Are you looking to save time, money and stress? Are you tired of rushing in the morning to pack your kid’s lunch? Do you feel that you are constantly nagging your kids to take more responsibility? Do you see dollar signs when your kids bring home their lunch box filled with the foods you lovingly packed uneaten and spoiled? Does it stress you out when you are stuck in the kitchen packing lunches instead of spending quality time with your family?
Lunch, by me! is the answer you’ve been looking for! Lunch, by me! eliminates stress, promotes healthy eating, good nutrition, independence and self-esteem by teaching children how to pack their own healthy school lunch. Lunch, by me! is filled with easy-to-prepare recipes that kids love to make, eat and share. From planning their lunch menu to going to the grocery store to cooking to packing their lunch, children are engaged in every step of the process. It’s easy for kids to use and it offers numerous benefits, including:
- Teaches children about nutrition and reinforces math, reading and science concepts with hands-on learning
- Saves parents time by allowing children to take responsibility for packing their own lunch
- Saves money by elminating purchasing unwanted food
- Elminates stress by creating a plan for the week rather than rushing to find items to pack in your child’s lunch each day
- Illustrates how the food choices we make affect our mental, physical and social well-being
- Encourages independence and responsibility
- Provides easy and fun recipes that kids can prepare themselves
Lunch, by me! is designed to help you provide your child with a healthy, nutritious lunch without nagging, fighting or stress. By providing you and your child with a lunch plan, menu and shopping list, it helps you focus on what’s most important…spending time with your family.
The Lunch, by me! kit includes:
- Lunch, by me! Write & Wipe Checklist
- Lunch, by me! bin for the pantry
- Lunch, by me! lunch container – Personalized with your child’s name
- Grocery shopping list
- Stickers of kids’ favorite foods
- Lunch, by me! love notes
Order now on PayPal or order the eBook on the Kindle and Nook.
For a limited time you can get this entire kit for only $20. Simply email Stacy Cacciatore to order your kit today.
It’s almost back to school time, which means time to begin packing lunch again. I’m launching a brand-new product and cookbook called Lunch, by me! which is a complete toolkit for parents and children to use together to make packing a nutritious school lunch easy and fun. This is HOT off the press and I’ll share more later this week on the full product line, but in the meantime, I want to give you a sneak peak of one of the recipes in the book: Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers.
Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers
For school lunch I like to pack my kids kabobs with the gluten-free chicken fingers, cut-up cheese sticks and grapes, threaded on a chopstick because
1 – Everything tastes better on a stick and
2 – My kids think that chicken fingers deserve their own food category
I usually make the chicken fingers for dinner the night before and then cut them up in the morning for the kabobs.
Cook once = eat twice = WIN!
I saw a recipe for Betty Crocker’s gluten-free chicken fingers , but I wasn’t a huge fan because her recipe used Gluten-Free Bisquick which doesn’t offer the crunch or flavor of typical chicken fingers. Instead, I used gluten-free panko, which you can find at Earth Fare or Whole Foods.
Baked Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
- 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup garbonzo bean flour
- 1 cup crushed gluten-free panko flakes
1. Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl and soak the chicken tenderloins for several hours in the refridgerator.
2. Mix the garbonzo bean flour and spices and spread onto a large plate. Pour the gluten-free panko flakes in a large Ziploc bag.
3. One at a time, remove a chicken tenderloin from the buttermilk mixture. Dip into the garbonzo bean flour mixture on the plate, then dip back into the buttermilk, then place in the bag of gluten-free panko flakes and shake vigously (kids love to help with this step.)
4. Spray a 9X14 inch glass baking dish with Trader Joes Olive Oil Spray and place the chicken fingers one at a time in the dish. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.
These are absolutely delish! My hubby and kids LOVED them for dinner and the kiddos had them the next day in their lunch. They even begged for them again for an afterschool snack!
Try them and let me know what you think.
I’m trying to drop a few pounds after completing losing my mind and eating everything in site indulging a bit in Boston last week, so I’m trying to up my protein intake.
Partner that with my love of seafood and exposure to the most delicious array of crab dishes in Boston and I just knew I had to whip up some healthy crab cakes.
Crab cakes aren’t inherently healthy. Typical crab cakes are filled with mayonnaise, butter and bread and are fried in oil. I lightened mine up with minimal effort and I think they are even more delish than their oil-laden cousin.
Give them a try and let me know what you think. They whip up in minutes and are simply delish.
