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.

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.

Play Right: Springtime Activities for the Kids

Bug's Life PJ Short Set

New Jammies Bug’s Life PJ Short Set

To spring means to move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward and forward, so it’s only appropriate for New Jammies kids to get out and get some exercise this month. Enter Spring, and Earth Day on April 22, and the chance to establish an active lifestyle while celebrating Mother Earth.

“Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress,” says letsmove.gov, a government initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.

“Kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside. By linking parents to nearby parks, trails and waters – and providing tips and ideas – Let’s Move! Outside can help families develop a more active lifestyle.”

Let’s Move! Outside was created to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors. Earth Day and Spring are the perfect moments to try some new games and activities outside with the kids, including biking.

“Biking is a fun, family-friendly activity that can help improve endurance and balance,” says letsmove.org. “Use your bike as a means of ‘active transport’ to get places faster while also getting healthier. Explore your community by bike with your family and get everyone active.”

Walking and hiking around, exploring the outdoors, and collecting found items while learning about science can also be great springtime activities for the kids.

“Traveling by foot is a fun, easy and affordable way to get moving and get outside. From a walk around the block to a mountain hike — there are a lot of new places to explore,” says letsmove.org. “Activities like hiking and walking have been shown to improve cardiovascular health and build stronger bones. Stay healthy by making physical activity a part of your family’s routine.”

New Jammies StripesOn PBS.org, PBS Kids encourages children to turn off electronics and play, offering a variety of games to play outdoors. One includes Clothespin Tag, a game submitted by Craig of Moultonborough, New Hampshire. Here are the fun and easy rules:

• Keep your clothespin to win.
• This game is for 5 or more players and should be played outside or in an open area.
• To play, you need one clothespin for each player.
• Clip a clothespin to the back of your shirt. On the word “Go!,” try to steal the other players’ clothespins without letting anyone get your clothespin.
• When your clothespin is taken or falls off, you’re out.
• The last player with a clothespin wins.

Another creative game to encourage imagination outdoors is Snake in the Grass, sent in by Alexis of Texas:

A slithery game of tag, this game is for 4 or more players and should be played in an open area.

• To play, mark off an area to be your playing field.
• One player is the snake. That person has to crawl around and move like a snake.
• The snake tries to tag the other players, who run around trying to stay away from the snake.
• If the snake tags you, then you become a snake, too. (That means you have to move like a snake and try to tag the other players!)
• Snakes and runners are not allowed to go outside the playing area.
• The last runner left is the winner.

This game challenges the mind and stimulates imagination as well, and can be played indoors if the spring weather turns to rain or cold:

Casting Call, sent in by Lyndsay of Blythe, California
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. To play, you’ll need at least 3 people.

• Pick one person to be the director.
• The game is played like Simon Says. The director tells the other players what to do.
• Instead of saying, “Simon Says,” the director will say, “Action!”
• The other players will only stop when the director says, “Cut!”
• If the director says, “Act like a chicken, NOW!” and a player acts like a chicken, he’s out because the director didn’t say, “Action!”
• The last person left in the game gets to be the director in the next round.

Lastly, from allfreekidscrafts.com, these activities are perfect for Earth Day, Earth Month and all year long:

Mason JarsMini Mason Jar Grass Heads
By Jennifer Martin from Mom vs the Boys

Your kids can learn how to grow grass in a jar with this craft idea for kids. A great spring craft idea for all ages, you and your little ones can use these Mini Mason Jar Grass Heads to celebrate the coming of spring or to celebrate Earth Day. This easy kids’ craft also doubles as a cool science project idea. This recycled craft is budget-friendly because it gives you the chance to reuse empty baby food jars, and it does not require too many crafting supplies. Your kids can use whatever materials they wish to create their funky and fun jar faces. Each jar turns out with its own, unique personality!

