kids’ reactions when their parents joke about eating all the Halloween candy.  6. The Sneaky Helper: We help the Tooth Fairy. Mothers are very helpful. In fact, we like to help the Tooth Fairy, even if it means “assisting” as much as possible. As my children age, they go to sleep later and sometimes it’s hard to know if they are, in fact, actually sleeping. The challenge is -- for the Tooth Fairy, of course -- how to sneak in, get the tooth from underneath the child’s pillow, find the note, leave her own note, and exit without being caught. I do try to make her job easier by telling my kids to make sure their notes are prominently displayed and that their tooth might be more accessible if it was in an envelope taped to their door. 7. The Sneaky Maid: We make it seem like our house is clean 24 hours a day. Anybody with young kids will tell you that they like to make a mess. And sometimes, before that mess is cleaned, there is the occasional visitor who unexpectedly drops by. Even in the one minute it takes for us to run from the family room to the front door, most of us are good at throwing the bowl into the sink or covering a mound of laundry with a towel before answering the door. Of course, when we have adequate notice and clean our entire house before the guest arrives, and we hear the question, “Wow, your house is so clean…is it always like this?” some of us just have to smile and say, “Well, we try our best.” Motherhood is filled with all kinds of emotions, experiences, and adventures…some good, some not so much. But at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to laugh at how serious we take it...even if you have to laugh in secret. --- About the Writer: Cori Linder is a Featured Blogger for Modern Mom. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter.

Deadly Food Allergies: From A Teen Who Has Them

This article was written by a 14 year old girl who calls herself "12 Paws" dealing with life threating food allergies. “Hey Hun,” my Mom tells my Dad, “Let’s stop at the market for groceries, perhaps we can we go to Whole Foods for dinner? We’re getting groceries, so it might be easier to eat there. And, we want to celebrate!” “Great idea!” he says.“Crap.” I thought to myself.And why not celebrate? We had just come from my younger brother’s summer concert for his youth symphony orchestra. He is eleven and the first chair in clarinet. We just come from a magical evening of listening to Symphony No 9 in E minor by Dvorak, (known as the New World Symphony), John Williams Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban among other great performances of great music. My “little” brother, (he is bigger than I am) played magnificently. Music is his great true love.It is late, nearly 9:00 pm and we had not eaten dinner. We are hungry and want to celebrate. Why not stop off for something to eat? Why not pick up some extra groceries? Why not have a little fun?  Because every time we do this, I enter another war zone.I have food allergies. When severe life threatening food allergies intersect with “wonderful” places like fancy supermarkets, terror ensues. It always has. I am anaphylactic to all nuts, peanuts, all fish, all shellfish and all flower seeds (i.e. poppy, sesame, sunflower seeds etc.) Those convenient open containers where you can chose which nuts you get cause my throat to itch and swell just walking by. If I walk too close to the open display case of fresh seafood my lips start to tingle. The allergy is airborne, which means that I can react even to the smell. My parents know this. They knew I was in the car. They take the approach that I still need to live life, that I carry epi-pens with me all the time and that must I learn to stay away from these areas in the markets. I have to function; I get that. But it really is not that simple.We pull into the Whole Foods parking lot. Food allergies are a constant war. Everywhere you go is a fight, and every particle of food is a land mine. You can’t touch people after they eat something you are allergic to. As a baby, I anaphylacted after my grandmother kissed me. She had eaten a tuna sandwich an hour before. Just last winter, my mom ate almonds. Two hours later she kissed my back as a gesture of affection for helping me with my bathing suit. A large hive immediately emerged at the point of contact of her kiss. At Whole Foods or any other place, I have to sit and eat plain safe food, (if I am lucky enough to find some) while everyone else shoves sushi, pad Thai, pastries and other food that looks delicious into their mouths. On top of this, I am an athlete. I run middle to long distance and it is a real struggle to get enough to eat. Nearly every single power bar has nuts or seeds or coconut or something that makes it impossible for me to eat. Of the nearly 100 types of nutrition bars beautifully displayed at Whole Foods, none are safe. I can eat chicken or red meat if it is prepared at home, but in a restaurant we cannot be sure it has not been contaminated by inadvertent contact. Besides, red meat and chicken are really not green or sustainable and I have real qualms about the nature of their production and marketing. Last year, my iron levels fell extremely low, exhausting me and causing severe anemia. I felt like a fish out of water, (which I cannot eat either). I live in a community with a very large pan-Asian population. Most social events revolve around these foods. I try not to be rude but I really cannot touch anything. I rely on special protein drinks, which are bland and taste like someone watered down pseudo- chocolate liquid. This is supplemented with some fruit, vegetables, some meat, beans and rice. We go inside Whole Foods. There is the hot buffet. It looks great! Then I realize the food theme is Indian. I know the options are going to be slim, but I try to peruse the aisle. Whole Foods has the ingredients listed on a little card in front of each dish. Indian food can be cooked with a variety of oils, but the most common are vegetable, sesame, coconut, and peanut oils.I see some plain chicken and start to walk toward it, but then I see it’s contaminated. Someone decided to reach over the chicken to the almond couscous and spill the couscous into the chicken. It’s always like this. People are just worrying about themselves, and do not even stop to consider that you be minimizing the already slim options people with food allergies can eat. I wonder if the people who blithely spill food from one food tray into another would park in a disabled parking space so easily, too. Probably not. The parking space would be respected and the fine too high. Food allergies have always had a serious impact on my life. When I was little, I was forced to eat at a separate table by myself in school. The other moms did not want to be burdened with a ban on peanut butter. The school really did not want to assume the risk. Many schools for young kids are now peanut- free, which is great, but when I was in elementary school peanuts were as “rare” as rocks. Also, many feel these bans in schools create a false sense of security in that signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis would remain unrecognized. Basically, people may believe if there are no peanuts, there will be no problems. Again, peanuts are not the only allergen to which people react and since more kids are becoming allergic to more things, banning peanuts covers only the tip of the iceberg.Furthermore, people without food allergies do not want to be burdened by those who do. If you are out at a social event, people just roll their eyes when you have to be so careful. They think if you carry an epi-pen you are safe. An epi-pen is the first line of treatment of an anaphylactic event but it does not cure or stop it. Epi-pen buys time, about 10 minutes, until the paramedics arrive. When that happens, you will be placed on an epi-drip along with pressers to keep your heart pumping and brain perfused while doctors wait to see if you respond. They are not a cure.Food allergies impact my early social skills. I never really had any friends to talk to during lunch until second grade when the other moms agreed to a peanut ban. Food allergies impact my ability to be affectionate. I am afraid of hugs. Yes, you read that right. Afraid of hugs. People could have eaten something to which I am allergic, and if I hug them, I may react. I am not autistic. I was not born with the inability to get close to people. I was taught it. There was a girl in Canada a few years ago who died after kissing her boyfriend. He had eaten a peanut-butter sandwich an hour before they kissed during a movie. He administered an epi-pen and the girl still died. Killed by a kiss. I have to be on watch every moment of my life. Food allergies also impact my future. I am fascinated by the U.S. Navy, ever since I was nine. I have this book that describes in detail the inner and outer workings of English Royal Navy vessels. When I was four, I learned that sailors salute with the hand facing back because there might be dirt or grease or rope burns on their palms. Not the typical the way you see in the movies. I toured the United States Naval Academy and fell in love. I always wanted to work with the armed forces, whether it was military intelligence, serving overseas, or anything in between. I have a talent for drawing, I want to design and engineer things for the military. Graduates from the Naval Academy have a STEM degree, which is I need to achieve my goals. I went online and looked at the requirements to apply for the Academy. I was so excited. Then, there it was: the link to the list of medical restrictions for application consideration. I scroll down and see it. Candidates with severe food allergies would likely not be considered. All my dreams went down the drain because of a few simple words. I understand the concerns. Annapolis cannot take people with food allergies. I get it. I understand but I feel defective. I still feel defective.You might be thinking, ‘Well, at least you don’t have cancer.’ I know that, and I am grateful. But it is still hard. No matter how strong I try to be I have this vulnerability. Everyone needs to eat and yet, this very act can kill me. It is hard to eat and so, not surprisingly, I am thin. I cannot express my exasperation when people approach me with “You are so skinny I wish I had food allergies too!” ‘Are you insane?’ I think. Trust me; you do not want what I've got. Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) states that currently 1 in 13 kids have food allergies. Everyone wants to know why. One theory I have heard is that clean homes do not expose young kids to allergens so their bodies over react to food antigens. I love my mom, but she is not a great housekeeper; we have always had multiple large dirty dogs and I was in a daycare since the age of 12 weeks so at least for me, the hygiene theory does not apply.The best theory I have heard came from my Grandmother. She said that when my mom was young, she would buy nuts shelled, spread them out over a page of newspaper, get the nut cracker, and communally the family would eat the nuts right away after shelling. She thinks the pre-shelled nuts in containers at the supermarket exposed to air oxidize with the oils in the foods making them more antigenic. FARE states that in the past decade there has been a 50% increase in the incidence of food allergies. Look at these supermarkets with the multiple open bins of shelled seeds and nuts. People eat these quickly and alone. It is hard not to think she is correct. My grandmother also said as a young person she would go to the fish seller and he would cut open and fillet the fish just at the time of purchase or more commonly, she would buy the fish whole and fillet it herself at home. Now all the fish is conveniently sliced into fillets ahead of time, all exposed to air and the oils in them are likely acting as adjuvants in the chemical reaction of antigenicity. My grandmother believes convenience is ruining food in general as we see a rise in other food related illness such as obesity, GMOs and food-borne pathogens. I think she is correct but I am more cynical. It is not just convenience. It is greed I think, convenience, marketing and greed. There is some hope. Our pediatrician spoke to me about new research in England sensitizing patients with food allergies to very tiny amounts of antigen. Their data suggest a person can be exposed to one and a half peanuts without dying. While I applaud Dr. Clark’s work, and am very interested in it, I feel this is only the beginning to making a real impact on my day to day life. I also have heard of a new Biologic medicine approved to treat patients with chronic urticarial (hives) and I cannot help but think the manufacturers of this drug would not also be thinking about applying its use to the food allergy population. Having these indications and approval though will take decades, I worry. In the meantime, the grocery store remains a battlefield.I believe food allergies are another outcome of a food industry gone awry. I believe we need to stop now and think very hard about how we are going to meet to food needs of this planet in the decades to come. In the end, then, food allergies do not affect only 1 in 13 individuals. I believe they are an outcome of an agricultural, manufacturing and marketing process that affects all of us. So the next time you go to the supermarket, remember this, and perhaps be a little more careful at the buffet.  

