Thursday, April 17, 2014

Balsamic Roasted Muscat Grape Salad {recipe} {clean eating} {paleo}

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market.

When Whole Foods approached me to come up with a recipe for a once-a-year beautifully green and pink grape I jumped at the chance. The Muscat Grape comes from Chilé and is only available at Southern California Whole Foods Markets through April. I have never had a fresh Muscat grape, I've only had the chance to have it in vinaigrette or wine form. The fresh seedless pink grape was even better, the rich flavor and succulent crunch were amazing. . . and addicting!

For a quick and easy salad packed with a punch of flavor give my Balsamic Roasted Muscat Grape Salad a try!

(makes two large salads) 

1 full stem Muscat Grapes, rinsed & dried 
2 TB balsamic vinegar 
3 TB pomegranate seeds 
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cut into strips
1/4 c. pecans, toasted 
6 c. organic baby spinach 
dressing (I used this recipe

Preheat your oven to 375º. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss grapes with vinegar on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until they are slightly brown. The vinegar and juice that's released from the grapes while roasting creates a yummy glaze on the grapes. Remove from oven and let cool.  In a salad bowl combine spinach, cooled grapes, pom seeds, bacon and pecans. Drizzle with your choice of dressing and enjoy! You could top this salad with a nice grilled chicken breast or grilled white fish. 

Remember that the Muscat Grapes are only available through April so hurry up and add them to your holiday table. Whether it's adding them to a salad, making fruit skewers or enjoying a handful at a time you won't be disappointed with this pink beauty! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

New Jersey - Family Vacation Day 1

As you read in the post before this one we took our first family vacation across the country to visit Jim's family in NJ. The kids did great on the flights, they actually slept for 75% of all four flights. This is huge especially since Payton has been a non-napper since age two. 

Our first morning we got an early start and this early start happened after a very late night. Brayden has slept exclusively in his crib since three months and sticks to a schedule. He was really thrown through a loop when there wasn't a crib for him to sleep in and even more so when he was forced to cuddle with the three of us. Thank goodness that March Madness began because he finally fell asleep watching basketball as we streamed the SDSU game through our laptop. 

We quickly got out the door and Miss Payton learned real quick that when mommy and daddy tell you it's really cold out and that you should wear a jacket it truly means it. She reassured us that she was fine until we walked outside and that cold air whipped her in the face. We quickly found her bundled in her coat and her sweatshirt covering her head. We thought we could cheer her up with her first Dunkin' Donuts experience but she stayed super chipper by hiding and eventually falling asleep as we drove to Grandmom and Grandpa's house. 

Our only plan for the day was to visit the Statue of Liberty. We, well, really meaning me, was not prepared for how cold it truly would be on Ellis Island. Thank goodness for my mother-in-law and her planning because she had gloves for all of us and hand warmers. It was really neat and even emotional taking the ferry over to Ellis Island. I imagined what it was like for my great-grandparents as they embarked from Norway. It was more emotional looking at the city from the distance where the twin towers used to stand. I have seen it numerous times but never from that angle where all you had was Manhattan as your skyline. 

The kids had a great time, Payton wouldn't listen to me at all which was irritating but I let it go. She held onto her Grandmom's hand and engaged in conversations that I am sure they will both cherish. 

Brayden was the only one really cooperating as I forced my camera in his face the entire day. I can't blame Payton for ignoring me. It's annoying. 

When we finally got to the statue it was so darn windy and as we exited out onto the platform the wind scared the bajeezus out of the kids that they grabbed right onto daddy and nestled into his neck as we took the walk around. The rest of our time on the ground was spent chasing Payton around, her giving us sassy looks and testing my patience. When we left the New Jersey port (which, if you are ever considering going to the Statue of Liberty I recommend going this way vs. New York) we headed to lunch at one of the grandparents fav Tex-Mex restaurants. It was super yummy and nice because my sweet Payton reemerged. I guess she was just really hungry! Like mama, like daughter. 

Our view from the platform. 

Brayden would throw the leaves and watch them whip in the wind. It was so fun doing this with him. 

She would not let me take a picture of her at all. Very unlike her because she loves posing. 

