May 15






May teases us with visions of summer and all the outdoor activities we dream of throughout the spring. With the outdoor activity increasing, grabbing a snack on the go becomes a necessity. Be prepared with a healthy, yummy, easily portable snack by making your own energy bars! It’s easier than you think, and can be easily adapted for any diet or taste. Throw in the fact that these are “no-bake” and you can turn the kids loose in the kitchen with this recipe. ***The difference between the granola bar and energy bar is the level of protein. The recipe as is makes a general granola bar…if you drop the honey down to 3 tablespoons and add almond or peanut butter, it moves to the energy bar category. Enjoy!!   ~Debbie

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup steel-cut oats

1 cup rice cereal

¼ cup dried cherries, chopped*

¼ cup dried blueberries, chopped*

¼ cup chopped almonds (optional – can use any nut of your choice or omit altogether)

¼ cup pepitas/pumpkin seeds (optional – can use seed of choice or omit altogether)

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup honey, or to preference***

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup mini chocolate or butterscotch chips

optional variations: substitute ½ cup almond or peanut butter, plus 3 tbl honey in place of the ¼ cup honey to make an energy bar***

*use ½ cup of any dried fruit/s of your choice…the wonderful thing about homemade granola bars is you can put whatever you want in and leave whatever you don’t want out. Think about your family’s favorite dried fruits, seeds, nuts, cereals, grains, etc. and come up with your own variation. As long as you keep the right balance of wet/dry ingredients, there really are no rules!

Directions:

Grease a 9×13 baking dish with olive oil, butter, or non-stick spray. In a large bowl mix the oats, cereal, dried fruit, seeds and nuts.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat; add the brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. ***If you like your bars a little drier, use less honey; if you like them chewier and “stickier”, increase the honey to your preference. (If you increase the amount of honey, I would still add it to the oat mixture slowly until you get the right balance…you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!) Whisk/stir until sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Pour over the oat mixture; stir until completely coated/combined. If the mixture is too sticky/wet for your taste, add oats or rice until the desired consistency is reached.

Spread mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate/butterscotch chips evenly over mixture; press into top to set. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Cut into bars.

 

Fun Facts About Fitness

~ It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so you are actually working your muscles harder to be grumpy instead of happy!

~ Your heart is the strongest muscle in your body.

~ The only exercise that requires you to hold your breath in order to do it is swimming underwater!

~ Dehydration causes a drop in exercise/performance, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after physical activity.

~ Your heart is about the size of your fist, and weighs nearly the same as a softball.

~ Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at just one end

~ Just being 25 pounds overweight creates almost 5,000 “extra” miles of blood vessels your heart has to pump blood through on a daily basis.

~ Over a lifetime the average person will walk approximately 70,000.

~ Approximately one-third of children aged 6-11 are overweight, and 15% are considered medically obese.

~ Actively playing with your kids or grandkids can burn as many calories as taking a brisk walk!

~ Exercise boosts brainpower! It increases energy levels and serotonin, which improves mental clarity.

~ Fitness builds family relationships. Realize the gift of exercising with a partner, whether it’s your child, a spouse, a sibling, or a close friend. Not only is it more fun to exercise with someone, it’s a great way to find special one-on-one time together!

Apr 1






Chilly, rainy spring days cry out for comfort food. Falling back on my Southern roots, my thoughts wander to cornbread. The South is well known for it’s cornbread, and deservedly so. Cornmeal is a staple in many recipes, and is a cost-effective way to supplement a meal for a large family.

While pinto beans and cornbread are served at many a southern table, chili and cornbread is an equal second. Chili cook-offs abound all over the country with recipes ranging from mild to nuclear. This chili recipe is one I came up with trying to satisfy my southern taste buds while staying family-friendly. Most recipes are made with ground beef, ground pork, or a combination of both. I use frozen meat-substitute crumbles to make it super healthy and super easy. And before you say, “oh, there’s NO WAY I could eat chili made from soy”, just ask my husband…I fed him this chili for over 4 years before he found out it was meat substitute! He will admit to this day he cannot tell the difference. (His suggestion is to add a little steak seasoning to complete the masquerade.)

Aside from healthiness, another benefit is there’s no thawing or browning of meat…it goes straight from freezer to pot! All of the ingredients can be kept in the freezer or pantry – ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s also “helper friendly” so the kids can participate in the whole process. This one-pot meal is on the table in less than half an hour.  Enjoy!!   ~Debbie

Ingredients:

1 bag Morning Star veggie crumbles (or 1 lb browned, ground beef)

1 can pinto beans, rinsed & drained

1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained

1 can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 can diced tomatoes with garlic (there are several varieties, take your pick)

1 can tomato paste

1 can tomato sauce with garlic

water, as needed

shredded cheese/chopped onions, optional

optional variations: add a can of corn, drained; add a can of Rotel tomatoes & green chilis; add a jar of pickled jalapeno slices, drained. Nothing’s off limits…vary to your own taste!