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe [Vegan]

Eggplant is a vegetable I don’t buy all that often. Once in while I feel inspired to pick produce I don’t normally eat to get more varied nutrients. One of my favorite ways to eat eggplant is grilled with just a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.However, sometimes I’m in the mood for something hardier and a little more special. This eggplant parm is perfect for Sunday dinner.  On the weekends I am up for trying new things and spending more time in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy! Ingredients 1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into approximately 8 rounds Sea salt 1 cup dairy-free mozzarella shreds (I used Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds) - for the toppping   Wet Batter 1 cup almond milk ¾ cup flour (I used brown rice flour) 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar 1 Tbsp. oregano, fresh roughly chopped 1 Tbsp. parsley, fresh roughly chopped 1 Tbsp. basil, fresh roughly chopped   Dry Batter 2 cups panko Japanese style breadcrumbs 1 Tbsp. Flaxseed meal 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast 1/8 tsp. sea salt 1/8 tsp. white pepper   Sauce 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil ¼ tsp. sea salt ¼ tsp. white pepper   Directions Sprinkle the eggplant rounds with sea salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare wet and dry batters. For the wet batter, in a medium bowl whisk together almond milk, flour, vinegar, oregano, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. In another medium size bowl or dish make the dry batter by stirring together breadcrumbs, flaxseed meal, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat to prevent sticking, if desired. When the eggplant is ready wipe off salt and moisture. Dip eggplant rounds into wet batter, then into the dry batter coating well. Place eggplant onto the baking sheet. Cook eggplant for 15 minutes, flipping half way through. While the eggplant is cooking make your sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat by combining the jar of marinara sauce, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir and allow to warm. When the eggplant is done cooking, remove from oven and set the oven to broil. Place half of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Lay eggplant rounds in the baking dish and spread the remaining sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle each slice of eggplant with approximately 2 Tbsp. of the dairy-free cheese alternative. Broil for approximately 5 minutes until cheese is melted (tip - watch closely as it can start to burn quickly at such a high temperature.) Serve with your favorite pasta, or great with a salad for a lighter version. To Print, Email, or Text Recipe click here. With love & gratitude, Wendy Irene

Shocking Beauty Secrets

"The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.. " - Audrey Hepburn What do snail goo, nightingale poop and whale vomit have in common?  They are all beauty secrets, and no wonder women keep them secret!  Who’d want to admit paying $180 to have bird poop smeared on your face, no matter how chic the salon? Could it really be we have come to that, so desperate to be beautiful and wrinkle-free that we are willing to become intimately involved with animal offal?  We all want that glow, but really, if it’s a chemical reaction your skin has to excrement, I’m not so sure it’s worth it. Believe it or not, this is the new “natural” trend in beauty.  Take your pick - snail secretion or sperm facial.  Both are being offered at high-end salons around the world.  But sperm will cost you $250 for ten minutes, as opposed to the relatively cheap snail facial - a whole hour of goopy green concoction for only $175!  Maybe you’re lucky you can’t afford the price tag. Cleopatra was said to actually bathe in sperm.  It’s called a “roman” bath, and yes, Cleo had hired hands on-call daily.  She also slept in a gold mask to keep her face youthful.  The Japanese are doing this today:  24K gold facials made of thin strips of gold laid across your face. Other weird ingredients in cosmetics: Bat guano, whale vomit in perfume Baby foreskin, sperm, placenta, snail goo in anti-aging creams Bull semen in hair treatment Gorilla snot in hair gel Earthworm excrement, snake venom in moisturizers  Call me crazy, but why should beauty be so punishing?  Society already dictates we practically starve or surgically enhance ourselves to be beautiful, yet we already know it’s a scam - this fake idea of beauty we’re being sold in the commercials.  We already know the photos are airbrushed, perfection is impossible. But still we keep trying.  Do these extreme beauty products actually work?  Of course everyone selling them swears by them, even if the bird poop facial has to have rice meal additive to take away the bad smell.  The placebo effect is real: Whatever beauty products you use, if you feel beautiful, you begin to actually look beautiful. Everyone can attest to the simple beauty acts of a pedicure or facial to lift your spirits. You can spend $20 or $200 on beauty treatments, and the only real difference is in what you believe about yourself.  That’s what all of life comes down to. Too often women look in the mirror only to see what needs correcting.  How many times do we look at ourselves with love & appreciation?  What makes me feel beautiful?  Positive thoughts, a night out with girlfriends in a great pair of jeans, and the best concealer money can buy (sans snail goo). We ARE beautiful, each and every one of us.  It’s good to remind ourselves as often as we can.  So slip into those jeans, give your best girlfriends a call, hit the town and smile - which (fact) instantly makes you look 3 years younger. Ciao, Princess Ivana Ivana is a modern princess married to a real Italian prince! Follow the Modern Princess on Facebook and Twitter 2PrincessIvana.

