5 Tips For Clearer Skin

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AfterDifferin #CollectiveBias

I shared back in May how I’ve been self-conscious for years because of my acne prone skin. It’s kept me from introducing myself to new people, getting in pictures with my children, and starting to use video as a tool for blogging. I never realized how much my bad skin kept me from doing things, but recently it’s become more apparent. For example, I’m in the process of planning my wedding. I found the most beautiful dress, but I wouldn’t let my mom take a photo of me in it at the bridal dress store. I wasn’t wearing makeup and I didn’t want any pictures of my bare face. The photo below is the image she ended up with and what I shared on social media. As you can see, my face is nowhere to be found.

Knowing that on my wedding day I’ll be in numerous photos, I decided that it was really important to focus on improving my skin. I want to look back on my wedding photos and see my smiling face next to my husband. I also want to be in more pictures with my children instead of hiding behind the camera all the time. My bad skin has greatly affected every area of my life, and I decided that I’m not going to let it do so any longer. There are five things I’ve been doing to work on clearing up my skin, so I wanted to share them with you all in the hopes that they can help someone else.

The first, and most important thing that I did, was add Differin® Gel to my skincare regimen. It’s the only prescription-strength retinoid available over-the-counter for clearing and preventing acne. It’s the newest advancement and ingredient in the OTC acne category in over 30 years! It clears breakouts where they start (deep in the pores) and prevents breakouts before they begin and as a result, restores skin’s texture and tone. I’ve noticed clearer skin after using this product for a couple months. I went from always having one or two large pimples and a number of smaller ones to only having a pimple or two around the time my period comes. I also noticed that the breakouts that I do get are less severe and go away quicker than before.

I took photos before I started using Differin® Gel and about two months later. In both images I have a light layer of moisturizing cream on my face and that’s it. I normally add some concealer over my breakouts, but for these pictures I didn’t put any on. (Both images are not retouched or edited in any way, I’m just a bit tanner in the “after” image since the warmer weather is here and I’m outside more.)

You can see in the images above how much better my skin looks in just a couple months. My chin and cheeks, the areas that used to break out the most, are clear of new breakouts now except for one small pimple. After living with numerous breakouts all over my face, I can deal with a tiny one, especially knowing that it won’t get as bad as my pimples used to get. If you look at the “before” picture you’ll see that I have a large dark spot on my right cheek which was a pimple that seemed to be there for months. That doesn’t happen anymore!

Along with using Differin® Gel, I wanted to share some other things I’m doing in my quest for healthier looking skin.

 

  • Using a moisturizer daily- I used to avoid moisturizer because I thought it made my skin worse; however,  I discovered that a lightweight moisturizer made for acne prone skin, like Differin® Balancing Moisturizer, is actually good for my skin.

  • Drinking more water- Again, skin needs to be moisturized! Drinking plenty of water helps the skin look fabulous from the inside out. I am still not reaching my daily water intake goal, but I’m drinking more water than I used to.

  • Touching my face less- Whether it’s picking at a breakout, rubbing my forehead when I’m stressed, or resting my chin in my hands, I realized that I touched my face on a frequent basis. This habit not only spreads germs but was probably making my acne worse, so I’m trying to be more conscious of this habit and working on keeping my hands away from my face.

  • Having makeup free days- Now that my skin is clearing up, I feel better not wearing makeup every second. If I have a day I’m not doing much, I’ll skip makeup and give my skin a day to breathe.

I hope these five tips for clearer skin help you if you are suffering from acne. If you want to try Differin® Gel you can find it in the facial skincare aisle at Walmart by the other acne-fighting products. Go to Differin.com to get $2 off Differin® Gel and use it on your next shopping trip to Walmart!

When using the product, keep in mind that Differin® Gel is not used in the same way as a spot treatment. In order to get the best results, you should apply a thin layer all over the face, once a day, every day, after your skin is washed and before moisturizer. Please use caution when using Differin® Gel with more than one acne treatment or glycolic acid product because this could lead to irritation. Also, it’s important to continue using Differin® Gel as part of your skincare routine, even after your skin looks clear, to help prevent future breakouts.

Do you struggle with acne or have you in the past? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! Let me know if you have any great tips to share on how to reduce acne other than the ones I’ve listed here.

Disclosure: This product is dermatologist developed and tested. Please call 1-866-735-4137 for any questions you may have concerning the product. However, should you experience any problems while using the product, please discontinue use and consult your healthcare provider.

Fun Ways To Teach Kids Good Oral Hygiene Habits

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This post and party were sponsored by ACT Kids Toothpaste but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

As parents, there are a lot of life skills that we have to teach our children- from helping them learn to feed and dress themselves to organizational skills that help them succeed in school. My past eight and a half years of parenting have been spent teaching (and re-teaching) my children these various skills. Some skills have taken my boys just days to learn and others have taken years for them to master.

One skill that is very important for kids to learn is good oral hygiene habits, from proper brushing to flossing to rinsing. There are also other things they need to learn when it comes to oral hygiene, like what foods they should avoid and the importance of visiting the dentist. The best way to teach children all of these skills is to make learning them fun and what better way to do that then to have a little party with friends?

Here are some fun, easy ways to teach kids good oral hygiene habits at a TOOTHtastic party.

Help children develop an oral hygiene routine.

Getting Lucas to brush his teeth is a daily struggle and I know I’m not alone in this. According to a recent survey, nearly 4 in 10 moms say getting their kids to brush their teeth is one of their most frustrating daily battles.* I have discovered that my boys are more likely to follow an oral hygiene routine if it’s enjoyable so we’ve tried many things to make brushing a more fun experience, from picking out a cool toothbrush to choosing pleasant tasting toothpaste. Other things you can do are to use a timer for kids to make sure they are brushing long enough and a tooth brushing chart to let them track their progress and make sure they brush at least twice a day.

Help your children learn about foods that are good for their teeth and foods that are bad for their teeth.

For younger children you can do a “happy tooth, sad tooth” activity. Draw and cut out two large teeth on paper and then draw a smile on one and a sad face on the other. Use clipart from the computer or cut out foods from grocery ads and then let your child sort the different foods and decide which ones make teeth “happy” and which ones make teeth “sad”. When they are done with the sorting activity they can color the teeth “happy” and “sad” colors as well.

Teach children how to care for their teeth.

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes each time

  • Add rinse (when they turn 6)

  • Floss daily (as soon as they have two teeth that touch)

ACT has a number of oral care products that are perfect for children. ACT Kids Toothpaste, available for kids ages 2 years and older in bubble gum and fruit punch flavors, strengthens and protects developing teeth and helps prevent cavities. The new ACT Kids Toothpaste is available at a variety of retail locations, including select Walmart, Walgreens, and Target locations. ACT Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse is also a good option for kids 6 and older because swishing with it for just 60 seconds a day reduces children’s cavities by up to 40% versus brushing alone. Get a coupon for ACT products here.

How do you help your children learn good oral hygiene habits?

* This survey was sponsored by Sanofi Consumer Healthcare and conducted online using Toluna’s QuickSurveys methodology between February 13, 2017 and February 14, 2017 among 1,150 moms with children between the ages of two and 12 in the USA. Respondents for Toluna QuickSurveys are selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Toluna surveys.

Toluna’s SmartSelectTM methodology was used to promote sample representativeness. SmartSelect relies on statistical matching rather than probability sampling to select survey respondents, based on demographic, attitudinal and behavioral characteristics that match those of the target population. Figures for age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, education and income are also weighted to bring them into line with their actual proportions within the population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in Toluna surveys, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

A Healthier Lunch {Found In The Freezer}

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

I’ve recently written about my journey to get healthier, from exercising more to drinking more water to making better food choices. I’m working on becoming a healthier version of myself. One thing that I’ve been trying to do is making sure that I eat lunch every day. I used to skip lunch because I was so busy working but I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop and take a moment for myself to eat.

My days may be busy but I’ve found healthier options available at my local Jewel grocery store- MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bowls.

Found in the freezer section, they are a convenient option for lunch because they are easy to heat and eat as-is when I’m in a hurry, which is pretty much every day during this holiday season! I like to take a bit of time out of my day to enjoy a nice hot meal and just sit and relax. Being able to get my veggies in while doing so- nothing is better than that!

These Veggie Bowls are not only for vegetarians—they are for anyone who wants a quick meal with lots of flavor. Their CHIK’N POT PIE Veggie Bowls are filled with 100% vegan chik’n strips and lots of vegetables. They even come with a biscuit! I also liked the Italian Sausage Bake Veggie Bowl, made with Veggie Sausage Crumbles™, that I tried.

To make lunches even better I decorated a special lunch tray for myself. I’m including instructions in case you want to put one together for yourself!

Materials needed:

  • Unfinished wooden tray
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Stickers (I used foil stickers)

To make:

Paint your wooden tray in any color you’d like. I kept it simple by painting it white.

Once you let the tray dry (I let mine dry overnight) it’s time to decorate it.

I used beautiful gold foil stickers to add some shine to the corners of my tray.

Do you take a break from your busy day to enjoy a hot lunch? If so, have you tried these new Veggie Bowls?

No Sew DIY Bag Made From A Tank Top

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and alli® weight loss aid. All opinions are mine alone. #alliInMyLife #After #CollectiveBias

A couple months ago I started on a journey of improving my health. I shared in my previous post about the “aha” moment that I had when I looked at pictures from the past years and realized I was only in a handful of them. I had been letting my weight dictate my life and keep me from the things I wanted to do and it was time for a change.

I wanted to share some things that I am trying that are helping me get healthier like exercising more, eating better and taking alli® weight loss aid. The main thing I’m doing though, is giving myself permission to make myself a priority. As a mom, I always put my children first and often times forget about my needs, and I’m really trying to change that. I started attending a bi-weekly group for moms and am spending more time doing things that I enjoy, along with taking care of my physical health.

I am working on making exercise a part of my daily routine. Since I work online and am sitting a large portion of the day, I’ve been adding in more activity by getting up for five to ten minutes every hour of my work day to walk around. I am also trying to add in more exercise by doing fun things like playing active games with my kids and taking walks while the weather is still nice. I’m adding the gym to my weekly schedule, too.

I’m also making healthier choices for meals and snacks. I’ve stocked my fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables and am giving myself more time to make meals at home instead of taking the easy way out and grabbing something on the go. I realized that there are plenty of easy meals to make that don’t take much time out of my day but are healthy. My favorite lately has been making chicken in the slow cooker and then sauteing squash and zucchini for a side dish.

Along with making better food choices, I’m using alli® weight loss aid to help with my weight loss. alli® weight loss aid is the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss aid on the market. It works by blocking 25% of the fat you eat from being absorbed by your body. Taken along with a healthy, reduced-calorie and low fat diet and paired with an exercise routine it is a great way for overweight adults (who aren’t pregnant or breastfeeding) to safely lose weight. For every 5lbs – 10lbs you lose through diet and exercise, alli® weight loss aid can help you lose 2-3 more. (In studies, most people lost 5-10 pounds over a 6 month period.)

alli® weight loss aid can be added into your daily routine by taking one capsule per meal that includes no more that 15 grams of fat per meal approximately 3 times a day. (Be sure to use with a well-balanced, reduced calorie, low fat diet and activity program.) You’ll want to take a multivitamin at bedtime and also drink plenty of water throughout the day. alli® weight loss aid has a great startup guide with more information and tips to help you succeed in losing weight. You can find a coupon here to purchase alli® weight loss aid at your favorite retailer (I found mine at Walmart).

I’ve noticed that my clothes fit looser than they did at the beginning of summer. In fact, I have one pair of jean shorts that fit snug before but now I can take them off without even unbuttoning them! Overall though, I just feel better about myself which is a huge win.

