Take a Stand: Tips to Help Kids Raise Money Through Food/Drink

You may have heard of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.  A little girl named Alex was diagnosed with cancer when she was 1 year old. When she was four years old, Alex asked her mom if she could have a lemonade stand to raise money for “her hospital”.  Her legacy lives on as lemonade stands all  over the country continue to support her pediatric cancer foundation to the tune of $100 million as of January 1, 2015.  How cool is that?!

My kids and friends wanted to make cookies and sell them at a stand at the park.  They’ve done lemonade stands but they wanted to make cookies all by themselves (for the first time) and then raise money to give to The Milo Foundation, a Bay Area dog and cat rescue group.  How could I say no to that?  Of course we were going there for the third time that week to try to adopt a dog.  The kids raised $19 and gave it to the foundation.  Ironically we didn’t find a dog there, but a few days later at the Marin Humane Society.  Guess we know where the next stand money will go.

Here are some steps to help you create a stand and raise money for something you or your kids believe in…

1. Make excellent homemade product.  If it’s lemonade squeeze it yourself.  If it’s cookies make them from scratch.  Store bought is not an option.  My kids made the recipe from the bag of the chocolate chip bag with some added sprinkles.  It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Here’s a lemonade recipe.

Lemonade

(Makes 3 ½ cups)

½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, juice from about 4 lemons

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cups water, divided

Heat sugar and ½ cup water over medium heat in a small saucepan.  Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.  This is simple syrup.  Combine lemon juice, simple syrup and additional cup of water to taste.

Chill in thermos for easy packing or plastic pitcher, if location is a short walk.

Pour over ice in plastic or paper cups.

2. Create fun signs.  Kids can get really creative with this one.

3. Set up shop with friends and family to help.

4. Choose a location with lots of people.  Think parks, game fields, school.

5. Set a fair price or simply ask for a donation for each cup. (*You’ll make more $ by asking for a donation.)

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Happy 2015! Try this Mocktail for All Ages

Cocktail or Mocktail?

Looking for a special way to ring in the New Year with the younger or non-drinking set?  Here’s a festive, tasty “mocktail” that everyone can enjoy.

Organic Juice Sparkler

This is a fun and healthy way for children to join in on a fancy toast with a sparkling drink of their own. This recipe is really simple and can be made with any kind of fresh, organic juice such as orange, pear, or apple. At holiday time I like pomegranate juice because of the bright and festive color. Pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids. The juice can be found year round in the fresh refrigerated juice section of most supermarkets.

Makes 1 cup

¾ cup sparkling mineral water
¼ cup fresh pomegranate juice

Combine water and juice in a glass.

Variation

If serving a crowd, combine three parts sparkling mineral water with one part fresh pomegranate juice in a pitcher. Serve over ice cube cuties for older children and adults.

Kids Korner

For a really festive drink, add a few cranberry ice cubes (just add cranberries when freezing water in trays) and a straw. Or a simple piece or rosemary or mint on the top is fancy for all ages.  You’ll be surprised how much those touches will excite your child.

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Hanukkah Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidels

Over the years my kids have been curious about many religions, beliefs and traditions.  My son was very infatuated with Judaism when he was about 6 years old.  We set up a menorah in our fireplace with candles and he wanted to play dreidel all the time.  I love that we can learn about and borrow stories and rituals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.  No more so does this happen than with food.  We may not be Japanese but we certainly love our sushi.  I love to try new foods especially at the holidays.  With this being the first night of Hanukkah I was reflecting back on all the latke recipes I’ve made in the past.  (click to see recipes) There was the sweet potato butternut squash last year and the out of the garden pancake (green latke) a few years ago, and finally the traditional little latke that was part of my son’s religious exploration.

This year I thought we’d try something sweet and festive and I saw these adorable Marshmallow dreidels on Martha Stewart’s website.  These are fun and festive and would be a great addition to a cookie party of school gathering.  Of course we’ll be using the regular marshmallows as well as the vegan ones for my daughter.  Oy!  They happen to be kosher too.

Edible Hannukah Marshmallow Dreidels by Martha Stewart – video here

For an easy spin on the Hanukkah top, whip up these fun, kid-friendly treats. Marshmallows form the dreidels’ bodies, chocolate kisses serve as the tips, and pretzel sticks act as the knobs. A quick dip in melted chocolate provides a surface for piping white-chocolate Hebrew letters.12 chocolate kisses
8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate
12 marshmallows
12 thin pretzel sticks
2 ounces melted white chocolate
Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  1. Dip bottom of chocolate kiss in melted semisweet chocolate. Press onto marshmallow; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 dreidels. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  2.  Cut a small slit in bottom of each marshmallow; insert 1 thin pretzel stick. Dip dreidels in chocolate, and return to baking sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.
  3.  Fill a resealable plastic bag with melted white chocolate; cut a tiny opening in a corner, and pipe Hebrew letters onto 3 sides of each dreidel. Refrigerate at least 5 minutes or up to 8 hours before serving.

