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Published on June 4, 2013, by in Au Pair.

If you find that your kids are eating a lot of pre-packaged granola bars, you might be better off making homemade granola bars instead. Homemade granola bars are healthier and cheaper than any that you’ll buy at a grocery store, and some are so easy to make that even the kids could lend a helping hand when it comes time to prep a batch. You can even make kid-friendly granola bars with candy mixed in for an afternoon sweet treat. The recipes in the following 21 blog entries are quick and easy and will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Kid-Friendly

Whether they’re crunchy, chewy, healthy or candy-filled, you can find a granola bar to suit every taste bud. But why limit yourself to the bars lining the grocery store shelves when you can make granola bars that incorporate fun, kid-friendly ingredients that the whole family will love? For some tasty recipe ideas, check out these seven blog posts.

Health Conscious

Not all granola bars are made the same, and some will be much healthier than others. While the calorie count may seem high on some of these, these bars are filled with healthy fats and high fiber ingredients that will keep your hunger at bay. See what you think of these seven blog articles.

Quick and Easy

It’s not unusual to feel like you’re always on the go, but that doesn’t mean you have to feed your family preservative-laden, unhealthy snacks. Instead, try your hand at these quick and easy granola bars. They can serve as an easy breakfast, go into the school lunchbox or be the perfect after school snack. Try some of the recipes in these seven blog entries and see what you think.

 
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Published on June 2, 2013, by in Au Pair.

The coconut is one of the most versatile foods on the market.  There is coconut water which has been found to be very high in potassium, full of easily digested carbohydrates and low in sugar, according to WebMD.  The coconut meat is high in fiber and helps digestion.  Coconut milk, flour and oil are a few more things that come from the simple coconut and contain nutrients to help your body.  The versatility of the coconut is why there are so many tasty dishes to make.  Take a look at these 25 blog entries to find coconut recipes for any course in your meal, from soup to dessert.

Main Dishes

Is it possible to think of main dish recipes and coconut without thinking of coconut shrimp?  Probably not, so you will find a recipe for coconut shrimp in one of these five blog posts.  Thai cooking uses a lot of coconut as well so you will also find a couple of Thai recipes.  Take a look and see if you can find one you’d like to try.

Side Dishes

Coconut pairs well with many ingredients to make the perfect side dish.  Whether you are pairing coconut with polenta or rice it works well.  The coconut seems to take these rather boring staples and jazzes them up giving them a distinctively tropical flair.  Check out these five blog posts and see what you think.

Salads

Tropical salads are light and refreshing and the addition of coconut gives them a nutritional boost as well as enhancing the flavor.  Coconut shows up in many salads, but you can also try adding coconut to some of your favorite salad recipes.  These five blog entries may give you some ideas for new salad recipes to try.

Drinks

As coconut water has become more readily available recipes for various coconut drinks have become trendier.  Coconut water is a natural way to replenish your body’s electrolytes after exercise and is considered a healthier alternative to sugary sports drinks.  If you don’t want to drink your coconut water plain try a recipe from one of these five blog articles.

Desserts

Coconut contains a natural sweetness so it works well in desserts.  There are tons of dessert recipes that use coconut and the recipes on these five blog posts include some of the most common, but they are just a few of what is available.

 
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Published on May 27, 2013, by in Au Pair.

The process of tying up fabric and dyeing it dates back to at least 500 A.D., and its popularity has come and gone throughout the years. This trend was especially popular in the 1970’s, and it’s enjoying a come-back now. It’s also a fun craft that you can do with your children, and with a little adult supervision your kids can create their own tie-dyed masterpieces. The dying process works best on natural, light colored clothing, however, if you have dark colored clothing you can do a reverse tie-dye with bleach and extract the color out of the clothing instead of adding it.  There’s even a new method for tie-dyeing that incorporates markers to make the process easier.  To learn about different tie-dying methods, read the following 27 blog entries.

Using Fabric Dye

Traditionally, tie-dyeing fabric has been done with a fabric dye.  The T-shirt is tied up in a spiral or a fan shape and then tied with rubber bands or string.  The dye is applied using squirt bottles to allow the dyer a bit more control over where the dye goes, and can be applied in spirals or in blocks of color.  For more details on how to tie-dye a T-shirt to get different effects, take a look at these nine blog articles.

