Play Right: “Up & Active” Toy Trends Perfect for Summer

New Jammies Trains Collection

Early this year, the Toy Industry Association announced its top trends at the New York Toy Fair, and New Jammies was happy to see popularity of the “Up & Active” theme.

“With more room for innovation and a greater willingness to take risks, toymakers are pulling out all the stops to create highly ground-breaking products, reinvent play patterns, and refresh classic brands with cutting-edge technologies and exciting new licenses,” says Adrienne Appell, a trend expert at TIA. “Best of all, these toys build children’s developmental skills through collaborative, hands-on, and imaginative play.”

Collectible toys were also among the hot forecasted trends, which help children develop lifelong skills, including social skills (when negotiating and trading with friends), organization skills (as they maintain their collections), and perseverance (not giving up on the “hunt”), according to the Toy Industry Association.

The “Up & Active” category features toys to encourage kids to get up and move – both indoors and outdoors.

“The latest active toys not only motivate kids to burn off excess energy, they are also engaging for the whole family and are more seamlessly integrated into other types of play,” says the Toy Industry Association. “This trend includes tech toys that weave in active components, classic outdoor ride-ons, traditional games that incorporate physical activity, and digital toys that foster face-to-face play.”

The Toy Industry Association notes that toys which encourage kids to move are a part of a larger health-and-wellness trend that spans multiple industries.

“We see consumers making healthy lifestyle choices, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, athleisure, wearable devices, and natural-looking beauty options, so I believe the outdoor and sports toys trend will continue into the near future as well,” says Juli Lennett, NPD’s senior vice president and U.S. toys industry analyst.

Toy companies are launching toys and games designed to motivate kids to move – both indoors and outdoors – particularly as they respond to the demands of millennial parents seeking more engaging toys for their kids, such as offering educational or more active play, says the Association.

“Toys that encourage kids to get up and move are on both kids’ and parents’ wish lists,” says Adrienne Appell, TIA trend expert. “It’s not just classic outdoor toys that are popular; we are seeing toy companies innovate with tech toys that weave in active components, educational toys that incorporate physical activity, new exciting ride-ons, and traditional games that require kids to move around in order to play.”

One toy that help kids enjoy the Great Outdoors is the Regatta Swing. The nautical -themed swing is developed exclusively for Magic Cabin, which specializes in open-ended, nature-inspired toys and crafts to nurture children’s innate sense of wonder and curiosity. The swing, for ages 3–6 and older, holds up to 200 pounds and features an innovative design to sits two sailors on two heavy-duty mesh seats. The mesh bottom means water won’t get trapped inside while not in use. The simple concept of the bowline knot creates a secure hanging apparatus of adjustable height that’s easy to use.

New Jammies’ Pirates collection of PJs, which can double as comfy play wear to stay cool in the summer, would be a fun addition to this imagination-building play. Sailboat n’Waves would also be cute to rock in the Regatta Swing.

Antsy Pants’ line of Build and Play kits are designed to let kids’ imaginations run wild and get kids and families creating, imagining and building together. With each product purchased, sold exclusively at Target, Antsy Pants helps support KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play they need to thrive.

“Antsy Pants will make a donation to KaBOOM! for each product purchased, and is projected to give more than $150,000 in the first year to build playgrounds for kids across America,” says the product’s website.

The Antsy Pants Build and Play Obstacle Course  gets the whole family moving with toss rings, jump hurdles and a race to the finish for fun-and-friendly competition. The easy-to-build Obstacle Course Kit comes with an agility ring course, start and finish flags, adjustable height hurdles, and weave pole course. No tools necessary!

New Jammies’ Star Spangled collection would be a patriotic, America-themed way to celebrate the Fourth of July while running through the Obstacle Course this summer.

USA! USA! USA!

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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.

Sleep Tight: From Daytime Jams to Sleep Jammies

One of the most versatile ways for kids to wear New Jammies in the warmer months is to don them during the day in the park, poolside or at neighborhood BBQs. Then mix and match at nighttime for a cool, comfortable sleep.

“New Jammies’ signature 100% organic cotton fabric is breathable and keeps kids cool in the summer heat and warm at night,” says New Jammies CEO and founder Nicole Ludlow.

“The fun part is to mix and match the short sets, pants and long-sleeved shirts for several different color and print combinations on vacation or out and about having a good time, day into night.”

A cute look for girls in the summer is to add brightly colored tutus and comfy sandals to our Lobsters collection. Or incorporate pastel tutus into an outfit with our pretty Ballerina Slippers or Mermaid Bubbles prints.

The Lobsters and Whales collections come with 100% organic cotton summer roll hats, too. The fun summertime New Jammies headwear designs provide a coordinated look at the beach or in town, especially with our Classic Stripes and nautical-themed collections, to help protect babies’ sensitive skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

Boys are typically fairly easy to dress, especially in the summer, so our shorts sets with bold stripes and colorful prints really come in handy when packing for the day, weekend, or a week of well-derserved vacation.

“So many of our collections offer options for mixing and matching, and for going from day to night, if the boys manage to stay clear of mud!” says Nicole, who has two young boys of her own.

