The Chirping Moms

October 22, 2014

Simple Tips to Get Kids To Eat Their Vegetables

Today we are talking about kids and vegetables.  I don't know about you, but I am ALWAYS looking for new ways to get my kids to eat their vegetables.  Did you know that today, 9 out of 10 people in the United States do not get the proper amount of vegetables, according to The State of the Plate report?  Thankfully, I was raised by a mom who instilled a love of vegetables in myself so I am happy to use my mom's own tips and tricks to help develop a love for veggies in my own children.  In this post,  we are sharing some simple tips & an easy recipe to help encourage those kids to eat veggies!
Tips to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables : The Chirping Moms

10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat their Vegetables
1.  Take them shopping & let them pick their vegetables.  Let them pick the vegetables while you are at the store.  Knowing that they picked the vegetable might make them more likely to eat it!
2.  Serve a variety of vegetables often.   At almost every meal or snack time (besides breakfast!), I try to make vegetables an option.  This is one thing that my mom did for us growing up so I have it instilled to serve vegetables at every meal.  I try to offer a variety of vegetables & thankfully I often buy what is part of the weekly specials at the store, which often rotates & allows me to provide a variety for my kids at an affordable price.
3.  Let them help you cook & prep meals.  Allowing my kids to help dump the peas into the soup & attempt to peel the carrots gives them more hands-on experience with the vegetables & hopefully makes them more likely to eat what they make!
4.  Add them to meal favorites.  Add vegetables to kid favorites which you know they will always eat.  Put peas or chopped broccoli into mac & cheese.  Serve grilled cheese with tomato soup.  Add peppers to quesadilla.  Since they already love the meal, a few vegetables hopefully won't turn them away!
5.  Give them the choice of vegetables.  Often for lunch, I pack a vegetable as a side dish to their meal.  I just let them choose between what we have.  For example, carrots or celery OR tomatoes or cucumbers.  They pick one & that's what they get!
6.  Serve with dips.  My kids love dip so they will eat about anything with dips.  Serve vegetables with ranch dressing, hummus, spinach dip, or other favorites in your house!
7.  Try different "sneaky" recipes.  There are so many great "sneaky" recipes out there where you can mix purees & chopped vegetables into meals and kids won't even notice.  Pick ones that appeal to you and the kids and try them!  We love some of the hidden veggie breads and always add greens to our smoothies.
8.  Be willing to try new things with your kids.  Try new vegetable recipes & preparations along with your children.  Let them see you eating the veggies & they may want to try it to!
9.  Make veggies visually appealing.  Make a vegetable kabob or make a smiley face out of your vegetables.  Try to plate the vegetables so kids will want to eat them.  Be creative & have fun!
10.  It's okay to say "no" :  If there is one thing that my mom has taught me, it's okay if they say no and don't like it.  Keep offering & trying new things.  Their taste buds will grow & change and don't ever give up on those veggies!

Today, I want to share one of our favorite after school veggie-packed snacks with you:  Southwest Salsa Dip.  This dip is perfect for appetizers, served with tacos and quesadillas, & perfect for a fun and veggie packed snack for kids!


Southwest Salsa Dip : The Chirping Moms

Southwest Salsa Dip is awesome.  Not only does my husband & love it, but it's perfect for my kids.  It's not too spicy AND the dip includes two things that many kids don't love to eat:  an array of vegetables and a protein source, the beans.  This recipe can be made in five minutes, perfect for busy moms.  By using the Birds Eye Southwest Blend bag of vegetables, there is no more prep work in chopping onions and peppers.    

Southwest Salsa Dip : The Chirping Moms 

So now, here's the recipe for Southwest Salsa Dip!
Southwest Salsa Dip : The Chirping Moms
Southwest Salsa Dip
Ingredients:
  • 2 bags of Birds Eye Recipe Ready Southwest Blend, thawed
  • 1 cup of Birds Eye frozen black eyed peas, thawed
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
  • 1 tsp of chopped garlic
  • 1 cup of Zesty Italian dressing
Directions:
  1. Stir all of the ingredients (except the Italian dressing) in a big bowl until well mixed.
  2. Add the Zesty Italian dressing & stir.
  3. Let chill overnight or for several hours before serving.
For more veggie-loving tips & a few easy simple recipe ideas , make sure to check out the video below from the host of FoodNetwork.com's web series The Picky Eaters Project, Melissa d'Arabian.   I can't wait to try her tip on roasting frozen vegetables & adding parmesan cheese, because roasting fresh vegetables is one of my go-to side dishes for dinners!