Now that the kids are back in school how are you making yourself a priority? If you want to start making it to the gym (make sure to get your doctor’s okay first!) you’ll want to make yourself this simple bag to keep all your essentials in. The best part is that you only need two things- a tank top and a pair of scissors. Told you it was easy! :)

1) Find a tank top with an encouraging quote on it (I chose one that said “Give up on giving up”)

2) Turn the tank top inside out and smooth it out so the back and front are laying flat on each other

3) Cut 2 inch slits along the bottom, spaced about 1 inch apart. You will be cutting both the front and the back of the shirt so the pieces match up

4) Once you have slits along the bottom you are going to take the top piece and the bottom piece and tie them in a tight double knot.

5) Repeat step 4 all along the bottom until you’ve tied every piece together

6) Turn the tank top right side out so all the fringe is on the inside

Wasn’t that easy?! Now you have a cute bag you can take to the gym or the grocery store!

I’d love to hear about your healthy journey and any great tips you have for getting more exercise in with your busy schedule!

Disclaimer: alli® (orlistat 60 mg capsules) is for weight loss in overweight adults, 18 years and older, when used along with a reduced-calorie and low-fat diet. Follow label directions. In studies, most people lost 5-10 pounds over 6 months. Please consult a doctor before use.

 

Time To Focus On A Healthier Me

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and alli® weight loss aid. All opinions are mine alone. #alliInMyLife #Before #CollectiveBias

In the past year I’ve taken hundreds (maybe even thousands) of photos of my children but, looking back at pictures from the past 365 days, I’m in a total of five pictures with my kids. Five. When we were on vacation this year I was taking a photo of my family and a woman asked me if I wanted to get in the picture with them and she’d take it and I heard myself saying “no thanks”. I had a chance to get in the photo and I turned it down. This same scenario has happened dozens of times.

I tend to avoid cameras, not because I don’t want pictures with my kids or the ability to look back at memories, but because I hate how I look when I look at photos of myself. The truth is that I’ve felt like that for a while. Ever since having children I’ve cringed when I’ve seen pictures of myself. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror and that feeling, along with being overweight, affects many aspects of my life. From not being able to go ziplining on vacation to holding myself back from doing things I want to do to not being able to hike with my kids at their Cub Scout camping trip, I need to get healthier before it’s too late. I want to be more active with my boys and be able to keep up with them but most of all I want to feel better about myself.

I realize my body is never going to get back to the way it used to be in college but I do know that I can be a lot healthier than I am now. With school starting soon it’s the perfect time to get started. I need to do this not only for my children but for myself. The first thing I had to do was tell myself that I AM WORTH IT and focus on making myself a priority. The other day I went out and got a haircut and a pedicure and then spent a couple hours shopping for new clothes for myself. I realized that sitting around in yoga pants and oversized t-shirts was never going to make me feel better about myself and just recently bought the first pairs of jean shorts I’ve owned since college. I’m realizing that it’s important to invest in myself.

The second thing I needed to do was set goals for myself. When setting goals, it’s always important to make them realistic. As much as I’d like to say I’m going to only eat fruits and vegetables and I’m going to workout for a couple hours every single day I know that is just not going to happen. If your goals are realistic there is a better chance of meeting them. Another thing to keep in mind when goal-setting is to make them measurable. Goals you can’t measure can never be achieved because you’ll never know when you meet them.

I chose a handful of goals that I thought were important to an overall healthy me (and that were both realistic and measurable):

  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day doing something for myself
  • Join an exercise class 3 days a week and put them on my calendar
  • Drink 5 glasses of water a day
  • Make a meal plan with healthy options on it
Along with eating healthier I discovered alli® weight loss aid, the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss aid on the market. It works by blocking 25% of the fat you eat from being absorbed by your body. I feel I’m going to have success with this because it doesn’t claim to be a magical pill. You still have to exercise and take it along with a reduced-calorie and low fat diet, it just aids in weight loss for overweight adults. For every 5lbs – 10lbs you lose through diet and exercise (consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program), alli® weight loss aid can help you lose 2-3 more. Most people lose 5-10 pounds in 6 month period.*

After I figured out my goals I needed to overcome the “roadblocks” in my way, specifically time and motivation. Lack of time has seemed to be the biggest thing standing in my way. For years I worked full-time during the day, ran my kids around in the afternoon and evening and then blogged late at night. I had kept busier than I ever should have been. My days are open more now which means I can get to the gym during the day when my kids are at school. I’m signing up for a couple exercise classes that I can go to right after I drop the kids off. In the past, when I have had time to exercise and someone to watch the kids it was hard to get motivated to leave the house and get to the gym but this way I’ll already be out so I think that would fix the motivation issue. Also, having it on my calendar as a scheduled event means I’m more likely to go.

The next step was to make a plan for myself because I feel that if it’s not written down and planned for it won’t happen. I’ve come up with a plan that includes exercise, eating healthier, drinking more water and using alli® weight loss aid. I decided to use my planner to track health related things so I’d look at it throughout the day since it was in there along with my schedule and to-do list.

To start I scheduled in time to exercise and to eat. I know that sounds silly but when I get really busy I tend to skip meals and if it’s on my calendar it will remind me to eat. I created spaces to keep track of the water I’m drinking and that I took my alli® weight loss aid pills with my meals three times a day and my nightly multivitamin like recommended. When I drink the water or take my pill I can just shade in the circle next to each.

I also put my daily menu on my calendar sheet. I tend to wait until the last minute to figure out what’s for dinner and then choose something in a box that’s not too healthy. With a little planning I can make sure I have ingredients on hand and prep done for healthier meals. Since meals are so important while taking the alli® weight loss aid I want to have them planned out so I stay in their guidelines of meals that are well-balanced, reduced calorie and have no more than 15 grams of fat per meal. I found a lot of great meal ideas in the alli® Brand Startup Guide online at www.myalli.com. Not only are the meals healthy but they look delicious and filling, too!

I feel great going into the new school year. I have goals in mind, have overcome roadblocks in my way and have a plan in place to get healthier! Here is a “before” photo of me and I’ll post the “after” photo when I do the next update.

You can find alli® weight loss aid at your local Walmart. Find a coupon here.

*Disclaimer: alli® (orlistat 60 mg capsules) is for weight loss in overweight adults, 18 years and older, when used along with a reduced-calorie and low-fat diet. Follow label directions. In studies, most people lost 5-10 pounds over 6 months.

 

Teach Kids Healthy Skin Care Habits This Summer

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As a mom I have learned that my children are watching and listening, even when I don’t think they are. They are listening to conversations I have with other adults, they are watching how I treat people when we are out and about and they are watching the things that I do. They are not only paying attention but they are learning from me. One thing I want them to teach them through my actions is the importance of taking care of our skin by putting sunscreen on when we are going to be outside. Thanks to Neutrogena for sponsoring this conversation about the importance of being a good role model when it comes to skin care.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, yet it continues to be an epidemic with more than 350 Americans being diagnosed with skin cancer every hour. Making smart choices about sunscreen is one of the most important decisions people can make when it comes to preventing skin cancer.

Studies show that kids are actually more likely to adopt healthy habits, like applying sunscreen, if they see their moms applying it on themselves. I think as moms we have a tendency to make sure our children are set and then worry about ourselves but we need to remember to make time for our self care as well. It’s important to apply our sunscreen on in front of our kids, before helping them apply it on themselves. I like to walk through what I’m doing and why as well (I think it’s the preschool teacher in me). I’ll say “oh I better put sunscreen on because I don’t want to get burned!” So your kids see you putting it on and they hear you talking about why you are putting it on which I think makes double the impact than if you just talk about how important it is.

When choosing sunscreens this summer, here are some things to keep in mind as you make choices about sun protection and skin cancer prevention:

  • Don’t just rely on sunscreen rankings or reports, speak with your dermatologist for information on the best sunscreen choices for you.
  • Make sure sunscreen labels list UVA and UVB (or broad spectrum) protection and a minimum of SPF 30. Consider using SPF 50+ if you are outdoors for an extended period.
  • Choose the formulation – stick, lotion or spray – that is the product you and your family will be most likely to regularly use.
  • Start sun protection early in life. Just 1-2 severe sunburns can increase the risk of melanoma later in life by 40 percent.

A great brand that we like to use is Neutrogena. They have a spectrum of different products, from sticks to sprays to lotions. I prefer to put lotion on myself and spray on the boys. The stick sunscreen is great for faces and easy to take with on the go. They also have a variety of SPF, from 30 to 100, to protect every skin type during every summer situation.

How do you get your kids to apply sunscreen with you? I’d love to hear how you set healthy examples for your kids! Check out the #MimicMommy hashtag on social media for more stories and tips!

‘I Need Vitamin Sea’ Printable

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CentrumFunFlavors #CollectiveBias

Life is typically very busy but I find that things can get really chaotic during the spring and summer seasons when I’m traveling a few times a month. This past month was no exception- I traveled to Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa with only one day in between the first two trips and a few days in between the last two. I love traveling but it really messes with my schedule and routine. I’m very Type A so this is hard for me. One routine that I struggle with is taking my vitamins every day.

I thought of a few ways to help me remember to take my multi-vitamin on a regular basis. The first was to go to Walmart to buy new Centrum Vitamints* that I can take on the go, without any water.

I bought two flavors- Cool Mint and Raspberry. I put my mints in a vitamin case which takes up minimum room in my purse or suitcase and ensures that I always have my vitamins with me. These vitamins freshen my breath like a breath mint so every time I reach for gum or a mint I’ll see my vitamin container and take one of the Vitamints instead.

I also realized that I need a reminder at home to help me remember to take my vitamins on a daily basis. Since I love to travel I chose to create a fun print that I can add to my travel display. Those who visit me will think my “I need vitamin sea” print is just a quote about my love of being by the water but to me it will have a double meaning. My travel display is in a spot that I pass by numerous times a day and can see from both my kitchen and my television room so it will also serve as a reminder to take my vitamins. Pretty clever, huh?

Want to get the print for yourself? Download the image here and then print it out. You can stick it on your bulletin board, refrigerator or frame it and display it.

Want to use an image that reminds you of your own travels? Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own:

1) Go to picmonkey.com

2) Go to “edit photo” and upload your photo. I chose one that had a lot of water since I just wanted the text on water (check out how clear that water is in the Bahamas!)

3) Crop the image

4) Resize your image so that it is the size you want (Here is a link to photo dimensions that I found helpful)

5) Use the text option to insert the words “I need vitamin sea” to your image and then pick the font, color and size you want the text to be

6) Once you are satisfied with your print, save the image in picmonkey. (I chose to then upload it to Google Drive so I could resave it as a PDF)

7) Print, frame and display!

Enjoy staying healthy with simple solutions like Centrum Gummies and Vitamints. You can find coupons here. What methods do you use to remember to take your vitamin every day? I would love to hear your tips!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The Importance Of Using Sunscreen Year Round

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

In the heat of summer we all know to use sunscreen all the time but as the summer draws to an end, and even through the Fall, most people stop using sun protection. UV rays are just as harmful in the Fall and in order to end the Summer season on a high note, everyone should use skin protection daily. The reason it is so important to always use sunscreen is that 1 in 5 Americans develops skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and with early detection, most skin cancers are curable.

Our kids are very active outside all the way through the end of October, mainly due to sports like baseball and football, but they love playing outside no matter what the weather brings. To better protect ourselves we started using the Neutrogena Wet Skin Collection. It’s the first ever water-resistant lotion sunscreen specifically designed for wet skin application to provide broad spectrum sun protection in wet or dry conditions. It is proven to provide full strength protection even on wet skin and is sweat-resistant and water-resistant which is perfect for my active boys. The best part is that it is available in spray, lotion and stick forms for both kids and adults. My kids are always in a rush so we like the spray option and it works even when they are sweaty from running around.

I worry about Skin Cancer constantly so it is great to know that Wet Skin Kids provides broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and mists right on for protection from the sun’s harsh rays. It’s the quickest way to fully protect our kids when they are out on the field at games or practices and reapplying during breaks is easy as pie.

