Monday, January 23, 2017

4 Easy Breakfast Smoothies for Busy Moms

We’re all guilty of skipping breakfast from time to time – it’s a bit of a gong show in the morning anyways, what with getting the kids dressed and ready, getting yourself ready, and prioritizing yourself around the coffee….did I mention coffee? I think we’d all be hard pressed to find a morning where we didn’t lose our minds on our kids, who seem to turn from tornadoes to sloths when it comes to brushing their teeth…

Luckily, I’ve been pinning away on Pinterest a variety of easy to make smoothies that you can whip up with very basic ingredients that will fill you up until lunch time - the best part is that they’re portable and you can drink them while you take the kids to school. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling all 4 of these, and I’ve given them a mark out of 5!

1. Iced Coffee Protein Shake
I’m a coffee junkie, and I liked the fact that this one combined health with energy. Throw the following ingredients into your Magic Bullet/Vitamix/Blender of your choice:
• 2 cups of ice
• 1 cup of cold brewed coffee
• 1 scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder (I love Vega brand)
• 1 frozen banana
• 1 cup of almond milk (I like the vanilla sweetened one)
Blend it all up and voila! Yum, I liked it a lot!



2. Chunky Monkey Protein Shake
I’m obsessed with bananas and peanut butter, but strangely enough not a big fan of peanut butter in smoothies. Alternatively I use almond butter in this one.
• 1 Cup of Ice
• I cup of Almond Milk (chocolate, preferably)
• 1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter
• 1 tablespoon of honey
• 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
• 1 frozen banana
Blend away and drink it up!


3. Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
If you want energy but you don’t like coffee, this matcha green tea smoothie is an ideal substitute. Matcha powder is a beautifully vibrant green powder made from the nutrient-rich young leaves of Japanese green tea, stone ground into a fine powder. You can purchase matcha powder at David’s Tea, Teavana, or just about any health food store. It is extremely good for you and packed with antioxidants – apparently 120x the amount than in green tea alone – and packs an energy punch that will give you pep for the entire day. It also contains fibre and amino acids that help you feel calmer. I add mango and a banana to my smoothie, as well as some honey or stevia to add a bit of sweetness.

• 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
• 2 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 1 cup orange juice (optional)
• 2 teaspoons honey, optional
• 1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
Blend up and serve!

4. Fountain of Youth Smoothie
This one is super refreshing and packed with ingredients that will not only reduce bloating, but make your skin look and feel super healthy. While the above smoothies are mainly savory/nutty, this one is sweet and tangy and perfect for a boost any time of the day.

• 1 grapefruit peeled and quartered
• 4 strawberries hulled and sliced
• 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted and flesh cut into chunks
• 1 handful fresh parsley.
• 1 handful fresh mint.
• 4 ice cubes.
• 250 ml coconut water

Some additional tips:

• If you want the smoothies to be slushier, use frozen fruit in place of fresh
• If adding yogurt, look for low or no sugar options; also look for natural or Greek yogurt for extra protein
• Add chia seeds, moringa powder, flax seeds or omega liquid for extra health benefits
• Add kefir, a fermented milk drink that adds lots of probiotics

Melissa Collins is a freelance writing mother of 2 girls. When she’s not cleaning up cheerios and play dough, she can likely be found curled up n her hammock with a good book. Check her out at www.mellysmommymanual.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Creative Ways To Keep Kids Hydrated

Hydration can play a huge role in keeping kids healthy - and it becomes even more important when kids do get sick. If your little one isn’t a huge fan of drinking, use these 5 tips to keep him hydrated this season.

 1. Make it a game
Set a timer and see how much he can drink in 5 seconds. Or challenge her to a drinking
race to see who can finish their glass of water first. Get creative, and try not to get too competitive...


2. Use a fun straw or cup
Sometimes adding a colorful straw or offering a fun cup is all it takes to get kids to drink more.

