Celebrate Together: 12 Ways To Give Back With Your Kids

The winter holidays are a time to celebrate with family. They’re also a wonderful time of year to instill a giving spirit in your kids! When families share charitable moments together, they build a tradition of giving that will carry through to future generations.

Kids grow older, but charitable traditions last forever!

Some of the more traditional “giving back” activities, like volunteering or donating to charities, can be difficult to pull off with small children in tow. Especially for kids who haven’t quite grasped the concept of money, financial charity doesn’t often have the same effect as physically working on a project together. These ideas help families with kids of every age get involved with their communities, and find ways to give back during the holiday season.

1. Get involved with your kids’ schools.

One great way to help kids see the fruits of their labor is to focus on a place where they spend a lot of time: school! Get your kids involved picking out and making end-of-year gifts for their teachers. On a chilly morning, get up a few minutes early to make a pitcher of hot chocolate, and have your kids hand out cups during the morning car line. Your kids take the bus to school? Have them write thank-you letters to their bus drivers, and hand them out with a bag of holiday candy.

2. Sponsor a family for a gift-giving holiday.

The holidays can be a difficult time for families going through a tough time. As a family, participate in a holiday sponsorship through a local charity, church, or community center. Many of these organizations offer “giving trees,” where your family can pick a name off a tree or list to sponsor for the holidays. Have your kids plan a budget, find out what their friends like, and choose the items that you donate to the family in need. For an extra DIY touch, have the whole family write handmade cards to deliver with the gifts!

3. Start a holiday toy drive.

For a larger-scale project, your family can start a holiday toy drive within your community. Ask neighbors, friends, and schoolmates for donations of gently used toys, clothes, and winter supplies. When you have enough, donate the whole pile to a local charity, hospital, or shelter.

4. Do something kind for strangers.

A day of unexpected charity makes for an excellent family tradition! Choose a busy spot like a mall or grocery store entrance, and hand out small gifts to strangers, like individual flowers, handmade holiday decorations, or compliments. Your kids get to watch strangers’ faces light up at these small acts of kindness, and learn a valuable lesson for the future!

5. Make handmade cards for hospital patients.

Hospitals work hard to fill patients’ rooms with holiday cheer. Help out by making handmade cards for your local children’s ward, or volunteering to clean and decorate common areas.

6. Go caroling at a senior center.

Many senior centers receive few visitors, especially from children. Share your kids’ holiday cheer with the elderly with a day caroling at local senior centers. If your kids are readers, bring holiday-themed books to read aloud, or host a sing-along in the center’s common rooms.

7. Hand out baked goods to local workers.

If you live in an area with a chilly climate, it’s a great idea to thank local workers like mailmen, garbage collectors, and crossing guards. Make a big batch of homemade baked goods and hand them out to everyone who helps your family maintain its routine. Bonus points if you can give something warm to someone working out in the cold!

8. Cook meals for a family in need.

Like sponsoring a family’s holiday gifts, you can also donate the time and energy it takes to make meals for a family in need. Get your kids involved with your favorite holiday recipes: have them plan out their perfect holiday dinner, then get them in on making a budget, shopping for groceries, and cooking the individual components. When you’re all done, pack everything in reusable containers and deliver to a local family.

9. Host a “give back” party.

Instead of an Ugly Sweater or Grinchmas party, host a Give Back party. Invite guests over to bake cookies, make handmade cards or decorations, and bring an item or two to donate. Spend a few hours sharing holiday stories and working on crafts together, then pile into cars and drive to your nearest donation center so everyone can share in the big moment together.

10. Plan a community cleanup day.

Kids and cleaning may not seem like a match made in heaven, but you can get kids involved with a community cleanup day if you let them be in charge (well, mostly) of the planning. Have your kids pick a place that’s important to your family, like a local park, beach, or playground. Then, have them coordinate with friends to plan a day of cleanup. Bundle up in winter gear and turn the cleanup day into a festive occasion! (For bonus points, make it a friendly competition: see who can collect the most trash in a set time limit!)

