Play Right: Celebrate Summer with a Backyard Camping Trip

If you don’t have the time or funds for a weeklong vacation, you can still celebrate your favorite outdoor traditions with a backyard camping trip! Pitch your tent in the grass, bring out pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy all the fun of a summer adventure without the added stress of a long-distance vacation. 

1. Take Your Tent Up A Notch

 

Get Your Kids In On The Fun

Before the big day, have your kids make their own decorations to turn your backyard into a camping destination. From outdoors-themed coloring pages to wreaths, birdhouses to hand-painted tiki torches, these creations will give your kids the added fun of seeing their hard work transform your home into a state park.  

 

Light It Up

For some extra decorations, string lights and quirky battery-operated lights bring a gentle, warm glow to every summer evening. If your backyard has wall outlets, you can break out your holiday lights. For a fun DIY project, fill Mason jars or brightly colored plastic containers with battery-operated string lights. These can then be placed in the tent or around the backyard for a colorful evening glow! 

 

Tent Games

Turn your tent into a game room with your favorite board games, or make up your own! (Pro tip: this is a great activity for a rainy day!) When it gets dark, use lanterns or flashlights to create shadow puppets on the walls of the tent. For an educational twist, invest in a constellation lamp or tapestry and teach your kids to read the stars.   We love The Night Sky by local educator and author Garrick Pfaffmann .

 

2. Kid-Friendly Campfire Recipes

 

Breakfast: Tin Foil Egg Boats

These tin foil breakfasts are perfect for picky eaters and adventurous foodies alike. Shape two pieces of tin foil into a “boat” and a lid. Fill the boat with whisked eggs, chopped veggies, pre-cooked bacon, or your other favorite proteins. Then, carefully fold the tin foil lids over the boats to make closed, football-shaped containers. Cook these on a grill or stick with a marshmallow spear to roast over an open fire. After 5-10 minutes, the eggs and mix-ins will be perfectly cooked. Top with shredded cheese, salsa, or sour cream and dig in! 

 

Lunch & Dinner: Campfire Meals   

Cooking over a campfire adds a new layer of smoky flavor to every meal. Did you know baked potatoes can be an entire delicious, nutritious meal? Scrub and salt your potatoes, wrap in tin foil, and place directly in the coals of your campfire. Let roast for 45 minutes, then set aside to cool. When they’re ready to eat, add your favorite toppings — your kids can mix and match healthy favorites like broccoli, olives, scallions, salsa, and cheese — and dig in! For a cheesier twist, you can make grilled cheese or quesadillas over the fire. Our kids love adding mushrooms, roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, and other veggies to make unique grilled cheese masterpieces!

 

Dessert: S’more Healthy S’mores

Who said s’mores had to be unhealthy? You can add a fresh component to this campfire favorite by swapping your Graham crackers for sliced strawberries or bananas, then topping with mini marshmallows and low-sugar dark chocolate. For a pop of protein, add a handful of chopped nuts. If your kids are fans of ooey-gooey deliciousness (who isn’t?), build tin foil boats like you did at breakfast and fill with your favorite dessert toppings. You can roast these over the fire just like roasting marshmallows, and enjoy a delicious, sticky dessert! 

3. Turn Your Backyard Into A State Park

 

Flora & Fauna Scavenger Hunt

For an educational afternoon activity, look up your state’s common wildlife and indigenous plants. Locate these in your own backyard (or hide handmade versions if your backyard isn’t super green), then make a scavenger hunt for your kids to complete. Spend the afternoon identifying these plants, bugs, and birds, and learning fun facts about them! 

 

Summer Olympics

It may be an off year for the Olympics, but that doesn’t have to be the case at your house! Turn your backyard into a sports extravaganza with your favorite summer games, like horseshoes, cornhole, and lawn darts. Do your kids have a competitive streak? Plan a full afternoon of games and competitions, with points for the winners. At the end of the day, decorate each other’s medals and give awards like “Best Concentration Face” and “Most Enthusiasm.” Hold a medal ceremony and celebrate! 

 

Bedtime Storytelling Contest

When it’s time for bed, you can use the day’s activities to inspire a bedtime storytelling contest. Alternatively, you can use familiar fairy tales and swap out the main characters for members of your family or your kids’ friends. Climb into your favorite jammies and take turns telling stories with different categories — scary, funny, mysterious — and vote on the winners.

 

As a mom and business owner living in the Colorado mountains, I have access to tons of great camping and wilderness opportunities.  But my entire life I’ve loved spending time right at home in my backyard: big, small, rural, urban, sandy, grassy, or rocky.   There’s nothing better than grilling out, making a fire, enjoying your garden or native plants, kicking or throwing a ball, a round of quoits or corn hole, and loving whatever makes your home special.   And what excitement for the kids, just to set up a tent in the yard and sleep outside.   Let’s face it, Summer can be short, but sweet, so make the most of it, even if it’s just right outside your doorstep!

