"Mom, can I have a snack?"

If you have kids you could hear that phrase a few times a day, or more. You probably reach for the cheese and crackers, pretzels or yogurt. Fruit is always a good choice but if you are fresh out you could try some

If you have never had dehydrated fruit it's crisp and packs a punch in the flavor area. Dehydrated fruit has a crunch kids love and is a good alternative to chips and junk. 
Funky Monkey dehydrated fruit comes in 4 flavors: Bananamon, Jivealime, Purple Funk and Carnaval Mix.
The difference I find with this product compared to other dehydrated fruits we eat is the flavorings. The Bananamon, Jivealime and Purple Funk are are sprayed with a  thin coat of cinnamon, lime or acai berry. The Purple Funk is banana coated with acai, many people have never heard of acai, it is a very high in anti-oxidants. The acai berry is a drupe and comes from the same family as the coconut.
The pineapple was a bit tart for our 5 year old, I'd love to see a coconut pineapple flavor something a bit more mellow. Our favorite flavoring was the Bananamon, dried bananas coated with cinnamon.
Our favorite overall was the Carnaval Mix with raisins, apple, papaya, banana and pineapple, because the true fruit flavors came through so well.
I'd say these would not be great for very small children because the pieces are a bit sharp, but perfect in an a school lunch. Over all we liked them a lot and they are a great snack and a healthy one! Each 1 oz. pack contains 3 of the four daily servings of fruit required for a healthy diet.
The other thing I was curious about was the life span. Products with water extracted tend to rehydrate and become chewy or sticky over time. Surprisingly these didn't, we left them open for a few hours and then sealed the bags with a bag clip. The next day they were just as crisp!
The best part is that they are organic,
all natural, no sugar or fat added. No colors or preservatives are added and they are gluten free, dairy free, wheat-free and certified Kosher.
We made a cone out of a paper bag and filled it with cereal and Funky Monkey and coconut. It is a great way to do a craft with your child and eat healthy mixes too!

Here is a recipe from my book The Toddler Café

Happy Trails Mix
Tell the children it’s time to be important explorers who need some healthy snacks to bring with them on the trek. This is a great way to use up all those half-empty packages in your pantry. Dehydrated foods are healthy and easy for small hands to pick up and eat. Portion out small amounts into reusable containers and store for a grab-and-go snack. Get adventurous—look around and buy different kinds of dried fruit for this recipe.

Use dried fruit such as
Large flake coconut
Dried kiwi
Cashew pieces
Any leftover cereal
Dehydrated fruit of any kind

Mix and store in an airtight container.
Keep some in the car for hunger emergencies.

To make paper cone
1. Help your child cut out a circle from a paper bag using an upside down bowl about 6 inches across as the circle template.

2. Have your child draw and decorate paper circle.

3. Create a cone shape and seal with tape.

4. Have your child scoop whichever ingredients they choose into the “cone.”

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Music to my ears, I think?

Here is a super challenge for you and your kids your family is sure to get a few laughs.

This is a contest to encourage America to reinvent the classic schoolyard chant, “Beans, beans the musical fruit.”

For years, children and parents have recited variations of this memorable chant, but what they don’t realize is that something in the lyrics is wrong - beans are a vegetable, not a fruit! While 3 out of 4 adults know the bean chant, only 1 in 4 know that beans are actually a vegetable. It’s time to set the record straight!

We’re inviting the public to grab a video camera and record an original bean chant. The requirements are:
· Begin your chant with the phrase “Beans, beans”
· Convey somewhere in your lyrics/chant that beans are a veggie or vegetable

People can visit Bean Chant until Dec. 12, 2008 to upload their videos for a chance to win the grand prize – $5,000 and a trip for four to perform the winning chant at a February event in Times Square hosted by Drew Lachey, multi-platinum recording artist, bean fan and dad.

Here is some inspiration
Beans, beans have protein to spare
Call them a fruit? I won’t even dare
They’re a veggie that makes you grow up big and strong
And with beans on the table, your meal can’t go wrong

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Getting Into the Green (sorry, it's not about money)

Getting our kids to eat their veggies can be tough, even kids who like veggies can have a hard time eating the proper amount.
They are always on the run and need lots of good energy foods.
A few months ago I picked up a book called The Raw Detox Diet for myself. I was feeling a bit sluggish and needed a good inner scrubbing! One of the healthful things the author suggests to have every day is something that is brilliantly named Green Lemonade. She says in the book that it can become addicting, I thought ACK how could kale juice become addicting? I gave it the benefit of the doubt and I started juicing this green lemonade every morning. I had a juicer from my obsessive days of drinking carrot juice (that is a whole other story in itself) when ones hands turn a strange shade of rust it is time to step away from the carrots. Back away from the carrots...and I did.
Anyway back to the story, so I juiced: Kale, apple, ginger, lettuce, lemon and guess what? I LOVED IT, I loved it so much I offered it to my 5 year old, telling her it was called, green lemonade. She loved it too. The lemon cuts the "green" taste and the apple adds sweetness. If you have a finicky kid try adding agave nectar to sweeten it up, agave has a low glycemic index and is better for you than sugar.

