Eat Right: Heart-healthy Family Dinners

February is American Heart Month, and New Jammies joins the American Heart Association in reminding families this is an ideal time to focus on their hearts and encourage them to get their loved ones, friends and communities involved.

“The biggest part of living healthy comes down to simply making healthy choices,” says the AHA. “While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.”

In its Heart-healthy Recipes section of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website, the AHA provides meal planning ideas that can save your heart by improving your diet.

“There’s a common misconception that anything described as healthy is lacking in flavor and satisfaction. To add insult to injury, there’s also an automatic assumption that healthy foods are unaffordable,” the American Heart Association says.

“The truth is, there are plenty of creative ways to make a tasty, heart-healthy dish. And you don’t have to be a master chef to whip one up, and do it well … Once you start eating this way, you may wonder why you didn’t start sooner. And before you know it, you’ll be coming up with your own inspired creations.”

Try these heart-healthy dishes from the American Heart Association and encourage your New Jammies kids and to eat right today:

Healthy greens and beans add a flavorful punch to this easy soup recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup.

Ingredients

6 Servings (Serving size 1 cup)
1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
1/2 small red onion (chopped)
1 medium celery (chopped)
1 medium garlic clove (minced)
2 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added Great Northern beans (rinsed, drained)
14.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added, diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (crumbled)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups spinach
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion, celery, and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery are soft.

2. Stir in the broth, beans, tomatoes with liquid, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes so the flavors blend.

3. Stir in the spinach. Simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted.

4. Just before serving, sprinkle the soup with the Parmesan.

This protein-packed vegetarian Edamame Salad with Orange-Balsamic Dressing can be a main course or a side dish.

Ingredients

Serving size 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (green soybeans)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, lowest sodium available
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar PLUS
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided use
1 tsp. olive oil, extra virgin preferred
1/4 tsp. pepper
15.5 oz. canned, no-salt-added navy beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
1/4 medium cucumber, sliced crosswise
1 medium Italian plum (Roma) tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced radishes

Directions

1. Prepare the edamame using the package directions, omitting the salt. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, and pepper. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the edamame, navy beans, salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature or cover and refrigerate until needed, up to five days.

3. At serving time, put the salad greens on plates. Top, in order, with the cucumber, tomato, carrot, radishes, and bean mixture. Pour the dressing over all.

Benefit from heart-healthy omega-3 fats with this vegetable and seafood Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon dish.

Ingredients
4 Servings (Serving size 3 ounces fish and 1/2 cup vegetables)

1 tsp. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
2 oz. spinach
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
1/4 cup fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed, patted dry
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (lowest sodium available)
2 Tbsp. plain dry bread crumbs, lowest sodium available
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

3. Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a scant 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.

5. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.

This Blackberry Cobbler dessert recipe features nutrient-dense blackberries and is great for family meals, especially as the weather warms. Nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients but relatively low in calories, and contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Cooking Tip: On the blackberries, this sweet-tart fruit is nutrient dense. Look for plump berries with a dark, rich color.

Ingredients
8 Servings

Cooking spray
4 cups blackberries
1/4 cup sugar substitute and 1/2 cup sugar substitute, divided use
1/4 cup water
Juice from 1 medium lime
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup canola or corn oil
1/4 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, gently stir together the berries, 1/4 cup sugar substitute, the water, lime juice, and ginger. Let the berry mixture stand for at least 15 minutes so the juices can accumulate.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar substitute.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring just until no flour is visible. Don’t overmix.

6. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Using a spatula, spread the batter in the pan. (The batter doesn’t have to touch the edge of the pan; it will spread while baking.) Top with the berry mixture.

7. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For information on women and heart disease, visit Go Red for Women.

 

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 Eating in 2018

Every January, millions of Americans make resolutions to improve their health and well being in the new year, including through diet and exercise. The intention is there, but only about 8 percent of people who make resolutions keep them. At New Jammies, we’re here to improve those odds with these tips for healthy eating habits for the whole family in the new year.

The CDC Office of Women’s Health offers Six Tips for 2018, including No. 3, make healthy food choices.

”A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products,” the CDC says. “It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.”

One way the CDC offers advice on Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight is by trying a new twist on an old favorite.

