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8 Healthy Snacks for Kids on the Go

healthy snacks

One of the best things about homeschooling is that we’re not tied to a schedule. We can take advantage of off-peak hours to visit parks, museums, and libraries, or take day trips just to explore. Being on the go, though, means at some point someone is going to say they are hungry. Eating out or grabbing convenience store snacks is expensive, not to mention usually not healthy. Better to be prepared with snacks so whenever that first little voice says, “I’m hungry!” I can offer them a snack before they get the idea that a trip to McD’s sounds like a great plan or have a hunger-induced meltdown.

healthy snacks and chess at the park
At the park during homeschoolers-only hours. We also bring chess boards and snap circuits everywhere.

Here are some of my favorite healthy snacks for kids on the go. Keep in mind the age and ability of your kiddos when choosing snacks. Things like nuts and grapes can be choking hazards for little ones.

Healthy Snacks for on the Go

  • Fresh fruit Fresh fruit is a perfect, portable snack. Choose fruit that requires minimal prep work to keep it fresh without having to keep it cool. Things like bananas and oranges are easy to peel on the go. Apples and pears are great for kiddos old enough to bite into them whole. They can also be sliced and stored in an airtight container with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning if you know they will be eaten within a short time. Grapes are perfect, if your kids are old enough to handle them without choking.
  • Fresh vegetables Fresh vegetables are another good choice. Celery or carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, and cherry or grape tomatoes are all portable. Nut butters or shelf-stable dressings can be brought along for dipping if that makes them more palatable.
  • Dried fruit While I think they are gross now, raisins were one of my favorites as a kid, and my children love them as well. Dried cranberries are also nice.
  • Trail mix Trail mix is nice, because you get fats from things like nuts, seeds or coconut to help balance the sugars from the fruit. Make your own to tailor it to your families liking and dietary needs.
  • Dry cereal Choose one that has less sugar to keep is relatively healthy.
  • Applesauce While I don’t like the trash created from single use items, the applesauce pouches are great to keep in the car for those times when you find yourself out and forgot snacks or errands took longer than expected.
  • Hard boiled eggs Bring along a small insulated bag or ice chest to keep them cold. If you peel them ahead of time, they’re easier to manage on the go.
  • Popcorn Pop your own and season it with salt and herbs to avoid the weird microwave popcorn butter. I either pop it on the stove in coconut oil or use my air popper. If I use the air popper, I give it a light mist with olive oil to help the seasoning stick. Two of my boys like it with just a little salt. Finn and I are more adventurous. Some of our favorite seasoning combinations are salt and black pepper, chili powder, dill weed, or even a little bit of cayenne pepper. Do be cautious with popcorn, as it is a choking hazard for little ones.

All of those snacks are easy to make work with gluten, dairy and nut-free diets, if you make your own trail mix and choose a cereal based according to your dietary needs.

What about drinks?

Along with healthy snacks, it’s a good idea to bring along something to drink. We like to bring a big water cooler along with cups when we’re out for a long time. We have a one gallon one like this, or we just bring along our big five gallon cooler that we keep filled with filtered water for home.That eliminates the need to buy bottled water and cuts back on sugary drink splurges.

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healthy snacks
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T-Shirt to Yoga Shorts Refashion

If you’re new to refashioning or sewing clothing in general, loungewear is a great place to start. It’s less intimidating because, since you’ll only be wearing it at home, it doesn’t have to be perfect. This refashion project is perfect for a beginner because you only need two t-shirts to make it, and it’s mostly straight lines or slight curves.

I originally shared this tutorial a few years ago, before Thaddeus. The weather is beginning to warm up , so it’s a great time to sew some shorts.


I went on a little Pinterest binge a couple days ago looking for ideas to help clear my refashion stash. Saturday night I decided to make a pair of yoga pants out of a t-shirt using this tutorial. I wear a size eight on average, and used an XL adult t-shirt.

Adaptations from the original refashion project

I did make a few changes to the design. First, instead of cutting the shirt down the middle, I cut it down the sides from the middle of the underarm to the hem. This also means you’ll have an inseam and no side seams. That keeps any design on the front or back intact and moves them to the hips.

For the waistband, I cut the underarm seam from the sleeves and squared them up to be two equal rectangles, leaving the hem intact. I sewed the short sides together making a big, short tube from the sleeves. I then put the tube inside the waist of the pants with the pants right side out and the right side of the tube facing the inside of the pants. The raw edge of the tube lines up with the raw edge of the pants. I serged the top together like that. This made it so when the tube is folded down to the outside, the seam is covered.