3. Set a timer
Set a timer to go off every 10 minutes or every hour to remind your child to take a sip.

4. Offer something special
If your child is sick, fluids become an important part of helping them feel better faster. If
they refuse water, offer juice or a special drink that they don’t usually get to drink.

5. Freeze it
Yes, popsicles count as hydration - especially when you’re desperate.


Article courtesy of Boogie Wipes

Thursday, January 12, 2017

There's An App for That!: New App to Keep Kids Safe

SitterAdvantage™ is the new app developed by stay-at-home dad Brian Presley and designed to have emergency help in the palm of the babysitter’s hand while helping the sitter do more than just let the kids watch television. The app also features links to the website whattodowiththekids.com where you’ll find a great collection of games, crafts and activities that don’t involve electronics or batteries. Developed in part by the students of Ottawa’s Algonquin College, it is now available on Google Play and the App Store. For the cost of a cup of coffee, babysitters and nannies can become better at their job while parents will have the peace-of-mind in knowing that their kids are happy and safe.

When the sitter arrives, it takes only a few minutes to enter important information about the kids including any handicaps, allergies or medications they may have. A photo is also taken and becomes part of the kid’s profile so that in the event of an emergency, all of the important information is available for the sitter to pass on to the authorities. All information is secure since the app does not transmit information and all of it can easily be deleted at the parent’s request.

An emergency button appears on every page of SitterAdvantage™ and with one touch, the Call 911 icon appears allowing the sitter to call for help and if they are out of the house, the Show My Location icon uses the phone’s GPS to find where they are so that help can find them. The home address along with the profiles of all the kids and parent’s contact information are also displayed so that there is no delay in providing the right information to the 911 operator.

Parents also have one less thing to worry about when they have instructions for the sitter. The Task section allows the sitter to enter the task, instructions and can set a reminder so that nothing gets missed. It’s a great feature to help put the kids to bed on time or for the really important things such as when to give medication.

With links to whattodowiththekids.com, the sitter can keep the kids away from a screen by finding the right games, craft or activity to play with them.The resources section also feature checklists that will help the sitter or nanny choose a job, prepare for it and offer advice on what to look for when they arrive at the job.

Other apps can help you find a sitter or nanny but SitterAdvantage™ is the app that will make that sitter or nanny better. SitterAdvantage™ is available for the iPhone and Android smartphones. More information about how SitterAdvantage™ works can be found at www.sitteradvantage.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's TACO Night!

Whether you have picky eaters to feed or only half an hour to get dinner on the table. This simple meal can be served when in a a rush. As well, make a double batch and freeze the extra for another family meal later on in the week.

Beef Taco's
Serves 4-6

1 tsp canola oil
1-2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound extra lean ground beef
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
10-12 Taco shells
Shredded lettuce
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped avocado (optional)
Tomato salsa (optional)
Sliced black olives (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

Heat taco shells in a low heat oven until slightly warm, 5-10 minutes. In a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium high heat and add onions and garlic. Sauté until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add beef, turn up heat and stir. Cook until no longer pink,  about 8 minutes. Add cumin and paprika and stir 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and stir about 1 minute. Mix in cilantro if using. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 1/4 cup of beef filling into each taco and let everyone layer on their desired toppings.


Barb Kemp is a cook and food educator as well as a passionate home cook. She believes cooking should be fast, simple and full of fresh whole foods.  She writes a Newsletter for the everyday cook and recently launched Cooking Reboot, an online healthy eating and cooking program.  For more information and recipes to go www.recipestotherescue.ca

Monday, January 9, 2017

8 Fun and Effective Exercise Videos for Busy Moms

For moms, scheduling time to exercise can feel almost impossible. After all, how are you supposed to find time to work out when there are an endless number of things to do? Between for caring for children; household chores; medical appointments; commuting and all the demands of one's work life there seems very little time left in the day. Yet, most medical professions suggest a minimum of 10-30 minutes of physical activity each day. So what do you do?