As a teenager I always used Neutrogena for their acne and soap products. Now as an adult I continue using it, especially for skin protection. I choose Neutrogena for their quality but also for their level of care for its consumers. Most importantly it suits my kids’ needs while playing sports.

Since its launch in 2009, the Neutrogena – #1 dermatologist recommended sun care brand – has provided more than 11,000 free skin screenings, donated more than $30 million dollars’ worth of sunscreen product to families in need through a Buy 1 Donate 1 program and diagnosed more than one thousand cases of skin cancer in the US alone. The Neutrogena Choose Skin Health campaign, a partnership between Neutrogena and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery, is dedicated to fighting skin cancer and saving lives through education, early detection, and empowering people to follow sun safe behaviors. This year, Neutrogena partnered with a variety of celebrity ambassadors, including Kerry Washington, to help spread the word about the importance of sun protection by sharing personal #ChooseSkinHealth testimonials on social media. Neutrogena believes that each story makes a difference – and can even help save a life!

My kids can continue to enjoy their outdoor activities and I can relax knowing they are kept safe with Neutrogena Wet Skin. Nature and good weather should be enjoyed as much as possible so we plan to enjoy it all Fall long. How are you keeping your skin safe as the seasons transition?

The Doctor Is Just A Click Away

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DISCLOSURE:  This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.  However, all opinions are 100% my own.

The internet is an amazing place. It gives me an outlet to be creative and earn a living, it lets me connect with friends and family near and far, and it lets me do a lot of other things from the comfort of my home. One thing I’ve recently discovered I can do online is visit the doctor! No more scheduling appointments, driving to the office or sitting in waiting rooms.

I never realized how badly this would come in handy until Jacob came home from a day at camp and Vacation Bible School itching like crazy. He had what I thought could be Chicken Pox and I might have freaked out because I couldn’t handle one more thing on my just-got-back-from-vacation-help-I-am-drowning-in-work-and-laundry-and-to-dos plate. While I was googling pictures of chicken pox Lucas fell asleep and I was stuck with one itchy, miserable child. He had to see the doctor so I could figure out if he did have Chicken Pox or if it was another rash or just bug bites which would determine what I could do to help him and if the boys had to stay home tomorrow or if they could go to school, camp and VBS.

I couldn’t go anywhere since Lucas was sleeping and our doctor’s office was closed so I tried out Amwell which is the nation’s largest telehealth company, connecting users with board-certified, licensed doctors for immediate and live, online visits—day or night, on either mobile or desktop.  Some general conditions their doctors encounter include: minor illnesses and injuries, general health and wellness concerns, prescription refills, and chronic condition management.  They employ primary care and specialist physicians, as well as licensed behavioral therapists and registered dietitians.

I love that Amwell doctors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At 10pm I talked to a doctor via a video chat within 5 minutes of logging into the site. The nice physician looked at my son’s bumps, asked me some questions and then assured me that my son’s itchy bumps were just the result of some overeager mosquitos and not Chicken Pox.

I thought online doctors would be expensive but the cost is actually not too bad. For about $40 I had a 10 minute appointment with a physician. I thought about it and that’s usually how long my son’s physician is actually in the exam room with us but I pay double that to spend most of my time in the pediatrician’s office just waiting.

Want to try Amwell yourself? I have a FREE CODE for you! Use the code: ROLEMOMMY for a free visit to the Doctor of your choice. Go to Amwell.com and choose the type of visit you are looking for and select a provider.  Depending on the issue at hand, the doctor can diagnose, suggest follow up, and prescribe, when appropriate. Amwell takes privacy very seriously and visits with the doctors are secure and they are HIPAA compliant. Amwell is accepted by many major insurers, with more added every day. You can enter your health insurance information for a lower cost visit. Amwell doctor visits are now available in 46 states.

Hope this service helps all you busy parents! :)

 

Keeping Up With Healthy Routines This Summer

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Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson  and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

It’s mid-June and our family has been enjoying everything the summer brings. Some families relax during the summer but, for us, summer seems to be even busier than the school year. Alicia and I both work and the kids are in day camp and play sports. When we are home we love to visit the farmer’s market for fresh fruit, grill everything we can and play outside in the backyard.

To make the most of the summer we’ve been trying to travel as many places as we can, taking road trips, camping, exploring nature and heading to places in our area to have great quality time.

Our days are busy but we still try to make sure that the good habits our kids follow during the school year are continued in the summer. Some we are lax on, like going to bed on time and eating dessert before dinner.

Some are non-negotiable. Things like brushing their teeth and wearing sunscreen need to happen no matter how much fun we are all having.

This morning was a big rush for the boys and I, trying to get ready to leave for Jake’s last baseball game and pack for a trip to the city. I assumed once school was done our mornings would be a little more low key but I’ve found that’s not the case. We are still rushing around, whether packing lunches for camp, finding our swimsuits for a day by the lake or grabbing everything we need for a morning at the baseball field.

As we are getting ready to leave I always have to double check that they have everything they need and have brushed their teeth. We have been integrating Listerine Total Care into our families oral care routine for months now so so that all the mouths are totally taken care of but I find that the kids still need reminders. Listerine products are great because of the kid-friendly flavors. The boys may need reminders but at least they don’t fight me on having to use the products.

We’ve found that Walgreens has a great selection of our favorite Listerine and Johnson & Johnson products that keep our family totally taken care of. LISTERINE TOTAL CARE, band-aids and sunscreen are our summer must-haves. What are your’s?

Everything We Need For An Active Summer

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Disclosure: I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Summertime is a very busy time of the year and we love to cram it full of fun activities. Since we have four unique people in our home we try to do things that everyone wants to do. I enjoy grilling out and relaxing in the backyard, Alicia likes exploring our community and trips to the beach, Jacob likes playing sports and Lucas likes trying to visit every playground that he can. Since we are all so unique we need products that are going to meet our unique health needs as well. One brand that understands that best is LISTERINE® because they offer a wide range of products for a busy family.

As a parent I always encourage my boys to have excellent mouth care habits and we like LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE because it is a complete mouthwash that offers six unique benefits in one bottle. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE helps prevent cavities and restores enamel, strengthens teeth and freshens breath while killing bad breath germs and completely cleans the whole mouth. LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ensures completely that my family’s oral care needs are taken care of 100%.

My new favorite is LISTERINE® TOTAL CARE ZERO. All the same six in one bottle benefits but without any alcohol. It’s my last step in my morning routine and easy to swish and go.

The boys have their own favorite flavor too. It is LISTERINE® SMART RINSE®. It is a post brush rinse specifically designed for children between 6 and 12 years of age. Kids are protected up to 12 hours due to the added benefit of fluoride.

Using Listerine gets my whole family and I energized and ready for whatever each summer day will bring whether we are chilling at home or on the go. For everything else there is Johnson & Johnson brand products. We always have some of these with us at all times, including Neutrogena Cool Dry sunscreen spray, Neosporine and Band-Aid Brand Adhesive bandages.

My boys just love running around all day, whether they are playing sports or playing on the slip-n-slide in the backyard. All of these products are must haves!

As our summer will be fun and hectic it is always good to know that in emergency we can always stock up on Johnson & Johnson brand products at our local Walgreen’s. Walgreen’s will make sure the fun never runs out.

What products are you stocking up?

Worry Free Outdoor Fun

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This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.

Today the temperature outside reached 64 in our Chicago suburb. This is very exciting for everyone, especially for active families that will be thrilled to go hiking and biking and play sports outside in the fresh air. For my family this means it is time for baseball, soccer and the playground. This also means it will be a time full of scrapes, cuts and bug bites. As a parent I know this is unavoidable and I hate to see my boys suffer.

To be truly prepared we always have a bag of a few essentials in our vehicles that can help in an emergency. Some of the best things to have in an emergency kit are an instant ice compress, bandages and band aids, extra mouth guards (for football), snacks and Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™

To keep your team from getting sidelined new Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound and Skin Cleanser, the easy first step in first aid that gently and effectively cleans and hydrates minor wounds, wants you to enter the Play to Win with #TeamPuracynPlus Giveaway for the chance to win a  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Emergency Kit, including a $50 gift card to a sporting goods store of your choice and  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ product. One winner announced each Friday on March 13, 20, and 27. #TeamPuarcynPlus (3 winners total).  It will be the best way to kick start the outdoors activities season.

My kids both play soccer and baseball during which they both get scrapes and usually the scrapes are messy from the field. The easy to use, hands free spray application of  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ thoroughly cleans minor cuts and wounds, eliminating the need for running water in the critical first moments of cleaning a wound.

I also like Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ because it is doctor tested and recommended for quick wound treatments and is free of alcohol and steroids. It is so safe that it will not bother them even if it accidentally gets in their eyes or ears. A 4oz bottle can be purchased at Rite Aid and Walgreens for $14.00. It is convenient to carry in your car kit so you will always have  Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ in stock for when you really need it.

To learn more about the brand visit www.puracynplus.com and follow the brand on facebook (facebook.com/puracyn) and Pinterest. Another product they have is the Puracyn Plus Foot Wash and Skin Cleanser, a highly effective cleansing solution for healthier feet and wound care. If you or a loved one have diabetes Puracyn Plus Foot wash is essential to help make foot care part of your daily health routine and self care.

We are ready for the warm weather and the outdoors and especially the fun that comes with it. Thanks to Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™  we will be ready for anything that comes our way. So join in the fun and discover fearless life with Puracyn.

To learn more about the Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ , LIKE the brand on Facebook and follow the brand on Pinterest.

This is a product-sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Puracyn® Plus Duo-Care™ Wound & Skin Cleanser. The opinions and text are all mine.


Trying A New Bedtime Routine

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

One of the toughest struggles a parent has is getting their kids to brush their teeth before bed. It takes time and discipline and yes tears are shed. My two boys are the most stubborn kids and I am always looking for ways to get them to develop better brushing habits. Luckily it is National Children’s Dental Health month and Tom’s of Maine teamed up with Oral Health America (OHA) to share healthy brushing habits and oral care prevention information. They have created an amazing way to get kids interested in brushing and bedtime routines. Tom’s of Maine is inviting kids and parents to get creative for a good cause and learn about natural oral care with an engaging coloring book called “Brushing Fun” for kids of all ages. Each free download of the book will donate 10 tubes of Wicked Cool! natural toothpaste in addition to a one-time donation of $50,000 to Oral Health America to OHA in support of its Smiles Across America program.

As a dad I was thrilled because it is a great motivational tool for my boys and all the kids out there. They could not wait to get started on their coloring books and learn more about better oral care.

The overall purpose of the program is to establish good bedtime routines. Brushing is key but other things are also a part of it, like relaxation exercises and journaling.

When I got this yoga book, I wondered about the level of interest my boys would have for yoga. As it turns out they are very much aware of what yoga is. “We learned it in summer camp”, they said. Then they decided to show off their moves. Yoga is great for kids to stretch but also to calm their bodies before bed.

The most exciting part was the coloring book. As the boys both love coloring and storytelling this part was their favorite. They also love their devotionals and daily journal.

Downloading the coloring book is easy. Just visit http://bit.ly/dentalhealthforall to access and download the coloring book. Your child will have so much fun and it will improve the bedtime routine with calming activities.

Finding Energy Without Caffeine

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Thanks to Meijer for sponsoring this “healthy me” conversation. I am not a medical professional and nothing written in this post should be taken as medical advice.

A few months ago I cut down my espresso filled drink intake from one to two Venti sized drinks a day to only one or two a week. My wallet is thanking me but I’ve definitely felt the impact on my body. I have a hard time staying up as late as I used to and when I don’t have the caffeine I feel very sluggish.

As a mom of two, always on the go boys, I can’t be anything but on top of my game. I decided to try some alternate ways of getting energy.

Water. I drink very little water at the moment but that needs to change because I know I’d feel a lot better if I was hydrated. I sit at a desk all day long so to increase my water intake I’m going to keep a water bottle on my desk all day. I picked up a pretty pink one at Meijer and it has an easy snap top so I can quickly open and close it.

