Simple Smoothies for the Whole Family

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Does your little one (or significant other) not like eating their vegetables? Do you want your family to start their day off right? Are you someone who has to take their breakfast on the go?

If your answer to any of these questions was “yes”, then I have a solution for you! Smoothies! Smoothies are a wonderful way to pack in some extra fruits and veggies into your and your family’s diets.

The smoothie shown here was made with:

  • Tropical blend frozen fruit (peaches, mangoes, pineapple, and bananas)
  • Organic chopped kale
  • 100% apple juice
  • Chia seeds

The beauty about green smoothies like this is that they are so versatile! They can be made with any frozen fruit of your choice, any liquid of your choice, any green of your choice, and any add-ins (like my chia seeds) that you want! Just blend together until completely combined!

A sample list of these can include any of the following:

 Frozen fruits

  • Bananas
  • Strawberries (Watch out for children younger than 12 months! Some doctors recommend waiting until 12 months of age to introduce strawberries due to an allergen risk.)
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Kiwi
  • And many more!

Greens and vegetables

  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Sweet peas
  • Cooked Pumpkin
  • Cooked Sweet Potato
  • And many more!

Liquids:

  • 100% Fruit Juice
  • Milk (I recommend plant-based milks over dairy milk, but the choice is up to you!)
  • Iced Tea (I recommend green tea, but due to caffeine content this is not a good choice for little ones)
  • Iced Coffee (Again, not recommended for little ones due to caffeine.)
  • Or just plain old water!

Add-ins:

  • Seeds (including chia seeds, flax seeds, shelled pumpkin seeds, and unsalted sunflower seeds) **POSSIBLE ALLERGEN**
  • Nuts or nut butters (I like almonds the best, but unsalted walnuts, pistachios, pecans,  and peanuts can also be delicious) **POSSIBLE ALLERGEN**
  • Protein powder (not recommended for little ones)
  • Yogurt **POSSIBLE ALLERGEN**
  • Honey or Dates (as natural sweeteners)
  • Cocoa powder
  • And many more!

**Recipe Tips**

  • If you find your smoothie mixture is too thick, just try adding more liquid and re-blend.
  • As buying frozen fruit can often be expensive, try buying fresh fruits that are in season and freezing them for the future. If you already have fresh fruit, but no frozen fruit, you can blend your smoothie with some extra ice to get the same effect.
  • For children who can’t yet suck out of a straw, there are a couple options. You can cut the opening of a bottle or soft-tipped sippy cup a little wider to allow your children to drink the thicker liquid. I go with the option of adding less liquid to create a little thicker mixture and spoon feeding it to my son. He loves it so much, it is almost like a healthier version of a slushie or ice cream!
  • Always check online or with your doctor for possible allergens. Allergic reactions are terrifying, especially for a a parent taken off-guard.

Soup for the Season: A Take on Zuppa Toscana

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Eating out at a restaurant can be expensive and often times inconvenient, especially for parents. One way to reduce these types of problems is to learn how to make your favorite restaurant dishes at home! I did this for my fiance’s favorite soup, Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden. By making this dish time and time again, I have made my own little changes to make this into a little bit healthier soup that I feed to my family often! Instead of using heavy whipping cream, I use coconut milk. I really shouldn’t eat dairy so this is a better option for me. I also like to add extra kale since it is so darn good for you!

To make this take on Zuppa Toscana you will need:

  • 1 lb of ground mild or hot Italian sausage (if you can’t find plain ground sausage, you can use about 4 uncooked Italian sausage links and cut them out of the casing)
  • 1/2 of a medium onion ( I use red)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • about 4 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 quarts of chicken broth
  • 2 quarts water
  • 4 cups of chopped kale
  • 1 13.5 oz can of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk (or 1 cup of heavy whipping cream)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Start out by browning the ground sausage in a large soup pot.
  2. While the sausage is browning, cut up the potatoes into thin quarter slices, about 1/4 inch thick. See picture for reference. The chopped potatoes should come out to about 8 or 9 cups. 20161227_180016.jpg
  3. Once the sausage is done browning, add the chicken broth, water, onion, garlic and potatoes. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add the coconut milk (or cream) and stir to incorporate thoroughly.
  5. Finally, add the kale and cook lightly. Add any salt and pepper for desired seasoning.
  6. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

*Recipe Tips*

  • If you are really trying to stretch this, try adding more potatoes. It will make a more filling soup.
  • Adding cream instead of coconut milk will result in a creamier soup
  • Use hot Italian sausage if you like a spicier soup. For even more heat, I recommend crushed red pepper, but my fiance loves adding sriracha!