11. Make care kits for the homeless.

Especially during winter, homeless people benefit greatly from things like socks, snacks, hygiene items, helpful resources, and words of encouragement. (For more information, visit the Portland Rescue Mission.)

Winter is a difficult time for the homeless. You can get your kids involved in this project by creating care kits. Fill winter hats, coats, or sleeping bags with cold-weather essentials: fuzzy socks, hand warmers, lip balm, lotion, and cleaning supplies. Complete each kit with a handmade holiday card, then donate the lot to a local homeless shelter.

12. Donate DIY-ables to an animal shelter.

Kids and animals go together like candy canes and gingerbread! If your kids are major animal lovers, get them involved in a charity project that sponsors a local animal shelter. There are many online recipes for pet-friendly baked goods, homemade toys, and decorations like pillows and dog beds. Spend a day making these items together, then donate them to a local shelter.

What are your favorite ways to give back during the holidays? Let us know in the comments!

Sleep Right: How To Ensure Quality Sleep During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of high excitement, for kids and parents alike. It may be fun (for the kids, at least) to wake up early and open presents, but all the holiday excitement can turn into a major case of the humbugs if naps are skipped, bedtimes are missed, and sugary treats take over our holiday diets.

How do you get kids from “holiday cheer” to “visions of snowplums dancing in their heads”?

These tips will help your family guarantee healthy sleep, during the most wonderful (and busiest) time of the year.

1. Whenever possible, stick to your regular routine.

The winter holidays often disrupt our usual routines. Instead of school, kids head to family events, neighborhood parties, and snowy outings. Despite your busy schedule, try to stick to your normal bedtime routine as much as possible. If you’re staying over at Grandma’s house, pack familiar toothbrushes, story books, and sleep aids like blankets or stuffed animals. When bedtime rolls around, try to resist the request for an extra fifteen or thirty minutes–sticking to normalcy will help your kids’ bodies fall into their natural bedtime rhythms, making sleep seem less far away.

2. Make bedtime fun with a new family tradition.

If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday with your kids, the night before the big day can be far too exciting to get to sleep. One way to curb this is to start the festivities a little early! Create a new family tradition, where everyone unwraps a new set of personalized jammies, curls up under blankets, and reads or tells stories together. This can be a good low-energy way to curb kids’ enthusiasm, and get their minds and bodies ready for bed.

3. Plan a seasonal siesta.

Between cooking, cleaning, gift-wrapping, and snowball fights, the actual holiday can add far too much stress. If your schedule allows, set aside an hour or two where the whole family–not just the kids–takes a brief break to energize and recharge. This can be nap time for the kids (and we all know a nap would be a great gift for Mom or Dad, too), or a quiet time for the adults to enjoy a cup of coffee. If you make the siesta a familiar part of your holiday routine, kids will benefit from the scheduled relaxation time.

4. Keep kids’ diets balanced.

Candy canes! Chocolate! Reese’s Trees! The holidays are full of sugary stuff that keeps our kids up at night. That’s why it’s so important to stick to a balanced diet during the holidays, and enjoy sweets and caffeine only in moderation. Plus, healthy proteins like turkey contain tryptophan, an amino acid that makes us sleepy as our bodies break it down. Avoid sugar and caffeine for a few hours before bedtime, and make sure your kids are eating a healthy ratio of greens, protein, and carbs at mealtimes.

5. Learn some new relaxation games.

If your kids are struggling to fall asleep, relaxation games can be a good activity to try together. Practice body mindfulness by stretching every body part one by one: while laying down, start by flexing the fingers and toes, then move clockwise around the body until you’ve checked in with every body part. You can also turn this into a holiday grounding activity by naming objects in the room, or objects related to the holiday you celebrate. Can your kids name five red things associated with Christmas? How about six decorations you create for Hanukkah? These mindfulness activities can help calm racing thoughts, release pent-up energy, and prepare the mind for rest.

6. Remove distractions.

Holiday decor like lights and music can be a major distraction when we’re trying to sleep. Make sure kids’ windows are well-covered, blocking out any twinkling or blinking lights from the street. If you’re staying with family, try to find a place for the kids to sleep well away from any late-night conversations. Tuck travel cribs in quiet, safe spaces like the laundry room or a home office. If cousins are likely to stay up all night giggling (like in my family), it might be time for separate rooms.