The organic Classic Stripe in blue and white is a great option for bold and colorful day-to-night wear for boys or girls, and the Pirate Skull Stripes and Sailboats n’Waves pajamas and short sets are perfect to switch up from afternoon into evening. Especially for hanging around the water at the lake or ocean, and for summer vacations involving pirate ships, sunset cruises or floating on the river.

In celebration of summer, New Jammies has a few of these versatile outdoor and sleep time looks in our sale section of our online store.

Enjoy great sale prices on our Sharks PJ Shorts Set and Ottoman Flowers PJ Shorts Set, as well as the Pirate Skull Stripes and Sly Fox PJ Shorts Set, for a wonderful summer playing in the sun and sleeping under the stars.

Here’s to a summer to remember!

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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: Fun Food Truck Recipes

New Jammies Stars and Stripes

New Jammies Star Spangled PJs

A perk of the nice spring and summer weather is the re-emergence of food trucks into our worlds. New Jammies loves the idea of mobile food providers who utilize local, farm-to-table ingredients in their recipes. We’ve found a few food truck-savvy recipes you can make at home, perfect for the week days or the weekends.

Spaghetti Squash is the Secret

The Healthy Food Truck is an Indianapolis-based business offering a brick-and-mortar cafe and mobile locations throughout the week. The company started out as a personal desire to get people fit and eat quality, healthy food.

“With our personal training clients and family as inspiration on our menu items, rose a great opportunity to serve paleo, gluten free, vegetarian and vegan food options that everyone enjoys,” says the Healthy Food Truck, on its website. “This is a veteran/woman-owned small business and we take great pride in offering the freshest, local, organic pressed juices, and foods while maintaining a close relationship with our customers.”

Healthy Food Truck says its recipe for Low-Carb Spaghetti and Meatballs will help families learn to love nature’s healthy noodles: spaghetti squash.

“If you haven’t yet tried spaghetti squash then you’re in for a real treat. A pile of tender spaghetti squash strands piled high with protein and veggie meatballs makes the perfect fitness meal,” says the site.

Low-Carb Spaghetti and Meatballs

Serves 12

Ingredients

2 pounds lean, organic, grass-fed ground beef
1 pound lean, sweet turkey sausage
4 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 omega-3, eggs
1/2 cup almond meal
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of salt and pepper
Optional: handful of olives

Sauce

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
splash of white wine
2 cups fresh basil, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
dash of salt and pepper

Noodles

1 spaghetti squash

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Wash spaghetti squash and poke all over with a knife.

3. Place directly on the middle oven rack and bake for 1 hour.

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. Once cooled, slice in half and remove the seeds. Scoop the spaghetti squash strands out with a large spoon, set aside in a bowl.

6. Throw all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix with your hands. Form into large, golf ball sized meatballs.

7. Combine all of the sauce ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well.

8. Cook with Crockpot: Place the meatballs in your slow cooker. Cover with the sauce and cook on low for 6-8 hours. OR Cook with stovetop: Place meatballs in a large pot. Cover with sauce and cook, covered, over low heat for 2-3 hours.

9. Place a scoop of spaghetti squash noodles on each plate, top with meatballs and some sauce and then throw on a few olives.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 266 calories, 12g fat, 426mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 26g protein

Tacos

Veggies in These Tacos

Serves 4

“The First Mess” cookbook author and foodie blogger Laura Wright grew up working in restaurants and growing up with agriculture. So farm-to-table-inspired cuisine is right up her alley. Her recipe for Roasted Spring Vegetable + Quinoa Tacos with Dill-y Guacamole, which features rice, lentils, beans or any other grain you prefer, fits the mold of healthy food truck offerings for a fresh, healthy option for spring and summer.

Roasted Spring Vegetable Quinoa Tacos

Ingredients

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

For roasted veggies:

1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths

1 bulb of fennel, cored + cut into 2 inch lengths

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt + pepper

For the guac:

1 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted

juice of 1 lime

1 green onion, sliced

3 sprigs of dill, leaves chopped

For assembly:

3-4 radishes, thinly sliced

12 small corn tortillas, warmed

hot sauce to serve

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Place the rinsed quinoa, a pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer until all of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, place the asparagus and fennel pieces on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables to coat and slide the tray into the oven. Roast until the vegetables are just soft, about 12-13 minutes.

4. While vegetables are roasting, mash the avocado in a small bowl with the lime juice, sliced green onion and some salt and pepper. Once you have a chunky puree, check it for seasoning. Adjust accordingly and mash in the chopped dill. Set aside.

5. Start assembling tacos: lay a warm tortilla down and top it with 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa. Top the quinoa with a small handful of the roasted vegetables and a tablespoon or two of the guacamole. Finish with a few radish slices and hot sauce if you like. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

 

Sippin’ on Summertime

In its “Aloha, Portland” episode of “Eat St.,” the Cooking Channel featured a refreshing drink recipe, courtesy of Scratch. This watermelon lemonade mixes heat with sweet, a perfect drink for Mom and Dad to relax on the back porch while the kids enjoy their 100% juice boxes. Give it a try at your next BBQ.

Watermelon lemonadeWatermelon Jalapeno Lemonade

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
1/2 seedless watermelon, chopped
16 fresh mint leaves, optional
Ice
Lemon slices, for serving

Directions

1. In batches, combine 12 cups water, the lemon juice, sugar, jalapeno, watermelon and mint, if using, in a blender. Blend to a puree.

