Battle of the Squishy Food Pouches: A Product Review

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Perhaps the greatest invention since sliced bread is the squishy food pouch. If you have a child under the age of 5 you know exactly what I’m talking about. They are these little squishy pouches filled with fruit and/or vegetable purees. Simple, right? And sometimes the simplest things are the best things. As is the case with the squishy food pouch.

The great appeal of the squishy food pouch is that it’s easy to transport, it’s easy to feed to a baby (no spoon required!) and a toddler can feed himself with very little mess.This product has truly revolutionized the way baby food is transported and administered. Of all baby products on the market today, the squishy food pouch is probably in my top 3 of “items I could not live without”.

The popularity of the squishy food pouch seems to be on the rise lately. In the last few months I’ve seen several new products that are catering to people (such as myself) who love, love, love their squishy food pouches. I, of course, had to test a few of them out. Here’s my review in: The Battle Of The Squishy Food Pouches.

Product:
Pre-filled disposable pouches (There are dozens of brands available. Some of my favorites are made by Plum Organics, Happy Tot Organics, and Ella’s Organics)

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Price (*Note* All prices are an average of what I could find online or in my local stores. ):
$1.50 – $2.50  per 4.2 ounce pouch (35 cents – 59 cents per ounce)

Pros:
Super-convenient–just grab one and go. There are a lot of flavors and varieties to choose from. Organic options are readily available. Varieties are available that would be suitable for older children and even adults (don’t tell anyone, but my husband likes eating the squeezy applesauce!). Coupons are readily available to get the price down a bit. No prep work or clean up required–just throw the pouch away when you’re done.

Cons:
Expensive (if you consider that a baby eats 3-5 times per day you could be spending upwards of $10 per day on pouches!). Creates a lot of waste because you are throwing away each pouch after only one use.

Product:
Beaba Babypote Reusable Food Squeeze Pouch

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Price:
$11.95 for the 4-ounce pouch, plus the cost of whatever puree you put in it.

Pros:
Reusable, easy to fill, fun colors, the mouthpiece is made of hard plastic (my 2-year old hasn’t destroy it yet despite constant biting), dishwasher safe. You can fill it with whatever purees you like, homemade or store-bought (applesauce, yogurt, rice cereal, and baby food all work well). No waste because it is reusable. BPA free.

Cons:
Food squishes out way too easily, so it’s not something you can give to a child who is still learning how to feed himself.  Expensive for one pouch.

Product:
Squooshi Food Pouch

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Price:
$16.99 for a 4-pack of the smaller pouches (2.5 ounces) – $38.88 for an 8-pack of the larger pouches (4.5 ounces). This comes out to $4.24 – $4.86 per pouch. This means that after 3-4 uses, each pouch will pay for itself. You would also need to pay for the puree that you put in the pouch.

Pros:
Easy to fill with a ziploc-style opening on the bottom. Easy to clean up (use a bottle brush to scrub it out or put it in the top rack of your dishwasher). Fun designs. Feels and works just like the disposable pouches so it’s an easy transition if you’re used to those. You can put homemade purees in the pouches (which can be very cheap if you puree food you already have on-hand). You can also fill the pouches with store-bought purees so you don’t have to do any prep work for much less cost than the pre-filled pouches (you can get organic applesauce at Costco for about 4 cents per ounce). Food doesn’t squirt out too fast and my 9-month old can use it to feed himself (see photographic evidence below).

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Cons:
Not a lot, really. It’s slightly more time-consuming to fill a pouch and clean it when after each use than to just grab a pre-filled pouch and throw it away when you’re done.

Conclusions:
For ease and convenience go with the pre-filled pouches. If you’re interested in saving money in the long-run and/or are environmentally conscious, go with the Squooshi pouch. Since they both meet slightly different needs, I will continue using both the pre-filled and Squooshi pouches on a regular basis.