 

1 box cornbread mix (I prefer Trader Joe’s), baked according to package directions.

Directions:

Dump all the ingredients together in a large soup/chili pot. Heat on medium to medium-high heat until heated through, usually about 20-30 minutes. Once I get all the ingredients warming up together, I add water a little at a time until I get the consistency I want. Wait until it’s cooked for a while, however, because the thawing crumbles (if you use that) will add a little water as it thaws so you may not need to add much, if any at all. You will most likely need to add water if you use regular ground beef/pork. I usually start mixing the cornbread after I put the chili on the stove; by the time I’ve mixed it up and baked it, the chili is heated through. I also started making mini-muffins out of the cornbread for easier and more kid-friendly serving sizes. Add some shredded cheese on top for extra yumminess. Throw a quick side salad together or add a veggie and you’ve got a complete meal in a flash for pennies a serving!

Fun Facts About Rain

~The umbrella was not designed to protect us from the rain; it was originally invented to block the hot sun!

~ If you’ve ever wondered why some springs are rainier than others, just look at the sun. Not literally of course, but the sun does have an impact on how much it rains. The sun is on an eleven-year cycle, with regards to sunspots and the production of cosmic rays. When sun spot activity is high, the sun produces more cosmic rays, which get through our atmosphere as small particles. These small particles form a water droplet and eventually form rain clouds. So if you have more cosmic rays, you get more cloud cover, which causes us to have a rainier season.

~ When sunlight shines through water droplets in the air, we get rainbows. The water droplets bend the light and separate it into the seven colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

~ We all know that rain is water, but where does it come from? Rain is recycled water that has evaporated from our water sources on land: oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks, and streams.

~ Rain falls at a rate of about 5-6 miles per hour, but can fall at speeds up to 22 mph.

~ Rain doesn’t begin as a teardrop. It starts out as a flat oval and stretches into the classic teardrop shape as it falls.

~ The heaviest rainfall on the planet is in Cherrapunju, India, where it can rain as much as 87 feet per year! In the United States the heaviest rainfall is in Louisiana, which averages 56 inches per year.

~ Rain occurs on other planets in our solar system, but it is much different than the rain we have on Earth. On Venus it rains sulfuric acid, but due to the extreme heat, evaporates before it hits the surface!

Mar 4






Anyone who knows me is very aware of the fact that Dr. Seuss is my literary hero. He is the indisputable master of rhyming, and has undeniably made his own unique mark in literary history. Dr. Seuss is not simply a talented author; his gifts go much further than that. He has the ability to cross age barriers, cultural and ethnic barriers, political barriers and any other common social obstacles that tend to plague humanity. He was able to infuse humor with human frailties to reach commonality with his readers, young and old for so many of life’s important lessons. His books are timeless, and will be treasured for generations to come. So when the time came for selecting this month’s recipe, of course there was one obvious choice: Green Eggs & Ham! Courtesy of Seussville.com, here are a few different variations…hope you enjoy!   ~Debbie

Dr. Seuss Fun Facts

~ If you want to pronounce his name correctly, say “Zoice” not “Soose”. Seuss is Bavarian, and was his mother’s maiden name. His grandparents emigrated from Bavaria (part of what is now Germany) in the 1800’s. Seuss is actually his middle name: Theodore Seuss Geisel (known as “Ted” by his family).

~ Dr. Seuss was the editor of his college humor magazine at Dartmouth, where he published his cartoons at the time. In the spring of 1925, he and his buddies were caught drinking gin in their room (which violated the rules of Prohibition at the time) and was stripped of his editorship as punishment. To get around that, Geisel began publishing his cartoons under the aliases L. Pasteur, T. Seuss and Seuss, to name a few. These cartoons are when he first started signing his work “Seuss”. As a magazine cartoonist, he began working under the title “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss” in 1927, shortening it to “Dr. Seuss” in 1928.

~ Dr. Seuss never had any children of his own, just two stepdaughters from his second marriage to Audrey Stone in 1968. He and his first wife Helen (who died in 1967) wanted children, but Helen was unable to have any. When asked how he could write so well for children not having any of his own, his usual response was “You make ‘em, I’ll amuse ‘em”.

~ Dr. Seuss was quite bored by his academic studies; he much preferred to doodle and draw so decided to tour Europe instead of going to college. He began pursuing his career as a cartoonist when he returned to the United States.

