Healthy Snack: Mango Pomegranate Smoothie

One of our absolute favorite snacks around here are smoothies. Smoothies for breakfast, a mid-morning snack, an after school snack—it doesn’t matter the time of day, we love our smoothies. We’ve been known to listen to the blender demo people at Costco, watching them blend entire carrots at a time. I’ve been swooning over high power blending technology for quite some time, so imagine the thrill it was to get a first hand demo of Panasonic’s MX-ZX1800 high power blender. 


This blender has the capacity to chop, cream, blend, heat, grind, churn—pretty simplify things in the kitchen. 

For our first foray with this amazing appliance, we gave a tried and true smoothie recipe a whirl with a bit of a seasonal twist. The mango pomegranate smoothie is a tart but sweet snack and makes a great complement for breakfast. 



The citrus and Vitamin C provided by the mango and orange juice is ideal for prime cold and flu season. The pomegranate, which is in season, is such an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber and more Vitamin C. The seeds not only add a little color, but also a sweet juicy flavor. The kids love digging into this smoothie and crunching the seeds.

A few pointers for opening the pomegranate: slice one end, score the fruit from top to bottom 3-4 times around and then wiggle a knife on the end where it was sliced to pop open the fruit. Place the opened fruit in a bowl and scoop out seeds with a spoon.



If I do say so, this tastes even better than my local smoothie shop! My favorite part of this recipe is the ease and minimal effort for such a creamy treat.


1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 cup frozen mango cubes
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds 

Combine yogurt, mango and pomegranate seeds in blender. I like putting the mango at the bottom to ensure it gets chopped just so.


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When opening the pomegranate, scoop out seeds above the blender so that juice can add to the mixture.




Add orange juice until it fills almost to the top of the fruit mixture. Blend using the smoothie function, adding more juice as necessary. Serve with a handful of pomegranate seeds and enjoy!





Mango Pomegranate Smoothie


1 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 cup frozen mango cubes

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds 


Combine yogurt, mango and pomegranate seeds in blender. When opening the pomegranate, scoop out seeds above the blender so that juice can add to the mixture. Add orange juice until it fills almost to the top of the fruit mixture. Blend using the smoothie function, adding more juice as necessary. Pour into glass and enjoy.

Ruby Rocket’s Shares Healthy Snacking Options with Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ

It may be frigid and gray outside, but things at Philip’s Academy are quite vibrant and full of energy.  Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit Philip’s Academy, a charter school in Newark, to cover an assembly on nutrition and healthy snacking presented by Ruby Rockets.

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Ruby Rockets, a frozen snack brand known for its naturally sweet, non-GMO veggie and fruit pops, presented an informational presentation to eager students. The brand, who aligns with making nutritional choices, suggested to the grade schoolers that making healthier snack options has many benefits.  The brand, which boasts snacks that don’t contain any extras such as added sweeteners, artificial coloring or chemicals, presented a slideshow with healthy snacking guidelines. 

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For healthier options, Ruby Rockets suggests that snacks should:
  • be low in sugar, contain sugar from fruit and veggies only
  • have a 2:1 ratio between carbs and protein
  • high in dietary fiber
  • have around 200 calories
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After the informational presentation, the children at Philip’s Academy were treated to Ruby Rockets as a dessert following their lunch. Many of the children were excited about tasting Ruby Rockets for the first time. Representatives from Ruby Rockets presented the kids with the naturally colorful frozen treats and were greeted with elation from all corners of the cafeteria.

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The students at Philip’s Academy are no stranger to making healthy choices. The school has a curriculum-based initiative that follows many environmental and sustainable concepts with its innovative EcoSpaces program. As part of EcoSpaces, the school has its own rooftop garden and maintains an AeroFarm, which is a hydroponic garden that doesn’t require sun or soil.

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As part of the program, the students’ lessons about sustainability, urban farming and their healthy lunch program is reinforced with hands-on exposure in their teaching kitchen. The students’ salad bar is a unique feature of the cafeteria. It was quite inspiring to see so many children enjoy a spectrum of vegetables and fruits.

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Ruby Rockets wanted to partner with Philip’s Academy because they felt that they were a good fit since their EcoSpaces program reinforced what they were doing.  

