New Year, New You!

New Year’s has come and gone but the struggle to keep up with your 2017 resolutions has just begun. Many of us have vowed to eat healthier, live healthier and make our overall health a priority. GOOD IDEA! The new year is time for fresh starts so let’s make it happen in 2017! I’ve got some great products, tool and tips that will keep you on track and set you up for success.

Eat Well. Drink Well. Feel Well

Eating healthy is usually priority number one for many people, I know it is in my imgres-1household. Finding foods that are not just health, but also satisfying is always a challenge.

I was super excited when I came across Muuna Cottage Cheese. Muuna has completely re-imagined how we think about…well…cottage cheese! They have introduced a line of single serve, melt-in-your-mouth cottage cheeses that can be enjoyed either at home or on the go.

These are high protein snack options, with 15 grams of protein, that can help sustain energy and keep everyone in the family full. My kids and I LOVE the real pieces of fruit on the bottom of each container. There are 5 delicious fruit flavors:  pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, mango and peach. As a mom I love that there are no artificial flavors and Muuna as their own proprietary recipes.

This is such a versatile snack it’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can discover all the great fruit flavors at Muuna.com

As a family, one of our resolutions is to avoid sugary beverages which I like to call empty calories and instead drink more water than ever before.I’ve found a great, healthy new option that can help all of us stay away from sugary beverages and keep our diets on track in 2017.

lemonadeI’ve fallen in love with the True Citrus company and their family of delicious, clean-labeled, citrus-based products that contain NO artificial sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, sodium or gluten.

True Citrus gives you the option on how you want to flavor your water. Use True Lemon and True Lime 0-calorie, unsweetened lemon and lime sachets to add flavor to your water without adding extra calories and while tasting just like a real lemon and lime. True Lemon and True Lime unsweetened sachets and delicious lemonades and limeades help people keep true to a healthy lifestyle, in the New Year and 365 days of the year.

Two favorites I have are the 10-calorie True Lemon Lemonades and True Lime Limeades, recognized by the Women’s Choice Award as a “9 out of 10” customer recommended brand for low-calorie lemonade and limeade mixes.

And to help get you started this year, True Citrus is partnering with Kim Lyons, former trainer on the NBC’s The Biggest Loser, to launch the New Year, True You 30-challenge and sweepstakes. The fabulous challenge will motivate people to live a healthy lifestyle and Stay True in the New Year and 24/7/365. In conjunction with the challenge, True Citrus is also launching a sweepstakes where one person and a guest will win a round-trip airfare to Hermosa Beach, California, two-night stay at a luxury hotel, spa service, a daily per diem of $250 each and a personal training session with Kim Lyons.

To sign up for the challenge and sweepstakes, visit www.truecitrus.com/trueyouchallenge


Healthy Happy You!

We all know that January is peak cold and flu season, regardless of where you are or how the weather is. That mean runny noses and red noses.

In my family we sooth and moisturize our sore noses with Saline Soothers and Boogie compare-saline-soothers-single-pack2xWipes. These are a great gentle wipe, made with natural saline that can help get you through the most difficult cold or allergy attack.They really are the perfect solution for soothing and moisturizing a sore nose, using natural saline, aloe, chamomile and Vitamin E.

These helpful wipes can be found in the cough and cold aisle in your local Walgreens or Rite Aid!

 

Think About Your Eyes

Most people know that they should visit their dentist annually for healthy teeth. Yet many of the same people put off going to the eye doctor because they don’t recognize how important an annual eye exam is for maintaining clear vision and overall health.

taye-logo

I love the work that Think About Your Eyes is doing to raise eye health awareness.  They are a national public awareness campaign focused on educating everyone about the importance of vision health and the need for annual eye exams. I never knew that uncorrected impaired vision is the most widespread, unaddressed disability, yet 80% of all visual impairment in correctable.

With the New Year underway, it’s an ideal time to get back to healthy habits and even create new ones. An annual eye exam is important for overall wellness for children and adults and is a great health habit to start in 2017.

If you’d like more information – ThinkAboutYourEyes.com is a great resource to learn more about vision health and to find a trusted eye doctor near you!

Happy New Year everyone! Wishing everyone a healthy and happy 2017!

