Thursday, January 22, 2015

Busy Mom's DIY Soba Noodle Soup

I need to be honest here, being a mother of a newborn and a preschooler, things don't always work out as planned. Last week my post on eating more whole grains highlighted a recipe I wanted to try from Erren's Kitchen. It turned out I didn't have half of the ingredients in the recipe. I have to make lunch quickly, so it was time to improvise. Here is a busy Mom's DIY Soba Noodle Soup.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Real Food Experience: Eat Whole Grains

The Real Food Experience continues this week, challenging us to make the change to eat whole grains. Last year I challenged you to try quinoa by substituting the pasta in mac n' cheese with quinoa, making quin n' cheese. If you missed this recipe, you can check it out here.

How did you do adding 2 fruits & vegetables to each meal?
I have found that planning ahead makes a big difference. By the end of the week there is no produce in the house (or it has gone bad) and I get frustrated. I have to plan my grocery shopping trip and my produce purchases for the week - what do I want to eat, what will I actually eat and how much? By not planning, I have had to throw out a lot of produce which is a waste of money and is frustrating. At this time of year, I do not discount organic frozen fruits and veggies. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen and are similar to fresh, as long as you do not get any with added syrup or sauces. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies and frozen veggies are a good alternative to fresh vegetables that you may not be able to get in the winter. For the Real Food Experience last week, I decided to go back to the basics - I bought grapefruit. My grandmother eats half a grapefruit every morning with her breakfast. I decided to follow her lead and it was a great and easy way to get another serving of fruit in my day!

This week the challenge is to switch to whole grains.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Real Food Experience 2015 - Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

Happy New Year! With the new year, come our resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier. The Real Food Experience from Juggling Real Food and Real Life is back! I participated in this last year, and it set the tone for healthy eating in 2014. I'm excited to share it with you again.

This week is Week 1 - Eat more fruits and vegetables. The goal is to eat 2 more fruits and vegetables per meal. Check out what Christina from Juggling Real Food and Real Life has to say here. Along with the Real Food Experience, Little Family Adventure is also challenging us to eat a new food a week this year. This week's new food is kale. For many of you this is easy, kale is not a new food. For me, kale is a new food. This challenges pairs well with the Real Food Experience, if we just add some kale to one of our meals - we've tried it AND added an additional vegetable!

How am I going to add more fruits and vegetables to my diet?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Scarlett's Excellent Top 10 of 2014

This year has been a big year for me. We welcomed a baby girl into our family in October. Spending most of the year pregnant was hard for a food blogger who focuses on healthy food. Once I was past the first trimester and didn't mind seeing food again, all I wanted was sugar and carbs. Being pregnant and running around after a toddler, my blogging took a little bit of a back seat, but I am proud of my posts this year.

2014 was the second year of my blog. The first year is very exciting with all new ideas streaming out on to the page, but the second year can be terrifying - what will I write about this year? Thankfully, a lot of new opportunities came our way this year, from participating in the Real Food Experience in January, cooking with the Beekman Boys cookbook this summer, reading through Little House on the Prairie and teaming up with my bloggy friends to bring you an exciting giveaway.

We ended 2013 with 103 Facebook fans, 180 Pinterest followers, and 43 regular subscribers to my blog. We have vastly grown this year with 69 Google+ followers, 130 Facebook Fans, 70 regular subscribers to my blog, and 588 Pinterest followers! If you are not included in these numbers, join in by using the "Follow Me" links to the right.

There have been 58 posts this year, with 427 comments. Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my posts. May we have a fun and exciting 2015.

Now on to Scarlett's Excellent Top 10 of 2014! We're doing something new this year. We're featuring the top 5 most read posts, the top 4 most shared posts on Google+, and one unsung hero - one of my favorite posts of the year.

Starting with the top 4 shared posts on Google+:

#4: Exercising While Pregnant - Being pregnant did not stop me from trying to stay active, and my readers were equally as supportive by sharing this post.

#3: Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Chowder

#2: Real Food Experience Week 1 - Eat More Fruits and Vegetables - This post is always applicable in our lives, but not to worry if we need to jumpstart our nutrition in 2015 - the Real Food Experience is coming back in January bigger, and better than ever!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Foodies

This post may contain affiliate links

While we were growing up, what we found in our stockings on Christmas morning was always a treat. There would be a couple of practical items and a whole lot of chocolate. When I got married I was surprised to find toothbrushes, toothpaste and an Old Farmer's Almanac in my stocking. My husband is pretty good at stuffing a stocking, but subscribes to some practical items and some fun. Whatever your family chooses to put in stockings, stuffing stockings year after year can be a challenge even for Santa. Here are 5 stocking stuffer ideas for the foodie in your life:

Kitchen Utensils - This is high on my list this year for both gifts and stocking stuffers. The foodie in your life can always use a new melon baller, whisk, or pair of small tongs. This fall I replaced my worn out whisk and got an OXO Balloon Whisk - this is a fantastic whisk that any foodie would love to get!