Winter Jammies

Winter is a great time to get outdoors and active!

7. Tire them out.

Kids have a seemingly limitless amount of energy, but that’s nothing some good old-fashioned cardio can’t cure! A few hours before bedtime, get the kids up and moving with some holiday games and activities. Winter is a great time for snowball fights, hide and seek, and capture the flag. If they opened new toys or games during the festivities, find a way to make playtime as active as possible. This extra calorie burn will come in handy at bedtime!

8. Try a natural route.

Certain natural supplements, like melatonin or specific essential oils, can help the body relax and calm down enough for sleep. (If you choose to go a supplement route, just be sure to check with your pediatrician first.) Essential oils like lavender, valerian, and chamomile are great for relaxation. A couple of drops in a diffuser, under pillows, or on your kids’ pajamas can help lull them into a smooth sleep.

9. Stay flexible!

We get it–the holidays are exciting! And for many kids, the winter holidays are the highlight of the year. Excitement, adrenaline, and sugar can all be a major detriment to healthy sleep–and kids who are normally well-behaved might fight bedtime a little harder than usual during the holidays. Take a few deep breaths, stay flexible, and remember how you felt about the holidays when you were a kid.

The holidays are a wonderful time to create and share memories with your family. With a can-do attitude, some perseverance, and just a sprinkling of holiday magic, you can ensure your kids get enough sleep to carry them through the excitement of the 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.

Celebrate Together: Holiday Traditions For Kids

The winter holidays are an amazing time for families to come together to celebrate! Whether you celebrate one particular holiday, multiple, or none at all, the end of the year offers a perfect opportunity to create and celebrate family traditions. The team at New Jammies worked together to share our favorite family traditions, in the hopes that we spark new celebrations for yours!

Have you tried one of these traditions? Have a unique tradition of your own you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

Egg Carton Penguins from OneLittleProject are a great kid-friendly DIY decoration!

  1. Create DIY decorations. Many winter holidays involve a wonderful amount of decorating. Instead of spending tons of money on store-bought decor, set some time aside each year to create homemade holiday decorations together. There are tons of online guides for easy, kid-friendly DIY projects, like these adorable Egg Carton Penguins from OneLittleProject. The point of this tradition isn’t to be the best at arts and crafts — it’s to enjoy the laughs, the fun, and the time spent in each other’s company.
  2. Perform random acts of kindness. The holidays are a great time to teach children that a little kindness goes a long way. Make it a tradition to surprise strangers with random acts of kindness, like compliments, free hugs, or small gifts. One of our teammates says, “When I was a kid, my dad took my sister and I to a grocery store to buy a bunch of bouquets of carnations. Then, we went to the city center and handed out flowers to random holiday shoppers just to brighten their day. It became a quick tradition!”
  3. Pose for family photos. Holiday cards are an excellent way to update friends and family on the year gone by. They’re also a great addition to any scrapbook or family photo album! Many photographers offer discounted holiday photo packages during the fall and winter. For bonus points, have everyone dress in matching outfits!
  4. Make a countdown calendar devoted to learning. If you celebrate a winter holiday on a specific date, you can create a countdown or advent calendar of your own with your own traditions. For example, you can celebrate learning with a countdown calendar made of books! Each night, read a different book with your kids, focusing on a different holiday, historical figure, or culture. It’s a great way to learn more about the world around us, and share some wonderful family time!
  5. Surprise the neighbors. Many families enjoy baking cookies as part of a holiday tradition. You can take this tradition one step further by sharing the bounty with your neighborhood. There’s nothing quite like surprising your neighbor with a fresh-baked loaf of bread, still hot from the oven!
  6. Start a gag gift tradition. If you celebrate a gift-giving holiday, gag gifts can be a fun, inexpensive way to celebrate the end of the year. Another New Jammies teammate shared this great tradition from her family: “When I was a baby, we had a family friend known as Grandpa Sam. He was so much fun at the holidays. Anytime he opened a gift, he would yell ‘YOWZERS!’ He also had a knack for picking out gag gifts that people would inevitably find useful. For example, a pair of lotion-lined gloves from a dollar store that turned out to be a great cure for wintery dry skin! Today, my family still picks out small ‘gag’ gifts for each other, and as soon as we open them, we all yell ‘YOWZERS!’”
  7. Build your own hayride and look at the lights. Depending on what your neighbors celebrate, many neighborhoods are full to bursting with holiday decorations and lights. Get your family in on the fun by loading everyone in the car, jamming to a playlist of your favorite holiday music, and driving slowly through the neighborhood to look at the lights.