T-shirt yoga pants refashion
IMG_4452
IMG_4459
Sorry for the awkward pictures. No one was around to take the pictures and Doctor Who was about to start.

I sewed it all on my serger. The entire refashion project took less than ten minutes. I probably should have added two minutes and switched from white to black thread. Or not.

If you don’t have a serger, you can use a zig-zag stitch to prevent breakage. Many sewing machines have specialty stitches for sewing knits, too, so check your machine to see if that is an option. This DIY T-Shirt Bag Tutorial has more information on stitch selection for knits.

Final verdict

They are a little loose at the waist. If I were planning to actually do yoga or wear them in public I should probably add some elastic at the seam. Since they will probably be used mainly for watching Doctor Who while sitting on the sofa, I probably won’t bother.

I personally don’t mind the length, but you could easily make them shorter by cutting them off to the length you prefer. Knit doesn’t unravel, so you can leave the edges raw, or turn them under and hem.

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T-shirt to yoga pants refashion

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My not so little Valentine

My little Valentine

Today’s post is short and photo-filled, not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but because eight years ago this little Valentine happened:

My little Valentine
Beckett at maybe one day old with looking at his daddy and Finnian.

It’s crazy how quickly this:

Crazy baby Beckett Valentine

Turns into this:

And then into this:

Happy Birthday Beckett!

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Easy Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Easy 3-ingredient Peanut Butter cookies

Sometimes you need cookies. Or maybe that’s just me. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, but sometimes those aren’t fast enough, or somebody has eaten all of the chocolate chips. You know who you are. Peanut butter cookies are a close second, and this three ingredient recipe is dangerously fast and easy.

Because it is a flourless recipe, it is perfect for people following a gluten-free diet.

I’ve only made this recipe with peanut butter, but it should work with other nut butters or nut butter substitutes. Typing that, I got the strong urge to try it with Nutella. Maybe some other time.

Three ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

Fast, easy peanut butter cookies. Great for anytime you need a little something sweet. The recipe calls for three basic ingredients. Because it doesn't call for flour, this is a great gluten free recipe. I usually add a bit of salt and vanilla just because, but they are totally optional.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 mins
Total Time16 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: dairy free, easy, gluten free, one bowl, simple
Servings: 25 cookies

Equipment

  • Baking sheets either lined with parchment or silpat mats or greased.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter I usually use smooth because that's what I have on hand. Crunchy would work, too.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract Totally optional
  • 1 dash salt Totally optional

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
  • Drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes. You want them to just start turning golden at the edges.
  • Let cool to fully set before eating.

I don’t have a photo of the finished cookies because we tend to devour them. I just drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets, but you can do the crisscross pressing with a fork for a traditional peanut butter cookie look.

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Easy 3-ingredient Peanut Butter cookies

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Tips for Going Gluten Free

Many people eat gluten free (g-free), either by choice or need. For those with celiac, eliminating gluten is an absolute necessity. Others find that, for one reason or another, they feel better when they avoid it. In my case, I kind of accidentally discovered that joint pain in my hands and feet go away and I’m less brain foggy when I avoid gluten. Other family members suffer from breakouts and rashes that flare whenever they eat something with gluten. I strongly believe that if you feel bad after eating something, you should probably stop eating it, so we do our best to avoid gluten all together.

Eliminating something that is such a big part of your diet is daunting at first, but there are a few things that can make the transition easier and less expensive. These tips focus on gluten, but many will also help if you need to eliminate other foods.

Start with real foods

Processed foods often have hidden fillers and ingredients, and specialty gluten free foods are expensive. In contrast, fruits, vegetables, meat, nuts, beans, eggs and dairy are naturally gluten free in their pure forms. Rice is a grain that does not contain gluten. Starting from scratch with real food ingredients that you know naturally don’t have gluten is often easier and definitely cheaper than scrutinizing food labels and buying special gluten free versions of normally wheat based foods.

Go simple with seasonings

For the most part, single herbs and spices are gluten free. Certain spice blends may have gluten, though. Making your own blends is the safest bet, but if you have a spice blend you love, most manufacturer websites list whether their products contain gluten.

While not technically an herb or spice, most soy sauce contains gluten. La Choy is a major brand that is made without gluten. Bragg’s liquid aminos are another form of g-free soy sauce.

Most vinegar is g-free. Malt vinegar is not. You’ll also want to check the label on flavored vinegar to be sure.

Cooking oils don’t have gluten unless seasoned with something containing gluten.