Birds Eye has partnered with Melissa D'Arabian, celebrity chef & mom of four, to make a difference and help moms with the dinnertime dilemma of getting a balanced meal on the table every day.  With over 40 unique blends year round at great prices, Birds Eye frozen vegetables are a nutritious, affordable, and tasty item to have on hand in the kitchen.  Birds Eye and Melissa are teaming up to encourage families & kids to eat more vegetables, one bite at a time.  Step Up To the Plate is Birds Eye's long-term commitment to reshaping kids' veggie perceptions and getting children to like veggies for life.  So take a stand to step up to the plate & encourage a love for vegetables in your own kitchen.  We would love to hear your own "veggie-loving" tips that you try with your own children, so please feel free to leave a comment  with your own tried & true veggie-loving tips and recipes!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

We are excited to share this awesome guest post with you all today from Ida who writes the blog, Second Chances Girl.  This is the perfect recipe for your family this fall!  Make sure to visit & follow her blog, Second Chances Girl!

Do you like muffins? In our home, we love them! There isn't a better time of year for muffins than fall. So many delicious fruits and veggies that can be baked in, it's impossible to find a muffin that you won't love. My kids favorite: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip! They devour these muffins and love to pack them as snacks for school!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

These muffins are so easy to make. The worst part is the waiting while they bake!! 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

I mean look at this deliciousness!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Today, I will share the recipe to make these yummy muffins. This recipe makes about 36 muffins so there are plenty to eat right away, save for school lunch snacks, have for breakfast and even freeze for a later date!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Recipe

See how easy? I really hope you give them a try and if you have any spins on this recipe, please let me know! I'm always up for trying something new!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins Recipe

Second Chances Girl

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October 20, 2014

Halloween Bucket List (Free Printable)

For more Halloween inspiration, visit our Seasonal tab at the top of our page or follow our Pinterest boards for our latest pins!

Less than two weeks until Halloween & today we are sharing some fun ideas for your family to do as you count down towards Halloween.  Print off the Halloween Bucket List below & check off the list as you count down towards Halloween!

Halloween Bucket List (Free Printable) : The Chirping Moms
Click here to download to save & print or Right click on the image below open in a new window.  You can either save it or print it from there.  Make sure you scale it to the size you would like when printing!

1.  Decorate a haunted gingerbread house.  We did this the past weekend & the kids loved it.  Look for kits at your local store (we found ours at Trader Joes).  The kids loved putting on the mini bone candy & the spooky black cats!

2.  Trick or Treat somewhere in your community.  Watch your local newspaper & websites for special Halloween trick or treating.  Lots of malls, communities, museums, & other places hold their own special trick or treating time before Halloween.  Last year, we went with our local moms' group in town & did some trick or treating in a nursing home.  This year,  I know that we are heading to a local outdoor shopping area for a little  early trick or treating with the kids!

3.  Have a costume dinner.  Some kids may be nervous or anxious to put on a costume so to get them prepared for the big day, have a special "costume" dinner earlier in the week where the kids can wear their costumes to dinner.  Dim the lights & light some candles and have a fun and festive dinner!

4.  Make sure to carve the pumpkins.  This is one of my kids' favorite Halloween activity-scooping the pumpkin seeds & watching their pumpkin turn into a jack-o-lantern.  Let the kids play with the pumpkin goop & roast the pumpkin seeds for an extra special fall snack.  For young kids or if you don't have time to carve as a family, then take some time to do some quick pumpkin painting!

Halloween Book Picks for Kids : The Chirping Moms

5.  Read some Halloween books.  Some of our favorites include:

6. Visit the pumpkin patch.  Or a garden center.  (Or even the grocery store, if you are busy!)  Pick a pumpkin out together  & make it a fun adventure for the kids!

7.  Have a Halloween Crafting Session.  Pick several craft ideas & spend some time together making Halloween projects with the kids.  We have lots of craft ideas in our post, 30 Halloween Projects for Kids!

Fun Halloween-Themed Movie Night Picks : The Chirping Moms

8.  Have a fun Halloween movie night.  Kids can wear their spookiest pajama wear & have a festive snack!  Some movie ideas include:

9.  Take an early evening walk with flashlights.  Now that it's getting dark out earlier, embrace the chance to bundle up after pajamas are on & take them out for a walk with flashlights to check out the night & the neighbor's Halloween decorations.

10.  Find a local Halloween parade.  We are already looking forward to attending ours next week where the kids can wear their costumes & watch the parade go by!

11.  Make a special Halloween dessert.  One of our favorites is the Candy Corn Cake, but we also love to make the super simple slice & bake Halloween cookies!  Other ideas that we have featured include the simple Halloween dessert cups, Halloween Oreo Truffles, & the Pumpkin Spice Cookies

12.  Have a fun Halloween breakfast the morning of Halloween.  Here are two simple ideas:
A special Halloween cereal, such as Boo Berry or Count Chocula with orange colored milk (thanks to a few drops of food coloring).  
Ghost Pancakes.  Make abstract ghost pancakes with batter & add chocolate chips for eyes and mouth.

