1/31/2022 0 Comments
4 Reasons to Cook With Your Children + Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!!
Life can be hectic (especially as parent) and there are many instances when sometimes you need to quickly throw together a meal and your child’s help (or lack thereof) is the last thing you want. I personally need to do this quite often but I really relish the times when I do not need to rush and Katie and I can bake or cook something together.
I have been cooking with Katie since she was able to be in her kitchen helper stand. It started with her tossing ingredients I had pre-measured and set aside into the bowl and now at the age of 5 I am teaching her how to plan, measure and cut certain fruits and vegetables!
There are many benefits to cooking and baking with your children, here are my top 4.
1. Connection and Bonding – after a busy week it is really nice to spend some uninterrupted screen free time together creating a meal or baking treats for us to share. I get to witness her confidence as she becomes more capable in her cooking skills which give me an opportunity to praise her in a meaningful genuine way. One thing we like to do in our home is I’ll pull out a recipe book and ask Katie to choose something for us to make together. We plan the day we are going to make it and I will grab the ingredients we need when I get groceries that week. There is always such a huge sense if pride when she not only chooses what we are eating but she also helps me make it.
2. Teaches Planning and Sequencing – although some meals can be put together haphazardly (those can be a lot of fun) many meals and baking are best prepared in a specific order so they turn out just right. Children learn through cooking to follow directions, to plan and prepare and to do things in a specific order. This is a wonderful skill to practice in the early years in a safe and encouraging environment and it will set them up for success later in life.
3. Math Skills – Even your youngest chef can begin to learn early math skills when cooking. You can count how many eggs you need or how many pieces you had to cut something into. Measuring starts introducing fractions even before they fully understand what a fraction is!! When I used to work at the hospital I baked with the children once a week and I would often not set out measuring cups that I knew we needed in order for the children to try and figure out how use what we had to get the amount we needed. For example not supplying them with a full or half cup measuring cup but only a quarter and third. Granted I would not do this with preschool age children but you get the idea of how you can incorporate math skills for any age you are cooking with.
4. Works on Fine and Gross Motor Skills – The precision of cracking an egg or the larger motion of mashing the bananas for banana bread all works the muscles necessary for printing, throwing and catching etc. and although it is great to actually practice these skills it is nice to do something a little different that also works those muscles.
There are many more reasons to cook or bake with your children including the fact that you can enjoy what you made together once it is finished, those are just my top 4. I encourage you to plan something you can make with your child this week, if you are looking for an idea our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is below and make sure to check out our YouTube video of us making them as well!!
Katie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1. Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit
2. With a hand blender or stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter in a large bowl
3. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well
4. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk to mix.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until combined.
6. Add chocolate chips and mix well with a spoon to incorporate them into the batter
7. Spoon cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. We usually use a heaping teaspoon to measure out our cookies.
8. Bake for 9-11 minutes
Allow to cool slightly before removing from the pan and ENJOY!!
1/26/2022 0 Comments
How to Reduce Toxins in Your Home
If you were like me when the pandemic first started you probably stocked up on disinfectants for your home! Because my teaching studio is in my home I was extra particular about making sure it was clean and safe, not only for my family but my students. After a few weeks of constantly disinfecting I began to notice that my skin why dry and chapped and I was dealing with constant headaches from the fumes which lead to be to begin looking for safe yet effective alternatives.
An article released by the American Lung Association states that many cleaning products contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are released when used and contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches. Studies have also shown that cleaning your home with products that contain these compounds as little as ONCE per week can be as damaging to the lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years!!
Cleaning supplies and household products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include, but are not limited to:
Many of the same products on this list also contribute to skin irritations and can cause you to break out in a rash such as eczema. Once the skin’s barrier is broken this can lead to bacteria getting into the wounds and cause infection or other problems.
So where can you start when you want to remove toxins from your home? If you are like many people you may not be able to afford throwing out all your cleaning and personal care products to be replaced with safer products, like me you may need to convert your home to safer products over time. Not to mention that many safer products can be ineffective and cost way more.
My search for safer products lead me to The Wellness Store which is where we now get all of our cleaning, laundry and personal care items from. We slowly began converting our home starting with the cleaning products followed shortly after with our personal care products. I was blown away with how safe and effective the cleaning products are while also being environmentally friendly (big bonus for me!!) and affordable! I no longer get headaches while I am cleaning and no one in our family has had an eczema flare up in over a year which is proof enough for me that I made the right decision for my family to switch to safer products.
Whatever products you choose to make the switch to know that you are helping your family in a way that is invaluable. We come in contact with so many toxins throughout our day when we leave our homes reducing the toxic load in within our homes is so important to our well-being.
There are many great options but if you want to skip the research and learn why I chose The Wellness Store Click HERE.
Let’s face it, with the recent world events the grocery bill has definitely increased and there is no sign of it going back down anytime soon. It can be really difficult to stay on budget these days during your weekly grocery shop, especially if you want to make healthy food choices for your family. Here are three ways our family stays on budget while still maintaining our healthy eating habits.
1. PLAN – I find when I fly by the seat of my pants on my grocery store trips I always end up spending at least $50 more than I would if I went with a list. Typically when I am making my grocery list I will sit down on Sunday and I will plan my meals for the week. This takes approximately 30-40 minutes but it is so worth it!!The ingredients I need for my dinners end up making the majority of my list and then I will also add a bit of extra fruit and some school snacks for my daughter. Doing your list this way can help eliminate throwing away food that has not been eaten at the end of the week. By the following Sunday in our home it is pretty slim pickins’ in our fridge and I prefer it that way. When planning your meals if there is a perishable ingredient that you can only buy a a larger amount of such as Bok Choy consider looking for another meal you could make that uses that same ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste. Two of my go to cookbooks lately are: Half Baked Harvest Super Simple And Jamie Oliver Ultimate Veg.