- 1 ½ Tbsp. fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 cup whole-wheat panko (in crab cake)
- 1 lb. lump crabmeat
- ½ cup whole-wheat panko (for coating)
1. To prepare crab cakes, add all ingredients, except for ½ cup whole-wheat panko. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Remove from fridge and form into patties. Pour whole-wheat panko on paper plate and lightly coat crab cake in panko on both sides.
3. Place on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 8 minutes.
After having a wonderful kid-less long weekend in Boston with my hubby, I returned refreshed, rejuvenated and 10 lbs. heavier. What in the world? How can that happen in only a few days? Sure, I indulged a bit, but we walked a lot and I tried to have healthy breakfast and lunch to make up for my indulgences. How can a few pastries, crab and lobster ravioli and pasta dishes derail me that much?
Well, it’s time to get back on the stick, so when I got home and saw the message from Cassey with Blogilates on her #blogilatesbet challenge on DietBet, I was in! Dietbet is an online social diet challenge game. It is really simple. You can choose an amount of money to bet on your weight loss and you have 4 weeks to lose 4% of your bodyweight. You play with friends and after 4 weeks, if you meet your goal, you can spilt the pot with the other winners. Why do this? Research shows that dieters are more likely to lose weight when money is on the line.
I’ve really tightened the belt on my diet this week and kept up with my already rigorous exercise schedule. I’ve planned out my meals for the week which include several mini meals throughout the day that include a lot of protein, fresh veggies, some fruit and grains. I made some delish healthy crab cakes tonight that were completely guilt-free. They tasted so good, it’s hard to believe they were healthy. I’ll share the recipe with you tomorrow.
Do you want to join me in the #blogilatesbet challenge? If so, comment on this post and provide your name as it appears on Facebook. I’ll send you the special link through Facebook so you can get in on our challenge. The best part is that since it is with the blogilates group, our pot is huge and growing larger by the day! Right now there is $141, 425 in the pot!
I’d love for you to join me! I will share my meal plans, exercise schedule and recipes, as well as my progress on Five a Day the Fun Way. I’ve only been following my plan for two days and I’ve already dropped some weight, my hunger has decreased and I feel great.
So if you’ve been looking to drop a few, come join me in the challenge! We can do this together!
Looking for a way to eat your greens that not only pleases your palate, but satisfies even the pickiest of eaters? Look no further than this delish ragout that is chock full of healthy vegetables, tasty sausage and creamy fiber-filled beans.
I recently signed up for Backyard Produce, which is a weekly service that delivers fresh, local, organic produce straight to your door. You can either customize your basket by selecting each food your receive or select the variety basket which is full of that week’s best selections.
This week I chose kale, tomatoes, zucchini because I’m trying to eat more organic produce. When I came home and saw my box of fresh veggies on my porch, I was as excited as if it was my birthday! But then I quickly began racking my brain at how I could use up this produce in a way that was tasty and would lure my kids into eating it too.
Imagine my elation when I saw this recipe on Cooking Light for a Kale, white bean, zucchini, tomato and apple sausage ragout. It was chock-full of veggies and I had every ingredient in my pantry – score!
It was super simple to make and the flavors married beautifully. I was concerned because my past experiences with kale haven’t been great. Aside from kale chips, I don’t really like the flavor of kale. It is a bit too tough for a salad, too bitter to eat raw and doesn’t blend well in pasta or casseroles.
But kale is truly a super food and definitely worth giving another try. Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has 0 grams of fat. It is high in iron, vitamin K, A, C and calcium. It’s also brimming with antioxidants. I tweaked the Cooking Light recipe a bit to meet my needs, such as using minced garlic instead of whole, eliminating the olive oil and onion and adding fresh tomato instead of canned.
Kale, White Bean, Apple Sausage and Zucchini Ragout
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 (4-ounce) links chicken sausage, cut into (1/2-inch) slices – I used Thin n Trim Apple Cinnamon Sausage
- 1 zucchini, quartered and cut into (1/2-inch) slices (about 2 cups)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 6 cups chopped trimmed kale (about 1/2 pound)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Brown sausage in a large saute pan and add garlic. Add zucchini and kale; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve immediately.
I wish that my nephew had a visible disability.
I know that sounds terrible and many of you will disagree with me. But, if he were in a wheelchair, wore leg braces or required a feeding tube, others would be able to see his disability. Cullen’s disability isn’t obvious. When you look at him you can’t tell anything is wrong at all.
Cullen is a smiling, happy, beautiful boy with blond hair and brown eyes. He loves Mickey Mouse more than anything in the world. He loves cookies, splashing in the water and running freely through the Pisgah Forest.
