Foodie Friday: July Menu

I have to admit, I was not motivated or inspired to do this menu plan. I think that preparing and serving 3 meals and 2 snacks a day for my kids during our “safer at home” period has worn me down. I did finally complete it and I am looking forward to the fresh vegetables that come with mid-summer. I also kept my dessert night plans very simple this month. The desserts in June were a little more labor-intensive and I want to keep things easy for July. I have recipes on my July 2020 Menu Pinterest board for almost everything. I couldn’t find a suitable recipe for my green bean and squash foil packs, so I am just going to tell you here how I do that.

I take a small bag of pre-washed, fresh green beans from the grocery store and place them on a sheet of aluminum foil. I top the beans with some sliced red onion and sliced yellow squash. I sprinkle salt and pepper as I like it and place little pats of butter all over. I also throw in whatever herbs I have around. The last time I made this I used rosemary, basil, and cilantro. Fresh herbs really make this side dish interesting. I fold up the foil into a neat little package and throw this on the grill for about 10 minutes.

July 2020 Menu

July 2020 Menu

Happy eating!

Well-Child Checks

Both my girls have their well-chid checks today. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,

Regular checkups are an important way to keep track of your child’s health and physical, emotional, and social development. These visits are important for ALL children, including children and youth with special health care needs who may also be under the care of specialists. Your conversations can range from sharing your successes and milestones, to overall concerns about child development, to challenges in daily routines. Think of these visits as your chance to learn as much as you can about the best ways to help your child grow. By focusing on your child’s growth and learning, both you and your health care professional make sure your child is developing as expected. Your family and health care professional form a partnership based on respect, trust, honest communication, and understanding your family’s culture and traditions.”

So, what can you expect at your child’s annual check-up?

  1. Checking for any health concerns, those visible to you, and those that may be hidden. (height, weight, blood pressure, developmental screening, immunizations….)
  2. Discussing ways to prevent health concerns in the future.
  3. Providing support for the child’s overall well-being.
  4. Talking through general health information.

How do you prepare for a well-child check?

Makes notes of any concerns you have so you won’t forget. Make a list of questions you have for the doctor. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and decide whether or not this behavior is appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development. Talk to your pediatrician if you are worried that your child is exhibiting problem behaviors for his or her age.

Be sure that your kids are being checked out by a doctor on a regular basis. For kids over the age of 2 years, this is typically an annual thing. Prior to 2 years of age, there is a more frequent schedule.

QuickTip Tuesday: Meal Planning Tip

When planning your dinners for the week or month, be sure to include some days that are easy for you. Cooking every single night can take a toll after a while, so it’s important that some nights of the week be as easy as possible, like leftover night or breakfast for dinner. Very few meals are easier to prepare than scrambled eggs and toast.

Healthy Foods for Busy Days

If you spend your nights and weekends driving your kids to many different sports practices and games, you are far from alone. We are all busy! But busy families can still eat healthy foods!

Does your family eat fast food often? If so, be mindful of the choices you make. Most fast-food meals and snacks :

  • High in fat, sugar, calories, and salt. These are things to eat in small amounts.
  • Low in fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. You need to get enough of these nutrients.
  • Short on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and milk.

Super-sized servings may not be a good deal. Instead, they provide more food than your family needs. They encourage people to eat until they are stuffed instead of eating until satisfied. This sets the stage for overeating and weight problems. Regular-size and child-size servings have enough nutrients for most adults and children.

Young children have a natural ability to follow hunger signals and appetite. They know when they are hungry and when they have had enough to eat. Big portions from fast food restaurants may overwhelm their natural ability to stop eating when they are full and cause them to eat more than they need.

Choose foods with less added sugars

  • Instead of soda, order milk, 100 percent juice, or water for your child. You may want to choose unsweetened tea, coffee, or a diet soda.
  • Instead of fruit pie or cookies, choose fruit. Some restaurants have fruit on the menu. If not, have an apple, banana, grapes for something sweet when you get home.

Choose foods with less fat

  • Order regular-size burgers, burritos, and tacos instead of the larger sizes.
  • Split a small order of fries, or skip the fries and order a side salad or fruit.
  • Order grilled chicken instead of fried chicken.
  • Skip the extra cheese on pizza.
  • Use mustard instead of mayonnaise.
  • Go easy on sour cream and butter.

Choose foods with more bone-building calcium

  • Drink low-fat milk instead of soda with fast foods.
  • Order cheese on a burger or sandwich.

Choose more fruits and vegetables

  • Ask for tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables on sandwiches.
  • Get a salad or fruit instead of fries.
  • Order a pizza loaded with vegetables.

Children learn many of their food habits from watching their parents at home and when eating out.

It is important to choose and eat healthier foods in normal size portions. Help your child choose healthful food items, then let him or her decide how much they are going to eat.