Inked Up: Moms and Tattoos

I've spent the week trying to explain to my four year old why I have tattoos. I have two.  Sometimes, because they're both so amazing, I have trouble picking which one I like best. But at the end of the day, the tropical fish by my crotch is the winner. Yes. I got a fish tattooed on my body and chose the middle of my hip flexor as the spot. It's really ugly with bubbles coming out of it's mouth. I was eighteen, I went with two friends, both of whom had something picked out ahead of time. I got to the parlour and buckled under the pressure, what the heck was I going to pick? So I picked a fish. I think I might go and get "idiot" tattooed underneath it. Then people can stop asking me why I picked it. The second one is a star on my foot. I'm okay with it-sometimes. Every now and then someone will say "Did you pick the star because each point is a member of your family"? Um, no. I did it on a whim on a date - completely random. Anyway, here's my conversation with my daughter about them: Malone: Why do you have that permanent mark there? (Pointing to the fish.) Me: I don't know. Malone: It's permanent, that means it can't come off, right mom? Me: Yes. Malone: Did you do that when you were a teenager or adult? Me: Teenager, it was a mistake. I wish it wasn't there. Malone: Yeah, I think it's stupid, I'm not going to get one, even when I'm a teenager. Me: Good 'Lones. Don't do it. Well, it looks like I have taught her another valuable lesson from a mistake I made. Imagine this with bubbles coming out of its mouth. Yes, it's this bad. Cheers, cheers Want to know which famouos moms are inked up? Check out Celebrity Mom Tattoos -- Who Has What... 

My Baby is a Senior in High School?

My oldest daughter’s first day of kindergarten seems as if it was only yesterday.  I remember how I shopped for days until I found a precious blue and white stripped dress with little sailboats and anchors smocked across the collar that was perfect for my sweet little Loughlin to wear on the first day of school.   We went to the Buster Brown shoe store to find her a pair of red sandals to wear with her dress and then headed to the fabric store where I found a matching ribbon to tie in her golden hair. The night before her first day at the “big school," I made a special dinner and we sat at the dinner table and talked about all of the fun things she would get to do in kindergarten.  After her bath as I was combing her hair so it would be smooth and shiny when she met her new teacher and friends, I thought about how hard it was going to be to let my baby girl head off to kindergarten.  What if she got lost trying to find her class?  What if she got lost in the lunchroom or couldn’t get her juice box opened during snack time?  I was so worried that she wouldn’t know what to do when she got into cafeteria line that I packed her lunch every day for four months even though she was begging me to let her eat the “yummy food” from the lunch line like her friends.  I think back and laugh at how I worried so much that she would not be able to open her chips or the fruit cup that I had packed in her lunch box.  I used to take things out of the packaging they came in and put everything in easy to open containers or baggies for her just so I would know she was able to eat. I’m not even going to go into how different it was sending my fifth and sixth ones off to school, I was not nearly as worried about them starving or getting lost.  My youngest ones' Back-to-School outfits, while still pretty, are more likely to be a “first day of school hand-me-down” and their shoes won’t be new but they will at least look new thanks to a little Windex and a paper towel being used to shine them up a little.  But that will be a story for another day.  This is Loughlin and the day my first-born child went to school. The morning of her first day, I went into her room and snuggled with her and gently sang to her one of her favorite songs to wake her up.  There was a special breakfast waiting for her so I could send her off full so if she couldn’t open her lunch box I would know she would survive until I picked her up.  I braided her hair and tied in the ribbons and the put on her new dress that had been hanging up high where no little hands could touch it until the big day.  As she walked into school on that first day of kindergarten, I remember giving her a hug and a kiss and then watching her walk into her classroom.  She looked so small carrying a backpack that was almost bigger than her.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes as she waved goodbye and I gathered with the other mothers of kindergartners at a special breakfast the school held called the “Boo-Hoo Breakfast”.  Literally, it was a roomful of moms who were tear eyed and crying because their babies were going into kindergarten.  During that first day, I watched the clock the entire day, following along with the daily activity schedule that her teacher had sent home with each parent at orientation.  I knew when my baby was at story time, lunch, reading and math and I was the first in the car pick-up line when the final bell rang. She survived her first day of kindergarten and after that year, the tears that I cried on her first day stopped and each year I met the first day of school with the same excitement that she had.  That was until today. This morning my sweet baby girl began her senior year in high school.  Instead of a smocked dress that I had picked out, she spent hours last night up in her room with her sister Aidan, who is just a year younger, trying on a million different outfits until she found the perfect dress that her sister approved of.   Apparently I am no longer an expert in fashion and it is terribly uncool to have your mom pick out your outfit when you are a senior.  As I was laying out outfits for the younger ones to wear for their first day at school, I could hear the girls talking and laughing.  Trying on clothes and shoes and talking about friends and boys.  Even as “unfashionable” as I am, I must have some fashion sense because they went into my closet to find a some shoes to go with it.  She came downstairs to show me and I found myself speechless when I saw her walk in the room.  Where is my little girl and when did time speed up so much?  Loughlin has become such a beautiful young woman both inside and out.    This morning before my alarm was even close to going off, I heard footsteps and music playing at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am.  She was too excited to sleep and she was up and starting her day without needing me to sing her a song or gently wake her.  Groggily I tried to show my excitement and told her I was going to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  “Mom, you know I don’t eat breakfast, “ she said, “I’m made myself some coffee instead.”  Coffee, huh?? That is for grown-ups.  I don’t even drink coffee, how does she know how to make it and do we even have a coffee pot?  My little girl can’t drink coffee! Then she shut the door to her room so she can listen to her music with her sister and they can do her make-up and hair.  I sat for a minute thinking about how fast the time has gone by.  When she finally emerged from the bathroom an hour later, I was speechless looking at my little girl.  My sweet little kindergartner emerged as a beautiful young woman starting her senior year in high school.  I felt the tears well up in my eyes as she picked up her notebook and purse, which has replaced the backpacks of her childhood, and headed out the door.  I managed to grab a quick picture of Loughlin and her sister Aidan as we walked out of the door just as I have done every year since she started kindergarten.  My sweet little girls, Aidan (junior year) and Loughlin (senior year), on the first day of school. As we neared the school entrance I told her I couldn’t believe she was a senior and I asked her if it would be okay when I dropped her off if I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek just like I did on her first day of kindergarten.  I figured the answer would be an eye-rolling, “no Mom that would be so embarrassing.”  But I didn’t even have to wait for an answer because as the car came to a stop in front of the school, Loughlin leaned over and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek and said, “I love you mom!”  Then my little girl, who has grown into a beautiful young woman, hopped out of the car and excitedly went into school to start her senior year.  I let the tears fall as I drove away and thought that next year I might advocate the high schools to offer “Boo-Hoo” breakfast for parents of seniors just as the elementary school offered on the first day we dropped our babies off for kindergarten.