Materials: Nature Crafts, Recycled Crafts, Mixed Media/Miscellaneous
Age Group: Preschool & Kindergarten, Elementary School

Read more at http://www.allfreekidscrafts.com/Kids-Outdoor-Crafts-and-Activities/Mini-Mason-Jar-Grass-Heads#9MfL4twrs5RRh6RB.99

Homemade Chalk PaintHomemade Chalk Paint Adventure Trail
By Craftingconnections.net

“Sidewalk chalk paint is a great way to enjoy these cooler summer days (when you dont melt every time you step outside) and is a fun twist on your typical outdoor chalk. Take it a step farther by letting your little one take you on an Adventure Trail that they create. By letting your toddler or preschooler lead the way, you both are sure to go on a grand adventure. And when you are ready to head back? Just follow your trail home!”

What you’ll need:

• 1/4 cup of corn starch
• 1/4 cup of water
• Fold coloring
• Container with a tight-fitting lid
• Paintbrush
• (Optional) Bucket

Age Group: Toddlers, Preschool & Kindergarten

• Pour the 1/3-1/2 cup of water into a container.

• Add 1/4 cup of corn starch to the water.

• Add a few drops of food coloring, making it as light or dark as you would like.

(Psst – we tried this with washable tempera paint too, but found that the tempera-colored sidewalk paint didn’t wash away easily, so we suggest that you stick with food coloring. If you are concerned about staining, use just a little bit of food coloring – your paint will be more pastel, but will easily wash away.)

• Shake it up and paint!

Read more at http://www.allfreekidscrafts.com/Kids-Outdoor-Crafts-and-Activities/Chalk-Paint-Adventure-Trail#fQVjc0TDdjp0C9hz.99 and craftingconnections.net

Eat Right: Honor Mother Earth with Green Earth Day Recipes

New Jammies Butterfly Magic Sleep SackOn April 22, New Jammies and the world celebrates 45 years of Earth Day, an international event that advocates for the environment through education, public policy, and consumer campaigns. More than a billion people participate in Earth Day campaigns every year. This spring, you and your kids can take part in many ways, including what you eat.

Reducing our carbon footprint and buying, or growing your own, organic in-season fruits and vegetables are one way Earth Day can be a lesson for kids. Following these Earth Day-inspired recipes can be perfect for spring and made with organic ingredients. And best of all — healthy.

Parsley, Kale, and Berry Smoothie
Courtesy bonappetit.com with recipe by Seamus Mullen

Ingredients
Servings: 2
1/2 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
4 kale leaves (center ribs removed)
1 cup frozen organic berries (such as strawberries or raspberries)
1 banana (cut into pieces)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Preparation
Purée ingredients with 1 cup water in a blender until smooth (add water if too thick).

Editor’s note: The comment section of this recipe suggested using coconut water for the water, so that could provided added flavor to this vitamin-packed snack.

Healthy Green (and Blue) Fruit Kabobs
Courtesy SparkRecipes.com

Ingredients
Serving size: 12 skewers; 1 per serving
1 large Granny Smith or other green apple, cored and chopped
1 T lemon juice
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
2 cups honeydew melon, chopped
1 cup seedless green grapes
12 wooden skewers
New Jammies Earth Day idea: 1 cup blueberries for added color

Tips
If you skip the green apples, you can make these up to 24 hours ahead of time. Even after they are coated in lemon juice, the apples will start to oxidize within hours.

Directions
Toss the apples in the lemon juice.
Thread all the fruit onto the skewers. You want 5-6 pieces (8-10 when adding blueberries) per skewer. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

Bright Spring Day Asparagus Pasta
Courtesy motherearthnews.com

Ingredients
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
12 ounces bowtie pasta
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed, chopped into 1-inch pieces with tips left whole
1 cup peas
1 cup fresh cooking greens (e.g., spinach, chard, dandelion), stems removed
2 tbsp olive oil
10 ounces smoked ham, such as Black Forest, diced (optional)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts) or sweet onion, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup lemon crema (see recipe at end of recipe)
2 tbsp coarse brown mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garnish: 1/4 cup chives, chopped

Instructions
Bring stock and mushrooms to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook for 7 minutes. Add asparagus, peas and greens, and cook 3 minutes more, or until pasta is al dente. Drain the liquid and return the pasta and veggies to the pot with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

Heat remaining oil in a deep skillet, then sauté ham (if using), leek and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the crema, mustard, stock and mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for a couple minutes. Toss with pasta mixture, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chives, and serve immediately.