Sweet dreams! ~ Nicole

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Back to School ~ Back to Bed-Time

The importance of a bedtime routine during the back-to-school transition.

For many kids, all the fun of summer can make it tough to stick to a bedtime routine. Summer camp hours, slumber parties, and more hours of daylight — especially when the sun isn’t all the way down by bedtime — can turn into late nights and grumpy mornings when kids get too little sleep. 

 

Even though we’re still in the height of summer, it’s never too early to start planning for the fall! Kids’ brains and bodies won’t adjust to a school-year sleep routine overnight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Children who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of experiencing behavioral problems at school, as well as a more difficult time with learning.” As we approach the back-to-school season, it’s important to get kids back into a structured bedtime routine. 

Having trouble turning Z’s into ABC’s? These four tricks will help your family get back to bedtime, just in time for the new school year. 

1. Make it a gradual transition.

If you suddenly had to wake up an hour or two earlier, how long would it take you to get used to the new routine? Kids’ bodies and brains need time to adjust to a school schedule, so it’s not realistic to set an extreme new schedule all at once. Instead, you can slowly move bedtime back by fifteen minutes or half an hour (with an equal adjustment to wake-up time), with a few days in between each shift. By giving your kids time to adjust to the shorter shifts, they’ll have an easier time transitioning to the school-year’s schedule. 

2. Turn bed into an electronics-free zone. 

Clean sleep is the key to healthy rest. Electronics are one of the modern marvels that keep our brains from switching off completely when we go to bed. The glow and blue light from screens sends signals to our brains, telling us it’s still time to be awake. Keeping cell phones and tablets out of your kids beds — by establishing the hour or two before bedtime as “electronics-free” — reduces the impact of this blue light. 

3. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. 

You can replace screen time with book time, or other electronics-free activities you and your kids can do together. Bedtime stories, breathing exercises, and baths are all great ways to help your kids unwind at the end of the day. The comfort of a favorite pair of jammies can also go a long way toward rewiring kids’ brains for bedtime! In the same way that light from electronics can send signals to your mind, the comfort of organic cotton and the routine of slipping into pajamas tells your body it’s time for bed. When you’re planning your bedtime routine, don’t forget to set a similar one for mornings! 

4. Let your kids help set the rules — and stick to them. 

Get your kids involved in bedtime, too! Giving your kids some power over their own choices helps them forget the parts of a new routine that they may not be too fond of. Introducing their first alarm clock? Let them choose the design! Want to make sure they brush their teeth before bed? Let them pick a new flavor of toothpaste! Plus, if your kids have outgrown last fall’s jammies, you can help them choose a new set of PJs with a pattern they can’t wait for bedtime to wear. 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Fun Plate Specials

Make Healthy Eating Fun With Fun Plate Specials 

For kids of all sizes, establishing healthy eating habits from a young age will promote healthy living long after baby birds leave the nest. However, many parents struggle to introduce healthy foods, especially to picky eaters. 

One solution? Fun Plate Specials. 

Fun Plate Specials meld your favorite healthy ingredients with the bright colors, quirky characters, and funky art that kids love. By turning mealtimes into times for creativity, parents can get kids involved in the fun. It’s a great opportunity to teach kids about the ingredients that go into their lunches, as well as the basics of food safety, sustainability, and seasonality. 

We’ve created a quick and easy lunch-and-dessert combo that’s sure to have your kiddos racing to set the table. 

Sally the Sandwich Kid: Sally’s fashion sense includes the best of seasonal produce: green apples, Rainier cherries, and fresh banana slices. We went with a simple PB&J sandwich, but you can mix it up with your kids’ favorites! Lunch meats, hummus and veggies, or bright toppings like lettuce and tomatoes make for excellent accessories. These sandwich characters are easily customizable with different outfits, hair styles, and accessories. For a fun challenge, have your kids create sandwich versions of themselves! 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 kid-sized sandwich, cut in a circle
  • ½ green apple, sliced
  • 1 serving raisins
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 4 Rainier cherries, halved and seeded
  • Additional fruit or veggies as a side dish

 

Instructions:

    1. Wash and slice all the ingredients.
    2. Arrange raisins in a smiley face on top of the sandwich. 
    3. Lay out banana slices to make Sally’s hair.
    4. For the hair bow, halve or chop cherries and arrange into bow shape. 
    5. Create Sally’s dress by layering green apple slices on top of each other. 
    6. Use remaining raisins to create Sally’s arms and legs.

