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3 Delightful After-School Snacks

18 Aug

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The hustle and bustle of school starting can be overwhelming. With mile long shopping lists to check off, lunches to pack, and fresh, new outfits to pick out, providing healthy snacks is often low on the priority list. No worries, we gathered 3 easy after-school snack ideas to provide your little ones with yummy refuel after their long day of learning. Perhaps enlist their help in the kitchen for some special weekday bonding.

Peanut Butter Playdough

Fun to play with and good to eat!

You will need:

1 cup of peanut butter

1 cup honey or corn syrup

1 cup of powdered milk

1 cup of oatmeal

Coconut or powdered sugar (optional)

Large bowl

Measuring cup

Mixing spoon

Step 1. Help your child measure 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of honey, 1 cup powdered milk, and 1 cup of oatmeal.

Step 2. Once the ingredients are measured, help your child combine them in a large bowl. As they work with the ingredients, talk about how they are changing as they mix them. This is hard work!

Step 3. Once the mixture is dough-like, they can spoon out some of the play dough and mix it using their hands and fingers. Ask them if it is sticky. If the answer is yes, add small amounts of oatmeal and powdered milk.

Step 4. Encourage your child to explore this edible play dough. If desired, your child can make “snowballs” by rolling a rounded ball of dough in coconut or powered sugar.

Step 5. As they play with the play dough, remind them that it is okay to eat it as well!

Source: The Budding Chef – Paperback 

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Yogurt Grape Treats

A refreshing snack for hot afternoons!

You will need:

Grapes

Yogurt of Choice

Toothpicks

Bowl

Baking sheet

Step 1. Destem and wash your grapes then stick toothpicks inside each one. Spread them out evenly on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer until fully frozen (should take a couple of hours).

Step 2. Once your grapes are fully frozen, dip the grapes in your favorite yogurt. Then place them back on the baking sheet.

Step 3. To add toppings, do it soon after you have dipped the grapes in the yogurt.  The yogurt will freeze pretty fast because the grapes are frozen. Some toppings we suggest are coconut, honey, dark chocolate, and caramel. Place them in a container in the freezer to store, or serve them to your little ones.

Source: Natalie Monson- Super Healthy Kids

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Rainbow Fish Fruit Snack

Read The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister with your child, and then share in making this delicious snack.

You will need:

Banana Slices

Blueberries

Dessert Shells (Found near the fruit in the produce section of most grocery stores)

Green grapes

Orange sections

Pieces of cantaloupe

Strawberries

Toothpicks (3)

Step 1. Invite your child to put three to five pieces of fruit on each toothpick. Arrange the toothpicks in a triangle shape to create the fish tail.

Step 2. Place the dessert shell near one triangle point to create a fish body.

Step 3. Use the rest of the fruit to fill up the dessert shell, and you’ve got a rainbow fish that’s tasty enough to eat.

Source: The Budding Chef – Paperback

Whether you choose to prepare these delicious snacks before they arrive home or have them help you whip up the recipe, these snacks are sure to please little one’s tummies!

Turning Dinnertime into Family Time

27 Apr

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In today’s world, it is often seen as a rarity for a family to regularly sit down and enjoy dinner together each night. Between soccer practice, music lessons, and mommy clubs, dinnertime often has to be “worked” into the family schedule. So when you do find yourself having a dinner with the whole gang, make sure you make the best of that special time. Whether you are just grilling out some burgers, whipping up a 5-course meal, or even picking up the family favorite takeout—your family dinnertime can be more than just consumption of food. Consider our advice on how to turn the act of simply eating together into precious moments of laugher and family bonding.

Start at the beginning

While you are planning, shopping, and prepping your family’s meals, your children are often left out of the process. Perhaps turn your prep activities into family activities. Let your children select the meal or host a family favorites night, featuring a favorite food item from each member. Simple acts of washing the veggies and stirring the sauce can make your child feel included and important. If your child is too young to help out with the cooking, provide them play sets like the New Sprouts® Grill It! so that they “cook” alongside you. Let the pressures of dinnertime become a family exploration with every member playing an important part.