Resurrection Roll Recipe and Bible Story

I love finding creative ways to teach important truths to kids. And I love it even more if I can find a way to tie food into the “lesson”. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I first discovered Resurrection Rolls.

Basically, Resurrection Rolls are a treat that you make where each step of the cooking process represents part of the Easter story. It’s a wonderful way to tell kids the Easter story AND the rolls themselves are sublime. I’ve had people make the rolls for me before, but this was my first time doing the whole project with David. He was able to help out a bit and was pretty engaged the whole time (even if he did keep trying to swipe marshmallows from my stash). I’ll definitely be doing this again next year–a new tradition has been born!

What you’ll need:

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  • 1 package of crescent rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows (plus extras to snack on while you’re waiting for the rolls to bake!)
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar plus 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Bible (or use the “script” below)

How It’s Done:

IMG_1513Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, get out your Bible and open up to John 19 or find the Easter story in a children’s Bible (my favorite is the Jesus Storybook Bible). Below you’ll find the pictures and the “script” for how I told the story to David (he’s only 2 years old, so I kept it simple for him).

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Say: “Even though Jesus was perfect and had never sinned–he had never ever done anything wrong– some people did not like him. They wanted to hurt Jesus because he said he was God. They made Jesus carry a cross and they killed him. This made God very sad, but it was all part of His great rescue plan. When Jesus died, his friends took his body off the cross.”

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Do: Give your child a marshmallow
Say: “This marshmallow represents Jesus’ body. Jesus died for you and for me, because we have sinned and we need to be rescued from our sin.”

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Say: “After Jesus died, his friends came and they put special oil and spices on Jesus’ body to get him ready for burial.”
Do: Roll the marshmallow in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar

Say: “Next, Jesus’ friends wrapped his body in special cloths–almost like a mummy! Jesus had died, and they were getting his body ready to bury.”
Do: Roll the cinnamon-sugar marshmallow up in a crescent roll (it won’t look like a crescent roll). Press all of the seams firmly. Repeat for each of the crescent rolls. Place the rolls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

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Say: “Next, they laid Jesus’ body in a tomb. A tomb is like a big cave carved out of rock. Then big, strong soldiers rolled a heavy rock in front of the tomb so nobody could get in or out of the tomb. They even put a special seal over the entrance so they would know if anybody tried to move the rock that was in front of the entrance. Soldiers stood in front of the tomb to guard it day and night.”
Do: Put the rolls in the oven and set your timer for 10-12 minutes. Let the rolls bake until they are golden-brown. I even let David stand guard in front of our oven “tomb” with his toy sword.

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Say: “Jesus was dead in the tomb for three days. Let’s count to three: one, two, three. How many days was he in the tomb? That’s right, three days.”
(We had some time to wait for the rolls, so I let David play while they were baking. I kept going back to him, though, and we’d repeat this whole conversation about how long Jesus was in the tomb.)

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Do: When the rolls are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool (I let mine cool for about 20 minutes, and that was perfect). The marshmallow will probably have exploded out of your rolls, but that’s to be expected (that’s why we put down the parchment paper!). After the rolls have cooled…

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Say: “Three days after Jesus had died, an angel of God appeared to one of Jesus’ friends. He told her that Jesus was alive! Jesus’ friends decided to look in the tomb where they had put Jesus’ body, but when they did, it was empty! Jesus had risen! And still today, Jesus is alive. Today he lives in heaven with God.”
Do: Cut open one of the rolls. The marshmallow has melted, so the “tomb” is now empty.

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Do: Eat your yummy rolls!
Say: “These rolls are sweet, just like the love of God. God made you and he loves you very much. And some day, if you choose to love and follow God, you will be able to spend forever and ever in heaven with him and Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our Great Rescuer. The Bible tells us that the only way to Heaven is through loving and believing in Jesus. We celebrate Easter, because Jesus died and rose again so that we could have a way to Heaven.”