Foodie Friday: Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake

Have you ever read the book or seen the movie Matilda? There is a scene where a boy named Bruce Bogtrotter steals a piece of chocolate cake off the desk of the principal. For punishment, Bruce is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake. It’s a hilariously gross scene! I recently stumbled across a recipe video for this cake. I made the cake for my Dad’s 66th birthday (which is today) and I wanted to share this video with you.

**This is not my video. This is the video I came across on social media that inspired me to bake the cake.


QuickTip Tuesday: Quick Breakfast Ideas

I know that most of you have probably already heard of overnight oats. Little mason jar foods were really popular a few years ago, and this would work very well in a jar. I still want to share my recipe for overnight oats with you because I am transitioning back from working at home every day to working in the office some and breakfast is not easy for me. It’s never been easy, but it’s even worse now!

  • 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C 2% milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C blueberries
  • 1/3 C sliced banana
  • 1 tsp honey

In an air-tight container add oats and pour in milk and vanilla.

Add a layer of blueberries, then a layer of banana slices

Top with a drizzle of honey.

** Chia seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or almonds might be good on top too. 

Place in the refrigerator at night and enjoy it in the morning!

overnight oats nutrition facts


** Adapted from Illinois Extension blog Family Files.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many blessings I really have. I am healthy, I have two healthy kids, and I have a  great husband. I have plenty of food to eat. My house is sturdy. With everything going on in the world right now, things can seem pretty bleak. Coronavirus has us still home for much of the time, during a season when we are all used to traveling. Evil things are done every day. People hurt other people. People hurt themselves. People hurt animals and destroy property. If we only focus on all the things we wish were different, we might miss all the things that are beautiful and good. Missing the good can have some detrimental effects on our emotional well-being as well as our longevity.

Oprah Winfrey did a show and wrote a book on gratitude and she said that she keeps a gratitude journal. She takes time each and every day to write down five things she is grateful for. Having and expressing gratitude not only helps you to be in a better mood and enjoy life more right now, but it also has lasting effects on psychological and physical health:

  • gratitude improves immune function
  • gratitude can improve heart health including lower blood pressure
  • gratitude contributes to more restful and efficient sleep
  • gratitude can lead to diminished stress and anxiety
  • gratitude can decrease depression
  • gratitude causes greater optimism and happiness
  • gratitude can lead to increased overall well-being
  • gratitude can strengthen self-esteem
  • gratitude may cause more openness to forgiveness
  • gratitude contributes to better self-care

When we focus on the positive, it engages our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is the calming part of our nervous system that has protective benefits leading to decreased cortisol levels and increased oxytocin, which helps us feel in a better mood. In order to use the power of the positive, get in the routine or habit of asking yourself some daily questions to help acknowledge the good in your life.

  • How was I kind today? Who was kind to me?
  • What have I received today? What have I given to others today?
  • What was a simple joy I experience?
  • What was unexpected in a good way?
  • What was good?
  • Who am I thankful or grateful for?

So, how do you get started living a life with gratitude? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Keep a journal or notebook and each day write down three to five things for which you are grateful
  2. Send thank you cards to those that you are grateful for on a regular basis
  3. Meditate or focus on being mindful of your gratitude daily
  4. Pray or give thanks daily

QuickTip Tuesday: Sunscreen Tips


We recently bought and moved into a new house. This new house has a pool, which is really exciting for the kids. However, we are fair-skinned people and we sunburn easily, so sunscreen is really important in my world right now. In fact, I missed some spots when applying sunscreen to myself and my daughters this weekend so we are all sporting spotty burns. There are some things to know when it comes to using sunscreen safely and effectively.

  1. Sunscreen is not recommended for infants under the age of six months. If you have a little one in this age category, it is best to keep him or her in the shade and covered with lightweight clothing like a rashguard and hat. They make the cutest little baby rashguards now, so your kid will be the talk of the fashion world.
  2. Sunscreen should be applied about half an hour before sun exposure. This is probably where I went wrong over the weekend. I only gave it about 5-10 minutes before I let the kids get out in the pool.
  3. We all know to apply sunscreen generously, but I’ll offer a gentle reminder to cover the areas of skin that are under straps and just under the waistband or edges of the swimsuit because if the fabric shifts at all during play, that area will burn. Also remember to do hands, ears, and lips- yes you can buy lip balm with sunblock in it. I recommend using that.
  4. Be sure to use SPF 30 or greater and reapply every two hours. This is the hardest part! When kids are playing and having fun in the water, it can be difficult to get them out of the pool for sunscreen, but it’s important, so just do it. Be sure they towel off and get as dry as possible before you reapply the sunscreen so it actually sticks to the skin.

Remember, sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn, which is painful. It also protects the skin from tanning, which is another sign of sun damage that can contribute to skin cancer.