Mom Knows Best

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gift Ideas With A Difference That The Kids Are Sure To Love

There’s less than two months until Christmas - time really is flying this year, which means it’s time to get planning. For most parents, when it comes to selecting gifts for the kids, the main bulk of presents are made up of toys and games. While that’s all well and good, the chances are your kids don’t actually need any more toys or games. Or, at least, not a Santa sack full. Believe it or not, toys aren’t the only things that make great Christmas gifts for kids. There are plenty of other things that you can put into your children’s stockings that they’ll love. It’s just a case of getting inspired and thinking outside of the box.

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Magazine subscription

Whether your child already has a favorite magazine or not, a magazine subscription can make a fantastic gift. For Christmas, buy your child a one-year subscription to a magazine that you know they will enjoy reading. It could link to their hobbies in some way, or it could simply be a magazine that’s made for their age group. If you’re not sure which one to go for, take your child to your local store and see what they show an interest in.


Reading for pleasure is a hobby that all children should partake in. Not only is reading a great alternative to watching TV or playing computer games, it’s also a great way to help your children to do better at school. Studies have shown that children who read more tend to be smarter and achieve higher grades. So giving your child a book or two for Christmas is ideal. Once you find an author that they like, they’ll realize just how much fun reading can be.

Fun items of clothing

Clothing might not be something that you think of as a gift, but it can be. If there’s a certain item of clothing that’s more expensive than normal or that your child really wants, it can make a great gift. The same applies to shoes - stylish shoes or trainers can also make a great gift. To get some ideas, have a look online. From funny kids shirts to pretty dresses and designer coats, there are plenty of clothing items that make great gifts for kids. It’s just a case of finding the perfect ones for your child.

Jewelry or a watch

A great non-toy present could be the gift of jewelry or a watch. Children of all ages appreciate jewelry. It’s just a case of finding a piece that’s age appropriate. For younger children, a bracelet or an anklet is often the best option. If you’d prefer to get your child a watch, it’s best to get them one that’s smart, so that it can be worn to school, but isn’t too expensive. If your child is forgetful, it’s a good idea to opt for a waterproof watch, so that it isn’t damaged if they wear it in the shower.

These are just a few suggestions of non-toy gifts that kids are sure to love; there are also plenty of other options.

Blogger Giveaway Opp - $100 Bath and Body Works Gift Card

Hey bloggers! Here is a fun new blogger giveaway event opportunity (Hosted by Lil' Blog and More)

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How To Fall Back In Love With Cooking And Improve Your Family's Health!

It's no secret that as a nation, our waistlines are getting bigger. Of course, we all know the importance of healthy eating and exercise. But when it comes down to it implementing it into our busy lifestyles just isn't all that easy. Our day jobs, social activities and running around after our kids doesn't leave us with much chance to focus solely on health. As a result of this, you may find yourself leaning towards buying convenience food for your family, simply to buy yourself that extra time. But this is entering dangerous territory, as your children may become easily accustomed to this style of food. Convenience food tends to contain abnormally high amounts of fat, sugar and sodium, plus a whole host of additives. The combination of these ingredients produces an almost addictive quality in these types of food, which is why so many people end up relying on them so much. There's nothing wrong with indulging occasionally, of course. But if your children get a taste for these types of food, it can potentially be harmful to their future health. They may start to dismiss fresh, home-cooked food and will be less inclined to learn how to make it themselves. If food has become little more than a daily chore for you and you family, here's how to re-inject your love of cooking into everyone's daily lives!

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Think about your routine

Consider carefully when you eat throughout the day. Then consider when your partner eats, and finally when you children tend to want their meals. More and more families are eating separately these days, whether that is making their own individual food or snacking on leftovers. In fact, just over half of all American families with children under 18 say that they eat dinner together at least six nights a week. That leaves an enormous 47% of families who eat separately on a regular basis. This can be detrimental to a family's development for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it can seek to break family ties. Thirty years ago, an evening meal was considered the time where the family would sit down together to talk about each other's days. Now, living separate lives means that all the family members may not even be in the same room very often. This lack of communication can make family members distant from each other and can make the younger generation even more reliant on social media. It can also change the way in which your family, especially your children, think about food. Other cultures, such as the culture amongst Italians, revere food as a social occasion in itself. If your children are simply grabbing food when they are out and about, they lose sight of the importance of eating together as a family tradition. Plus, you never know 100% what it is fast-food, or even packaged sandwiches. It can be incredibly hard to get all the family together for a meal, but try to do it at least a couple of times a week. You'll soon see your relationships and your attitude to food change.