Quick and Easy Toddler Lunches

Feeding a toddler is difficult. They tend to be picky eaters, they eat on sporadic schedules, and they need a lot of assistance at meal time (I wonder at what point can I expect my child to safely wield a steak knife?). Lunch is always a bit of a struggle for me because it happens to fall right in the middle of the day between the time that I’ve just cooked and cleaned up breakfast and have to start prepping for dinner. I have, however, found a few tried-and-true lunches that are my go-to’s on busy days. Note: I always offer milk or water and at least two fruits and/or veggies with each meal. My 2-year old will always eat the fruit and, more often than not, he goes for the veggie, too. Here are some of my faves:

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  1. peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (when I’m feeling fancy, I’ll even make them into “t-balls”–use the top of a glass to cut out the sandwich bread into circles–and use string cheese to make the “T” and the “bat”. If you know my son, you know that this is about the coolest lunch in the world to him). 
  2. “deli tray”- cubes of lunch meat and cheeses
  3. breakfast foods: oatmeal, scambled eggs and toast, a muffin and yogurt–breakfast is usually my son’s favorite meal of the day, and who says you can only eat those things in the morning anyway?
  4. quesadillas with salsa “dip”
  5. anything on a stick: fruit, cheese cubes, chunks of meat, grilled veggies
  6. mac and cheese (yeah, it’s terrible but he loves it…)
  7. smoothies (you can sneak all kinds of good stuff into thesese guys!)
  8. leftovers from whatever we ate for dinner last night
  9. chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries
  10. pasta (he usually loves any kind of pasta)
  11. hummus with crackers, pita wedges and veggies for dipping
  12. tortilla roll ups (lay out a tortilla, spread on some cream cheese, layer on lunch meat/cheese/spinach/lettuce, roll up, and slice into rolls)
  13. grilled cheese and soup
  14. prepared tuna fish spread on crackers (or with goldfish crackers swimming in the tuna fish “sea”)
  15. healthy nachos (multigrain crackers baked with shredded cheese, beans, etc.)
  16. english muffin pizzas (1/2 a whole wheat english muffin spread with pizza sauce, topped with shredded mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you like, then baked in the oven)
  17. “beanie-weenies”–baked beans with little hot dog pieces
  18. yogurt parfait (plain greek yogurt layered with granola, berries, and honey)
  19. mini whole-wheat bagels topped with peanut butter, bananas and a drizzle of honey
  20. “pigs in a blanket” (wrap a ‘lil smokies sausage or slice of turkey inside 1/3 of a crescent roll, then bake)

I’m always looking for new ideas, so feel free to leave a comment if you have any other great lunches!

This Week’s Menu and My Recipe For Baked Potato Soup

This week we have a few extra outings planned during the day, so I’m sticking with  recipes I make all the time and that I know I can throw together really quickly. At the end of the post I’ve included my mom’s recipe for my mom’s Baked Potato Soup–I hope you love it as much as we do!

Sunday: Our sweet neighbors brought us over some spaghetti carbonara that we’ll eat tonight. I baked some chocolate chip cookies to fill their serving dish with before I return it.

Monday: Indian Curry and Naan

Tuesday: Community Group Potluck- I’m bringing the main course, Baked Potato Soup (recipe at the end of this post)

Wednesday: Orange Chicken and Rice

Thursday: 7-layer Casserole (Made from rice, ground beef, veggies, and tomato sauce)

Friday: Beer Brats and Balsamic Potatoes

Saturday: Roasted Pork Loin and Veggies

Mom’s Baked Potato Soup
I got this recipe from my mom, an excellent cook who never writes down her recipes. In fact, my copy of this recipe is hand-written on a scrap of paper and includes two helpful directions: cook, add this last. Good thing I’ve watched her make it a time or two! I love this soup because it can be made ahead of time and reheated in a Crockpot or on the stove for dinner on a busy night. I like serving this with cornbread. Enjoy!

baked potato soup
2 cans chicken broth, plus extra for thinning the soup (or use vegetable broth to make this a vegetarian dish)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5  medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste
instant mashed potatoes to thicken
*Optional stir-ins: cooked diced ham, frozen corn, shredded cheddar cheese
*Optional toppings: cooked crumbled bacon, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced chives or green onions

Put the broth, onion, potatoes, and celery in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are soft and starting to break apart, about 20 minutes. Add evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Thicken to desired consistency with instant mashed potatoes, or thin with extra broth. Add any stir-ins that you’d like. Serve and soup bowls, and top with desired toppings.