13.  Have a fun & festive photo shoot.  You can make it Halloween themed and let them wear their costumes early.  It's easier to get the Halloween costume pictures before the big day arrives!  If your little one isn't big into costumes, take photos in the falling leaves or by the pumpkins.
Halloween Handprint Ideas for Kids : The Chirping Moms

14.  Make Halloween handprints with your kids on canvas to save those little handprints in  a fun & festive way!  Some ideas include:  Candy Corn Handprints, Handprint VampiresBlack Cat Handprint, Handprint Witches, or Spider Handprints.

15.  And last, head out and trick or treat!  

Happy Halloween!

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Disclosure:  This post does include affiliate links.

October 17, 2014

Friday Favorites: Our New Way To Stroll

We walk around our town a lot. The girls are on opposite school schedules this year which means 4 trips to & from school on their school days. Most of the time, they are still both in the double stroller, but they are starting to like to walk a lot more. Often, the one who just got out of school is really tired and wants to be in the stroller and the other one is energized and wants to walk. I've brought just a single a few times, but you know how that works: bring the single and of course both kids want a ride and no one wants to walk!


So, we have a new way we like to stroll around town: The Joovy Groove Ultralight umbrella stroller with the Joovy Bumprider attachment. This is an awesome combo. The stroller is lightweight, well made and much more comfy than most umbrella strollers (more details below). The Bumprider is a stroller board that you attach to the back of the stroller. The "standing child" can hop on and off and catch a ride when they get tired of walking. 
The Joovy Bumprider is the most universal board on the market, so you can use it with many different strollers. Once the new baby arrives, I plan to try it out on a double stroller, so I can stroll around town with all 3 kids. What I love about our new stroller/ stroller board combo is that the Bumprider easily fold up and clips when you are not using it. So I can walk to school to get Maggie pushing Alex in the light weight Groove Ultralight, with the kick board folded up. Then, when we get Maggie, she can walk a little while and then I can quickly unhook the Bumprider and she can hop on and ride the rest of the way home. This has been a great part of our daily strolls around town. 
As far as the stroller itself goes, the Joovy Groove Ultralight is the best umbrella stroller I've used. It's the lightest stroller we own but still seems very roomy (even Maggie fits comfortably in it at 4.5 years old). 
These are the top 5 Reasons I'd recommend the Joovy Groove Ultralight:
1. It's very lightweight. It weighs under 13lbs and is the lightest stroller I've had. To make it even easier to carry, there's a great built in strap. 
2. There's a large storage area underneath. The storage area under the Joovy Groove Ultralight is a lot bigger and easier to access than most umbrella strollers we've used. This is great for school pickup because the girls backpacks, coats, etc easily fit under the stroller. 
3. It has a large sunshade. You don't see a sunshade this big on many lightweight umbrella strollers. There is a regular sized sunshade with an extra visor piece that comes down further. It's great for sunny days or sleeping kids! 
4. The side mesh pockets are a hit with kids and convenient for extra storage. My kids put their water bottle on one side and favorite toy on the other side. 
5. My kids love it. The most important feature for me is that my kids actually want to sit in it. At 3, Alex still needs a stroller for travel and long walks. She's also my "runner" so when we are walking around busy streets, it makes me nervous to not have her in a stroller. She hasn't been crazy about being in a stroller the past few months, but hopped right into the Groove Ultralight. It's easy for her to get in and out, roomy enough for her to be comfortable and she never complains while riding around in it. The features of the stroller are geared towards a comfortable ride for kids, while the weight and ease of use are a hit for parents. 
With the Joovy Groove Ultralight and Bumprider, we are really enjoying our new way to stroll around town! 
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October 16, 2014

Planning Our Western Birthday Party With Minted


Over the summer leading up to her 3rd birthday, Alex decided her favorite things were horses and being a cowgirl. She discovered the new Disney show, Sheriff Callie, and loved the music and characters. She named our stick horse Sparky and rode around the yard yelling yee-haw all day long. 

When we asked her what kind of party she'd like for her 3rd birthday, she said she wanted a cowgirl party. We have a lot more room in our backyard, than in our house, so we love throwing outdoor parties. I was excited to get to work on a big Western bash for our little cowgirl. For more party details, visit this post. 

I always head to Minted for holiday cards and invites. This time, I was excited to see that they also now have adorable party supplies. For both the invitations and party supplies, I saw designs that would work with our theme. There are so many ways to personalize what you order from Minted, which is important to me when planning a party for my kids.