Using Bleach

Have you ever gotten bleach on an item of clothing and thought that it was ruined?  Well, it may not be.  You can twist and tie up that shirt and add bleach to it for a reverse tie-dye effect.  You need to be very careful with this method though, because bleach can literally eat through fabric and make holes if applied in too concentrated of an amount or left on for too long.  If you don’t want to lose all of the original color, it’s important that you tie the shirt very tightly so that the bleach doesn’t soak into some areas.  Unlike traditional tie-dyeing, you should wash your bleached shirt right away to stop the bleaching process.  To get all of the details on how to have a successful reverse tie-dye experience, check out these blog posts.

Using a Sharpie

If you don’t want to go through all of the mess that regular tie-dying entails, try this new way of tie-dyeing with markers. This method also allows you to control where the color goes and what the end result will look like, and it’s a bit easier to execute. Using colored Sharpie markers and isopropyl alcohol you can make stunning designs on a T-shirt or other natural fiber fabric.  For a look at these tie-dye techniques, look over these nine blog entries.

Once you learn how to tie-dye, you may find that the process is addicting.  No two shirts are ever alike, and it’s always exciting to open up your shirt to see what it looks like. This activity is also a perfect one for kids to participate in, and would be a fun activity to do at a birthday party or on a rainy day.

 
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Published on May 26, 2013, by in Au Pair.

The avocado, also known as an alligator pear, is quite possibly the perfect food. It is rich in protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. A person could literally live on avocados if needed. Currently, cancer scientists are studying avocados to determine if and how eating avocados can reverse cancer at the cellular level, and Alzheimer researchers are looking into the effects of avocados and brain functions.  These 21 blog posts outline why and how avocados are one of the best foods for your body.

Cancer Fighter

Avocados are packed with vitamins and minerals that can potentially help fight cancer in various ways. Possibly the most important element avocados contain are carotenoids. Carotenoids can slow or prevent cancer cells from growing, which is important if you are trying to take preventative measures against cancer or are in the early stages of cancer. Another important component of the fruit is its oleic acid content, which can help prevent breast cancer. For more information about avocado’s cancer fighting properties, check out these seven blog entries.

Brain Protector

The brain is a very complicated muscle, and one that is not yet completely understood. Avocados certain elements that have been shown to improve brain function, such as Omega-3 fats and folate.  Omega-3 fats improve brain functions by keeping the cell walls strong and by improving nerve transmissions. Folate helps promote brain growth in a fetus while still in the mother’s womb.  These seven blog posts will explain the brain benefits of avocados further.

Blood Pressure Reducer

The healthier the heart is, the healthier the person.  Avocados reduce bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol. Potassium is said to regulate blood pressure, and avocados contain nearly three times the amount of potassium as a banana. Because of this, avocados can help reduce blood pressure. To learn more about the heart-related benefits of eating avocados, take a look at these seven blog entries.

 
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Published on May 12, 2013, by in Au Pair.

Opting to pack your own lunch before heading to work can save a significant amount of money over restaurant meals each day. You’ll also be able to enjoy your lunch without worrying about time constraints after waiting in line or receiving slow service in a public eatery. These 12 meals are quick to prepare and completely portable, making it easy for you to save time and money on a daily basis.

