Healthy Choice Meals Offer Convenience and Wholesome Options

Things have been non-stop around here for the past few weeks.  There have been a few days, actually, where making lunch for myself was near-impossible due to such a hectic schedule.  And as much as I’d try to avoid prepared foods because of all the unwanted added “extras”, I’m glad they’re there when you need them.

I recently had the chance to try some Healthy Choice meals.  And with the way things have been lately, I think I may have found a new go-to lunch that definitely beats fast food or take out.  I’ve always enjoyed the Healthy Choice brand, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had their frozen food. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.

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I picked up two Healthy Choice Cafe Steamer meals at my local Target. As a sidenote: I noticed that my grocery stores also had them, as did Costco.  I think I stood in the freezer aisle for 15 minutes trying to decide which meals to try.  I was so indecisive, because all the choices sounded so good.  I ended up grabbing two meals that sounded like a meal I’d make:  Chicken Pesto Classico and Balsamic Chicken.

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I was impressed by the ease, convenience and innovation of the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers.  There are other types of meals, but I was drawn to the Steamer variety, since that’s typically how we cook our veggies on a regular basis.  After microwaving the meals, I found that the meals retained the flavor, shape and colors, unlike other frozen meals I’ve had in the past.  The ingredients, for the most part, were acceptable and met my expectations.  My main concerns were the plastic steamer used in the microwaving process and sodium levels.  But overall, I would certainly stock my freezer with a few of these meals for lunch at home or at the office, or even for dinner when I can’t cook.

And as my 3 year old said: “the noodles are so yummy, they make my dance feet.”  So, yeah, I think he enjoyed them too.

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Make Every Day Mother’s Day with ONE.org

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’m sure dads, kids and loved ones have some great ideas lined up for the mamas in their lives.  I love baubles, flowers and “stuff” as much as the next gal, but I’ve been mum on the whole Mother’s Day gift ideas for several reasons.

Reason one: I don’t really *NEED* anything—well, besides sleep, I can’t think of a single thing that I need.  Want?  I can give you a long list…but, need?  I’m so thankful to be in a position where my wants continually outweigh my needs.

Most importantly, in our constantly evolving world, so many families are really, truly in need right at this moment.  Moms can’t provide for their babies, and sadly, there are some moms who aren’t healthy enough, or in a position to be an advocate for their babies.

And then, there are those women who pick others up when we can’t stand on our own.  And right now, my friends, our world needs more of that.

Cooper Munroe, one of the co-founders of TheMotherhood said it best in her recent blog post on ONE.org:

Mothers make the world go around.

Read Cooper’s moving post about how Maria Mchele Mwasonge changed her community in Tanzania with her small potato farm.

Today at 1 PM ET, The Motherhood will be hosting a live, text-based talk with the ONE Campaign and Every Mother Counts to celebrate mothers everywhere. Please join us and share what inspires you about mothers and learn more about what we can do to help mothers and kids around the globe who need us.  Along with several amazing co-hosts, I’m honored to lend my voice to help spread this message.

In case you’re not familiar, ONE is a grassroots campaign of more than 2 million people committed to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases.

If you have a chance, check out Laura Bush’s video about Making Every Day a Mother’s Day with ONE.  Let’s all pitch in to use our voices and platforms to help more moms with their needs.

Please, join us!

Share Your Breakfast and Help Fight Childhood Hunger

Imagine not having the resources to adequately feed your child; even worse–sending your child to school on an empty stomach.

According to a survey released a few weeks ago, two-thirds of teachers across the U.S. say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school too hungry to learn because they are not getting enough to eat at home.  It’s a proven fact that hunger impedes our childrens’ ability to learn and perform academically, but fortunately, there are organizations and brands who are shedding light on childhood hunger.

Kellogg’s has partnered with Action for Healthy Kids to help remedy this sad reality of childhood hunger.  With their campaign, “Share Your Breakfast” Kellogg’s is is asking people to take pictures and “share their breakfast” on their website.