    Hosting a holiday PJ party? Set up a backyard photo booth with wintery decorations, props, costume pieces, and more!

  8. Have a holiday PJ party. This is a great tradition for neighborhood kids, extended family, and adults alike! Instead of an ugly sweater party, have everyone show up in their favorite pajamas. Guests can play games, bring food, and stay up late watching holiday movies. At the end of the night, the kids can have a group sleepover!
  9. Host a neighborhood potluck. This is a wonderful tradition for neighborhoods deeply steeped in culture, where many families celebrate different holidays. Ask everyone to bring a dish made from a family recipe, or a traditional recipe from their family’s country. Spend the night learning about different cultures through delicious food, traditional songs, and party games! “I have been having an annual holiday open house party in the day which is nice because people can stop by during a wider time range,” says New Jammies founder, Nicole Johnson. “It is nice for families because if kids have different nap times or other weekend obligations they can arrive and leave at their convenience.”
  10. Give back. The holidays give us an opportunity to build a volunteering spirit in kids from a young age. Nicole’s family participates in Toys for Tots by choosing a few names from a local tree each year to pick out presents for other families. And at New Jammies, we work with various organizations and fundraisers throughout the year to keep them well stocked in comfy, organic cotton jammies! Find a cause you believe in — hosting a food drive, volunteering at a soup kitchen, making and handing out gifts for a senior home — and make it a family tradition. By participating each year, your kids will see the direct impact of their hands-on volunteer work.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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.

Eat Right: Heart-healthy Family Dinners

February is American Heart Month, and New Jammies joins the American Heart Association in reminding families this is an ideal time to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their loved ones, friends and communities involved.

“The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices,” says the AHA. “While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.”

In its Heart-healthy Recipes section of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website, the AHA provides meal planning ideas that can save your heart by improving your diet.

“There’s a common misconception that anything described as healthy is lacking in flavor and satisfaction. To add insult to injury, there’s also an automatic assumption that healthy foods are unaffordable,” the American Heart Association says.

“The truth is, there are plenty of creative ways to make a tasty, heart-healthy dish. And you don’t have to be a master chef to whip one up, and do it well … Once you start eating this way, you may wonder why you didn’t start sooner. And before you know it, you’ll be coming up with your own inspired creations.”

Try these heart-healthy dishes from the American Heart Association and encourage your New Jammies kids and to eat right today:

Healthy greens and beans add a flavorful punch to this easy soup recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup.

Ingredients

6 Servings (Serving size 1 cup)
1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
1/2 small red onion (chopped)
1 medium celery (chopped)
1 medium garlic clove (minced)
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added Great Northern beans (rinsed, drained)
14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added, diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (crumbled)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion, celery, and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery are soft.

2. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes with liquid, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes so the flavors blend.

3. Stir in the spinach. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

4. Just before serving, sprinkle the soup with the Parmesan.

This protein-packed vegetarian Edamame Salad with Orange-Balsamic Dressing can be a main course or a side dish.

Ingredients

Serving size 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, lowest sodium available
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar PLUS
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided use
1 tsp. olive oil, extra virgin preferred
1/4 tsp. pepper
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added navy beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 medium cucumber, sliced crosswise
1 medium Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced radishes

Directions

1. Prepare the edamame using the package directions, omitting the salt. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the edamame, navy beans, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until needed, up to five days.

3. At serving time, put the salad greens on plates. Top, in order, with the cucumber, tomato, carrot, radishes, and bean mixture. Pour the dressing over all.