“If your favorite recipe calls for frying fish or breaded chicken, try healthier variations using baking or grilling,” the CDC suggests. “Maybe even try a recipe that uses dry beans in place of higher-fat meats. Ask around or search the internet and magazines for recipes with fewer calories ― you might be surprised to find you have a new favorite dish.”

This American Heart Association recipe for Kid-Friendly Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs with Brown Rice, from its Simple Cooking with Heart program, “helps you travel to the islands with this recipe. Kids can help make them and because they’ll be in the kitchen where all the action is, they’re probably going to be excited to eat them, too.”

Ingredients

4 Servings

For the Marinade:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (at least 36 pieces), all visible fat discarded, cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
20 oz. canned, unsweetened juice from pineapple chunks can
2 clove fresh garlic (minced)
OR
1 tsp. jarred, minced garlic

For the Chicken Kebabs:

Non-stick cooking spray
36 pineapple chunks (packed in their own juice)
2 fresh, chopped bell peppers (chopped into 36 pieces)
1 pint grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
12-15 wooden skewers
2 cup brown rice (cooked to package instructions)
OR
2 8.8- oz. packaged, cooked brown rice

Directions

For the Marinade:
1. In a plastic bag, add chicken chunks.
2. Have kids add soy sauce, 1 cup pineapple juice, and garlic into the plastic bag. Seal and let chicken marinate in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

For the Chicken Kebabs:

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Take chicken out of marinade and place in a bowl.
2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Have kids wash bell peppers and tomatoes before chopping peppers. For kid-friendly assembly, place the pineapple, chopped peppers, and tomatoes in 3 separate bowls.
3. Let kids add 1 tomato to the bottom of 1 skewer. Top with pineapple, chicken and bell pepper 3 times, letting kids add everything but the raw chicken. Let kids add 1 more tomato to top. Repeat with the rest of skewers.
4. After 12 skewers are made (and all the chicken has been used), have kids make their own skewers with any remaining pieces. Cook kabobs in oven until chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes. Serve with rice.

Quick Tips

Cooking Tip: Pineapples have an enzyme called bromelain that helps to make meat tender, making pineapple juice an excellent quick marinade.
Keep it Healthy: Skewering pieces of meat, vegetables, and fruit for dinner makes it fun for kids to eat, along with a having a meal with a quick cooking time.
Tip: You can also cook these on the grill but first, you would need to soak the wooden skewers in cold water to prevent them from catching on fire.
Tip: Grape tomatoes are smaller than cherry tomatoes, so more will fit in a pint container. If using grape tomatoes, there will be enough tomatoes to add 4 grape tomatoes per skewer. If using cherry tomatoes, just stick with 2 per skewer.

In helping people stay on course for their wellness resolutions, the American Heart Association suggests these tips on How to Eat Healthy without “Dieting”:

• Choose mindfully, even with healthier foods. Ingredients and nutrient content can vary a lot.
• Read labels. Compare nutrition information on package labels and select products with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat, and no partially hydrogenated oils.
• Watch your calories. To maintain a healthy weight, eat only as many calories as you use up through physical activity. If you want to lose weight, take in fewer calories or burn more calories.
• Eat reasonable portions. Often this is less than you are served, especially when eating out.
• Don’t dismiss entire food groups. Eat a wide variety of foods to get all the nutrients your body needs.
• Cook and eat at home. You’ll have more control over ingredients and preparation methods.

Another kid-friendly, healthy recipe to help you and your family eat well throughout the new year is courtesy the We Can! program, a collaboration between the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute.

Find more easy, healthy Fun Family Recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

Lentil Soup

Ingredients

11 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups dry lentils
1 can (14 ½ ounces) crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
6 ½ cups water

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions; cook and stir until the onion is tender.
2. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in lentils and tomatoes, then add the vegetable broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour or until lentils are tender.
4. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. The soup will taste better the next day!

This recipe for a Superfood Smoothie from the American Diabetes Association is great for kids and adults, for breakfast, a snack or dessert on the go.

“Blueberries, spinach, and almond milk make this a Superfood Smoothie and a great way to start your day,” says the ADA. “Superfoods provide key nutrients that are lacking in the typical western diet.”

Ingredients

2 Servings

1 cup original almond milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 cups baby spinach
1 banana

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and thick.

MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Confirm all ingredients are gluten-free and this recipe can be made gluten-free.

Cheers to a happy and healthy new year!

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

_____________________

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.

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

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.