From now until July, an uploaded a photo of your breakfast can help combat childhood hunger.  One photo upload to www.shareyourbreakfast.com or the word SHARE texted with a photo or a description of your breakfast to 21534 equals one shared breakfast.

With nearly 1 in 4 kids in America struggling with hunger, Kellogg’s goal is to share 1 million breakfasts in the 2011-2012 school year.  With all the information I share online here on NKT, on Facebook and Twitter, a simple photo of breakfast is the least I can do to help a child in need.  We hope to do our part and share our breakfast as soon as we can, and I sincerely hope you consider to do the same.

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Kellogg’s will be kicking off the Share Your Breakfast campaign tomorrow in NYC in Grand Central Station, where they will be feeding thousands of people breakfast from 6am to noon.  I’m hoping to make my way over there to help support this worthy cause.

Aside from uploading a photo of your breakfast, you can help spread the word about this important campaign. There will be a Share Your Breakfast Twitter party tomorrow, March 8 from 10 – 12 AM EST. Be sure to visit www.mombloggersclub.com for more details.

Disclosure:

This is a sponsored post through a compensated Mom Bloggers Club member program.

Build-A-Bear and St. Jude Kick Off Cause for Celebration

Mondays are usually unbearable for me, but not today. Today, in fact, will involve…well, a few bears.  We’ll be at the Build-A-Bear flagship store in NYC helping Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital kick off their new partnership, Cause for Celebration.

In an effort to make even more children happy, Cause for Celebration is a national  fundraising partnership between Build-A-Bear Workshop and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Starting today, party hosts will have a Cause for Celebration: those who schedule a party at any Build-A-Bear Workshop store have the option of adding an additional $10 dollar donation to their party. Their entire ten dollar donation will be directed to St. Jude to support research and treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The charitable aspect of the party goes both ways: In honor of each Guest donation to the hospital to help with research and treatment, Build-A-Bear Workshop will give a St. Jude patient a gift card to any Build-A-Bear Workshop.

To celebrate the launch of Cause for Celebration in NYC, Marlo Thomas, the national spokesperson for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Maxine Clark, Founder and Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop will be onhand to meet fellow partygoers.

Check it

Even if you’re not hosting a party, during the month of March, you can still make a donation to St. Jude’s during the check-out process at any store or at buildabear.com

In line with the launch of the Cause for Celebration program, Build-A-Bear Workshop is giving their Facebook fans with the opportunity to win a “Cause for Celebration” party valued at $300 for themselves and friends. Build-A-Bear Workshop will award one party each month from March through August. All participants in this contest will be entered to win the grand prize, a Build-A-Party celebration valued at $500 and plus a $500 contribution to St. Jude made in their name. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

Photo credit: Marlothomas.com

Holly Robinson Peete: Tips on Enjoying an Allergy-Friendly Super Bowl Party

For thousands of families, food allergies are a reality that involves carefully reading labels before consumption, as well as educating and communicating with family, friends and schools.

Food allergy awareness requires even more diligence when it comes to parties, such as Super Bowl Sunday.  Pot lucks and buffet-type spreads could be a trip to the ER just waiting to happen if food allergies aren’t communicated.  Raising awareness, even if the allergy isn’t in your own family, is the first line of defense for avoiding adverse reactions.

Holly Robinson Peete, one of the co-hosts of CBS’ The Talk and wife of former NFL player Rodney Peete, is well versed in food allergies.  Mom of four, Holly hopes to help raise awareness and educate other parents about food allergies; each of her kids has some form of allergy, and she’s had her fair share of scary moments.

On Super Bowl Sunday, an occasion that boasts the most food consumption behind Thanksgiving, the reality of food allergies is heightened. Because of her experience with food allergies, Holly spoke with some fellow bloggers and me, on how to enjoy an allergy-friendly Super Bowl party.

Families can enjoy a fun Super Bowl party even if allergies are a concern.  Some of Holly’s tips for having an allergy-friendly Super Bowl party include:

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Holly Robinson Peete to Host Webinar on Food Allergies

Because allergies run rampant in our family, this topic has been on my radar well before I became a parent.  Once I became a mom, introducing food to the kid with the possibility of food allergies became an even bigger reality.  Aside from real-life experience by helping my younger brother cope with being “allergic to the world,” my husband and I researched to educate ourselves for the uncertainty of having a child with food sensitivities.