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A grand affair

If a traditional family dinner is not typical for you, why not treat it as the special occasion that it is! Use those nice dishes collecting dust in cabinet. Bust out a tablecloth and some flowers (possibly picked by your child) to help you set the stage for a special night of fun. Even if family dinner is an every night affair, occasionally adding of bit of flair is sure to spark some excitement. Treat your little ones to a fun new place setting like the Mickey SuperBib Set or the Construction Eating Place Setting to make eating exciting! Don’t forget to create after dinner delight! Not talking about dessert (but don’t forget that too), but about providing post dinner entertainment. This entertainment doesn’t have to be fancy, can simply mean streaming a new movie, playing a game like the Parent Quiz® After Dinner Trivia Game, or even stargazing. Whether you choose to do a full table spread complete with Pinterest décor or simply a special dessert, as long as you treat family dinner night as the exceptional little moment that it is, you’ll be sure to create memories that will last.

3 Snacks to Warm Up a Cold Winter’s Day

3 Feb

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With frosty, winter months come nights of cabin fever and children seeking entertainment. Beat those winter blues with 3 quick recipes that your child can help whip up alongside you! Spending a little quality kitchen time with your little one can turn a cold winter’s night into a night full of treats that are sure to create delight and warm deliciousness!

Warm Soft Pretzels

Easy pretzels that are fun to make and delicious to eat!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of sugar

4 cups of flour

1 package of active dry yeast

1 ½ cups of warm water

1 teaspoon of salt

Beaten egg

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil

Tools:

Aluminum foil

Cookie sheet

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl and spoon

Pastry brush

Wax paper

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What To Do:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425° F (adults only). Grease a cookie sheet with vegetable oil.

Step 2: Help your child combine the yeast, warm water, sugar, salt, and flour into a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Step 3: Work with your child to knead the dough.

Step 4: Give your child a piece of wax paper for their workspace. Help them pull off a piece of dough and roll in into a long rope that they can shape into a pretzel.

Step 5: Place the pretzel on a greased cookie sheet, use the pastry brush to brush the pretzel with the beaten egg, and sprinkle it with kosher salt.

Step 6: When the cookie sheet is full, bake the pretzels for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: The Budding Chef

Mini Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

Vanilla wafers

Instant vanilla pudding

Milk (for pudding)

Cherry pie filling

Tools:

Cupcake cups (aluminum foil variety preferred)

Old-fashioned hand rotary beaters, not electric (aka Wisk)

Several tablespoons

Plastic sandwich bags

What To Do:

Step 1: Make vanilla instant pudding according to package directions.

Step 2: Let your child help mix the milk and pudding with the hand rotary beaters (not electric).

Step 3: Give your child a cupcake cup (aluminum foil, if possible). Have them place a vanilla wafer at the bottom of the cupcake paper.

Step 4: Let your child put about 2 tablespoons of pudding on top of the cookie and 1-2 tablespoons of cherry pie filling on top of the pudding.

Step: 5 if possible, chill the desserts in a refrigerator for at least ½ hour. Wrapping them in the plastic bags.

Step 6: Eat and Enjoy!

Source: Giant Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities

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Easy Rollers

Create a delectable treat that is easy to make and combines the wonderful tastes of cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg.

Ingredients:

1¼ cups of crushed graham crackers

¼ cup of sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup light corn syrup

Powdered sugar

Tools:

Cookie sheet

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowl and spoon

Wax paper

What To Do:

Step 1: Invite your child to combine crushed graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.

Step 2: Once those ingredients are combined, stir in the peanut butter and corn syrup.

Step 3: Show your child how to form the mixture into 1/2 inch balls.

Step 4: Pour powdered sugar onto wax paper and work with your child to roll the balls in it.

Step 5: Place the balls on a cookie sheet and allow them to chill in the refrigerator.

Source: The Budding Chef

3 Spooky Snacks for Halloween!

27 Oct

Picking out costumes and watching all of the classic Halloween movies? The time for trick or treating is upon us next weekend, but first, why not enjoy a little kitchen time with your children. Dive into festive creation with three recipes for spooky Halloween snacks!