Coffee Gift Cards - A simple stocking stuffer is a gift card for your favorite coffee shop in low denominations. Yes, that caramel mocha latte may cost you $5.00, but anyone would love a $10 gift card for a couple of coffees, and you are not breaking your shopping budget. I love receiving Starbucks gift cards, they enable me to get my favorite winter beverage - Peppermint Hot Chocolate. If you have teens or college aged kids, get a 4-pack of $10 gift cards for easy stuffing!

Real Simple Menu Planner - A big gift for a small stocking, at stocking stuffer prices. A few weeks ago I wrote a review of the Real Simple menu planner. Since then, I have made a few of the dishes, and I love it! The dishes are simple, but that's what I love - no fuss, no muss meals for a busy Mom with a toddler and a newborn. At $10 for a year, the price makes this the best stocking stuffer that keeps giving 52 weeks of the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for the Foodie (2014 Edition)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Last week I started my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide with gift ideas for kids. Today, we are focusing on gifts for the foodies in your life. If you have a foodie on your shopping list, here are some gift giving ideas:

Philosophy's Eggnog 3-in-1 Shower Gel, Shampoo & Bubble Bath - Yes, I'm starting my list off with a beauty product. That being said, I LOVE the Philosophy brand of products. I started out using the eggnog shower gel when I was pregnant with my son (and couldn't drink the real thing). I then branched out to the other products when I saw how well they worked on my sensitive skin. This Eggnog shower gel is my favorite and it smells exactly like eggnog, and is just as decadent, but without the calories! YES, 0 calories! If you have someone who is hard to shop for on your list, this is the perfect gift!

Crock Pot Slow Cooker - Since having children, I have fallen in love with my slow cooker. I love being able to prep a meal in the morning (when we're all well rested, and it's fairly quiet), and having a healthy, home cooked meal ready by dinner time. Crock-Pots come in various sizes and in a variety of prices. I own 2 different sizes, but my favorite is the 4 1/2 quart. It's the perfect size to make a meal for a family of 4. Crock-Pot also has a programmable cooker that I don't own, but I have my eye on...

Wilton Donut Pan - Some of my more popular posts this year have been my donut recipes. I have had a great time making them, and they are so easy and fun to make in your oven. A donut pan is the key to oven baked donuts - no frying required! Any home cook can now make donuts with just a simple recipe - here are my favorites for the holidays: Baked Donuts and Mimosa Baked Donuts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Kids

This post may include affiliate links.

Last year I put together a list of gifts for foodies. This year I'm doing a whole gift guide of gifts for kids, gifts for foodies, and I'm also including a list of stocking stuffer ideas, so stay tuned! Today I am highlighting gifts for kids.

Sometime shopping for kids can be easy due to miles long wishlists, and sometimes it's hard to find a nice, inexpensive gift. Since I was pregnant and due in the Fall, I was concerned I wasn't going to have the time or energy to Christmas shop with a newborn in the house, so I decided to start my shopping early. In the course of my shopping I found these gems of gifts for kids.

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell - As many of my readers know, I love books and I believe books make the best gifts for kids. When I saw this book, I fell in love. I love the idea of an inspiring book about the young Jane Goodall, whose beginnings are just as humble as the rest of ours. It shows kids that anyone can be great. This book quickly moved to the top of my gift list, particularly for the young girls in my life (though it is not just for girls - it is on my son's wishlist as well). Add in a little monkey, like Dangles the Monkey by Ty, and you have a fantastic gift.

Fashion Plates - Do you remember those great fashion plate toys from 25 years ago? I spent hours with the plates and paper, rubbing crayons over the plates to make fashion designs and then coloring them in. During my shopping, I was thrilled to see that the retro toy made a comeback in this Fashion Design Activity Kit by Melissa & Doug. I love Melissa & Doug toys, they make quality, educational toys that are also fun! I love the regular fashion design kit, but there is also a princess version from Melissa & Doug. For the younger kids, there are also Disney princess & Barbie choices available.

Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Set - This wouldn't be a list on my blog without a food gift for kids. I have a hard time finding good quality toy food sets for my son. He is still in a pretty destructive phase, so the sets that consist of cardboard boxes are pretty much out. They are likely to be ripped or stepped on. My son absolutely loves this food cutting set. Each food piece has velcro holding each "slice" together. It also comes with a cutting board and kid-safe wooden knife. My son loves to cut the fruits and veggies and it helps his motor skills while he is playing! (Organization Tip: Also get a cloth, zippered lingerie bag to hold all of the pieces, when the kids aren't playing.) For the foodie, also check out this fun sushi slicing set!