2. Allow the puree to steep for 10 minutes before straining it through a fine mesh sieve. Chill well.

3. Serve chilled, with ice and a lemon slice floating at the top.

Click here to watch it being made.

 

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: Music Makes Playtime Fun

New Jammies Whales

Jammin’ out in New Jammies’ Whales!

Soul and R&B icon Aretha Franklin once said, “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting, for sure. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.”

New Jammies couldn’t agree more.

We see the benefits of music, not only for the mind and spirit, but also for the heart, in kids of all ages. From babies to big kids-at-heart, we’re all affected by music as a simple way to relax, enjoy fun and entertainment, and benefit personally from physical and emotional therapy.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy can make a difference with young children in stimulating all of the senses. by involving the child at many levels. This approach facilitates many developmental skills, promoting quality learning and maximum participation as children experience the joy of play, says the organization.

“The medium of music therapy allows this play to occur naturally and frequently. Music is highly motivating, yet it can also have a calming and relaxing effect,” the AMTA says. “Enjoyable music activities are designed to be success-oriented and make children feel better about themselves.”

The American Music Therapy Association also reports that music therapy can help a child manage pain and stressful situations. Also, music encourages socialization, self-expression, communication, and motor development.

“Because the brain processes music in both hemispheres, music can stimulate cognitive functioning and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills,” music therapy experts say.

Music TogetherMusic Together is an internationally recognized organization that offers early childhood music and movement programs for children, birth through age 7, to experience with their parents and caregivers. Music Together started in the late ’80s, pioneering the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum strongly emphasizing and facilitating adult involvement.

“It’s based on the recognition that, in a supportive environment, children can learn to sing in tune, keep a beat, and confidently participate in the music of their culture,” says Music Together. “By emphasizing actual music-making experiences, we introduce children to the pleasures of producing music instead of passively consuming it from iTunes or TV. We’re very high-touch. Face to face, heart to heart, voice to voice, for a truly bonding and enriching experience.”

New jammies founder Nicole Ludlow has enjoyed her experience at Music Together with her young boys.

“They love it,” she says. “And the music is for kids but I actually like listening to it at home, too.”

To introduce children into the world of music, PBS hosts a plethora of information available on its pbs.org website, on the Music page. Articles range from “Creating a Musical Home Environment,” which offers easy steps to include music in the home and daily routines in meaningful ways, to “The Benefits of Music Education,” showing that learning the do-re-mis can help children excel in ways beyond the basic ABCs.

Music Together cofounder Kenneth Guilmartin contributed to the article, adding that “Making music involves more than the voice or fingers playing an instrument; a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often simultaneously. For instance, people use their ears and eyes, as well as large and small muscles.”

“Music learning supports all learning. Not that Mozart makes you smarter, but it’s a very integrating, stimulating pastime or activity,” he added.

For more information on Music Together and classes in your area, click here.
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: Helping Kids Rest in Allergy Season

New Jammies Bug's Life

New Jammies Bug’s Life

New Jammies parents know how allergies can make us miserable in the Spring months. During this season of rebirth and renewal, we are also mindful of how our kids are affected.

Especially during sleeptime.

“Nasal congestion, which causes the upper airway to narrow, increases the risk of both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea among allergic rhinitis patients,” says the National Sleep Foundation. “The good news is that reducing nasal inflammation may reduce symptoms of snoring and OSA as well as daytime fatigue and sleepiness, according to at least one study.”

The National Sleep Foundation says allergic rhinitis (allergies) may occur year-round or seasonally. Airborne particles from trees, grass, ragweed, or outdoor mold typically trigger the latter.

“Causes of year-round allergic rhinitis include indoor substances such as pet dander, indoor mold, cockroach and dust mites in bedding, mattresses, and carpeting,” says the Foundation. “Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens in the air are breathed by a patient that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages.”

The Foundation says these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. This can be tough when childen try to sleep, causing a long night.

For the kids and Mom and Dad.

“These symptoms can lead to poor sleep, which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue, ” the NSF says.

In some children, allergies can also trigger asthma symptoms, including wheezing or difficulty breathing and sleeping. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, up to 40 percent of children suffer from allergies. Kids are more likely to develop them if one or both parents have allergies, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If a child has allergies and asthma, “not controlling the allergies can make asthma worse,” says Anthony Durmowicz, M.D., a pediatric pulmonary doctor in FDA’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products.

The FDA regulates both over-the-counter and prescription medicines that offer allergy relief, as well as allergen extracts used to diagnose and treat allergies. The FDA reminds parents that they should take particular care when giving these products to children.

And to follow these tips in helping children cope with the allergy season:

• If your child has seasonal allergies, you may want to pay attention to pollen counts and try to keep your child inside when the levels are high.

• In the spring and summer, during the grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening.

• Some molds, another allergy trigger, may also be seasonal.

• Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome for pollen allergy sufferers.

• It may also help to keep windows closed in your house and car and run the air conditioner.

If your child is experiencing seasonal or environmental allergies, contact a pediatrician or family doctor, who may recommend an allergist and suggest a treatment plan. For more information on seasonal allergies in children, click here.