Benefit from heart-healthy omega-3 fats with this vegetable and seafood Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon dish.

Ingredients
4 Servings (Serving size 3 ounces fish and 1/2 cup vegetables)

1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
2 oz. spinach
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed, patted dry
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (lowest sodium available)
2 Tbsp. plain dry bread crumbs, lowest sodium available
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

3. Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a scant 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.

5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.

This Blackberry Cobbler dessert recipe features nutrient-dense blackberries and is great for family meals, especially as the weather warms. Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients but relatively low in calories, and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Cooking Tip: On the blackberries, this sweet-tart fruit is nutrient dense. Look for plump berries with a dark, rich color.

Ingredients
8 Servings

Cooking spray
4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar substitute and 1/2 cup sugar substitute, divided use
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, gently stir together the berries, 1/4 cup sugar substitute, the water, lime juice, and ginger. Let the berry mixture stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices can accumulate.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar substitute.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until no flour is visible. Don’t overmix.

6. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter doesn’t have to touch the edge of the pan; it will spread while baking.) Top with the berry mixture.

7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For information on women and heart disease, visit Go Red for Women.

 

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 Eating in 2018

Every January, millions of Americans make resolutions to improve their health and well being in the new year, including through diet and exercise. The intention is there, but only about 8 percent of people who make resolutions keep them. At New Jammies, we’re here to improve those odds with these tips for healthy eating habits for the whole family in the new year.

The CDC Office of Women’s Health offers Six Tips for 2018, including No. 3, make healthy food choices.

”A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products,” the CDC says. “It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.”

One way the CDC offers advice on Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight is by trying a new twist on an old favorite.

“If your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling,” the CDC suggests. “Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish.”

This American Heart Association recipe for Kid-Friendly Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs with Brown Rice, from its Simple Cooking with Heart program, “helps you travel to the islands with this recipe. Kids can help make them and because they’ll be in the kitchen where all the action is, they’re probably going to be excited to eat them, too.”

Ingredients

4 Servings

For the Marinade:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (at least 36 pieces), all visible fat discarded, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
20 oz. canned, unsweetened juice from pineapple chunks can
2 clove fresh garlic (minced)
OR
1 tsp. jarred, minced garlic

For the Chicken Kebabs:

Non-stick cooking spray
36 pineapple chunks (packed in their own juice)
2 fresh, chopped bell peppers (chopped into 36 pieces)
1 pint grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
12-15 wooden skewers
2 cup brown rice (cooked to package instructions)
OR
2 8.8- oz. packaged, cooked brown rice

Directions

For the Marinade:
1. In a plastic bag, add chicken chunks.
2. Have kids add soy sauce, 1 cup pineapple juice, and garlic into the plastic bag. Seal and let chicken marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

For the Chicken Kebabs:

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Take chicken out of marinade and place in a bowl.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Have kids wash bell peppers and tomatoes before chopping peppers. For kid-friendly assembly, place the pineapple, chopped peppers, and tomatoes in 3 separate bowls.
3. Let kids add 1 tomato to the bottom of 1 skewer. Top with pineapple, chicken and bell pepper 3 times, letting kids add everything but the raw chicken. Let kids add 1 more tomato to top. Repeat with the rest of skewers.
4. After 12 skewers are made (and all the chicken has been used), have kids make their own skewers with any remaining pieces. Cook kabobs in oven until chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Quick Tips

Cooking Tip: Pineapples have an enzyme called bromelain that helps to make meat tender, making pineapple juice an excellent quick marinade.
Keep it Healthy: Skewering pieces of meat, vegetables, and fruit for dinner makes it fun for kids to eat, along with a having a meal with a quick cooking time.
Tip: You can also cook these on the grill but first, you would need to soak the wooden skewers in cold water to prevent them from catching on fire.
Tip: Grape tomatoes are smaller than cherry tomatoes, so more will fit in a pint container. If using grape tomatoes, there will be enough tomatoes to add 4 grape tomatoes per skewer. If using cherry tomatoes, just stick with 2 per skewer.

