Tuesday, August 11, 2020

7 Ways to Make Family Movie Night Extra Fun



In partnership with Kettle Brand®.

Our little family consists of four people with very different interests, but there is one thing we all love: movies. We used to go to the movies a lot (like, a lot), but these days, we opt for movie nights (and days!) at home instead. Family movie night is a genuinely wonderful way for all of us to slow down, relax, and just be together. It is also an activity that every single one of us agrees on, every time. Since they've become so frequent in our house, we've been coming up with ways to make them unique and extra fun. And today, I've sharing some of these with you!


1. Pick your movie from a hat.
My mom actually came up with this idea when she was babysitting the kids last year and they couldn't agree on which movies to watch. Each person chooses a movie title and writes it on a piece of paper, folds it up, then puts the paper in a hat or basket. An adult draws one piece, and that's the movie that is watched. It makes choosing the movie fun, and helps avoid fights.


2. Take your snacks up a notch.
Popcorn is great and all, but we like our movie night snacks to have a little something more. If I'm really feeling creative, I'll make individual snack trays using school supply caddies and fill them with fruit, candy, water, and our favorite crunchy snacks, Kettle Brand® Potato Chips. Sometimes we'll just grab the Kettle Brand® Potato Chips from the pantry and snack on them right out of the bags, and that's next level too! We love the crunch and bold flavors of Kettle Brand® Potato Chips, and they make for the perfect movie night treat. Our current top flavors are Jalapeno (zesty with a kick!) and Sea Salt & Vinegar (deliciously tangy!), but we've yet to try one that isn't delicious. And Ibotta is offering $1 off two 8.5 oz bags at Walmart right now, which makes me love them even more!


3. Make tickets.
This may honestly be my daughter's favorite part of family movie night. She makes tickets (usually just a rectangular piece of paper with a number written on it), and gives one to each of us before we sit down to enjoy the movie. It makes the experience feel more authentic for the kids, and it's also pretty freaking adorable.


4. Get extra cozy.
One of the best parts of family movie night at home is the comfort level! We turn the lights down low (if it's dark out), and cuddle on the sofa under a blanket. It's also the one time we let the kids eat snacks on the couch, which is very exciting for them. We always have a bag or two of Kettle Brand® Potato Chips (Jalapeno for my husband and me, Sea Salt & Vinegar for the kids) to enjoy as we snuggle up together.

5. Take an intermission.
If you have young kids, this is ultimately just a more exciting version of a bathroom break. It's also a great time to refill any empty bowls of Kettle Brand® Potato Chips!


6. Have spontaneous dance parties.
I give full credit to my kids for this one, but I can't think of a single movie night where they didn't get up and dance to almost every song that played. And I love it. It gives the little ones a break from sitting, and just makes the whole experience more fun. Sometimes, I get in on the dance action too.

7. Savor the moment and be present.
This might not sound like an innovative idea, but it's an important reminder. I mean, how many of us look at our phones countless times when we're hanging out with our kids, or think about our to do lists, or just check out in other ways? I try to make a commitment to be present and savor this time with my family, while we enjoy a movie and snacks (more Kettle Brand® Potato Chips, please!) together.  It makes the whole experience more fun, and creates the best memories.


If you have other ways you make family movie nights even more fun, I'd love to hear them! And if you're a Kettle Brand® Potato Chips fan like we are, I'd love to hear about that too! We love KKettle Brand® Potato Chips not just for their signature crunch and mouth watering flavors, but also because they are an incredible company that makes sustainable, eco-conscious values a priority, and also supports local hunger relief agencies, LGBTQ+ organizations, and more. That is the exact kind of brand I really love to share and get behind. Make sure to head to your local Walmart and take advantage of the $1 off two 8.5 oz bags of Kettle Brand® Potato Chips Ibotta offer today!



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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Tofu Caprese Salad


Tofu Caprese Salad
This post is in partnership with House Foods.

Over the past few months, we (like a lot of you, I'm guessing) have been been spending more time than ever together as a family making snacks and meals. As a long time vegetarian, I'm always trying to incorporate as many plant-based ingredients as possible. And thankfully, I'm easily able to do this by including tofu.

One of my kids' favorite children's books, The Tales of Tofu (which you can download for free right here!), includes several super delicious, simple recipes that can be made with tofu. They love the story, which features a superfood named Tofu who learns about how he can be anything he wants to be - just like tofu itself, which combines so well with so many other foods and flavors. We have made and are fans of all the recipes in the book. Tofu Chocolate Pudding (which I've shared here before) is my daughter's favorite, and my son is obsessed with the Broccoli Mac and "Cheese." I'm partial to the Strawberry Papaya Tofu Smoothie.

Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad

The other day, we thought it would be fun to come up with our own recipe using House Foods Tofu. We've been growing tomatoes and basil in our patio garden this summer, and Caprese salad is one of our favorite summer dishes. So we decided to try a tofu Caprese salad that uses House Foods Medium Firm Tofu, and you guys, it is so delicious. Today, I'm sharing this recipe with you!

Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad


TOFU CAPRESE SALAD
SERVES:4 | PREP TIME: 10 min | COOK TIME: 0 min

INGREDIENTS
1 pkg. House Foods Tofu Medium Firm
3 large tomatoes
12-16 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic dressing (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Slice tofu into equal sized pieces, about 1/3-1/2 inch thick.  Slice tomatoes into 1/3 inch rounds. Alternate tomato and tofu slices on a serving plate or individual plates. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top of tomato and tofu slices. Top with basil leaves. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. You can also add a few drops of balsamic dressing to the plate or top of salad. (I love it, but the kids prefer without.) Enjoy!

Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad

This tofu Caprese salad is refreshing, satisfying, and full of flavor. The tofu provides plant-based protein, iron and calcium. It's also low calorie and cholesterol-free. So it's basically the most extra Caprese salad ever. House Foods Medium Firm tofu is good for more than just Caprese salads too. We love it in breakfast scrambles and tofu mac and "cheese." We use House Foods Firm tofu to replace meat (it's so good marinated) several times a week. And House Foods Soft tofu is perfect for smoothies, sauces, and pies.

Tofu Caprese Salad
Tofu Caprese Salad

We hope you love this tasty plant-based salad as much as we do! And be sure to visit House Foods for tips and recipes ideas, and to download your own copy of The Tales of Tofu.



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Monday, August 3, 2020

Some Thoughts On Back to School



I could honestly write a novel - one that would ultimately confuse you because I'm so back and forth - with my thoughts on returning to school this fall.

At the time of writing this post, my daughter is set to start first grade next week. A couple of weeks ago, I watched a 3.5 hour school board meeting on Zoom where plans were announced for schools in our district.  For elementary school, the choices were either in-person for shortened days, or e-learning by a district teacher who would teach students from different schools in the district all at once. If one were to choose in-person, they could change to e-learning at any time. If they chose e-learning, they had to commit for the entire first semester. We were initially given 6 days to make a decision, but then given a 5 day extension.

I still waited until the last minute to submit our choice, and did so with monumental anxiety. Neither choice sounded appealing in any way. I called every friend I have, sent texts, created polls on my Instagram and on my personal Facebook page. Most people felt as conflicted as I did. Some knew exactly what they wanted to do and were kind and assuring. Others were judgmental and rude. In the end, all I could think was, "what a mess."

My heart hurts for teachers. It hurts for parents and for the kids. Things didn't have to be this way. 

I don't write a lot of posts like this anymore where I just share my personal feelings. But as we prepare to start this strange, somewhat terrifying new school year, I ask my readers to please take this virus seriously. Please wear masks. Please social distance. If we can each do our part to get this under control, maybe our kids will get their lives back. Maybe people like my husband who are out of work because their industries have been put on hold indefinitely can get their jobs back. Maybe schools can go back to being nurturing places for our kids to learn. 

We plan to do everything we can to make this year a positive experience for our kids, but like everyone, we long for things to feel less, well, scary. Whatever your plans for school, I am sending you strength, love, and compassion. We're all doing our best, and I hope we can support one another through this.



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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Toasted Chickpea and Avocado Pitas


Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

I'm almost embarrassed to admit how many times a week I eat these toasted chickpea and avocado pitas, but once you try them, I think you'll understand. I initially shared a similar version of this recipe a few years ago, but it's been updated so I had to share the new and improved version with you.  They're so simple to make, they're absolutely delicious, and they're good for you too. Triple win.

Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Toasted Chickpea and Avocado Pitas
Serves 2 as meal, 4 as a snack 

INGREDIENTS 
2 medium to large ripe avocados 
1 can of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) 
2 multigrain pitas 
Small handful baby spinach or other greens 
Plain Greek Yogurt for topping 
Chili powder 
Cumin 
Salt 

Heat a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the chickpeas, then pour into the pan. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, and salt to taste, then stir well. Cook until chickpeas are slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. While chickpeas are toasting, mash avocado in a bowl to desired consistency, adding salt to taste. Remove chickpeas from pan and allow to cool slightly. While chickpeas are cooling, place pitas in warm pan to soften, about one minute on each side. On each pita, spread an even amount of mashed avocado. Top with a few baby spinach leaves, followed by chickpeas. Top each pita with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with chili powder.
 
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas
Avocado and Pan Toasted Chickpea Pitas

These make the perfect lunch or hearty snack. Enjoy!



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