 

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: Charge into Spring with Immune-boosting Foods

Spring brings the opportunity for New Jammies families to welcome the new season feeling refreshed. We say goodbye to the stuffy head colds, high fevers and sore throats of winter, taking an holistic approach to health with immune-boosting foods. Whether it’s garlic soup as a natural immune-supporting remedy or apple slices with almond or peanut butter for protein, these recipes harken back Spring’s fresh take at a healthy life.

Garlic Soup RecipeSoothing Garlic Soup
Makes 6 servings
Courtesy wellnessmama.com

The wellnessmama.com website offers “simple answers for healthier families,” and this soothing and immune-boosting recipe that blogger Katie found in an old French cookbook was a pleasant, healthy surprise.

“What surprised me most is the delicious and savory flavor of this soup,” she said. “I expected an overpowering garlic taste, but the added step of roasting the garlic creates a rich and almost slightly sweet flavor.”

Ingredients
4-5 heads of garlic (45-50 cloves)
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
2 onions
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of coconut milk or other milk of choice
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf or 2 teaspoons of fresh
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley leaf (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 fresh lemon (for garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the heads of garlic in half across the cloves but do not peel them.
3. Pour the olive oil into an oven safe dish and place the garlic head halves cut side down on the dish.Cover with an oven safe lid or foil.
4. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until garlic cloves are fragrant and starting to brown. To remove the garlic cloves, carefully pick up the shell of the garlic heads. The cloves should slightly stick to the pan, making peeling easy.
5. While garlic is roasting, melt butter in a large pot and add sliced onions. Saute over medium heat, stirring constantly until onions are translucent and golden. Add thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
6. When garlic is done roasting, add peeled cloves to the onion mixture in the pot.
7. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk or other milk.
9. Using a stainless steel immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until smooth.
10. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley and chives and squeeze a lemon wedge over each bowl.

Turmeric Chicken and Brown Rice SoupTurmeric Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
Courtesy Urban Kitchen Apothecary

The blog site Urban Kitchen Apothecary was created by a health-supportive chef, culinary wellness educator, and all-around holistic lifestyle guru based in New York City. In her pantry, founder Nancy houses “fresh and dried herbs and spices, sea vegetables, medicinal mushrooms, superfoods of both the common and exotic varieties, and all matter of tinctures and concoctions … to enhance both the flavors and medicinal properties of my culinary creations (hence the name of this blog).”

According to Nancy, her recipe for chicken and rice soup is easy to make, and gets better over the next couple of days after it’s made. Also it freezes well.

“The brown rice creates a rich, velvety broth and makes the soup more hearty and satisfying; ginger, garlic and turmeric are ultra-soothing, antiviral and immunity-boosting; and lemon is the perfect zesty finishing touch and adds a boost of much-needed vitamin C,” Nancy says.

Ingredients
2 large onions, one cut into quarters and the other diced (divided)
2 large carrots, one cut into chunks and the other diced (divided)
4 celery stalks, 2 cut into chunks and the remaining stalks diced (divided)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (if stalks are attached save them for the broth)
10 large garlic cloves, 5 peeled and left whole, 5 peeled and sliced (divided)
5 slices of fresh ginger + 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped (divided)
2-1/2 pounds chicken parts (bone-in breasts and/or thighs)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
Piece of Parm rind
2 cups cooked brown rice
juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
olive oil
chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper

Instructions
1. To make the soup base, combine quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery chunks, fennel stalks and trimmings, whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, and chicken parts in a soup pot. Add water to cover (about 8 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and set aside. Remove vegetables, garlic and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon and discard.
2. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, chile flakes, bay leaves, Parm rind and brown rice to the pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

Veggie Spring Rolls20-Minute Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls
Makes 6 spring rolls
Courtesy chefsavvy.com

This fresh recipe for vegetable spring rolls are perfect for a light lunch, healthy snack or easy-to-make appetizer. Colorful and full of flavor, these naturally vegan spring rolls include mango, high in Vitamins C & A. “The large amounts of Vitamin C act as a great immune booster. Carrots are loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin A. Bell peppers are packed with vitamins and fiber. Also a great source of antioxidants. The scallions’ Vitamin K and fiber make this a good choice for the spring rolls. Red cabbage is rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants,” says the recipe on chefsavvy.com.

Ingredients
6 spring rolls wrappers
½ cup bell peppers (I used yellow, red and orange bell peppers)
½ cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cup scallions
½ cup mango, sliced
½ cup carrots, julienne

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sweet chili garlic sauce
½ teaspoon sriracha
¼ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil

Instructions
1. Place 1 spring roll wrapper at a time in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 seconds until it softens up a bit. Place it on your work surface and add a handful of each veggie in the top center of the wrapper leaving enough space at the top to roll. (Do not over stuff)
2. Fold the edge closest to you over the toppings and tuck the sides in and over the portion you just rolled. Roll away from you making sure to keep the spring roll tight. Repeat until you have used up all of the filling. Should make about 6 rolls.
3. Serve immediately with the Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce. Cover with a damp cloth so they do not stick together if you won’t be serving them right away.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
1. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sriracha and honey to a small bowl.
2. Slowly whisk in oil in a slow and steady stream.
3. Serve immediately with the spring rolls. If the sauce separates give it a quick whisk.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple BitesChocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple Bites
Makes 16-20 wedges
Courtesy The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients
2 apples, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup granola, your favorite
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Semisweet chocolate chips, optional*

Instructions
1. Coat tops of apple wedges in peanut butter and sprinkle with granola and cinnamon.
2. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring in 30 second increments until melted. Be careful not to overheat.
3. Drizzle wedges with melted chocolate, set on a large platter and serve.