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1. Peanut Butter Ball Monsters

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • flour
  • M&M’s, mini gumdrops, and shoestring licorice

Tools:

  • measuring cups
  • mixing bowl and spoon
  • tray
  • wax paper

What To Do:

  1. Help your child measure the peanut butter, honey, and sugar, and mix them together in a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  3. Put flour on your child’s hands and work with her to form small balls. Place the balls onto wax paper.
  4. Add mini M&M eyes, mini gumdrop noses, and licorice antennae to the monster heads.
  5. Put the balls on a tray and refrigerate until these monsters are ready to be eaten!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Witch’s Brew

Ingredients:

  • grape juice
  • red grapes and blueberries
  • milk

Tools:

  • blender

What To Do:

  1. Put grape juice, grapes, blueberries, and milk into a blender.
  2. Add ice and  blend to make a “witch’s smoothie!”
  3. Sing songs to the Healthy All Over CD to talk about how little witches can stay healthy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

3. Be A Pumpkin Cook!

Ingredients:

  • whole pumpkin
  • water
  • butter
  • ingredients for pumpkin muffins or bread

Tools:

  • knife (adult only)
  • 9″ x 12″ baking pan
  • aluminum foil
  • blender or food processor
  • muffin tin or loaf pan
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixing spook and bowl

What To Do:

  1. Wash and cut open the pumpkin. Encourage children to smell it.
  2. Remove the seeds. Using your hands, remove and save the pulp.
  3. Encourage the children to describe the textures of the pumpkin.
  4. Cut off thin slices of pumpkin flesh and have the children taste it.
  5. Place the pumpkin, cut side down, in the baking pan. Add 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Let cool.
  7. Remove the foil and encourage the children to observe the changes in the pumpkin. The pumpkin is darker and soft because heat changes the consistency of things.
  8. Scoop out some of the soft pumpkin pulp. Puree it in a blender or food processor. Add some of the liquid from the baking pan, if needed.
  9. Use the pureed pumpkin in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. Let the children measure, pour, and mix.
  10. Eat the muffins. Compare the appearance of the batter to the finished product. Explain again how heat changes things.
  11. Bonus: Melt butter and coat the pumpkin seeds. Bake at 250 degrees until golden brown. Salt and enjoy!

Source: The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities 

Rethinking Nutrition for Kids

9 Mar

What do you think of when you hear the word nutrition? Many times, it’s equated to ensuring there is some type of fruit included in a child’s snack time, or a limit on how many chips a child can have. With childhood obesity statistics on the rise, we want to foster the simple idea that nutrition is more than what’s in your child’s diet; it’s a lifestyle! Here are four easy tips to help incorporate nutritious choices as part of your family’s day-to-day:

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1. Modeling

You are looked up to more than you will ever know! Consumption choices, what items are available in the fridge, and how many times you incorporate exercise into your week are all important choices that acts as behavior models for children. Here are some small ways you can make a difference:

  • Pack lunch together. Children can see that you are packing healthy for lunch just like they are!
  • Use Sundays for meal prep. Having meals all ready to go for weeknights is a great way to avoid the fast food run that we all default to when time gets away from us!
  • Workout during chores! Incorporate squats, pushups, and abs into tasks you already have to do. This is a great example for kids to multi-task as they fold laundry, sweep the floors, or clean up their room! Here is a fun article for moms with toddlers: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/fit-mom-exercise-tips/

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2. Meal Times

We all know what we put into our bodies is important, but at times, it can be hard to know what exactly a healthy balance looks like, especially for a hangry preschooler who only wants chicken nuggets and french fries! We have a helpful Health Eating from Head to Toe Handout that’s a great start for parents. Not only does it suggest what foods to eat, but also does so with colorful illustrations that show what health benefits come from each food group! Find the handout here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/product/28885/preschool-healthy-eating-from-head-to-toe-handouts-set-of-50

Nutrition Books to Get You Started: 

Another fun idea to do with the family is to create a “Healthy Recipes” Pinterest board so that you can keep track of nutritious meals your family loves! Follow our family board for weekly inspirations: https://www.pinterest.com/KaplanToys/healthy-family-recipes/

53689.jpg3. Motivated to Move!

Active play is an important part of a child’s day! Not only does it burn calories, but it also encourages creativity, builds important muscles, and gives children a chance to interact with their peers as they work on teamwork, friendship, and an understanding of social rules. Whether it’s getting out in the backyard to pass a soccer ball, mediating on a yoga mat, or hiking as a family on the weekend, motivating children to move is an important concept for children to adapt into their lifestyle as they grow. To browse our selection of active play toys, click here. 