 

  • Optional: Serve with additional fruit on the side.

 

 

Dive-In Dessert Mermaids: These mermaids are a fun, whimsical way to present your kids’ favorite healthy sweet treats in a new and exciting way. We used vanilla pudding as the base to hold everything together, but you can also swap out with vanilla or plain yogurt, sugar-free Jello, or your favorite nut spread for a pop of protein. This “mix and match” dessert is the perfect pairing for healthy dipping sticks, like fruit chips, apple slices, or even celery sticks. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large Graham cracker
  • ½ cup low-fat vanilla pudding (we used about half of one container)
  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter (or alternate nut spread)
  • 1 Tbsp hazelnut spread 
  • 1 Rainier cherry, halved
  • 2 Tbsp mixed berries
  • 2 Tbsp chopped peaches 
  • Additional Graham crackers or apple sticks, for dipping

Instructions:

  1. Cut the Graham crackers into two large triangles and four small triangles.
  2. Top Graham crackers with nut butter or hazelnut spread, then arrange in tail shapes.
  3. Top tails with mixed berries. 
  4. Spread pudding to form torsos and arms. 
  5. Create “clothes” by pressing peaches into torsos. 
  6. Spread nut butter or hazelnut spread in shape of flowing hair and/or beards. 
  7. Press cherry half into “hair” to create the mermaids’ faces. 
  8. Serve with additional Graham crackers or apple slices for dipping. 

Versatile meals like Fun Plate Specials give you and your kids the fun of an arts and crafts day with the deliciousness of a healthy, balanced lunch. You can make Fun Plate Specials for any meal, like these apple porridge breakfast specials! Plus, any ingredient can be swapped in or out for kids with food sensitivities. Just be sure your plates pop with creativity and color, and your kiddos are sure to “dive” in! 

 

If you’re short on time, you don’t have to be short on creativity! We still play with our food, even if we only have a couple of minutes…

 

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Bedtime Routines Help Children Get Their Rest

Creating A Relaxing, Pampering Bedtime Routine for Kids

If your child’s bedtime routine was perfect as a baby, but you now find that your 6-year-old is suddenly challenging her normal snooze time and battling to stay up later, a little pampering action may just do the trick. A poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly one third of all 6 to 11-year-olds gets eight or fewer hours of sleep a night, and the result can be everything from daytime drowsiness to a greater likelihood of obesity. Sleeping well at night is vital for human heart and brain health, regardless of age. If your child needs a little help getting to bed, make it a fun experience by turning up the pampering and self-care focus.

Letting Kids Pick their Favorite Jammies

Fashion forward kids will be delighted if you let them choose their own pajama prints and styles. Whether stripes, plain colors, or polka dots are their thing, allow them to express themselves so that they cannot wait to get into their jammies at night. To boost the softness factor, make sure these are organic. Because the production of organic cotton does not involve the use of chemicals, organic PJs are ideal for kids with allergies. Of course, going organic also means you and your child can be more environmentally aware; no chemicals in the land means less contamination and greater diversity of animal species.

Making Bath Time a Diva/Divo Moment

The idea that only girls love a pampering bath time experience is a myth. Encouraging both girls and boys to love and pamper themselves with a soothing bath is an important lesson indeed, since love for the world begins with love and care of the self. Let your kids pick their own organic soaps and shampoos, and have a fun sugar scrub making session using coconut oil, granulated white sugar, food coloring, and therapeutic grade lemon essential oils. Opt for an essential oil like lavender, which has proven calming properties, to instill a deep sense of relaxation before bed time.

Meditation Time!

An important skill to teach kids is that of calming themselves down when they are stressed. A perfect time for relaxation session is when kids are ready for bed. There are many ways to encourage kids to take the reins when it comes to stress. One is through meditation. Use an app like Calm or Breathe, which has short (five-minute) yet powerful guided meditation and/or breathing exercises that teach kids and adults how to keep the mind ‘in the here and now’. This will enable kids to escape negative thought cycles. An even simpler exercise is progressive muscle relaxation. For this exercise, instruct your child to tense up their muscles for several seconds, then relax these muscles. Start with the toes, then the feet, then the calves etc., all the way up to the face and head. You can then guide children in to a more relaxed state by asking them to imagine their body is heavy, that their eyelids are heavy, and that they are falling slowly upon a soft cloud. They may just find it hard to keep their eyes open. 

To encourage kids to sleep at the same time every day, following a strict timetable is key. However, kids, like all human beings, enjoy rituals as well, particularly when these are pampering. Allow kids to choose their favorite relaxation methods and make sure to encourage them by helping them make or (if necessary and affordable) buy the tools they need to ensure that bed time is as fun as it is relaxing.