Eat Right: Warm Drinks to Cozy Up to This Winter

On a cold winter’s New Jammies night, there’s nothing that warms the soul better than a warm mug of creamy homemade cocoa for the kids. Mom and Dad can relax with a soothing cup of herbal tea paired with a hearty scone on the side. These ideas for warm drinks, and more, will help the whole family heat up and eat (or drink) right this winter.

Warm milky drinkWarm Milky Drink

This recipe for a cozy milk concoction from Everyday Roots is described as a “tasty combination of warm milk, honey, and a sprinkling of nutmeg that’s your ticket into Snoozefest.”

The Everyday Roots website‘s goal is to spread knowledge about natural and home remedies to the general public. “A natural remedy could be defined as simply exercising daily, or eating healthier. After all, it’s the little everyday decisions that will help you live not just a longer and healthier life, but a happier one as well,” says the online resource.

According to Everyday Roots:

“Why warm milk: The idea that warm milk helps you fall asleep didn’t come out of nowhere. People over the centuries could tell you it really does work, but not for the modern-day reason that states it makes you sleepy because of tryptophan. Conclusive studies have been done that show milk does not raise tryptophan levels, but can raise internal body temperature when it’s heated, which will relax you and make you sleepy and calm. Add to this the most powerful effect of all, the placebo effect. Warm milk seems to do something psychologically that makes us calm and drowsy. Perhaps it makes us harken back to our days of infancy, and therefore makes the drinker ‘sleep like a baby.’ Either way you look at it, there’s something about it that makes falling asleep a breeze.

Why honey: L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid vital to our rest. It is the precursor to serotonin, which can be converted into melatonin, and melatonin is what regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Honey creates a spike in insulin, which drives tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. It is then converted into serotonin, which in darkness is converted in to melatonin in the pineal gland in our brain. The result is that as nighttime approaches, you have more melatonin to tell your body ‘ok, it’s time to sleep now.’

Why nutmeg: Nutmeg is a pretty powerful spice, so much so it’s very possible to “overdose” and end up getting looped out, feeling incredibly ill, hallucinating, and experiencing a myriad of other unpleasant side effects. Ingested safely though, it is a pretty darn good natural sleep-aid, thanks to numerous chemical components that act similar to tranquilizers — just stick to a quarter teaspoon or less.”

Ingredients
1 glass of milk
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of honey
1/8 teaspoon to a 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Directions
1. Warm up about 8 ounces of milk in your favorite mug.
2. Heat it until it’s a little hotter than you would comfortably drink, and stir in 1 tablespoon of honey (or as little as 2 teaspoons if you prefer.)
3. Sprinkle with a ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg at the most, and let it cool to a temperature that is still nice and toasty warm but drinkable.
4. Make this about 30 minutes before bed when you start winding down, sip slowly, and enjoy.

Hot cocoa is a winter staple that makes us think of snuggling up by the fire with a fuzzy blanket and a nice book. This healthy version from at WellnessMama.com, a mom blog and resource that offers real food recipes, natural living and cleaning tutorials, beauty recipes and health tips with natural ingredients and remedies, is all-natural and dairy-free with no refined sugar.

Real Food Hot ChocolateReal Food Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 serving

Ingredients
8 ounces of hot (not boiling) water or coconut milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon gelatin powder
1 teaspoon maca powder (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional)
1 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon of maple syrup or honey (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend to combine.
2. Serve warm and enjoy.

Notes
• Recipe can be doubled or multiplied as needed.
• Adding more butter or coconut oil will make a thicker hot chocolate.
• This must be done in a blender, since with the added coconut oil or butter, just stirring will not make a smooth mixture.
• More sweetener can be added for a sweeter hot chocolate if desired.

Green tea has many health advantages, and has been called the healthiest beverage on the planet. From brain-boosting nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants, green tea packs a healthy punch as a beverage served hot or cold. Wintertime is a great season to keep warm green tea on hand in a slow cooker in the kitchen or in a Dutch oven on a wood-burning stove. This recipe from Better Homes and Gardens is perfect for the cold weather and fighting off the effects of winter colds.