Divorce Lice

My soon-to-be-ex-husband just texted me from an airport 400 miles away.  I was expecting to hear from him. He was about to put our 12-year-old daughter on a plane to fly to me for two weeks’ vacation at the beach.  In fact, I was grabbing my car keys to leave for the airport to collect her at the gate.  I stopped when the text popped up. My first thought: maybe the flight was delayed. Or perhaps she was already safely on the flight. Silly me. Here is how his text actually read:“Really bad news. I am nearly positive T. has lice. Pulled a dead one out and just found a live one.  Shit!!!!” Surprise number one: how does my husband know what both live and dead lice look like? In our family’s sordid historical run-ins with lice, DH was always conveniently far, far away. I, on the other hand – hero mom – could draw you a life cycle diagram of nits, juvenile lice, and full grown WWF adult lice.  I have ranked every brand of lice shampoo. In my iPhone contacts list, I have the number of the Lice Lady who can arrange rescue visits within four hours in any East Coast city. Second surprise: I felt like telling him to keep my beloved baby girl with him. At least until she was certifiably lice-free. T. has thick, curly blonde hair that falls down to her jeans’ waistband. Much as I love the girl and her hair, I wanted to shut the maternal door on this one.  To say the problem is my ex’s to solve. Finders’ keepers, right? I also noted somewhere in the back of my mind to tell my attorney to slip a quick addendum into our divorce agreement: neither parent can ship a child with lice to the other parent.  Here’s the legalese:  “All children must be returned to the custodial parent lice free.” Then, an evil idea popped into my head unbidden: was it possible that my Wasband bought some lice and put them on T.’s cute little head right before sticking her on the plane, just to mess with me? I say 50-50. Back in those long, unhappy days when I was idly contemplating the pros and cons of uncoupling after 20 years and having three kids together, whether or not my husband was capable of planting lice was most definitely NOT the kind of detail I imagined.  Reality has turned out to be slightly more gritty than my musings. Post-divorce parenting captures the hardest part of splitting up:  you’re not parents together anymore.  You are co-parents. This is not at all the same as “parents.”  In fact, sometimes I think “co-parent” is code for: we hate each other’s guts, but are desperately trying not to leave our beloved children utterly FUBAR. What I have learned, though, is that my instincts are good - in love, divorce, and parenting.  Our daughter’s lice was, at least in part, my husband’s problem to solve.  Because the solution to successful co-parenting, unlike parenting where you support and help each other, is to let the other parent to solve their own parenting problems. How mature. You would think this is good news.  But it’s complicated.  The humans I love most in the world are my children. They are the ones who suffer most from my transition from parenting to co-parenting. And no matter how mature I act, I have zero control over anyone’s behavior. The reality: the lice may have been my husband’s discovery. That didn’t mean I had the ability to force him to do anything to solve it.  He just put her on the plane.  Nothing I could do about that.  The ensuing helpless feeling brought back in visceral detail about 1,000 frustrating fights while we were still actively married. So my lovely 12-year old daughter came home to me with lice flying off her scalp like small helicopters.  That night, I soaked her head for 12 hours in olive oil, which (in case you need this knowledge one day) suffocates lice.  All day today, with professional assistance and lots of goopy hair care products, I picked nits out of every strand on her head of thick, curly hair. Oddly, the good news is that I am now a single parent.  This is the part of getting divorced that I did fantasize about:  being responsible only for myself, my decisions, my parenting style, how I live my life.  Frustrating and lonely at times, but better than the vicious tug-of-war our life together, including our parenting, had become. What divorce, for me, means is that I lifted the veil -- the gauzy illusion that I was part of a team. In actuality, I’ve been a single parent all along.  I was pregnant alone; he never read a pregnancy book, took a parenting class, or even told his co-workers that his wife was expecting. I took care of the babies alone; paternal leave was emasculating. Over the years, I’ve done daycare pick up alone, parent-teacher conferences alone, sex talks with each kid alone. That is one of the reasons the marriage died; we never came together as a couple, a team, or as true partners in marriage or parenthood. We both are to blame. I should have been more assertive about my needs as a wife and mother; he should have paid closer heed to my frustration and sadness. Acknowledging our collective failure at times feels like liberation, at times like death.  My goal for our children is that they can see each of us as individuals who couldn’t love each other, but who will always love them. That same 12-year-old daughter recently observed that even though her dad moved out only two months ago, she feels like her father and I actually got divorced years ago. She’s right. Sometimes, all divorce means is admitting the truth you’ve known all along.  So what if it takes a few lice to make you notice?

Spicy Black Bean & Lime Quinoa Salad

I went to a BBQ this past weekend and, of course, was asked to bring a ‘quinoa salad of some sort’. Now, when you ask me to bring a quinoa salad, I get really excited. Why? Well, because I love quinoa, of course. But, more importantly I get excited because it’s a chance to introduce people to how flavorful, fragrant, and wonderful a quinoa dish can be. I get excited to show everyone that quinoa is a true crowd pleaser… I get excited to have people say, “Wow, can I get the recipe?” (And for my ladies that asked for the recipe, this post is dedicated to you  ) Hence, I brought this – THE salad my family and I can’t seem to get enough of right now: Ingredients: For salad: 2 cups precooked quinoa 2 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed (always buy canned beans with nothing but beans, water, and salt on the ingredient label) 2 large sweet bell peppers, diced 2 cups of baby arugula 1/2 cup cilantro, washed and rough chopped 1/2 cup diced red onion 1 medium jalapeño, diced (remove HALF the seeds for less spice) For dressing: 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice 2 tsp diced garlic (approx 3 small cloves) zest of 1 lime 2 tsp black pepper 2 tsp sea salt 2 tsp cumin Put your quinoa and beans into a large bowl. Add your argula, chopped cilantro, diced bell peppers, red onion, and diced jalapeño. In a separate bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients and pour dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Stir to evenly coat all ingredients, taste for flavor, and (if necessary), add more salt and pepper to taste. Here’s what it’ll look like:   And then look at the bowl of beauty you end up with:   (NOTE: this recipe makes about 4-5 full bowl servings. But, here’s the good news: it gets better as it sits! So, even if you don’t have a BBQ or a big crowd to serve, make the full batch and save the rest for the next day or two. You won’t regret it.) Happy Monday, everyone – I’m so glad you’re here with me. (If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, orInstagram, connect with me there, too!)  

Having "The Talk" With Your Kids

Have you had “the talk” with your preteens yet? This is one of the scariest jobs of a parent. How does one explain the dastardly deed to your child without having to hear the usual response of “yuk, do you and Daddy do that?” Well, there is always the “gutter”…not that that hasn’t been a tried and true response over the centuries. But, what information will the “gutter” provide? Could it possibly be accurate? One can always leave the “talk” to the schoolroom. But, what if they approach this delicate topic in too clinical a way? What if there are still unanswered questions? So, the discussion seems to be yours and yours alone. Books are always a great way to handle this issue. Some suggestions are as follows: It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris; What’s Happening to Me by Alex Firth; How to Talk to your Child about Sexby Linda Eyre; and Where did I Come From? by Peter Mayle. And, there are many sites on the internet which may be of help, but must be checked out very carefully. Of course, it is up to parents to handle this subject according to their beliefs and blush level. Somehow, the children always manage to figure it out. How are you going to handle it? Or if you've already been through it - please share!

Easy Tips to Help Prevent Sports-Related Injuries

Children love their sports and we, as parents, love to watch them play. Unfortunately, each and every year, over a million children are seen in emergency rooms for some sort of sports injury. We need to do everything we can to protect our children and prevent injuries on the field of play. The following is a list of things that parents and coaches can do to help cut down on these sports-related injuries: Have your child seen by a doctor for a presports physical exam Be sure to supply water for both practices and games Make sure that you child has time to warm up before activitiesTry to see that your child participates in different sports, so that he/she doesn’t overuse the same muscles continuously Encourage the coaches to become certified in CPR and general first aid.      