Exercise. It’s time to admit to myself that I will probably never make it to the gym and I can probably ditch my gym membership. It’s not that I don’t WANT to workout. It’s just that between my kids and all their sports and activities, my full time job, my blog (which is like a second full-time job), and running a household I’m lucky to get in a shower, let alone find an hour or more to drive to the gym and get a decent workout in. With all that said, I can find ways to exercise during the day and have started taking walking breaks every hour or so. I get up and spend five minutes rushing around my house- picking up stuff, walking around for no reason, and giving myself a chance to stretch out. These short breaks make it easier for me to concentrate when I come back to my computer and have me feeling refreshed.

Supplements. I am horrible at remembering my daily vitamin so this is going to be another thing that sits next to my computer. I even found a vitamin labeled “energy” that has extra “B” vitamins and Ginseng. The Centrum Specialist Supplement is caffeine free which means I can get all of the benefits of caffeine without the side effects. Another supplement that seems like something worth trying is the NatureMade VitaMelts. The Energy one is a Vitamin B supplement and would be perfect for that mid-afternoon pick me up. Meijer has a whole aisle of vitamins and supplements so you can work with your doctor to find the right one for your needs.

Sleep. The to-do list never goes away and staying up until the wee hours of the morning isn’t going to do me any good. Eight hours of sleep for me isn’t realistic but I am going to aim for seven. I got some Melatonin which I might take on particularly stressful days because otherwise I will stay awake worrying and thinking.

So there you have it. Four things I’m going to try to boost my energy in hopes of a healthy and happy 2015. If you have any tips for me on how you find energy without caffeine I’d love to hear them!

Don’t Forget The Eye Exams

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(Thanks to VSP Vision Care for sponsoring today’s conversation.)

The kids are all back in school! Whew! We made it mommas! We got the new school clothes, loaded the backpacks with school supplies, visited the Doctor for the physical, took those first day of school pictures…everything is done right?

If you are like me you forgot to do one important thing. Has your child their annual vision test yet? This is so important. My children’s school requires all Kindergarteners to get their vision checked by mid-October. I have to get Lucas in to see the eye doctor soon.

Did you know that annual eye exams are important to your overall health? They allow eye doctors to detect eye conditions as well as early signs of health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Here are some other reasons that annual eye exams are a must for kids:

  • One in four children has an undetected vision condition.
  • Because eye health plays a major role in academic growth, it’s common for a vision problem to be mistaken as a learning disability.
  • Undetected vision conditions can negatively impact learning development and contribute to frustrated students, poor grades and behavioral issues.
  • Children’s eyes develop rapidly until about the age of seven – making early detection essential in correcting potentially permanent vision issues.

So now you may be thinking (like I have before) that your child’s vision screening at their school is good enough. While the vision screenings may catch some things, comprehensive eye exams can detect what school vision screenings cannot. In-school screenings do help identify some vision problems, such as near and farsightedness, they do not test for all of the problems that a comprehensive eye exam does, like diabetes and hypertension – both growing health concerns for children.

Another thing you may be thinking is that your child would let you know if they were having a problem but keep in mind that a child doesn’t know what good vision is if he or she has never experienced it. Two of the most common vision problems a screening can miss are eye coordination and lazy eye. These conditions can usually both be corrected as long as they identified and treated early!

If the cost of vision care has been keeping you from making an appointment for your child or yourself I have good news! VSP Vision Care, the largest national not-for-profit in vision care, gets their members the best care at the lowest out-of-pocket costs. With a network of 30,000 eye care providers, VSP members have the freedom to choose the provider, location and eyewear that’s right for them. It’s easy to see why VSP is consumers’ #1 choice in vision care.

You can learn more at their site, SeeMuchMore.com, which is a one-stop site for all the information you need about enrolling in vision benefits. The site includes a virtual savings calculator to estimate your savings with VSP vision benefits. There is also helpful information about maintaining healthy vision that can be found at the Learn About Your Eyes section of the site. You can even play an interactive game for a chance to win prizes.

Save On Healthy Essentials This Month

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(Disclosure: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.)

This month, HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® is offering amazing printable coupons for all the products you and your family love. You can save over $55 by visiting http://www.HealthyEssentials.com in April and signing up for HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® program coupons and offers.

Here are some of the fantastic deals they are offering:

  • Save $1.00 on any JOHNSON’S® Baby Intense Moisture Cream
  • Save $1.00 on any LUBRIDERM® product (6oz or larger)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) CLEAN & CLEAR® product (excludes trial and travel sizes)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) NEUTROGENA® Sun product (exclude trial size)
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) LISTERINE® SMART RINSE Anti-cavity Mouthwash, 500 ml
  • Save $1.00 on any (1) REACH® Total Care Floss, or REACH® Gentle Gum Care Floss, or REACH® Dentotape® or REACH® Access® Flosser
  • Save $2.00 on any (3) NEOSPORIN®, BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive bandages or JOHNSON and JOHNSON RED CROSS® Brand products (excludes all trial and travel sizes, First Aid Kits, 10 ct Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, and On-the-Go First Aid Kits. Must buy (2) different brand products to qualify for this offer along with a third product)

I also love that they are celebrating Earth Day by sharing about recycling. Wondering what bathroom items you can recycle? Check out their list here. I was surprised to learn that only 1 in 5 people recycle anything from their bathroom.

 Twitter Party

Join us for a HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® Twitter party, Thursday, April 17, at 1 p.m. ET, all about shareable moments with friends and family – anywhere from online to in the store to your own medicine cabinet. You can use the #Moms4JNJConsumer hashtag to follow along, and see more details and RSVP at the Twtvite: http://twtvite.com/jnjearthday.

10 Healthy Lifestyle Tips From Kristi Yamaguchi {Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Tips are from Kristi Yamaguchi but other thoughts are my own.)

I was super excited to get a chance to attend a virtual webinar with Kristi Yamaguchi and Alpine Lace® Deli Cheese. I knew Kristi would have a ton of great tips for staying active and balanced. I love that she admitted that when she gets asked how she does it all, her answer is “I don’t”! Here are my favorite tips that Kristi had to share:

1) It’s all about prioritizing what’s important to you. Kristi said, “doing my best is better than doing it all”.

2) Take 30 minutes of “me” time each day to do something that makes you happy

3) Always buy some healthy snacks to eat on the go. Kristi suggests fresh fruit and crackers with cheese.

4) For those that sit for long periods of time (like those who work from home), Kristi says you should get up and stretch for about 5 minutes each hour. She says that is what they do in Japan.

5) Encourage your kids to go outside and play…and play with them! (Get off that bench mommas!)

6) Stay connected to friends. If you are hanging out with your girlfriends, get that next coffee chat or night out on the calendar before you all leave the table.

7) Invite friends to do something active because it will hold you accountable and you’ll have more fun!

8) Keep a daily journal to write your thoughts in

9) Have some healthy go-to dinner ingredients on hand. Kristi’s favorite is stir fry chicken with lots of her kid’s favorite veggies in it.

10) Get kids involved in exercise with you

Get more tips on the Alpine Lace Facebook page!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a Julia jacket from Tsu.Ya, Kristi Yamaguchi’s activewear line (black, size large), One Line a Day Journal and a coupon for Alpine Lace® Deli Cheese

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Comment on this post telling me your favorite tip that Kristi shared

2) Share this giveaway on social media

3) Subscribe to this blog via email (look in upper right hand corner)

Giveaway ends April 29, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to win.

Learning More About Gluten-Free Food Options

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(Disclosure: I participated in this program on behalf of Udi’s and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.)

Most people go Gluten-Free because they have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance but I have considered going gluten-free (and casein-free) in the past because some people say it is a good diet for children who have Autism. The biggest thing holding me back was that I didn’t think Lucas, my four year old who has Autism, would do well with the limited diet. I just thought about all of the things he wouldn’t be able to eat at school and birthday parties. He is too young to understand the change but yet too old for us to pretend all these foods don’t exist.

Thankfully, I’ve learned about Udi’s Gluten-Free foods this month. I had heard of them before but had in my mind that foods labeled “gluten-free” tasted like cardboard. After tasting an assortment of their products, I can say that this is definitely not the case with Udi’s products. Lucas can still have the foods he loves, just a gluten-free version of them. I love this quote from Udi’s as well: “Udi’s changed the way consumers think about gluten free. We made can’ts, cans. We removed the restrictions that made living gluten free a struggle and made the transition seamless.”

Udi’s products I sampled included breads, bagels, muffins, chips, granola bars, tortillas, cookies, and granola. I want to focus on the sweets and snack items for this post because I think that those would be the items that would be the hardest to give up if we went gluten-free so it’s important that good tasting, gluten-free options exist. My absolute favorite item out of the bunch were the Snickerdoodle cookies. They were delicious!

The other two desserts I had were really good as well. The dark chocolate brownie bites tasted pretty close to a non-GF brownie. The Salted Caramel Cashew cookies had a great taste as well, though were a bit crunchier than I like my cookies.

Another snack item I tried were the chocolate chip granola bars. I tend to stick to one main granola bar brand so these didn’t taste exactly like the ones I normally eat but they are pretty comparable to other brands of granola bars that are on the market. If I went Gluten-Free these would definitely be in my purse and in the soccer bag.

I like to eat granola cereal for breakfast but I also eat it as a quick snack by itself or sprinkled on yogurt. Udi’s Blueberry Cashew Granola was very good. I loved that the clusters were huge which made it easy to snack on.

Curious about the other items that Udi’s has? Learn about all their gluten-free products on their website.

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

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(Disclosure: This is a compensated post but all thoughts are my own.)

I wrote a couple weeks ago about how I was cutting down on expenses to save money. I had a list of 8 things I was doing in the month of January and one of them was to eat less fast food and more of the leftovers we had in the fridge. Trying to pinch every penny, I have been looking into saving on food even more. Ideally I’d love to find out how to provide my family with quality food but just find a more cost efficient way to do so.

I checked out the Illinois Farm Families blog to learn more about healthy eating and shopping for food. Some of the posts were written by moms I know so I knew I could trust what they wrote. I was really interested in food labeling since food that is “better for you” is often more expensive. I wanted to see if I was really getting what I paid for.

The first article I came upon was called Five Misleading Food Labels and had one key line that stuck out to me:

I know that if I was comparing two products next to each other I’d probably choose the one that was labeled “no _____” on it but the one next to it could be free of whatever the other label claimed as well. No reason to pay extra for the one with a special label if they both are free from the same thing.

The next article I read was from a mom who toured the Dean’s Plant. From this article I discovered that the milk in my grocery store’s dairy case is all the same. Why am I paying more for a gallon of milk labeled “Dean’s” when it is just the same as the milk that is sold under the store’s label. Yay for saving money on something we buy tons of!

Another thing I read about was a store that I’d consider a “discount” food store and all of the guidelines they have about freshness (read the article here). It made me rethink where I get my groceries and the fact that I can find quality food for cheaper prices. I will be checking out all of my local grocery stores and seeing where I can find good deals while still maintaining the quality of food that I want.

So excited to be able to cut our food budget down. What other tips do you have for me when it comes to saving money at the grocery store?

Make Brushing Fun With Free Coloring Books

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but thoughts are my own.)

My boys were home from school yesterday due to the cold weather and they are off again today. If your kids are off too and you are looking for something to keep them busy while you are stuck inside I have an idea.

Tom’s of Maine just announced a coloring and activity book called “Brushing Fun,” which supports Oral Health America, a national nonprofit dedicated to oral care and prevention. With each free coloring book download, Tom’s of Maine will donate 10 tubes of its Wicked Cool! natural toothpaste (up to 200,000 tubes) to children in OHA’s  Smiles Across America program.

We downloaded it yesterday and my kids got to coloring them and doing the activity sheets. I liked that you could add your child’s name on them and Lucas liked seeing his name while coloring. Here is one of the finished coloring sheets:

 

As an added bonus, parents enter to win a great Tom’s of Maine prize package. They can show off their kid’s creativity and inspire others to get involved by sharing a photo of a completed page from the coloring book on Facebook or Instagram  using #NaturalSmiles for a chance to win a Tom’s of Maine natural oral care prize pack and a $100 Utrecht Art Store gift card to foster their child’s creativity. Five winners total, one each week.