He also has autism.
This weekend I had the privilege of spending time with my mom, sister and nephews in Pisgah Forest, NC. I was utterly shocked and appalled at the way people treated my nephew.
We stayed at a hotel in Pisgah Forest, NC. We stay there every time we visit, which is about four times a year.
This hotel offers a complimentary continental breakfast for all guests. Except for those with autism apparently.
We all were excited to eat breakfast together and plan the day ahead of us. While we were enjoying our Belgian waffle and yogurt the manager approached our table and asked us to take Cullen outside of the hotel because his voice was too loud and he may disturb other guests.
Did I mention it was sleeting?
So while I ran back up to the room to gather our belongings, my sister sat outside of the hotel in the freezing rain, crying and holding her little boy while trying to corral four other children to sit and be as quiet as possible until we could leave.
I find this completely unacceptable. Would you tell someone in a wheelchair that they had to leave the restaurant because their wheelchair took up too much room? Would you tell a parent of a child with a feeding tube that you have to feed him outside because it will disturb other guests?
Cullen is 3 ½ but because of his disability he can’t communicate like other 3 year olds. He communicates with sign language, gestures, vocalizing (making sounds with different tones) and speaking a few words. His communication challenges are two-way, so not only does he struggle with telling us what he needs, he also can’t understand us. He doesn’t understand two-step directions and definitely doesn’t understand behavior expectations. As you can imagine, he gets frustrated when others don’t understand him. When he gets frustrated, he cries. He is extremely smart, but it’s as if he’s trapped in a world in which we processes and communicates differently from us, so he can’t let us know what he thinks and feels.
I wish I could say that the experience at the hotel was isolated, but it wasn’t. Everywhere we went that weekend we experienced discrimination based on his disability. The teenager who worked in the bakery asked us to leave. The guys who worked at the deli whispered criticisms of him to each other and rolled their eyes when I asked if there was room to dine-in. The owner of the chocolate shop said, “oh great,” when we walked in and said to her employee, “is he wearing a diaper? I think I can smell him from here.” Even the elderly lady in the children’s consignment shop said to a co-worker, “can she not control her child?” Everywhere we went others rolled their eyes, whispered to each other as we walked by and were disrespectful.
Yes, his voice is loud. Yes, the vocalizing can be distracting. But he has a disability. Do we have no tolerance in this country for others who have special needs?
Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that there is a wide range of what autism looks like. Just because someone doesn’t fit into a stereotypical box of what a disability should look or sound like doesn’t mean that they don’t have a disability. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, it varies greatly from person to person.
Chances are that you or your child will encounter someone with autism as the rate of autism has grown significantly over the past twenty years. Autism affects 1 in 88 children and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
Those with autism have the right to be respected and receive equal treatment. Autistic children shouldn’t have to grow up in an environment constantly being told that their instinctive behaviors are wrong and feel that they can’t be accepted for who they are.
In honor of autism awareness month I’d like to ask you to please take a moment before criticizing the behavior of a child or perceived lack of discipline of a parent. The little girl in the grocery store may be experiencing sensory overload. The boy in the toy store may have been triggered by too bright of lights. The child in the hotel may have been trying to communicate his joy at spending time with his cousins. Please help do your part to make every child feel respected and accepted.
For more information on autism, visit:
Light it up Blue
Organization for Autism Research
Looking for a fun, healthy way to trick your kids on April Fool’s Day? Look no further than these “cupcakes” you can serve for dinner! Fool your kids not only by serving “dessert” for dinner, but hide veggies inside this delicious meat loaf for a trick that’s a real treat!
I’m typically not a fan of hiding veggies in my kids food because I want them to grow to love the taste of fresh fruits and vegetables, but I make an excpetion with meatloaf. Meatloaf is the perfect dish to enhance the nutrition, taste and moistness by adding pureed carrots, grated zucchini and wheat germ.
This is the best meatloaf you’ve ever sink your teeth into. The grated zucchini adds moisture without added fat and the wheat germ is a perfectsubstitute for breadcrumbs, which typically contain enriched wheat flour and salt.