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Modernize your kitchen

Take a look at your kitchen and consider what is working and what isn't working. If parts of your kitchen are faulty, or you are lacking in equipment, don't wait another day to get it sorted. Putting it off will only mean that you are continually less inclined to spend time in your kitchen, meaning you are more likely to rely on takeout. If you have been struggling with parts of your kitchen that are inconveniencing you, consider replacing them. Old stoves can take ages to heat up and can be dangerous if you have young children. You might wonder 'what is induction cooking?', but this could be your very answer. Essentially, it is a safe, energy-saving piece of kitchen equipment that can save you time and money. Your oven could also be letting you down, so consider getting a replacement. As far as utensils and gadgets go, make sure you have all the basics such as tin openers and sharp knives. In fact, a good set of knives for all different purposes is ideal. You may shy away from brand new, sharp knives, but in fact, these are much safer than hacking away at something with a blunt knife. Efficiency is key when designing your kitchen, so make sure it works for you. Also, having the right equipment means that your family may also be tempted to chip in and have a go themselves.

Change what you cook

Do your family dread your home-cooked dinners because they know exactly what they are going to get? This is disheartening of course;  but as the saying goes, sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind. If you are cooking the same things week in week out, unfortunately, it's going to get a little boring. Plus, you and your family may not be getting the nutrients and vitamins you need. Look online for new recipe inspiration; there are plenty of healthy food blogs out there and Pinterest is always a good place to start. Don't try anything too overboard just let - it's best to just keep it simple and see how things work out. Plus, that way, your partner and children may also be inspired to give cooking a go themselves. It's easier than you would think to make your own pasta sauces and try adding some exotic vegetables to a big bowl of stir fry. Talk to your family about the kinds of food they like to eat. If you all tend to eat separately, you may not even know what it is that tickles their taste buds. We live in a culture where we are lucky enough to be able to sample a whole host of different cuisines. So, consider organizing your weekly meals by country of origin. Homemade tacos are perfect for a Mexican evening or add a hint of spice to your palate with a rich Indian style curry. This is also a great way to get younger children interested in food and where it comes from.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Easy Way To Roast Pumpkin Seeds

    I love carving pumpkins with my boys as it means I get lots of yummy pumpkin seeds to eat. I have a simple recipe to toast those seeds.  I toast my pumpkin seeds on the stovetop instead of the oven. The seeds only take 5 minutes to toast and are so crispy and easy to chew. So carve your pumpkin and save those seeds.  After scooping out the goop and seeds from the pumpkin, all you have to do is remove the big pieces of goop from the seeds. Then wash the seeds and drain them. There is no need to soak the seeds or thoroughly dry them like the oven method requires. Don't worry if a little orange goop remains on the seeds, it will cook off.

  Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add 2 teaspoons oil. Place the washed pumpkin seeds into the pan and add some salt. Stir the seeds with a spatula for about 5 minutes or until toasted.  They are toasted when they are lightly brown. Taste one to see if they are crunchy.

   I love the pan toasted method as it is so easy and quick. I love not having to turn on the oven either. If you want a sweeter pumpkin seed, add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon instead of the salt while you are toasting them in the pan. You can add the salt also to make a sweet and salty seed version of pumpkin seeds.

Stovetop Pumpkin Seeds

2 tablespoons oil
Pumpkin seeds

Scoop the seeds out of the pumpkin. Then remove large pieces of the orange goop. Wash the seeds and remove any large stringy pumpkin pieces. Place the pumpkin seeds in a strainer to remove excess water. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the seeds and salt to taste. Stir the seeds in the pan for about 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Taste one to see if they are to your desired crunch. Remove from heat and enjoy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Healthy Halloween Treats For Trick Or Treaters

My boys get so excited for Halloween as it means getting lots of candy.

   Halloween is almost here and my boys are getting their costumes ready. One of the boys is reusing a costume from last year while the other wants to make his. We bought the required black clothes the other day at the resale shop and ordered some glow in the dark fabric paint so he can be a skeleton. My boys just love being able to dress up as for them it means a wonderful night of collecting lots of treats. The excitement of all these treats just makes my boys so hyper as they think that this just might be the year mom lets them have control of all the candy. Think again boys as this mom is not going to allow my boys to be sick with all that sugar. My boys are allowed 2 treats on Halloween and then the rest gets put away. My boys then get one treat a day from their loot bag until the thrill wears off, usually in two weeks. I am sure many moms feel the same way with Halloween candy so I am going to share some great ideas for healthy Halloween treats for handing out to trick or treaters.

