Thursday, February 15, 2018

Springtime Florals on My Mind


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I know, I know. We have over a month before the first day of spring. (And let's face it, here in Chicago it doesn't feel like spring until the end of April, and then boom, it's summer.) But my eye is on the prize friends. I don't do very many of these "inspiration" posts these days, but I'm so over winter and so ready for flowers and green trees and birds singing and every springtime stereotype that that I felt almost a duty to post some freaking flowers today. Plus all the flowers that have been everywhere because of Valentine's Day have me seriously jonesing to frolic in some springtime gardens and stuff, man. I have a feeling some of you are probably on the same page in terms of longing for spring, so hopefully this will tide you over for a few more weeks.

(I should also confess that I'm going to northern California next week, where it's apparently already very much spring, so I feel like I don't even really have a right to complain. But for now, today, where I stand, I need a little spring inspiration regardless.)


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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Love Day (and Why I'm Not Apologizing This Year)



From Essley and Emmett (and Emmett's fabulous hair), and all of us here at Bubby and Bean, Happy Valentine's Day!

Every year I say pretty much the same thing to you guys on this day, and it always starts with a disclaimer about how I realize some people aren't a fan of this day - as if maybe I should feel a little bit guilty for posting about it in a positive way. Basically, I apologize for liking it (which I do and always have). And while I completely respect reasons for why people don't like it (too commercial, excludes those not in relationships, love should be celebrated everyday not just reserved for one day, etc.), I'm not going to apologize this year. And this is why: love deserves to be celebrated. We need love. Especially right now. These are troubled times, my friends, and if there is a day set aside to really focus on love, I'm going to embrace it. The concepts that define Valentine's Day, to me, are kindness, friendship, compassion, generosity, and good old fashioned love. I'll take it.


So whether you celebrate or not, I wish you a day full of love. And may today's love spread vastly throughout our country and the world, where I think we can all agree, it is very much needed.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

SunButter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies


Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

If you asked my four year old daughter for a list of what she wanted to do on any given day, I can confidently say that "bake cookies" would always be at the top. And if it's a time of year when cookie baking is a standard activity, like the holidays or Valentine's Day, her enthusiasm is tripled. So when I asked her if she wanted to bake cookies to celebrate love day this year, she jumped up and down and proceeded to do a happy dance (full of some very interesting moves) before shouting "Yes! Yes!" And then she did something kind of wonderful. She said she wanted to make peanut butter cookies that her friend with nut allergies could eat too - meaning she wanted to make them from our favorite spread, SunButter Sunflower Butter. I thought this was a fantastic idea. We've made many things with SunButter, but never cookies. We were determined though, and with a little experimentation, came up with a delicious recipe that is perfect for Valentine's Day.

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

SunButter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 cup Organic SunButter Sunflower Butter (or any SunButter variety)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
1/2 cup jelly, jam, or preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, use a mixer to beat together the SunButter, butter, and egg, then beat in the sugars and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat in the flour mixture on low until well mixed. Roll tablespoon size balls on dough and place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart, the slightly press each cookie into a round shape (we dip the bottom of a metal measuring cup in sugar and then press onto each cookie ball). Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately use the bottom of a wooden spoon handle to make heart shapes in the center of each cookie while still hot. Fill each indentation with jelly, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Note: If you have a dairy allergy, you can easily substitute butter for a butter alternative. And if you have an egg allergy, use an egg replacer mix or 1/2 a mashed banana in place of the egg.

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

Even though we specifically made these for Valentine's Day, they're perfect for any time of the year, because who doesn't like hearts? And who doesn't like delicious, homemade cookies that everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether or not they have nut allergies? That's how you spread the love, guys. (Get it? Spread? Sunflower seed spread? Get it?) These cookies are not only ridiculously good and really fun to make (just ask my daughter), but they're also peanut free, tree nut free, sesame free, soy free, and can easily be made egg-free and dairy-free as well. And the yummy SunButter is the star of the show, with its delectable sunflower seed taste and incredible nutritional benefits. SunButter has just as much protein as peanut butter, and contains more micro nutrients, like magnesium, Vitamin E, zinc and iron. It also has less saturated fat. Winner! And you can use it in endless recipes. We even make salad dressing out of it! You can find SunButter in grocery stores, specialty stores, and schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as online. (A full list can be found here.)

Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies
Sunbutter and Jelly Heart Print Cookies

If you try these cookies for Valentine's Day this week (or any day!), let us know what you think!

This post is in partnership with SunButter. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. 

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

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5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

I have always been a big fan of Valentine's Day (I mean, any day dedicated to celebrating love is a great day in my book), but (as with most holidays) my affinity for it increased exponentially when I had kids. It's still fun to celebrate with just my husband, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't get the most excited about putting together Valentine's treats for and participating in Valentine's activities with my little ones. And while a sweet treat or two is always a part of it, I really try to focus on ways to celebrate that don't involve excessive sugar. This can be a challenge when it's holiday that is practically based on giving candy, but it's easier than you think. And today I'm teaming up with one of our favorite brands, Stonyfield® Organic Kids®, to share some of the ways we do this.

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

1. Valentine Story Time. Both Essley and Emmett love a good story time, and if it involves a holiday, they are especially stoked. Around Valentine's Day, we pick a couple of love-themed books every night and read them together as a family. It's a great way to get pumped for the holiday (that doesn't involve downing loads of candy hearts).

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

2. Handmade Valentines. Every year since she was born Essley has made Valentines for family, and for the past two years, for her preschool classmates. (Okay, so she may have had a little help in 2014 when she was 6 weeks old, but the thought was still there, man.) This year Emmett is in on the action too. One of my favorite memories of being a kid was making Valentines, and it's been really wonderful to pass this torch on to my kids. Essley loves cutting out red and pink hearts and decorating them herself so much that she actually requests we do it other times of the year as well. I also make special Valentines for her and her brother to give to them on the 14th. (I might love it even more than they do.)

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids
5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

3. Healthier Valentine Treats. Rather than give the kids an overload of candy for Valentine's Day, I really try to focus on balance (life mantra!) by giving them treats that are delicious but not full of sugar. I do this by putting together a little basket for them filled with special edible items I know they love, like Fuji apples, a toy or two, and Stonyfield® Organic Kids® yogurts (their favorite). We are long time fans of Stonyfield, but my love for them grew when they recently completed a sugar reduction across their Organic Kids® portfolio and now contain 25% - 40% less sugar than the leading kids' yogurt. Woot! And while the kids admittedly love Stonyfield because, as Essley says, "it's the yummiest ever!", it's the fact that (in addition to being lower in sugar) they are certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified that wins my heart. Just because a product is labeled as "natural" doesn't mean it's without potentially harmful ingredients, so organic certification is important to me. I also feel good purchasing from a certified B Corp (meaning the company has been verified to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability). To me, that's just another great way to celebrate a holiday about loving one another - by making conscious decisions with our dollars to show our love for other humans and the environment. And their new dessert flavor Choco-Mooo flavor (which has less sugar than other other desserts and the leading kids yogurt!) is perfect for Valentine's Day.

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids
5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

4. Simple But Festive Decor. This time of year is usually busy for us and we don't go overboard with Valentine's Day decor, but we do put up a few decorations to get into the spirit. It's an easy way to celebrate the holiday without making it all about candy. And it's always fun to walk into a room and see something pretty that represents a special time of year!

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

5. Appreciation Time. Essley actually made up this "game" one night when Robbie was on tour with the band and she was especially missing her daddy. She decided we should FaceTime him on the road, and each tell each other something we love about the others. (The best, right?) This time of year, we talk about Love Day (Valentine's Day), what loves means, and why we love each other. It sounds cheesy, I know, but I'm telling you guys - it's such an awesome way to remember what the holiday is really about.

5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids
5 (Low Sugar!) Ways To Celebrate Valentine's Day With Kids

I'd love to hear any ways you may celebrate Valentine's Day with your little ones, so please let me know in the comments if you have other ideas! (Bonus points if they're low or void of sugar!)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Stonyfield® Organic Kids®. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.

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