In helping people stay on course for their wellness resolutions, the American Heart Association suggests these tips on How to Eat Healthy without “Dieting”:

• Choose mindfully, even with healthier foods. Ingredients and nutrient content can vary a lot.
• Read labels. Compare nutrition information on package labels and select products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat, and no partially hydrogenated oils.
• Watch your calories. To maintain a healthy weight, eat only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. If you want to lose weight, take in fewer calories or burn more calories.
• Eat reasonable portions. Often this is less than you are served, especially when eating out.
• Don’t dismiss entire food groups. Eat a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.
• Cook and eat at home. You’ll have more control over ingredients and preparation methods.

Another kid-friendly, healthy recipe to help you and your family eat well throughout the new year is courtesy the We Can! program, a collaboration between the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute.

Find more easy, healthy Fun Family Recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Lentil Soup

Ingredients

11 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups dry lentils
1 can (14 ½ ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
6 ½ cups water

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions; cook and stir until the onion is tender.
2. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in lentils and tomatoes, then add the vegetable broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour or until lentils are tender.
4. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. The soup will taste better the next day!

This recipe for a Superfood Smoothie from the American Diabetes Association is great for kids and adults, for breakfast, a snack or dessert on the go.

“Blueberries, spinach, and almond milk make this a Superfood Smoothie and a great way to start your day,” says the ADA. “Superfoods provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet.”

Ingredients

2 Servings

1 cup original almond milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups baby spinach
1 banana

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and thick.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free and this recipe can be made gluten-free.

Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!

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 Fall Treats for Kids

Two+Two re-useable snack bags for fall treats.

Apples. Pumpkins. Mushrooms. Figs. Turnips. And pears. These are just a few of New Jammies’ favorite Fall fruits and vegetables, and we’re happy to share some healthy and quick recipes for treats this season for the kids.

Raw pumpkin provides food energy and is an excellent source of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A. Figs are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Pears are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber, and packed with fat-free and cholesterol-free nutrients. And of course we are pleased to know that apples are high in fiber, vitamin C and various antioxidants, plus low-calorie as well.

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This cute recipe for Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter from Whole Foods Markte are perect for after-school snack time, can be added to kids’ lunchboxes, or will top off dinner right as a healthy option for dessert.

Ingredients

2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons granola

Directions

1. If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

2. Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola.

3. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches.

4. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.

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The Dr. Oz Show is great for bringing healthy lifestyles to the forefront, and offer light recipes on its website that incorporates various veggies, including turnips, in this case. These Paleo-centric Turnip Fries are crispy and light when baked to avoid frying. And they add nutritional value unique to the turnip that kids will love without knowing just how healthy they truly are. For the diet-conscious, they’re great for keeping calories low, too, at 56 calories for 10 servings.

“This healthy take on fries are nutritional and delectable,” says the show’s website at doctoroz.com. “The turnips have anti-cancer properties and the spices make the fries very flavorful.”

Ingredients

3 lbs turnips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease.

2. Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the vegetable oil to coat.

3. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder in a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Place the oiled turnips into the bag, and shake until evenly coated with the spices. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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According to Valley Fig Growers, figs are always “an excellent source of dietary fiber, a wealth of essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates.l

“Because figs are a whole food source of important nutrients and have no fat, cholesterol or sodium, they help you meet today’s Dietary Guidelines established by the US Department of Agriculture,” says Valley Fig Growers. “A daily lifestyle that focuses on balancing calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.”

Try this recipe for Whole Wheat California Fig Muffins:

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Golden Figs, coarsely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together flours, wheat germ, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Cream together margarine and honey; beat in egg. Stir in milk, lemon peel and figs.

3. Add to dry ingredients and mix just enough to blend.

4. Evenly distribute batter among 12 (2 1/2-inch) greased muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and test done.

5. Carefully remove muffins from pan and serve warm.

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Look no further for a simple, sweet, kid-friendly treat featuring pears, which we previously mentioned are great for fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. These easy Pear Clouds, courtesy of USA Pears, are made for you and the kids, served hot or cool, depending on the mood or weather.

