veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Lost Art of Stovetop Popcorn

Are you still making microwave popcorn? Didn’t you open a bag one time, just out of curiosity, before popping and get so grossed out by all the fat and chemicals that you never bought another box of microwave popcorn again?

Well if you didn’t, let me give you a healthy and inexpensive alternative that takes just as long as the microwave version. I am talking about the lost art of STOVETOP POPCORN. And don’t even start in about the air-poppers of the 1980’s that turned perfectly good kernels into cardboard. Stovetop popcorn tastes better that the microwave version and is ten times better for you.

All you need is a large pot with a tight-fitting cover, popping corn kernels and canola oil.

Sprinkle a couple handfuls of kernels in the pot and then generously cover them with a few table spoons of oil. (You will have to experiment with the amount of corn that will fit in the pot so start small if you are unsure. You don’t want the popcorn to pop itself out of the pot!) Pick up the pot and shift the kernels around in the oil until they are all coated. Then cover tightly and put it on the stove on high. Stand by the pot and shake it back and forth every minute or so to make sure the kernels don’t burn. Once it starts popping, continue to shake it every ½ a minute. When the popping starts to slow down, shake the pot again and remove from the flame. Remove the cover immediately (stand back in case there are stray kernels ready to pop) and dump popcorn in a large bowl. Salt to taste and enjoy the healthy snack of fresh popcorn!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day Blues

The possibility of a snow day is typically met with excitement, anticipation and joy. However when you find yourself starting snow day #3 in a row, it can feel more like a very cold block party with no end date in sight. Life gets put on hold while snow ball fights, hot chocolate and cabin fever become the reality. The first 24 hours is a dream come true. The second, not so much, and the third feels more like punishment. How to cope? Here are some tips to remember.

1. Don’t watch TV all day. Remember that although it’s cold outside and everyone is stuck inside, watching TV all day long won’t end well for anyone. Decide when the TV will go on rather than just leaving it on all day. Turn the TV off and organize another indoor activity that doesn’t require looking at a screen. Art projects or dress-up plays tend to work well. Try putting large paper all over the wall or floor and letting the kids go crazy with the crayons.

2. Don’t forget to move. Bundle up and take a walk in the snow or go outside and build a snowman. Getting outside, even in cold weather, can do wonders for you and your kids. But if it’s just too icy, figure out ways to move inside. Putting on some music and having a dance party also works wonders. Try organizing an indoor scavenger hunt.

3. Don’t forget to drink water. I don’t know about you but for us snow means hot chocolate. That’s all fine until you find yourself on your third cup of the day. Keep track of how many cups you are drinking and remember to drink lots of water in between.

4. Don’t forget nutritious snacks. Of course this tip is Veggie Toddler’s favorite. I honestly think it is the key to many behavior issues. Well-timed, nutritious snacks throughout the day can do wonders for everyone’s personality and mood. After breakfast try chopping up some veggies or steaming frozen ones for snacks later that day. Then when you need a snack in the afternoon, you are good to go with something healthy. The best way to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the day yourself, is to do a little extra preparation in the morning.

5. Enjoy the time with your neighbors. Everyone is home, no one can go far so spend some quality time with the people who live nearby. A change of scenery from your house to your neighbor’s can do wonders for the cabin-fevered kid (and grown-up).