Eat Right: Healthy Holiday Recipes for the Whole Family

Holiday meals are full of New Jammies’ traditional favorites, from turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie topped with fresh whipped cream. With many of these holiday appetizers, entrees and desserts loaded with fat and calories, we like to discover some of the more healthier options for families, especially those with kiddos to please.

One way to start thinking healthy for the holidays is to consider switching out traditional ingredients for less sugar- and calorie-heavy items. Everyday Health healthy living newsletter offers these options, featured in its “11 Healthy Holiday Food Swaps” article. These include skipping:

• Full-fat dips, and eat yogurt dips (hummus with yogurt and lemon recipe)

• Some alcohol calories, drink wine spritzer instead (8 ‘skinny’ holiday cocktails)

• Candied yams, eat roasted sweet potatoes (low-calorie candied yams recipe)

• Store-bought, eat homemade stuffing (low-calorie stuffing)

• Traditional gravy, eat low-fat gravy (click here for recipe from the Mayo Clinic)

These recipes will be a hit with the family this holiday, and help with staying healthy:

Spinach Parmesan White Bean Dip

Found on Pinterest, one of our favorite resources for ideas for healthy recipes and fun holiday do-it-yourself projects, this simple, vegetarian, five-ingredient, gluten-free dip is “packed with protein and veggies, and tons of cheesy flavor.” Sounds great to us!

Ingredients
1 cup baby spinach, packed
1 15 oz. can white beans, small
2 tbsp freshly squeeze lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Blend in food processor; salt and pepper to taste.

2. Serve with carrots, celery, cauliflower, pita chips or any healthy chip or veggie stick that goes great with dips.

 

Wild Rice with Cranberries & Almonds

This low-calorie (120 per 1/2 cup), low-cholesterol (0 mg) side dish, courtesy of the American Diabetes Association’s Recipes for Living, is a healthful holiday option that can be made for a big dinner, or a small get-together with lots of leftovers, as it serves 11. According to the ADA, wild rice takes longer to cook than other rice, but it has a lower glycemic index of 45 compared to white rice with a glycemic index of 70. This is important for those holiday guests with diabetes or other special diet considerations. The toasted almond slices and dried cranberries are a nice touch for any holiday spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
2 (4-ounce) boxes wild rice
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Instructions
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the water and chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil.

3. Add the rice; cover and cook according to package directions; usually about 50-60 minutes.

4. Remove the lid and add in the toasted almonds and cranberries; use a fork to mix together.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free, including the chicken broth, and this can be made gluten-free.

 

Orange Glazed Turkey with Potatoes & Carrots

The American Heart Association offers many healthy options for traditional recipes on its website at recipes.heart.org. This citrus-roasted recipe for a turkey breast, to make holiday prep easier, caught our eye for a healthy take on festive meals.

”Try this new Simple Cooking with Heart take on traditional turkey. Its seasoning gives the dish a base of flavor, and orange marmalade adds tangy sweetness. Serve with potatoes and carrots. Enjoy the taste of Thanksgiving year-round!”

Ingredients
6 Servings
Nonstick cooking spray
1.5-1.75 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breast (all visible fat discarded)
2 tsp. dried mixed herbs (mix a combination of any/all – rosemary, basil, parsley, tarragon, chives, thyme, sage)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. orange marmalade
1 lb. washed potatoes (can use any type of potatoes), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 medium carrots (peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Place turkey in the dish.

3. In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients (herbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder). Rub half of mixture over the turkey.

4. Spread marmalade over turkey.

5. Stir potatoes, carrots and oil in to remaining herb mixture. Place vegetables in dish around the turkey. Bake for 1 hour.

6. Remove from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes to allow juices to redistribute.

 

Spiced Caramel Apples

Better Homes and Gardens knows a little something about entertaining, and has spent decades being one of the foremost experts on food. So it’s no surprise they’ve put together a list of Healthy Apple Desserts that includes this easy recipe that slow cooks while everyone is visiting.

“Instead of serving caramel apples on a stick, we cut apples in half, topped them with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cloves, and cooked them in a slow cooker. We added a drizzle of caramel topping later, along with a few chopped pecans, to create a healthy apple dessert that wows.”

Ingredients

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
5 medium red-skinned cooking apples (such as Rome or Jonathan), cored, and halved
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar-free caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans

Instructions
1. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and cloves. Core and halve the apples.

2. Place 1/2 of the apple halves in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle evenly with some of the cinnamon mixture. Add remaining apples and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

3. Pour apple juice and lemon juice over apples. Stir to coat apples evenly.

4. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, stirring gently halfway through cooking time.

5. Spoon apples and cooking liquid to individual serving dishes. Drizzle with caramel topping and sprinkle with pecans.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Fall Crafting for the Kids

At New Jammies, we love the beauty that Autumn brings, from the changing of the leaves to the colors of the harvest. So this season the time is right to let the kids become inspired by all that surrounds them to make fun crafts with a Fall theme at home.

