freeturkeyThanksgiving is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday! I absolutely love cooking and enjoy getting the entire family involved. While it’s tons of fun it can also be somewhat hazardous. Here are some tips for making sure the feast is safe as well as delicious!

Use caution when deep frying a turkey — Deep frying turkeys has become extremely popular and for good reason — they’re delicious! But, the process can be extremely dangerous and you need to be sure you’re taking the proper precautions.

  • Always deep fry outside on a level surface away from your house or other building.
  • Never place a deep fryer on a wooden deck, in a garage or under an awning of any sort! It’s difficult to gauge the temperature of the oil and there is the potential that it will combust.
  • When you place the turkey in the fryer, a small amount of oil could spill out an hit the flame causing it to ignite.

Keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit nearby – Whether you’re using a deep fryer or an oven there is always the chance of a fire, especially when you’re cooking several dishes and there are so many distractions. According to the National Fire Association, cooking mishaps are the number one cause for fires in the home. And, once a fire does start, you have only about two minutes before your kitchen is at risk for flashover, the point at which surrounding surfaces and objects reach their ignition temperature and erupt into flames.

  • Keep pot holders and kitchen towels away from the flame.
  • Turn off burners if you need to walk away from the stove.
  • Check that your fire extinguisher is multi-purpose and can handle combustible material, flammable liquid, and electrical fires.

Unfortunately you can’t practice with a fire extinguisher as you can only use it once so be sure to read the instructions on the side before you actually need it!

Beware of food-borne illness – The turkey is undoubtedly the focal point of the Thanksgiving meal and preparing it can be a bit stressful for some people.

  • Be sure that if you’ve purchased a frozen turkey it’s completely thawed out.
  • Never thaw a turkey on the counter, in a microwave or in water! It should be completely thawed for several days in the refridgerator and be sure that it’s completely thawed before cooking.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before taking the turkey out of the refridgerator and immediately discard all of the wrappings.
  • Wash down all counter surfaces completely once you’ve dressed the turkey and gotten it into the oven and then be sure it’s cooked completely through.

body_GirlEatingFruitAfter years of struggle, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest physician organization, decided to recognize obesity as a disease on Tuesday.  A third of children and teenagers are overweight or obese, which is a growing number today.  Obesity can increase the risk of many other diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.  With many activities planned for the summertime, healthy, nutritious meals are often put on the back burner.  When schools are out for summer vacation, kids have more unstructured time which can lead to unhealthy food choices.  Here are five healthy eating tips for kids during the summer:

Stock the fridge

Where BBQs and other gatherings with unavoidable sweet treats are common over the summer, it is important to have healthy snacks available.  Fruits, vegetables, and foods with high protein are good to have around the house and in plain sight so that your kids know that they are there.  For kids who attend a camp over the summer, it is important that they have a nutritional meal for lunch, especially since ice cream or other treats may be served to them during the day.

Eat this, not that

Since sweets surround us throughout the summer, substitution is important to keep in mind.  It is suggested that the amount of processed foods available to kids is kept at a minimum, as they are high in fat and calories.  Although a bag of Fritos in the cabinet is much more appealing (trust me, I know!), try unbuttered microwavable popcorn as a healthy alternative.  When making a sandwich for your kids for their summer activities, substitute white bread for whole grain versions.  And when baking a special snack for the family, no need to get rid of all the sweetness, just replace half the white flour in your recipe with whole-wheat flour.  Substitution of foods is important so that kids get all of the nutrients that they need.

Make food fun

Although it may seem more difficult to get kids to eat healthy in the summer, fortunately, there are fun ways to get kids to eat healthy, killing two birds with one stone!  To make food more fun for kids, you can put it on a toothpick, which the kids may enjoy doing themselves.  Freezing fruit such as grapes, strawberries and bananas may also be appealing to kids on a hot summer day.  Adding some color to kids’ food is another fun way to enjoy healthy eating.  Try adding some red, orange, yellow and green vegetables to their plates!

Get some fresh air

Another fun summer idea could be to start a garden with your kids where they are taught how to plant and harvest their own food.  Not only are kids getting some fresh air, but also taking care of a garden could give kids a sense of pride and make them more enthusiastic and cooperative at mealtime.  Picnics are also a great way to get kids outside involved in healthy eating and would allow for some quality family time.