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When Frank Mentesana, EcoSpaces Director at Philip’s Academy, saw Ruby Rockets’ ingredients and understood their mission, he agreed that they were in line with what they were trying to do.  In fact, “we make smoothies all the time—almost all the time.  I looked at their ingredients and they sound like our ingredients,” Mentesana said. “I saw they had beets in one of their pops. We do a beet and berry smoothie. We do a spinach and kale smoothie. This was a great opportunity for the kids to see snacks alternatively. We also do tastings and those ingredients are on our menu and appear in different forms. For example, they’ll try beets six different ways. So, they may not like beets one way, but they may like it another way.”

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And because the dining room is also used as a classroom for the students at Phillip’s Academy, the conversation that started at the assembly with Ruby Rockets was a topic of discussion during and after lunch.

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As an outsider looking in, I admired the way things were run at the school. Not only was the EcoSpaces program mind-blowing, but I thought the interaction between students and educators was inspiring. Overall, the school exuded such positivity and seemed like a model for a cohesive learning and teaching environment. I think I came away learning more about urban farming and the EcoSpaces curriculum, considering how the students were so well-versed with healthy eating. 

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When asked what their favorite part about Ruby Rocket’s frozen snacks one intuitive student told me: “I love that these pops have natural colors and sugars from the fruits and vegetables.”


What grade schooler says that?  Super smart ones who are a reflection of their learning environment.

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Well, there you have it: this, my friends, was a prime example of students schooling adults. After spending a day with these students, I feel the need to boost my beet intake! 


A big thank you to Philip’s Academy for welcoming me to cover this assembly and event, and to Ruby Rockets for letting me be a part of this conversation on healthy snacking.


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Ruby Rockets come in Rock-it Red, Orbit Orange and Galaxy Green. The frozen snacks can be found at retailers such as Wegmans and Stop and Shop.


Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my time and efforts. Opinions on NKT are my own, just as healthy snacking is always encouraged.

Cooking Connections: Placating Picky Eaters

“Mama, is broccoli a treat? Because I love it.”

“Sure, honey. Broccoli can be considered a treat if you like it.”

“How about carrots?”

“Yup. Carrots can be treats, too.”

Last week, one of our dinnertime chats went a little something like that.  At three years old, the kid questions whether or not veggies are, indeed, treats. And for as long as it lasts, I’ll to continue to advocate that veggies are treats, while simultaneously singing “There’s a Party in My Tummy,” the Yo Gabba Gabba eating anthem for preschoolers and parents alike.


Having grown up with the crowned prince of picky eaters, I’m well versed in the picky eating realm.  Public breakdowns and refusals to eat unless we had what he wanted, my older brother’s precarious eating habits never made life easy for myIMG_1383 parents. I was known to eat not only my dinners, but also my brother’s—perhaps to pacify his pickyness and to (ahem) feed my own love for food at an early age.

Whatever the case was, once I became a mom, I made it my personal crusade to try and avert the picky eating habits while refining my own eating habits.  It makes me smile when my guy reaches for broccoli in the app tray at parties before he heads to the dessert table. Now, if only every day was a broccoli-loving day…

Kids are relentless when it comes to eating, but I don’t think it should always be a battle. Tactics like involving kids in the kitchen, helping with grocery shopping, and something as simple, yet significant, as eating the same meal together as a family can help with picky eaters. My motto is, I’m not an app cook, so we all eat the same thing for every meal.  Special meals should be reserved for special days, preferably the days where someone is serving me too!

I know, I know…it’s easier said than done.

Let’s Connect with Cooking Connections

I’ve devoted a a lot of coverage lately to kid-centric food and healthier habits, but by no means does that make me an expert in this parenting arena.  I am, however, quite excited to be a co-host in tomorrow’s installment of Cooking Connections, where picky eaters will be the topic at hand. Our fabulous hosts will lead a discussion on, and I’d love it if you could join us!  The deets are below:

When: Wednesday, March 2, at 1 p.m. ET

Where: TheMotherhood – here is the link to the page where the class will be held:

And here is the registration page for all Cooking Connections classes:

What: The class I am co-hosting is called “Expanding Your Family’s Palate by Placating Picky Eaters,” and it is hosted by Jennifer Leal (Savor the Thyme), Kimberly Coleman (Mom in the City) and Kelsey Banfield (The Naptime Chef).  We will be talking about how to make meals work for all members of the family, healthy and interesting foods that kids AND adults love, and strategies for getting picky eaters to try new things.  Join us, and feel free to ask questions, share recipes or chime in with your own suggestions!