Tips
To substitute the chocolate drizzle, you can sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top of the wedges. Or, leave the chocolate out altogether. They’re still delicious!

If not eating immediately, brush each side of apple wedges with a little lemon juice to avoid browning.

Peanut Butter Love

Health Ambition offers the Top 8 Health Benefits of Peanut Butter, starting with protein. “As a protein-rich food, when you eat peanut butter you feel fuller for longer. Additionally the protein is also good for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out a lot,” says Chief Editor Helen Sanders.

The Top 8 Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter

Play Right: Science Experiments for Kids

New JammiesFor New Jammies kids, Spring brings a sense of renewal to the world, with plants sprouting and flowers blooming. The rain and the sun team up to boost and nourish the new seasonal growth. Spring is a perfect time to teach the wonders of science to kids with fun and easy projects to create at home. Check out these ideas for hands-on learning and play in nature:


Bean Sprout Science Experiment

The website education.com offers a simple Bean Sprout Science Activity that teaches kids how flowers bloom. “When springtime arrives, your third grader might wonder why there are so many new flowers and plants. This awesome hands-on science activity addresses your young learner’s questions,” education.com says. “He’ll get to observe the life of a bean sprout seed and see what happens when it is properly fed and sheltered.”

What You Need:
• Water
• Paper and pencil
• Paper towels
• Baking sheet
• 3 types of bean seeds (mung, green, lima)

Bean sproutsWhat You Do:
1. Give one of each bean to your child to observe, explaining that each bean has a little opening for water to go inside.

2. Have your little scientist lay a few stacked damp paper towels onto the baking sheet, and put the beans on top. Put a few more stacked damp paper towels on top of the beans. Set the baking sheet aside in a sunny place. Make sure this spot isn’t too sunny, so the beans might get scorched.

3. Ask your child to write down some thoughts on a piece of paper. Have him predict the life cycle of a bean. How long will it take for it to fully sprout?

4. Each day, have your child re-wet the paper towels. Has anything changed in the beans?

5. At the end of a week, your scientist’s beans will have likely sprouted! Otherwise, wait and keep observing. When the beans have sprouted, ask your child about the little plants. Ask him what the purpose of a hard exterior is, what the seed needed to grow, and how plants outside grow.

6. You can take this fun project a little further and plant the seeds outside.

Click to download a printable version of this activity here.

See this activity in a set: Learn About the World Without Going Far


Homegrown Eggshell Geode Crystals

Geodes“Science Bob” Pflugfelder is a science teacher, author and presenter who is a regular guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Live With Kelly, The Dr. Oz Show, and Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. He encourages parents and teachers to practice “Random Acts of Science” by providing instructions and videos for interactive science experiments on his website, sciencebob.com. This science project from the website, provided by mom blogger and photographer Melissa Howard, helps kids grow their own geodes, with a little help from Mom and Dad.

“This project nicely demonstrates how real-life geodes are formed in igneous and sedimentary rock. It also demonstrates super-saturated solutions and shows a nice variety of crystal shapes and formations,” says sciencebob.com.

What You Need:
• Clean eggshells
• Water
• A variety of soluble solids: table salt, rock salt, sugar, baking soda, Epsom salts, sea salt, borax, or cream of tartar
• Small heat proof containers (coffee cups work well)
• Spoons
• Food coloring
• Egg cartons and wax paper or mini-muffin tins

What You Do:
1. Crack the eggs for this project as close to the narrow end as possible. This preserves more egg to use as a container for the solution.

2. Clean the eggshells using hot water. The hot water cooks the lining and allows you to pull the skin (egg membrane) out of the inside of the egg using your fingers. Make sure to remove all the egg membrane, if any membrane stays inside the shell it is possible that your eggshell will grow mold and your crystals will turn black.

3. Use an egg carton lined with waxed paper or mini-muffin tins to hold the eggs upright.

4. Use a saucepan to heat the water to boiling. Pour half a cup to a cup of water into your heatproof container. If you poured half a cup of water into the container, add about a ¼ cup of solid to the water. Stir it until it dissolves. Likewise if you used a cup of water, add about ½ a cup of solid to the water. You wanted to add about half again the volume of the water as a solid to the mixture.

5. When the initial amount of solid is dissolved continue adding small amounts of the solid until the water is super-saturated. Super-saturated simply means the water has absorbed all it is able to absorb and any solid you add will not dissolve.

6. Add food coloring.

7. Carefully pour your solution into the eggshell, filling it as full as possible without over-flowing it or causing it to tip.

8. Find a safe place to put your shells while the water evaporates. Crystals will form inside the eggshells as the water evaporates.

How it Works
Dissolving the crystals in hot water created what is called a “super-saturated solution.” This basically means that the salts took advantage of the energy of the hot water to help them dissolve until there was no more space between molecules in the solution. As the solution cooled, the water lost its energy and the crystals are forced from the solution to become a solid again. Since this happens slowly along with the evaporation, the crystals have time to grow larger than they were when the experiment started. Natural geodes in rock are form in much the same way as mineralized water seeps into air pockets in rock. This is also how rock candy crystals are formed.