“You can put these into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toasted and bubbly — very yummy,” says USA Pears.

Ingredients

2 Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
⅔ cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions

1. Place pear halves on serving platter.

2. In bowl, combine whipped topping, coconut, and marshmallows.

3. Top pear halves with whipped topping mixture and serve.

 

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: Charge into Spring with Immune-boosting Foods

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 garlic soup as a natural immune-supporting remedy or apple slices with almond or peanut butter for protein, these recipes harken back Spring’s fresh take at a healthy life.

Garlic Soup RecipeSoothing Garlic Soup
Makes 6 servings
Courtesy wellnessmama.com

The wellnessmama.com website offers “simple answers for healthier families,” and this soothing and immune-boosting recipe that blogger Katie found in an old French cookbook was a pleasant, healthy surprise.

“What surprised me most is the delicious and savory flavor of this soup,” she said. “I expected an overpowering garlic taste, but the added step of roasting the garlic creates a rich and almost slightly sweet flavor.”

Ingredients
4-5 heads of garlic (45-50 cloves)
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
2 onions
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of coconut milk or other milk of choice
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf or 2 teaspoons of fresh
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley leaf (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 fresh lemon (for garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the heads of garlic in half across the cloves but do not peel them.
3. Pour the olive oil into an oven safe dish and place the garlic head halves cut side down on the dish.Cover with an oven safe lid or foil.
4. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until garlic cloves are fragrant and starting to brown. To remove the garlic cloves, carefully pick up the shell of the garlic heads. The cloves should slightly stick to the pan, making peeling easy.
5. While garlic is roasting, melt butter in a large pot and add sliced onions. Saute over medium heat, stirring constantly until onions are translucent and golden. Add thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
6. When garlic is done roasting, add peeled cloves to the onion mixture in the pot.
7. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk or other milk.
9. Using a stainless steel immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until smooth.
10. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley and chives and squeeze a lemon wedge over each bowl.

Turmeric Chicken and Brown Rice SoupTurmeric Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
Courtesy Urban Kitchen Apothecary

The blog site Urban Kitchen Apothecary was created by a health-supportive chef, culinary wellness educator, and all-around holistic lifestyle guru based in New York City. In her pantry, founder Nancy houses “fresh and dried herbs and spices, sea vegetables, medicinal mushrooms, superfoods of both the common and exotic varieties, and all matter of tinctures and concoctions … to enhance both the flavors and medicinal properties of my culinary creations (hence the name of this blog).”

According to Nancy, her recipe for chicken and rice soup is easy to make, and gets better over the next couple of days after it’s made. Also it freezes well.

“The brown rice creates a rich, velvety broth and makes the soup more hearty and satisfying; ginger, garlic and turmeric are ultra-soothing, antiviral and immunity-boosting; and lemon is the perfect zesty finishing touch and adds a boost of much-needed vitamin C,” Nancy says.

Ingredients
2 large onions, one cut into quarters and the other diced (divided)
2 large carrots, one cut into chunks and the other diced (divided)
4 celery stalks, 2 cut into chunks and the remaining stalks diced (divided)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (if stalks are attached save them for the broth)
10 large garlic cloves, 5 peeled and left whole, 5 peeled and sliced (divided)
5 slices of fresh ginger + 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped (divided)
2-1/2 pounds chicken parts (bone-in breasts and/or thighs)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
Piece of Parm rind
2 cups cooked brown rice
juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
olive oil
chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper

Instructions
1. To make the soup base, combine quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery chunks, fennel stalks and trimmings, whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, and chicken parts in a soup pot. Add water to cover (about 8 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and set aside. Remove vegetables, garlic and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon and discard.
2. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, chile flakes, bay leaves, Parm rind and brown rice to the pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

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.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple BitesChocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple Bites
Makes 16-20 wedges
Courtesy The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients
2 apples, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup granola, your favorite
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Semisweet chocolate chips, optional*

Instructions
1. Coat tops of apple wedges in peanut butter and sprinkle with granola and cinnamon.
2. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring in 30 second increments until melted. Be careful not to overheat.
3. Drizzle wedges with melted chocolate, set on a large platter and serve.