New Jammies Founder and CEO Nicole Ludlow loved the Halloween-inspired Paper Plate Spiders her preschool-aged son made at school, with inspiration from the I Heart Crafty Things blog. We thought we would check out other do-it-yourself crafts young children can complete from iheartcraftythings.com, and these Cupcake Liner Turkey Puppets caught our eye.

Just in time to get into the Thanksgiving spirit!

Turkey Time

“I love making crafts with my kids that can be interactive for pretend play or that we can use to reenact a story that we’ve just read. I came across some darling Cereal Box Turkeys over at Plum Pudding recently and I loved them,” says the iheartcraftythings founder and kids craft designer Rachel Nipper. “I decided to make more of a kid-friendly version that my children could help me with and we are using them as Turkey Puppets. We used one of my favorite crafting materials to make them also, cupcake liners.”

Supplies:

• craft stick [We received ours from our friends at Craftprojectideas.com.]
• 2 mini brown cupcake liners
• 1 orange cupcake liner
• sheet of cardstock paper (I used a scrap piece of yellow, you can use whatever color you want)
• small piece of brown, yellow and red cardstock paper
• 2-inch circle punch (or you can free hand a circle this size)
• school glue
• glue stick
• scissors

Directions:
1. Start by using your glue stick to glue down your orange cupcake liner onto a sheet of cardstock paper. I used a scrap piece of yellow that I had. You can choose whatever color you want to use. Now cut the cupcake liner out. (Backing it with cardstock paper gives the cupcake liner and puppet stability.)

2. Use school glue to glue your craft stick down to the front of your orange cupcake liner.

3. Using your glue stick, glue one of your mini brown cupcake liners onto the orange cupcake liner, positioning it at the bottom.

4. Use your scissors to make slits around the top and sides of your orange cupcake liner. Some of the cardstock paper you glued your cupcake liner onto may show through after doing this, so keep that in mind when deciding what color you use in step 1.

5. Cut your other mini brown cupcake liner in half and glue the pieces onto the sides of your other brown cupcake liner to act as turkey wings.

6. Cut a 2-inch circle from your circle punch out of your brown paper and then glue it onto your puppet.

7. Finish your turkey by adding googly eyes, a beak and snood cut out of your red and yellow paper.

“Now you have a fun little turkey puppet to reenact your favorite turkey story or for imaginative, pretend play. We made several turkeys so my kids have had fun letting them interact with each other,” Rachel says. “I think it would also be fun to play around with different patterned cupcake liners instead of the orange one. I’m thinking orange polka-dot liners or a different pattern. I didn’t have any on hand to try it out.”

Sponge Paint It

Nicole also noticed her preschooler seems to be drawn to painting with sponges, so she became inspired to ignite his creativity at home using household sponges and paint.

“I just cut up a sponge into different shapes and put colors of paint on plate to dip and splotch, she says.

At school, he made this Egg Carton Caterpillar project in class, and it turned out pretty cute, according to Nicole.

“All you need for this project is an egg carton, some kid-friendly paint, pipe cleaners and eyes (optional, because you can always just paint the eyes on),” says Megan Bray, from the Balancing Home blog site.

Read full instructions here.

Catch the Sun

Nicole says another neat project her son did at school, but parents and caregivers can also do at home, is making suncatchers or stainglass.

“Cut a shape out of thin tissue paper and paint with water colors,” she says.

The Artful Parent blog offers 50+ suncatcher crafts for kids at https://artfulparent.com/stained-glass-suncatcher-ideas-kids.

These Autumn Leaf Suncatchers from The Artful Parent are great as holiday presents in December or gifts for the family at Thanksgiving in November.

Supplies:

• Transparent contact paper (sticky-back plastic)
• Fresh autumn leaves
• Heart or other hole punch (optional)

Directions:

1. Cut off a rectangular piece of contact paper. Fold it in half, then pull the paper covering off to the fold, exposing half of the sticky plastic.

2. Arrange your autumn leaves on the sticky contact paper and press to adhere.

3. If desired, your your hole punch to cut out heart (or other) shapes from leaves and add those to the suncatcher as well.

4. When you are satisfied with your design, remove the rest of the paper backing from the contact paper. Carefully fold it over the leaves, sandwiching them in between the two layers of plastic, and press down with your hands, avoiding air bubbles if possible.

5. Hang in a sunny window and admire!

The Artful Parent taped the suncatchers to the window, but sometimes they punch holes in the top and add a ribbon for hanging.

A note about the leaves: The fresh autumn leaves are beautiful, vibrant, and full of color which is one of the reasons we like to use them for these nature suncatchers every year (rather than pressed and dried autumn leaves). However, please note that they will lose some of their color over time and decay. Ours are usually enjoyed for about two weeks before we take them down.