~ The Cat in the Hat, probably the best known book of Dr. Seuss, was written after a publisher asked him to write and illustrate a children’s beginning reader using only 225 “new reader” vocabulary words.

~ Green Eggs and Ham was Seuss’ comeback when his publisher bet him he couldn’t write a book using only 50 or fewer different words. It ended up becoming Seuss’ best selling book.

~ Dr. Seuss didn’t just want children to read; he wanted them to think. He realized the power children’s books had for the potential of good, and tried to foster that through his post-war message books Horton Hears a Who!, The Sneetches and The Butter Battle Book, to name a few. He won the Pulitzer Prize for The Butter Battle Book in 1984.

 

Feb 1






February abounds with chocolates, flowers, and candy hearts. There’s definitely no shortage of dessert recipes for those of us that are admitted chocoholics! Here’s an easy, “wow-factor” dessert that takes very little time and just a few ingredients. You can go the homemade route and make your brownies and whipped cream from scratch, or you can save time and take advantage of pre-made brownies from your local store and a can of Reddi-Wip!

Ingredients:

8 (2×2 inch) brownies, crumbled into pieces (about 2 cups)

2 cups fresh raspberries

chocolate syrup

whipped cream

Directions:

Start by crumbling the brownies into “dirt”. This is a great way for the kids to help, and it keeps your hands clean!

Divide half of the brownie dirt between 4 large parfait glasses or water goblets. Divide half of the raspberries, syrup, and whipped cream between the glasses, creating layers. Repeat the layers with the remaining dirt, raspberries, syrup, and whipped cream. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 4 hours. Enjoy!

~Debbie

Valentine Fun Facts

~ Valentine’s Day was first introduced to Japan in 1936, and has become a very popular celebration. But due to a translation error made by a chocolate company executive during the first ad campaigns, only women give chocolates to their spouses, boyfriends or friends. For many single women, it is the only time they will dare reveal their true feelings for a man by giving him chocolate. Handmade chocolates are preferred, as they show that sincerity and effort went into giving the gift.

~ IQD or “International Quirkyalone Day” is also celebrated on February 14 as an option for those that don’t want to drown in the mass-marketing of Valentine’s Day. It’s not anti-Valentine’s Day, but rather a celebration of friendship, independence, and love for yourself.

~Another alternative to Valentine’s Day is Single Awareness Day (which used to go by SAD until members felt that was too depressing and contradicted the group’s intention). It was formed by a group of singles who were tired of feeling left out of all the Valentine’s Day celebrations and ad campaigns. The goal is to set a day for singles to celebrate, have parties, and exchange gifts with their other single friends. Many people send themselves flowers or plan special events with other singles.

~ In 1700s England, a girl would eat a hard-boiled egg (including the shell, yuck!) and pin four bay leaves to her pillow on Valentine’s Day eve. Legend has it that she would soon marry the boy she dreamed about that night.

~ Around 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are given in the United States every year. That makes it the biggest card-giving occasion of the year (next to Christmas), and women buy 85% of all Valentine’s sold.

Dec 12






Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

 

December is the official start of winter, which means colder weather and many evenings staying warm inside. Whether you’re curled up with a good book, watching your favorite show or having family time together, everyone enjoys a yummy cup of hot chocolate. What many don’t know is how easy it is to make your own “instant” hot cocoa instead of buying packaged stuff at the store. Not only is it easy, it’s more affordable compared to what you spend on those individual serving packets. This is also a great gift idea, especially for those that are hard to shop for.

Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup cocoa (Dutch-process preferred)

2½ cups powdered milk

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cornstarch

1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste*

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly (I find using a whisk works best). In a kettle or small pot heat 4-6 cups of water.

Fill your mug half full with the mixture and pour in hot water. Stir until mixed. Sealed in an airtight container, this mix keeps indefinitely in the pantry. If you want an even richer cup, this works great with warm milk instead of water.

*Some of you may be thinking “cayenne pepper, are they crazy?!” But you really need to try it! The amount is like a drop in the ocean when you compare the quantity of the other dry ingredients. This just gives it that extra “hmmmm” that you taste in a really good chocolate, but you can’t put your finger on what it is….using pepper in chocolate is common in Mayan culture. Pepper enhances the flavor of chocolate the same way salt enhances the flavors of other things in cooking & baking. You may find yourself increasing the amount to ¼ teaspoon or more…Enjoy!

~Debbie

 


Fun Facts about Winter Solstice

 

Have you ever wondered why the days seem so long during the summer and so short during the winter? Well, it’s not your imagination! The length of each day changes over the course of the year depending upon the season. During the summer, usually around June 21 or 22, we experience the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. And during the winter, usually around December 21 or 22, is the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. The length of the days is due to the Earth’s tilt on its axis. During the summer it is tilted towards the sun, which gives us longer, warmer days. In the winter, it is tilted away from the sun, giving us shorter, colder days.