2. MAKE IT YOURSELF – There are a lot of cost savings when you make certain things yourself. For example a 600gram bag of granola at the grocery store can run your anywhere from $6-12 but you could make the same amount at home for about $3 and in my opinion homemade granola tastes WAY better!! Check out my favorite Granola Recipe HERE. We also started making our own nut milk as opposed to buying it. The cost to make a liter of nut milk is about $1 compared to $3-5 when you purchase it in the store. I’ll make sure to get that recipe up on the blog for you guys soon as well!! It is incredibly easy and tastes delicious.
3. GO MEAT FREE – We are not vegetarian but about half of our meals are meatless for a combination of health and environmental reasons not to mention the added bonus of cost savings on our grocery bill. If you are used to eating meat with every meal you may want to start with just one meal a week without meat and then work your way up. There are a ton of great meatless recipes online so challenge yourself to try a new one every week!!
I hope these tips help you to stay on budget on your next trip to the grocery store!!
1/15/2022 0 Comments
My Favorite Granola Recipe
Store bought granola is expensive and honesty I do not like it as much as homemade granola. You can easily use this recipe as a base and make a ton of different variations to enjoy!
-4 cups of rolled oats
-1 ½ cup raw nuts or seeds such as pecans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ cup melted coconut oil – you can use olive oil or avocado oil as well
- ½ cup maple syrup or liquid honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup of dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Combine the oats, nuts and coconut in a bowl. Add the salt and cinnamon and gently stir. Add the oil and the maple syrup (or honey) and stir until combined.
Bake the granola until it is golden brown, about 20-25 mins, stirring half way. The granola will crisp up as it cools.
Let the granola cool fully then break it apart and add your dried fruit (or chocolate chips if you’d like!).
Store your granola in an air tight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Life gets busy. Whether you are a parent or not we all seem to have a to-do list a mile long. It is becoming more and more important to prioritize ourselves. I used to think that if I prioritized myself I was being selfish, I am sure many of you can relate.
I own and teach at a preschool, teach private piano and voice lessons, I am growing two online businesses and have my family responsibilities as well. If I am not organized with my week or I have not taken time for myself to do the things that energize me and fill my cup I get overwhelmed. Planning is a big part of how I keep myself feeling like I have things under control, lucky for me I am very A-type and I thrive on planning and schedules. This can sometimes be a detriment to my mental health though as I can tend to be quite rigid in certain areas of my life but that is a whole different blog topic.
Part of what I schedule within my day though is time for ME. This time typically happens in the morning before the day has really started for me. I find this the best time because if I wait to do it until afternoon something always seems to come up and I am never able to make time for it. My morning routine is really important to me. It energizes me and puts me in a headspace where I feel like I can be the best version of myself for all the people and tasks that require my attention throughout the day. Here is what a typical morning looks like for me.
1. Exercise. This is usually the first thing I will do often before I even have my coffee!! Yes, you read that right! I recently heard on a podcast that you should delay coffee intake for at least an hour after waking up because it doesn’t actually “wake you up” it just blocks adenosine which is one of the neurotransmitters that make you sleepy. This is why most people have a midafternoon crash because once the coffee wears off the adenosine is still in your system since the body did not properly deal with it. Also I exercise EVERY DAY. Some days may be less intense but I intentionally move my body every single day. This has proven to be one of the best ways for me to start my day right. I always feel better and ready to take on the day after I work out. I want to also mention that as a mother (or primary care giver) I know how difficult it can be to stay consistent with working out especially at first because you feel like if you are giving to yourself you are taking away from your children. This is absolutely not true and I intend on writing another blog on this topic. Giving to yourself will actually make you a more conscious, loving human.
2. Journal. Once I have come up from my work out (and grabbed my coffee!!) I write in my journal. I actually have TWO journals. The first one I write in is for my negative thoughts. It is modeled after the concept in Make Miracles in 40 Days by Melody Beattie. I take about 10 minutes and write all the things I am not happy with in my life but I say that I am grateful for it. If this intrigues you I definitely recommend you reading the book. Essentially the idea is to get it all out there, be brutally honest about what you are not happy with in your life or about yourself or things you think are holding you back from your past that way later in the day when your ego tries to step in the way of your greatness your subconscious already feels like that negative thought was addressed and doesn’t feed into it. After I get all the crap out of my head I write in my “feel good journal.” This one is strictly for positive thoughts, things I am truly happy with and grateful for in my life and affirmations.
3. Meditate. After my journaling is finished, my mind is free from it the negative clutter and I am all filled up with gratitude and hope for my future self, I meditate. This for me is the perfect time and since my body has already moved it is easier for me to sit still. Some like to do it first thing in the morning but I personally find it hard not to fall back asleep. Meditation has so many proven and researched benefits such as reducing stress, increase emotional awareness, reduction in memory loss and lower blood pressure to just name a few.
I have made these three things a priority each morning because I know how much I benefit from them both physically and mentally. As I mentioned I am a mother and I have a work schedule to keep so most days I am up by about 5:30am to give myself enough time to make sure I get all of this in before my day becomes filled with other obligations. That might seem like a feat for some and I get it. If you have a younger child at home and your sleep is mediocre at best perhaps 5:30am won’t work for you OR maybe you just need to start smaller and build up to a great morning routine. I only in the past year developed the habit of journaling and mediating but it was after almost a year of exercising every day. If you don’t take the first step in the direction you want to head you’ll never get there but if you are consistent even if you think you are not doing much it will accumulate, trust me. So start building the morning routine that allows you to show up for YOURSELF each day. You won’t regret it…and your babies are watching.