For more fun DIY arts and crafts activities ideas from The Artful Parent, click here.

Happy crafting!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

 

Sleep Tight: Clean Sleeping For Sleep Wellness


In 2017, the term “clean sleeping” has taken the spotlight as a trend that can help create a wellness routine to benefit the whole New Jammies family. Clean sleeping originated with Gwyneth Paltrow’s newest book, “Goop: Clean Beauty,” and her website, goop.com, which offers tips on improving sleep habits to help with your body’s dietary needs and energy levels.

According to Paltrow, sleep is a priority, and she has a goal of getting at least eight hours of good, quality sleep at night. Even nine and 10 are ideal for some. The idea behind clean sleeping is that your body repairs itself and detoxifies overnight. So, healthy skin and body are achieved with better sleep.

One way to achieve clean sleeping is to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. The “Clean Beauty” book also suggests spending time outdoors during the day so your body can get in sync with the sun’s schedule. Avoid caffeine later in the day, nighttime snacking, and relying on sleep aids. Also try to make your bedroom completely dark during your sleep routine.

Read more from Goop.com on How to Get Better Sleep.

Good sleep hygiene is also achieved by unplugging at the end of the day. Turning off electronics before bedtime is strongly advised, especially by the National Sleep Foundation.

“Careful studies have shown that even our small electronic devices emit sufficient light to miscue the brain and promote wakefulness,” says the NSF. “As adults we are subject to these influences and our children are particularly susceptible.”

The National Sleep Foundation reminds us that we should give ourselves at least 30 minutes of gadget-free transition time before hitting the hay.

”Even better: Make your bedroom a technology-free zone — keep your electronics outside the room (that includes a TV!),” the Foundation adds.

For those who think they may have a screen addiction, commonplace in this tech-savvy Digital Age, and need a digital detox, Goop.com has suggestions. On Paltrow’s health and wellness site, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras advises unplugging from screens for 4 to 6 weeks (the extreme version also eliminates TV). Dr. Kardaras is an internationally renowned speaker, addiction expert, and author of “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance.”

”This allows a person’s adrenal system to re-regulate itself and get back to baseline. One also should plan to replace screen time during the tech fast with meaningful and/or healthy recreational activities,” says Dr. Kardaras, executive director of The Dunes in East Hampton, NY — one of the world’s top rehab centers. “After the detox period, the person slowly reintegrates some screen usage, and sees what level they can tolerate without falling down the compulsion rabbit hole. Some can go back to some moderate level of screen time, others can’t.”

Other ways to detoxify mind and body from Goop is to engage in journaling and guided meditation prior to bedtime.

”Another great trick for calming the mind is journaling before bed. Order your thoughts and get your problems in perspective by focusing on positive things in your life,” says Lauren Roxburgh, a structural integration practitioner known as the “body whisperer.” “It’s simple, but studies show it improves sleep. In a similar vein, doing a guided meditation before bed can really help.”

Warch this 10-minute clip to help you deeply relax.

Roxburgh also recommends a Detoxifying Magnesium-Salt Bath via Goop, for a “relaxing and detoxifying spa treatment in your own bathtub.”

”Magnesium is nature’s anti-stress mineral and contributes to health in numerous ways, including fascia, muscle, and cellular relaxation. It’s a great bath addition at the end of the day to support optimal beautifying sleep, recovery, digestion, and overall vitality,” Roxburgh says.

“Magnesium baths are good for post-workout recovery, too, and as part of a relaxing meditation to complement yoga practice. Soothing music and candlelight helps as well.“

Order magnesium bath flakes online here.

Visit Goop.com for more tips on health and wellness, beauty, style, food and more. Goop helps raise awareness and donates a portion of its profits to great causes including The Edible Schoolyard, The David Lynch Foundation, and Pencils of Promise, all of whom have touched the world with their proven success in helping children, as well as the nonprofit DonorsChoose.org.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Fall Treats for Kids

Two+Two re-useable snack bags for fall treats.

Apples. Pumpkins. Mushrooms. Figs. Turnips. And pears. These are just a few of New Jammies’ favorite Fall fruits and vegetables, and we’re happy to share some healthy and quick recipes for treats this season for the kids.

Raw pumpkin provides food energy and is an excellent source of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A. Figs are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Pears are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber, and packed with fat-free and cholesterol-free nutrients. And of course we are pleased to know that apples are high in fiber, vitamin C and various antioxidants, plus low-calorie as well.

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This cute recipe for Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter from Whole Foods Markte are perect for after-school snack time, can be added to kids’ lunchboxes, or will top off dinner right as a healthy option for dessert.

Ingredients

2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons granola

Directions

1. If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

2. Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola.

3. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches.

4. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.