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Gift Giving Guide

Christmas is just NINE days away! Are you ready? If not, I’ve got a few of my favorite mom approved gifts for the ones you love!

Mom Approved Tablet

As a mom I am always on the lookout for gifts that will both entertain and educate my imgreskids. This holiday season I have fallen in love with the GizmoTab from Verizon. What is different about the GizmoTab?  This tablet allows parents to take charge of how their children use a tablet and it’s AFFORDABLE!

It features over 300 premium FUN learning apps hand-picked by experts to encourage learning. Plus parents are able to tailor apps to their child’s age and skill level, measure their child’s progress, set time limits and reward children with additional play time.

And there’s something for us adults as well, since it’s a fully functioning tablet we can take advantage of its 8-inch HD display and stay connected on stay on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

The Ultimate Tool

In my house there’s always a fix-up or DIY project that we’re working on so I know firsthand that tools make great holiday gifts. They aren’t just for the handyman or vc6001lgprofessional contractor.

Dremel has two great tool options for everyone on your list, whether they are a crafter, artist or more traditional remodeler/fixer-upper.

If you have a crafter on your gift list the Dremel Maker Kit combines three essential tools including the Dremel 200 series rotary tool, a Dremel engraver and the Dremel Versa Tip. This package allows the crafter in your life to create the handmade detailed projects he or she loves. You can etch glass, carve wooden toys…even sharpen the blades of your lawn mower with this tool!

The advanced DIYer’s in your life will love the Dremel Velocity. This is the fastest oscillating tool on the market which allows users to tackle any big DIY or home remodeling projects like flooring, cabinetry or furniture making!

Epic Stocking Stuffer

I always make family time a priority at the holidays. After all the parties are over and gifts have all been open I look 61sili-qpl-_ac_us160_forward to just sitting on the sofa with my family to watch a movie.

This year I look forward to introducing my family to a updated classic.  Ben Hur is a glorious epic adventure filled with both exciting action and an uplifting message of redemption.

Once I saw this trailer, I knew I had to have it!

http://bit.ly/Ben-Hur-MNR

The movie is available now on either Digital HD or Blu-ray Combo Pack.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack also makes a great stocking stuffer and features over an hour of behind-the-scenes footage including an in-depth look at the creation of the film’s spectacular chariot race, interviews with the cast, and more.

I hope this helps! Happy shopping everyone!

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Stress-Free Holiday Planning

Tis the season to be…..stressed, panicked and overworked!! Fa la la la la la la la la!

I love the holidays. I really I do. The holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year. It brings friends and families together and reminds me how fortunate I am to have such a great support system. HOWEVER the two weeks leading up to the holidays brings me nothing but “aceto” as my Italian mother would say!!  The stress of planning for the perfect holiday party, picking the perfect presents, serving amazing dishes and creating the best treat for our annual cookie swap is overwhelming to say the least.

Luckily I’ve done my research! Below are a list of tips, tricks, recipes and resources to help you tackle the stress so that you can relax and enjoy your loved ones this holiday season.

Controlled Chaos in the Kitchen!

During the holidays everything revolves around the kitchen. So I need to make sure all myholiday-kitchen equipment is in in tip-top shape! Sears Home Services, that nation’s number 1 provider of appliances, has some great tips to make sure your appliances are running properly so that you can entertain with ease.

One do-it-yourself project they recommend is cleaning your refrigerator’s condenser coils. It’s simple. Twice a year I take a coil brush and brush the condenser coils located either under or behind the fridge. This will remove dirt, pet hair and more. Something as simple as cleaning your condenser coils will prevent expensive repairs and will make your refrigerator run more efficiently.

If you don’t have time for DIY appliance maintenance, you can visit SearsHomeServices.com/checkup to schedule a Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Check-Up from Sears Home Services. One their expert technicians will come to your house to perform a 64 point-inspection of your kitchen or laundry appliances.  You will be ready to turn out dinner and dessert for the 30 guests you are expecting on Christmas day!!

Hostess with the Mostess

In my opinion a holiday is not a holiday without the French’s Classic Green Bean green-bean-casseroleCasserole. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels that way. Did you know that over 30 million will be served during the holiday season. And cant you just taste the French’s Crispy Fried Onions on top?