Lemon Crema
Crema is a zingier cousin of American sour cream.
Ingredients:
2 cups cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Dash sea salt
Twist freshly ground white pepper

Instructions:
Heat cream to about 90 degrees, then remove from heat and stir in buttermilk. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, until thickened. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate.

Blueberry Kiwi Fool
Courtesy recipe.com

Ingredients
Servings: 6
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
3 – 4 kiwifruit, peeled and cut up (1 cup)

Directions
In a shallow dish mash 1 cup of the blueberries with a potato masher. (Or puree with a mini food chopper, food processor, or blender.) Stir cinnamon into mashed blueberries.

In a medium bowl beat whipping cream and sugar until cream is very thick. Fold in mashed blueberries.

In individual 6- to 7-ounce glasses or dishes, layer whipped cream mixture with remaining blueberries and kiwifruit. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 2 hours before serving.

Editor’s note: This recipe is only 122 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving and is a great source of fiber, calcium and Vitamins A and C.

Sleep Tight: New Spring Styles in Kids Sleepwear

At New Jammies, spring is a season for renewed spirit. At a time when flowers begin budding and birds return to chirping, we reveal new styles and collections of our 100% organic pajamas to excited kids at bedtime.

This spring, bright colors and fun prints comprise our new styles. Flowers, bugs, butterflies, foxes and pirates with updated designs in blues, yellows, oranges and pinks make for fun Easter basket gift ideas. Pack New Jammies in suitcases for comfortable Spring Break travel and fun overnights at grandma’s house.

There are many styles to choose from to get kids excited about bedtime and help infants sleep tight at night:

New Jammies Sleep Sacks

• Our new double-layered sleep sacks are perfect over a onesie for warm nights or with New Jammies footies for cooler evenings. Made with 100% organic cotton, New Jammies sleep sacks are breathable to prevent overheating, and come in our Classic Stripes, Butterfly Magic and Sports Color Block designs. Sleep sacks encourage infants to sleep on their backs and keep babies warm without loose blankets in the crib for the prevention of SIDS. “As a new parent, as well as owner and designer at New Jammies, I’ve found sleep sacks to be an indispensable part of my little one’s bedtime wardrobe,” Nicole Ludlow says. “We couldn’t wait to share them with your little ones this spring.”

New Jammies Butterfly Magic Sleep Sack

• Celebrate spring with one of our pretty new designs in hot pink and white, Butterfly Magic, featured in our new sleep sacks, as well as pajamas, short sets and toddler footies.

• Kids will flourish like a flower after waking up in our Ottoman Flowers pajamas, footies and short sets. The bright aquamarine blue and hot pink hues combine for an electric color combination kids will love as they embrace spring and head into summer.

• Our Bug’s Life New Jammies are comfy and cozy for little science buffs. Blue, orange and yellow create a fun landscape for these soft, 100%% organic pajamas, footies and short sets.

• Nature lovers will enjoy our Sly Fox collection of pajamas, footies and short sets in purple, pink, blue, green and orange.

• It’s Shark Week every day with New Jammies Sharks collection. These blue and gold pajamas, footies and short sets are a fun way to celebrate one of the ocean’s most mesmerizing creatures.

• It’s a pirate’s life for kids with New Jammies’ Pirate’s Ocean, Sail Away Pink and Sail Away Blue collections. These can be great for bed and nap time or for festive pirate-themed birthday parties, all the rage these days.

New Jammies Sports Color Block Short Set• Score big with your little sports fan with our new Sports Color Block collection for spring. These white, blue and gold New Jammies are offered in organic cotton pajamas, footies for babies and toddlers, short sets and sleep sacks.

