Category Archives: Health

10 Dinner Ideas for Your Family to Enjoy Together



Coming clean here: I often dread dinner time. After a full day, who on earth wants to make two separate dinners – one for the kids and one for the adults?! Not me. Although sometimes I do succumb to this I try my hardest not to make those frozen chicken nuggets the norm. After all, I want my children’s taste buds to be as all-inclusive as possible (ha ha, much easier said than done)! My kids eat super early so it’s often the night before’s dinner leftovers for them, and a new dinner for my husband and me.

Here are 10 healthy, easy and generally crowd-pleaser dinner ideas that your entire family will (hopefully) enjoy. They are tasty, fun, colorful and balanced.


* Make Your Own Taco – Let your child help make his/her taco. This is FUN!!! Lettuce, avocado…greek yogurt to dip.   Substitute beef with bison for a healthier option. These shrimp tacos are a favorite in my house!


* Crispy Chicken and Homemade Fries – SO much healthier than the frozen chicken nuggets and store bought fries (packed with added sugar, fats, sodium). To make the adults version a little more “mature”, how about a chipotle dip?


* Mac n’ Cheese – Adults love a good mac n’ cheese just as much as the littles do.  Want to kick the healthy factor up a notch? Substitute regular pasta with a whole wheat, brown rice or bean based pasta.


* Moroccan Chicken – Fast and tasty, this recipe includes peaches and orange juice to add flavor and please those sugar-craving taste buds.


* Orecchiette with Broccoli and Walnuts – Fresh pasta with protein and fiber filled walnuts and vitamin-rich broccoli. Simple, colorful and yummy.


* Almond Fish Sticks – OK, yum…cod covered in crunchy almonds and flakes. Want to add a little “adult” into this recipe? Make a side dipping sriracha or tartar sauce.


* Black Bean Quesadillas – This is my go-to when I need something super-quick, that I enjoy as well.  SUPER simple and healthy. Add a fried egg if you want!  On the “adult” quesadilla, consider adding onions, spices and jalapeños!


* Swordfish Piccata – My daughter, like many other 4 year olds I know, will not eat fish (other than shrimp)…HOWEVER, there is something about swordfish that excludes it from the “I hate fish” rule. Maybe it’s the more dense consistency, almost like chicken – not sure. Personally, I don’t include capers on hers, and I’m generally not a fan of thyme either.


* Hamburger Buddy Pasta – This recipe helps you hide a few vegetables, like mushrooms and carrots. Try substituting with bison for a healthier version. Add spices to the adult portion as many will find it on the blander side without.


* Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce – Kids cannot get enough pasta. Let’s at least try to make it a little healthier for them by making a homemade tomato sauce! Here is basic recipe, for you to tweak as you wish!


One piece of advice to new mommies – don’t succumb to “kids food” 24/7. They will be dictating their menu to you, and will refuse to open up to new (healthier) ideas.  Listen, getting a toddler to eat a new food or fish for example (god forbid), can feel excruciatingly impossible. We’re not going to win every food war. My thought is this: have them at least TRY something, even just a few bites. They might actually like something they thought they detested. There’s an old Sesame Street episode about this, where Elmo has to try a kiwi, which he didn’t think he liked…and he enjoys it! Try watching this with them. Note: it can take ten tries before your taste buds decide if they like a food or not.   And…often if my child is not crazy about the dinner option for the evening, I explain there are no other options, so she needs to eat whatever it is if she doesn’t want to go to bed starving. And of course definitely no after dinner sweet if she doesn’t eat it.  Having the energy to take this on every night is difficult, but we can try to introduce new healthy foods once or twice a week and see what sticks! Don’t give up!


Parents: Here are 10 Ways We Can Implement Better Self-Care

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written by Jen Valu


I’m talking to all parents here, but moms specifically.  We are always too busy (a word I use way too often to describe how I’m doing), taking care of everyone – our kids, our home, even our spouse…that we often neglect a very important person – YOURSELF.  Easier said than done, I am guilty as charged.  I sometimes wait 6 months to get a haircut.  I rarely get much needed “girl time” with my friends.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to pick up a book and get lost in it.  I feel good thinking about all of the things I get done every day – taking care of two children, working PT, paying bills, food shopping, taking care of the house and  somehow mustering up the energy after both kids are asleep to make my husband and I dinner when he gets home from work.  After all, look at what we accomplish every single day.  We should feel proud!!!  BUT…do you ever feel like you’re losing yourself in the day to day grind, not having a moment to think about you?

Here are a few ideas for ways we can take care of ourselves without breaking the bank and taking too much time away from those snuggles and laughs with our babies.