First I started with Minted invites and matching thank you cards:

Next it was on to party decor. I added some fun farm decorations to go with our Western theme. I used a combination of items from the Farm Party Decor and the Barnyard Crew Party Decor. I love the red with the cow print! I had a few ideas for some DIY party decor using some of the Minted party decor  items. I couldn't wait for the order to arrive, so I could start the party prep. 

The kids loved their cow crowns:

Here are a few ways I used the Minted party decor items for DIY party projects: 
 I ordered a variety of party decor stickers. The barn stickers were used to close the goody bags.
These cute animal stickers became our cupcake toppers. I used a scalloped hole punch and red card stock to make the shape of the topper and then stuck a sticker in the middle of each one. Last, I taped a toothpick to the back. Cupcake toppers were done! 

 I used some of the other barnyard animal stickers for our snacks. I cut brown lunch bags to make them shorter/easier for the kids to eat out of. Then I stuck a Minted sticker on them to make them more festive!

We loved greeting guests with this party sign, and a personalized table runner was certainly a special touch.

Alex's favorite party of the party decor, was this personalized "Cowgirl Alexandra" print. It came framed and ready to display at the party. Now that the party is over, it's hanging in her room. 

Just like their cards and invitations, the quality is superb. Minted takes such pride in their work and it helps make each party extra special. Our Western party was a lot of fun, the decor looked great and most importantly: our little cowgirl had a blast! 

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A Western Birthday Party {Free Printables}

Last month, Miss Alex turned 3! Throughout the summer, her favorite things were horses and the show Sherif Callie. She wanted a "horsey & Callie" party, so we went with a fun, Western Cowgirl theme. Most of the party was a neutral/ red western theme, with some other barn animal touches added in. For the birthday girl, we added the pink Sherif Callie hat of course! To create our special birthday theme, we combined some cute Etsy finds, party supplies from Birthday Express and some DIY ideas and printables (that you can download for free!). Check our post on invites and decor from Minted for more great Western party ideas. Below the pictures, you'll find links on where to get these party supplies. 
Now, here's our special Western Birthday Party:
Birthday Sign & Shirt

Birthday shirt: I like to get the girls a personalized shirt for their birthdays. Alex was so excited when she saw this year's shirt. She was so proud to be "turning 3" and loved that the #3 was wearing a pink cowgirl hat! She wears this shirt all the time and calls it her Sherif Callie shirt. The shirt is from the Etsy shop, Lovable Stitches. The shop owner is great with working with a party theme and the shirts from Lovable Stitches are super soft. 
Birthday Sign: I recently saw a birthday picture of a child holding a chalkboard sign that told all about them at their current age. I thought it was such a cute idea, and great way to remember all of Alex's "favorites" at 3. I was able to find a cowgirl themed sign from Fly On The Wall Ink. They did a great job and send along a file you can print yourself. This is also great because you can print an extra copy for the baby book or to display at the party. 



Decor 
Happy Birthday Banner: I found this adorable Western birthday sign on Etsy from Simple and Posh. The shop has a great assortment and customizes with age, name etc. I'd highly recommend their banners and other party supplies. 



Easy DIY Western Mason Jar Centerpiece
Mason jar, sunflower + a few straws of hay. Add a bandana print ribbon or cut up a bandana and use strips to tie around the mason jar. I made a whole bunch of these - they were so easy!



Food 
I usually try and cook for the kids parties or just have snacks. This year, in honor of our big backyard Western bash, we had the party catered by a local BBQ place. We thought ribs, pulled pork, bbq chicken and corn bread were the perfect addition to the theme! 
Snacks:


The cake: we had to incorporate Alex's favorite cowgirl, Sherif Callie, into the party. A local bakery made this awesome cake! 
We mainly brought the Sheriff Callie "theme" into the party through the cake. There was not much out there for this new Disney character, besides pink cowgirl hats. But Alex loved the cowgirl theme with the Callie cake! 

Goody Bags 



The girl guests all got western hair clips in their goody bags. I've added hair clips, to go along with the theme, to the past few goody bags for my girls' parties and they are always a hit. Plus, my girls love them! These western themed hair clips were some of our favorites. We got them from Bow Bravo, an awesome Etsy shop, filled with adorable hair clips, bows and headbands. 


Activities 

Potato Sack Races 



 Dress Up Station
"Git Yer Gear" Sign Below

Coloring Station (printable below)
Printed western coloring sheets from Disney Jr.com and Pinterest 
Wanted Sign Photo Opp for Guests (Birthday Express)

Free Printables 
(click on the title under each picture, download and print) 


Dress Up Station
Coloring Station
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