 

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I Can Make Crepes Too!

My lucky kids have been on the receiving end of many sleep-overs and playmates with homemade crepes.  Yum.  My son came home and said “Mom, how come you don’t make crepes?”  I used to make crepes when I was doing some recipe testing, but I guess the kids were little and don’t remember.  And yes, it had been a while.  We have them at the farmer’s market, so it’s not like they’re crepe deprived.  So first I said “well, I don’t have a crepe pan”.  Then my son said his friend’s parents don’t use a special pan.  I thought and said to myself “Hmmmm, I don’t make crepes because I taught you to make pancakes, and then I get weekend breakfast off”.  However not to be outdone on the sleep over circuit I’ve started making crepes.  These are actually super easy and only need a few basic ingredients.  So far we’ve been eating them with squeezed lemon and powdered sugar and/or bananas and berries.  Next breakfast for dinner I’m going to try some savory additions.

 

As the crepe maker, plan to stand over the crepe pan for a good 30 minutes as you make one at a time and kids just keep wanting more.  That’s why I have no pictures too.  I got too busy cranking out crepes.  I understand how the crepe maker at the farmer’s market feels as his line grows and he mans two special crepe griddles.  I tried to get my son to try making them today but he was a bit worried about holding the pan over the flame, to tilt and get the batter to spread.  We’ll just keep practicing…

 

Basic Crepe Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Makes about 8-10 crepes, so I usually double the recipe to keep up with the kid demand.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, meltedIn a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.

    Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot and add toppings.

 

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Coconut Water Taste Test – Fresh and Fun, or Canned?

My kids love to open coconuts.  Last year (see post) it was on their list of top 5 summer activities.  However we  never seem to actually eat or drink much of it.  This time was different.  Because of all the coconut waters and juices on the market we decided to do a taste comparison.  Does the coconut milk from the actual coconut taste like the kind in the can?  We also needed to learn the difference between coconut milk, coconut juice and coconut water.

 

Coconut milk is easy.  It’s the stuff you cook with.  Think Indian food.  It’s the liquid and meat that comes from the brown coconut.  It’s pulverized and put in a can.  It can be light fat or full fat.  More of the solids and fats move to the top of the can so depending on your recipe you may spoon the creme off the top, use just the milky liquid or use it all.

 

But what’s the difference between coconut juice and coconut water?  Both coconut water and juice is the clear liquid in young green coconuts.  Seems the difference is the marketing.  The juice may have other additives (although I bought one that didn’t) and the water does not.  They may sometimes have pulp at the bottom of the can/bottle.

 

My kids were split on what they like.  No surprise there.  My daughter didn’t like that the juice from the actual coconut was still cloudy after straining.  My son thought is tasted more like coconut and the canned tasted like vanilla.  I, to liked the stuff right out of the coconut, but best after being refrigerated.  However everyone agreed it was lots more fun to break open the actual coconut vs opening a can.

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Happy 8 and 48, with Single Layer Cake Recipe

Well she’s not a baby anymore.  I can’t believe my daughter is 8.  Turning 8 also coincided with finally being 48 inches.  I say “finally” because she has been waiting for that height.  48 inches opens many doors to kids, such as the slide at the community pool, a host of carnival rides and being able to drive an indoor go cart.  This is what she wanted to do to celebrate her day.  That and making a birthday cake of course.

I went to my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I’ve had for 20 plus years and found this recipe for a Busy Day Cake (aren’t they all?).  This was a super easy single layer cake that was perfect for last minute making and decorating.  We omitted the broiled coconut topping and went with a classic buttercream frosting.  Which of course we needed multiple colors.  The birthday girl and brother did it all by themselves.  They did a lovely and tasty job.

 

Busy Day Cake

Makes 8 servings

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cups sugar

2 teasponns baking powder

2/3 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a bowl combine flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add milk, butter, egg and vanilla.  Beat on low speed with electric mixture till combined.  Beat on medium speed for additional 1 minute.  Pour batter into greased and floured 8 x 1 1/2 inch round baking pan.

Bake in 350F oven for 25 to 390 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove cake from pan.  Cool thoroughly, then frost and decorate.