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The Dr. Oz Show is great for bringing healthy lifestyles to the forefront, and offer light recipes on its website that incorporates various veggies, including turnips, in this case. These Paleo-centric Turnip Fries are crispy and light when baked to avoid frying. And they add nutritional value unique to the turnip that kids will love without knowing just how healthy they truly are. For the diet-conscious, they’re great for keeping calories low, too, at 56 calories for 10 servings.

“This healthy take on fries are nutritional and delectable,” says the show’s website at doctoroz.com. “The turnips have anti-cancer properties and the spices make the fries very flavorful.”

Ingredients

3 lbs turnips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease.

2. Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the vegetable oil to coat.

3. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder in a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Place the oiled turnips into the bag, and shake until evenly coated with the spices. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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According to Valley Fig Growers, figs are always “an excellent source of dietary fiber, a wealth of essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates.l

“Because figs are a whole food source of important nutrients and have no fat, cholesterol or sodium, they help you meet today’s Dietary Guidelines established by the US Department of Agriculture,” says Valley Fig Growers. “A daily lifestyle that focuses on balancing calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.”

Try this recipe for Whole Wheat California Fig Muffins:

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Golden Figs, coarsely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together flours, wheat germ, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Cream together margarine and honey; beat in egg. Stir in milk, lemon peel and figs.

3. Add to dry ingredients and mix just enough to blend.

4. Evenly distribute batter among 12 (2 1/2-inch) greased muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and test done.

5. Carefully remove muffins from pan and serve warm.

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Look no further for a simple, sweet, kid-friendly treat featuring pears, which we previously mentioned are great for fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. These easy Pear Clouds, courtesy of USA Pears, are made for you and the kids, served hot or cool, depending on the mood or weather.

“You can put these into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toasted and bubbly — very yummy,” says USA Pears.

Ingredients

2 Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
⅔ cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions

1. Place pear halves on serving platter.

2. In bowl, combine whipped topping, coconut, and marshmallows.

3. Top pear halves with whipped topping mixture and serve.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Understanding the Real World Through Play

Even in adulthood, New Jammies parents know that the reality of the world can be hard to understand.

As caring and responsible parents, it’s our job to help our kids navigate through 24-7 news reports, social media and word-of-mouth info sharing.

That’s where play comes into, well, play.

According to the Genius of Play, children as young as 3 learn to understand the real world through realistic pretend play. The Genius of Play is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, spearheaded by The Toy Association.  The movement is rooted in research and facts, and serves as a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives. The group promotes play as a way to hone communication skills, important in coping with reality as teens and adults.

“Knowing what people mean isn’t always easy. Kids have to learn to decipher what people are saying — and not saying — by listening, observing, and sometimes picking up on very subtle clues,” says the group.

“By playing with others, children learn the art of communication. They come to recognize facial expressions and body language. They figure out how to strike up and carry on conversations, and how to express their thoughts and desires in a way that won’t cause problems and put a stop to the group game.”

Specifically, the Genius of Play says pretend play is especially important for children’s communication development and literacy.

“The idea that a letter represents a sound is based on symbolism — a concept kids come to understand when they pretend that a cardboard box is a castle, or that a shoe is a race car. Role-play also gives children a chance to use words they’ve heard adults and other kids use, and helps improve their vocabulary. As they grow older, word-based games help reinforce language and literacy skills.”

Genius of Play lists these games as great communication-building ideas for play:

Jumping Jack Syllables (ages 4 1/2 – 5)
Teach the child to do a simple jumping jack. In one smooth movement, jump and land with feet spread apart, raise hands over the head and clap. Share with them that a syllable is a separate count or beat in a word. Then by using the days of the week or months of the year, use jumping jacks to play out the number of syllables per word. For instance, using Saturday, the child will have three movements to the word, ending with his arms over his head.

Courtesy BestBeginningsAlaska.org

Balloon Ball (for ages 4+)

INGREDIENTS:

• An air-filled balloon or beach ball
• A broomstick or row of pillows
PREP TIME:
5 minutes

Lay a broomstick or row of pillows on the floor to act as the ‘net.’ Have your child hit the balloon over the ‘net,’ then run to the other side to hit it back before it touches the ground. Score 1 each time your child hits the ball without it hitting the floor. If two children, have them hit the ball over the ‘net.’ The game ends when the ball hits the floor. The child who hit that ball wins.

Kick the Can (ages 5+)

INGREDIENTS:
A large, empty can or bucket to be kicked
PREP TIME:
2 minutes

Choose one person to be “IT” and a “home base” for the children to gather (when playing outside, a fire hydrant or familiar tree are great spots). Place the can in a safe, open space. To start, have IT count to 50 with his/her eyes closed while the other players hide. Upon opening their eyes, IT should start searching for the hiders. When IT finds a hider, he/she calls out the player’s name and that player goes to jail (home base). Another player can risk capture to save jailbirds by kicking over the can and calling out “Home Free” without getting tagged by IT, after which the jailbirds are free to run and hide from IT again. The game continues until everyone has been captured. If jailbreaks keep the game going too long, the first person caught 3 times becomes IT and a new game begins.