Build Your Own Terrarium

Terrarium
KidsGardening.org creates opportunities for kids to learn though gardening, engaging their natural curiosity and wonder by providing inspiration, community know-how and resources. For 35 years, KidsGardening has led the school gardening movement, and as a national nonprofit is dedicated to improving nutritional attitudes, educational outcomes, social and emotional learning and environmental stewardship in youth across the country through garden-based learning. Their website features garden activities and crafts, including this project on how to build a terrarium, a miniature garden grown inside a covered glass or plastic container.

“It is a low maintenance way to incorporate plants into your classroom or home and an excellent tool for teaching children about the water cycle as it demonstrates evaporation, condensation and precipitation. In the presence of light and heat, water evaporates from the plants through transpiration and from the soil,” says kidsgardening.org. “Since it is an enclosed environment, when the water vapor hits the side of the container, it condenses. Once enough water accumulates or the temperature decreases, the condensation will then precipitate down the sides of the container back into the soil.”

What You Need:
• An enclosed container
• Pea gravel or small rock
• Potting soil
• Small indoor or tropical plants
• Charcoal (optional)

What You Do:
1. Find an appropriate container. Glass jars, fish bowls and tanks, clear plastic bottles and food containers can all make fine terrariums. Just make sure there is enough room to reach your hand into your container for planting and maintenance.

2. Clear plastic soda bottles are commonly used in school settings because they are readily available and inexpensive. To create, cut off the top of a large, clear plastic soda bottle, leaving a container that is approximately 8 inches tall. After planting in the soda bottle, you can either tape the top back onto the soda bottle or just cover it tightly with plastic. Clean the container using soapy water and rinse well. Dry completely.

3. Cover the bottom of the container with ½ inch (for small containers) to 1-1/2 inch (for large containers) of pea gravel for drainage. This mimics the bedrock found under our soils and allows access water to drain from the soil. You can also add a few granules of filtering charcoal (not the type used for barbecuing) to the top of the gravel to help remove odors. The charcoal is optional and is not needed if your terrarium maintains proper moisture levels.

4. Next fill the container to approximately one-third to one-half full with moist potting mix. The amount of soil you put in will depend on the size of the container (you need to have enough room for plant roots). Use a sterilized potting soil mix to avoid problems with molds and fungi (small bags of potting soil are available at most garden centers).

5. The moisture level of the soil when you put it into your terrarium is very important. Pour the soil into a bowl or tub and mix with water until the soil is moist enough to cling together in a ball when pressed into the hand. If water drips from the soil when pressed into a ball, then it is too wet and you should add more dry potting soil to your mixture. Once you find the perfect balance, place the soil in your container. Try to avoid getting soil particles stuck on the sides of the container above the soil level.

6. Many potting mixes contain slow release fertilizers. If the soil you purchased does not contain any fertilizer you may want to add a small number of slow release fertilizer pellets or some organic fertilizer like worm castings to your mix before planting. You want your plants to stay small and grow slowly, so you do not need much.

7. Next add your plants. Look for plants that are small, slow-growing, and perform well in humid environments. How you arrange the plants will depend on the size and location of the terrarium. If you will be viewing the terrarium from one side, then place the tallest plants in the back and shortest plants in the front. If your terrarium will be viewed from all sides or you plan to rotate it, plant the tallest plants in the middle and the shorter plants along the outside.

8. There is a wide range of plants to choose from. Most garden centers have an area reserved for indoor plants and you can usually find a variety of plants in 2 to 4 inch pots. Some recommended plants to use include: African violet, artillery fern, false aralia, jade plant, miniature peperomia, nerve plant, oxalis, pink polka dot plant, prayer plant, small, ferns, small peace lilies, small philodendrons, spider plant, strawberry begonia, and Swedish ivy. These are just a few suggestions. Experiment with different plants. If they appear to grow too vigorously or respond poorly to the humidity, remove them and try something new. You can also try growing plants from seeds and cuttings.

9. In addition to plant material, you can also be creative and add other objects to create mini-landscape scenes. For instance you may want to add decorative rocks, small animal figurines, small bridges or mirrors to look like mini ponds.

10. After planting, attach the container lid or cover with plastic. Place the terrarium in a windowsill with indirect lighting or under grow lights. Do not place it in strong direct sunlight or water will evaporate too quickly and plants may scorch.

11. Observe your terrarium closely for the first few days to make sure you have the proper moisture level. You’ll know that the terrarium contains the right amount of water if the sides and top get misty with water droplets when in bright light. If there is no moisture along the sides, then you need to add some more water. If the sides are always very wet and it is hard to see the plants, then there’s too much water and you should remove the top for a few hours and allow some of the excess water to evaporate. Once you achieve the perfect balance, it will not need frequent attention.

12. Check on your terrarium periodically. Prune or remove plants with excessive growth. You want to avoid plant leaves touching the sides of the container as much as possible to prevent constant water sitting on the foliage. Also check on the moisture levels as some water may be lost over time.

Click to download a printable PDF of this garden activity.