Want to participate? Find the coloring and activity book download here. Get social with Tom’s of Maine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Is It Time To Take A “Well Day”? {Giveaway}

Ricola Blog Photo

(Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Ricola® but all thoughts are my own.)

I’m sitting here writing this after a long day which comes after an exhausting work week. This morning, we had Jacob’s Grand Prix race for Awana and then I spent the afternoon trying to get things done around the house while taking care of two rambunctious kids who have cabin fever. This evening I’ve been trying to empty out my email inbox (which after a couple of dedicated hours of work still has almost 20,000 emails- 2,000+ of which are unread). I love my kids and I love my life but some days (like today) I just really wish I could take a day to relax by myself. I’d even settle for a few kid-free, computer free, hours.

What would I do? I dream that I’d start the day by sleeping in and enjoying breakfast in bed. I’d go for a mani-pedi and then spend the afternoon on the couch catching up on my DVR’d shows. Sounds like the perfect relaxing day to me!

What about you? What would YOU do if you took a day to yourself? Ricola, the leading manufacturer of herb cough drops, wants to know and they have a special promotion going on where you could win money just by telling them!

As the cold and flu season hits its peak this month, Ricola is encouraging consumers to trade in their sick days for well days by inviting them to “Call in Well.” Now through January 31st, consumers can call 1-855-4-WELLDAY or text RICOLA (22122) to share what fun things they’d do if they took a “well day” off. One lucky winner per day will win $500. Visit Ricola’s Facebook page for official rules.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win Ricola products and a $25 Visa gift card

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me how you would spend your “well day”

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow @RicolaUSA on Twitter

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Subscribe to this blog via email

Giveaway ends February 10, 2014 at 11:59pm CST. Must be 18 or older and a US resident to enter.

Getting Kids To Try New Vegetables {Veggie Pinwheels Recipe}

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.)

My boys are leery of new foods and if I put any on their dinner plate they eye them, poke them, and smell them and then say “I don’t like this”. I remind them that they won’t know if they like something unless they taste it and that usually gets some grumbles but they eventually end up trying the new food. They’ve discovered a variety of new favorites this way. Jacob especially loves red, orange and yellow peppers and Lucas has found he likes a variety of different fruits and that sweet peas are pretty good too (especially when he can pop them out of the pod).

One vegetable the boys had never tried before was radishes. Even as an adult I can’t remember a time when I had a radish on anything other than a salad. Duda Farm Fresh Foods makes Radish MiniSticks. They’re ready-to-eat shredded radishes that are very crunchy and juicy.

I was challenged to try to integrate this veggie in a recipe. I remembered one of my favorite way to eat cucumbers is with ham and cream cheese and then I immediately thought about making a kid-friendly wrap for the kids. I used cucumbers and peppers along with the radishes but if your child has a vegetable they prefer you can substitute it. I thought the hint of sweetness worked perfect with the tangy taste of the radishes.

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber (sliced thin)
  • Bag of Radish MiniSticks
  • Sweet Peppers (sliced thin)
  • Ham (lunchmeat)
  • Provolone Cheese slices
  • Cream Cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Toothpicks (optional, makes cutting easier)
Directions:
  • Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a tortilla
  • Sprinkle veggies on the cream cheese
  • Add a couple of slices of ham and cheese
  • Starting at one end, roll tortilla
  • Stick toothpicks in the top of the roll to make cutting easier
  • Cut roll into slices making sure a toothpick is in each slice
  • Remove toothpick before eating

The verdict? Yum! The pinwheel sandwiches are a fun alternative to normal lunches and are full of crunchy veggies! What vegetable filled recipes have you tried with your kids lately?

 

 

Healthy Essentials For The New Year

johnson & johnson

(This post is part of the Healthy Essentials 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them.)

The beginning of a new year is a great time to start making healthy changes in your life. Maybe you want to start eating healthier, get more sleep, or start exercising on a regular basis. All are common New Year’s Resolutions. My healthy goal is to start taking care of myself better. As a mom I come last on the priority list which isn’t good. It’s time to make those doctor appointments I’ve been putting off because I “didn’t have time”.

To help families usher in a healthy New Year, HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® is offering amazing printable coupons, tips & tools and so much more. You can save over $45 by visiting www.HealthyEssentials.com in January and signing up for extra-special HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® coupons and offers. From pain & allergy relief to dietary & digestive health to products for kids & babies, there are significant savings on items for every member of the family!  It’s time to replenish your stock of toiletries and first aid items in your bathroom cabinets.

Twitter Party Alert!!

Learn how HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® can help you reach health-related goals for 2014.

When: Tuesday, January 14, 1 p.m. ET

Hashtag: #Moms4JNJConsumer

Prizes: We will randomly award 15 prizes throughout the party, from all eligible correct responses to trivia questions. Each prize includes an assortment of Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® products with an estimated retail value of $50.

Prize Eligibility: No purchase necessary. Entrants must be legal residents of the 50 United States + D.C. 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann, @TheMotherhood25

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Check back for information about an awesome J&J sweepstakes that will be live soon!

Count Me Healthy Bracelets {Giveaway}

bracelet 2

(Disclosure: I received a bracelet to review and compensation. Thoughts are my own.)

I love items that do double duty and the beautiful Count Me Healthy bracelet by Chelsea Charles is no exception. This bracelet acts as a functional health tool that helps women track daily goals because the bangles feature movable beads that can be used as counting tools.

There are different designs but I received the Galaxy Tri-Color Bracelet. The bracelet has 14k gold, 18k rose gold and 925 sterling all in one gorgeous bangle with new wave patterned beads and retails for $98.

 

Women use the bracelets to count daily glasses of water, fruit and vegetable servings, pounds lost, whole foods, number of workouts, etc. I chose to use my bracelet to count how much water I am drinking since I’ve been drinking way too much caffeine. I like that I’m able to have the reminder on my wrist so that every time I look down I remember to drink more water.

The bracelet is easy to use. You start with all of the beads to the one side of the bracelet. The bracelet is adjustable so once you have it on you can tighten or loosen it. After you choose a health goal you just move the beads to the other side of the bracelet, one at a time, throughout the day as you work towards the goal. At the end of the day you have a visual of how you are progressing towards your goal.

I think this bracelet would make a great gift for someone. If you want to purchase one you can go to the Chelsea Charles Jewelry website and use the code ‘COUNTHEALTHY30′ at check out to receive 30% off.

Want to win one? Participating blogs are giving away one Count Me Healthy Galaxy Tri-Color bracelet with a silver cuff. You can enter in the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Giveaway disclosure: This giveaway is not hosted or sponsored by me, I am simply sharing the entry form. There will be one winner between all of the blogs, not one per site. Making Time For Mommy is not responsible for prize fulfillment.)

Save The Season With FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

foodsaver 3

(Disclosure: I received compensation for my time but thoughts are my own.)

Can you believe that Farmer’s Market Season is almost over? I loved going to my local Farmer’s Market and getting fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy throughout the week. Luckily, I have a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer so I can save the season and enjoy the produce throughout the cold winter months.

I enjoyed spending a day at a Chicago Farmer’s Market with the FoodSaver team and educating the public about proper food storage. People would purchase fruits and vegetables at the market and then would bring them to us to vacuum seal. While there I came across people who would come up to the tent and told me how they loved their FoodSaver system and others who had never heard of it before.

Ordinary bag vs. FoodSaver

It was great seeing their faces when I shared how the product worked and did a little demo for them. When I shared how long their foods would stay fresh with FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer they were shocked.

Throughout the day I also had the chance to walk around the market. There were lots of delicious foods to try and a wide variety of fresh food and flowers.

I bought some peaches and green beans from the market. What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to get from Farmer’s Markets? {And check out the size of these carrots in the picture below!}

Stay tuned next month when I reveal how fresh the FoodSaver system kept my produce for the past few months :)

Yoplait Fruitful Coupon

fruitful

This post is sponsored by Yoplait but my love of fruit and good yogurt is 100% my own.

I’m really excited to be headed to the apple orchard with the kids this weekend. I love freshly picked fruit but heading to an orchard isn’t always an option. Thankfully, Yoplait has come out with a delicious new yogurt called Fruitful that has 1/3 cup of fruit in each serving. Yum!

There are six flavors of Yoplait Fruitfuls: Pineapple, Strawberry, Mango Pineapple & Orange, Blueberry, Peach, and Cherries & Red Berries. Which one will you try first?

Be among the first to experience the goodness of new Yoplait Fruitful, with a $.30 off coupon available to download at the product website. The coupon is located on the right-hand side of the page by clicking on “Enjoy with a Coupon”. Get the coupon here.

 

The Shift By Tory Johnson {Curated Box Giveaway}

shift kit

(Disclosure: I received a Shift Kit to review.)

Good Morning America weekly contributor Tory Johnson spent decades failing at every fad diet, convinced she would always be fat. She blamed her childhood…her genes…even junk food.  She was resigned to being plus-sized even though she secretly longed for something different.

A single conversation 18 months ago put an end to that. Tory was told by one of her bosses at ABC that her clothes didn’t do her justice and she wanted to send Tory to a stylist. Even though the words “fat” and “lose weight” were never used — nor was she threatened in any way — Tory took away: lose weight or lose your job.  In a flash, she realized she had to change for good and she was ready to do it. In the course of one year, Tory lost more than 60 pounds and  discovered that what she put in her head matters more than what she put in her mouth, and in the process, she became a happier, healthier person.

With her all-new book published by Hyperion on September 10, The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight & Discovered a Happier Life, Tory is on a mission to help others change, too. The lessons she learned apply to anyone who feels stuck or stalled in tackling a big change in health, career or relationships.  She’s proof that the future can look a whole lot different—and brighter—than the past.  Tory believes the time is now to make it happen.

 GIVEAWAY: 

One reader will win a Shift Kit. The Shift Kit is a carefully-curated box of products (valued at over $100) to inspire women to start their journey to a better life. The box includes products from: ANGIE’S POPCORN, COLONIAL CANDLE, CREST 3D WHITE, eBOOSTEBOOST, EMI-JAY, FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD, GLEE GUM, GO SMiLE, GOSWYPE, HAIL MERRY, HEALTHY COOKING CAMP, KIND HEALTHY SNACKS, LIFETHERAPY, LULU DHARMA, MAY DESIGNS, QUEST NUTRITION, RUME, SOMERSAULT SNACKS, SWEETRIOT and ZIPZICLES.

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me why you want to win

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow Tory on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

Giveaway ends September 29, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or older and a US resident to win.

(Disclosure: I received a Shift Kit in exchange for posting.)

 

 

Best and Worst Halloween Candy: Avoiding Scary Dental Decay

Young girl outdoors in cat costume on Halloween holding candy

Halloween is the No. 1 holiday on the kid calendar. They get to dress up, go to parties and make a candy haul that can’t be challenged, even if you add Easter and Christmas together. With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that over 19 percent of children ages 2 to 19 have untreated cavities, Halloween drops down a few notches on parents’ lists. You probably do a stellar job of watching what the kids eat any other time of year. Sugar control goes out the window, however, when your child brings home a bottomless bag from a successful night of trick-or-treating.

Before the big night hits, educate yourself on which candy is capable of the most damage and which is easiest on teeth. Arm your little ones with some preventative items and then sit back knowing you’ve done as much as possible to protect their pearly whites.

Worst Candies

Sticky candy and long-lasting candies that take forever to dissolve in your kids’ mouths are the hardest on teeth. According to the American Dental Association these are:

  • hard candies
  • suckers and lollipops
  • taffy
  • gummy bears
  • caramels

These types stick to the teeth subjecting your kids to destructive acids for extended periods of time.