7 Healthy Habits For Families

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One of our favorite family past times: the monthly Seattle Adventure Run

A couple of weeks ago at Stroller Strides we were talking about healthy habits that we are trying to implement in our lives. There were so many great ideas, that I thought I’d write a post to share some of them with all of you.

1. Set the example for your kids: I’m really fortunate in this arena because my parents are some of the healthiest, most motivating and inspirational people I know. They have always set a wonderful example of healthy living for me and my sisters. Case in point: My mom got attacked by a dog last summer while she was out running. She broke her shoulder and had to get multiple surgeries on her arm. Three months later she was running a half marathon–with her arm in a sling for all 13.1 miles. Smiling and chatting with other runners the whole way. My dad’s favorite past-times include boogie boarding (yes, he still dons a wetsuit and goes out in the frigid Northwest Pacific Ocean), skim boarding and downhill skiing. They work hard, play hard, and eat well. I learned a lot of healthy habits from my parents, and I hope I can pass those along to my kids–kind of a “pay it forward” for our health.

2. Be Active With Your Kids: My boys are only 2 and 6 months now, so a lot of being active with me involves them riding along in the stroller while I run or walk or exercise. I secretly want to be like “Greenlake Mom”. If you’ve ever been to Seattle’s Greenlake, you know who I’m talking about. She’s the one out there running in the pouring rain with her double jogging stroller in one hand and the dog leash in the other hand while her 5 year old zips ahead on his bike. As the boys get older, I’m looking forward to spending time practicing sports with them, going for family bike rides, hiking, rock climbing, skating–whatever will get us moving and having fun together.

3. Keep bad food out of your house: If you know that you’re tempted to sneak a bite of ice cream every time you open the freezer, it’s probably best to just NOT keep ice cream in your freezer. We have lots of opportunities outside of our homes to eat unhealthy food (parties, dinners out, a quick snack from the vending machine when you’re out and about), so make your home a safe-haven.

4. Keep good food in your house: Replace those food traps with healthy options that you actually like eating. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a huge sweet tooth. I will literally sit down and eat a whole chocolate cake if I’m left un-checked. Seriously. Instead, I fill my fridge and pantry with healthy sweets: yogurt, fresh fruit, berries, raisins and fruit leather and even a bag of chocolate chips (I can eat a few chocolate chips for a chocolate craving and it will usually tide me over so I don’t feel like I need to go and bake myself a cake). That way when the craving hits, I can usually find a healthier option that will satisfy me.

5. Prepare your meals and eat as a family: I consider dinner time to be almost a sacred event. Even when Jon is crazy-busy with work, he makes an effort to be home and at the dinner table by 6:00 every single day. I cook almost all of the food we eat and I even have my toddler “help” in the kitchen. The whole family eats together, talks together, and gets to share a few moments of peace in our otherwise busy lives. Many days, this is the only time that everyone is awake and present in one place at the same time–I wouldn’t give up family meals for anything!

6. Get enough sleep: This is for you and for your little ones. Set a bedtime and come up with a bedtime routine that you do to unwind every single night. 6 AM always comes way too early, so do what you can to make it less terrible!

7. Limit screen time: Everyone knows that watching too much T.V.  or playing too many video games or spending too much time surfing the internet isn’t a great idea. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against any screen time for children under age 2. The importance of limiting screen time basically sets you up for a healthier lifestyle in two ways: (1) you aren’t sitting around watching T.V. all day and (2) you’ll have more time to be up doing other things.