Daddy was explaining the skyline and what the freedom tower meant. 

cold. tired. hungry. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jet Setting with Disney's FROZEN #FROZENfun #CollectiveBias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

A few days ago my little family took our first adventure 3,000 miles away from home as we traveled to New Jersey. We have never traveled by plane together so the stress level for mommy was on high alert as I planned out our thirteen hour travel day. As I was brainstorming how to keep our two small children occupied for both of our flights I knew that it had to be planned out by hour. I had researched how to keep them engaged without wanting to run up and down the aisle but I wanted a theme. I know that sounds so cliché, but I love having a theme for special events and this was one trip that is bound to be memorable. When I saw that Disney was releasing the FROZEN DVD on March 18th I knew that Elsa, Anna & silly 'ole Olaf could bring a smile to both children throughout the entire flight. 

We are a FROZEN obsessed family, but I mean, who isn't these days? As I was preparing for the in-flight activities I headed to Walmart because they seemed to have the most merchandise in-stock. This took a bit of work but with visiting multiple stores I was able to purchase enough goodies to surprise each child. The last piece to the theme was purchasing the FROZEN DVD which came out this past Tuesday. Walmart has the best deal on the movie which is available at a rollback price of $16.96 to $14.96 and there is a sweet $5 off coupon on specially marked packs of Eggo waffles (24 count). 

So what did I pack? Well, I first started out with purchasing the FROZEN Anna & Elsa suitcase for Payton. I let them pretend pack and then when they fell asleep I packed each of their suitcases with their activities so they would be surprised when we boarded the plane. This was key! As we boarded and got situated I filled the back of the seats with: A Tale of Two Sisters book,  Troll Magic coloring book with crayons, Big Snowman, Little Snowman book and the best idea was the FROZEN invisible ink coloring book! They both thought it was the coolest thing watching images and colors appear, this honestly locked both of their attention for 60% of the flight. I also loaded their tablets with Olaf's Freeze Fall app. I also packed each of their lunch boxes with fun snacks, including healthy and special treats.

I knew that the take-off might be a little scary for them but I reminded them how brave Anna was when she embraced the snow to go look for Elsa in the now frozen Arrendelle. When I explained this to them Payton excitedly explained back how brave they were being for traveling to snowy New Jersey for the first time! Exactly my sweet California girl!

Our first flight was the longest leg so halfway through I turned on FROZEN and they thought it was so cool to watch a movie from my laptop. Make sure to purchase a headphone splitter if you have multiple children or if you want to listen along with your child!

When we arrived at our layover we explored the airport. They rode the walkways, cautiously entering and exiting which the folks in Chicago loved as they were hustling and bustling through! When we reached our terminal we had some lunch and once they were finished I let them know that I had a special gift for them because they behaved so well on the flight. They were so excited and appreciated that we acknowledged their good behavior on this new journey. Payton loved the Anna Sparkle Doll and as we took off on the next flight she wasn't as scared because she was hugging Anna telling her that they would be brave together!

The last few days have been exhausting but I have to let you know that with the help of pre-planning our flight with #FROZENfun activities from our favorite movie, it helped create a memorable experience. My kids have been thanking me nonstop for making their first vacation away from home so fun.

Do you have any special tricks you use while traveling with your little ones? What's your favorite part of FROZEN? I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

#ad Gluten-Free Chicken & Cabbage Lo-Mein {recipe} #cookitGF #collectivebias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser, #cookitGF #collectivebias

As many of you know we have been doing the gluten-free cooking thing since last September. It can become frustrating for me while meal planning because there are a lot of foods my family loves that I simply cannot eat. My kids love going out to their favorite Chinese restaurant for chicken lo-mein. I don't love it because I end up eating foods high in gluten, sodium and who knows what else. Plus, I always feel yucky afterwards. I wanted to create a dish that pleases everyone in the family so I came up with a healthy, quick alternative; gluten-free chicken & cabbage lo-mein. 

I got the inspiration while shopping at Sam's Club a few weeks ago when they were having an in-store demo for Tyson Gluten-Free Grilled & Ready Chicken Fillets.  Don't you just love the store demos? It keeps the kids calm and you get to enjoy new products that you might not try otherwise. Look for the Tyson demo in your local stores on 4/4, 4/5 and 5/14. 