Best Candies

Sugar-free gum is the absolute best Halloween treat you can find in your child’s candy bucket. Encourage your kids to chew a piece after eating any of their other sugary booty. If you don’t consider gum to technically be candy, then others on the list include:

  • candy bars that don’t contain sticky caramel or nougat
  • chocolate covered nuts
  • candy corn
  • individually wrapped peanut butter cups

Not much of these candies remain in the mouth for very long, and what does gets washed away by saliva or with a swallow of water.

Treat Your Own Kids

Yes, it will bum out the neighborhood kids if you give out toothbrushes and travel-sized toothpaste for Halloween. There’s no law against doing it for your own kids, though, especially since they’ll get plenty of sugary treats elsewhere. WebMD says Halloween is the ideal time to change out your kids’ old toothbrushes for new ones, anyway. Assemble a Halloween treat bag for your children with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but also include a bottle of fluoridated water for sipping after a candy binge, dental floss and a packet of disclosing tablets to help them get in the habit of brushing more thoroughly. Slip in a few coloring sheets from Kool Smiles. The activity sheets along with a brand-new box of crayons are a sweet way to round out your dental health treat bag.

Reducing Chances of Halloween Damage

You don’t have to take Halloween — or the candy it brings — away from your kids just to ensure optimal oral health. That will only end up in tantrums and trauma. Instead, set a few rules and encourage already good habits. For example, specify when your kids can indulge in Halloween candy and how much they can have. It can be after school or right after a healthy dinner. Limit them to two or three pieces, and allow them to pick out what they’ll eat each day. Encourage them to drink water while they eat their treats and afterward, too. Hold your children to their regularly scheduled tooth brushing routine, and make sure they floss. You’ll want to help if your child is younger than 8 years old, but older children are capable of flossing on their own.

(Guest post Author: Kim is a freelance writer who covers health and fitness.)

Sneaking Whole Grains Into Fruit Filled Jamba Juice Smoothies {Giveaway}

jamba3

About a month ago I shared how Quaker fuels my family and is a great way to start the day. I recently learned that Jamba Juice now offers Quaker-branded whole grain boosts in their smoothies so people who drink their smoothies can get a boost of whole grains throughout the day. One Quaker-boost in a delicious, whole fruit smoothie offers one full serving of whole grains and only costs an extra 50 cents. I was intrigued so I headed to Jamba Juice today to try one with a gift card that Jamba Juice sent me.

I had only been to Jamba Juice once before so I asked the cashier which flavors were the most popular. He said the Mango one was good and people really liked the Tropical one (Caribbean Passion), too. I’m more of a berry person but I decided to go with his recommendation and try a tropical smoothie with the Quaker boost.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with a boost of Quaker whole grains in the smoothie. I was thinking maybe it would have a texture of drinkable oatmeal and I didn’t think that sounded too appetizing mixed with the fruit.

To my delight I took a sip and discovered that it tasted like sherbert mixed with a glass of orange juice. The texture was thick and had a consistency somewhere between a milkshake and frozen yogurt. If I hadn’t ordered it myself I would have never guessed that it had the whole grains in it.

Overall, I really enjoyed my Jamba Juice smoothie and look forward to going back with my kids. The boys would think I took them out for dessert not knowing that they were getting fruit and whole grains in their “treat”. I think the boosts that Jamba Juice offers are perfect for those who want to be healthy but want to eat healthy items that taste good at the same time.

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $20 Jamba Juice Gift Card

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me which smoothie you’d pick

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow me on Twitter

4) Follow Jamba Juice on Twitter

5) Follow Quaker on Twitter

6) Comment on another post on this blog

7) Subscribe to this blog (look in upper right hand corner)

Giveaway ends September 17, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or over and a US resident to enter.

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a Jamba Juice gift card to try out their smoothies with Quaker boosts. All opinions are my own.)

Healthier Banana Crepes {Recipe}

Pritikin Banana Crepe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Buckwheat Flour-Whole
  • 3 each Large Raw Egg White-Each
  • ½ cup Skim Milk
  • 3 oz-wt Apple Juice-Frozen Concentrate
  • 3 each Banana , peeled & sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon-ground
  • ¼ teaspoon Cloves-Ground
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon splenda
  • Pam non-stick spray

Directions

For the Banana filling

  • In a large hot skillet place banana.
  • When the banana starts to brown add remaining ingredients.
  • Cook until the liquid is gone and the bananas are golden brown.
  • Roll the banana filling inside crepe and serve warm.

For the Crepe

  • In a blender mix flour, egg white, milk & 2 tablespoons of apple juice concentrate until smooth.
  • Let batter sit for 10 minutes before cooking.
  • In a small omelet pan spray with Pam.
  • Ladle a small amount of batter to make a thin crepe.
  • When crepe starts to bubble slightly on the inside turn over.
  • Cook for 10 more seconds and lay out on a baking sheet.
  • Serve hot

(Recipe and image courtesy of Chef Anthony Stewart of the Pritikin Longevity Center.)

50 Healthy & Kid Friendly Lunchbox Ideas {Giveaway}

horizon organic

(Disclosure: I received milk boxes from Horizon Organic but all thoughts are my own.)

Back to school time means packing lunch for many families. I found last year that I got stuck in a rut and was packing Lucas the same lunch pretty much every day. Thankfully Horizon Organic has the solution for parents like me who have no creativity when it comes to lunchtime.

In collaboration with Elizabeth Somer, a nationally-recognized registered dietician and author, Horizon Organic developed a “5 Lunch Needs and 50 Ways to Please” resource to aid in back to school lunch box packing. The list outlines the five main food groups and 10 great-tasting choices within each group to make packing a nutritious lunch easy and enjoyable. Together, parents and children can mix-and-match items from each food group to create a balanced packed lunch. Parents can then use the resource with marked selections as a simple grocery shopping list.

Here is a sample of ideas from each category….

Whole Grains

  • air-popped popcorn seasoned with cinnamon (not for very young children)
  • whole grain pasta salad with veggies and low-fat dressing
  • mini pizza on a 100% whole grain English muffin w/ pizza sauce and low-fat shredded cheese

Low Fat Milk & Calcium Filled Foods

  • fruit parfait made w/ low fat Greek yogurt, fruit, and low fat granola
  • string cheese sticks
  • smoothie made with low fat milk and fresh fruit

Meats, Eggs, and Legumes

  • baked chicken cut in easy to eat strips
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • mini meatballs made with low fat turkey

Vegetables

  • “ants on a log” (celery topped with nut butter and raisins)
  • baked zucchini or sweet potato sticks
  • grape tomatoes

Fruits

  • fresh fruit shish-kabob
  • watermelon salsa with baked corn chips
  • cantaloupe or watermelon cut into shapes with cookie cutters

Find the other 35 ideas here.

Milk is also a great healthy drink option for lunch. I never gave Lucas milk for lunch since I was worried it would go bad but then I discovered shelf-stable milk that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Horizon Organic Milk with 32 mg DHA Omega-3 Single Serve Milk Boxes come in vanilla and chocolate flavors and are an ideal option for families who want all of the nutritious benefits of milk, including 8g of protein, Vitamins A and D, and calcium, with the added benefit of DHA omega-3 to support healthy brain development. Lucas {who favors chocolate or strawberry milk usually} loves the vanilla flavored milk from Horizon Organic and I am happy to give him something that is good for him.

Want to try these single serve milk boxes in your child’s lunch? Enter the giveaway below!

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a month’s worth of Horizon Organic Single Serve Milk Boxes

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me which lunchbox idea is your favorite

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Follow Horizon Organic on Twitter

4) Follow me on Twitter

5) Comment on another post

Giveaway ends September 14, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be 21 or older and reside in the US to enter.

(Disclosure: I received Horizon Organic single serve milk boxes but all thoughts are my own.)

 

 

How Parents Can Get Their Kids Heart Healthy

Ensuring children get the proper nutrition is a vital part of ensuring their heart health, says renowned cardiovascular surgeon and president of the Heart Health Foundation, Dr. John Martin. The Centers for Disease Control reports that one in three children and teens are overweight, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. And the risk for high blood pressure in American teens and children increased 27 percent over 13 years, a new study published in the August issue of the journal Hypertension reports.

Good eating habits start early and will last throughout life, says Dr. Martin. Here is his heart health advice for kids:

1. Have your child screened for heart disease. It’s never too early to start screening for cardiovascular disease, especially with the rise in childhood obesity. Many doctors don’t believe that heart screenings are necessary for everyone. But Dr. Martin believes everyone should be screened for cardiovascular disease, including children. “They can get used to the process as part of their standard healthcare as they age,” Martin says.

2. Provide the proper nutrition. Make sure kids get:

  • The proper portions (2,200 calories a day for a 14-18-year-old boy, 1,800 for girls)
  • Healthy snacks
  • Fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains and low-fat proteins such as fish
  • Foods low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, salt and added sugars

3. Make sure they exercise. Instead of watching TV or playing video games, make sure kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise on a daily basis.

  • The exercise must include activities that raise heart rate
  • Find an exercise that your child likes
  • Make it a habit or routine part of the day
  • You can break it up to two 30-minute sessions if necessary.
  • It’s a great way to start the day

4. Maintain ideal body weight. Define the optimal BMI for your child based on his or her height and body style.

5. Don’t let them start smoking. It’s the easiest way to stop a bad habit.

*****

The Heart Health Foundation’s Dare to Care program is a nonprofit that provides FREE heart screenings. Since 2000, the program has helped more than 40,000 patients. There are 19 Dare to Care screening sites around the country in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 health problem in the United States today. More than half of all Americans will die from complications of atherosclerosis, the root of cardiovascular disease. And one million Americans die of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disorders every year in the U.S. — that means 2 out of every 5 deaths in the United States, or one life every 33 seconds.         

The Heart Health Foundation believes this problem can be dramatically curbed – and it all starts with heart screenings.

(Disclosure: I am not a Doctor. The post information was provided by a Doctor however please follow your own Doctor’s orders when it comes to your health.)

Bright Smiles For Picture Day {Giveaway}

bsbf logo revised

(Disclosure: I received a “Smile for Picture Day” package but all thoughts are my own.)

Did you know that more than 51 million U.S. school hours are lost each year because of dental related illness? To help children stay healthy and avoid missing school days, Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures®, in partnership with Teach for America, are kicking off the Smile for Picture Day™ campaign that will leverage school picture day as an opportunity to promote healthy habits among children in need.

As you get back to your back to school routine, one important thing to talk to your children about is the importance of a healthy smile. You can visit www.ColgateBSBF.com and click on the “Program Materials” link to download Colgate’s free oral health education materials which include parent tip sheets, video demonstrations for proper brushing and fun coloring sheets.

GIVEAWAY:

 Two people will each win a “Smile for Picture Day” package which includes a tube of Colgate Kids Cavity Protection Toothpaste and a Colgate Fresh n Protect Toothbrush

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Leave a comment telling me your tip for getting your children to brush their teeth properly

2) Share this giveaway on a social network and leave me a comment with the link

 Giveaway ends August 29, 2o13 at 11:59pm Central time. Must be a US resident, age 18 or over, to enter.

4 Steps You Can Take Today To Live A Happier Life

Happiness isn’t a state of being, says former Johnson & Johnson executive Lynda Wallace; happiness is something happy people do.

“Some may say that mimicking people is not good enough – that simply wearing Michael Jordan’s jersey doesn’t make you Michael Jordan – and they’re right. But if you behave more like Jordan in his playing years, including practicing, competing, and working out, then you’ll be that much better as a basketball player, and more like Mike,” says Wallace, a certified positive psychology coach and the author of “A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life,”, which topped Amazon’s Self-Help Best Seller list.