Crafts Cards (ages 3+, requites adult help)

INGREDIENTS:
• Multiple sheets of construction paper for each child
• Old magazines
• Glue
• Safety scissors
• Magic markers and crayons
• Extras: stencils, stickers, feathers, glitter

PREP TIME:
10 minutes

Nothing says “you’re special” like a homemade card. Give each child some paper folded in half, magazine pages, markers and crayons. You can leave additional magazines, the stencils, stickers, feathers, and glitter where each child can reach them to use. Allow their imaginations run wild as the kids use the supplies to make cards for their friends, their families, even their favorite pet!

Parentingscience.com agrees that playful experiences are learning experiences. An evolutionary anthropologist created the online parenting resource for critical thinkers who want to understand child development from the perspectives of psychology, anthropology, evolution, and cognitive neuroscience.

“Most play involves exploration, and exploration is, by definition, an act of investigation. It’s easy to see how this applies to a budding scientist who is playing with magnets, but it also applies to far less intellectual pursuits, like the rough-and-tumble play in puppies,” says parentingscience.com. “The animals are testing social bonds and learning how to control their impulses, so that friendly wrestling doesn’t turn into anti-social aggression. Play is learning.”

Parentingscience.com reminds us that play is self-motivated and fun, as well as important for understanding the real world.

“These arguments aside, there is also empirical evidence that kids treat play as a tutorial for coping with real life challenges,” says the site. “All around the world, children engage in pretend play that simulates the sorts of activities they will need to master as adults, suggesting such play is a form of practice.”

Parentingscience.com adds that when kids are fed information during pretend play — from more knowledgeable peers or adults — they take it in.

“Experiments on American preschoolers suggest that children as young as 3 understand make distinctions between realistic and fanciful pretending, and use information learned from realistic pretend scenarios to understand the real world.”

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

 

Sleep Tight: Tech and How We’re Sacrificing Sleep

At New Jammies, we’re always cognizant of how electronics are affecting us and our children. Especially with kids headed back to school. The National Sleep Foundation’s latest Sleep Health Index (SHI) shows significant associations between technology use in bed and sleep health.

“Forty-eight percent of American adults reported using a device like a computer, tablet, or smartphone in bed before trying to go to sleep,” the NSF reports. “These people averaged two points lower on the overall SHI (75 vs. 77, on a 1 to 100 scale) and five points lower on the sleep quality subindex (65 vs. 70) than those who refrained from technology use in bed.”

Even more eye-opening, the Foundation found that 21% of American adults (52 million people) reported awakening from sleep and using an electronic device before trying to go back to sleep at least once in the past seven days.

“These individuals averaged 10 points lower for overall sleep health and 13 points lower on the sleep quality subindex than others (68 vs. 78, and 57 vs. 70, respectively),” according to the NSF. “Additionally, about 43% of these people reported sending a text or email after awakening. This means that 9% of American adults made the decision to engage with technology when awakening in the middle of the night, rather than trying to fall back asleep.

In short, electronics are changing our sleep patterns, and not necessarily in a positive way.

“The Sleep Health Index shows that bedtime electronics use is a problem. We can’t know if this use of tech is a cause of poor sleep health or a result of it,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “It is clear, however, that if you are having trouble sleeping, you should stay away from using technology while in bed.”

According to the American Sleep Association, sleep loss from using electronic devices before bed occurs from light coming from the screen of your device that interferes with circadian rhythms and melatonin production.

“The circadian rhythm is the internal clock that controls our biological patterns such as body temperature, blood pressure, and hormone release, and has a lot to do with how we sleep,” the Association says, in its report on sleep and electronics by Kristina Diaz, a Registered Respiratory Therapist and a health and wellness enthusiast and writer. “Circadian rhythm is affected by light, time, and melatonin production. Light and darkness tell us when to feel awake or sleepy.”

Diaz notes that time affects this cycle because we are clock readers and follow schedules to which our bodies have become adapted.

“Melatonin, a hormone secreted in the brain by the pineal gland, induces the tired feeling. This hormone helps keep our sleep-wake cycles on track,” Diaz says. “The light emitted from our devices, even just from a cell phone, passes through the retina of the eye, causing a delay in the release of melatonin making it harder to fall asleep.”

In regards to children and technology, kids are especially susceptible to having difficulty failing sleep wit’s electronics.

“Many children are now given an electronic device, such as an iPad or television to soothe and relax them before bed, but this is actually doing more harm than good,” the American Sleep Association says. “Children need sufficient sleep for growth, learning, mood, creativity, and weight control. But children who use electronics before bed tend to have later bedtimes, get fewer hours of sleep, and because of this suffer from daytime sleepiness more than children that do not use these devices before bed.”