Have no fear! We have an easy solution. We have tested and sweated along to these quick FREE Youtube exercise videos you can easily do from the comforts of home! A small space in your living room will do. Or you can try exercising in your children's play room. No weights? Then grab some soup cans. Just remember to fill up your water bottle which is key to weight loss. Always remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and have fun!

1. Beginner Tabata Workout for Moms: Moms into Fitness with Lindsay Brin
A supercharged Tabata training workout that's only 10 minutes incorporating intense bursts of cardio exercise with explosive plyometric movement to boost the metabolism, incinerate calories, build strength, increase endurance for a total body tone-up.

Youtube Link:Beginner Tabata
Website Link: www.momsintofitness.com

2. Quicky Booty Lift Workout by Blog by Blogilates
All you have to do is follow along for just one song - don't even think about reps! By POP Pilates, this 5 minute home routine is focused on targeting your butt and your hamstrings. Do this video if you want to lift and tone your glutes...humm who doesn't!

Youtube Link: 
Quicky Booty Lift 
Website Link: www.blogilates.com

3. BeFiT Transform: 17 Min Workout of the Day Fitness Challenge (Beginner) with Allie Cohen
An intense, full body-shredding fat burn AMRAP (as many reps as possible) workout routine that features a circuit-style strength training challenge that blends weight-training, explosive plyometric moves and core exercise to incinerate calories, build definition and increase stamina to sculpt lean muscle and tone the entire body from head to toe!

Youtube Link:
17 Min Workout
Website Link: www.befit.com

4. Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (Three Levels in Total) 
One of my favorite go-to workouts when I need something intense and quick. Exclusive 3-2-1 Interval System that combines strength, cardio and abs to blast through calories. The program includes three complete 20-minute workouts which progress by level of intensity. Start with Level 1 and advance through Level 3 – or find your favourite level and keep on training.

Youtube Link: 
Level 1
Level 2
Website Link: www.jillianmichaels.com

5. Betty Rocker 11 Minute Cardio Workout 
Sometimes you just need a fast workout fix you can do anywhere...and that’s where this workout comes in to save the day! This fast 11 minute no equipment needed workout gets your heart pumping with fun exercises to keep you burning fat all day long.

Youtube Link: 
Betty Rocker Cardio Workout 
Website Link: www.thebettyrocker.com

6. Bikini Body Mommy Challenge 4.0
A big hit with some BC mom facebook groups. Bikini Body Mommy has launched (new for 2016) their 5.0 90 Day Challenge to help you get active and in shape. This first video walks our through the 90 day Challenge with each video provided free of charge to help you work out anytime and anywhere. Modifications are provided for every fitness level. Additonal products for purchase.

Youtube Link: 
Day 1
Complete 90 day workout videos 
Day 1 - 90
Website  Link: www.bikinibodymommy.com

7. Prenatal Cardio Workout from Fit & Firm Pregnancy
This fun, low-impact, 20-minute heart-healthy aerobic workout that is adapted for all three trimesters to boost metabolism, burn calories, and tone the entire body. Boost energy and perfect posture with Legendary Fitness Expert, Denise Austin as she takes you through this low intensity, joint-friendly segment from her popular "Fit & Firm Pregnancy" Workout DVD.

Youtube Link:
Prenatal Cardio 
Website Link: www.deniseaustin.com

8. Prenatal Pilates Workout
This 20 minute pilates workout uses mat exercises appropriate for any trimester of pregnancy. Get a safe and effective workout to both strengthen and stretch your body during pregnancy.

Youtube Link:
Prenatal Pilates  
Website Link: www.bodyfitbyamy.com

Monday, December 19, 2016

Product Review: Muck Boot Review

Recently I was given a chance to review some boots for my daughter. Talk about great timing, since the wet and rainy Vancouver was upon us, and my girl had grown out of her previous season’s boots.