Wallace describes four steps we can all take to live happier lives:

  • Focus on the Positive: If you have only five minutes a day to dedicate to becoming a happier person, here’s a great way to spend it. Each night, before going to bed, write down five things for which you feel grateful. As you write your list, take a moment to reflect on each item. Call up a picture in your mind and experience your gratitude in a heartfelt way. This is a great way to jump start gratitude, optimism, and kindness, all of which have enormously positive effects on our happiness.
  • Cope Effectively with the Negative: Wallace quotes Thich Nhat Hanh, who said, “Don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” Negative experiences are a part of every life. We do best when we are able to acknowledge and accept the difficult emotions that come with the experiences, see what they have to teach us, and then use coping skills such as reaching out to others, gaining perspective on our troubles, and actively engaging in the things we do that give our lives meaning.
  • Develop Strong Relationships: No matter how much we may enjoy and need our time alone, the fact remains that we are an intensely social species, and that meaningful connections with other people are essential to happiness. In fact, research makes it clear that the single most important characteristic of very happy people is that they have trusting relationships at the center of their lives. Wallace says that those relationships may be with romantic partners, family members, or friends; it doesn’t much matter. “What matters is that we take the time and trouble to nurture and appreciate our most important relationships, and that we don’t allow other priorities to crowd out our focus on them.”
  • Pursue Meaningful Goals: “When I first began studying the positive psychology research,” says Wallace, “one of the biggest surprises for me was just how important goal pursuit is to happiness.” Goals focus and motivate us. They increase our resilience by giving us reasons to keep going following setbacks. And they give us a highly gratifying sense of purpose, forward motion, and meaning. “One of the most important things to understand about goals is that making progress toward them actually contributes even more to our happiness than achieving them does. So it’s important that we choose our goals well. Pursuing them doesn’t have to be easy or entirely pleasant. In fact, we gain the most happiness from working toward goals that demand a lot from us. But they do need to fit well with who we are and what we value.”

About the Author

After 20 years as a highly successful executive with Johnson & Johnson, where she was responsible for a $1 billion portfolio of businesses including Band-Aid, Neosporin and Purell, Lynda Wallace changed careers to pursue her passion. She now helps individuals and groups apply proven insights and techniques to achieve greater happiness and success in their lives, families, careers, and businesses. She meets with local clients in her office in Montclair, NJ, and with clients from around the world by phone or at in-person engagements. Lynda holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and is a certified positive psychology coach. She is also a sought-after speaker and the author of the No.1 Amazon Self-Help Best Seller “A Short Course in Happiness: Practical Steps to a Happier Life.” More information is available at her website: lyndawallace.com.

(Disclosure: This is a guest post.)

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer At Chicago Farmer’s Market Tomorrow

Freshness Chart

I am excited to announce that I am partnering with the FoodSaver brand to share about their NEW Vacuum Sealer. I will be at the Green City Farmers Market in Chicago with Alli of Couponing for 4 tomorrow, Saturday August 10th, helping people keep their fruits and vegetables fresher longer! Using the FoodSaver system, people can save money by purchasing food in bulk and preserve it for future use.

With a FoodSaver system, families can enjoy fresh, nutritious food throughout the year at a reasonable price. Check out the chart below to see how much longer your food can last!

This past week, I used the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer myself to keep some broccoli fresh.

I found the system so easy to use. You literally stick the food in the FoodSaver bag, put the edge of the bag in the system, and it gets all the air out of the bag. You then press a button and it is sealed. I really liked that there is a button to manually vacuum out the air so you don’t squish items like breads and soft berries. The system also has multiple pre-made sized bags and a roll of “make your own” size bags.

I look forward to using the FoodSaver system more tomorrow and will share more in depth about it and my experience at the Farmer’s Market in my next post. If you are local, I’d love to meet you there tomorrow.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for my time but all thoughts are my own.)

New “Gravity Falls” Themed Kid’s Meals At Subway Restaurants

subway

(Disclosure: I received a Subway gift card for posting about this promotion. All thoughts about the restaurant are my own.)

Throughout the month of August, Disney and SUBWAY restaurants, the world’s largest restaurant chain, will bring fans “Gravity Falls” characters and promotional items through SUBWAY Fresh Fit for Kids™ Meals™.  ”Gravity Falls” is a Television show on the Disney Channel. Each low-fat meal will include one of six reusable bags, with a specially designed “Gravity Falls” window decal or sticker.

Subway meals for children are a great alternative to fried fast food. Each meal comes with a mini sub, apple slices and low-fat milk. Children can choose the veggies and other toppings that go on their sandwiches. Make sure to check out the healthy options available for adults, too!

Green Juice I Actually Enjoyed and {Winner of Biggest Loser} Danni Allen’s Tips To Stay Healthy

danni 1

(Disclosure: Walgreens invited me to an event while I was in Chicago last week. I received a gift bag at the event but all thoughts are my own.)

The thought of “green” juice used to make my stomach turn. I could never figure out why people enjoyed drinking these vegetable filled drinks. I have had a few of these green juices and could never take more than one sip so you can imagine how I felt about going to a blog event and being subjected to these green, healthy drinks. In my head I thought there is no way I am going to like this stuff.

When I picked one up I discovered that it actually smelled good. There was a fruity smell to it instead of it smelling like a salad. I took a sip and surprisingly it was nice and refreshing and tasted nothing like vegetables. I actually hoped they’d come around with another tray of it because I wanted more of that green juice. Later on I got the ingredient list….cucumber, celery, kale/spinach, green apple, lemon/lime. Would I choose it over my flavored coffee? Probably not. But would I choose to drink it over my favorite pop {or soda for you down South…}, yes I would.

Here are Danni Allen’s top 5 healthy tips:

1) Drink mean, green and clean juice {As shown above, you can find one that tastes good.}

2) You can always find 20 minutes in a day to work out {Her quick routine is 40 mountain climbers, 15 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 plank up-downs and repeat until 20 minutes is up.}

3) Recovery is just as important as exercise. {She suggests stretching or Restorative Yoga}

4) Motivation is key! {Find a way to push outside your comfort zone by joining a team or signing up for a race.}

5) Food is about quality not quantity. {Danni says: don’t buy cheap fruits and veggies!}

Walgreens had lots of delicious, healthy items on their “fresh bus” for us to check out and enjoy. I loved our picnic (even though it rained and we collapsed a picnic table lol).

Spinach & Artichoke Wrap {Recipe}

spinach and artichokes wrap

August is National Sandwich Month so I wanted to share a sandwich idea that is simple, healthy, and delicious. This recipe is from Executive Chef Anthony Stewart from the Pritikin Longevity Center.

Makes 4 wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, cooked
  • ¼ cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
  • 1 teaspoon minced Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium stoneground mustard
  • 4 whole-wheat lavash breads (Lavash is a soft thin flatbread about the size of large rectangular-shaped tortilla.)

Directions:

  • Puree all ingredients except lavash breads in food processor.
  • Cut each bread in half. Divide spinach/artichoke mixture equally on each piece of bread.
  • Roll into wrap.

Quaker Fuels Healthy, Busy Families

quaker perfect portions

(Disclosure: This is a compensated post on behalf of Quaker but all thoughts are my own.)

When I was growing up my dad offered me a lot of advice. One of the most common things he’d repeatedly tell me was how important it is to eat a good breakfast. He told me how he’d read that people who ate breakfast tended to weigh less and have more energy throughout the day.

As a parent I keep my father’s advice in mind as I raise my children and we go about our daily routine. We are always on the go so we need to start our day with something that will keep our bellies full all morning and give us the energy that we need to go from soccer practice to swim lessons to the playground. These past few days it’s been chilly in Chicago {seriously- I thought about turning on the heat last night….} so I wanted to make a nice, warm breakfast for the kids. For me, the Quaker name is synonymous with breakfast and I discovered a whole new line of products I didn’t even know about.

Quaker sent me some products to try and as soon as I opened the package I was overcome with the smell of maple. One of the best breakfast smells ever! The new ‘perfect portion’ oatmeal packages let people make as little or as much oatmeal as they want and, since they are unsweetened, let the consumer choose how they want to sweeten their oatmeal. I normally add brown sugar to mine.

Another item Quaker sent me to try was their soft baked bars. These are perfect for busy families. Ten seconds in the microwave and you have a hot breakfast ready to take in the car or on the bus. The cinnamon nut bread with pecans, raisins and sweet swirls of cinnamon makes a delicious treat.

Quaker not only fuels healthy, busy families but they inspire them through programs that encourage physical activity. Quaker serves as the title sponsor of the Chicago Fire Juniors, the club’s youth player development program that supports more than 10,000 soccer kids and families in Chicago and nationally. As a “soccer mom”, I love that Quaker sponsors this program because I think soccer is both fun and a great way to learn about teamwork and other important life skills.

One special event coming up is The Quaker Invitational which is hosted by Quaker and the Chicago Fire August 9th through August 11th. Hundreds of Chicago Fire Juniors teams from around the country will come together for a weekend of soccer, community and fun. The two winning youth teams will earn a chance to play on The Chicago Fire’s home field, Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL on Sunday, August 11, and each player in the tournament will receive a free game ticket to attend the Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact MLS game.

In addition to the Chicago Fire, Quaker has joined forces with national and local organizations to reach families through nourishment, education and physical activity including the National Football League, Fuel Up to Play 60, the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Movement and Common Threads.

Now that you have heard about how Quaker fuels healthy families, including mine, which of their delicious breakfast options are you interested in trying first?

 

Fresh Juice In Minutes With The Green Star Elite Juicer

juicer 4

(Disclosure: I received the juicer to review but all thoughts are my own.)

I have heard so much about juicing lately so I was interested to try out the Green Star Elite juicer. Based on our body’s natural chewing process, the Green Star Elite by Tribest Corporation is the only juicer on the market that offers a system that mirrors what our body does naturally to protect even the most delicate of vital nutrients and extract maximum nutrition. It uses a 3-stage process (crushing, mixing, and pressing) to produce higher juice yields and enhance the nutritional value of every drop and uses special technology to make the nutrients in the juice last up to 72 hours in the refrigerator.

Sinisa went to the store and came back with a variety of fruits. We had grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, and a pineapple. The juicer came with some recipes but we decided to make our own mixed fruit juice. Sinisa chopped all the fruit up into small pieces.

I found the Green Star Elite juicer easy to use. You just had to put a small amount of fruit in the chute and then turn the machine on and put the plunger in it to push down the fruit in the chute. This step is repeated until you have the amount of juice in the cup that you want. Turn it off and voila you are done! I personally, think the juice tastes best after it’s been in the fridge for a couple hours so it’s nice and cold.

Sinisa cleaned the machine and thought cleaning it was easy since it came with a brush to get in all the crevices. He found it a little difficult to put the pieces back together after he cleaned it and said they had to be put together like puzzle pieces but he feels that now he knows how they fit together it will be easier to do the next time.

Overall, I was very please with this juicer and am happy the process was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Have you ever used a juicer? What is your favorite fruit combo? I’d love ideas for next time.

 

 

10 Healthy Summertime Eating Tips For Kids

healthy eating tips

Just because the routine of the school year goes away for the summer doesn’t mean your child’s nutritional requirements should go on vacation, too! According to practicing family physician, Andrew Abraham, M.D., a father of two, the key is to aim for nutritional balance.

“Summer is a challenge because so many seasonal activities revolve around foods that are more delicious than nutritious, such as lemonade, ball park franks and ice cream,” said Dr. Abraham. “But health-minded parents don’t have to let their kids’ summers be a vacation from healthy eating.”

Dr. Abraham recommends the following summertime healthy eating tips for kids:

1. Keep fruits available – Put a bowl of apples on the table. Keep bananas on the counter, and place ready-to-grab grapes on the top shelf in the refrigerator.

2. Make vegetables fun – Turn a cucumber into a caterpillar, cherry tomatoes into a summertime snowman, and green peas into a necklace.

3. Turn off the TV – Hula-hoops, baseball bats, and butterfly nets— there are plenty of ways to entice your kids off the couch for a little exercise.

4. Drink water – When the weather is hot, especially for extended periods, children can get dehydrated. Let them pick out there own water bottle to carry with them.