So what's your point Jen? My point is is that if you call something as bizarre as kale juice and lemon something a kid can relate to they are much more likely to try it. Now it is possible that your child may not like it but you can experiment with the lemon, add more apple and bingo you have a perfect veggie in a cup all you need is a straw!

Recipe for

Green Lemonade
adapted from Natalia Rose The Raw Food Detox Diet
For juicing try to buy organic especially when juicing the peels.
for kids cut this in 1/2 and add ice to dilute and you can drink the rest.
Warning: this can be intense so start small and work up, I do double this recipe in the am for myself.
Ginger does not have a long shelf life so I wash and cut my ginger into coins and store it in the freezer. You can toss it in to most the juicers or thaw it a bit in the microwave.

1 apple, cut peel on
1/2 lemon, cut, peel on
1/2-1 head Romaine lettuce, washed
1 large kale leaf or more if desired If using Dino Kale use 2 or more)
1/2 inch ginger, peel on

Juice all ingredients as machine suggests, drink and enjoy.

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Freaky Friday

Welcome to Freaky Friday. I happen to be the lucky owner of a set of recipe cards from 1973, a lot of recipe cards, and most of them are a bit freaky! I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and possible ways to update these recipes. Some cards are just too far gone and can't be fixed but hopefully, at least I can get you laughing. Now don't be afraid because some of these recipe cards have a good foundation for creative recipe ideas. We have come a long way baby...

I wouldn't want to eat one of those pool balls thinking it was a cherry tomato!!

Hot Tuna and Egg Buns

Old School

stuffed green olives
cheddar cheese cubes
hard cooked eggs, (the overcooked kind with the green ring)
mayonnaise or cooked salad dressing 
sweet pickle relish
chopped onion
frankfurter rolls

Update Suggestions...

Easy Tuna Melt
olive oil or mayonnaise (just a bit)
good quality cheese, Swiss or Provolone
grated Parmesan on top
leftover hot dog or hamburger bun
Black olives on the side

Broil cheeses over tuna serve.

Remember buy dolphin safe tuna and don't eat it too often.
More on safe fish to eat go here too.

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Play is Back

With school in full swing, I thought this was a good time to share this short post.
I am getting serious on you but don't worry regularly scheduled programming will return as soon as possible.

A while back I had the pleasure of listening to a fantastic author and researcher named Kathy Hirish-Pasek. She spoke about her book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards. Not only was she funny and energetic but a wealth of information on the subject of how our children learn. It was as if she was speaking directly to me, I breathed a sigh of relief for my school days past and my daughters future.
School for me was an endless struggle of failing miserably and succeeding superbly. Trying to fit inside a box of purple and white dittos, smelling the wet ink feeling the frustration before I even tried. Sitting in endless math classes feeling lost and knowing summer school was in my future.
I hid in the art room, throughout my years in middle and high school I retreated to the art room where the familiar smells of tempera and clay welcomed me. I was good at art I thrived there, I received praise there I was smart there I succeeded there.
My daughter at the wise age of five loves to play, make up stories and be in her fantasy land as much as possible. I do not feel the need to drill her on flash cards or force her to stifle her creativity. I was worried about her academic prowess. She is learning through her play they kids are designed for that, have you ever seen a four year old able to sit still for more that 10 minutes? Drilling her with flashcards may put my worries at ease but it is about her not me right? Hirish-Pasek says, " putting children in a rigid structure as young as two or three can create anxiety, hostility and fear." They need us their parents not tutors, she also states that, "children as young as nine are experiencing anxiety attacks," that is an outrageous statistic. We want our kids to be creative thinkers not robots, the system is an endless snarl of red tape and test scores, not designed for individuals but fore the group.

What does this have to do with food and your child you ask? Well, Hirish-Pasek is passionate about learning through play, touching, exploring, imagining and more and so am I.
Let them play and teach them while they are comfortable and relaxed. If your child needs to brush up on letters, serve alphabet soup. If they are having trouble counting, count and stack carrots, teach it out of context and see what happens. Our kids don't have to struggle just find out how they learn best and follow their lead.

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The fruits or vegetables of our labor...or not

A few months back I did a post about our Magic Garden, well the time has come to show it off.

Here is a shot of some of our beans in different stages and our Echinicha flower.  The reason we call it our Magic Garden is because a while back my dad sent me an envelope marked Irv's magic beans. Of course I thought he was just being silly, he usually is.  When we spoke he told me that he had a photo of he and his sister in the 30's in front of a bean plant. He'd been searching for the same heirloom bean and found it, that is what was in the envelope!  We planted them and they grew beautifully and without much attention in our garden. It is so nice to be growing something that I can pass to friends and has a great history to it.
My daughter likes to make soup from the beans, she gets out her spices and adds herbs from and vegies. Tonight she made up a "soup" with curry, cinnamon cherry tomatoes, beans and basil, it wasn't half bad!
So when you need a quick meal don't forget about beans even if you did not grow them yourself!

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