Tips
To substitute the chocolate drizzle, you can sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top of the wedges. Or, leave the chocolate out altogether. They’re still delicious!

If not eating immediately, brush each side of apple wedges with a little lemon juice to avoid browning.

Peanut Butter Love

Health Ambition offers the Top 8 Health Benefits of Peanut Butter, starting with protein. “As a protein-rich food, when you eat peanut butter you feel fuller for longer. Additionally the protein is also good for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out a lot,” says Chief Editor Helen Sanders.

The Top 8 Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter

Eat Right: Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

Holiday New JammiesAt New Jammies, we love the holidays and all that make them special. Kids make the memories especially sweet as they handcraft cute holiday ornaments for the tree and help in the kitchen to bake and decorate cookies.

We like to eat healthy during the holidays when we can, so these cookie recipes are cute, fun, festive and nutritious.

Happy holidays!

Boot TracksBoot Tracks cookies, courtesy of Eating Well Magazine, are perfect to leave out for Santa the night before Christmas, or to package in holiday tins for homemade gift-giving. The recipe is from Eating Well reader Patti Anderson, a professional quilter, who had never entered a cooking contest before she won with this quick, no-fuss, chewy chocolate cookie made using a waffle iron. Best of all, Eating Well says kids love them.

Ingredients
1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
1. Preheat a nonstick (not Belgian) waffle iron.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, oil and espresso powder (if using). Beat until thoroughly combined.
3. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the preheated ungreased waffle iron. (To avoid burnt fingers, use two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape dough onto the waffle iron.) Close and cook until the cookies are puffed and cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Waffle irons vary, so watch closely and don’t let the cookies get too dark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until just warm. Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while still slightly warm (see Variations).

Variations: Instead of confectioners’ sugar, drizzle cooled cookies with melted bittersweet and/or white chocolate. Or make a peppermint drizzle: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons water and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; add natural green food coloring, if desired.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Decorate on parchment: When adding finishing touches to your cookies or cakes, place them on a large sheet of parchment paper before you decorate. The paper catches the excess, making cleanup a breeze.

 

img_2099These Oatmeal Jam Bars from Better Homes and Gardens feature fiber-rich oats to add nutritional value. A sweet raspberry filling is sandwiched between two layers of warm, crumbly cream cheese crust. For heart-healthy options, use low-sugar or sugar-free jam and low-fat cream cheese.

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup seedless blackberry or red or black raspberry jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oats, brown sugar, and lemon peel. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture for topping; set aside.
3. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the jam and lemon juice. Carefully spread jam mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup crumb mixture. Bake about 15 minutes more or until top is golden. Cool bars in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Place bars in box; close box.

Make-ahead tip: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Cranberry CookiesCranberry cooperative Ocean Spray has declared the beloved red berry as the “official unofficial fruit of the holidays,” and we can’t think of a better way to eat it than in cookie form. The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (see more healthy recipes at cranberries.org) offers this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies using dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and old-fashioned oats.

Ingredients
⅔ cup butter or margarine, softened
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of sweetened dried cranberries (6 oz.)
⅔ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using an electric mixer beat butter or margarine and brown sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
3. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.
4. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries, chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until gold brown.

Blueberry White Chocolate Ginger CookieBlueberries, ginger, white chocolate, oh my! These three ingredients combine to make a magical Blueberry White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookie that Eating Well Recipe Contributor Anna Ginsberg says are “a real snap to make — just stir and bake.” Package in a pretty blue holiday tin, and these cookies will be a big gift hit, thanks to this Eating Well recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned (not instant)
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup dried blueberries, (see Tip)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (see Tip)

Directions
1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.
2. Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt and ground ginger in a small bowl.
3. Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine. Add oats, chocolate, blueberries and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Tip: Dried cranberries or cherries will also work in place of blueberries; all can be found, along with crystallized ginger, in the baking, dried fruit or produce sections of many supermarkets and natural-foods stores.

Storage smarts: To extend the life of your baked goods, store them in an airtight container in a single layer or between layers of parchment paper to prevent sticking.

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