  1. Mason Jar Salads – Pour a bit of dressing into the bottom of a Mason jar, then fill it with your favorite salad fixings. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing. If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you may want to skip dairy-based dressings in favor of vinaigrettes.
  2. Bento Boxes – Bento boxes don’t have to be intricately decorative. In fact, a traditional bento is just four parts rice to two parts protein and one part veggies or other ingredients. To really save time in the morning, throw your bento together the night before and just grab the box on your way out the door.
  3. Pita Pockets – If you’re tired of plain Jane sandwiches but love the convenience of a handheld meal, switch to pita pockets for a welcome change of pace. You’ll have a contained, portable meal that doesn’t require silverware and only takes a few minutes to prepare.
  4. Spring Rolls – Once you get the hang of working with the rice wrappings, you can throw spring rolls together in a snap. You can also fill them with your own favorite veggies and carry a side of dipping sauce of your choice, putting your own spin on these tasty treats.
  5. Trail Mix – If you’re looking for more of a snack than a full meal, it’s easy to throw together your own custom trail mix in a few minutes. Dump dried fruits, raisins, nuts and other goodies together in a bag, then give it a good shake.
  6. Veggie Wraps – If you’re looking for a lower carb alternative to sandwiches, just substitute a wrap for the bread and fill it with your favorite ingredients. It’s easy to make, easy to pack and even easier to eat on the go.
  7. Hummus and Vegetable Sticks – Put a dollop of hummus in a small thermos, then stand veggie sticks up vertically in the thermos with one end resting in the hummus. The thermos will fit neatly in a bag or can easily be carried, and it will keep everything cool and crisp.
  8. Pasta Salad – The most time-consuming part of making pasta salad is simply waiting for the water to boil. Speed-chill the pasta by rinsing it with ice-cold water, throw in some halved cherry tomatoes, olives and diced peppers, then top the whole thing off with a bit of Italian dressing. When lunch time rolls around, you’ll have a quick, filling and tasty meal that fits in one container.
  9. Sandwiches – There’s nothing wrong with a classic, especially when it’s as customizable as a sandwich. Get creative with your combinations, and skip the white bread in favor of something a bit more interesting. The possibilities are almost endless! If space is a concern, look for slider buns or even firm rolls that can be sliced in half to accommodate deli meats, cheeses and spreads.
  10. Oatmeal Packets – If you can get your hands on a bit of hot water, instant oatmeal packets take up almost no room and don’t require any special considerations in terms of food storage, refrigeration or food safety. Variety packs allow you to keep things interesting, and can be a heart-healthy choice if you spring for all-natural offerings over bargain brands filled with artificial flavoring and colors.
  11. Fruit Salads – It doesn’t get much simpler than a fruit salad, and it’s a difficult meal to beat in terms of healthiness. To keep cut fruits like apples and pears from turning an unappetizing shade of brown, toss the whole mixture with a bit of fresh lemon juice. It’ll also add an interesting dash of flavor.
  12. Soup – There are plenty of soup brands in portable packaging, but they can be filled with preservatives and additives that you’d rather avoid. Making a sizable batch of homemade soup to eat throughout the week allows you to control the ingredients and can be cheaper per serving than a store-bought brand. If you don’t have access to a microwave, you can even use a thermos to keep your soup hot until lunch time by filling the thermos with water that’s almost boiling to heat the interior, letting that hot water sit for a few minutes and then replacing it with piping hot soup. Pop the top on your thermos, grab a spoon and you’re ready to roll!
 
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Published on May 8, 2013, by in Au Pair.

Nearly every occasion is an occasion for brownies.  Your husband’s birthday, make some brownies.  The kids did well on their report card, bake some brownies.  Potluck at work, bake more brownies.  The bad thing is that other people often have the same idea and so you end up with five pans of brownies at the potluck, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  However, if you want to have your brownies stand out from the crowd you might want to try one of these recipes from the following 27 blog articles.  While the tons of recipes for regular chocolate brownies can vary widely, you might want to venture into the ‘variations on a theme’ category and dress up the plain brownie with decadent ingredients like salted caramel.  Doesn’t that just make your mouth water?  What if you have someone who can’t eat brownies?  Make blondies instead!  Some of the blondie recipes have some chocolate in them so if you are trying to stay away from chocolate look for those that completely leave out the dark chocolate like the Brittle and Jam ones.

Chocolate Brownies

If you are a fan of brownies you will love giving each and every one of these recipes a try.  Some are dense and fudgy while some are light and cakey.  Then there are the ones that are gooey and so rich you could eat them with a spoon.  There are even options for those that eat a gluten-free diet or are trying to eat healthier, but still love brownies.  Try all of these nine brownie recipes and see which one is your new favorite.

Variations on a Theme

Be adventurous and add new and wondrous things to your brownies.  Break away from the norm and surprise your friends and family with caramel pecan brownies or minty chocolate mousse brownies.  These brownies will surely steal the show if you take them to a potluck or to the office.  You will be beating people off with a stick that are trying to get your recipe.  These nine blog posts feature some mouth-watering options for brownies and you can try them all.

  1. Salted Caramel Brownies
  2. Chewy Mint Chocolate Brownies
  3. Minty Chocolate Mousse Brownies
  4. Caramel Pecan Chocolate Brownies
  5. Oreo Brownies
  6. Layered S’mores Brownies with Peeps
  7. Easy Nutella Brownies
  8. Gooey Chocolate Bacon Brownies
  9. Coconut Cream Cheese Frosted Brownies

Non-Chocolate “Brownies”

Whether you are trying something different than the same old brownie recipe or you actually have someone who doesn’t like the traditional brownie, you should be able to find a recipe in these nine blog entries that will suit the situation.  Regular blonde brownies are still popular with most people, but there are vegan options in the list as well.  How about giving malted milk blondie brownies a try?  Give the pecan banana blondies a whirl and feel good that you are at least eating some banana with your brownie.  Take a look at these recipes and see which one you want to bake this weekend.