~Jennifer Dawson

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

February: Plant the Seeds of Greatness

January always seem to be the month of new beginnings, making goals, and looking ahead to creating better and healthier habits.   The changes start internally, but hopefully have a lasting effect on our well beings and that of our family, friends, and world around us.   Not surprisingly, by February many of us have moved back into our normal routines and our goals have gone by the wayside.   Or perhaps we were so overwhelmed from the holidays, we never had a chance to focus on ourselves, but were simply in recovery mode.   So I was surprised to find that February is known as the “Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month” and I’m excited I am given another chance to look at the future and perhaps plant my seeds this month.

 

“Awake, arise, and assert yourself, you dreamers of the world. Your star is now in ascendancy.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

At New Jammies our motto is Eat Right, Play Right, Sleep Tight.   These are three areas of our lives that are essential to good health and overall well being.    I’d like to take a look at a few steps we could take to improve these areas and help plant your seeds of greatness.

Eat Right

  1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.  Our basket should be filled with less packaged/processed goods and more whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and fish.
  2. Add a new organic or local product to your list.   It can be hard to buy all organic and/or all local due to numerous factors including availability and budget.  Pick one of your regularly purchased items and commit to making sure it is organic, GMO free, or locally produced in a sustainable manner.
  3. Eat your veggies.   Try a new vegetarian or vegan recipe to add to your rotation of regular meals.  There are so many resources now for inspiring vegetarian meals, the world is your oyster. (mushroom, that is..)

Play Right

  1.  Keep it fresh. Get out and try a new activity you’ve never done before.   It seems like there are never ending new options for exercise these days.   Maybe if your a road runner, hit the trail.   You’re a downhill skier: skin uphill.   You’re a yogi, try pilates.    You’re a mountain biker: try road biking.   You love the gym: try a new class, an outdoor group sport (frisbee), golf, or a hike in the woods.   You’ll work your mind and your muscles in a different way and probably feel like a kid again.
  2.  Get outside.   The days are getting longer.   Take your routine outside, even if it means bundling up.
  3.  Just do it. Period!  As parents we often put our children, partners, work, and just sustaining our day to day life before taking time for ourselves.   Commit to one, two, or more days a week to just do an activity for yourselves.   This might mean getting up earlier or asking a spouse, friend, or relative for help, but a healthy body is a healthy mind for us to be the best we can be.

Sleep Tight

  1.  Value Sleep.   This is the time our body and mind needs to heal and be re-energized for a new day.  ” Research shows that poor sleep has immediate negative effects on your hormones, exercise performance and brain function.” (Healthline-17 Tips to Better Sleep)    Don’t take it for granted and set yourself up for the best sleep possible with a few tips highlighted here.

A. Reduce screen time before bed.

B. Don’t drink caffeine late in the day

C. Think before you drink that relaxing glass of vino or beer.

D. Don’t eat right before bedtime.

I’m sure a lot of these ideas are not completely new to you, but repetition creates good or bad habits.  Sometimes we need a reminder of the good to stay on the right track.    As a parent I constantly think, “Am I doing the right thing for my children” but sometimes we have to step back and do the right thing for ourselves.  If we plant the seeds of greatness for our future, I am certain our children, family, and community will feel the long term effects of our flourishing garden.

 

 

Eat Right: Healthy for the Holidays!

Holiday meals are full of New Jammies’ traditional favorites, from turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream. With many of these holiday appetizers, entrees and desserts loaded with fat and calories, we like to discover some of the more healthier options for families, especially those with kiddos to please.   

One way to start thinking healthy for the holidays is to consider switching out traditional ingredients for less sugar- and calorie-heavy items. Everyday Health healthy living newsletter offers these options, featured in its “11 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps” article. These include skipping:

• Full-fat dips, and eat yogurt dips (hummus with yogurt and lemon recipe)

• Some alcohol calories, drink wine spritzer instead (8 ‘skinny’ holiday cocktails)

• Candied yams, eat roasted sweet potatoes (low-calorie candied yams recipe)

• Store-bought, eat homemade stuffing (low-calorie stuffing)

• Traditional gravy, eat low-fat gravy (click here for recipe from the Mayo Clinic)

These recipes will be a hit with the family this holiday, and help with staying healthy:

We discovered this healthy mama on instagram with a new low carb twist on stuffing.

Cauliflower Stuffing

“It’s really pretty simple: melt 4T butter, sauté 1 chopped onion. Add 2 chopped carrots and 2 ribs of diced celery and sauté till soft. Add about 3 cups of riced or finely diced cauliflower and cook about 8 min. Add 1cup chopped mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, 1/2 t dry sage, fresh parsley and fresh rosemary. Cover and cook 15 min. Add up to 1/2 c broth if it seems dry. Using frozen cauliflower rice brings more moisture. Serve warm and eat it up!!!”