The class is sponsored by ConAgra and hosted by TheMotherhood.

My other fabulous co-hosts are:

Marla Meridith, Family Fresh Cooking
Kristy Bernardo, The Wicked Noodle
Jo-Lynne Shane, Musings of a Housewife
Dara Michalski, Cookin’ Canuck
Brooke McLay, Cheeky Kitchen
Shaina Olmanson, Food for My Family
Carol Cain, NY City Mama
Shari Simpson-Cabelin, Earth Mother just means I’m dusty
Amy Johnson, She Wears Many Hats
Stacie Billis, One Hungry Mama

I personally can wait to hear everyone’s ideas and recipes aimed to placate picky eaters.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! See you then!

KidFresh Frozen Meals: Convenient Deliciousness

An advocate for helping kids make healthier choices, as you know, I’m always on the hunt for good eats.  I’m not the biggest fan of “sneaking” veggies, making exclusive meals for kids, nor am I really a fan of overly processed food for kids.  But in reality, if it works, it works—especially if you’ve got a picky eater.

Time is of the essence for all families, which is why it’s always great to have easy meal options or frozen food onhand.  When you’re not feeling well, running late for that playdate or just don’t have the inspiration to cook, it’s nice to simplify life with a meal that takes little or no brainwork.  The problem with many of those frozen foods, however, are the sodium and preservative levels.

And then, there’s KidFresh.


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White House to Bring Salad Bars to 5,000 Schools

According to, the White House is expecting to announce an initiative that will bring salad bars to 5,000 public schools nationwide.  Underscoring Mrs. Obama’s campaign for making healthier choices, this salad bar concept is sure to mix things up.

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One potential obstacle to the program is the refusal of many school districts to install salad bars for food-safety reasons and because of cumbersome USDA rules governing the federally subsidized school lunch program that feeds some 31 million U.S. school children every day.

With cost, food-safety and the way some kids are conditioned to feel about veggies, I have no doubt the salad bar concept in schools will bring as much criticism as it will bring praise.  I loved reading that Whole Foods partnered with a coalition that teamed with the produce industry to raise  $1.4 million from customers to establish a grant program that would place salad bars in qualifying schools.

One important statistic I found while researching this topic: according to a UCLA study done in 2007, elementary schools can significantly increase the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income students by providing a lunch salad bar.

Now, that’s food for thought.

I appreciate the idea to bring more salads to kids, but can it be executed in a way that works all around?  Again, the actual announcement isn’t expected until Monday, but I’ll be watching for the official news.

Good Eating: High Plains Bison

Like many of you, I’m a bargainista—or at least I try.  I have always said that the driving force for me nowadays to shop for discounts and clip coupons is so that I could use the money I save and put it towards buying “better” meat for my family.  After reading so much about food recalls and watching Food Inc., it’s a fact that, as parents, we have to be cognizant of what’s going on with our food and how we feed our families.  And for me, it’s one of my priorities to overhaul how I shop for groceries all together.

On that end, I recently had the chance to taste a sampler of Bison meat from High Plains Bison.  If you’ve ever had bison, then you know that its taste is distinctively different from beef and has less fat.  (You can see the marbling in the bison ribeyes below.)

Doing some research for this post, according to Bison Basics, grass-fed bison has less calories and more protein than lean beef, turkey and pork.  And according to High Plains Bison, while bison may not be considered health food, it is healthier.  Bison is low in cholesterol, low in sodium, a good source of iron and also contains a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids too.

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Freezer Fruit Pops Make for Healthy Summertime Snacks

Summertime snacks for our family are often synonymous with fresh, ripe fruit and chilled frozen yogurt or ice cream.  Actually, with all this heat we’ve been enduring this summer, anything cold sounds good right about now!