Guided Meditation: Speak Your Truth (Throat Chakra Healing)

Do you ever feel like you are holding your true feelings back for fear that others won’t like you or who you truly are? Do you stuff words in because you’re a Keep the Peace Crusader? Do you experience frequent pain in your throat or neck area? Coming from a place of love and kindness is always important but holding back true feelings and our authentic self is unhealthy, and can build up in the body. In this guided meditation we are going to work on releasing your authentic voice. Fear often holds us back from speaking our truth. Through this healing meditation we will work on opening up the throat chakra enabling us to speak clearly and authentically about how we really feel. Join me in this guided meditation to open yourself up to speaking your truth. When you’re able to speak clearly and authentically through a tone of love, you are giving yourself the greatest gift and others as well by allowing them to be free too. Feeling free to be our authentic self is crucial because our authentic self is tied to our divine purpose in life.                     YouTube Video:   Please return to this meditation whenever you feel like you are stuffing words in out of fear. It is also a great idea to listen to our bodies cues. Watch this video whenever you feel pain in your throat area such as a sore throat, or pain in your neck surrounding the throat. Physical pain and emotional pain can be linked, and it is always important to listen to your body because it can be a great teacher.   With love, gratitude, and deep healing, Wendy Irene

Back to School Must-Haves For Your 'Lil Ones

It's about that time for your little one to start school so we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite adorable must-haves. We hope you love them as much as we do! From fun and quirky to cute and creative, check it out: Bixbee Sparkalicious Kids Glitter Butterflyer Backpack What could be better for a little girl than a pink sparkly backpack? Not much except maybe adding some wings - which they did. Available online from Bixbee Laptop Lunch Bento Kit This versatile insulated lunch kit comes with a bento kit with 5 containers and a top compartment for a water bottle. Available online from Laptop Lunches Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies Bag Cat With friendly faces and matching zipper-pulls, these little cuties make lunchtime fun time!  Available online from pishposh baby Shwings Your kids are going to love to hip up their shoes with wings, moustaches, hearts and much more! Make old shoes fun and new shoes even better! Available online from Shwings Wildlife Mini Backpack Your little one can take a walk on the wild side with this mini backpack. But which of the six wild animal patterns will he or she choose? Available online from HABA  Anna and Elsa Hoodie - Frozen When the weather cools down your little princess will love wearing this soft and frilly jacket with her favorite Frozen sisters on it. Probably will also inspire your daughter to sing "Let it Go" again :) Available online from DisneyStore Colossal Art Set from Alex This amazing art set has everything your little one needs to color, draw, doodle, paint or sketch anything she or he can think of. We love that everything fits neatly together and they even throw in paper. Available online from Creative Kid Stuff LunchBots These stainless steel food containers feature one - four compartments to hold healthy snacks - think cheese and crackers; edamame, tomatoes, snap peas - the options are endless. Your little one will love eating out of this LunchBot and you'll love that they are environmentally friendly, free of BPA and dishwasher safe. Available online from Zulily Gummy Vites Your kids will love the taste of L'il Critters Gummy Vites and you'll love that they are getting essential vitamins and minerals with naturally sourced flavors.  Available online from GummyVites Check out our must-haves for tweens and also for moms!   

Can Real Women Do the Celeb Post-Baby Body Bounce-back?

Let's talk baby weight. Gaining it, losing it, and how celebrities on covers of magazines make the rest of us feel bad. Correction: How they make *some people* feel bad. As a lone duck, I'm here to shout that no woman should feel bad when seeing such images... we should feel empowered. (No, I'm not drunk.) Trust that I know how sensitive this topic is, and please keep in mind that what you're about to read is coming from an honest place and it's my genuine authentic opinion... and as we all value, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion based on their own experiences. Now back to celebs: As twisted as this sounds, I actually enjoyed perusing images of Hollywood moms who bounced back after baby when I was pregnant. I never felt "'bad" or "pressured" when I saw their impossibly-fit bods, showcasing how they returned to their former selves right after having babies (hello, they're celebrities, for crying-out-loud, it's kind of their job to fascinate us). Brooke Burke, Bethenny Frankel, Miranda Kerr, Beyonce and Gisele Bundchen were some of my faves. But instead of feeling inferior about my own "regular gal" status, I actually felt challenged. My delusional phenomenon happened with both of my pregnancies/babies (September 2010 and March 2012). Maybe my hormones were working a number on me. Let's see if I can get close to pulling off what they pull off... without airbrushing. So I tried. Yes, celebs have trainers and tons of hired help, but my question remained: Is it possible for regular gals to bounce back fast? I've never claimed to have a supermodel body (or ever will have, for that matter), but I was intent to get back to MY body after my babies were born. And I'm convinced that most any and every woman can realistically bounce back within a few months. You won't return to your high school body, or the body you wish you had, but rather (most likely) to the body you really had just before pregnancy. I'm no fitness/health expert (and I can't speak to the issue of having to go on bed-rest or having a high-risk pregnancy), but here's an idea for bouncing back quickly (for us regular women): Don't gain more baby weight than medically suggested. For a healthy woman to grow ONE baby, it is generally recommended that weight gain (over nine months) hover between 25-35 pounds... maybe even up to 40 if you were especially petite to begin with. In other words, it's NOT healthy to gain 50, 60, 70 or even more pounds like many pregnant women steer society to believe. (Sorry, Jessica Simpson, but those times that you bragged about gleefully gorging yourself with donuts and those reported 50+ pounds gained is not responsible or healthy.) I am so exhausted by media and talking heads pretending that it's ok for women to gain excessive weight during pregnancy. And lately it seems that if anyone (especially a woman) has an opinion about how packing on major pounds during pregnancy is not okay, it is immediately scolded and hushed. This philosophy encourages a dangerous standard and sets a disturbing precedence concerning good health for pregnant women (and their babies). I'm well aware that my point of view is in the minority and not the politically-correct thing to say these days, but I know there are other women who feel this same way about pregnancy weight gain/loss... you've emailed me for goodness sakes! (Whether this blog enrages you or supports your own opinions, feel free to check out what else I have to say about it by clicking here.) If you don't go overboard with weight gain, then yes, you too can bounce back like a celebrity. Anyone that calls you an unrealistic skinny-b*tch for thinking (and living) this way should be ignored. I write these words as a "skinny-b*tch" new mom (I've actually been called this to my face, which didn't make me feel weird/guilty/sad/judged/uncomfortable at all). I don't have servants, I don't have a nanny that enables me to do sit-ups all day, I don't have a housekeeper, and I don't have the endless assistance of a mom-in-town-to-help-me... and many times I don't have a husband around either (thanks to his crazy work schedule...). I only share this with you to assure you that I haven't been on some secluded and absurd celebrity workout regime to return to my pre-baby self after having babies. Pulling off this little trick has nothing to do with pressure, starvation, excessive exercising or selfishly neglecting your newborn... it has everything to do with empowerment, a healthy attitude during pregnancy, respect for your body (and self) and keeping your wits somewhat intact. Take care of yourself before and during pregnancy. If you are in good shape before pregnancy and do your part to minimally maintain your body around your growing belly, naturally-existing muscle-memory will kick in a few months after that baby is out and you just might return closer to your pre-baby bod earlier than you thought, despite how society seems to tell women that they can't... or shouldn't.  Getting back to your pre-baby weight months after delivery (or within a few pounds) is pure math, check out these fascinating facts and guidelines about how much 'pregnancy stuff' actually weighs on Canada's BabyCenter site. If you try to adhere to the 25-35 pound weight gain suggestion and do the subtraction yourself, you'll find that the average woman is left with about 10-15 pounds extra after giving birth... having to lose 10 pounds over the course of 3 months after having a baby isn't nearly as daunting as having to lose 30. Not to mention, my tummy insides had a lot of help from my undying affection for my Tauts Belly Wrap that I wore morning, noon and night 40 days after delivery - I wasn't afraid to admit it. IT'S NOT A BAD THING TO WANT TO RETURN TO YOUR PRE-PREGNANCY, SEXY SELF AS FAST AS YOU CAN AFTER HAVING A BABY... and to actually do it. As for celebs: They just returned to the same person they were before getting pregnant. (And with the help of trainers too... but that's their job.) So the next time you think of chastising or scolding a new mom for looking great after having a baby and internally - or verbally - accuse her of neglecting her new infant for the sake of looking surprisingly good, please rethink it. Believe it or not, some of us those "skinny-b*tches" happen to be pretty decent at this mom-thing (and have happy and balanced babies too). Maybe we were lucky, but maybe we also just began our pregnancies with the "after" result in the back of our minds. I can attest that bouncing back to "myself" quickly boosted my confidence and emotional strength... and I fully believe it made me a better mom for my girls. I was [am] happy, settled, stress-free (most of the time) and content when I looked [look] in the mirror because I recognized [recognize] the woman looking back at me. So thank you, Brooke, Beyonce, Bethenny, Gisele and Miranda. You inspired me, and continue to do so. And it's ok to feel good about that. What do you think about celebrity moms' post-baby bods? Are they frustrating or inspiring?