  1. Blonde Brownies
  2. Raw Vegan Brownies, & Blondies and Dirty Blondes
  3. Brittle and Jam Blonde Brownies
  4. Coffee Blond Brownies
  5. Three Great Tastes Blonde Brownies
  6. Blondie-Brownies
  7. Blond Brownies
  8. Pecan and Banana Blondies
  9. “Won’t Last Long” – Malted Milk Blondie Brownies
 
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Published on April 25, 2013, by in Au Pair.

Are you interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, but aren’t sure how to start the process? There are several different factors you need to consider before allowing an exchange student into your home, and preconceived notions that may have been holding you back from hosting that are nothing more than myths. For instance, many people mistakenly believe that you have to have kids and that they need to be the same age as the exchange student you’re hosting. This isn’t true; what you do need to have, however, is a bed for the student to sleep in, to keep the student well-fed and to provide a normal family environment. While a separate room for the student is not mandatory, it is an added plus and can do wonders in making the student feel more at home. There are ample resources available for families interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, and the following 15 blogs can help clear up many of the questions you’re facing regarding what it means to be a host family

Who to Contact

Clueless about how to get started as a host family? These five blog posts will give you some sources to check into and can help you find a group that is right for you and your family.

Why You Should Host

The benefits of becoming a host family are endless and provide you with a unique opportunity to learn about another culture and to educate your children without leaving the comfort of your own home. Many families who host an exchange student find that the student isn’t just someone staying in their home for an extended period of time, but someone who becomes a lifelong friend. Take a look at these five blog entries to learn more about the benefits of hosting.

How to Welcome a Student

Once you decide to host a student, what do you do next?  How do you welcome him into your home and make him feel like a member of your family? For answers to these questions and more, take a look at these five blog articles.

 
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Published on April 17, 2013, by in Au Pair.

Juicing is a tool that is often used by fitness experts and those who are trying to improve their health.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), everyone needs to fill half their plate with fruits and veggies at each meal in order to get the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy.  It can be hard to eat that many fruits and veggies, which is why juicing has become so popular – it’s an easy way to drink tons of fruits and vegetables at once. Your body still gets the vitamins and minerals that fresh produce has to offer, but in an easier to digest form.  Check out these 18 blog entries to learn how you can lose weight by juicing, as well as avoid cancer, look younger and many other health benefits.

Weight Loss

Drinking fresh juice on a daily basis will speed up your metabolism because your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest the juice that you are drinking.  The excess energy will go to repairing the cells in your body, as well as ridding your body of leftover waste products.  Not only will you feel better, but over time you will look better too.  For more information on how juicing can help you lose weight, take a look at these six blog posts.

Nutrients

Juicing provides many nutrients from all of the fruits and veggies, which is a huge benefit for your health. Keep reading to find out all of the different nutrients that you can enjoy when juicing fruits and veggies instead of eating them.  These six blog articles will explain how it’s easier for your body to absorb these nutrients when they’re consumed in juice form.

Health Benefits

If you have any doubts as to the health benefits of juicing, take a look at these six blog posts, which explain the many virtues and benefits juicing offers. From apple juice to carrot juice, you can learn what juicing can do to improve your health.

 
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Published on April 14, 2013, by in Au Pair.

After Easter, you may find that you have an extra-large supply of hard boiled eggs that need to be used up.  Of course, there are the old standby’s that will never go out of style, like potato salad and deviled eggs, but there are so many more interesting recipes that use hard boiled eggs.  So many in fact, that these recipes will have you boiling even more eggs just to make the recipes.  Eggs are high in protein, low in fat and not as bad for your cholesterol as once thought.  Take a look at these 18 blogs and see if you can find a few ways to use up those hard boiled eggs.

Traditional Recipes

It seems like everyone has their own recipe for potato salad, but why not branch out and try these other recipes?  You just may find a new favorite!  Deviled eggs are the same way; you can go with simple and quick or change it up by twisting around the old recipe.  Check out these six blog entries for some traditional recipes using hard boiled eggs.

Make it a Meal

By incorporating hard-boiled eggs into these dishes you can take them to the next level.  Make a salad a meal when you add the protein of eggs to the dish.  Change lunch up by filling a pita with an egg salad recipe.  Surprise the kids with a new quesadilla after school.  For more main dish egg recipes read through these six blog articles.

Decidedly Different

If you are the adventurous type, you might want to try some of these recipes.  Hard-boiled eggs taste fairly good plain, but when you add them into these six recipes you get something really bold and different.  How about hard-boiled eggs in cookies?  If this sounds weird, you will just have to give it a try to see what you think of it. If that doesn’t sound good, try one of the other six blog entries.

