We are getting into the Halloween spirit around here. After a tough September with Madison’s appendix surgery, we are all looking forward to the simple joy of enjoying fall and Halloween this month. One of the first signs of Halloween around here are the little faces I add to the fruit for the kids lunch box. It started with clementines, but often I’ll write on banana peels too.

Cute and spooky halloween pumpkins for lunch or snack time

For early readers, I love adding in simple words like Boo, Love, and Happy. It’s a nice way to engage the kids in some conversation about lunch time and if they liked their little surprise and find out who sat next to them and if they showed their friends. One mom got her daughter to start eating clementines after seeing a little Kitty clementine in Madison’s lunch box.

I often use a Sharpie for writing notes and spooky faces, all on skin that will be removed. Another option is to get a Food Writer Marker that is safe to use on more surfaces, like an apple peel. In the spirit of Halloween, I also just picked up some of these cute Candy Eyeballs that are sure to be a silly addition to the kids lunchbox or snack time.

Add fun words to the kids lunchbox

I hope your little one enjoys some pumpkin clementines this season!

 

 

Preschool Math Activities

Do you remember thinking math was fun when you were a kid? Is it a struggle for you now? Math was never one of my favorite subjects, even though I generally did well in school. I want my kids, especially my daughter, to learn from a young age that math can be fun.  With the help of educational sites like PBSKids and Pinterest, I keep finding easy ways to integrate math into our daily life. Baking together lets me talk about fractions, restaurant play offers an opportunity to talk about money and snack time can become a counting activity.

In celebration of PEG + CAT, PBS KIDS’ newest series, Whole Foods partnered with PBS to create some fun ways to build math skills and encourage healthy eating habits. You can find activity sheets, grocery store bingo cards, recipes and more inspiration to get kids excited to make healthy choices. PEG + CAT focuses on preschool math and problem-solving skills and starts October 7. My kids got a sneak peek and keep asking to watch it again which is always a good sign!

Use a muffin tin to serve a variety of food

The red pears were the top choice in the muffin tin of fruit.

We created our own activity using a mini muffin tin and fresh fruits from Whole Foods. Using a muffin tin to serve food is a great way to ensure you are offering variety, both in options and in color. We cut up the fruit and then sorted it by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and so on. For early learners, you could also do this activity and have kids count how many pieces of fruit are in each cup. There is a fun pirate craft you can print out and make with your kids that encourages counting, plus you can work on learning colors too with a variety of fruits.

Peg + Cat Treasure Chest

 

How else do you incorporate math and problem-solving skills into your daily life?

For more ideas, visit the PBSKids.org/healthykids website. Check your local listings for the time of PEG + CAT starting on October 7th on your local PBS station! Thank you to Whole Foods who partnered with PBS Kids Ambassadors to bring you these tips and activities! All ideas and opinions shared here are my own.

Earth Day is next Monday, April 22nd. Although I think it’s important to live a green lifestyle every day, Earth Day provides an opportunity to highlight new ways to try to take care of our environment. I’m excited to be partnering with Balance Bar  to share their commitment to the Rainforest Alliance. We will be talking about green living, eco-friendly products and gluten-free living.

Balance Bar Dark Chocolate Bars

Balance Bar’s new Dark Chocolate line is made with 100% certified Rainforest Alliance cocoa. The coconut dark chocolate one is my favorite, and my husband’s. Those disappeared from our complimentary stash very quickly. They are also Gluten Free for those families who are looking for a new snack.

Here’s the link for all the details for the event, but it’s super easy to get involved. No RSVP needed to win your own package of Balance Bar Dark bars and more.

Who: Balance Bar®, Rainforest Alliance, Eco-Friendly Bloggers and You!

What: A Twitter Party in honor of Earth Day and our New Balance Bar Dark Bars

When: Monday, April 22 from 2-3pm EST

Where: Follow @BalanceBar on Twitter and use the hashtag #GreenBalance to tweet your eco-friendly questions for our team of experts. Every question is a chance to win!

Why: Every #GreenBalance tweet earns you an extra entry into our Earth Day Giveaway, giving you an additional chance to be one of the five fans who will win a prize pack that includes a Rainforest Alliance tote bag, notebook and Balance Bar® Dark Bars! Join in for your chance to win, and get some eco-friendly living tips in the process!

