My son turned 4 years old today. Last year, I made him a fun (and very easy) construction site cake. Did I mention that it was easy! So, you might imagine that this year, when I asked him what kind of cake he’d want for his birthday, I was a bit intimidated by his immediate answer, “An airplane!” Why, oh why, did I let them watch Planes so many times before this?! HOW on earth am I going to turn a cake into an airplane?
I could have simply gone to our local grocery store and ordered a cake with ingredients I’d rather not have and with a price I’d rather not pay in order to come up with a birthday cake. Instead, I did what any mom today would do… run to Pinterest!
I had to adapt a recipe I found because the cake I made (a grain-free, honey sweetened one) was much thinner than the one pictured on the pin I saw. But, here’s what I did.
First, bake two layers of cake in 9 inch pans using the batter of your choice. Once baked, slice the first one in half.
Use icing to “glue” these pieces together to form the body of your airplane.
Next, slice the next cake in thirds, as pictured.
The middle pieces will become the wings and the ends will be used for the tail. Ice everything and put it all together. Hopefully, you’ll get a better looking plane than ours turned out. In the end, the children were both very happy that we had an airplane cake… and it tasted great!
And, here’s the birthday boy, proud of being 4, blowing out his candles.
How do you make your children’s birthday’s special?
If you are a mom with little ones, then you know that it can be very difficult to carve out time alone to work out. Quite frankly, if I don’t wake up very early in the morning to work out, then it’s very likely I won’t work out at all. I don’t have family nearby to help watch them. I don’t want to (or have the extra funds to) pay for a babysitter. And I can’t justify paying for a gym membership so gym provided childcare isn’t an option either. So, sometimes, I have to get creative about my workouts. In case you can relate to my dilemma, here are a few tips to help you get your workout while also spending time with the children.
1. Go to the playground. It goes without saying that the children will be happy about that. Who says you can’t utilize the monkey bars, run around, and even do a few squats or jumping jacks while your children play. When my children were very little, I used to do squats between pushes on the swings. If they were both on the swings at the same time, I would jump side to side in between pushes.
2. Go for a walk. You can walk while they ride their scooter, tricycle, bicycle (if they ride fast enough, maybe you could go for a run). Or, you can all walk together. Children love to get out. Getting out for 15 or 20 minutes will be good for everyone.
3. Workout videos. I used to try to workout only before my children woke up in the morning or during their nap time. But, as every mom knows, the best laid plans surrounding children sleeping don’t always turn out. Although I still prefer to workout alone, I don’t hesitate to pop in a work out video before their nap or if it looks like nap time is not translating into actual sleep. You’ll all enjoy it and get a little workout in all at the same time.
How do you keep fit with little ones in the house?
Did you know that Brussels sprouts are of the most nutrient rich foods you can eat? They are full of anti-oxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K as well as fiber, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins. Why aren’t we all eating this incredibly good for you food? Well, some surveys show that Americans simply don’t like the smell of the Brussels sprouts. My answer to that dilemma is always simply finding the right recipe. If you can cook something to make it taste good, people will eat it (and probably not care about how it smelled while it was cooking).
So, I’ve got an easy recipe for a great for you, a yummy side dish! The recipe is based on a recipe from a restaurant called Tin Roof Bistro in California. Here’s my version of that recipe (because I only used what I had and I didn’t have everything listed on their recipe).
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat over to 350º
2. Remove the ends and any rough outer leaves from Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise.
3. Put them in a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
4. Toss Brussels sprouts in oil and then lay out on sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes until caramelized.
5. When Brussels sprouts are roasted and caramelized, heat up small saute’ pan. Melt butter and add garlic. Cook for several minutes until garlic turns golden. Add lemon juice, parsley, and salt and pepper. Toss sprouts in sauce until they are thoroughly coated.
6. Then, the most important part: eat and enjoy… because, you know, it is possible to enjoy food that is good for you!
How do you like to eat your Brussels Sprouts?
There are so many expensive products claiming to make your hair smooth, shiny, and healthy. These products may very well do just that. However, at this point in my life, I can’t see myself ever putting a lot of money into my hair. On a limited budget, putting food on the table takes precedence over shiny hair. But, did you know that putting certain foods on that table will give you strong, healthy, shiny hair? Talking about killing two birds with one stone.
Here are some of the foods that will nourish your body and your hair.
1. Fish. Salmon and tuna, in particular, are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. All of those are essential for healthy hair. If you’re not a big fish eater, taking some fish oil supplements every day sure can’t hurt!
2. Dark leafy greens. Aren’t they good for just about everything?! Well, they are full of vitamin A, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. It’s easy to make a salad out of spinach or kale; of course, sautéing spinach takes only about 5 minutes. So, include some of those dark leafy greens in your meals each day.
3. Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts, in particular, are full of protein, minerals, biotin, and vitamin E. All of which are necessary for healthy hair. Just sprinkle a few into your salad, onto your cooked vegetables, or into a little bowl for a snack.
4. Sweet potatoes. What a sweet way to take care of your hair…and to treat yourself! Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A. You and your hair will also get vitamin C, iron, and calcium when you eat a sweet potato.
5. Eggs. Eggs have gotten a bad rep over the years. I think they have finally been redeemed as a good-for-you food. And because they are a great source of protein, iron, biotin and contain vitamins A and E, they are great for your hair, too!
These are some fun and tasty ways to take care of your hair, don’t you agree?
1. Quit smoking. Smoking irritates your airway and contributes to swelling. It is, thereby, directly related to snoring. So, if you or your loved one smokes and snores, you can easily identify the cause of the snoring. Reduce or quit smoking and you’ll see an improvement when you sleep.