Gluten-Free Chicken and Cabbage Lo-Mein


2 Tyson Gluten-Free Grilled & Ready Chicken Fillets, diced into chunks
1 rib of celery, sliced
5 whole water chestnuts, sliced
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
5 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 bunches green onions, sliced
3 TB dry roasted peanuts, chopped
1 tsp sesame seeds
3 TB toasted sesame seed oil
4 TB coconut aminos


1. Heat sesame oil in a skillet or wok. Add in broccoli, mushrooms and celery. Sauté for a few minutes. Next add in remaining vegetables. 

2. Add in sliced and diced chicken. Follow the instructions on the bag for defrosting options. I used the microwave to save time.  

3. Lastly, add in cabbage "noodles" and sprinkle coconut aminos on top allowing the aminos to wilt the cabbage. Sauté for about three to five minutes. Garnish with sesame seeds and crushed peanuts. Enjoy! It tastes just like one of the top Chinese restaurant chains lo-mein but without the guilt and way healthier!

For a high quality, gluten-free chicken meal check out Tyson's Gluten-Free Grilled & Ready Chicken Fillets today! Find Tyson here for additional information. #CookitGF

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hit a Home Run with Walmart's Inexpensive Wireless Plans #FamilyMobile #CollectiveBias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

 I used to see my nieces and nephew a lot but now that there is school, homework, sports and social gatherings this auntie barely even hears from them. My nephew, Ethan, turned ten last October and has been begging my sister and brother-in-law for a phone for the past year. Besides being a great kid, Ethan has been excelling in school since Kindergarten but more importantly he has been on the honor roll list for the last two years (when letter grades actually begin) and the principles list. I always try and let them know how proud of them I am by purchasing a special gift acknowledging their educational accomplishments but I have been slacking. . . majorly! When I heard about Walmart's Lowest Price Unlimited Plans I knew that I could make one ten-year-old extremely happy and stay connected with him all at the same time! 

After filing our taxes I knew that I could put a little money aside for Ethan to purchase his first phone. What I didn't expect was how affordable plans could be from Walmart's family mobile services. I decided on the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit that retails for $98.88. The sales associate helped me get all the other necessary components: family mobile starter kit ($25), a phone case ($14) and screen protectors ($8). I was in and out of the store with my little dude in less than thirty minutes! I'm so happy with my decision and even more impressed with the plans that I will be changing to one of the plans offered by Walmart in the near future.  

My local Walmart is being remodeled. We're about six months away from completion so my store is a little cray cray. I was happy when my little dude and I found the mobile counter to be in the pre-existing electronics department. 

Because I love to surprise vs. be the one surprised I took my family to Ethan's first baseball game over the weekend to give him his gift. After the game we went for some ice cream to cool us off from the 85º weather. He had no idea what was coming in that black bag, I kept asking him what and he thought might be in the bag and he thought I had purchased him another Skylanders accessory. He couldn't wait to see what was inside and as he tore thru the black and white polka dot tissue he found the bright blue mobile box and took a deep stare and then a pre-pubescent "I got my first phone!" shriek was let out. It was the cutest moment and my son ran over saying, "it's your phone Eee-san!" He ripped thru rest of the bag and was happy to see the accessories and a note that he could download whatever apps he wanted on me! Auntie score!

#familymobile plan

The first thing he did with his phone...A selfie! Gotta love it!
After the excitement we went to their house to play for awhile and helped him with his phone. Even though by the time we traveled a few miles he had already figured out how to sign-up with his e-mail address, was calling me thanking me, texting me and who knows what else. The ease of setting up the Galaxy Exhibit was really easy and my husband kept telling him it was just like his phone but better! ha! We had already pre-programmed all the family numbers and then he was off calling grandma letting her know of his rad tween status. In the last three days I have heard from him everyday, even if it's just a quick "hi" I just want my family to know what I am thinking about them, knowing I love them even though we don't get to see one another everyday. Thanks to Walmart and their family mobile plans I am able to afford his phone plan each month where if I went with anyone else I might not be able to. 

Ethan is a big gamer. I didn't know what kind of apps he would be into otherwise I would have already downloaded some before giving him his phone. He gave me his top five for paid and free. So if you're considering treating your tween you too can pre-download some amazing apps to get them started! 
top 5 paid android apps

Hit a home run this Spring and surprise your tween with a cell phone! I cannot urge you enough to check out the cheapest wireless plans available right now through Walmart!