"Make Ahead" Meals for Busy Moms

The following is a guest post from Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE and Mom, The Modern Mom - is there anything she can't do? From shopping for healthy groceries to shuttling the kids to soccer practice, sometimes, it can be hard to imagine maintaining a career while also putting a wholesome, home-cooked meal on the table (at least three times a week at that!); and yet many of us do. One of my favorite tricks to save time, energy, and of course, sanity is preparing meals in advance. These three ready-made recipes aren't just healthy, but they can be easily cooked on a Sunday and stored for a future family meal. Best of all, they’re perfect for preparing with your little ones by your side. Just remember, when whipping up a pre-made meal, you’ll want to transfer your dish from freezer to refrigerator the morning you plan on serving it so it's defrosted and even easier to plate by the time you get home. Enjoy! Bobby's Turkey Meat Loaf The Story: I call this recipe Bobby’s Turkey Meat Loaf since this is the only one I can get my son to eat. It's adapted from Whole Foods' recipe, which was one of the first he actually agreed to try. Hopefully, your tots enjoy it as much as Bobby does! Ingredients Canola cooking spray 1 cup quinoa flakes cereal crushed or replace with 2 slices whole-grain bread torn into tiny pieces 2 lbs ground 90% lean turkey breast 1 cup sliced scallions 1 stalk celery finely chopped 1 small yellow onion finely chopped 3 cloves garlic finely chopped 1 can tomato paste 1 egg lightly beaten ½ tsp dried thyme 1 tsp dried oregano ½ tsp dried basil 1 tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper   Directions Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 2 8-inch loaf pans with canola oil-based cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, gently combine cereal, turkey, green onions, celery, yellow onion, garlic, tomato paste, egg, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Halve the turkey mixture and transfer to prepared pans. Bake for about 60 minutes, until internal temperature of meatloaf reaches 165°F. Set aside to cool. Freeze whole or portioned. Remember, smaller portions thaw more quickly. Quick Tips: Take your meatloaf out the morning you plan on serving it to allow ample time for thawing. Create quick, healthy sides by serving your turkey meatloaf with a sweet potato (cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes) and a salad of arugula with grated pecorino.   Grab and Go Goulash The Story: As a child, I typically didn’t care for family meals since, unlike my parents, I'm not a "meat and potatoes" kind of person. But there was one dish, Goulash, that I did enjoy. Today, I make it for my family - with many modifications, of course. This Grab and Go Goulash is perfect for your little athletes. Serve out of a funky thermos on the way to a sporting event, or even to your little ones sitting on the bleachers during their sibling’s games. Ingredients 2 tbsp canola oil 1 pound ground lean turkey, bison or beef 1 small yellow onion 2 cloves of garlic 1 can no added salt garbanzo beans 1 can no added salt kidney beans 1 small bag organic frozen corn or mixed peas, corn and carrots 1 ½ jars no added sugar tomato sauce 1-2 tsp oregano   Directions In a non-stick sauté pan, sauté the canola oil and garlic over low heat. When the garlic starts to turn light brown, add the turkey and brown thoroughly. Mix in the sauce, beans, veggies, and oregano. When the veggies are cooked through, you are done. Let cool and then portion into Pyrex dishes. Freeze until the night before or morning of the day you plan on serving to your family. Heat and serve alone or with whole-wheat orzo. Quick Tips: Depending on the size of your family, you can double the recipe by simply doubling the ingredients. Cook with canola oil rather than olive oil if you are heating the sauté pan at a high temperature. Olive oil will reach its smoke point quickly, so canola is the better option. Use a garlic press. I have one I love from Pampered Chef. Get creative and add any leftover vegetables or varieties of beans. I make this recipe when I have a bunch of veggies I need to use before they spoil.   Pesto in a Pinch The Story: For the vegetarians with bold palates, serve up a serious punch of heart-healthy flavor with pesto. This is my husband’s recipe, and as always, I encourage all you moms to get your partners in on the cooking process too. After all, what better way is there to check another meal off your to-do list than by having your spouse make it with the kids? Ingredients (Makes 1 ¼ cups) ½ cup pine nuts 4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves 1 garlic clove chopped 1 tsp fresh lemon juice ½ tsp kosher salt ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil ¾ cup (1 ½ oz) grated pecorino or Parmesan (or blend both)   Directions Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and cook until aromatic and golden brown for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the nuts frequently to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool. Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the ingredients are well incorporated, or for about 15 seconds. Shut off the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, slowly add the ½ cup of olive oil through the feed tube. Shut off the motor and scrape the sides of the bowl. Freeze this base mixture for up to 2 months. Add the cheese after defrosting and mix well on the day you intend to use. If you plan to use the pesto within the next few days, go ahead and add the cheese by pulsing the mixture together until you have a thick paste. Add to whole-wheat pasta, layer on fish or use as a condiment on a sandwich. Refrigerate the leftovers, in a Pyrex dish with a tight lid. Quick Tips: Always use whole grains such as whole-wheat pasta rather than white pasta. Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh, if not more.   What are your favorite "make ahead" meals?

