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Archive for September, 2009

I’m not a big spender.  I’m not a clothes horse, I rarely eat out, and I’ve set limits on my personal allotment of Caribou Coffee white chocolate mochas.  But I’m struggling with one area of my budget … groceries.  It seems like no matter what I do, the dollars I spend each month on food continue to rise.  So this week I’m looking at ways we can all keep our eyes on our grocery budgets while feeding our families nutritious meals.

One important way to spend less on groceries is to simply use all of the food you buy.  I cringe when I find myself throwing away brown lettuce, soft celery, or leftovers that have been shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten.  Cutting down on the amount of wasted food is key. Leftovers can be easily packed for lunch at the office or school.  Keep them stored toward the front of the fridge so you remember to eat them before they end up in the trash.  Look at what’s in your fridge and cupboards before you shop and build your weekly menu around ingredients that you already have.  I discovered two half-used containers of wild rice in my cupboard, so my family’s going to be eating wild rice casserole this week.  You can always find a new recipe by going to a favorite web site (epicurious.com or cobornsdelivers.com, for example) and entering an ingredient that you want to use.  You may even end up discovering a new family favorite! (more…)

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When my kids were younger, my favorite time of day was when they came home after a few hours of preschool and kindergarten. Excited to share their day, we would make a healthy snack together, kids chopping vegetables to go with my homemade bread (whole wheat of course)! Back then I was convinced that if the kids helped me prepare food in the kitchen they would grow up to become well-rounded and health-conscious eaters.

Fast-forward 10 years: two kids in high school and one in grade school. The health-conscious philosophy has not really come to pass; I have three kids with three distinctively different opinions about what a snack entails ranging from gummy bears to a bag of chips, or pretzels to three toasted white bagels loaded with butter. Not exactly what I had in mind during those lazy afternoons of yesteryear.

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basket_with_apples_400_400If you’re like me, there’s no “fruit eating” experience better than biting into a red, ripe apple – they’re crisp, crunchy and sweet. Eat one and you feel like eating 10! Earlier this week we received a bag of “Evan’s Apples” in our order from CobornsDelivers and it’s arguably the best batch of apples I’ve ever had! If you want a great “apple experience,” with your cider this fall – go order Evan’s Apples at CobornsDelivers.com.  You won’t be disaappointed.

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Tailgating is an entirely American phenomenon. When I first moved here from Norway many years ago, it took me a quite some time to embrace the concept of a party in a parking lot. But that was before I was invited to a real American tailgating party. My first party consisted of dried out burgers, burnt hot dogs and soggy chips. But it was still quite the party, and we had a lot of fun.

Even though my first tailgating experience ended up being a good one, there was still quite a lull in time before I attended a second one – several years in fact. This time, I was many years out of college, children and husband in tow, and ready for charred burgers. But times had changed. At this tailgating soiree, grilled chicken breast was on the menu flanked by scrumptious salads and dips, appetizers (cucumber slices topped with cream cheese, salmon and dill – delicious) and even dessert. I guess with age, my friends have kicked both style and menu choices up a few notches.

Not that I need too many excuses for a party, but I’m adding tailgating to my list of fun things to do. On my next trip to Norway, I’m introducing tailgating to parents at my nephew’s soccer game. This is a tradition that Norwegians will embrace!

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I’m not ashamed to admit it: my brain is in dire need of help.  Between juggling errands, preschool schedules, play dates, and dance class, my brain gets boggled.  It seems that my synapses are not firing adequately, or perhaps at all!  What can I do to help my stumbling, bumbling mind?  I decided to do some digging and pinpoint some simple, effective ways in which we can all help our brains stay clear and focused.

Eat Good Brain Food

  • Blueberries: Mmmmm, sweet, juicy blueberries—they’re not only delicious but also beneficial, thanks to the antioxidants and inflammatory characteristics that can help your brain.  Researchers discovered that eating blueberries reduces the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  Older lab rats with a diet high in blueberries were found to be as mentally astute as much younger rats.
  • Nuts and Chocolate: Adding walnuts to your oatmeal or salad can help your brain.  They’re high in omega-3s, which help keep your brain healthy.  Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E, which is linked to less cognitive decline in older people.  If you need a good excuse to eat chocolate, look no more.  Dark chocolate not only contains antioxidants but also has natural stimulants, including caffeine, which will help you concentrate and focus.

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If you’re like me, you get tired of your kids complaining about what’s for dinner – especially when it’s already on the table!  To get around this, I have implemented a “Meal Requests Board” in my kitchen.  We have a giant white board where anyone can write down their requests for the upcoming week.  This empowers everyone in the family – they don’t get to beg for certain foods (at usually inopportune times, like when dinner’s in the oven) and I can make what they like more often and avoid arguments.

But still I find that mealtime prep can be painful, especially when I have to feed everyone by 4 p.m. (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit – but doesn’t it feel like that sometimes?) in order to deliver the kids to evening sports and classes.   And embarrassingly, I often find myself in the grocery store walking aimlessly through the aisles trying to remember the requests and what I already have at home.  Inevitably I forget a crucial item…

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School Lunch Alternatives

brown-bag-lunch3It’s week number two of the back-to-school craziness and already I have broken my well-intentioned commitment to myself to ensure the optimal health and well-being of my children’s nutritional needs. Long story short, I have only packed one school lunch so far! UGH! As each school year begins, I am full of renewed hope and promise to print out the three school lunch calendars for all three kids and review the weekly selections with them to mutually determine what days they will pack their lunches. I don’t know about you, but when my kids come home and tell me they had a “Bosco Cheese Stick” for lunch I think, “Really? Do they seriously call that lunch?”

I decided the only way that my lunch intentions will stick this year is if I pre-plan and create my “most-likely-to-succeed” lunch program.

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