Find your current gluten free staples

Look at the foods that currently stock your pantry. What things that you buy are already gluten free? For us, we usually keep a box or two of cereal around for snacking or a quick breakfast. Most cereals are made with wheat and therefore have gluten, but some that we already bought, like Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex are gluten free. Knowing that, I can continue to keep a box or two of cereal we already liked on hand.

Likewise, we keep tortilla chips on hand for snacking or nachos. Most tortilla chips don’t have gluten and inexpensive. Since gluten free crackers are both hard to find and usually expensive, tortilla chips are an easy cracker substitute as well.

Look for the easy substitute

Like substituting tortilla chips for crackers, there are other easy swaps. Corn tortillas usually don’t have gluten and can be substituted for flour tortillas. Rice is often a good substitute for pasta, or substitute rice noodles. If you have an Asian grocery nearby, you can usually find rice noodles there for cheaper than a mainstream supermarket, as well as leafy greens and spices for cheap.

Make it yourself

It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free flour now, so making your own gluten free cookies, pizza crusts, pancakes, breads, etc. is a good option. I love Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour. With it, I can continue to make my favorite deserts just by substituting it for wheat flour. There are other good gluten free flours on the market, too. The most important thing is to know if it is blended to be an exact 1 to 1 substitute or if you need to add something like xanthan gum to give it the stretchiness and rise that you usually get from gluten. For example, Bob’s Red Mill has an All Purpose Gluten Free Flour that is not the 1 to 1 blend. It is a little denser and does not have xanthan gum already blended. I like blending it with tapioca flour, which adds some stretchiness. That works well for things like gluten free flour tortillas. For things that need to rise, though, like cakes or breads, I also add xanthan gum if I’m using the all purpose and not the 1 to 1 blend.

When buying gluten free, shop around

Sometimes you really just want to get some gluten free penne pasta or a g-free bagel. More and more grocery stores regularly stock g-free pastas, breads and desserts, but they can be pricey. If you find them on sale, stock up and freeze the extras. Alternative grocery stores sometimes offer better prices, too. Aldi has a decent selection of g-free breads, pastas, and baking mixes at a lower price than most other stores. I even found some gluten free donuts there recently.

Locally, we have a surplus/discount/closeout grocery store called Town Talk. They frequently have udi’s bread for around two loaves for $3.00. I periodically stop in and stock up when I can.

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Tips for going gluten free

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Easy All in One Electric Pressure Cooker Meal

For busy weeknights, there’s nothing better than an all in one meal that practically cooks itself. Prepare everything the night before and keep it in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook for even more time in the evening. You could even prep the vegetables and meat and store in the freezer for last minute meals.

The basics

This is more of a how-to than a recipe. You can really use however much of the ingredients based on how much food you need and your pressure cooker’s size. For my family of five with two little appetites, I used about four chicken breasts, three cups of rice and water, one jar of sauce and all the broccoli I could squeeze in and around everything.

You can easily swap out the protein for whatever you prefer. Ideally, it should be cut into small, bite sized pieces prior to cooking. With the chicken breasts, I’ve been able to cook them from frozen first and cut them later, but it’s not ideal.

This time, I used broccoli, but it was a little overdone for my liking. Root vegetables cut into bite sized pieces or frozen peas or green beans are probably better for all in one meals like this.

The sauce

To make it super easy, I started with a jar of Korma simmer sauce from Aldi. You could easily substitute any store bought or homemade sauce. Canned soup, salsa, tomato sauce or even just broth are all options. Tailor it to your family’s tastes.

Assemble the ingredients

I used an old rice cooker pot for the rice. Any heatproof container that is big enough to hold the rice and cooking liquid but small enough to fit in your pressure cooker’s cooking pot would work.

I put the chicken and broccoli under and around the rice pot. Then I filled the rice pot with appropriate amounts of rice, water and salt.

The Korma went on top of the broccoli and chicken, and I added about half a cup of water just to make sure there was plenty of liquid. If you use broth or a thinner, liquid sauce, the water isn’t necessary.

Cooking

Finally, I set the whole thing in my pressure cooker and cooked it with the “Rice” setting. My electric pressure cooker is a GoWISE USA brand. Recipes for the Instant Pot brand usually work as written for mine, so I assume that setting would work for the Instant Pot and other similar pressure cookers.

Here is a terrible picture of the end result. I promise it tasted better than it looks. A homemade sauce would have been healthier, I’m sure. When you are strapped for time or having to make do without a fully functioning kitchen, though, it’s lots better than having to rely on fast food.

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All in one Electric Pressure Cooker Meal
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Price Comparison Kroger vs. Walmart

A few days ago, I learned that my local Kroger is closing. Luckily there is another one not too far. Still, I’m used to the layout at my local store, and I’ve gone there for so long that many of the employees know me. 

