Posts Categorized: Family

Sick of chicken? Try cooking lentils!

Protein packed lentils are one of the most ancient crops known to have been cultivated even as much as 8500 years ago! Loads of varieties are available and they are cheap and easily found at any grocery store.  They are one of the few beans that don’t require soaking or any other preparation which makes them perfect for making healthy meals at a low cost.

Getting your family to include lentil nutrition as part of an enjoyable, healthy meal may take some work but the effort is well worth it.  Studies abound on the benefits of lentils, which include the ability to reduce blood pressure and reverse heart disease.  Break the kids in early with mashed lentils as a first food.

Some of the more common varieties include:

Puy Lentils-these small blackish green, lower starch lentils are great for creamy side dishes

Green Lentils-firm, larger pods are ideal for cold salads

Red Lentils- these are actually the hulled inside of other lentils, and are perfect for soups as they disintegrate when cooked.

All lentils rank very highly on the protein scale and when paired with cheese and/or nuts make a complete protein just as effective at building muscle as animal protein. They are also one of the best forms of fibre. A one cup serving meets the requirements for just over half of your day’s needs. Just remember when cooking any lentils, pulses or beans not to add any acid like lemon or vinegar until the very end. Doing so stops the breakdown of the fibre so that they will not cook fully. Well this can be a good thing to prevent them from becoming too mushy at the end of cooking add it at the beginning and you’ll be crunching on pebbles! Here is one of my healthy lentil recipes for delicious homemade soup.

Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Preparation time: 25 minutes                                      Servings: 4                 

You can feed a family of four for under $2.00 with a soup of high-protein lentils, nutrition-packed sweet potatoes and onions. Cheese is optional and will cost a bit extra. I know it seems weird not to peel the sweet potatoes but the skins are full of nutrients and are just as delicious as white potato skins.  Just give them a good scrub and chop!

1 tsp                butter

1                      onion, chopped

1 cup               red lentils

1                      small sweet potato, scrubbed and cubed, skin on

4 cups              chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp              dried basil

½ tsp               black pepper

pinch               dried red chili peppers

1 tbsp              molasses

8 tbsp              grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Warm a large pot over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add onions and sweet potato; stir. Add broth and water; then lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in basil, chili peppers, pepper and molasses. Grate cheese if using and serve at the table.

About the Author:

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

School’s Out For The Summer!

A big bag of lost and found items!


I know it’s officially summer when my son arrives home from school with a huge garbage bag filled to the top with his locker contents and all of his items that were fished out of the Lost and Found.

This year the haul included 3 thermoses, 3 winter hats, 2 baseball hats, 2 hoodies, a winter coat and a baseball glove (along with lots of crumpled up paper, old tests and some school supplies).  Yikes!  I long for the day that my son is more organized, but until then I’m glad we’ve got Mabel’s Labels on everything so that his stuff makes it back home…eventually!

Along with the warm weather, family vacations, and more relaxed schedules, I’m practically giddy about not making lunches every day. The fact that everyone’s wearing sandals and flip flops is a bonus too, because it means I won’t need to keep the sock basket filled.  Our family sock strategy consists of a basket near the front door filled with single socks. There’s no point in pairing them up because my kids just un-match them anyway. Rebels!

We’re looking forward to some fun outdoor activities and games, including afternoons by Grandma’s pool, backyard BBQ’s and evenings at our local Drive-In Theatre. Watching a drive in movie under the stars is so much fun and is a favourite summer tradition for us. There’s nothing cuter than seeing lots of little ones in their pajamas, swinging on the swing set and playing Frisbee while waiting for the first feature to start. Later they’ll be sleepy and cozy as their parents carry them straight from the car to their beds. Somewhere along the line I stopped wearing my PJ’s to the drive-in, but I think this may be the summer to revive that tradition. I’m not sure I’ll get carried in from the car, but it’s worth a try.

In addition to all the family fun times that summer brings, I love the quiet early mornings all to myself in the garden. It’s full of promise at this time of year, with lots of different vegetables and greens. This year we’ve got tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, bok choy, kale, collard greens, romaine and red lettuce. I’m hoping that when our kids are hungry, they’ll grab some cherry tomatoes off the vine instead of reaching for cookies (a mom can always dream!).

Garden Veggies!

What do YOU love most about summertime?  Any fun ideas to share? What are some of your favourite family vacations and summer activities for kids?

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

Sticks and Stones -The Power of Words

Words are powerful. My dad was an English teacher and word junkie so we were always taught to use our words carefully. The lesson has stuck with me and I have found that in raising my kids, I’m careful about not using vocabulary words that I don’t like. There are certain words not in my personal dictionary, that I’m pretty sure they’ve never heard me use. The short list includes:

“Best friend”

I just don’t like this term and never have. It feels exclusive and it inevitably leads to annoying sentences like “I’m not your BEST FRIEND anymore” and “Sorry, but Jenny is already my BEST FRIEND”. I find the newer terms like “BFF” and “Bestie” far less annoying because they seem to be used more generally and don’t seem so serious. The term “best friend” feels like it should have a ring and commitment ceremony attached to it.

“Tomboy”

Just because a girl is sporty and adventurous does not make her like a boy. It makes her sporty and adventurous. These kinds of gender stereotypes have no place in my home (or society).

My girls are not “tomboys” because they like power tools

“Fat” and “skinny”

As a general rule, I don’t speak about appearances in front of my kids. I specifically try to stay away from comments regarding body shape when describing how someone looks, and particularly these two very loaded words.

“Diet”

My kids have never heard me say this word and certainly not in the context of me going on one. My hope is that my daughters will never feel like they need to diet. I like to think that I will face most parental challenges with a certain level of comfort and confidence. I know the exception is eating disorders. I have three girls and if any of them were sticking their fingers down their throat, you would find me in a corner rocking in the fetal position. The thought of facing eating disorders horrifies me and my heart goes out to families raising girls and dealing with it.

“Waitress” and “Mailman”

My kids never hear me use gender when describing a job or career. Yep, this PC mama says, “Server” and “Mail Carrier”, to name just two.

“I hate you”

My kids have never heard me use this term nor has anyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. Words cannot be taken back, even when you are sorry you said them.

Do you have parenting tips on any words that you keep out of your personal dictionary? What words are on the “no say” list in your house? Do you hear any words that make you cringe or that you try not to use in front of your children?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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