April Fool’s Day Meatloaf Cupcakes
- 1 lb. Extra Lean Beef
- 1 small zucchini, grated
- 1/2 cup carrots, cooked and pureed
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1/2 cup whole wheat panko
- 1/2 cup sugar-free ketchup (available at Earth Fare)
- 2 Tbsp Worchestire Sauce
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350
Put ground beef in a big bowl. Add grated zucchini, pureed carrots, ketchup, worchestire, garlic and egg in the bowl and mix with your hands. Add wheat germ, whole-wheat panko, garlic, salt and pepper, mix until combined being careful not to overmix. Use an ice cream scoop to help you fill the meat into a muffin tin. Each cupcake tin should hold 1/2 cup of meat mixture. Top each meatloaf with a spoonful of ketchup on top. Bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the mashed potatoes:
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
salt and pepper
India Tree Natuaral Decorating Colors
Boil potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash by hand with milk using a potato masher (don’t use a food processor or they get too gluey.) Add Greek yogurt and stir gently. Add the all-natural food decorating color. India Tree makes a great all natural food decorating set that doesn’t contain any harmful dyes. Check out this great article on the safety of food coloring for children for more information on all-natural food coloring.
Dollop the mashed potatoes onto of the meatloaf cupcake and swirl to make it look like a cupcake. I even added an edible “My Love” heart, which I got from Williams-Sonoma.
My daughter took a big bite of the faux cupcake and then got a big smile on her face when she saw it was ac
tually meatloaf. She loved it and had no idea it was actually filled with veggies. Double April Fools!
Do you do anything fun for April Fools Day? Do you hide veggies in your kids food?
I can’t believe Easter is this Sunday! I feel completely unprepared, as the month of March has flown by!
The typical Easter treats are filled with artificial food coloring, artificial flavorings, sugar and fat. While I’ll let my kids indulge in some of these treats in moderation (what’s Easter without Bunny Big Ears?) I also like to make healthier alternatives that taste just as good as they look.
Yesterday I made my own trail mix bars shaped like Easter bunnies, which was a special surprise for my kids as they celebrated their last day of school before Spring Break!
These bars contain a variety of ingredients I found in my pantry, including whole-grain oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins and dried apples. You can vary the ingredients based on what you have lying around. These bars are a great way to use up the leftover bits and pieces of ingredients you have to clean out your
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raisins
- handful dried apples, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup Better ‘n Peanut Butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350
2. Mix together all of the dry ingredients.
3. Melt the honey and Better ‘n Peanut Butter in a bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds.
4. Pour honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Add egg and vanilla extract.
5. Pour mixture into 15X10X1 jelly roll pan or into a Bunny Whoopie Pie Pan (available via Wilton)
6. Bake for 20 minutes (if jelly roll pan) less if you are using a smaller whoopie pie pan
7. Cut into bars and freeze.
8. Decorate the frozen bars if you’d like or just serve plain! You can make your own healthy cool whip. There is a great recipe on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Simply combine 1 cup milk, 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp xanthan gum. Mix in a mixer on high for two minutes. Spread over the bars and decorate as you’d like.
This is a much healthier alternative to store-bought bars or the typical Easter treats!
Just one serving of jelly beans (35 pieces) has 140 calories and 28 grams of sugar, which is more than the entire Recommended Daily Value of sugar. Peeps may be fat-free, but one serving has a whopping 34 grams of sugar! More disturbing than the sugar is the ingredients in Starburst Jely Beans (obrained from www.foodfacts.com) includes: Sugar, Corn Syrup, Food Starch Modified Apple(s) Juice from Concentrate, Citric Acid, Confectioner’s Glaze, Acacia Gum, Natural and Artificial Coloring (Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1)
Do you make your own healthier Easter treats? What are your favorite Easter indulgences?
I love ice cream. I could literally eat an entire half gallon of Edy’s Girl Scout Cookie Samoas Ice Cream. Ice cream is one of my “trigger foods” and I can’t keep it in the house because it will call my name until it’s gone.
Luckily I’ve created a healthier alternative using only four ingredients! Bananas, real maple syrup, vanilla extract and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
I was happy to see that Oxygen Magazineactually featured a banana ice cream in the March edition. They actually have a Mocha Banana Ice Cream which I’m also going to try. I made my roasted banana ice cream last week and was pleasantly surprised at the creamy, rich flavor. The bonus is that this recipe is dairy, gluten and fat free! Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- 3 medium-sized bananas
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Peel and slice the bananas. I actually peel, slice and freeze my bananas in advance because I love to have frozen banans on hand (they are a delicious snack on their own).
- Throw the bananas in a glass baking dish, pour maple syrup on top and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool (i can neither confirm nor deny eating a few bananas covered in maple syrup straight from the pan)
- Scoop the roasted bananas, almond milk and vanilla extract into a food processort and pulse until combined. Chill for at least two hours.
- Dump into your ice cream maker and make per manufacturer’s instructions.
Let me know if you try it and like it!