Since the announcement, I’ve seen many conversations about that store and Kroger in general on Facebook. One thing that I’m constantly hearing is that Kroger is overpriced and Walmart is much cheaper. There’s even a Walmart commercial running on TV right now that compares a basket full of similar items from each store with Walmart’s basket coming out to be cheaper. While the commercial doesn’t surprise me, I am a little surprised every time I hear an individual say Walmart is cheaper. For me, I’ve always thought Kroger is cheaper on most groceries I buy. With everyone saying the opposite, I decided to do a little price comparison shopping.

Kroger vs. Walmart: The Plan

For the comparison, I created a grocery pickup list for each store based around some of my most common purchases. As much as possible, I matched brands at each store or chose the store brand at both. I used the normal price rather than the sale price where applicable. Due to eating gluten and dairy free, things like bread and milk that most people regularly purchase won’t be on my list.

The Food and Price Comparison

  • Coffee: Kroger Select Blend Medium Roast, 30.5 oz, $4.99. Walmart Great Value Classic Roast Medium Ground Coffee, 30.5 oz. $4.93. Winner: Walmart
  • Frozen Mixed Vegetables: Kroger Store Brand, 32 oz, $1.99. Walmart Great Value Brand, 32 oz, $1.94. Winner: Walmart
  • Bath Tissue: Kroger 1000 Sheets per Roll Bath Tissue, 12 rolls, $6.79, $0.57 per roll. Walmart Great Value 1000 Bath Tissue Rolls, 16 rolls, $9.12, $0.57 per roll. Winner: Tie
  • Cascade Complete Gel Dishwasher Detergent, 75 oz: Kroger $7.59. Walmart $5.97. Winner: Walmart. Honestly, this one wasn’t a surprise to me because I do find Walmart better on a lot of non-food items.
  • Sugar, Store brands, 4 lbs: Kroger $1.59. Walmart $1.58. Winner: Walmart
  • Bananas: Kroger $0.49 per lb. Walmart $0.44 per lb. Winner: Walmart
  • Calidad Corn Chips, 12 oz: Kroger $1.88. Walmart: $1.94. Winner: Kroger
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs: Kroger Heritage Farm, $2.99/lb. Walmart store brand, $2.52/lb. Winner: Walmart
  • Ground Beef, 3 lb 80% lean/20% fat, store brands: Kroger $10.47. Walmart $14.42. Winner: Kroger.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios, 10.8 oz: Kroger $3.29. Walmart $2.98. Winner: Walmart
  • Pinto Beans, 4 lb bag, Store Brands: Kroger $2.99. Walmart $3.44. Winner: Kroger.
  • Potatoes, Russet, 10 lb bag, Store Brands: Kroger $3.89. Walmart $3.94. Winner: Kroger.
  • Canned green beans, 14.5 oz, Store Brands: Kroger $2.19/4 pk, $0.55/can. Walmart $0.50/can. Winner:Walmart
  • Blue Diamond Almond Milk, 96 oz: Kroger $4.99. Walmart $3.82. Winner: Walmart.
  • Eggs, large, 12 count, store brand: Kroger $1.09. Walmart $1.37. Winner: Kroger

Overall Totals

Kroger: $49.36

Walmart: $50.36

Kroger vs. Walmart Price Comparison: Overall winner

Kroger, by a whopping $1. At Kroger, the almond milk is currently on sale for $3.99 and the ground beef is on sale for $8.97. With those discounts, my Kroger total would have been $3.50 less than my Walmart total.

My Take

For the kinds of things I normally buy, Kroger is generally the cheaper store overall. I’m not a big coupon user, but I do check the Kroger app frequently and load any coupons that I think I may use to my Kroger card. After that, I shop like normal and any coupons I qualify for get applied automatically. Between that and sales, Kroger is almost guaranteed to be consistently cheaper for me.

I also generally like the produce and canned goods at Kroger better than Walmart. I usually can find what I need at both places, but if I need to buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, I avoid Walmart.

Having said that, there are things, like dishwasher detergent, that are definitely cheaper at Walmart. I wouldn’t say it’s worth it to make a special trip, but if I’m at Walmart anyway, it’s worth stocking up on.

Like I said earlier, my shopping list may look nothing like your shopping list. With more and more stores offering online shopping for pickup or delivery, it’s worth it to periodically do a price comparison between your local stores. It’s so easy to do online, and you may learn ways to adjust your shopping habits and save money.

Kroger vs. Walmart Price comparison

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