 

 

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Six Part Plant Fest – Kids Eat Veggie “Burritos”

Did you know there are six parts to an edible plant and they all have different health benefits?  Neither did I.  I went to a great event at my kids’ elementary school where the garden teacher discussed the parts of the plant, their use, and how we eat all parts by having the kids make salad burritos.  I thought they looked more like lettuce cups, but hey I was there to prep, serve and learn.  In case you’re wondering the six parts and their uses are:

1. Seeds – essential for reproduction.  Makes new plants.

2. Stems – part that carries leaves.

3. Roots – underground structure to hold the plant and soaks up water.

4. Leaves – offshoot of the stem, here “food” is made for plant.

5. Flowers – colored and usually scented.  Attracts insects.

6. Fruit – product that follows the flower.  Holds and protects the seeds.

Makes sense.  But I never really realized how we eat different and multiple parts of produce.  It was a tasty visual to understand the plant parts.  And many of the offerings came right from the school garden.  All the plant parts were chopped and grouped together so kids knew wheat they were eating.  The leaves started the burrito wrapper with big leaves of romaine.  At the stems table there was celery and green onion.  At the flower table there were nasturtiums petals to eat as well as broccoli tops.  The seeds were popular with an array of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  The fruit was a variety of berries and sugar snap peas.  For roots there were carrots and radishes.  There were even sauces to choose and flavor your creation.  Kids realized too that on the same plant we can sometimes eat multiple parts.  This is helpful in thinking how to serve, prep and cook these parts as well for a diet in a variety of color, taste and vitamins.

The kids (and a few of us helpers) had a great time.  The only downside was there was only one to a customer.  Feeding 600+ students doesn’t lend itself to second helpings as many of the kids were hoping.  We make a lot of burritos and lettuce cups at home and this just gives me more ideas for using all the plant for a variety of textures and flavors.

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Empower Your Kids and Free Yourself of School Lunch Packing

 

Are you looking forward to summer because you can take time off from making your kids’ school lunches?  I have heard this complaint from quite a few moms.  Now that I got my kids to make their own lunches I’m not worried about the frantic morning lunch rush.   Ok there is a rush…but it’s not me scrambling.  My kids have made lunches in the past but somehow it always comes back on my shoulders when we’re in a hurry and my kids are enjoying a leisurely breakfast.  I love that my kids have breakfast with Dad every morning while I’m in the shower.  However is doesn’t need to go on for 40 minutes!

 

I turned the tables on my kids a few weeks ago and told them they needed to scale back their breakfast time and were now officially in charge of their lunches.  This was met at first with groans.  However when I told them about their new power and freedom in packing what they want they got excited with questions.

First was my daughter.  “We can pack whatever we want?!”

“Well within reason”, I said.  “I am going to check the lunches before you put them in your backpack”.

My son then requested,  “Can I put in a dessert?”

“Depends on the size and type of dessert”.  Thinking an ice cream sundae doesn’t really pack in a stainless lunch box.

 

I did have to confiscate a chocolate egg the size of a real egg from lunch day number one.  My kids were laughing when I found it.  Of course I expected some testing and trickery.  (I forgot about the neighbors bringing Easter chocolate)  But my son was happy when I suggested he could have a small mini chocolate egg.  “See.  If you don’t push it and put treats and sugar in every time, you can do this yourself and I won’t even have to check.  You know what gives you good energy to play P.E. and get your through the day.”  Yes, that was a bit of my usual healthy food reminder, but they get it.  That reminds me if you don’t have junk in the house, they can’t pack it.

 

So now it’s been a month and with the exception of Dad being out of town and the kids and I oversleeping, I haven’t had to help with the lunches.  I do have to set a timer so they get up from the breakfast table and sometimes I help clean up as we’re hurrying out the door.  The clean up part is always the bummer.  It’s the reason why sometimes I don’t feel like cooking.  It’s not the cooking but the mess and cleaning that inevitably comes after.

 

My kids have gotten very creative and sometimes even competitive about who’s packed a better lunch and now ask for specific things for me to buy for them to pack.  My daughter has discovered all the various burritos she can make with veggies and beans and left-overs.  They both now like pickles on sandwiches.  Flat bread pizza is easy if you toast it while gathering the rest of your lunch items.  My son now makes his wrap with less turkey and more hummus so it’s not too thick, like “mom used to make”.  And they both now cut carrots into “coin” shapes.

 

I hope we can keep this up until the end of the school year and then for camps and summer outings.  I’ll just look forward to sleeping in a bit this summer.