Your Financial Therapist Goes to Boot Camp

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t jump. I don’t like anything to do with jumping. My excuse has always been that I have big breasts and this makes me want to stay low to the ground. Well – about a year ago, I lost a pregnancy. It was the last time I would be trying to have a child and it was quite a harrowing experience to say the least. My best friend and the doctors tell me that I almost died during my three-day hospital stay. After that, I found I sort of checked out of my body. Being a writer and a therapist, this was easy to do. I lived in my head and ate Doritos. Then I saw a picture of myself with my son at Disneyland. Ouch. And I realized that my clothes were most definitely not fitting the way they had. I just didn’t feel or look like me anymore.  So I decided to take my own advice and take a baby step toward health. I decided to join a fitness boot camp.  Now anyone who knows anything about anything will tell you that joining a fitness boot camp is not a baby step – to be honest, I hadn’t truly thought it all the way through before joining. The pictures looked good, the trainer seemed inspiring – why the hell not, right? Well, on my first day of boot camp they made me jump. A lot. Not just a few jumps here and there – but jumping jacks, squat jumps, jumping rope and this crazy cheerleader-like move called a star jump. To add insult to injury, he played the David Lee Roth Song, Might as Well Jump, while we were excitedly encouraged to bounce up and down. I was floored. I sort of wanted to kill the trainer. I limped out of there. The next day, I found myself to be sorer than I’d been in a decade. I dragged myself to a massage therapist and asked if it would get better. She said maybe.  So why do I tell you this story? Because I realized that at one point or another we are all the flabby girl in the Disneyland picture – especially when it comes to finances. I see it when I work with someone who has just tallied all of their debts, or come to terms with a harsh financial situation or is realizing that they are a general mess with their finances. It’s scary to realize that you are far away from who you want to be. Some of us find ourselves out of control and lost – and we don’t even know how we got there exactly. The courage it took to go back the next day to the boot camp – well, it was a damn lot of courage. Everything in me said, whoa – you don’t need to put yourself through this. But I knew, deep inside, that though I didn’t want to enter those doors, I absolutely needed to. How did I keep returning day after day? I slowly adopted the attitude that I have found to be the one that works best for me in all endeavors. I call it, “Be the tortoise.” I am, you see, the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare story. I’ve found that tenaciously moving in a slow and steady manner toward any goal has worked over any other attitude or plan. Now take this lesson and think about your own financial life – are you flabby with your finances? Could you use a plan? Some discipline? A community of support? Some tools or guidance? Think about what you need – then go out there and get it. Meet with a financial planner or a debt counselor, download a budget or decide to use cash only for a month. Do something today to take action. Know that first day will stink. It will feel uncomfortable and icky, awkward and annoying. But something deeper within you will be cheering you on (and I will be too – you can do this!).  And now when I walk into boot camp, I still give the trainer the stink eye from time to time – today, in fact, he had us jump rope between every other exercise. I wanted to run for the hills. But, instead, I sighed, smiled to myself – might as well Jump.

Dog is a Mom's Best Friend

This post is sponsored by AvoDerm. As they say, “dog is a man’s best friend” – well, we like to say a ‘person’s’ best friend. But dogs are so much more than just that, they are an integral part of the family. My kids begged for a dog for years – I compromised with getting a kitten. That satiated them for awhile but then back to wanting the dog. “We’ll walk him” “We’ll feed him” “Every boy needs a dog” (says my son) and “Every girl needs a dog” (says my daughter). My husband was no help, he’s a big softie and wanted a dog also. I love animals and in theory liked the idea of getting a dog, but in reality knew that it would be one more responsibility that I would end up taking the brunt of. I would end up feeding him, walking him, cleaning up the chewed up pieces of everything he ate, etc… But after weeks of walking by the animal rescue at our farmers market – there he was. The cutest little puppy you’ve ever seen. The kids begged and pleaded. I stayed strong. He sat on their laps as they shared a chair and licked their faces and snuggled. What was I to do? We took the dog home an hour later. Fast forward 8 months, the kids don’t feed him, they do walk him when I ask three times, I do clean up after him, but let me tell you, he has brought such joy to our family that I wouldn’t trade the dog hair for anything. We take him on family hikes, walks to school and we’ve made new friends with dogs – I had no idea I’d be setting up doggy playdates. The absolute best part is coming home after a long day and being greeted at the door with tail-wagging and love. For all the love your pet brings you, give your dog the best. AvoDerm dog and cat food uses high quality meat proteins, wholesome grains, and antioxidant nutrients to provide the best nutrition for a healthy skin and coat . You can show off your pet’s healthy glow with AvoDerm’s Glow & Tell Facebook "Friends for Life" photo contest running 8/16 - 8/29. Prizes include pet store gift cards and the grand prize is a pet photo shoot with Mark Rogers. Avoderm is also offering a $5 off coupon for any dry dog or cat food. #AvoDermGlow

Veggie Fries!

If you're like most moms, you often find it a struggle to get your kids to eat their veggies.  We can completely relate to having picky palated kids and understand the struggle! That’s one of the reasons why we wrote The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure — we wanted to make sure we had delicious and easy recipes including kid-approved ones to help you get the nutrients into your kids, without the fight!  (After knowing the science behind veggies and because we’ve witnessed them help our clients to do everything from lose weight, beat bloat and stress, to boost their bone health and their energy—and even help their skin to glow, we couldn’t resist writing our book, which tells you which veggies work for what goal you have, why they work –and then we give you corresponding recipes.) So as you can imagine, our clients and our friends always ask for easy and delish things they can do with veggies so that they can get their kids to eat more. We always recommend a sure-fire crowd pleaser — veggie chips or fries! So the other day, our friend Jeane Burton, who just happens to grow her own food in her back yard (love that!) in Utah– asked us this question, we couldn’t wait to see which veggie fry she whipped up. Jeane used Celery Root! Jeane’s Celery Root Fries look so delish, we just had to share them with you. Thanks Jeane! (You can also try this recipe with turnips or parsnips—or any veggie!) Say hello to a snack you'll love too--since they're only 45-50 Calories per entire cup! Here’s what Jeane did:She cut them and shaped them and peeled off all of the outside bark very well. She sliced them into fry size pieces, and then blanched (threw them in boiling water to preserve the color) them for two minutes. She said this step isn’t necessarily necessary so if you skip it, the cooking time will probably be a bit longer. Next, she spritzed them with just a tiny bit of olive oil, rosemary, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. She placed in the 425° oven onto lightly sprayed cookie sheet. They were done in about 15 to 20 minutes. She noticed they crisped up a bit more after coming out–which some people may love! This picture below is after blanching them and adding the spices but before baking. Below is a picture of the fries on the cookie sheet after I took them out of the oven.  Jeane said she can see herself using celery root again in the future.  It has a very smooth texture and reminded her a bit like a mild parsnip taste.

Back to School Must-Haves for Mom

It's that time of year - it comes too soon for some of us and not soon enough for others :). But either way, the chaos is almost here. We've found some great items that will hopefully make the transition out of the lazy days of summer a bit easier! Dyson Air Multiplier AM06 Table Fan This bladeless fan is a must-have for anyone with small children. It is quiet and safe because their are no blades for small fingers to touch. And, it's super sleek and stylish. Stay cool while looking cool :) Available online from Amazon Ronco Ready Grill This amazing indoor electric grill offers delicious 'girlled' flavor in just minutes and from the comfort of your kitchen! And best of all, the grill basket and drip tray is easy to clean. Available online from HSN Dyson DC59 Motorhead Vacuum  I don't even know where to start - this is the most amazing vacuum you've ever seen. It's cordless with super powerful suction and seriously removes ground in dirt, pet hair and everything else. It's super light and you can easily clean stairs, corners and ceilings. Available online from Dyson Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven Looking to save time but still cook a delicous home-cooked meal? The Puck Oven cooks food up to 70% faster, while infusing juices and flavor deep in your food. You can roast, bake, toast, broil and more- it'll be the only oven you'll need! Available online from Puck Oven  Keurig MINI Brewer This mini brewer is perfect for small kitchens or dorm-rooms. It's not just for coffee, Keurig has K-cup packs of tea, hot cocoa, lemonade and more. It's compact and best of all it comes in 13 different colors to add a little flair to your decor. Brew the perfect beverage in under two minutes! Available online from Keurig     OxyClean My son's baseball pants just never look white - no matter what I do. Well, I used OxyClean's detergent (it's now in liquid form) and wow, the grass stains and dirt disappeared. It really deep cleans and my kids' clothes never looked better. Available online from Drugstore  