When given the choice to pick a pair from the Muck Boots website, I was fairly certain that my pink-loving, frilly wearing girly girl of a daughter was going to pick the My Little Pony style of the Mucks Hale boots:

However, to my surprise, she instead went with the Transformers option – in the Optimus Prime style! These boots are great. They’re so versatile – perfect and durable in the rain, but providing the stability and ergonomics for the foot much in the way that a running shoe does. And even better is that we had a chance to test them out in the snow recently – upon which we realized that they kept my daughter’s feet very warm and dry after playing for a few hours in the snow!

Features that I love about these boots:

  • They fit snugly like a runner and allow my daughter to run and jump just like when she is wearing shoes
  • They have a rear pull on loop that aides her in pulling them onto her foot
  • They’re 100% waterproof
  • They’re snug around the calves to seal warmth in and keep the snow and rain out
  • The rubber soles are non-slip so she can be sure on her feet
Let me tell you, she was a real hit at school when all the kids in her class saw her cool new Transformers boots! Score and extra point for mom over here when my daughter learned that I was a Transformers fan when I was a kid, too!

The MSRP for these boots is $69.99 and they range in children’s sizes from 7 to 13, and youth sizes from 1 to 5. These boots are awesome, and I would highly recommend them – in fact, I’m looking for a pair for myself next!The Muck Boot Company has boots for all types of activities – from cold weather trekking, to horse and stable, to work boots and play boots for kids. Visit www.muckbootcompany.com for more information.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Giving Back This Holiday Season: Children’s Charities Worth Supporting

It is the most wonderful time of the year for many families throughout the Lower Mainland and around the world, however there are many less fortunate who are in need of a little extra love and kindness this holiday season. Thankfully plenty of great charities exist to help ensure they’ll receive just that. 

Consider gifting one of the below local or international organizations with a donation this Christmas, or perhaps donate in-kind for someone on your own holiday wish list and help spread the festive cheer!

Baskets of Love is a wonderful charity project by the Down Syndrome Support Society which helps create gift baskets filled with items especially chosen for babies with Down Syndrome and their families – to help them transition more positively and easily into life.  Each basket contains an assortment of gifts, baby items, blankets as well as local and national information and resources to welcome families into the Down Syndrome community in a positive way.


Plan International Canada is a great source to head to if you’re looking for a variety of different charities geared toward children from all over the world. You can easily navigate their Gifts of Hope page and donate as little as $10 for a simple bed net to help protect little ones from infections and more. Many donated gifts are matched – translating to double the amount and impact ultimately made. 

Kids Up Front is another BC based charity (with roots in Alberta) that aims to provide less fortunate children with experiential nourishment of the spirit by providing them with seats to world-class performances they’d be otherwise unable to enjoy. Through its partnerships with other child-serving charitable agencies who in choose ticket recipients from within their programs, Kids Up Front is able to provide a magical experience to those less fortunate – but no less deserving. Individuals and businesses can choose to donate money or donate tickets to events such as ballet, cinema or theatrical performances as well as soccer, hockey and ball games all guaranteed to put a smile on a deserving child’s face. 

Backpack Buddies is a grassroots Vancouver-based organization that provides children in need with specially packed backpacks containing food and other items to help ensure they don’t go hungry outside of school. The organization relies on local schoolchildren to help pack each backpack before they are delivered to other less fortunate kids and families – providing a valuable life lesson and service that is community driven. Donate online or learn more here

Canadian Feed The Children is another option worth considering when in search of a suitable charity to give to this season as they’re committed to reducing the impact of poverty on children both in Canada and around the world. Part of what makes this organization (represented globally) so great is that they don’t take a quick-fix approach to their work – but rather personalize efforts based on a community-led approach, long-term sustainability and food security as well as education that benefit’s children. 

Danica keeps herself busy as a solo-mom to a busy little boy while running her own business and living coastal life to the fullest. She enjoys an active lifestyle (when not busy working on communications projects or taking her tiny tot on adventures).  See what she's up to at: www.dvinewrites.com

Images: courtesy of Plan Canada/Plan International, Backpack Buddies