Wednesday, October 19, 2016

10 Easy Fall Crafts for Toddlers

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA for this post in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Quinn is ALL about arts & crafts lately. He has a little smock that he likes to wear, so anytime he’s in the mood to get crafty, he grabs it from the cabinet in his playroom and shows us that it’s time to “paint.” Well, he likes to color with crayons and markers, but painting is the most fun for him!

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Since our little guy is really digging the crafts lately, we’ve created a few “projects” for him to do. Most recently, we bought some cardboard ghosts to decorate. Quinn actually wants to be a ghost for Halloween, so he was really excited about them. And it was such an easy craft project. We already had stickers, markers, and paint at home, so we set up everything on the dining room table and, just like that, we had an art project to do.

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Mal and I helped decorate the ghosts too, so it was a fun family project for everyone. Side note: Mal made the “mama ghost” look absolutely ridiculous! Ha!

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We love doing these kinds of projects with Quinn because they’re FUN, but also because he’s able to improve upon his fine motor skills while using his imagination to create art all by himself. We let him do his own thing and just allow his creative juices flow! 🙂 He’s growing up so fast and, before we know it, he’ll start making his own decisions about what he likes and really interests him. While we don’t want to steer him in a specific direction with regard to hobbies, activities, or sports, we hope that we can open as many doors as possible for him. We want our little guy to experience as many new opportunities as possible and make these kinds of decisions for himself, both today and in the future.

Mal and I know college will be here before we know it, so I’m glad that we’re starting to consider our finances and plan now for Quinn’s future. We have a couple of investment/savings accounts already set up for Qman and contribute to them on a regular basis. I know that we still have plenty of time to save, but our BABY starts preschool in less than a year, which just goes to show you how quickly time can pass. Wasn’t I just sharing Quinn’s birth story on CNC? Seriously, where does the time go!?! As they say, “the days are long, but the years are short,” which is sooooo true when it comes to little ones and planning for their future.

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Once again, I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour, which hosts a variety of events that help parents like us learn more about saving for our children’s future. Unfortunately, we’re not able to attend any of the events this fall (we’re so bummed to miss the “Boo at the Zoo” event – our little owl had so much fun last year), but I wanted to share two local ones that are coming up in October and November:

U.Fund Dreams Tour @ Boo at the Zoo – Stone Zoo
Sunday, October 23, 2016
10:00am – 3:00pm
149 Pond Street, Stoneham, MA, 02180

Start U.Reading with Clifford the Big Red Dog
Saturday, November 19, 2016
10:30am
Morrill Memorial Library
33 Walpole Street, Norwood, MA, 02062

Clearly, Quinn really enjoys art projects, so I recently took to Pinterest to find some fun and easy ones that we can do together. I know some of you guys have toddlers at home too, so I thought you’d enjoy a round-up of some of the best (i.e. easiest and most adorable) ones.

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Fall wreath station – I love the idea of setting up a station for decorating. This would be a great toddler/kid party project too!

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Paper Plate Apples – It doesn’t get easier than this! You just need a few items to make this adorable craft.

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Sponge Painted Apple – This craft project is similar to the one above, but it involves sponge painting.

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Pumpkin Apple Stamps – I love that this project takes apple stamping to a whole new level by turning them into pumpkins. Adorable!

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Handprint Acorns – Clearly, tiny toddler hands make great acorns. This is such a cute (and simple) idea!

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Toilet Paper Rolls Spiders – Quinn is all about spiders lately, so we will definitely make these Toilet Paper Spiders soon. There’s actually two different projects here, so we’ll have to pick an afternoon to get crafty together!

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Painting Pumpkins – I love the idea of using paint to decorating pumpkins. The options are endless!

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And we can’t forget about Thanksgiving!

Handprint Turkey – Wouldn’t these make adorable place settings for Thanksgiving dinner? I might have to put Quinn to work this year! 🙂

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Footprint Turkey – Too cute!

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Silly Personalized Footprint Turkey – Also adorable! I love the photograph addition on this project!

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Question of the Day

Are you crafty? What was your favorite kind of art project to do as a kid? 



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The Benefits of Caloric Efficiency (and 10 Ways to Achieve It)

X Benefits of Caloric Efficiency (and How to Acheive It) in lineWe really like to eat. We choose restaurants based on portion size. We work out just to increase our capacity for guilt-free gluttony. And even when we don’t actually like it, we still want it because the food industry employs experts in brain hedonic processing to engineer food products your brain literally cannot stop craving. As Louis CK put it, we don’t stop eating when we’re full, we stop eating when we hate ourselves.

I’m not immune. In college, they called me Arnold, after the pig from Green Acres, because I could (and did) out-eat anyone. Linebackers 1.5x my size were no match. I love food, but I’m not interested in cramming as much food as I can get away with. Not anymore.