5. Grow a family garden – Everything kids cultivate in their own garden provides a lifelong lesson in where food comes from, and that is step one in developing healthy lifelong eating habits.

6. Visit a dairy farm – Learn how cows convert pasture grasses into milk for your table.

7. Take family trips that are active – Teach your kids how to enjoy exercise by trying hiking, swimming, or bicycling.

8. Experiment in the kitchen – Let kids learn how to prepare their own food. The more they know about their food, the better their eating habits.

9. Shop at farmers markets – Help kids interact with the people who grow their food, and develop shopping skills, while visiting one of America’s 8,000 farmers markets.

10. Get extra nutrition – Try products that supplement your child’s nutritional intake, like Orgain Healthy Kids, the organic nutritional shake developed by Dr. Abraham to help kids get the ready-to-drink nutrition they need. Available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

More information about Orgain Healthy Kids:

Great for snacks and lunchboxes, for picky eaters, or when kids are sick, Orgain Healthy Kids is an organic nutritional shake that provides perfectly balanced nutrition with 8 grams of organic protein, organic complex carbohydrates, organic fiber, a complete vitamin and mineral blend, and a blend of 10 different certified organic fruits and vegetables. Gluten-free, Orgain Healthy Kids is free of soy, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and corn syrup. Founder Andrew Abraham, M.D.’s personal experience as a cancer survivor and practicing physician inspired him to formulate Orgain Healthy Kids, and its companion line for adults, Orgain. A portion of net proceeds is given to cancer patients who cannot adequately meet their medical and nutritional needs. For more information, visit www.orgain.com.

(Disclosure: This is NOT sponsored, I just thought these were great tips my readers would enjoy. I have never tried Orgain Healthy Kids products before.)

Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomato Orzo {Recipe}

Chicken-and-Sun-Dried-Tomato-Orzo w text

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces orzo (rosamarina) – preferably whole-wheat
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tomato(es), sun-dried – (not oil-packed), chopped, divided
  • 1 medium tomato(es), plum – diced
  • 1 clove(s) garlic – peeled
  • 3 teaspoons marjoram, fresh – chopped, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, red wine
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons oil, olive, extra virgin – divided
  • 4 piece(s) chicken, breast, boneless, skinless – (1-1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, black ground
  • 9 ounces artichoke hearts, frozen – thawed
  • 1/2 cup cheese, Romano – finely shredded, divided

 

DIRECTIONS

·         Cook orzo in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

·         Meanwhile, place 1 cup water, 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, plum tomato, garlic, 2 teaspoons marjoram, vinegar and 2 teaspoons oil in a blender. Blend until just a few chunks remain.

·         Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning, until golden outside and no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

·         Pour the tomato sauce into the pan and bring to a boil. Measure out 1/2 cup sauce to a small bowl. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes to the pan along with the orzo, artichoke hearts and 6 tablespoons cheese. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among 4 plates.

·         Slice the chicken. Top each portion of pasta with sliced chicken, 2 tablespoons of the reserved tomato sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining cheese and marjoram.

(Disclosure: The above recipe and image are courtesy of RecipeRehab.com. No compensation was received.)

Strawberry Jam {Recipe}

strawberry jam collage

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground chia seeds

Directions:

  • Puree berries in a food processor with the vanilla and optional coconut sugar.
  • Pour into bowl and stir in remaining whole berries and chia until well combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • While you’re sleeping the chia will begin to gelatinize, turning your fresh berries into even MORE of an antioxidant-rich goodness.

Recipe and image courtesy of Peggy Kotsopoulos, Host of Peggy K’s Kitchen Cures on Veria Living. This is not a sponsored post.

Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread {Recipe}

irish soda bread

Cook Time 55 min
Prep Time 20 min
Yields 12 serv.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups flour, whole-wheat
  • 2 cups flour, all-purpose – plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little flour.

2.  Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in full circles (starting in the center of the bowl working toward the outside of the bowl) until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, in a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Clean dough off your hand.

3.  Pat and roll the dough gently with floury hands, just enough to tidy it up and give it a round shape. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches. Transfer the loaf to the prepared baking sheet. Mark with a deep cross using a serrated knife and prick each of the four quadrants.

4.  Bake the bread for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until the loaf is brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Calories: 165
Sodium: 347mg
Saturated Fat 0g
Total Fat: 1g
Dietary Fiber: 3g
Carbs: 37g
Cholesterol: 2mg
Protein: 8g

 

This healthy St. Patrick’s Day inspired recipe and image is courtesy of RecipeRehab.com.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post.)

Low-Fat Mac & Cheese Muffins {Recipe}

healthy mac & cheese muffins

Yield:  6 servings of Low-Fat Mac & Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice elbow pasta;
¾ cup Greek yogurt;
¾ cup pureed cauliflower (see Tip);
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil;
2 tablespoon ground chia seeds;
1 red pepper, diced;
1 zucchini, grated;
2 tablespoons almond milk;
½ cup aged white cheddar cheese, finely grated

Directions:

Cook Time: 30 min 00 sec

Ready In: 20 min 00 sec

  • Pre-heat oven to 375F.
  • Boil water and cook pasta as directed.
  • Once pasta is cooked and drained, add back to pot, then add greek yogurt, and extra virgin olive oil.  Mix well.
  • Add ground chia and milk.
  • Mix well, and then stir in cauliflower puree, grated zucchini and red pepper and cheddar cheese (reserving a little for topping).
  • Grease muffin tin with coconut oil and spoon in mixture.
  • Sprinkle top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake for 20min
  • Remove from oven and let cool
  • Remove from muffin tins and enjoy!

Recipe and image courtesy of Peggy Kotsopoulos, Host of Peggy K’s Kitchen Cures on Veria Living. Here’s a YouTube video of Peggy preparing the Mac & Cheese Muffins. Enjoy!

Love Your Skin With Eucerin {$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway}

eucerin love your skin

Maintaining a healthy daily routine is crucial for your skin’s overall well-being.  Here are some tips from Eucerin to keep your skin luminous and lovely:

  • Hit the gym!  Exercising can help you de-stress.  The increased blood flow from physical activity also helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells.
  • Moisturize! In cold winter months, remember to use rich creams and lip balm to give your skin additional moisture and to soothe cracked skin.
  • Catch up on some Zzzz’s!   When you sleep, you allow your skin cells a chance to regenerate. Experts recommend 6-8 hours each night.
  • Cut down on the sugar!  No one’s telling you to abandon chocolate altogether, but processed sugar can contribute to the breakdown of collagen, making your skin dull and less taut.
  • Exfoliate! Exfoliating a couple times each week helps to remove dead skin cells and expose fresh new cells.
  • Get enough Vitamin C!  Vitamin C is known to help prevent cell damage, keeping your skin less prone to wrinkles. So make sure to stock up on C-rich foods, like guava, kiwi and tomatoes.

A couple more tips I would add:

  • Wear sunscreen every day (even in winter)
  • Slather your feet with lotion and then put socks on before bed. You’ll wake with much smoother skin!
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Use the right skin care products for your skin. Eucerin has a great app on their Facebook page which will suggest the right products for you!

GIVEAWAY:

$100 Visa Gift Card, Eucerin Products, Nivea Lip Balm, and Bag of Chocolates

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me your tip for keeping your skin luminous

2) Share this giveaway on a social network

3) Use Eucerin’s Skindicator app on Facebook and tell me what skin care products Eucerin suggests for you

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @eucerinUS on Twitter

6) Comment on another one of my posts

Giveaway ends March 20, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. US residents 18 and over only.

(Disclosure: I received a prize pack from Eucerin but all thoughts are my own.)

Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale Chowder {Recipe}

Sweet Potato Corn and Kale Chowder

 

I have the perfect meal to share today for these chilly days we have been having! This recipe is from Terry Walters, author of best-selling cookbook Clean Food. Walters says the chowder “is a colorful variation on an old favorite. It cooks up quickly and provides a balanced meal rich in nutrients all in one satisfying bowl.”

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups rice milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter, dissolved in 1⁄4 cup hot water
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into small pieces
  • Water or stock as needed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In large pot over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until soft (about 3 minutes). Add celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, thyme and stock and simmer 5 minutes. Add enough rice milk to cover the vegetables. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and add dissolved cashew butter. Partially purée using a handheld blender. Add kale, return to heat, thin with water or stock to achieve desired consistency and cook until kale is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

SERVES 6

(Disclosure: This post is not compensated but the recipe and image were provided by Terry Walters, the author of this recipe.)

Touchable Skin With NIVEA Lotion

nivea 1

When I was a new mom I remember how close I held my children as I rocked them to sleep. I remember putting my finger in their palms and having their little hands close around it. I remember stroking their soft cheeks while I gazed at them, overcome with love for these little humans I had just met.

Touch is important, but not just in infancy. That need for human connection continues throughout our lives. Those hugs that express love. Those pats on the back after a job well done. Walking hand in hand across a street. As humans we all need to feel loved and touch continues to be a main way that this need is fulfilled.

Since I’m not lucky enough to have skin as soft as my children do, I have to rely on lotion to make my hands smooth and touchable. I heard that Sam’s Club had double packs of NIVEA lotion that was specially formulated for very dry skin. I headed to the store with my mom for a little mother-daughter time to wander around Sam’s Club and pick up the lotion. {See my shopping story here}

The 2-pack was perfect for sharing with a loved one. I could use one bottle myself and give one bottle of lotion to my mom.

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Upon rubbing the NIVEA lotion into my hands I noticed that it quickly soaked into my skin and made it feel smoother. I think everyone in my family will notice my softer skin. Sinisa will notice it when I put my hand in his and my children will notice it when I rub their backs as they rest on the couch. Everyone benefits when momma has softer skin!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Beiersdorf for NIVEA.  #NIVEAmoments #cbias #SocialFabric

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Macaroons {Recipe}

choc macaroons

 

You can’t go wrong with these easy to make, gluten-free macaroons. Yum. Recipe and image courtesy of Terry Walters, author of the best-selling cookbook CLEAN FOOD.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1⁄4 cup coconut milk
  • 1⁄4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup gluten- and dairy-free chocolate chips or 6 ounces dark chocolate

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In large mixing bowl, combine coconut with salt. In separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup and almond extract. Add to coconut and stir until evenly moist.
  • Melt chocolate chips or chocolate in double boiler or in small pot over very low heat and pour into coconut mixture. Fold until evenly combined. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop batter by the tablespoonful and place on cookie sheet in equal-size mounds.
  • Gently press to make each mound of mixture stick together. Bake 18–20 minutes or until tops appear dry. Remove from heat and place on rack to cool.

MAKES 18 macaroons

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for posting this recipe.)

Mom Made Foods {Giveaway}

mom made

Mom Made wants to make it easier for you to keep your commitment to feed your family healthy food, and to teach your kids that nutritious can be delicious! GIVEAWAY!!


Mom Made Foods is wanting to spread the love with the Healthy Pledge 2013 and with that comes coupons!!! Mom Made Foods wants to give moms out there a break from the kitchen without a shred of guilt.

Mom Made Foods is an all natural and  USDA organic created because Mom Made Foods believes in convenient meals that do not sacrifice quality or nutrition, and that kids should be able to eat delicious foods without added junk. Inspired by kids and the familiar recipes they love, Mom Made Foods uses only the freshest quality ingredients, such as organic products and meats raised without antibiotics, all sourced in the USA.


Mom Made Foods not only wants to feed healthy but encourage eating healthy! The healthy pledge 2013 will remind moms that teaching kids to eat nutritious foods can be delicious! Mom Made invites you to take their Healthy Pledge, and receive healthy tips, recipes, deals and more from them all year long.

You can learn more about Mom Made Foods on their website.


** Please enter for a chance to win coupons from Mom Made Foods, using the Rafflecopter form below. 5 winners will each win 10 coupons!**

This giveaway ends February 23, 2013 at 11:59pm Central time. US residents, 18+ only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for hosting this giveaway.)


a Rafflecopter giveaway