 
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Published on April 9, 2013, by in Au Pair.

Beans contain protein and are often one of the main sources of protein for vegetarians.  Tofu is made from beans and that is another popular source of protein for people who don’t eat a lot of meat.  So whether you are looking for a source of protein or just a tasty dish you can find recipes for bean soups, salads or appetizers here.  These 24 blogs will give you tasty recipes that will not only allow you to get the protein that’s necessary for your body to function properly, but you could save money.  Dried beans are especially inexpensive and pack a powerful nutritional punch for the price.

Soups

Bean soups have been around for thousands of years.  Thankfully the recipes have gotten better now that most ingredients are readily available.  So whether you’re looking for a traditional bean soup or something more exotic you should be able to find a recipe on these eight blog posts.

  1. Recipe: Bean Soup with Avocado Salsa This spicy soup packs a punch with cayenne pepper.
  2. Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup Just add the ingredients to your slow cooker and come home to the smells of dinner, ready to eat.
  3. Sausage and Cannellini Bean Soup Recipe For a quick lunch or dinner idea on a cold day this soup will hit the spot.
  4. Gluten Free Portuguese Bean Soup Recipe             This soup uses three different types of beans and spicy chorizo to give it some kick.
  5. Tuesday Things + Homemade Bean Soup Recipe Make a big pot of this soup and you will have lunches and dinners all week.
  6. Southern Chef: Spanish Bean Soup Recipe Tons of meat in this bean soup to make it hearty as well as filling.
  7. Cauliflower and White Bean Soup  This recipes is for an all white soup blended for a creamy texture.
  8. Quick Vegetarian Black Bean Soup You can use dried beans in this recipe, but it’s considered “quick” because it calls for canned beans.

Salads

Beans in salads can really bump up the protein content in your salad.  Depending on the salad it might be made of all beans like the 3-Bean salad.  These salads will make nutritious side dishes for your weeknight meals when you need to get dinner on the table fast.  These salads tend to get better over time because the beans will absorb the dressing.  Take a look at these eight blog entries to find a bean salad for your dinner tonight.

  1. Cherry Tomato, Cucumber and Green Bean Salad The beans in this salad are fresh versus canned or dried.
  2. Red Bean Salad with Chick Peas This salad is protein packed with two beans in it.
  3. Greek Three-Bean Salad Recipe A simple salad that is easy to put together since it utilizes frozen and canned beans and other ingredients.  Great go-to side for busy weeknights.
  4. Mexican Bean Salad Lots of flavor in this salad with three types of beans and tons of spices.
  5. Quinoa and Black Bean Salad If you haven’t had the chance to try quinoa yet give this salad a try.
  6. Recipe: White Bean Salad Being a fresh salad you may find many ingredients in your garden.
  7. Delicious Four Bean Salad Recipe Quick recipe to throw together today since it calls for canned beans.
  8. Healthy Salad Recipes: Brown Rice and Black Bean Salad A super nutrition packed salad with the protein from the beans, fiber from the brown rice and pomegranate seeds for heart health.

Appetizers

One high protein appetizer or snack is hummus and pita chips or veggies.  Hummus is typically made out of chick peas which are not peas at all, but are actually beans.  White beans on bruschetta are an elegant appetizer to serve at your next party or get together.  Using beans in your appetizer will help stretch your budget, but won’t take away anything from the taste or elegance of the dish.  For these ideas and more check out the next eight blog entries.

  1. Crunchy Garbanzo Bean Appetizer/ Snack: Recipe Set these tasty nuggets in silver bowls around your house and your guests will nibble on them like nuts.
  2. Bush’s Beans Recipe Exchange [Recipe: Chili bean Cheese Queso] Only five ingredients for this tasty hot dip that’s served with tortilla chips.
  3. Fava Bean Crostini Appetizer Mash fava beans with mint and parmesan cheese and spread it on the crostini for an elegant appetizer for guests.
  4. How to Make Black Bean Dip—Easy Cooking! Check out this video for the steps you’ll need to make this dip.
  5. White Bean and Kale Bruschetta Super quick and simple appetizers that can be ready in minutes.
  6. Deviled Strings Beans and Tuna This recipe could be a side dish or a hot appetizer.
  7. Healthy Recipe: Black Bean and Pepper Jack Quesadillas Make this classic appetizer a little healthier by using this recipe
  8.  Black Bean Hummus with Lime and Cumin A tasty twist on a common party food.