Amidst all the gatherings this time of year, it’s the parties and family events that can be a cause of concern for allergic reactions.  After being so cautious with anything new that the three year old has eaten, over Christmas, he had an allergic reaction after having some cashews.  Of course, the reaction happened the evening of the post-Christmas blizzard and weather conditions would have complicated everything.  Thankfully, the kid is at an age where he can verbally communicate with us now, and immediately told us that his tongue was itchy—a telltale sign of an allergic reaction, and something that I always remember my brother describing after eating various things he was allergic to, when we were kids.

Always reluctant to let the kid have nuts in anything, for some reason, I thought he would have been ok trying cashews for the first time that night.  I thought he was in the clear with any nut allergies, but I was wrong.

The kid’s hives, swollen lips and an itchy tongue was enough to remind us that not all foods are safe for our allergy-prone kid.  Thankfully, we had Children’s Benadryl onhand to remedy the situation and that it didn’t require a trip to the ER.  We learned from this terrifying situation and are grateful it didn’t transpire differently.

Because of our family’s allergies and my interest in sharing this sort of information to other parents, I will be logging into a video webinar on the topic tomorrow.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving. Since severe allergic reactions to food send 90,000 people to the emergency room annually, TV personality Holly Robinson Peete of CBS’s The Talk (who is married to former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete) will be hosting an online video webinar about handling food allergy dangers at gatherings like Super Bowl parties. Nine out of 10 people say they will be attending one this year, according to a recent Nielsen survey.  Since Holly’s four children all have some kind of food allergy, she has plenty of expertise in this topic.

After the webinar, I’ll be one of a few bloggers who will ask Holly questions pertaining to allergies and her experience.  It’s always interesting to hear other parents shed light on issues that hit so close to home.  I’ll of course share Holly’s insight after the interview, but I’d also like to invite you to watch the online webinar.

Allergy Friendly Superbowl Webinar with Holly Robinson Peete

When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT)

Where: Click this link
to get to the webinar, where you will be able to watch Holly via live video feed: http://agencyroad.na4.acrobat.com/allergyfriendlysuperbowl/

Full disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in this webinar and Q&A via TheMotherhood. The webinar is being sponsored by Dey Pharma L.P.  As always all opinions on NKT are my own.

Cooking Connections Launches Today

As you all know, food has become a significant part of my coverage on NKT.  The foods we eat and cook and the eating habits we display, ultimately, help our kids to make healthier choices.

For me, cooking resources on the internet and tv help me to navigate in the kitchen.  I’ve always been big on cooking, baking and eating, but online sites, magazines and shows underscore just how much I enjoy being in the kitchen.  I could seriously watch Food Network for hours and daydream about these professional cooks and chefs coming to my house to cook for me!  But good news, though these fantastic chefs can’t come to my house, but there are “real” parents who can—well, sort of!

TheMotherhood’s Cooking Connections, an awesome and innovative eight-week series of virtual cooking classes is launching today.  In this series of virtual cooking classes, “real” moms and dads will lead us in their kitchens, to help us learn more about topics relevant to parents.  The conversations, led by some of my favorite bloggers, will leverage social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and TheMotherhood.com.

Sponsored by ConAgra Foods, Cooking Connections is launching today, actually at 1:00 pm at the Blissdom Conference that’s going on right now in Nashville.

I love, love, love TheMotherhood and all the wonderful things that they’re doing around our community.  Cooking Connections will, no doubt, be just as successful as their other projects.  I’m excited to be participating in the cooking class that focuses on picky eaters.  “Placating Picky Eaters” will take place in a few weeks, and I’ll be sure to share more about it soon.  By the way, TheMotherhood, Emily McKhann and 77Kids by American Eagle got a nod in Forbes for the inspiring Do Good Day campaign that tapped bloggers around the country to pay it forward.