Back To School Must-Haves for Tweens

Is your tween headed to middle school? No more sparkly lunchboxes, this is serious business. We have a few must-haves to make the transition easier. From fashion to pimples, we've got you covered. Zio Ziegler Skull Classic Lunch  Created exclusively for Pottery Barn Teen by internationally known artist Zio Ziegler, this edgy design is bound to please even your picky tween.  Available online from PBTeen  Remington Head Wrap Head wraps are the perfect hair accessories to jazz up any outfit and keep your hair out of your teen's face at the same time. Available online from Target  Limited Edition Carmex Moisture Plus Protect their lips in style. Your tween will love the stylish designs and you'll be happy with the SPF 15 protection. Available online from Carmex  Tanda Zap Want to zap away zits? The Tanda Zip combines blue LED light withsonic vibration to destroy acne-causing bacteria. This is a teenage dream come true. Available online from Amazon  Sarasa Gel Retractable No more smearing - these pens will show off your creative side with vibrant colors and Rapid Dry Ink technology that dries in less than a second. These are perfect for the left-handed! Available online from Zebra   SOL REPUBLIC RELAYS In-Ear Headphones Music will never sound better and these babies won't fall out of their ears when they are running to get to class on time! They'll love the fun colors and they are water and sweat resistant which is always a plus. Available online from SOL REPUBLIC  PelicSport Elite Tablet Backpack Worried that your child's expensive computer is going to get damaged when he/she carts it around school? Well, now you don't have to be with this backpack that includes a built-in watertight, crushproof case. The load compression straps makes it comfy to carry a heavy pack. Available online from Amazon  

Back to School Must-Haves For Your Lil Ones

It's about that time for your little one to start school so we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite adorable must-haves. We hope you love them as much as we do! From fun and quirky to cute and creative, check it out: Bixbee Sparkalicious Kids Glitter Butterflyer Backpack What could be better for a little girl than a pink sparkly backpack? Not much except maybe adding some wings - which they did. Available online from Bixbee  Wildlife Mini Backpack Your little one can take a walk on the wild side with this mini backpack. But which of the six wild animal patterns will he or she choose? Available online from HABA  Laptop Lunch Bento Kit This versatile insulated lunch kit comes with a bento kit with 5 containers and a top compartment for a water bottle. Available online from Laptop Lunches Skip Hop Zoo Lunchies Bag Cat With friendly faces and matching zipper-pulls, these little cuties make lunchtime fun time!  Available online from pishposh baby Shwings Your kids are going to love to hip up their shoes with wings, moustaches, hearts and much more! Make old shoes fun and new shoes even better! Available online from Shwings    

Mommy Moments: It's All About the Little Things

UCLA’s legendary former basketball coach John Wooden got it right when he said: "It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."  For many mothers, it’s the little things about raising kids that delight us - that warm our heart or instantly erase a tantrum-filled morning. These little things may not be appreciated or even noticed by other groups of people. They may seem mundane. Normal. Expected, even. But there are certain expressions or events that we as mothers appreciate, applaud, or secretly crave. These “little” things become big mommy motivators or, as I see them, sanity-savers. For those of you who don’t have kids or whose life is abundantly perfect and fulfilling, these “little” things will appear, in fact, quite small. But for me, and for many mothers, the following can make our mom-o-meters pulsate. These are some of my favorite “Mommy Moments:" 1. Your young child is part of a group performance, and he/she looks straight at you in the audience and acknowledges you with a smile or wave. It’s that moment when your specialness is made visual for all to see. 2. You receive a note or drawing from your young child, and you find the examples of inventive spelling funny! You don’t even mind when his portrait of you shows a very swelled head or crooked nose. I love when my boys write letters. Here’s an example of my 8 year-old-son’s Dear Santa Letter (verbatim) that I’m sure Santa especially appreciated: Dear Santa: What I want for Christmas is: an electrical device that's remote control, that you can see and the remote when it flies in the air. What I also want is an electrical game that contains prehistorical effects that you think I would like. Please make me a better student and improving in quizzes and in my math. What I also want is a Nerd Gun bullet proof vest. I also want a Macaroni-and-Cheese nutcracker baker. The last thing I want is an ornament that has a picture of my Christmas tree. P.S. I have a present for you to the right of my desk. Sincerely, Zachary L. 3. You attend a birthday party, and your child is one of the few who opts for the veggie platter. 4. Your child “graduates” on the toilet and starts wiping his/her own butt. (I can’t tell you how many times I heard my little son yell out, “Mommy, please wipe my bottom!!!” as I was right in the middle of teaching a piano student.) 5. You receive breakfast in bed, and you look down to see burnt toast, runny eggs and spilled drink on a tray proudly held by your beaming children. 6. Your child runs and hugs you in front of his friends when you pick him up from school. The older he is, the rarer (and more special) it becomes. 7. You hear your child say “please” or “thank you” to another adult.. without prodding. The adult’s compliment about your daughter having good manners can make your entire afternoon. 8. You can sleep in... uninterrupted. For some of us, this is all we need. 9. The grocery cart doesn’t squeak or have a broken wheel while you’re shopping. This may seem especially mundane to some, but any woman who has had to push a cart for a long period of time with a young child in it appreciates if the ride is smooth and stealth. 10. Your child plucks a flower and gives it to you. When my boys were young, they happily handed me bugs. 11. Your child cleans a part of the house without you asking... or without complaining. It’s messier than before, but you appreciate the effort. 12. Kid-created coupon books. I’ve never known a mother who has actually redeemed all the coupons in the book her child made her. But just the short written statement “I will do the laundry for a day” or “I will do all the dishes” is enough to warm the heart. 13. Hearing your child pray. I wish I had written down some of my children’s prayers, like the one asking God to make everybody in the world happy. 14. Funny sayings. Back in the 1990s, Bill Cosby hosted an entertaining TV show called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”; this is because children -- and their innocence and bluntness -- can be funny! Every week there’s something one of my kids says that cracks me up or surprises me. 15. Watching your child dance. I especially appreciate watching young children dance who have no sense of rhythm. They don’t care; they throw caution to the wind and move and groove to their own beat. There’s something completely pure and beautiful about that. 16. No sibling fighting on long car trips. If you have perfect kids, then you don’t appreciate this as much as us who don’t have perfect kids. 17. Doing nothing. On one Mother’s Day, my husband asked me what I wanted to DO. I said, “I want to do nothing.” “Nothing?” he asked. “NOTHING,” I answered. My typical day is filled with kids, work, cleaning, driving, shopping, negotiating, exercising, etc. Every now and then we mothers appreciate the art of doing absolutely nothing. And sometimes, for the busy mom, it's hard work to do nothing. 18. Quiet alone time. This one goes hand in hand with the above statement. Sitting in a quiet room is, well, quiet…and we like it. 19. A good book. I know many moms who treasure their reading time and who have, in fact, stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish a captivating book. We appreciate a fun book series. I’m willing to bet that many moms have read lately the Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and/or Fifty Shades of Grey books. There's just something about reading fantasy while wearing sweatpants and no makeup. 20. A cup of coffee or hot tea. No need to elaborate. But, in case I did elaborate, I'd add: sipping a cup of coffee/tea while sitting in a comfortable chair. Being able to finish an entire cup without having to stand or speak is, well, glorious. There's that famous book entitled "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"; I believe moms should embrace them instead.