Make it a trip

Farmer’s markets are a great place to bring kids where they are surrounded by fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods.  A lot of farmers markets also have musicians and other forms of entertainment for kids to enjoy.  Going to a pick-your-own farm is another great activity to do with kids in the summer where kids get to pick their own fresh fruits and eat them too! Pickyourown.org is a great resource to find a pick-your-own farm around you!  Studies have shown that kids are more likely to be invested in a meal if they are able to help with its preparation.  Therefore, bringing kids to farmers markets or letting them pick their own fruit can make them far more excited to eat it later.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to help your kids have a happy and healthy summer!

Disclaimer – I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

Kid ZoneRecently the folks at ZonePerfect sent me new bars for my kids to try – Kidz Zone Perfect. Thank goodness they were smart enough to send me three so I wouldn’t have my kids fighting over them! I figured my ten-year old would like them as she’s my competitive cheerleader and is always looking for something to grab before practice. My son, who’s 14, will devour everything in the house if I let him. But I was most curious about my youngest daughter’s opinion. She’s my pickiest eater and I worry that she doesn’t eat enough healthy foods. I sneak fruits and veggies in where ever I can but snacks for school are always a challenge as she’s been known to simply throw out the healthy snacks if she doesn’t like them.

Well, as the old Life commercial goes, “She liked it!” I was impressed to learn that ZonePerfect asked everyday moms and their kids to help design the new bars. They held “build-a-bar workshops” where moms could discuss what they expected from a nutrition stand point and kids got to help create the flavors (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Caramel Crunch, and Yellow Cupcake.) My daughter loved the Yellow Cupcake. I tasted each one of them myself and they really were good. Plus, each bar has 23 vitamins and minerals, five grams of protein and three grams of fiber.

If you want to check them out yourself, here is a $1.00 off coupon for any flavor Kidz Zone Perfect bars.

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day Helps Kids Focus and Stay Healthy

Kellogg's Love Your Cereal

While it may sometimes seem like you are always rushing your children out the door every morning to get to school on time, one thing should not be skipped in a morning routine: breakfast. Believe me, I’ve totally been there. There have been mornings my youngest just refuses to eat breakfast, or at least refuses to eat anything with any nutritional value, and it seems easier to give into her. However, I know that ensuring my child gets a healthy breakfast can provide many benefits to her throughout the entire day and beyond.

Ensuring your kids eat breakfast can lead to a wide array of positive benefits: kids who eat breakfast routinely achieve higher standardized test scores and have higher concentration levels. It is reported that students who eat breakfast are reportedly absent and tardy less often than students who do not, allowing them to get the most out of their education.

Eating breakfast also promotes healthy habits and ensures that kids are getting the key nutrients they need. Studies show that breakfast can account for up to 25% of important vitamins and minerals in a daily diet, such as calcium, protein, vitamins A and B6, magnesium, iron and zinc.
The same article suggests that breakfast daily encourages a healthy weight in children. (And with between 16 and 33% of U.S. children and adolescents clinically considered obese, this is a great way to combat that.)

I often thought that cereals were full of sugar and low on nutritional value, but have recently learned that it not always true. On average, cereal provides just 4% of a the average person’s daily intake of added sugar in the U.S. Pairing cereal with milk is also beneficial, considering a recent report shows that teens are more likely to break bones now than they were years ago due to lack of milk in their diet.

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Mini-Wheats, Rice Krispies, and Smart Start Strong Heart were noted as healthy cereals (when compared to others) in Eat This, Not That.

And, because Kellogg’s believes in the benefits of eating breakfast, they are giving away a breakfast package to two of our lucky readers.  The winners will receive Kellogg’s cereal, a Froot Loops tote bag, Kellogg’s cereal bowls, Lickety Spoons, and a Kellogg’s serving platter.

For a chance to win, visit the Love Your Cereal website to learn more about the benefits of breakfast and review the infographic that illustrates that as children grow up, their breakfast eating goes down.   Then, send an email to mailto:info@safetymom.com with “Love Your Cereal” in the subject line.  In the body of the email, provide us with the three percentages from the infographic.   Entries accepted until 10/25 midnight ET.  Prizes supplied and shipped by Kellogg’s.  GOOD LUCK!!

Hershey’s S’Mores a Bondfire Must!

Summer might be over but our vacation will be a lasting memory for my mom, kids and me.   I cherish my memories of summer vacations with my grandparents in Cape Cod when I was a little girl.  Certain smells, sounds and tastes can evoke those memories instantly like the smell of the ocean, the sound of seagulls, a crackling campfire and the taste of Hershey’s S’mores.