**EXTRA FUN FACT** If you live in Australia, it’s exactly the opposite! You experience the longest day in December and the shortest day in June. Why? Because Australia is located below the equator, their seasons are reversed…they have winter in June and summer in December! Santa might have to trade in his warm coat and cocoa for shorts and sunscreen “down under”

People from many different cultures have held solstice celebrations for thousands of years. For our ancestors, the seasons and weather played a very important role in their lives for hunting, gathering and growing. For this reason, many celebrations and traditions were centered around the solstices. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol” which means sun, “stitium” which means stoppage, and “sistere” which means to stand still. This loosely translates to mean the time the sun stops or stands still.

One of the most well-known winter celebrations is probably Christmas, but there are countless traditions and celebrations all over the world that are not connected to Christmas at all. Many different religions and cultures practice their celebrations at this time of year including Kwanza, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Soyal and Yule. There are solstice festivals, gatherings, rituals and celebrations all over the world recognizing the different cycles of the year. 

~Debbie

 

Sep 11






What you will need:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk or fork
  • Frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Pot holders

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 slices Hawaiian Sweet Bread (You can substitute any type of bread you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Steps:

  • Break eggs into bowl and whisk in milk, salt, and sugar
  • Melt butter in frying pan over medium-high heat
  • Quickly dip bread slices into egg mixture until both sides are coated
  • Place coated bread slices onto pan. Cook until the bottom of the bread is a light golden color and then flip it over till the other side browns. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
  • Serve hot with syrup, jam, powdered sugar, or whatever you like!

It’s almost like eating at Sam Choy’s!

Enjoy!

Gyro Psychology Services, Inc.

360.236.0206

 

Health Disclaimer

Jun 19






 Hi everyone!! This week we’ll be making another one of my favorite dishes… chicken! One of my favorite ways to make chicken is to fry it, but that can be messy and my mom says that it really isn’t the healthiest way to eat it anyway. So I’ve found a recipe that tastes just as good as fried chicken but instead, we’ll be baking it! Here’s what we’ll need to get started:

  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken parts (breasts, wings, drumsticks, thighs)

First, have an adult help you turn the oven on and set it to 375*.

To make the coating for the chicken, pour the cornflakes into a sealable gallon-size plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush the cereal. Or, you can just use your hands to crush it too! Open the bag and add the flour, paprika, onion powder and sage. Shake in a little salt and pepper to your taste. Reseal it and shake until it’s mixed together well.

Pour the milk into a shallow bowl. Have an adult help you rinse the chicken pieces. Dip one piece in the milk then drop it in the bag of cornflake mix. Shake it until the chicken is coated with the cereal. Place the chicken skin side up in an un-greased baking pan. Repeat until all the pieces are coated. Discard any leftover coating and make sure to wash your hands after handeling any kind of raw meat. Before it’s cooked, meat can have all sorts of germs and bacteria on them.

Bake for 50 minutes or until your mom or dad says it’s done. While it’s cooking you can make side dishes like beans, biscuits or carrots. Try this recipe I wrote in May for some really yummy carrots! Enjoy!!

 

Learning Corner:

  • Q- What makes this chicken a healthier alternative than fried chicken?    
  • A- Fried chicken is usually cooked in fatty oils which give it a crispy skin, but eating too much fat is not good for our bodies.
  • Q- Can a chicken fly?              
  • A- Yes! A chicken actually can fly, but only for short distances and not very high. http://answers.askkids.com/Weird_Science/can_a_chicken_fly

You can make almost any kind of chicken! There are different ways to cook it like grilling, and the ingredients you can use are endless. Check out this website and try a new recipe that you may not have tried before.  Happy Cooking!

 

Jan 11






This is a super easy, but fun snack that all kids love to eat.  Make it for a family movie night and then sit back and enjoy time together.

Ingredients:

1 large soup pot with lid

1-2 tablespoons oil

1/2-3/4 cup popcorn kernels

Directions:

Heat oil over medium to medium high heat on your stove, once oil is hot added your popcorn kernels. Cover the pot with a lid, it there is a glass one your kids can watch the popcorn as it pops.  Shake the pot lightly from side to side so the kernels don’t burn.  Once they start popping slow your shaking down, and wait until the popping slows down to 1-2 pops every few seconds. Remove from heat.  Add butter, salt or even cheese to your popcorn. 

ENJOY!

Danielle

Learning Corner:

Have a different member of your family pick out a movie each weekend to ensure you get some good family time each week.