If you are looking to create a new classic yet timeless dish I would try French’s Crunchy Onion Bacon Potatoes. Both recipes are perfect for busy moms and home chefs to make during the holiday. Its delicious and made with Potatoes, Bacon, Cheese and French’s Crispy Fried Onions. Or if you want to update either classic and add some spice to your dish by toping it with French’s Crispy Jalapenos! You can find more recipes at Frenchs.com.

The Perfect Treat

festive-scotcheroosThe best part of making holiday treats, is making it with my family. Since my kids are just 6 and 8 years-old I love these easy, no-bake Scotcheroos. They are a delicious, chocolate-y and peanut butter-y rice cereal treat made with Karo Light Corn Syrup. These Christmas trees and classic Scotcheroos with candy toppings are a perfect addition to your holiday party or cookie swap.

They are an incredibly versatile treat. I love customizing them with candy decorations, cookie cutters or food coloring. Not only are they a great treat but my kids and I make several batches at once so we can gift them in gift bags and tins.

For more recipes go to www.karosyrup.com/Recipes

Save More Stress Less

I’m always looking for ways to save around the holidays. It can be an expensive and directmail-mailbox1-page-001sometimes stressful time of year. My favorite budget stretching secret weapon is RedPlum. It helps you score the best deals and coupons not only on holiday gifts, but also on everything you’ll need for entertaining like groceries, serving trays, utensils…even coupons for dining out for when you need a break from it all you!

Be sure to check the mail for promotional offers from retailers you love or go to RedPlum.com for additional deals and steals! RedPlum will help you take the financial worry and stress out of the holidays.

Keeping the Magic Alive

My daughter Joslin is 8 and my son Harris is 5. They still believe in tooth fairies, elves and santa-2Santa. The magic is still alive in their hearts and I plan I keeping that way for as long as possible. My daughter Joslin’s face is going to light up this year because I got Santa to make a personalized message for her on PortableNorthPole.com

I cant wait to see her face when she sees this video…

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0Bw9-tIaFWpMybVppcHVHTHo4UWM

If you are looking to start a modern holiday tradition and bring Christmas magic to someone special in your life just go to PortableNorthPole.com and entered my child’s name, uploaded her photo, and what gift she’d like for Christmas. It’s FREE to try at PortableNorthPole.com, or download the app for IOS and Android.

I hope all of these tips, products, recipes and resources help you relax and unwind this holiday season! Happy holiday to you all!

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My Back To School Essentials List!

On August 31 my youngest is heading to kindergarten. Where has the time gone? My baby is off and running and his mother is a nervous wreck. With 2 weeks to go and 2 kids in elementary school, the back-to-school panic is full-on. Gone are the lazy days of summer when we rise after 8am, throw on our bathing suits and rush off to the pool. I’m in mommy mode now, gearing up (literally) for the back-to-school madness.

I’ve been shopping for nearly 3 days straight and have come across a few gems that I must share with you.

Let’s start with a brilliant way to satisfy your child’s back-to-school snack attack. SnackingCheese Dippers is an essential part of our kid’s school day. The right snack gives them the energy they need to focus on the important stuff. I just came across the newest product form The Laughing Cow called Cheese Dippers. My kiddos LOVE these all-in-one on-the-go snacks. I love them because they are an excellent source of calcium, they have 4 grams of protein and they have no artificial flavors, preservatives or color. Each pack comes with the original creamy Swiss cheese and crunchy breadsticks. It’s a great a great alternative to all the sugary snacks we are use to.

ManagePhoto02This one is for all those busy parents who need some peace-of-mind. It’s basically your eyes and ears when you are not at home. The VTech VC931 Wireless Pan and Tilt camera has a free mobile app that allows you to access your camera from your smartphone. It sends push notifications alerts when it detects motion and sound so you know when your kids have made it home from school. The VC931 also includes a two way talk intercom and pan and tilt camera so you can easily stay connected with family or even your pets!

As I mentioned my youngest is off to kindergarten and I’d like the transition to be as easy 2015-wipesNewV3as possible for both him and me. I headed to Target to pick up tons of Kandoo Flushable Wipes as well as Boogie Wipes so he has what he needs to feel confident, stays clean and feel like the big boy that he is . The Kandoo Flushable Wipes clean 30% better than regular toilet paper plus they are flushable and biodegradable.

wipes-familyWe all know back-to-school is synonymous with cold and flu season which is why I always throw Boogie Wipes into his back pack. Boogie Wipes are made with natural saline which helps dissolve mucus plus they’re super gentle on tiny noses. These can also be found at Target.