 

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: A Natural Approach to Kid’s Sleepwear

New JammiesNew Jammies is always researching the latest trends in kid’s clothing and pajamas. And we’re happy to report that parents are taking time to ensure their children are dressed in the safest, most comfortable and fashionable materials available.

“With regards to fabrics of kids wear … They must be only from natural materials,” says dress-trends.com, in its children’s clothing forecast. “Prints in kids clothes 2017 are also very popular.”

New Jammies utilizes 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free fabrics in creating fun and functional pajamas for boys and girls. The expectantmothersguide.com online resource describes the benefits of using such organic products in babies’ clothing, noting organic cotton cuts down on exposure to toxins.

“Organic clothing uses cotton that is not farmed in the conventional ways. Pesticides are not used; rather, other safer methods are used to produce the crops, such as crop rotation, physical removal of weeds instead of use of herbicides, hand hoeing, using beneficial insects to counteract the bad and many more,” says the resource. “Workers have better working conditions, water quality is not compromised by run-off, and strong healthy soil is built. The end product is a cotton fabric that is toxin-free.”

The website organicfacts.net, a strong proponent of organic food and living, reports the benefits to the consumer in choosing organic cotton clothing for children.

“Parents are increasingly purchasing organic cotton baby clothes, diapers, and baby blankets. Organic cotton is excellent for the tender, developing skin of a baby. It is believed that organic cotton clothing is softer than conventional cotton clothing,” the site says. “Furthermore, since the production of organic cotton does not involve the use of chemicals, it causes fewer allergies.

FishingThe concept of New Jammies maintaining environmental responsibility was the idea of founder Nicole Ludlow 10 years ago. She wanted to help kids sensitive to fabrics in clothing by using 100% organic cotton in her pajama designs. She also wanted to help build a better world where everyone reaches higher.

“Our company goal is to make a difference in the lives we touch. That is why New Jammies supports philanthropic organizations whose goals are to improve our communities and the lives of our children,” Kudlow says. “When you make a New Jammies purchase, you receive not only the highest quality, environmentally friendly product, but you become part of our team, helping to improve the quality of all our lives. We support various nonprofit organizations through donations of pajamas for children as well as charitable events.

At this year’s MAGIC children’s clothing industry tradeshow, where New Jammies launched its distinctive products a decade ago, spring and summer trends were highlighted. Nature, imagination, storytelling and recess-based activities were some of the main themes. All themes New Jammies loves.

“While one of the main sources of inspiration for kids suggests unplugging from the tech world and exploring nature through the study of Entomology (the scientific study of insects), other trends envision a transformation of reality, enchanted narrative of fantasy and storytelling,” the MAGIC trend report read.

The trend of taking a natural approach to how kids learn, play, eat, sleep and dress fits with New Jammies organic mission.

“As we march along the path of life, we must open our eyes and spirits to the bigger picture,” Ludlow says. “It is through our choices and actions that we can change the way our children view the world and secure their future in a better and healthier 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.

Eat Right: Sweet, Healthy Desserts Families Will Love

Audrey Hepburn once said, “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.” At New Jammies, we love dessert, especially cake, as much as the next sweet tooth. Since February is American Heart Month, and the perfect time for spreading the love, we decided to seek out tasty and healthy dessert recipes — including one for chocolate lovers — to keep hearts happy, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Spiced PearsHoney and Spice Pears
Courtesy American Heart Association
Makes 4 Servings

Enjoy a delicate, heart-healthy dessert by cooking seasonal pears in a light homemade syrup. For info on women and heart disease, visit Go Red for Women.

Ingredients
1 cup light cranberry juice cocktail
1/2-3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8-1/4 tsp. ground allspice
4 small firm pears (about 6 ounces each), peeled, halved, and cored
2 Tbsp. sweetened, dried cherries or cranberries
1 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. honey (divided use)

Tip: Serving size 2 pear halves and 1 heaping tablespoon sauce.

Directions
1. In a large nonstick skillet, stir together the cranberry juice, cinnamon, and allspice. Add the pears and cherries. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, covered, for 5 minutes, or until the pears are just tender-crisp.

2. Transfer pears with the cut side down to a serving plate, leaving liquid in the skillet.

3. Cook the liquid, still on medium high, for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced to a scant 1/4 cup, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in honey. Spoon over pears.

4. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Turn the pears several times to coat with the sauce or transfer them to plates and spoon the sauce on top.

img_2304Frozen Yogurt Fruit Pops
Courtesy American Diabetes Association
Makes 4 Servings

You can make this recipe with any fruit and flavor of yogurt. Try mango chunks with pineapple yogurt, or kiwi halves with strawberry yogurt. You could also try other toppings like coconut or sprinkles instead of pecans.

Ingredients
Wax paper
12 strawberries, hulled
12 cake pop sticks
½ cup nonfat blueberry Greek yogurt
¼ cup chopped pecans

Directions
1. Line a small baking sheet with wax paper. Set aside.

2. Insert the cake pop sticks into the top part of the strawberry. Do not pierce through the end of the strawberry.

3. Dip each strawberry in the yogurt, shaking so that each strawberry is thinly coated. Use a spoon to help coat the strawberries if needed.

4. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of pecans (or coconut, sprinkles, etc) over each coated strawberry.

