Author Archives: Sarah

I Finally Saw The Hunger Games…Kind Of

I’ve been dying to see The Hunger Games, but babysitting isn’t always easy to come by around these parts. Here’s hoping it stays in theaters for a really, really long time so that I don’t have to wait for the DVD. But really, who needs Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hensworth and Josh Hutcherson when you have Beanie Babies? Right?

Yes, this is how I spent 11+ minutes of naptime today. Don’t be jealous.

Living For the Little Moments

When shopping for my family, I’ve been focusing on cutting out highly processed junk food in favor of  healthier, more natural foods.  Mountain High Yoghurt is one of those products that fit the bill.  Mountain High contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, starches, or preservatives.  When I started looking at the labels, I was surprised at some of the additives I saw in many of the “kid-friendly” yogurts on the market.   I’m excited to be serving as a Mountain High Yoghurt Ambassador for the next couple of months and sharing some ideas on ways to incorporate more yoghurt into your diet, tasty recipes and more.

In keeping with their philosophy of simplicity, Mountain High Yoghurt encourages us to take a little time each day to do something that makes you happy.  Sometimes it’s those little moments that make all the difference.

We’re on Spring Break this week and decided to take a little local vacation.  Where else would we go but Disneyland?  I told you I was going to make those passes pay for themselves!  Happy moments aren’t hard to come by at the Happiest Place on Earth, but there was one that stood out in my mind.  My boys don’t always get along, sibling rivalry is alive and well here.  We had promised a treat at the end of the day if they had managed to keep the peace.

By the time we headed for the gates after dark, my daughter was passed out asleep in the stroller.  Her treat would have to wait.  The boys had their eye on the churro cart.  We decided to have them share one, too much sugar close to bedtime has never ended well in our experience.  To our amazement, they traded bite for bite until they reached the end.  I steeled myself for a fight over the last bite, but it never came.  My oldest said “Here buddy, the last bite is for you.”  I think I heard angels singing.

What was your last Mountain High Moment?

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mountain High Yoghurt. I received a gift card to purchase yogurt, a product kit, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Hey, It’s Cheaper Than Buying Her a Pony

Here You Leave Today And Enter The World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy

A year ago around this time, we took the plunge and bought Disneyland Annual Passports.  We couldn’t wait to spend the year with Mickey.  Since then we’ve spent many at day in the parks, I lost count somewhere around the 15th visit.  Seriously, I was determined to get our money’s worth.  We’ve loved every minute (aside from a few isolated temper tantrums) and have made family memories we’ll treasure for a lifetime. We recently got a postcard in the mail letting us know our renewal date was approaching, so it was decision time.  Passports aren’t cheap and now that the twins are three, we’ll need five instead of three.

As a reasonably frugal family we could think of plenty of reasons not to pony up, but in the end we did just that.  It may mean we don’t take a big family vacation this year, or eat out as often.  Yet the benefits of having the passes made it practically a no-brainer.  We can escape into a world of fantasy for the whole day or just a few hours.  We can take it slow, enjoy the parade, the shows, the people-watching – and not feel like we have to get on every ride.  There’s always another Disney day.  It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how stressful my week has been, whatever grown-up worries are weighing on my mind, once we walk through the gates it all seems to disappear.  It’s all forgotten and we can spend quality time with the kids, seeing the wonder through their little eyes.

Look – now I don’t have to buy her an actual pony!  Think of all the money we’re saving on horse equipment, boarding and food.  Her brothers already eat like horses as it is.

Are my kids a bit spoiled by getting to go to Disneyland all the time?  A little perhaps, but we don’t go all out on every trip with treats, souvenirs and the like.  We’ve discovered one of the parks cheapest and most collectible souvenirs, pressed coins.  All three kids have their own pressed penny book and they add a a couple to their collection on each trip.  They’re happy and we’ve spent nothing more than the change in the bottom of my purse.  I know someday they’ll probably have better things to do than spending day after day at Disneyland with mom and dad, but I don’t see the magic wearing off any time soon.  These memories we’re making?  They’re priceless.

 

It’s National Nutrition Month – Are Mushrooms on Your Menu?

Mushrooom Burger Recipe

Two things are constantly on my mind when it comes to grocery shopping and meal planning: making healthier meals that I can feel good about serving to my family and saving money while doing it.  As our family of five leaves the baby years, we suddenly have three growing kids with healthy appetites and my grocery bill has been growing right along with them.  Over the past year, I’ve been cutting down on processed foods and turning more and more to fresh ingredients, organic whenever possible.  Meat is expensive to begin with and when you’re looking at organic meats you’re in for some major sticker shock.  This has led me to seek out more meatless recipes and make substitutions for meat in some of our favorite recipes.  Mushrooms are a great choice when you want to swap out the meat in a recipe as they have a very similar texture.

New Mushroom Council Logo

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, The Mushroom Council (a group of U.S. mushroom growers) is encouraging consumers to “get your plate in shape” with mushrooms.

Increasing the intake of lower calorie foods, specifically mushrooms, in place of those higher in calories, like ground beef, can be an effective method for reducing calories and fat while still feeling full and satisfied after a meal. This approach of replacing some ground beef, turkey or other meat with mushrooms is known as “swapability.” It works because mushrooms’ hearty texture and rich flavor allow them to blend seamlessly with meats. The mushroom and meat “swapability” technique is an economical way to make family meals more nutritious and works great in family favorites like lasagna, burgers, tacos or chili.

Modifying your favorite recipes to replace a portion of the ground meat with mushrooms is simple with this three-step “swapability strategy”:

  • Chop up the mushroom variety of your choice to match the consistency of the ground beef or poultry
  • Season and cook the mushrooms just as you do the meat
  • Combine the cooked meat and mushrooms and use the mix to complete your recipe

If the savings don’t convince you to give mushrooms a place in your shopping cart, perhaps the health benefits will.  Mushrooms are low in calories and fat free, with a flavorful umami content that allows you to cut down the use of salt in a dish without compromising the flavor.  Mushrooms are also a good source of vitamins B & D as well as antioxidants to help you maintain a healthy immune system.

Here’s a recipe to get you started, make the Mushroom Burger Wraps pictured above.

Mushroom Burger Wraps (Makes 4 Servings)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces white button mushrooms
  • 6 ounces cremini mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2  teaspoons dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 2-ounce whole-wheat tortillas
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Chop mushrooms into ¼-inch pieces.  Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons canola oil.  Place mushrooms in pan and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.  Drain. Return mushrooms to pan and season with freshly ground black pepper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, ricotta cheese, ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, and basil. Form mixture into 4 burgers.

3. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Cook burgers for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until done. (Or grill burgers.) Serve in tortilla.

Serving Tip: These are delicious with caramelized onions, fresh tomato and cheddar cheese.

Find this and lots of other mushroom recipes at mushroominfo.com.

You can join the National Mushroom Council in celebrating National Nutrition Month by attending their Twitter party on Monday March 12 at 8:00 PM EST.  The event hashtag is #mushrooms and there will be prizes to giveaway so you won’t want to miss it.  You can RSVP here.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Global Influence on behalf of the National Mushroom Council and I was compensated for my participation.  All opinions are my own.

Sneak Peek at Frankenweenie (Coming to Theaters This Fall)

Frankenweenie Trailer
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of our family favorites, so naturally I was excited to see a new Disney/Tim Burton collaboration in the pipeline. Frankenweenie is coming to theaters this Fall, and this new trailer has just been released. It looks to me like it might be a little intense for younger viewers, but fun for older kids and adults.

What do you think?  Will this be on your Fall must-see list?