 

My daughter’s first backpack was suppose to last her an entire school year, but only lasted 21510622three months!! I’m super excited to have finally found a backpack that handle my kids “buondless energy”. Embark Jartop backpack is extra durable with top loading zippers that can hold 5 to 6 books at a time. Plus the come with a ONE-YEAR GUARANTEE. They come in a range of stylish colors and patterns and pair nicely with the Embark lunch kits.

I hope this helps! Feel free to send me comments and suggestions and join me at @erekav on Instagram where I will be sharing my favorite back-to-school photos!

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Pistachio Pesto Gnocchi with Peas, Edamame & Avocado

Gnocchi

My 5 year-old son approached me after dinner the other night and in the softest, sweetest voice EVER said, “Mom, you know what we haven’t had in lowng (long) time? We haven’t had gnocchi (pronounced perfectly).” This only affirmed that my real title in the home is not “mom”, but rather “personal chef”….a title I should loathe, but instead I’m actually quite proud of.

My response to this sweet boy’s request was a delicious bowl of pistachio pesto gnocchi with peas, edamame and avocado….that’s how ya add a little color to gnocchi! I hope you enjoy it as much as he did. Spring has sprung!

Pistachio Pesto Ingredients:

  1. 2 garlic cloves
  2. 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  3. 3 cups loosely packed basil
  4. 1 lemon zested and juiced
  5. 1 orange zested and juiced
  6. 2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  9. 1/2 Avocado (DO NOT ADD AVOCADO IF YOU PLAN ON STORING THE SAUCE FOR LATER )
  10. 1/2 cup of thawed organic frozen peas
  11. 1/2 cup of thawed organic frozen edamame

Just like you, I’m a home cook learning the deets of healthy family cooking one day at a time so I borrowed the following gnocchi recipe from Geoffrey Zakarian of Food Network. It is SUPER simple. These fluffy and light gnocchi take about 5 minutes to make.

Ricotta Gnocchi Recipe: Click Here For Gnocchi Recipe

Put It All Together!

  1. In a food processor combine ingredients 1 through 9.
  2. Pour into a bowl and add the peas and edamame
  3. While the gnocchi are still warm add about 2 to 3 heaping table spoons of the pesto sauce, garnish with grated cheese and serve immediately.

 

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Crunchy Baked Eggplant Sticks!

IMG_3533

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 cup of planko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 large eggplant cut into 3 inch long by 1/2 inch wide sticks

Let’s Cook!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup of grated cheese and 1/4 tsp of salt into the eggs.
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix together; planko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 cup of the grated cheese.
  4. With one hand dip the eggplant sticks into the egg mixture and coat all sides. Allow the excess to drip back into the bowl, then gently drop into the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. With your other hand coat the eggplant stick in the bread crumb mixture. Pat gently to thoroughly coat the eggplant.
  6. Place the coated sticks onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then move to the middle shelf and broil for an additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with your kids favorite dipping sauce. These taste great with tomato sauce, pesto sauce and even ranch dressing.

Click here to see if my kiddos liked them…

 

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Boozy Limoncello Panettone Bread Pudding! Say What?!!

bread pudding

What to do with all that leftover Panettone from Christmas???? Turn it into a delightfully warm and gooey bread pudding. My recipe takes it to another level by adding limoncello and lemon curd!! This is my husband’s all-time favorite dessert.

Ingredients for Bread Pudding :

  1. 1 loaf of Panettone broken into small pieces (break apart by hand so that it looks more rustic)
  2. 1 1/2 cups of Milk
  3. 2 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream
  4. 4 Eggs
  5. 1/2 cups of Sugar
  6. 1 cup of Limoncello
  7. 1/4 cup of Lemon Curd

Ingredients for Whipped Cream:

  • 3 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1 cup of Whipping Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Limoncello

Let’s Get Baking!