 Microwave Popcorn  

This is a favorite snack item at our house. My neighbor has been handing out unpopped microwave popcorn for many years at Halloween time. My boys always go to her house first as they love receiving this treat.

Fruit Cups  Fruit is always on the healthy snack list in our house. To make this treat extra fun, grab a marker and draw a Jack O Lantern face on the individual cups of fruit.

Pretzels  Individual bags of pretzels are a healthy snack that kids love to eat. Some stores even sell ones that are decorated for Halloween.

Crispy Fruit  This is a delicious freeze-dried fruit that comes in many different flavors like pineapple, tangerine, apple, and more. Crispy Green takes 100% fruit, seven different kinds, and freeze dries them into a sweet delicious treat. These crunchy fruits are great for kids with allergies are the perfect Halloween treat that kids and parents love!

Granola Bars  While they can be high in sugar, granola bars are a better option than candy. You might be able to find some healthier individually wrapped granola bars. 
Raisins or Craisins  Dried fruit is always a good healthy treat option. These treats come in individual boxes. You can even find some that are covered with yogurt or chocolate, yes they may have more sugar but still better than candy.

    These are just some items that are great to hand out to the trick or treaters. If you want to go the non-food route, some good choices are glow sticks, stickers, and pencils. The best way to prevent your child from munching on the candy while trick or treating is to serve them a healthy snack or meal before going out. I like to also bring some healthy snacks with while we are collecting treats. I also have a rule that my boys are not allowed to eat anything from their bag until we get home and inspect the items. When we get home from trick or treating, my boys get four bowls to sort the treats in. Our system in one bowl for healthy treats, one for chocolate, one for candy, and one for unapproved hard and sticky candy. 

Here is the website to find out more about those delicious Crispy Green freezed -dried fruits. My boys love snacking on these. Their favorite fruits are the pineapple and mango. You can find these fruits at stores like SafeWay, WholeFoods, and many more. You can also purchase them online.

Check out this article about how much sugar is in Halloween candy. It is simply shocking! The article also has more great ideas for healthier Halloween treats.

 "These opinions are my own and I received samples of Crispy Greens Fruit Snacks to facilitate this post,"

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Easy No Cook Peanut Butter Thai Salad

                      This delicious noodle salad requires no cooking.

   In my quest to have my husband consume more veggies, I made him this delicious peanut butter Thai salad. This salad is served cold with a homemade peanut butter sauce so it gives my husband a healthy alternative to those sandwiches he usually packs in his lunch. My husband's job requires him to drive around the city all day and he does not have a chance to go back to the office until later in the day. That means his lunch break is either at a restaurant or a cold one that he packs from home. Eating out can be expensive and unhealthy so most days, my husband packs a lunch from home. He usually packs a sandwich made with ham or turkey and an apple. My husband complains a lot that he is tired of sandwiches but he does not like my suggestions of other lunch items, until now. I made this Peanut Butter Thai salad the other day when I had some shredded carrots that needed to be used. I had made a previous warm dish with a peanut butter sauce so I decided to make a cold one. My husband gave my dish a thumbs up and I was pleased that he was eating veggies. My husband now requests this salad once a week for his lunch and I am happy to make it for him.

  This salad is super easy to make. I make the homemade peanut butter sauce,using red pepper flakes for an incredible taste with a touch of heat in the microwave. I then drizzle the sauce over the carrots, ramen noodles and thawed cooked shrimp. If the salad is consumed right away, the ramen noodles give it a wonderful crunch. When consumed the next day, the ramen are nice soft noodles.

Easy No Cook Peanut Butter Thai Salad
Serves 4
Homemade peanut butter sauce
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, depending on heat preference

2 packages ramen noodles
10 ounces shredded carrots
5 ounces small cooked frozen shrimp, thawed

Combine all sauce ingredients in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir the sauce until the peanut butter is melted and mixes in. If needed, microwave for 30-60 seconds more to melt the peanut butter.
While the ramen noodles are still in their package, pound on them a couple times to break them into pieces. Open up the packages of ramen on pour them into a large bowl, set aside the seasoning to use in another recipe as it is not needed. Add the carrots and shrimp to the ramen noodles along with the peanut butter sauce. Stir well until well combined. Enjoy this salad right away or store in the fridge for 3 days.

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