Thanks  Jennifer!  https://www.instagram.com/jenniferpantall/

 

 

 

 

Wild Rice with Cranberries & Almonds

This low-calorie (120 per 1/2 cup), low-cholesterol (0 mg) side dish, courtesy of the American Diabetes Association’s Recipes for Living, is a healthful holiday option that can be made for a big dinner, or a small get-together with lots of leftovers, as it serves 11. According to the ADA, wild rice takes longer to cook than other rice, but it has a lower glycemic index of 45 compared to white rice with a glycemic index of 70. This is important for those holiday guests with diabetes or other special diet considerations. The toasted almond slices and dried cranberries are a nice touch for any holiday spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
2 (4-ounce) boxes wild rice
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the water and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.

3. Add the rice; cover and cook according to package directions; usually about 50-60 minutes.

4. Remove the lid and add in the toasted almonds and cranberries; use a fork to mix together.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free, including the chicken broth, and this can be made gluten-free.

Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Finally we found Jenn, a veggie lovin’ mama, cooking up Roasted Butternut Squash Soup which she considers a cold-weather staple! We love this silky butternut soup served with spicy roasted chickpeas for extra flavor. Vegan, Vegetarian, and T-Rex toppings available, so there’s something for everyone!

Recipe yields approx. 4 bowls or 6-7 cups of soup.

COURSE SOUP
CUISINE AMERICAN
KEYWORD ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
PREP TIME 10 MINUTES
COOK TIME 50 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME 1 HOUR
SERVINGS 6 SERVINGS
AUTHOR JENN LAUGHLIN – PEAS AND CRAYONS

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb butternut squash
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil (or favorite healthy oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic smashed + minced
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • additional salt + pepper to taste

SPICY ROASTED CHICKPEAS

  • 15 oz canned chickpeas
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil (or favorite healthy oil)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (spiiicy!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Make sure you have two large rimmed baking sheets handy as well as a blender.

  2. Drain and rinse your chickpeas and place on a stack of paper towels to dry a bit. The drier the chickpeas the crispier they’ll get in the oven. Woot!

  3. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Pierce skin of squash a few times with a knife. Peel and cut your carrots into 3 portions. Peel onion and cut into 8 quarters.

  4. Place your squash (cut side down), carrot, and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet (or roasting pan). Drizzle with 1 TBSP oil (extra if desired) and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour 1/4 cup of water over the squash. (it will evaporate as the squash roasts)

  5. Pat chickpeas dry and add to your second baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 TBSP oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt. (The rest of the spices will be added after)

  6. Place both pans on the center rack in your oven and roast. Chickpeas will be done at 30 minutes and the squash and veggies will be done after 45-55 minutes. When squash is tender and can be removed from the skin easily with a spoon it’s good to go!

  7. While your veggies roast, combine spicy chickpea seasoning in a small bowl: paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, black pepper. Set aside and once chickpeas are done roasting, sprinkle with the seasoning blend, mix ’em up, and set aside. They will crisp up more as they cool!

  8. In a medium-large pot, melt 2 TBSP butter over medium heat. For extra flavor, let’s brown the butter first to add some nutty flavor to our soup! Let your butter melt untouched, then once it starts to simmer and brown, add minced garlic and whisk constantly until butter is golden and fragrant. Add your vegetable broth, cover, and reduce heat to low.

  9. Once your squash is ready, allow to cool enough t handle, then peel off the skin of the butternut. Alternatively you can scoop the squash out with a spoon.

  10. Working in batches, blend the veggies with the broth in your blender until silky. I was able to add half the veggies and half the broth and get it all blended in 2 batches. Filling blender only 2/3 full is best as hot liquid expands.

  11. Return the soup to your pot and mix well. Add any additional seasoning to taste and feel free to add extras like nutmeg, allspice, cayenne pepper, etc… If skipping the chickpeas (which have a LOT of flavor) you’ll want to add extra seasoning to the soup. Keep covered over lowest heat setting until ready to serve.

  12. Dive in while it’s hot and top soup with seasoned chickpeas and your choice of toppings from the notes below. I like mine with chickpeas, scallions and a teeny drizzle of cream!