This is also true for adolescents and teenagers, who not only use these devices for entertainment purposes, but also for homework, says the ASA.

“Using electronics before bed also stimulates our mind by getting our brains ‘fired up,'” the ASA says. “Electrical activity then increases and neurons start to race, making it difficult to sleep”

With electronics becoming such as big part of our daily lives, this begs the question of how we can improve sleep. Diaz advises just unplugging or turning off.

“Even going just 15-30 minutes electronic free before bedtime can make a difference. Make your bedroom completely device-free, including the television,” she suggests. “For children, refrain from giving them the iPad or letting them watch their T.V. shows, and have them read a book instead. It may not be easy at first to make this change since we have become so dependent on technology, but you will be happy when you are waking up feeling much more rested.”

For bedtime reading ideas, see our blog on New Children’s Books Perfect for Bedtime.

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.

For an easy rotation of sandwiches with snacks, ham or turkey with cheese are easy to assemble the night before school. Peanut, almond or sunflower butter (great for kids with nut allergies) with homemade low-sugar jelly sandwiches are perfect for variety and specific dietary requirements.

Organic pastas such as penne noodles, ravioli and macaroni and cheese, including brands such as Annie’s, can also be made ahead of time to pack a convenient and nutritious lunch. Annie’s also makes organic gummies and fruit snacks, cookies, popcorn and granola bars to include as healthy lunch box snack options.

Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made in New Jammies home state of Colorado in Aspen, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, as healthy options. Dips such as hummus and homemade ranch with Greek yogurt can make veggie eating even more enticing for kids at lunchtime.

Cheese sticks in different varieties, including string cheese and cheddar, can keep things interesting from day-to-day. Fresh fruit that travels well, especially oranges and tangerines, red or green apples and ripe bananas, plus sugar-free applesauce and fruit cups are filling and great for adding important Vitamin C. Frozen yogurt tubes that thaw by lunch are good to include for a fast dose of Vitamin D.

For foodie kids who like to mix it up and try different dishes, black beans and rice sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese provide a tasty protein-filled option. Add salsa for fun and color. Roasted veggie quesadillas made with whole-wheat tortillas are also easy to make ahead and transport in the lunch box.

This recipe for Chic’ Penne from KidsHealth.com can be made ahead on the weekend and eaten cold throughout the week, or frozen for future lunches, after-school snacks and quick dinners after sports practice or club meetings:

Prep time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box whole-wheat penne pasta (14 ounces)

3 cups of raw broccoli florettes

¾ cup of precooked chicken strips (4 ounces)

½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

3 tablespoons skim milk (1.5 oz)

2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Cook pasta according to directions until crisp-tender. Drain pasta.

3. Place drained pasta in a 13×9 baking dish.

4. Place broccoli in a stockpot of boiling water or a steamer for about 5 minutes.

5. Rinse with cool water.

6. Add the drained broccoli and the precooked chicken strips to the pasta.

7. Sprinkle shredded cheeses over pasta mixture.

8. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.

9. Pour milk mixture evenly over the pasta mixture and mix in with a spoon.

10. Cover baking dish with foil.

11. Bake 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.

EatingWell.com offers some fun Bento lunchbox ideas, including this one for a Deconstructed Cobb Salad Lunch for Kids.

Ingredients:

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli turkey

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli ham

¼ cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons chopped tomato

2 tablespoons chopped cucumber

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

½ avocado, cubed

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 hard-boiled egg, thinly sliced crosswise

1 slice crisply cooked bacon

Directions:

1. Stack turkey and ham slices on top of each other.

2. Tightly roll up and slice crosswise into 4 to 6 rounds.

3. Place in a small container.

4. Toss lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a medium container.

5. Place oil and vinegar in a dip-size container and nestle into the salad.

6. Toss avocado with lime juice and place in a medium container along with egg.

7. Place bacon in a small container.

For more recipe and menu ideas, visit the KidsHealth.com Recipes page. Bon appetite!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Back-to-School Games for the Active

New Jammies kids are making a fresh start going back to school, and there are some fun play-time routines, games and puzzles that can refresh their memories and spark creativity.

For younger, preschool-aged children, play itself becomes more physical at that age. So “why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?” says the kidshealth.org website.

KidsHealth says smart toys for preschoolers include arts and crafts, and anything that help kids sharpen fine motor skills that are constantly improving.

“Activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem,” kidshealth.org says.

The site’s childhood development experts suggest that blocks and construction sets, including building towers (and figuring out how to stop them from toppling over) encourage problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

“Preschoolers will use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets,” KidsHealth says.

