I have clearly been on a slow cooker recipe kick lately! I just love those evenings when dinner is done (and even cleaned up minus the plates – or bowls in this case!). Whether you are busy entertaining guests from out of town or just have a hectic afternoon or evening planned, your slow cooker is the only thing between you and a wholesome real food meal like this slow cooker chili.
Archives for October 2013
This recipe is by far the new favorite muffin in our house. Move over blueberry, zucchini, and even pumpkin – these are so deeelicious and could be eaten with breakfast, lunch, or even dinner (maybe as a side to some fall soup?)! Plus for those that are looking for cupcakes for little ones (i.e. smash cake) I would totally top one of these off with some homemade unsweetened whipped cream and call it a day. This would be perfect for baby! And if you prefer to avoid honey for your really little ones I think 100% pure maple syrup would work just fine as a substitute.
The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that children are subject to a staggering seven hours of media each day in the form of television, computers, phones, and electronic devices. Personally, in our household, screen time is very much limited. But lets be honest, no matter how much you try to shield your kids from screens and everything that goes along with them, it’s virtually (pardon the pun) impossible.
The issue at hand here is not how much they’re watching television or playing on their iPhone; it’s the marketing that’s being shoved in their faces during most waking hours–in particular, food marketing to kids.
What Studies Show
The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed 28 hours of Nickelodeon programming last October (2012) and noted that of the food ads shown, 69% were for items of poor nutritional value (sugary cereals, candy/fruit snacks, flavored yogurt, fast food, etc.). And in total, according to The Food Marketing Workgroup, the junk-food industry spends almost $2 billion a year on marketing to young people.
The concerns are many when it comes to marketing to kids, especially when considering the ever increasing obesity rates. Jessica Castonguay, a Doctoral Candidate in Communications at the University of Arizona, recently participated in a study assessing whether childhood obesity is linked to clever marketing tactics. “Unfortunately our study found that health messages are frequently used to advertise foods that are not particularly healthy,” she says of their findings. “Implying that a cereal gives kids the energy to make them better athletes, despite the fact that it has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, seems misleading. I want children to learn the difference between truly healthy choices and occasional treats. My fear is that advertisers are blurring those lines.”
We all know that marketing tactics and words can be confusing, even as educated adults. The words “natural,” “real,” “whole grain,” or “whole wheat” are just some of the terms that get used in various contexts. If we have a tough time wading our way through the terms, how in the world can we expect kids to have any luck?
Studies have shown that food advertising can contribute to numerous health problems, including being overweight, which, by the way, has increased to 35% of children aged 6-11. Even on a day-to-day basis, it’s just plain annoying to have kids ask for foods and products they see on TV that they’d otherwise not know about, ones that many of us try to steer them away from as best as we can. And since we’re talking about it, how cool would it be to see advertisements for vegetables or fruits coupled with a kid-known celebrity or cartoon character (hint-hint, Ad Council)?
For the first time ever I decided to experiment with 5-spice powder in this Asian short ribs recipe. And what better way to incorporate this flavor than in the crock pot! In case you haven’t heard me say it before – I LOVE making everything from soups to stocks to beans to dinners in my crock pot.
Preparing a delicious and nutritious meal in advance that is ready and waiting for you at dinner time, keeps your house smelling amazing all day long, and usually requires minimal cleanup after eating? I am sold. Especially on those nights when the kids have early evening extracurricular activities. Crock pot dinners are the way to go in my opinion!
Another great thing about this recipe, as with most Asian dishes in general, is that in case someone in your family has an allergy or sensitivity it does not contain any gluten or dairy, as long as a gluten-free soy sauce is used. You could also omit (or replace) the soy sauce topping for anyone who can’t eat soy. Oh, and while we are on the topic, there are no nuts in this recipe either. So there you go…this is officially an allergy-friendly dish that everyone can enjoy together!
Here’s the crazy thing about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) – not only have no long term trials been conducted to evaluate the health impact of eating GMOs, but there is also no way to know when you’re eating them (unless you’re only eating organic). And while this may be top of mind when purchasing some of the common GMO crops like corn, soy, and even papaya, I think it’s something that is often overlooked when purchasing not-so-obvious products like dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.).
Dairy cows do of course have to eat just like the rest of us, and if their products aren’t labeled organic (or from a farm that follows organic practices), their diet is likely full of GMO feed.To Avoid GMOs – Go Organic (100 Days of #RealFood)
Maybe this wouldn’t be a huge issue if GMOs were actually labeled here in the US. Can you believe there are 64 countries around the world (including Kenya, Bulgaria, and China) that are required to tell their citizens what’s in their food (therefore they Just Label It), but the US is not one of them?
That’s why I am thrilled to be partnering with Stonyfield on this sponsored post today. They are an organic company that is passionate about the issue of labeling GMOs and changing things for the better.
What are GMOs? Appearing in our food supply for only 20 or so years, GMOs are “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” -World Health Organization
The bottom line is, if you are buying high-risk crops or dairy that’s not organic, then you are likely consuming GMOs.
I am actually not even handing out candy this year, but if I were going to there’s only one type of candy I’d be spending my money on.
Check out my recent Charlotte Today Show clip to see…
The “cleanest” Halloween candy on the market.
What I am going to hand out this year.
Other fun alternatives to candy.
What my daughters would choose out of all these ideas.
Plus for those who know us you better watch out because my 8-year-old now thinks she is “famous” after her 5 (silent) minutes on TV during this clip. They were just going to the studios to watch me do this segment, but at the last minute (to their delight) they were invited to join us on stage. :)
The results are in from our second Facebook School Lunch Contest, and man you guys have some good eaters on your hands! From toddlers to high schoolers I was SUPER impressed with the selections and variety of foods that were packed. Looking through the pictures was very inspiring so be sure to check out the full list of entries if you haven’t already. It was once again not an easy job to pick only 4 winners (so many great ones that also followed our rules this time!), but those who were selected will each get a LunchBots Duo in the color of your choice. So, congrats!
These days so many schools have nut-free tables or classrooms, and some are even entirely nut free! I know when I was first required to pack nut-free lunches for my daughters, I was pretty worried about this uncharted territory. I really had to focus on every. little. thing. I was packing to make sure there was no cross contamination or broken rules.
I eventually got used to it of course, but for all those who are still figuring out how to pack allergy-friendly lunches this year or are even looking for ideas for a kid of your own that has a nut allergy, then this is for you!
Also be sure to check out our list of Favorite School Lunch Supplies and School Lunch FAQs!
We used to love making many different varieties of stuffed pasta shells, but now that we’ve gone the whole-grain route, I just cannot (easily) find jumbo whole-wheat shells in order to make all of our old favorites. So instead of giving up those yummy one-dish meals, I have just decided “unstuffed” dinners may be the way to go.
I am excited to share this super easy and super tasty version of Pasta Florentine that I adapted from a recent issue of Rachael Ray magazine. If you need some inspiration to switch things up with new recipes, then order a couple of food magazines. I love to flip through for ideas!
Oh, and PS – This particular dish was a HUMONGOUS hit with the kids. They have both repeatedly asked me if I can make it again. So enjoy!
What’s not to love about an easy slow cooker soup featuring fall flavors and easy leftovers? This is one of the many soups I like to make and then freeze in individual portions for school (or work!) lunches. And we all know how soups can be even better leftover.
The suggested sage topping is definitely an extra step in this recipe, but oh-so-worth it. And once you get the process of making brown buttered sage leaves down you’ll find they make a great addition to other fall soups and pasta dishes as well! Enjoy :)