    Visit Jenn for more topping and spice ideas for your bowl!   This might be bookmark worthy –  Peas and Crayons 

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season!!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Camping To Bond

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.    My family enjoyed a fun-filled camping trip in our home state of Colorado followed by a local celebratory parade.   We live in a place where we are lucky to be surrounded by wilderness, yet we still love to get out and camp.   One of the things I love the most about camping is that it allows us to leave our never ending TO-DO list at home and just focus on our family and enjoying time together outside.    We cook a little slower over the camp fire. We relax a bit more taking in the morning air or the evening sunset.   We wander a bit longer through the woods looking for bugs, plants, birds or rocks that catch our eye.    This month Jenny Jackson is sharing great ideas for family camping with us.  As the Fall leaves change, it’s a great time to get outside, explore, and enjoy the last days of warm weather.

Tips For A Fun Family Camping Getaway

Since 2014, an additional six million families are taking up camping per year. As a classic way to bond with the family, camping allows you and your family some time away from the real world and lets you focus on who matters most. When planning your next family camping trip, it is essential to bring the proper supplies, entertainment, and the right attitude to make your camping trip a success.

It Starts With Supplies

A good camping trip hinges on how well prepared the campers are. When collecting supplies, it’s best to start with the necessities. Tents, sleeping bags, and warm blankets protect you and your family from the elements and make your stay comfortable. Make sure to keep extra blankets especially for toddlers or young children. Flashlights, batteries, bug spray, and extra clothing are all crucial too, as they increase safety. Finally, the most important items to stock up on are food and utensils. While the amount of food you pack depends on the facilities available, a grill, pots and pans, cooking utensils, and dishwashing supplies are great to feed the whole family. Packing snacks and sweets such as s’mores will keep any child happy as well.

Entertainment and Activities

Children are often very active and curious, and it is imperative you keep them entertained and active during your camping trip. The last thing you want is to be constantly nagged by bored children and lose valuable serenity, so bringing along games and activities is a must. Activities such as nature scavenger hunts, flashlight tag, singing campfire songs, and making s’mores are all great ways to keep the family busy and bonding. For a more cerebral twist, reading and telling stories, nature walks to learn about the ecosystem, and animal spotting can all be fun educational ways to get closer during a family camping trip.

It’s All About Attitude

In today’s world, children are plugged into smartphones and computers while you are busy in your career. Camping is a way to unwind, but can also be a complete switch up from your normal routine. When making such a drastic change in scenery with your kids, it is important to have a good attitude and remain positive and engaging. It is also imperative you are organized and prepared for anything. Safety comes first and being ill-prepared is not a good situation to be in. Lastly, make sure your children are involved. By allowing them to memorize landmarks for directions, hold the compass, or carrying a whistle you are giving them responsibility and involvement in the decision making. This can make them more engaged and receptive.

Go Camping Soon

Camping as a family is both fun and healthy for the family relationship. In order to be prepared make sure you bring the proper supplies such as tents, sleeping bags, and plenty of food. Also, make sure you invest in activities or entertainment for the kids, anything from nature walks to skipping rocks can keep them attentive. And lastly, have a good positive attitude and be prepared. Your next family camping trip awaits.

~Jenny Jackson

Eat Right: Back to School Meals and Lunchbox Finds!

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.    

This year year we discovered some mamas on a mission to test and find the best in eco-friendly lunch box options!  Yes, I still miss my metal Strawberry Shortcake lunch box from yesteryear, but now there’s a whole world of options to choose from that making packing and storage a cinch, while living up to our eco-expectations!

Still one of my favorites, the Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

Retro Mama Goes Green also has some fun non-toxic suggestions this year ranging from lunch bags to boxes!   Lisa says “Many lunch boxes can contain harmful things like PVC, lead, BPA, and phthalates. And disposable paper bags cost a lot of money over time and are wasteful. Thankfully there are some great waste-free, safe options out there.”

Keep it cool with our favorite eco-friendly and sweat free ice packs from

U- Konserve

Not only do we love their ice-packs, but this company is on a mission to save the planets from plastic straws and cups.   I must confess, recently my children swayed me to purchase some fun bendy plastic straws, but now seeing U-Konserve’s options and being reminded of the large impact of small choices, I’m loving this find.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made nearby in New Jammies home state of Colorado, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.    The sandwich wraps are easy to clean, come in fun prints, and create a great placemat for eating.   The snack bags come in multiple sizes to suit any hunger!

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, trail mix and granola, as healthy options.   I personally use them anytime I am on the go with kids as those little tummies have a big appetite all the time!

Now we’ve got all our amazing gear options, how do we making packing lunch fun, healthy, and easy on parents.     We’re digging this healthy food prep web-site Gimme Delicious  Showcasing colorful images of healthy, easy cooking, make ahead dishes that look amazing to eat at home or on the go.   Kids will be loving the rainbow of flavors here.   In addition to lunch, some of the pre-prep freezer ideas will make healthy, weeknight dinners on busy school nights ready to go!

This balanced dish is great for dinner or lunch….