5. Place the strawberry pops on the baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours or until the yogurt is frozen. Once pops are frozen, remove from wax paper and serve or put in a freezer zip-top bag.

img_2306Cranfully Good Chocolate Bites
Courtesy US Cranberries
Makes 8 “Bites”

Rich dark chocolate topped with your favorites: cranberries, nuts, and dried fruits.

Ingredients
3 T 70-80% cocoa premium dark chocolate chips
1/8 cups mix of walnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios
1/8 cups mix of dried cranberries, raisins, gooseberries (optional), pumpkin seeds

Directions
1. Mix the nuts and dried fruits together.

2. Melt chocolate in microwave-safe container on low power setting. Rule of thumb: 1 min. for 1 oz.; 3 min. for 8 oz.; 3.5 min. for 1 lb.; 4 min. for 2.lb. Run microwave in 30 sec.-1 min. increments.

3. When most of the chocolate is melted, stir mixture continuously until smooth, shiny, and completely melted.

4. Spoon chocolate onto wax paper in even circles. Top with nuts and fruits. Let harden and then refrigerate 10 minutes.

Pineapple cream cheese pie with berriesimg_2305
Courtesy Mayo Clinic Staff
Makes 8 Servings

Dietitian’s tip: This dessert is more similar to a tart than a traditional cream pie. You can use any fresh, unsweetened berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries.

Ingredients
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 prepared graham cracker crust, about 9 inches in diameter
1 can (16 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
1 pint berries, rinsed and drained (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries, or a combination)

Directions
1. In a small bowl, mix the softened cream cheese with the sugar. Gently spread over the graham cracker crust.

2. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

3. Just before serving, spread the crushed pineapple over the cream cheese. Add the berries.

4. Cut the pie into 8 wedges and serve immediately.

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: Moms & Kids Get Moving in the New Year

StripesNew Jammies knows that motherhood brings us all the feels. With a range of emotions from joy and happiness to fatigue and sadness, our hormones play a big role in how body and mind adjusts to postpartum life. There’s also the weight gain and feelings of being overwhelmed that are hard to battle.

That’s where exercise can come into play — and involve mom and babies and kids at the same time.

There are many Mommy and Me-type fitness classes available online and in-person that incorporate cardio and strength training into an exercise routine for two. Positive Health Wellness (positivehealthwellness.com), a site for those seeking information to help live a more positive, healthier and happier life, offers helpful tips to build kids into an exercise routine.

“Involving your baby into exercise has become a popular way for moms to get fit,” says Positive Health Wellness blogger Karen Reed in “A New Mom’s Guide on Post Natal Fitness and Nutrition. “There is certainly nothing wrong with doing it yourself, once your doctor has cleared you for exercise.”

Reed says one of the most common exercises to add into your plan is buggy running, or walking to start, and it is just as it sounds: you run with the buggy.

“There are even running groups around the country offering moms to get together and run with their little ones, and then there will be socializing afterwards or during different days,” she says. “Make sure you have a buggy that is suitable for buggy running. There are now specific runner buggies designed, usually with three wheels to make it easier to turn corners and remain stable at faster paces. The last thing you want is to find you have to come to a halt just to get your buggy around a corner or risk affecting your child’s health.”

Reed also suggests playing a game of peek-a-boo while exercising.

“Put your child where he/she can see you as you do a sit up. Say peek-a-book and then lay back down. As your child gets older, they’ll join in with the game much more,” Reed says.

Yoga is also a fun way to strengthen and tone muscles and help moms mentally adjust with meditation and relaxing breathing techniques. Many local yoga studios, community centers and churches host in-person mom-and-baby yoga classes, and you can also find exercises online.

The What to Expect website includes Mommy-and-Me Yoga 101 information, featuring tips and a list of benefits for both baby and mom. There’s also a quick video of a playful baby yoga move, Butterfly Pose with Baby (Baddha Konasana), to try at home. What to Expect says to keep in mind that it’s best to do mommy-and-me yoga in a class with an experienced yoga teacher who can help ensure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely.

Good Night YogaOne way to introduce yoga to little ones is through colorfully illustrated books. Author and innovative educator Mariam Gates’ “Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story” is a beautiful tool for parents and caregivers to teach kids about yoga, and is a fun and effective new routine for bedtime.

The full-color book, illustrated by graphic artist Sarah Jane Hinder, tells the story of the natural world as it closes down for the night, while teaching children a simple flow of yoga postures inspired by their favorite characters from nature.

Good Morning YogaThe book’s follow-up, “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story” invites young readers to practice a morning yoga routine to jumpstart the day and shows them how to focus, relax, self-monitor, and self-soothe.

Gates holds a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children. Her renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. Learn more at kidpoweryoga.com/pages/home.html.

Yoga for FamiliesThe entire family can join in the fun of yoga with the “Yoga For Families: Connect With Your Kids” DVD, available on Amazon.

Yoga instructors to the stars Ingrid Von Burg and Tom Morley lead the workout, for ages 4 and older, that encourages time to jump, breathe, laugh, dance, sing and relax.

“Yoga provides us with clarity of thought, and allows us to communicate easier,” says the product description. “When we do that with our family, it gives us confidence.”

Special Features include a choice of music for the dynamic sections: Relaxing/Meditative or High Energy/Silly.

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.