Baked Ravioli Lasagna

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Now, I know for being called “Momma Bear’s Muchies” more food based posts would have been expected, but I FINALLY was able to find something interesting to put up here! I used my own creativity to use the foods I had to create something a little different! Baked Ravioli Lasagna was something I whipped up for my fiancé and my little man for dinner the other night. I know that cheese ravioli is not the absolute best thing to eat nutrition wise, but there are much worse options available. I’m mainly talking about canned spaghetti and pasta products. There is usually so much sodium and other additives in canned products such as these that they are generally best avoided. Instead of feeding your little one canned spaghetti, try frozen raviolis or my Baked Ravioli Lasagna! It is fairly inexpensive to make and takes the hassle out of classic lasagna.

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What you are going to need to make this dish is:

  • About 18 frozen cheese and/or meat ravioli (depending on size)
  • One 32 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce (I used organic from Aldi)
  • 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (Also Aldi brand)
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste
  • One 8×8 pan or baking dish (I used glass)

 

Start off by boiling the frozen ravioli according to the directions on the packaging. Drain the ravioli and let cool enough to allow for easy handling.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Next, fill the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish with about a third of the jar of spaghetti sauce. Lay down the ravioli side-by-side, slightly overlapping. I got nine in one layer with the size of my ravioli.

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Pour about another third of the jar of spaghetti sauce over the layer of ravioli.

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After the sauce use about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese to cover the layer of sauce.

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Repeat the same layering pattern of ravioli.

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Coat second ravioli layer with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown.

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Allow to cool and dish to set. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve with bread sticks and salad if desired.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Once Upon a Child

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With Christmas drawing nearer and most people’s budget’s even more tight than any other time of the year, I thought it would be a great time to post about a store called Once Upon a Child. If you are not familiar with this store, Once Upon a Child is a resale shop dedicated to all things young child and baby. The store near me even sells maternity clothes! That was a big lifesaver when I was pregnant. Deciding that our son has many toys already and knowing our family members were sure to get him a ton of clothes and toys for Christmas, my fiancé and I decided we would go to Once Upon a Child and get our son a few things. We came out with a couple clothing items, three pairs of shoes, and a shape sorting bucket (since he is really into organizing and sorting things at this time). The clothing was very affordable along with the shoes. Knowing how fast children grow out of clothing, it was all almost like new. The shoes were only $6.50 a pair. I even bought him a pair of winter boots at $6.50 as opposed to the ones for about $15 I had thought about getting him at Walmart. The shape sorting bucket was only $4.50 and appears as if it has never been used. The great thing about Once Upon a Child is that you can sell your items back to the store if your child does not use them anymore. It also keeps up with current safety codes, so it does not buy any gear that has been recalled. With how expensive baby and young child items can be, Once Upon a Child can be a great resource, not only during the gift-giving time of the year, but also year-round.  For more information about this great store and to find locations near you, check out their website HERE

The picture above is my son with the Easter bunny that the Once Upon a Child in my area hosted for free during this past Easter season.

Libraries are the best!

Let me start off saying I absolutely adore the library. By just signing up for a card you get nearly unlimited resources for FREE! Books, movies, music, programs, playrooms, and more, all for free. Unfortunately I live in a city where I have to pay for parking, but the amount of fun my son has at the library for just a little bit of change is totally worth it. As you can see above, he adores playing in the children’s play room. He has multiple educational toys at his disposal and can play for hours without getting bored. We even go to a program every other Tuesday  called “Baby and Me”. We spend a half an hour in a group with other parents and children from birth to 2-years-old. We all sing songs, socialize, and have tons of fun. There are also multiple other events and programs throughout the year. If your child is a little older, there is tutoring available. I love to get  my son the “Baby Signing Time” DVDs that my library carries. He loves the songs and I can tell he is trying to make some of the signs! It’s entertaining and educational for him! I encourage you all to check out your local library for all that it offers because you just might find a gold mine!

Hello!

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Hello all! Thank you all for visiting Momma Bear’s Munchies! This is a place for all parents on a budget. This here is me and my little man, EJ. He is the love of my life. I try to do all that I can for him, but money is sometimes an issue. I am determined to create healthy and delicious foods for him and give him a wonderful childhood full of fun. I hope to help all of those parents out there in the same situation as me. We can be exactly what our children need, despite the size of our bank accounts. What they see is the love and effort we put forth for them every day. I hope you can all join me and we grow together as a community.