Pesto Chicken Veggie Sheet Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another mama that likes to keep lunch simple, veggie style is the author of  Veggies Don’t Bite! blog.    These quick packing lunches will keep kids coming back for more and you can put these together with ease even if you haven’t had your morning latte yet.   She also has other lunch box suggestions as well as veggie loving recipes for the whole family.

 

We hope your school year is off to a healthy start!   Eat right, play right, sleep tight!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy foods for a Spring in Your Step

Spring brings the opportunity for New Jammies families to welcome the new season feeling refreshed. We say goodbye to the stuffy head colds, high fevers and sore throats of winter, taking an holistic approach to health with immune-boosting foods. Whether it’s a natural immune-supporting power bowl or an energy ball with chia seeds, these recipes harken back Spring’s fresh take at a healthy life.

Spring Power Bowl

Courtesy  Two Peas and Their Pod

For the Quinoa Bowl:

  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 asparagus spears, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Blue Diamond Whole Natural Almonds
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Lemon Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons golden or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Swap proteins, grains, veggies to your liking.

 

Kid Friendly Energy Balls
Courtesy The Lean Green Bean

These little morsels pack a healthy energizing punch.    Not only are the freezable, but they travel well and hey their something you can feel good about giving your child.   The lean green bean shares and assortments of recipes but this one caught my eye.  Citrus is always a great immune boosting food to enjoy in warmer weather and longer days.

Bursting with citrus flavor, these Lemon Energy balls make the perfect snack. Made with just 5 ingredients, they’re gluten-free, paleo-friendly and perfect for stashing in the fridge or freezer!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • zest and juice from a medium lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put dates, nuts and seeds in a food processor and pulse several times to chop.
  2. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla and process until mixture comes together.
  3. Form into balls and store in the fridge or freezer. (I made 14 balls).

 

Veggie Spring Rolls20-Minute Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls
Makes 6 spring rolls
Courtesy chefsavvy.com

This fresh recipe for vegetable spring rolls are perfect for a light lunch, healthy snack or easy-to-make appetizer. Colorful and full of flavor, these naturally vegan spring rolls include mango, high in Vitamins C & A. “The large amounts of Vitamin C act as a great immune booster. Carrots are loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin A. Bell peppers are packed with vitamins and fiber. Also a great source of antioxidants. The scallions’ Vitamin K and fiber make this a good choice for the spring rolls. Red cabbage is rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants,” says the recipe on chefsavvy.com.

Ingredients
6 spring rolls wrappers
½ cup bell peppers (I used yellow, red and orange bell peppers)
½ cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cup scallions
½ cup mango, sliced
½ cup carrots, julienne

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sweet chili garlic sauce
½ teaspoon sriracha
¼ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil

Instructions
1. Place 1 spring roll wrapper at a time in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 seconds until it softens up a bit. Place it on your work surface and add a handful of each veggie in the top center of the wrapper leaving enough space at the top to roll. (Do not over stuff)
2. Fold the edge closest to you over the toppings and tuck the sides in and over the portion you just rolled. Roll away from you making sure to keep the spring roll tight. Repeat until you have used up all of the filling. Should make about 6 rolls.
3. Serve immediately with the Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce. Cover with a damp cloth so they do not stick together if you won’t be serving them right away.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
1. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sriracha and honey to a small bowl.
2. Slowly whisk in oil in a slow and steady stream.
3. Serve immediately with the spring rolls. If the sauce separates give it a quick whisk.

Instapot Lemon Veggie Risotto
Courtesy Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

It seems like every other day a parent is telling me how they are obsessed with their Instapot and it’s time saving ability to create homemade meals for the family.   When time is of the essence, but we still want to put a healthy dinner on the table, Instapot to the rescue.   If you too are in the Instapot fan club you may enjoy this veggie loaded risotto.   For all you classic risotto cooks, here are some new flavors to add to your slow cooked love.

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, sliced thin
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup fresh peas, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup leek, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 bunch chives, sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add asparagus, broccoli, and peas to the baking sheet. Coat with 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oilsalt and pepper, toss well. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until broccoli is fork tender. Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
2. In an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, press SAUTÉ. Add remaining extra-virgin olive oil and let the pot heat up. Once hot, add in onions, leeks and garlic. Let cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions start to turn translucent.
3. Add rice and stir for 1-2 minutes to toast.
4. Add vegetable stock, butter and thyme. Stir well.
5. Turn the pressure cooker or instant pot off. Secure lid in place, turn valve to sealing, press manual, and modify time to 7 minutes.
6. Once the time has lapsed, and the pressure cooker is done, turn the valve to venting to quickly release the pressure. Open the lid and stir well.
7. Turn the setting to SAUTE. Add spinach, chives, roasted veggies, and spices to the rice. Stir for 1-2 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning. Top with lemon zest and additional chives.