Official rules: To be eligible to win, participants must follow @BalanceBar and participate during the Twitter chat hour using the hashtag #GreenBalance. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected at random from eligible participants.

If you can’t make the party, you can enter to win now via the Balance Bar contest on Facebook.  Prizes include a trip to see the Northern Lights!

Disclosure: I am sponsored by Balance Bar to participate in this campaign. All opinions shared here are my own.

I started making homemade granola bars about a year ago and have been tweaking the original recipe ever since.  It’s finally ready to share with all of you.  Our whole family enjoys them and it’s a healthy, hearty snack for mid-afternoon to hold us over till dinner. I usually make the granola bars while I’m making my weekly batch of granola.  The ingredients are already out so I just need a second large bowl and a couple additional items.

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars

The best part of making granola bars in your own kitchen is you know exactly what inside each one. No scary ingredients you can’t pronounce. No strange preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. This recipe uses only natural ingredients and you can doctor it up with your favorite add-ins like cranberries (our favorite), nuts, chocolate chips and other dried fruits. We also make them nut free sometimes so I can pack them in school lunches. I’ll add in pepitas instead of nuts to keep it protein heavy.

Homemade Granola Bars

Homemade Granola Bars

Emily
Kid friendly healthy granola bars
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 16

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cranberries or other add ins

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper, or grease well.
  • Melt first four ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  • Mix balance of ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Add melted butter mixture to the oatmeal mixture. Stir until well mixed.
  • Pour mixture into prepared pan. Press down on the mixture to ensure bars stick together.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Let cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

If you bake this at 300 degrees with granola, bake for 22 minutes.

 

Reusable Squeeze Pouch

We are big fans of the applesauce squeeze pouches.  They are awesome for travel, church and the playground.  However, I’m not a big fan of the waste they create, and also the price tag.  So I asked around and discovered a reusable squeeze pouch.  My friend Amanda at The LittleLilyPad said her friend tested out five different options and this was the best one, the BEABA Babypote.

I don’t understand the name, but I do know that it works.  It’s easy to fill, easy to clean and both kids can work it.  For the little guy, I do have to help him get the last bit out, but that is no different from the applesauce squeezes sold in the store.  Plus, I discovered my choice in apple squeeze pouches  got a C+ rating from Fooducate. (an awesome iPhone app if you are interested) Turns out there is a lot of hidden sugar in each pouch.

I have only put in my homemade applesauce recipe, but I expect it would work great for traveling with your own homemade baby food.  I plan to make some mixes with fresh summer fruits, like banana blueberry or a raspberry apple blend.

Happy travels!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Disclosure: I bought this product on my own and was not compensated for this post. Affiliate links are included in this post. I’m sharing this post with Sustainable Ways & Your Green Resource, and Tuesday Baby Link Up.

Strawberry Fruit roll-ups, or fruit leather, are probably the kids’ favorite snack right now.  Both get excited when they see the blender come out.  The tricky part is the one year old is so slow eating his, big sister tries to take what he hasn’t eaten yet!

Strawberry Fruit Leather
Ingredients
1 lb Fresh Strawberries  
2 tablespoons honey

Instructions
Wash strawberries and remove the green stems.

Place strawberries and honey in a blender and puree.

Pour strawberry mix on a dehydrator tray with the fruit leather tray. Spread evenly.

Cook at 135 degrees overnight, or about 10 hours.
This is a bit trickier with an oven, as friends have confirmed that getting an evenly cooked roll-up is difficult. However, you can cook it on a very low oven temp on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I would advise using a cookie sheet with no sides to allow for better air flow, or turn on the convection oven blower.

It will be done when there are no sticky spots.  You want it to be pliable, not brittle.
Let cool completely, then peel fruit leather from tray and move to parchment paper.

Little hands got to this before I could get my picture!

Roll the paper and fruit leather together into a long roll.  Cut with scissors into desired length.  Store in an airtight container or zip top bag.

Strawberry Fruit Leather RandomRecycling.com

See the previous post for the Cinnamon Apple Ring recipe.
Enjoy!