Kids in the Kitchen: Easy Homemade Gift

There is so much to do during the Christmas season that sometimes we become overwhelmed and lose sight of the true meaning.  For me Christmas is a special time; a time to forgive, rekindle, love, a time to serve those less fortunate, a time to give, and cherish all the family and friends in our lives.  

I think as parents we become sidetracked, or even distracted, by the “things” our children have asked to receive for Christmas. But, as parents we do have the opportunity to refocus not only our attention, but our children’s attention too, to the true meaning of Christmas. After all, think back to your Christmas when you were a child, what do you remember? What are your fondest memories, how many revolve around gifts and thing?  I know my fondest Christmas memories are of going out to cut down the Christmas tree with my family, Christmas Eve at the Cathedral, singing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve, my father reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, playing games with family members at my grandparents, and one of my favorite, waking up early and placing the baby Jesus in the manger Christmas Day.

So, in an effort to refocus our attention and reignite the true meaning of Christmas here is a fun activity that will have you spending quality time with your children, making a truly priceless homemade gift, and hopefully making a fond Christmas memory in the process. So, turn up the Christmas music and grab your aprons, it’s time to make some Apple Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments!

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Apple Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

Ingredients/ Items you will need:

  • 2 cups Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Cinnamon (to use for rolling out the dough)
  • 2-1/4 cups Applesauce
  • Cookie cutters
  • Straw
  • Rolling pin

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Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Mix Cinnamon and Applesauce together until it is the consistency of playdough.  Roll out dough, you might need to use cinnamon like you would flour so that dough doesn’t stick to the surface or rolling-pin.  Cut out Christmas shapes with cookie cutters.

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Then use the straw to make a small hole where the string will go later so that the ornament can be hanged on the tree.

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Place cutouts on cookie sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a drying rack for a couple of days until they are completed dry. 

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Once dry add string or ribbon to each ornament and hang on tree or give as a gift.

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I am curious, what are your fondest memories of Christmas, or whichever holiday you celebrate this time of year?  Does your fondest memory revolved around a gift?


Make Healthy Food Convenient

Why is it that those inevitable words, “Mommy, I’m hungry” always seem to strike at the most inconvenient moments?  In our house it seems like those words are always uttered moments before we have to drop off a child at school, pick up a child from school, go to an after school activity, doctors appointment, playgroup event, and/or whenever mommy gets a moment to do anything for herself, whether that be using the restroom, brushing her teeth, you name it and they come running.  It is like they have this sixth sense and they can tell when mommy is suddenly not doing something for someone else but surprisingly doing something for herself.  It is as if they have mommy detectors that go off in their little heads when mommy is no longer in mommy mode.  Saying, warning, warning, mommy is enjoying a moment of solitude, must intervene.  Like we will lose our title as Mrs. Mommy or something? (In case Mrs. Mommy can’t fulfill her duties then the first runner-up will be crowned). But, I digress….

So there you are, a mom on the go, and there is your little one(s) asking for a snack, what to do? Well, you could prepare a healthy, nutritious snack for your little one which might take a few minutes or you could grab convenience foods thus making the solution rather, well, convenient. More than likely, since you do have a tight schedule, you will choose the more convenient route, and who could blame you?  Those darn companies making the individually packaged serving sizes so darn appealing, just grab it and go. Now that is something the modern-day mom can get on board with, am I right ladies? I know I for one personally enjoy the convenience of the Late July peanut butter crackers and the cheddar cracker snacks. The prep and cooking time are just my speed.  The directions are as follows, open box, remove individually wrapped cracker package and place in diaper bag, done.  True, that was way convenient but at what cost? 

Here is a riddle for you, what is inexpensive to get but expensive to treat? Answer: Heart Disease and Type II Diabetes. 

As moms it is important that we teach our children healthy eating habits.  Thus, in an effort to have healthy growing foods available for your children to have as snacks I propose that you make healthy food convenient. And this is how…..

The day you get home from the grocery store clean and prepare fruits and vegetables. I realize you may be tired and that you have much more to do during the remainder of your day but trust me, you will thank yourself.

Side Note: When purchasing produce remember the dirty dozen, these are the fruits and vegetables with the highest levels or pesticides.  The following are the dirty dozen and you should make a special point to purchase these organic.

1. Apples
2. Celery
3. Strawberries
4. Peaches
5. Spinach
6. Nectarines (Imported)
7. Grapes (Imported)
8. Sweet Bell Peppers
9. Potatoes
10. Blueberries
11. Lettuce
12. Kale and Collard Greens

Roast butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes preparing each as your family likes.  I prefer to have the butternut squash with a little olive oil and sea salt, the spaghetti squash plain so the kiddos can place their own topping on it (parmesan cheese and marinara sauce), and I slice the sweet potatoes into sticks and mix with olive oil, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  

Slice cucumbers into sticks and divvy out serving sizes of hummus for dipping. Slice up broccoli, cauliflower, and green peppers too, all taste great with hummus.

Place a serving size of grapes, carrots, apple slices (with a few drops of lemon so it doesn’t turn brown) in containers.  I also like to have salsa (or cowboy caviar, sooo good!!), hummus, Greek yogurt, and peanut butter in smaller containers for dipping.  Children seem to really enjoy dipping their fruits and vegetables.

You could also make a few yogurt and granola parfait, these are another fun and delicious treat.

Voila, you just made healthy food convenient.  Now, depending on how old your little one(s) is, you can even place these items at their level in the refrigerator and allow them to choose their snack.  I have even added a container with filtered water that my 4 and 6 year-old can reach and help themselves to, which is really awesome when they are thirsty and I am not near the kitchen.

So, while I realize those prepackaged foods will more than likely still be in your pantry (and mine, I am still buying the Late July crackers and the TLC crackers because let’s be honest, we can do it all, just not all at once, and sometimes we get by with a little help from our conveniently prepackaged friends, am I right ladies?).