Bon Appetit!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Naps and Why Kids Need Them

Ask some New Jammies parents about naps, and you may see a longing in their eyes. They might be wishing for one themselves. Or daydreaming about the days when their children’s naps were as common as a diaper change. Often, as a child grows older, naps can become a distant memory. That doesn’t always mean parents should give up on them.

According to KidsHealth, the importance of naps is vital, as “sleep is a major requirement for good health, and for young kids to get enough of it, some daytime sleep is usually needed.”

“Crucial physical and mental development occurs in early childhood, and naps provide much-needed downtime for growth and rejuvenation,” KidsHealth says. “Naps also help keep kids from becoming overtired, which not only takes a toll on their moods but may also make it harder for them to fall asleep at night. And naptime gives parents a brief oasis during the day and time to tackle household chores or just unwind.”

Sleep Needs by Age

KidsHealth reminds parents that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding how much daytime sleep kids need.

“It all depends on the age, the child, and the sleep total during a 24-hour period,” KidsHealth says. “For example, one toddler may sleep 13 hours at night with only some daytime catnapping, while another gets 9 hours at night but takes a solid 2-hour nap each afternoon.”

Though sleep needs are highly individual, these age-by-age guidelines give an idea of average daily sleep requirements:

Birth to 6 months: Infants require about 14 to 18 total hours of sleep per day. Younger infants tend to sleep on and off around the clock, waking every 1 to 3 hours to eat. As they approach 4 months of age, sleep rhythms become more established. Most babies sleep 9 to 12 hours at night, usually with an interruption for feeding, and have 2 to 3 daytime naps lasting about 30 minutes to 2 hours each.

6 to 12 months: Babies this age usually sleep about 14 hours total for the day. This usually includes two naps a day, which may last 20 minutes for some babies, for others a few hours. At this age, infants may not need to wake at night to feed, but may begin to experience separation anxiety, which can contribute to sleep disturbances.

Toddlers (1 to 3 years): Toddlers generally require 12 to 14 hours of sleep, including an afternoon nap of 1 to 3 hours. Young toddlers might still be taking two naps, but naps should not occur too close to bedtime, as they may make it harder for toddlers to fall asleep at night.

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Preschoolers average about 11 to 12 hours at night, plus an afternoon nap. Most give up this nap by 5 years of age.

School-age (5 to 12 years): School-age kids need about 10 to 11 hours at night. Some 5-year-olds might still need a nap, and if a regular nap isn’t possible, they might need an earlier bedtime.

To Nap Or Not to Nap?

The National Sleep Foundation reminds parents not to become discouraged, as naps, or the lack thereof, are a phase all kids go through.

“About half of all children stop napping by age four, and 70 percent are done with daytime sleep by age five,” the NSF reports.

What are some signs little ones are ready to drop the nap habit?

“Consistently taking 45 minutes or more to fall asleep for a daytime snooze or getting 11 to 12 hours of sleep overnight are two big ones,” the Foundation says. “If you think it’s time to give nap-less living a try, follow these steps to ease the transition.”

Nap as Needed

The National Sleep Foundation agrees that napping doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing proposition.”

“While some children might be fine quitting cold turkey, others may do better with a gradual approach. For instance, consider skipping naps for three days, then napping again on the fourth,” the NSF says.

“Alternately, you could shorten the naps by waking your child within the hour to keep daytime sleep from interfering with bedtime. Even a 20-minute nap can have benefits for a small child. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, so follow your child’s cues to figure out the right sleep strategy.”

Turn Naps into Quiet Time

“Skipping an afternoon nap doesn’t mean your child is ready for constant action from morning to night. An hour of quiet time in the afternoon can offer an important opportunity for a non-napping child to re-group (not to mention restoring the caregiver’s energy, too),” says the Fiundation. “Reading books, coloring quietly, and listening to calming music are all good ways to rest up for the evening ahead.”

Also, the National Sleep Foundation suggests moving bedtime to an earlier time.

“If your child is no longer napping, bedtime hours may need to be adjusted to be sure you still provide enough time for sleep,” the NSF says. “Preschoolers should get 10 to 13 hours of sleep a day, with or without naps, which could mean going to sleep as early as 6:30 PM depending on what time your child wakes up in the morning.”

For more information on naps, sleep and additional topics involving kids’ health, visit these helpful online resources:

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org
This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.

National Sleep Foundation (NSF)
http://www.sleepfoundation.org
NSF is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting education, sleep-related research, and advocacy.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
http://www.aap.org
The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
http://www.aasmnet.org
AASM strives to increase awareness of sleep disorders in public and professional communities.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.