We are thrilled to share our new spring styles with your families and continue to carry our popular classic summer prints: Lobsters, Whales, Crabs ‘N Stripes, and Classic Stripes.

Play Right: Fun Spring Break Ideas for Kids

New Jammies Whale PJ BeachSpring is nearly here, and New Jammies families are looking to get away and enjoy fun with the kids. Whether it’s an indoor water park to make a splash or skiing in the mountains, family-friendly Spring Break destinations can be a great way to recharge for a new season.

From coast to coast, there are fun Spring break activities the whole family can enjoy. In the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, there’s a new 66,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art indoor waterpark with a glass roof to allow the sun to shine in for year-round family entertainment. Wilderness at the Smokies, in Sevierville, Tennessee, is the state’s largest waterpark resort. It houses several indoor water and tube slides, a 10,000-square-foot wave pool, spraying water features, a five-story family raft ride, and indoor/outdoor hot spa. Stay at the Stone Hill Lodge or River Lodge to make a convenient trek over to the Wilderness at the Smokies water park. Don’t forget a waterproof camera to capture the family fun while making Spring Break memories for a lifetime.

Picked AAA’s top Spring Break travel destination in 2015, Orlando, Florida, offers families so many options for enjoyment, it might be hard to pick just one or two. “It’s clear that travelers are seeking warm weather destinations this spring as they look to escape the cold after a particularly harsh winter,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Senior Vice President of Travel and Publishing. “In addition to great domestic destination getaways, cruises, tours and vacation packages to international destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean are also popular vacations this spring.”

With so many choices out there, especially in Orlando, our editorial staff at New Jammies recommends ordering the free Orlando Vacation Planning Kit for information on hotels, attractions, events, and maps. Orlando is of course world famous for the happiest place on earth, aka Walt Disney World. But the Florida city is also home to Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, and other theme parks geared to family vacationing. There are also attractions such as water parks, indoor skydiving, alligator spotting at Gator Land, dinner theaters, and off-road adventures perfect for the whole family.

Paddleboating in the Tidal Basin. Photo by: Destination DC

Springtime paddleboating in the Tidal Basin. Photo by: Destination DC

Also on AAA’s list of top Spring Break destination list is the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. There’s no better place in America to teach kids about our nation’s founding and enjoy the beautiful landmarks and cultural attractions that make this country so great. Make sure to visit the massive National Mall open park in downtown Washington between the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol. The White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Jefferson Pier, National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial are all on the must-see sight-seeing tour in D.C.

For educational, kid-friendly fun, the nation’s capitol is museum central. The city houses the National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall (the most visited museum), National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History, National Museum of the American Indian, the Sackler and Freer galleries, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Arts and Industries Building, S. Dillon Ripley Center, and the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as “The Castle.” For travelers on a budget, visit this helpful Washington D.C. tourist’s guide for 100 free (and almost free) things to do.

Need a refreshing jaunt at high elevation? A trip to the Rocky Mountains provides some late-season Spring Break skiing and western exploring for families. Denver, Colorado, the state’s capitol appropriately named the Mile High City, has a variety of museums and attractions kids of all ages will love. Check out the Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver Museum of Nature and Sciences, Downtown Aquarium, the Just for Fun Family Center at the Denver Art Museum, Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, Butterfly Pavilion, and Dinosaur Ridge next to the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Head west to the mountains for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in such beautiful Colorado destinations as Breckenridge, Winter Park, Durango, Telluride, Beaver Creek, Steamboat Springs, Vail, and Aspen, just to name a few.

Family fun in the Hot Springs

Family fun in the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

For a truly family-friendly experience, visit one of New Jammies’ favorite spots, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Enjoy a soak and swim in the world’s largest hot springs pool or outdoor activities at the Colorado gem Sunlight Mountain Resort at this award-winning Rocky Mountain town on the state’s Western Slope. Ride the exciting downhill alpine coaster and tour and explore one of America’s top 10 caves, according to USA Today, at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park high atop Iron Mountain.

Most of all this spring, have fun!