Jigsaw puzzles, to help with coordination and dexterity that teach about spatial relationships and logical thinking, and pretend play are also key for preschoolers to practice as they embrace school.

Big Knob First Puzzle Set

Wooden puzzles for kids from Lakeshore, a California-based company that applies real-world classroom experience to every product it develops, inspire little learners by using the power of play to make learning fun. We love the Big Knob First Puzzle Set for infants to pre-k toddlers.

As elementary school-aged kids are accomplished in ways they never were before, KidsHeath suggests activities that cultivate new talents and interests beginning to take hold.

“They’ve grasped an understanding of the world around them and are now moving toward mastering skills that once challenged them, like catching a football or braiding a friend’s hair,” says kidshealth.org. “A 4-year-old who enjoyed story time may grow to love reading; a 5-year-old who listened to music might want to play piano.”

With the refinement of physical abilities, including large and fine motor skills, elementary school is the time when kids learn to ride two-wheel bicycles and glide on skateboards, says KidsHealth. An appreciation of arts and the humanities also sparks.

“Arts and crafts become more intricate, and a child might spend hours weaving friendship bracelets or drawing comic strips, says the children’s-focused resource.”

KidsHealth suggests these smart toys and activities for big kids going back to school:

• Jump rope. By skipping rope with friends, kids learn to take turns and get along with peers. All that jumping, and the coordination it requires, encourages large motor development and problem-solving skills.

• Card and board games. Card games like “war” or “crazy eights” and board games like checkers or chess teach about strategy, turn-taking, negotiating rules, and fair play. Encourage cooperation and help your child learn to manage the emotions that come with winning as well as losing.

New Jammies Whales

• Musical instruments. Learning to play the piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument encourages listening and fine motor skills and helps build attention skills.
Science toys. Chemistry sets, binoculars, telescopes, or other toys that promote discovery and problem-solving help improve math and science skills, and help develop imagination.

KidsHealth also reminds parents and caregivers that students of all ages can learn from scavenger hunts, outdoors or indoors when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, to encourage problem-solving and teamwork. Just gather easily recognizable objects and hide them around the yard or house. Give each child a list of items to look for and clues to help them find the objects. Adults can pair kids up or assign teams to play.

“This game also works well outdoors provided you set some boundaries (the edges of the yard, certain spots in the park) for the kids to work inside,” kidshealth.org says.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Sleep Tight: Surviving Baby’s Sleep Regression

It’s the question New Jammies moms and dads hear once consistently when their babies reach at least three months.

Does he sleep through the night yet?

Just when parents can confidently answer yes, it seems, sleep regression makes sleeping through the night seem like a distant memory. What exactly is sleep regression again?

According to babysleepsite.com, sleep regression is described as “a period of time (anywhere from 1-4 weeks) when a baby or toddler who has been sleeping well suddenly starts waking at night, and/or skipping naps (or waking early from naps) for no apparent reason.”

“Parents often describe being caught totally off guard: you think your have conquered all your little one’s sleep challenges, when suddenly, out of nowhere, you’re back to constant night wakings and nonexistent naps,” says the website.

In the babysleepsite.com article “4-Month Sleep Regression Explained (sometimes 3 and 5 months too),” it notes that changes that happen with the 4-month sleep regression are permanent changes.

“By 4 months, your baby has ditched her babyish sleeping patterns and is sleeping more like an adult – and that translates into frequent night waking (and lots of fussing) along with shortened naps.”

New Jammies Classic Stripes Sleep Sacks

Changes in sleep can also happen at 8-10 months and 11 or 12 and 18 months, and even at 2 years old, and beyond. The “Sleep Regressions: Everything You Need to Know” article’s author, Emily DeJeu, says the key to coping and moving past sleep regression is to “know the what, the why, and the when behind common baby and toddler sleep regression – now how about the ‘how to’? As in, “How the heck do I fix this and get back to my peaceful nights of sleep again?!?!”

“Well, for starters, remember that the 4-month sleep regression is a permanent change – there is no going back to the way things were,” DeJeu writes. “Once you are through the worst of the 4-month sleep regression you will want to focus on helping your baby break her sleep associations, and on heaping her learn to fall asleep without help from you. Once she can do that, she will be well on her way to sleeping through the night, and establishing a more predictable daytime schedule.”

For mom-of-two Nicole Ludlow, New Jammies founder and CEO, she found herself up every night with one child or the other just last week for various reasons. Her 3-year-old often kicks his sheets off at night, then is cold or wakes and is afraid of the dark.

“I just ordered him a nightlight because the one we had wouldn’t stay on all night,” she said.

Her younger 16-month-old used to wake for a bottle after she stopped nursing, but now she can mostly just change his diaper and he will go back to sleep.

“Last night both kids slept through the night. Overall I would say they are good sleepers, just those quick wake-ups when they need comforting disrupts my good sleep,” she adds. “I am finding daytime naps sometimes seem to help them sleep better at night.”