  • EXERCISE.  Don’t have a gym membership?  Doesn’t matter.  Get your heartrate up for 30 min.  Go for a walk – do the Prospect Park loop.   Catch up on your favorite podcast while you’re out and about!  Release those endorphins.
  • Go to your favorite cafe, alone.  People watch (Brooklyn is a great place to do this) or meet up with a friend for a cup of Joe.
  • Take a bath  (when is the last time you did this)?  Candles, music, glass of wine – do it up!!!!
  • Take that meditation or yoga class.  Re-center yourself.
  • Once a month, make a date night – not necessarily with your spouse (let them babysit) –  maybe with a friend.  Make a plan to do dinner, go to a concert, whatever.  Something you really want to do.  Agree that your spouse does the same, this way you are both helping each other with self care and striving to be happier parents, together!
  • Go outside by yourself – on your balcony, on your rooftop, wherever that is.  Get that fresh air and bring your your favorite music.  Enjoy a quiet cup of tea or coffee.  Breathe.  Alone.
  • Do you have a creative hobby?  Don’t neglect it.  Painting, drawing, photography, writing, playing music?  Take a little time to invest in that hobby.
  • Go the park by yourself.  Bring your beach-chair and relax under your favorite tree for a half hour and catch up on a book.
  • Getting to the hair salon can often be difficult and time consuming…how about a quick mani or pedi?  Or a half hour massage…ahhh.  Reward yourself.
  • Sleep in.  Make sure you and your partner allow the other to do this on a regular basis.  There is no downplaying how important it is for you to catch enough z’s.


Try setting your alarm clock 20-30 min early if you can’t find time in the day to do these things.   Start the day with YOU-time.  And watch the beautiful sun rise while you do it.

Listen, there is never enough time in the day or the funds to do what we really want to do for ourselves. Sure I’d love a day at the spa once a month and a yearly trip with close girlfriends somewhere on a secluded beach in the Caribbean.   I’d love to go into Manhattan, all alone and just wander around for an entire day.  Meet up with friends for lunch, go shop.  Just a me-day.  One day we’ll all get there (here’s to hoping), but these things can feel a little out of reach with the little people in our lives.   Maybe we can take some of these small steps towards that much needed “me time”.   

Remember, if you feel like you’re taking care of “everything”, that includes you.  If you truly take care of yourself, you are happier…you are a better parent, a more patient parent.  You’re also letting your children know that YOU matter, and that you truly value yourself.




written by Jen #supermom

Sending your toddler or pre-schooler out for the day and need to pack a lunch?  So over making PB&J sandwiches?  I am personally going through this now, as my 3 year old is at daycare 4 half days a week, and I need to provide lunch.  I cannot bear to give her the favorite (PB&J of course) more than once, MAYBE twice a week.  That being said, she’s also a bit of a picky eater and I’m always looking for new healthy options that she will actually consume.

As this seems to be a popular topic among many moms in this situation, I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve received from friends near and far:

* Wraps (vs sandwiches) – cheese and/or deli meats or avocado and hummus.  Cut wrap into pinwheels for fun!

* Another more exciting version of your typical sandwich – cut it with cookie cutters!  (After all, presentation of the food is quite a bit deal to the little ones)….and eat the remains for your snack (isn’t that we always end up doing anyway)?!

* Whole Wheat or Brown Rice Pasta in a thermos with turkey meatballs or veggies

* Tomato soup and a grilled cheese

* Hummus or Guac with Veggies and Pita to dip

* Black beans and rice

* Quesadilla with beans and spinach, or cheese and avocado!

* Rolled slices of turkey, rolled sliced cheese and whole wheat crackers

* Yogurt and berries with a half sandwich

* Whole wheat bagel with cream cheese

* Use leftover roasted chicken and add mayo, sweet cranberries and crunchy celery to make a yummy wrap or sandwich

* Falafel patty in a pita with lettuce, tomato and plain yogurt

* Veggie burger with pita & dip of choice


* Corn, peas, chickpeas…fun small round things!

* Frozen yogurt squeezers (will be thawed out but still cold by time lunch comes around)

* Chopped up veggies: cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, peppers

* String cheese

* Hard boiled egg

* Fruit salad

* Grapes

Here is some helpful advice in regards to planning for the week’s lunches:

  1. Stock up on non-perishables:  Almonds/cashews, raisins, whole wheat crackers, beans, bread sticks, granola, rice cakes
  2. Make certain things ahead of time (on Sunday perhaps): Hard boil eggs, falafel patties or sandwiches the night before.  Roast a whole chicken so you have it to cut up for sandwiches!
  3. Have a  variety of proteins, carbs and fresh fruit on hand.  I always shop for Sunday night delivery so we are loaded up and ready for the week ahead.

So far I’ve had many days when I pick her up and almost the entire lunch has not been touched, other days it’s been entirely gobbled up.  I think this is completely unavoidable, no matter what is offered!  It just depends on her mood, and I am never exactly sure what she’s in the mood for. Or perhaps it has more to do with what is going on around her at the time (she is so easily distracted)!  Anyway, I hope this list of suggestions will at least empower you to try new things…and who knows, perhaps your child will fill find a new favorite and you’ll come home with more empty lunch boxes!