Sources:

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4. Make a Garden

Spring is nearly here! With the start of warm weather comes the prime opportunity to start planting vegetables and herbs for your family meals! Teaching your child how to garden is not only an excellent practice of sustainability, but it will encourage them to incorporate homegrown food into their meals later on. To learn more about the benefits of gardening for children, head over to this article to get started.

Gardening Tools for Toddlers:

 

Share how you are celebrating #NationalNutritionMonth with your kids by commenting below!

Kid’s Edition: Finger Foods for Thanksgiving

25 Nov

Whipping up recipes for Thanksgiving? Don’t forget to include young children in the process with a few fun finger foods they can help make. With a little creativity, simple snacks become a fun way for children to learn nutrition, math skills through measuring, and how to follow directions in the kitchen! Here are five of our favorite Thanksgiving snacks for kids to make:

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1. Turkey Shaped Cheese Platter

Encourage children to work on sorting skills as they use a little creativity and a lot of cheese to create a turkey-shaped cheese platter! Find out how here.

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2. Caramel Apple Nachos

Break out the apples and caramel for a tasty treat the whole family will enjoy! This is an easy (and healthy) snack that’s perfect for children who are eager to help out in the kitchen. Directions here.

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3. Owl S’mores

Make these adorable Owl S’mores with a couple of graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate chips, yellow candy melts, and candy corn! They’re sure to be a family favorite! Find out how to make them here.

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4. Fruity Turkey

Get creative with different fruits to create this adorable fruit turkey! Kids will work on fine motor skills as they cut different fruits in half and put on the final touches with shaped carrots!

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5. Turkey Pretzel Snack

Break out the pretzels and peanut butter for some turkey fun! This is a cute idea to keep little hands busy as they create their cute turkey snack. Find instructions on how to get started here.

Build budding culinary skills in your children by investing in a starter kitchen set! Browse our selection here.

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Don’t miss even more ways to get creative in the kitchen with Cooking Art! 

Helping Little Hands for Thanksgiving Dinner

10 Nov

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As the holidays approach, there are more and more opportunities for little hands to get involved as you prepare for family get-togethers! One of the biggest jobs can be the Thanksgiving meal! Why not turn what can be stressful into a learning opportunity for your children? Here are a few ways to get little ones involved in the process:

1. Pretzel Kabobs

One easy way for kids to get involved is by making kabobs! Create patterns and different combinations by making completely edible kabobs with an assortment of foods – from cubes of turkey breast to grapes.

Ingredients:

  • Apple slices
  • Cheese pieces
  • Grapes
  • Pretzel sticks or rods
  • Turkey, cubed
  • Cranberry

What to Do:

  1. Before your child begins to make their kabob, prepare the ingredients by pre-cutting holes in the center so they can slide food onto the pretzel stick and avoid frustration of having the pretzel break.
  2. Invite your child to choose a combination of items and slide each one onto a pretzel stick.
  3. Encourage your child to discover different pattern possibilities.
  4. Serve for a creative Thanksgiving meal appetizer!

Source: The Budding Chef

2. Apple Butter in a Crock-Pot

This delicious spread is a crowd pleaser. Make it in the fall and fill your home with the season’s best aroma for the family to enjoy. It’s also a great addition to any bread that may accompany your Thanksgiving spread!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds medium-sized cooking apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Tools

  • crock-pot
  • Cutting board
  • knives

What to Do:

  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Invite your child to help as much as possible, but supervise closely.
  2. Have your child put the apples, water, and cinnamon into a crock-pot to make applesauce. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours. (Savor the aroma!)
  3. The next day, help your child mix the applesauce, sugar, and cloves in the crock-pot.
  4. Take turns stirring every hour, for 8 hours total.
  5. Before you and your child go to bed, turn the crock-pot to low heat and let the mixture cook all night. The apple butter will be ready to eat in the morning!
  6. Help your child fill small baby food jars with the apple butter.
  7. Refrigerate once the butter is cool to ensure that the apple butter stays fresh!

Source: The Budding Chef 

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3. Stone Soup

Whether it’s your famous stuffing or casserole, many Thanksgiving dishes require a lot of ingredients. Have your kids bring different ingredients and comment on how everyone has something different to add to the dish. Once you’re at a good stopping point, read Stone Soup and reflect on how important everyone’s role is in making a meal truly come together.

Looking for more ways your children can get involved? Check out the following resources: