Simple Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa

Although I am no longer a kid who’s out of school for the Summer, it is still my favorite season.  This is the time of the year that I entertain friends at my home the most. I usually prepare everything and my husband fires up the grill for a tasty meal.

I typically like my friends to arrive just as we are beginning to put the meat on the grill, so while the guys are outside enjoying a beer and watching the grill, we ladies can catch up on everything from the kids to pop culture.

The other day I decided to have a couple of friends over for dinner, and since I knew my hubby wouldn’t fire up the grill until people arrived, I decided to whip up a quick little appetizer.  I thought to myself that a dip would be great, who doesn’t love to dip. So, I created something new using Johnsonville Smoked Brats that I call my “Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa”.

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I like trying different things and thought that Johnsonville Sausage would give it that extra something I was looking for.  When I picked up the package of Johnsonville Smoked Brats I was happy to read that there were no added fillers and that they only use premium cuts of pork to pack in the flavor.

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 RECIPE

Ingredients:

2 Johnsonville Smoked Brats links, 1 medium mango, 10 strawberries, Cilantro                    2 tablespoons each of Peach Preserves, Orange juice, Lemon juice, and Sweet Chili Sauce

Directions:

  1. Finely chop cilantro, then dice mango, strawberries, and Johnsonville Smoked Brats.
  2. Stir together the peach preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, and sweet chili sauce in a large bowl. Gently fold in the cilantro, mango, strawberries, Johnsonville Smoked Brats until blended. Allow the mixture to rest at least 20 minutes before serving.

This was such a simple recipe, I served it  chilled as a dip(like Salsa) with Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips.  It also makes a great topping for grilled meats such as Pork Chop or Seafood. We tried it as a topping for our Grilled Salmon and it was amazing.  Everyone loved it.

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I recommend this recipe to anyone looking to make a quick tasty appetizer. This Sweet n Savory Summer Salsa is extremely easy to make and full of flavor.

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post I was compensated by Johnsonville in exchange for me creating and sharing my recipe. All content and opinions are my own.

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I am Thankful for… #thankfulthursdays

So often people don’t slow down to appreciate their blessings, so I decided to start a weekly post where all my readers can share what they are thankful for.  Take a minute to sit down and reflect and appreciate your life.  Then share one thing you are thankful for.

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This week I want to share with everyone that I am thankful for my loving and supportive husband.

I hear so many stories from friends or freinds of friends about how they are looking for love or seeking more support from their significant other and it makes me realize that sometimes I may take things for granted.  From today on, I plan to make it a point that on a daily basis I communicate to my spouse something that I love and appreciate about him.   

What are you thankful for?

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Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, NRA #KidsLiveWell

The National Restaurant Association recently held their annual convention  in Chicago where they got to highlight their Kids LiveWell program and #KidsLiveWell recipe challenge. This challenge let several food vendors and restaurants create healthy and delicious kids recipes to see who would be able to come up with the most popular delicious and nutritious recipe.  The purpose of this event was to promote the Kids LiveWell program and to recognize the people in the food industry that are already doing it right and making difference.There are already nearly 42,000 participating restaurant locations nationwide and the National Restaurant Association is looking for more.

Since the convention I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Joy Dubost, who discussed with me more about this program and why it is important. She also gave me tips how we can   help our children eat healthier.

Interview with Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living, National Restaurant Association

 Joy Dubost

 

Why should the restaurant industry take a hard look at providing healthier options for children and families?

Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in what is on their plates, where it comes from and how it’s prepared. In particular, health and nutrition continue to be top of mind. According to National Restaurant Association research, more than seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers healthful options. The restaurant industry is committed to providing these options to their patrons. In fact, more than eight of 10 adults agree that restaurants offer more healthful choices now compared to two years ago.

One way restaurants are showing their passion and commitment to children’s nutrition is through the Kids LiveWell program. The National Restaurant Association launched this initiative in 2011 to help make the healthful choice the easy choice when dining out with children. The voluntary program has grown from 19 restaurant brands representing 15,000 locations to over 145 restaurant brands, representing 42,000 locations nationwide. The program has also expanded beyond restaurants to museums, theme parks and resorts.

Can you share some examples of restaurants that are doing it right?

Restaurants across the country are taking the steps to provide healthful menu options. To see specific examples, HealthyDiningFinder.com lists the restaurants that are part of the Kids LiveWell program. Restaurants in the Kids LiveWell program have committed to providing meals that meet specific nutritional criteria based off the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines. The meals focus on increasing the consumption of low-fat dairy, fruit and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, while limiting unhealthful fats, sugars and sodium.

The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with McCormick for Chefs, created the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge to shine a spotlight on the positive efforts of the restaurant and foodservice industry in kids’ nutrition. The Challenge takes an “industry tested, kid approved” approach with a panel of food and nutrition professionals selecting finalists and elementary school students choosing the winners.

Restaurants and foodservice companies that applied are examples of those using their culinary ingenuity in not only creating a healthful meal, but a meal that is creative and memorable for kids. This year’s winners are a prime example of this: Sysco Hampton Roads, O’Charley’s, UW Health and Bean Sprouts Café.

If you were going to grade the food industry in general for healthy options, what grade would it receive.

The industry is taking all the right steps in creating healthful options for consumers; however, it’s important to keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. It’s encouraging to see that children’s nutrition is a top priority for chefs and that they continue to put their creativity in healthful kids meals to work on restaurant menus. In fact, healthful kids’ meals have ranked as a top 10 menu trend on the Association’s What’s Hot Chef Survey – a survey of nearly 1,300 professional chefs – for the past five years, indicating that children’s nutrition is a true trend for the restaurant and foodservice industry, not a passing fad.

The restaurant industry is committed to health and nutrition in a myriad of ways – from looking for ways to reduce sodium in meals to providing options for consumers with celiac disease and food allergies to working to make nutrition information available on websites and menus.

Please share some examples how families and moms can provide healthier meals to our children.

We know that when parents dine out, they are increasingly looking for healthful options for their children. Many restaurants already have them and with the Kids LiveWell program, our goal is to make the healthful choice, the easy choice. We want to make locating a Kids LiveWell restaurant and identifying their qualifying meals as simple as possible.

I encourage parents and caretakers to look at HealthyDiningFinder.com. The site has a dedicated Kids LiveWell section that not only lists every participating restaurant, but also each member’s qualifying Kids LiveWell meals (which must include an entrée, side and beverage), as well as each meals’ nutritional information.

We also have a free Kids LiveWell app for both iPhone and Android that helps to find participating restaurants while on-the-go, and when dining out, keep your eyes out for the Kids LiveWell logo and apple on restaurant menus.

Making healthy meals is one thing, but getting our kids to eat them is another, how can we balance the two?

Keep in mind that kids typically outgrow many picky eating habits after the age of 6, as growth spurts are often accompanied by changes in appetite and food consumption. But while they are going through this stage, I have several tips that could help:

  • Make sure fruits are ripe, sweet and juicy to tempt kids’ taste buds.
  • For picky kids – introduce foods over and over – kids’ taste buds change over time.
  • Offer picky eaters sweeter veggies like carrots, acorn squash and sweet potatoes.
  • Give fruits and vegetables fun names to make them more appealing.

We even put together a video for my Ask the Nutritionist series featuring myself and Bill Wurtzel, the creator of Funny Food. The video has fun tips on making meals that are nutritious and fun for children to eat: http://youtu.be/r7aLj9Xuxxo.
How serious is the child obesity problem, and what are ways we can fight it?

In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. However Philadelphia, New York City, Mississippi and California are among the locations reporting declining childhood obesity rates as a result of taking comprehensive action to address the epidemic. A recent survey found that the obesity rate for children 2-5 years old has dropped 43 percent in a decade.

Through efforts and initiatives such as the Kids LiveWell program, the restaurant industry has been taking a proactive role in addressing childhood obesity. The Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge was also created to not only shine a spotlight on the current positive efforts of the industry, but also to encourage more restaurants to diversify their children’s items by offering healthful, innovative meals.

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UFC Gym Perimeter Kids’ Program #ad #ufcgymperimeter

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Devin recently participated in a kids’ fitness program at UFC Gym Perimeter.  UFC Gym Perimeter is new to the Atlanta area and has something for every member of the family.  My son is 5 years old and has recently begun to show a big interest in sports and fitness.  So, when I was invited to bring my son out to review a class at UFC Gym Perimeter, I was excited and knew my son would be too.

 

UFC Gym Perimeter just recently introduced their kids’ program to the gym and it is offered to kids ages 5-12.  It is a great way for kids to burn some energy after school, especially since PE classes aren’t what they used to be, if your kids school even offers it.  Kids can stay fit and healthy while having fun learning basic boxing techniques, kickboxing and mixed martial arts.

The  classes are all taught by a staff of attentive professional. Coach Floyd, who was one of the coaches Devin trained with was really great with the kids. He was patient and showed interested in each individual child.  During the class the kids did a cardio warm-up,  went through several drills, and learned a few combinations on the heavy bags. I was amazed at how quickly my son was able to remember the number combinations. This class is a great way to build discipline, improve coordination and build self-confidence. The class was safe and fun, so much so the kids didn’t want it to end.

Want to learn more about UFC Gym Perimeter visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with Mums the Word Network and UFC Gym Perimeter.  All opinions expressed are my own

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Nutritious and Delicious Restaurant Options #KidsLiveWell

PrintThese days, it’s more important to me than ever to give my family healthy options when it’s mealtime.

The other night, I was pleasantly surprised when Devin went so far as to eat brussel sprouts with his dinner.  I couldn’t believe it!

Dining out poses its own hurdles when it comes to healthy options. However, some restaurants make it a priority, and now the National Restaurant Association (NRA)  has a campaign to get more restaurants on the healthy food for kids train.

The NRA is teaming up with Healthy Dining on the Kids LiveWell program.  This initiative is highlighting the restaurant industry’s commitment to offer healthy options for children.

Kids LiveWell is a first-of-its-kind voluntary industry program, reaching over 41,000 restaurant locations committed to providing families with a growing selection of healthful children’s menu choices when dining out.

The National Restaurant Association and Healthy Dining verify that Kids LiveWell items meet specific nutritional criteria established by leading health organizations’ scientific
guidelines.

A Kids LiveWell meal provides the following:
• 600 calories or less
• ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
• ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
• < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
• ≤ 35% of calories from total sugar
• ≤ 770 mg of sodium
• Each meal must contain two sources of either fruit,

Restaurants are now being challenged to create healthy menu items through a partnership with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and McCormick For Chefs.

It’s called the Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge and the goal is to showcase healthy menu options available when dining out.

Restaurants and food service providers submitted their healthy creations from their kids menu for consideration for this exciting, new award.

2014 Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge Winners:

Bean Sprouts Café & Cooking School: The Do Re For Me Sandwich is organic multi grain oat bread spread with sunflower butter and organic strawberry jam and cut into piano key sized/shaped pieces,served with a skewer of grapes and water. The pumpernickel bread is  cut into smaller pieces and placed on top of the wheat bread to represent black piano keys.

O’Charley’s: The Cloudy with a Chance of Spaghetti and Meatball Pizza has grilled sirloin meatballs and spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and whole wheat pizza dough served with apple juice.

Sysco Hampton Roads: The Kids Quesa WOW Dilla is a chicken quesadilla with broccoli, chicken,peppers and corn, served with a side of grapes and water.

UW Health: The Swimming Taco is served with fresh grapes on the side and a frozen banana avocado smoothie.

These restaurants really did a  great job coming up with creative healthy meals kids would love. They put a twist on these meals using healthy ingredients in a fun way for kids, which is a great way to distract kids and  get them to eat things that are both nutritious and delicious.These restaurants provided great examples to let us know we can have both we don’t have to choose. I am learning that when it comes to healthy eating, if I season things just right and present them in a fun way, my kid will try just about anything.

13784029145_dd98ba5dc8_zFor more information on Kids LiveWell, follow Kids LiveWell on Twitter and Facebook.  Also, check out HealthyDiningFinder.com and download the free smartphone app for a list of all Kids LiveWell restaurants and menu items.

 

 

Follow me on May 17th,2014  I will be tweeting with #KidsLiveWell sharing information from the National Restaurant Association’s annual show in Chicago

Please share with me any healthy kids recipes you love and other tips/tricks to get your children to eat healthier foods.

Disclosure: I am being compensated to share this information, however all opinions and words expressed are my own. 

 

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Mamma Needs A New Pair of Shoes

I have a secret vice that I’m almost afraid to write about, but I’ve wanted to get this off of my chest for a while. I’m a risk taker, I love odds, and playing a game or two…  Okay, enough beating around the bush already. I’m a gamer, and Mamma needs a new pair of shoes.  I think I get it from my Granny (R.I.P) who was quite lucky and known to play the numbers in New York city where she lived for most of her life.

In Georgia, we only have the Georgia Lottery, which is okay, I usually buy the scratchers. But I really like more thrill than that, truth be told I love table games which is why I make an annual trek to Tampa’s Indian Casino for my birthday.

The thing is that I have really good luck, and I recently discovered online gaming. Hmmm… I’ve always wanted to try my luck online. The only thing is that online gaming is illegal in most states including Georgia. Now I’m not encouraging you try either virtual or real gambling, but states are starting to legalize real money gaming starting with New Jersey last November.

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So since I’m talking about grown up fun… which it is for me (I know how to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, and walk away), I wanted to share a few of my favorite gaming venues.

1. Hard Rock Casino Tampa:  I used to live in Tampa, and love the Sunshine State. The Hard Rock Casino is fun and it has table games from Blackjack to Poker, and Casino WAR (which is played just like the childhood card game).

2. Georgia Lottery: Scratchers (instant games) are a fun affordable way to try your luck. I’ll usually buy a stack from 5-10 scratchers, grab a quarter, and see if or what I’ve won. My favorite games right now are  ”Lucky Streaks” and “50X the Money”.

3. Las Vegas: This should be top on the list but I don’t get to visit Vegas often, but it is like Disney World for adult fun. They don’t call it “Sin City,” for no reason.

4. Tropicana Casino: The Tropicana Casino has great online gaming options (which is only available to people physically residing in NJ). I’ve been curious about online gaming for a while, I think it could be lots of fun.

5.  OnlineGambling.com This is the mother of all online gaming sites.

Now, I’m not endorsing or suggesting that you should play with your money, but a little gaming in moderation sometimes yields big wins.

Disclaimer: I am sharing this content with you as a paid partner with Tropicana Casino.  All opinions and words expressed are my own. 

 

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the Busy Mom

I love getting pampered and relaxing, and don’t know a mother who doesn’t.  Since Mother’s Day is almost here, I thought that I’d share a share a few gift ideas that may help you or your loved one find that special gift.

As much as I love my husband and son (anyone who knows me knows that Devin is THE LOVE of my life), there are times when I just want to be left alone.  A weekend staycation in the hotel of your choice could give you some alone time to help you recharge your batteries (that’s a hint Amani :) ).

Now I know that budgets are sometimes tight, but here’s another way you can refresh from the convenience of your own home… Aroma Therapy.  You’d be amazed how much just soaking in or inhaling certain scents can breathe new life into a person.

As I mother I know our work is never done, we are always tending to our family and home and rarely find a moment to go out to our local coffee shop and indulge in a cup of gourmet coffee.

krg-lg-b68The next gift is perfect for a busy Mom. Let her start her day by enjoying a  gourmet coffee (there are a variety of brands and flavors available) that brew in under a minute and they don’t even have to leave the house.

The  Keurig Special Edition brewing system (SRP: $149.99) brews beverages  in under a minute and features chrome accents. With the backlit LCD display in makes it easier for you to use in the early morning before you turn on the lights and before the kids wake up.

tieksWith all the running around us moms do from grocery shopping to taking kids to soccer practice, we need a nice comfortable shoe, one that is fashionable is a plus.  Tieks by Gavrieli are designer ballet flats and they’d be perfect for the job.   They are so flexible and comfortable and come in a variety of colors and prints.  Any mom would love a pair.

So, consider these products as a gift option to really help relax and pamper.  You’re wife or mom can thank me later!

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Dads Only Camping Trip!

Growing up, a summer vacation wasn’t a summer vacation without a family camping trip.

We had Coleman lanterns, burners, sleeping bags, a couple of tents, and in Northern California, there were plenty of places to rough it.

Camping was an affordable getaway for the Channel Clan when I was younger.  Those are also some of the fondest memories of family life.   If you haven’t figured it out, this is Daphne’s other half with a guest post. :)

I can’t even remember the last time we went camping, but over the weekend,  I had the chance to relive my childhood adventures with Devin.

IMG_4640It was an unexpected trip that came by way of his soccer coach who invited us (Devin and I), his teammate Amias and his dad to Red Top Mountain Park for an overnight camping trip.

We had to quickly pick up some camping supplies and provisions, then hit the road.

Apple maps had some navigation challenges, but we eventually found our way, and that’s when the fun started.

A total of three camp sites were reserved for dads only, and the first order of business was to build the tent (it was actually easier than it looked).

IMG_4652Devin quickly bonded with the other kids. He started off by fishing, but when he noticed the other kids playing in Lake Allatoona, he followed suit and jumped in.

All of the dads brought food, so by dusk we were all cooking on the grill potluck style.

When it was time to go to sleep, I thought that Devin would be afraid to sleep in the tent in the great outdoors but surprisingly he wasn’t. He was a little restless, but eventually settled down, and he slept like a log.

This first camping trip was a success. No moms, just a lot of nature and good memories.

Next time we’ll bring the mushy mamma along for the family fun.

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Ticket Giveaway: Knights – Medieval Times

KnightTrainingSwords, horses, and knights, oh my. Devin had a blast eating food with fingers, and cheering for his favorite knight last time we visited Medieval Times.

This Spring Break, he can train to become a Knight of the Realm. Children will be treated to an exclusive weapons demonstration by the Knights and the Weapons Master. They will learn about the grueling training it takes to become a Knight. Upon completion of their training, children will be knighted by His Majesty King Carlos in a group knighting ceremony.

This special knight training class is only available for certain show times, and I have a *special ticket giveaway for a family pack of 4 tickets good for dates below.

  • April 7th thru 10th: Doors open at 5:30PM with training at 6:30PM and show at 7:30PM

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Children must be between the ages of 5 and 12 to participate and space is limited.
You can book your tickets online at bit.ly/buymedieval or over the phone by calling 1-888-WE-JOUST.

* Contest ends at 12:01am on 04/02/2014.  Winner will be notified via email and must respond by 3pm on 4/02/2014 so reservation can be established for them.  Tickets are for the show at Medieval Times, Atlanta. Knight Training is free with admission, but limited to the first 100 children each day.

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{$100 Kroger GC Giveaway} Simple Truth is Simply Delicious! #HealthyLiving

Disclosure:  I attended an in-store Healthy Living informational blogger event about natural foods at Kroger. I received a gift card and fuel points for my participation.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Kroger‘s Simple Truth line is simply delicious! I recently attended an event at Kroger that focused on healthy living. I learned all about Kroger’s Simple Truth product line, which is made up of organic foods, natural foods, and foods that are “free from 101” additives.

Kroger introduced the line in 2012 because they knew that consumers are looking for healthier alternatives. Since they launched the line it’s been steadily growing, in fact this year they will be adding 100 more items. What’s great too, is that you are able to find different Simple Truth products throughout the store not just in one department. All Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic products are clearly marked with the brand’s green circular logo and contain straightforward ingredient statements like you see in the below picture.

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While a lot of the discussion at the event focused on Kroger’s exclusive Simple truth line, I also learned that Kroger believes in supporting their local community by carrying produce from local farms as well as different healthy products that are produced locally. Some of the local companies that I was able to sample products from were Pure Knead, Frannie’s Gluten Free, and Arden’s Garden.

I must admit I was a bit reluctant to sample some of the bakery type products because I thought gluten-free…. it’s probably going to be very dry. But to my surprise they were actually quite moist and delicious.

Also during the event there were chef demonstrations and I was able to try a Pub-Style Beef Stew that was prepared by on of Kroger’s chefs.  He used Simple Truth Beef Stew meat which is USDA Certified Organic and 100% Grass fed.  It was so fresh tasting and simply delicious.  I really could tell the difference from the other meats I typically buy.  I will definitely be making a change.

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If you are looking to make healthier, better choices for your family and yourself be sure to check out Kroger’s Natural Foods department.  They have shelves full of wholesome goodness.

Also you can save on a lot of these items and more with Kroger’s digital coupons so be sure to look before you shop.

I was so impressed with Kroger’s Simple Truth line that I linked up with a few of my blogger buddies, Barbara (Atlanta’s Frugal Mom), Joyce (Mommy Talk Show) and Bernetta (Bernetta Style)  to bring you a chance to $100 KROGER GIFT CARD!

Contest ends February 25, 2014 so enter today.

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