 

Here’s 6 tips for getting your kids to pack their own lunches:

  • Set expectations and timers so they have enough time to get the packing done.
  • Stock the pantry with things they like so they’re excited to make and eat their lunch.
  • Store all the lunch containers in one location, and within their reach, so they can find things easily.
  • Give them some variety and flexibility.  Make cookies or muffins on the weekend so they can pack for their lunches.  Make a dip they can pack with their veggies.  They may need some help with suggestions.
  • Show them which food prep items are appropriate for them  (knives, cutting boards) and show them how to use them with caution.
  • Praise their efforts and tell them how great their lunch looks.  You may have to take foodie photos too.

 

 

 

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Here’s to New Mom’s! with Baby Puree Recipes

 

Approaching mother’s day I’ve been reflecting back on becoming a mother myself.  We all know how time flies and it seems like just yesterday I was feeding my kids their very first bites of food.  I’ve always loved being there for a first taste of something new.  Their first apple, strawberry, broccoli, fish, etc.  I still enjoy that.  But now it’s first escargot, starfruit, escarole, etc.  Sometimes I think being a new mom was easier than where I am today.  I’d take sloppy kisses and naps, any day over eye rolling and working school carline.  Although certainly while you are in the thick of it (diapers, no sleep, constant crying), you can’t imagine.  If only you had the sleep and awareness when they are babies, to appreciate every minute.

Right now I know lots of mom’s with babies.  Some are just starting motherhood while others have new babies to add to their families.  So here’s to new and experienced moms alike.  And to the new flavors and experiences we introduce them to.  Whether our kids are 6 months, 6 years, 26 years or 66 years.  We can always come up with firsts and new foodie adventures.  But be careful…it’s not always pretty.

Apple Puree (The Petit Appetit Cookbook, page 59)

Apples are a great first food because of their sweetness and versatility.  Besides being for baby, this puree can be used in all kinds of recipes.  Use it to sweeten baked goods, as a topping for pancakes, or even to dress up grilled meats.

Golden and Red Delicious as well as Fuji apples have the least amount of acid, and thus are the most tolerant for babies.  You may peel apples before or after cooking.  Cooking with skins on allows the apples to retain more nutrients.  Be sure to choose organic apples as they are number 1 on the Dirty Dozen list for pesticides.

6 medium (2-3 ounce) organic apples, washed, quartered and cored just before cooking

Steamer Method:

Place prepared apples in steamer basket set in a pot filled with a small amount (about 1 – 2 inches, but not to touch fruit) of lightly boiling water.  Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 10 – 12 minutes or until apples are tender.  Apples should pierce easily with a toothpick.  Set apples and cooking liquid aside to cool.

Scrape apples for skin and puree in a food processor with a steel blade.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid to puree to make smoother and adjust consistency.

Makes 16 – 18, one ounce baby servings.

TIP:  An apple a day…When baby is ready for more texture, chunks on steamed apples are good finger foods.  Also for teething baby, put steamed apple slices in the freezer for a soothing treat.

First Fish (The Petit Appetit Cookbook, page 98)

This is an easy way to prepare fish for your baby or toddler.  Because of the mild and “non-fishy” taste, Tilapia is a good introduction to seafood for a little one.  Fish can be thinned with reserved cooking broth or mix with plain yogurt or cottage cheese for a more creamy texture.

1 cup organic vegetable broth

2, (4 ounce) white fillets

Heat broth in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until simmering.  Add fish fillets.  Broth should not cover fish, but come up about halfway.  Simmer fish 3 to 4 minutes per side or until opaque.  Fish should flake easily with a fork.  Remove fish from pan and mash to desired consistency, or puree with some of the cooking liquid in a food processor.

TIP: No bones about it.  Be sure to check fish carefully for small bones before feeding to baby.  Fillets have fewer bones than steaks.

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday and National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

I always like to bake something to send to Poppa for his birthday.  How many golf hats and shirts can you have?  Although we did that too – sshhh.  When I realized today was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (no it’s not on my calendar, another blogger informed me) I figured that was the start.  Trying something different I was inspired by a vegan chocolate mint cookie recipe.  I made some tweaks to reduce oil, omit nuts and amp chocolate and here’s what I came up with.  I had to pack them quickly and remind my kids they were (mostly) for Poppa.

Oatmeal Chocolate Mint Cookies

The mint and spices make set these apart from the same old chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They have a scone or cake like texture because of the lack of butter and addition of applesauce.  These can be made vegan by choosing dark or vegan labeled chocolate chips.

Makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1  1/2 cups chocolate chips

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce

3 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dry ingredients, first six listed, in a large bowl and mix together.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.  Drop dough on prepared sheets by heaping tablespoon or small ice cream/cookie scoop.  Gently press with spatula.  Cookies will spread so leave room between.

Bake until golden brown on bottom, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets.

 

 

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