Slow Cooker Green TeaSlow Cooker Spiced Green Tea
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients
6 inches stick cinnamon, broken*
1 tablespoon snipped crystallized ginger
4 cups brewed green tea
4 cups orange-peach-mango juice or orange juice
1 cup dried fruit, such as peaches, apricots, and/or pears
Orange slices
Sugar (optional)
Cheesecloth

Directions
1. For a spice bag, place cinnamon and crystallized ginger in the center of a double-thick, 6- to 8-inch square of 100-percent-cotton cheesecloth. Bring up corners; tie closed with clean cotton string.
2. In a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker combine tea and juice. Add spice bag and dried fruit.
3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 3 hours. Remove and discard spice bag and dried fruit.
3. Ladle tea into cups. Float an orange slice in each cup. If desired, sweeten to taste with sugar.

*TIP: To break cinnamon sticks, place in a heavy plastic bag and gently pound sticks with a meat mallet.


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 Holiday Cookie Recipes

Holiday New JammiesAt New Jammies, we love the holidays and all that make them special. Kids make the memories especially sweet as they handcraft cute holiday ornaments for the tree and help in the kitchen to bake and decorate cookies.

We like to eat healthy during the holidays when we can, so these cookie recipes are cute, fun, festive and nutritious.

Happy holidays!

Boot TracksBoot Tracks cookies, courtesy of Eating Well Magazine, are perfect to leave out for Santa the night before Christmas, or to package in holiday tins for homemade gift-giving. The recipe is from Eating Well reader Patti Anderson, a professional quilter, who had never entered a cooking contest before she won with this quick, no-fuss, chewy chocolate cookie made using a waffle iron. Best of all, Eating Well says kids love them.

Ingredients
1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
1. Preheat a nonstick (not Belgian) waffle iron.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa powder, oil and espresso powder (if using). Beat until thoroughly combined.
3. Drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the preheated ungreased waffle iron. (To avoid burnt fingers, use two spoons, one to scoop and one to scrape dough onto the waffle iron.) Close and cook until the cookies are puffed and cooked through, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Waffle irons vary, so watch closely and don’t let the cookies get too dark. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until just warm. Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while still slightly warm (see Variations).

Variations: Instead of confectioners’ sugar, drizzle cooled cookies with melted bittersweet and/or white chocolate. Or make a peppermint drizzle: Mix 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons water and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract; add natural green food coloring, if desired.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Decorate on parchment: When adding finishing touches to your cookies or cakes, place them on a large sheet of parchment paper before you decorate. The paper catches the excess, making cleanup a breeze.

 

img_2099These Oatmeal Jam Bars from Better Homes and Gardens feature fiber-rich oats to add nutritional value. A sweet raspberry filling is sandwiched between two layers of warm, crumbly cream cheese crust. For heart-healthy options, use low-sugar or sugar-free jam and low-fat cream cheese.

Ingredients
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup seedless blackberry or red or black raspberry jam
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in oats, brown sugar, and lemon peel. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until mixture is crumbly. Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture for topping; set aside.
3. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together the jam and lemon juice. Carefully spread jam mixture over hot crust. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 cup crumb mixture. Bake about 15 minutes more or until top is golden. Cool bars in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Place bars in box; close box.

Make-ahead tip: Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Cranberry CookiesCranberry cooperative Ocean Spray has declared the beloved red berry as the “official unofficial fruit of the holidays,” and we can’t think of a better way to eat it than in cookie form. The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association (see more healthy recipes at cranberries.org) offers this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies using dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and old-fashioned oats.

Ingredients
⅔ cup butter or margarine, softened
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 bag of sweetened dried cranberries (6 oz.)
⅔ cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Using an electric mixer beat butter or margarine and brown sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
3. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.
4. Stir in sweetened dried cranberries, chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until gold brown.

Blueberry White Chocolate Ginger CookieBlueberries, ginger, white chocolate, oh my! These three ingredients combine to make a magical Blueberry White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookie that Eating Well Recipe Contributor Anna Ginsberg says are “a real snap to make — just stir and bake.” Package in a pretty blue holiday tin, and these cookies will be a big gift hit, thanks to this Eating Well recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned (not instant)
2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup dried blueberries, (see Tip)
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped (see Tip)

Directions
1. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375°F.
2. Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt and ground ginger in a small bowl.
3. Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine. Add oats, chocolate, blueberries and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make-ahead tip: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Tip: Dried cranberries or cherries will also work in place of blueberries; all can be found, along with crystallized ginger, in the baking, dried fruit or produce sections of many supermarkets and natural-foods stores.

Storage smarts: To extend the life of your baked goods, store them in an airtight container in a single layer or between layers of parchment paper to prevent sticking.

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