The earlier you start incorporating healthy habits in to your life, the earlier your kids can start learning with you.  And, if you’re lucky, maybe your kids will even teach you a thing or two!

Now excuse me while I go watch The Biggest Loser with a brownie and a bowl of Doritos.

This Weeks Menu And My Recipe For French Crepes

Here’s what we’ll be eating this week. My mouth is already watering for the crepes (I’ve put the recipe at the end of this post)!

Sunday: Chicken Dijon- My mom’s recipe and one of my favorites

Monday: French Crepes (recipe at the end of this post)

Tuesday: Potluck at Community Group- I’m bringing salad

Wednesday: Beef Stew- This is already in the freezer from when I made it a couple of months ago. All I have to do is reheat and serve!

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie- I use pre-made pie crust and frozen veggies to cut down on prep time. I’ll probably make a double batch so I can freeze one pot pie for later.

Friday: Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Veggies

Saturday: Game Night with friends, I’m bringing an appetizer TBD


Lionel’s French Crepe Recipe
I got this recipe when I was in high school from a friend of mine who was a French exchange student. This recipe makes quite a few crepes, so I usually just make a half-batch or a 2/3-batch. I’ll write it out exactly as he gave it to me:
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2 cups flour
9 eggs
4 cups milk
2 pinches of salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)

-Stir all ingredients. Let the batter sleep for at least one hour. (Isn’t that cute? Let the batter sleep!)
*Note* I usually mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then add them together and mix with a whisk before I let it all rest in the fridge for an hour.
-Cook crepes in a non-stick pan, flip when golden
*Note* If you don’t have crepe pans, a large non-stick skillet should work fine. I’ve also seen people flip a pan upside down and dip the bottom of the pan in the crepe batter, then cook the crepe on top of the upside-down pan. It’s also helpful to have a long, flexible spatula for flipping the crepes. Timing your “flip” is of the essence with these guys, so just be patient and wait for them to cook well on one side before you flip ’em.

I make all of my crepes ahead of time and put them in a large tupperware container separated by sheets of wax paper until I’m ready to assemble them. At dinnertime, we set up a “crepe bar” and put our fillings in the crepes then warm them up in a pan over medium heat (think of a french quesadilla or omelette).

Here are some of our favorite fillings for the savory dinner crepes:

  • shredded cheese (swiss, cheddar, emmentaler)
  • sliced ham or turkey from the deli counter
  • cooked and shredded chicken, beef, or pork
  • fried eggs
  • spinach
  • onions

And, for the dessert crepes

  • whipped cream (I get my own can, everyone else can fend for themselves)
  • sliced berries or fresh fruit (peaches, bananas, apples)
  • Nutella
  • chocolate or caramel sauce
  • ice cream

This Week’s Menu

Back by popular request, here is my menu for this week:

Sunday: Butternut Squash Soup and salad- This is a new recipe that was in my latest edition of the Rachael Ray magazine. It’s got lots of yummy fruits and veggies: squash, onions, sweet potato, carrots and apple. I’m also roasting some extra squash to puree for little guy’s baby food. Right now everything is roasting in my oven and it smells sooooo good! It looks like this will make a pretty big batch, so I’m planning on freezing the leftovers.
*Update* This recipe is DELICIOUS and made enough for me to freeze a few quarts of leftovers. Definitely making this one again!

Monday: Sloppy Joe’s and sweet potato fries with baked beans and steamed broccoli. This recipe is similar to how I make my “Joe’s”.

Tuesday: Community Group potluck. I’m making brownies and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Wednesday: Panang Curry and Spring Rolls, salad with peanut sauce dressing

Thursday: Garlic Chicken Pasta with stir-fried veggies

Friday: Burritos with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans, salad

Saturday: Pizza to celebrate David’s first successful day of potty training! (we’ll still celebrate with pizza even if it’s not very successful. I think we’ll all need some pizza by the end of that!)