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 1.8 quart rectangular baking dish with butter.
  3. layer the bottom of the pan with the pieces of Panettone.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together ingredients 2 through 7.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the pan.
  6. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake on middle rack for 35-45 minutes. Pudding should be lightly brown and a toothpick, when inserted, should come out clean.
  8. Let cool (slightly) then top with gelato or limoncello whipped Cream (see recipe below)

Whipped Cream Directions:

  1. Place your mixing bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 cup of whipping cream to the bowl.
  3. Whisk until you begin to see stiff peaks. Whisking with an electric mixer will work best.
  4. Fold 2 Tbsp of limoncello into the whipped cream.

panettone 2

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No Zuppa For You!! Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

pasta e fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a comforting classic Italian soup that I loved as a kid. My mother always served it with a large piece of crusty bread that went down before I even picked up my spoon.

As a mom, I love Pasta e Fagioli because it’s a great way to get even the most “Veggie Averse” child to eat their vegetable and legumes. Below is my family recipe along with ideas for how you can get even your most picky eater to gobble it up.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb orcchiette pasta (swap with your kids favorite pasta)
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans rinsed
  • 1 can of pinto beans rinsed
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups of chicken Stock
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (preferably homemade)
  • grated parmigiana to top each bowl
  • CRUSTY BREAD to dip!

Time To Cook!

  1. Cook your pasta al dente, drain and set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend together 2 cups of chicken stock and one can of cannellini beans.
  3. In a deep pot saute the carrots, onion, garlic and celery in 1/4 cup of olive oil until tender. Add the rosemary sprigs to the veggies while they cook. (NOTE: feel free to add pancetta or sausage to make heartier meal)
  4. Add 1 tsp of salt.
  5. Once the veggies are tender add the chicken stock/cannellini bean puree from blender to the pot with the veggies. (NOTE: IF YOUR CHILD IS VEGGIE AVERSE; 1. remove the rosemary sprigs, 2. to the blender with the chicken stock/bean puree, add the veggies, 3. blend thoroughly. Return the mixture to the pot.)
  6. Add 1 can of rinsed cannellini beans and 1 can of rinsed pinto beans.
  7. Add 1 cup of chicken stock.
  8. Add 3/4 cup of pasta sauce.
  9. Add cooked pasta.
  10. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of ground pepper.
  11. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the rosemary sprigs.
  13. Ladle into a soup bowl, top with grated cheese and serve with a big hunk of crusty bread!

Be sure to encourage your kids to break up the bread and dunk it into the veggie rich sauce!

 

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Spaghetti, Zucchini and Turkey Pie! Oh My!

spaghetti pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Zucchini Spiralized
  • 1/2 lb of Spaghetti
  • 3/4 lb or Ground Turkey
  • 2 Cups of Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup of ricotta
  • 1 Cup of Italian Blend Shredded Cheese (Provolone, Asiago, Fontina). You can also use high quality Mozzarella.
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Grated Parmigiana
  • Salt and Pepper

Let’s Start Cookin!

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook the ground turkey, breaking the meat into small pieces. Season with salt, pepper and any of your favorite Italian spice.
  3. Cook spaghetti al dente, drain and add about 1/4 cup of sauce to keep the pasta from sticking.
  4. Combine the spiralized zucchini and the cooked spaghetti. Set aside.
  5. Beat together eggs and 1/2 cup of the grated parmigiana.
  6. Add 1 cup of sauce, ricotta and egg mixture to the ground meat. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Add the ground meat mixture to the spaghetti. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Add the spaghetti mixture to you pie dish.
  9. Top with 1/2 cup sauce and shredded cheeses.
  10. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Just before serving broil for 5 minutes.
  12. Devour!

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Roasted Corn Salad!

Roasted Corn

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my fruits and veggies. I’m always going out of my way to make my barbecue sides more than just an after thought.

Here are two dishes that I make regularly. They are quick, easy and huge crowd pleasers for the young and old.

Spicy Roasted Corn with Cotijo Cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn
  • 2 green jalapeno, deseeded and diced
  • 1 large red pepper, deseeded and diced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt
  • 1/2 cup Grated Cotijo Cheese
  • Cilantro
  1. In a large skillet melt the butter
  2. Add the shallots, red onion, jalapeno pepper and red pepper. Cook until they begin to get tender
  3. Add the roasted corn and salt. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes or until the corn is warm.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with Cotijo cheese and garnish with cilantro

 

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