Nicole says she always tries to determine what is really the cause of any sleep change, especially if it has to do with teething.

“We can usually tell before bed if it’s his teeth and he is really fussy,” she says. “If teething is causing extra fussiness, we usually look for signs like rubbing face and putting hands in mouth, and then check his gums. If it looks like one is coming through I will give him the recommended dose of Tylenol before bed. It’s pretty rare, but helps on occasion.”

For free resources from the Baby Sleep Site, click here.

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Stay Cool with Healthy Summer Treats

When the summer heat is on, New Jammies kids need to stay hydrated and cool. Moms and dads agree that as summer heats up, it helps if those cool treats are light and healthy, too.

Water is the first priority for hydrating kids. According to an article in Parenting magazine on keeping kids hydrated, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children drink six glasses of water on an average day.

“During activity, however, your child can lose up to a half-liter of fluid per hour,” says the article. “The AAP suggests about 5 ounces (or two kid-size gulps) of water or a sports drink every 20 minutes for an 88-pound child.”

Popsicle Dreams Forever
One way kids love to stay hydrated and cool in the summer is with popsicles. Many brands on the market that most of us would still recognize from our childhoods are often produced using sugary flavored water, colorful dyes, and preservatives.

Today, we’re lucky in that we can find low-sugar organic juices and hydrating ingredients, such as coconut water and fresh fruit-infused water, to help us get creative with ingredients while controlling what our kids consume. There are so many options for making your own ice pops using BPA-free molds and easy, healthy recipes. Why not treat the kids and save money with a healthier  homemade option? Yes, please!

The Coconut Mama food blogger, an Oregon mom named Tiffany, offers this recipe for Coconut Water Ice Pops that yields 6. She’s a self-described “true believer in the health benefits of coconut,” using coconut products in most cooking.

“These unconventional ice pops are healthy, super easy to make and can be very versatile,” reads the recipe description. “Coconut water is extremely healthy and restores electrolytes. You can use any mix of frozen or fresh fruit to make them. We used mango, pineapple and blueberry on this batch.”

Ingredients

Fresh or frozen fruit
Coconut water

Instructions

1. Fill popsicle molds (or cups if using) 3/4 way full of fruit of choice.
2. Pour coconut water into molds and fill the rest of the way.
3. Place molds in freezer. Allow popsicles to freeze completely before serving, about 5-8 hours.
4. Once your popsicles are ready to serve, run the bottom of the popsicle molds under warm water to help release them from the molds.

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Freezing ice pops this summer is made easy with the Lekue 4 Unit Stackable Ice Lollipop Mold, which can be ordered online on Amazon. According to the product description, making homemade popsicles in these stackable molds helps save room in the freezer, and they have an easy-to-fill design that comes with a lid to protect from unwanted flavors and smells in the freezer.

Included in the price are easy recipes that feature lactose and gluten-free options. “You can have healthier and more natural ice pops with no preservatives or dyes,” says Lekue. “Each mold comes with one stick and is dishwasher-friendly and BPA-free.”

Juice Up

We love this recipe for All-natural, Sugar-free Soda from The View from Great Island blogger Sue Moran, not only because it’s “refreshing, fun, and fizzy,” according to the foodie site Super Healthy Kids. But it also skips the artificial flavors, colors, high-fructose corn syrup, and chemicals found in many sodas, says superhealthykids.com.  “All you need is fresh fruit, and carbonated water.”

Ingredients

1 pound fresh ripe strawberries
Carbonated water

Instructions

1. Wash and trim the strawberries.

2. Place them in a food processor and pulse until they are rough chopped, then scrape down the sides of the machine. Purée until completely smooth. Let the machine run for a minute or longer to insure a nice smooth purée.

3. Push the mixture through a mesh strainer, using the back of a large spoon to make sure as much of it gets through as possible. Most all of it should go through, leaving just the small seeds behind. You should have approximately a cup and a half of purée.

4. To make soda, use 2 tablespoons of the purée for each 8 ounces of carbonated water. Mix and then serve immediately. You can adjust the amount of purée for a lighter or stronger flavor.

5. The fruit purée will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for a week.

6. If you like you can add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to perk up the flavor of any fruit soda, and conversely, if you find your soda is too tart, add a touch of honey.

Other fresh fruit-flavor ideas Moran suggests for this super-easy recipe include:

• Grape (choose the dark or red varieties for best flavor)
• Blueberry (be sure to strain this one)
• Guava
• Papaya
• Mango
• Peach
• Pineapple
• Kiwi
• Orange (try blood orange, if you can find them)
• Red or pink grapefruit

Enjoy these refreshing ideas all summer long, and year, if you decide to freeze the purée. Or add spring water to the mix, instead of carbonated, and freeze for a delicious ice pop.

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New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.