Join the conversation!  Want to learn more about Cooking Connections and/or register to participate?  Be sure to sign up here at TheMotherhood.

Check out Cooper and Emily’s announcement video for even more details!

Chuggington Celebrates One Year in U.S.

Another train-centric show that we’ve been fans of since they chugged their way stateside, Chuggington, is celebrating its one-year anniversary since its U.S. debut!  I shared my initial thoughts of the show from the beginning and we’ve been tuning in ever since.

As a Chuggington Conductor, it’s been really fun checking out the latest and greatest products.  You think Chuggington had a good first year?  Well, this Ludorum property is riding the rails steadily, so much so, they’ve launched a slew of cool toys, books and games.  Be on the look out for my upcoming reviews and vlogs of the latest Chuggington goodies.  BTW, apparently, you guys are big fans of the Chuggington vlog I did on the roundhouse because it’s received over 6k views.

In the meantime, if you’re around in a few minutes, join us on at 1 p.m. for a Chuggington Twitter Party celebrating their one year milestone!  I hear there will be some cool surprises, so be sure to honk your horns!

Special K What Will You Gain Tour Launches in NYC

IMG_6872Now that the confetti has cleared, the ornaments are packed away, resolutions and promises for change often mark the transition into the New Year.  But what makes this year different from years past?  For me? Motivation and discipline—two characteristics that I’m known to lose as quick as a tantrum rears its head.

For a recent assignment, some bloggers and I were tapped to help promote the launch of the Kellogg’s Special K What Will You Gain When You Lose campaign.  In addition to conducting some interviews, I found myself perched atop a bright red scale in the middle of Times Square Studio.

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Instead of releasing my own tantrum and running far, far away from that scale, I left feeling inspired—with a photo of me on the jumbotron as a reminder to boot.

In lieu of numbers, the bright red scale offered singular words, which served as gems of inspiration for people who seek change in the new year.

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From interviewing a few women who attended the event to weigh in, I learned that positivity and encouragement can spark motivation and change.

The creative brains behind Special K’s Resolution campaign sought to harness emotional benefits and sincere reactions from “real” women.  Women relate to each other, especially when weight management is concerned, and so, social media also plays a big role in the brand’s promotional efforts. Check out my interview with Special K brand manager Vivienne Edwards.

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In line with sharing sincerity and the value of emotional benefits, Special K interviewed and taped several women’s reactions after weighing-in at the Times Square event,with the intent of using some interviews in an upcoming commercial.  Some of the latest Special K commercials, which are already running, include “real” women and provide a genuine perspective of maintaining healthier lifestyles.
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Catchphrases like Sass, Guts, Confidence are just a few of the gems that Special K hopes women will GAIN when they lose.  I had the chance to interview one enthusiastic participant at the Special K weigh in, who genuinely embodied the emotions that the campaign was meant to evoke.  Felicia was a breath of fresh air, a bright personality, and someone that made an impression.  Apparently, the Special K team felt the same way; over the weekend, Felicia contacted me to let me know that she was asked to be a part of an upcoming commercial.

How’s that for some sass!? Congrats to Felicia!

Be sure to check out the What Will You Gain Tour on Facebook to “weigh in” and share/gain your own gems of inspiration.

Full disclosure: I was compensated for my participation in this campaign.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

New Year, New Gain: What Will You Gain When You Lose

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Now that reality is settling in, it’s time to reflect and renew.  In 2011, I hope to expand horizons personally and on NKT, but more importantly, I plan to walk the walk.  What I mean by that is, I’ve been covering a lot of healthier food options for kids, but I’m going to work even harder on practicing what I preach. And from that, I hope to gain much more than I lose.

Gain?

Yep. I hope to gain the confidence and self-control to follow through with healthier choices.  My problem is, I love to cook and bake, and well, I overindulge even when it’s healthy food.  So, self-control is the main goal for me this year.

In line with what I hope to gain this year, I’m excited to put on my reporter’s hat to help cover Special K‘s What Will You Gain When You Lose campaign.  Weight loss is a timely topic for my personal endeavors, as I’m sure it is for many of you.

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