My grandparents have long since passed away and now, instead of Cape Cod, our family vacation destination is a beach house we rent in Rhode Island.  But everything else has remained the same.  OK, now the kids have their iTouches rather than the Etch-A-Sketch that I had, but their excitement in anticipating our summer vacation with their grandparents is the same.    These vacations have become rather bittersweet recently as my father is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s and recently had a stroke.  I’m not sure how many more summer family vacations will happen but my mom was committed to joining us this year.  Being a part of her grandkid’s lives is what makes her happiest.   This year, more than ever, I was committed to carrying on the traditions and recreating past summer vacations as closely as possible.  And, it was perfect in its simplicity.  Days were filled with bike rides to the farm stand, hunting for shells on the beach, bodysurfing, games of scrabble and outdoor barbeques.  Along with the  upgrade from the Etch-A-Sketch to the iTouch was an official Hershey’s S’mores making kit rather than the long twigs we used to use.  I must admit, as The Safety Mom , this was a welcome improvement!

We might not be sitting around a campfire but our grill did the trick just as well in creating smells and tastes that my kids and I will remember for a lifetime.

This post is part of my participation in the HERSHEY’S CAMP BONDFIRE campaign. All opinions expressed are mine.

Chocolate, Chocolate &  Chocolate Recipes

I have ALWAYS been a big chocolate lover. Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream, and of course – chocolate cake. A chocolate pick-me-up in the afternoon, an ice cream sundae with hot fudge on it for dessert after a long day, even chocolate cake for breakfast once in a blue moon, I mean, why not?

What I’m saying is…I love chocolate. And with summer in full force when has there been a better time to have a chocolate bash with friends? Especially after recently reading the benefits of eating chocolate – from preventing signs of aging with their antioxidants to lowering blood pressure – I started gathering recipes for a fantastic chocolate party with girlfriends. After all, what could be a better way to unwind from the constant pressures of being a mom, caretaker, and worker than chatting with friends over some decadent treats?

Here are some recipes that you can use at your own chocolate bash this summer. Find more on my Pinterest account. And be sure to enter The Balancing Act’s Kraft Baker’s Chocolate giveaway to use for your bash!

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Divine Baking

Ingredients:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in glass bowl in microwave, stirring twice, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 (I halved the sugar here) cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft marshmallow creme.

Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl to blend. On low speed, beat dry ingredients into meringue.

Stir in lukewarm chocolate and 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will become very stiff).
Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Roll 1 rounded tablespoon dough into ball; roll in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Homemade Chocolate Frapp

Ingredients:

1 scoop coffee
1 packet instant coffee grounds
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup ice

Pulse in blender until well blended, pour a serve cold.

This weekend I have two parties to go to where I need to bring cookies and I’m making cookies for all the teachers, bus drivers, coaches, etc.  For some of you this might be a piece of cake (pun intended) but for me…well, I’m what you’d call “baking challenged.”  As I tweeted earlier this week, the thought of making 6 dozen cookies causes me more stress than my recent root canal!

That’s why I was so happy when Hershey’s and Betty Crocker reached out to me with some tips on making cookies and baking with your kids.  There are some great tips and one of the most important reminders to me was that a child’s idea of helping could be as easy as just holding the top of the mixer. 

Check this out for some great ideas and visit www.FavoriteCookies.com for the recipes.  Happy Baking!

 

Scary thought, but that just might be the case. According to a new study by the Breast Cancer Fund some of your child’s favorite soups contain the dangerous toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). The Breast Cancer Fund found BPA in all six of products they tested. Campbell’s Disney Princess Cool Shapes Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth and Campbell’s Toy Story Fun Shapes noodles aren’t so “cool” and “fun” when they contain a dangerous toxic chemical. Popular products like Chef Boyardee Whole Grain Pasta, Mini ABC’s & 123’s with Meatballs and Campbell’s Spaghettios with Meatballs was also found to have BPA. Don’t think you are bypassing the toxin because you are choosing a healthy brand; Annie’s Homegrown Cheesy Ravioli and Earth’s Best Organic Elmo Noodlemania Soup contains the chemical as well.

You are probably asking yourself, what is BPA and how does it relate to cancer? BPA is found in the epoxy lining of metal food cans and then leaches into the food. Since BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical, children are especially at risk when exposed to BPA. Research shows early exposure to BPA results in adverse effects including obesity, learning disabilities, early onset puberty, and infertility. BPA is also linked to the development of prostate and breast cancer later in life. 

If you are concerned and want something done, speak up! The MomsRising group has set up a letter directed to the manufacturers of the canned foods containing BPA stressing they use an alternative to BPA in their products that you can sign. Maybe if we all sign the letter we will see some changes and won’t have to worry about our children being exposed to BPA.

 To sign the letter please CLICK HERE.