This post and activity was inspired, in part, by Healthy Child Healthy World’s weekly twitter party, and by a recipe I stumbled accross on one of my favorite kiddie cuisine sites, Weelicious.

Since we’ve been staying with family for the past few weeks, with three kids in the house and a Costco down the street, we’ve been stocking up on all the delicious fresh fruit.  And fruit from Costco…you know what that means.  We had a ton of it!


We had a surplus of strawberries and mangos; meaning, we had more ripened fruit than we knew what to do with!  Cue in Weelicious’ yummy recipes!

With all the extra fruit that was on the cusp of getting too ripe, I enlisted the two bigger kids to help me make some fun homemade popsicles!

I used:

1 set of Tovolo Groovy Pop molds, which yield 6 bigger fruit pops
2 ripe mangos, sliced into thirds and then cubed and pureed
1 cup of ripe strawberries, pureed
1/2 cup of blueberries, pureed
1/2 cup of Mott’s Medley’s juice

I mixed and pureed fruit for each pop, personalizing each flavor for each kid.  Since these fruits had so much of their own fruit juice, I only had to add a few splashes of the juice to help solidify the mixture once frozen.

It was fun to get creative with the kids and let them mix, then help pour each pop.  The making of the pops was a fun outdoor activity, and I’m sure it’d make a great (albeit messy) indoor or rainy day activity too.


The beauty of the Tovolo freezer pop molds is that each container is a good size and actually stays put.  I’ve used other molds in the past that used questionable plastic and the sticks never stayed in place.  Plus, Tovolo has a bunch of great shapes to choose from.

Looking for more healthy summer snacks?  Check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s Twitter Party (tonight at 9-10) and their site for more great ideas!



Fill the Easter Basket with These Sweet Treats

Easter is upon us, which means it’s that fun time of year when the Easter Bunny fills the kids’ baskets with loads of goodies.

Easter is second to Halloween as the most important candy-eating occasion of the year. A 2009 Nielsen survey reported that consumers were expected to buy more than 120 million pounds of candy in the week leading up to Easter.

That’s a lot of candy!


With Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution creating waves, in addition to Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move campaign, healthier eating for kids is a topic that’s important to me and my loved ones, as I’m sure it is to all of you.  Like many others, I’m learning so much from this new revolution that I’m happily campaigning by sharing here on NKT, on Twitter and to whomever will listen.


LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames suggests: “For Easter this year, think beyond the usual sweet treats.”

For kids, sometimes a new and interesting “treat” is just as good, or maybe even better than the usual sweet treats.  My agenda this year for filling the Easter basket is to go beyond the candy aisle.  Believe me, I love candy, especially Easter candy a little too much, which is EXACTLY why it’s important to me to put more thought into treats for the kid.  There are more sweet treats than Cadbury Creme Eggs and Solid Chocolate Bunnies!

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First Lady Launches Let’s Move

Yesterday, our First Lady, Michelle Obama, unveiled the nationwide campaign Let’s Move, which aims to tackle childhood obesity. This campaign is geared to engage every sector that impacts the health of our kids, giving schools, families and communities the tools to help everyone be more active, eat better and get healthy.

Mrs. Obama unofficially initiated this campaign when she broke ground on the White House organic Garden last year. In a NYT article, Mrs. Obama said, the main purpose of the garden will be to educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern.

Soon after, Mrs. Obama appeared on an episode of Sesame Street touting the importance of fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy eating habits.

The Let’s Move Campaign will emphasize four major facets, all of which underline the changes needed to combat childhood obesity:

Helping Parents Make Healthy Family Choices

Serving Healthier Food in Schools

Accessing Healthy, Affordable Food

Increasing Physical Activity

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Give Your Heart a Valentine

The PBS Kids web property, Fizzy’s Lunch Lab, has launched a fun music video, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“Give Your Heart a Valentine” is an ode to your actual heart, as in the organ that thumps in your chest. Just like all the interesting concepts that come from Fizzy’s Lunch Lab, the music video combines education and a little bit of fun. This new music video provokes kids to learn the significance of the heart and the benefit of healthy eating decisions.

In addition to all the sweet and lovey fun this week for Valentine’s Day, be sure to check out this video and give a little love to your heart!