2. Sleep on your side. Have you ever noticed that when you are sick, you have a harder time sleeping on your back? I do. I seem to cough so much more on my back than on my sides. Well, apparently, the same holds true if you snore. You will likely see much improvement in your snoring if you change positions and make a point to avoid sleeping on your back.
3. How about a little oil? Try taking a teaspoon of coconut oil or olive oil before going to bed. The idea is that the oil will lubricate your throat and reduce any irritation or inflammation that would otherwise cause you to snore.
4. Lose weight. If you are overweight, that is likely to be at least part of the reason that you snore. So, begin to focus on losing some weight. Take baby steps. Keep in mind that it’s not just about snoring. It’s your overall health that you are working to maintain.
5. Add an extra pillow. If you raise your head by 30 degrees, it’ll take that pressure off of your airway and make for a much more comfortable night’s sleep. If you have a bed that will adjust, that’ll make it that much easier. If not, just add on the pillows to increase the angle and alleviate that snoring. That’s an easy way to make life a little easier for you and your spouse!
Of course, there may be other issues related to your health or to your sleep patterns that may need to be addressed by a physician. So, if you have tried it all and still have no relief, call your doctor.
Do you snore? What have you done for relief?
Health trends come and go so often that it can actually be difficult to keep up! Some trends last long enough that we may not question their veracity. So, here are a few health tips for those of us who are watching our weight, trying to eat healthy, and aiming to live healthy lifestyles.
1. “Diet” Foods. You know what I mean. It’s usually in the frozen section with a big label telling you how much fat and how many calories are in the tiny box that contains an entire meal. Or, maybe it’s a protein bar that’s supposed to take the place of a meal. In either case, the “diet” food is supposed to sate your hunger with fewer calories than a non-diet meal. There are problems with this type of food. First, most people are left unsatisfied and hungry. Next, it’s normally full of additives and preservatives that are simply not healthy for your body, even if you are not trying to lose weight. Last, our bodies burn more calories from real, whole foods than they do processed foods (probably because of all those preservatives). Go with real food. Stay away from processed foods, regardless of their labels.
2. Fat. For decades, we were told to avoid fat. Foods were labeled “low fat” and “fat free.” And if you grew up in my era, you equated “low fat” and “fat free” with “healthy.” But, in reality, our bodies need good fats, like the fat we get in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and flax seed. That fat helps increase our metabolism, thereby helping burn more calories. We also tend to be more satisfied eating real foods with real fat than we do “low fat” foods. As a result, we actually eat less when we eat real foods with good fat.
3. Moderation. Moderation is important even if you are eating good, healthy food. It’s possible to overeat anything, even good, nutritious, healthy, whole foods. Listening to our bodies is critical. It’s great to replace your processed cereal with oatmeal for breakfast. However, it’s possible to eat too much oatmeal. It’s great to have smoothies for lunch. However, it’s possible to have too much.
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
This is right about the time when most people give up, if they haven’t already, on a new year’s resolution to lose weight or to start working out. If you are in this huge category of people, consider some of the important elements that go into weight loss that sticks. If you want to get off of the weight loss roller coaster, consider these important factors.
1. Exercise. Often, people begin jogging or going to a gym at the beginning of the year because activities like those seem to be synonymous with a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. But, one of the most critical factors that contributes to your consistency is whether you enjoy doing that exercise or activity. Since the key is to incorporate an activity that works your heart, strengthens your muscles, and burns calories, there is not just one exercise that can accomplish those goals. So, make sure you find one you enjoy! That will help you with what counts the most: to keep doing it!
2. Food. There’s no getting around being very thoughtful and intentional about what you eat. Exceptions need to be just that: exceptions to the norm. Some people recommend keeping a food journal. That can help quite a bit because we often don’t keep track of ALL that excess calories we take in. Keeping a food journal for a while can help you become more aware of all the little extra calories you allow yourself without even thinking about it.
3. Attitude. Another very important part of long term change is our attitude toward and understanding of the reasons for that change. What is the purpose of the weight loss in your life? Is it merely to look good? Or, do you actually want to be healthy? If you are just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to get side tracked. You can get discouraged when the scale doesn’t move; you can also get lazy if you see the numbers you like. However, if the goal is to be healthy, then there’s no stopping, regardless of what the scale tells you.
How are you doing with your new year’s weight loss goals?
There’s no missing the fact that February is the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. But, did you know that February is also American Heart Month? That’s not the month in which we practice making heart shaped cookies, cakes, and brownies. Rather, it’s a time to step back and make sure you are taking care of the one heart you’ve got.
Here are a few heart healthy tips in honor of American Heart Month.
1. Get your omega-3 fatty acids. Your heart loves omega-3 fatty acids. You can get omega-3 fatty acids in a variety of ways. Eating fish is a great way to get it. However, there are quicker, easier, and less expensive ways to get it, too. Flax, walnuts, pistachios, grass-fed beef, and enriched eggs are all great sources of omega 3s.
2. Have a glass of wine. Research suggests that a glass of alcohol a day helps to increase our levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) to support a healthy heart. So, enjoy that glass of wine and know that you’re actually doing your heart some good!
3. Unplug. Take some time each day to de-stress. Turn off your phone, computer, iPad and do something relaxing. Doing that for just 15 minutes a day will go a long way to support your heart.
4. Sleep. Research shows that people who sleep more than seven hours a night have healthier blood pressure numbers and have lower levels of the hormone cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in their blood stream. Higher levels of cortisol make arteries more susceptible to plaque build up. So, go to bed early and sleep to your heart’s content, literally!
5. Watch your waist. It’s extra wait around your mid-section that can be an indicator of risk for heart disease. So, watch your waist. If you are a man and your waist measures more than 40″ or a woman whose waist measures more than 35,” begin target the source of excess calories. They are likely to be coming from sugar and/or white flour. That’s the easiest place to start.
What are you doing to show some love to your heart?