I’ve mentioned the concept of the minimum effective dose before, or the smallest dose that provides the desired outcome or effect. This applies to exercise, to sunlight, to carb intake, and to calories in general.

It is this caloric efficiency that describes my goal for the last dozen years: How little can I eat and retain or build mass, have optimal energy, never get sick and still NOT GO HUNGRY?

There are some obvious reasons to strive for caloric efficiency.

  1. It’s expensive, especially if you eat high-quality food like pastured animals and organic produce.
  2. It’s wasteful. We can eat 4000 calories a day, but should we? It won’t last forever, especially if it’s the quality food described in the previous point.
  3. It’s unnecessary. While I could eat 1000 more calories and probably stay as lean as I am (and perhaps even gain more muscle), I can’t come up with a good justification for doing it. I’m happy, fit, and productive already.

But maybe the biggest reason to achieve caloric efficiency is that caloric restriction has the most support in the longevity research literature, with even a 10% calorie reduction having a powerful effect on mortalityOnly the way most people do it—by limiting protein so much that you waste away and fail to complete a single pushup, restricting everything delicious, leading an ascetic existence, losing your sex drive, obsessing over everything that enters your mouth—doesn’t appeal to me.

If I can eat less food and feel satiated, not feel restricted, stay active, maintain and even improve my fitness, look good naked, remain productive, and quite possibly live a little longer—why wouldn’t I give it a shot?

Sounds pretty good to me. Okay, so how can we make it happen?

1. Become a fat-burning beast

When you’re able to tap into your own stored adipose tissue for energy between meals, you don’t need to snack. You’re not hangry because it’s 2 PM and the break room donut box is empty. You just coast along until your nutrient-dense dinner, smoothly evading high-calorie, low-nutrient junk food.

2. Get your sleep

The sleep deprivation epidemic is one of the primary causes of our junk food addiction. If that sounds ridiculous, get a load of the research showing that the brains of sleep deprived humans are more susceptible to high-reward junk food.

3. Limit refined fats, emphasize nutrient-dense fats

Don’t choose highly refined avocado oil, choose virgin avocado oil. Pass on the pale olive oil and spring for the murky green stuff. Get red palm oil instead of refined palm oil and yellow grass-fed butter instead of butter the color of chalk. If you want to thicken a sauce, stew, or curry, toss and stir in a couple egg yolks after turning off the heat.

This stuff matters. Avocado oil has a slew of benefits, EVOO has reams of literature support, red palm oil is the single best source of vitamin E (and the CoQ10 doesn’t hurt, either), and grass-fed milkfat has superior metabolic effects to corn-fed milkfat. I don’t have to list the virtues of egg yolks, do I?

4. Avoid refined sugar

If you need to add sweetness, choose a sweetener that gives back. Honey? Provides a broad spectrum of low dose micronutrients. Blackstrap molasses? Full of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Maple syrup? Loaded with manganese. Date paste? Rich in polyphenols and fermentable fiber. Even the completely processed sugar substitute xylitol offers protection against cavities that regular sugar doesn’t.

Any infusion of sucrose, glucose, and fructose has its downsides, but it’s better if it comes packaged with phytonutrients, pollen remnants, and discarded bee limbs.

5. Choose better carbs

Say you want to eat some “carbs.” Maybe you’re refiling glycogen or something. What’s the better choice? Which provides tons of other nutrients you need in addition to the carbohydrate?

A potato starch pancake or a baked potato?

A bag of gluten-free pasta made of rice flour that cost you $8, or a serving of sprouted wild rice cooked in real bone broth?

A scoop of waxy maize in the shake or a half cup of (dare I say it?) black beans?

It all boils down to playing with the margins. Getting little wins where you can.

6. Eat your plants

Most fibrous, green, leafy, and/or brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are basically non-caloric. The carbohydrates are negligible (you probably use more glucose digesting non-starchy vegetables than they contain) and they’re inherently self-limiting; you can’t stuff yourself on greens. No one is carbing up with a salad bowl full of a couple pounds of steamed kale before a race, unless it’s a race to the nearest toilet. The higher sugar fruits can add up, but even those are hard to overdo unless you’re slamming peach after peach.

Yet they’re incredibly dense with micronutrients.

7. Try cheat days

A cheat day or meal is a release valve. By setting aside a day every week or two to eat whatever you want, as much as you want, it’s easier to eat more sensibly and efficiently during the rest of the week.

8. Focus on eating enough protein-rich foods first

For several reasons this is important:

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. Research shows that higher protein intakes induce the most satiety and promote inadvertent calorie reduction, both of which are necessary to attain caloric efficiency.

Adequate protein protects against diet-induced muscle loss. This is particularly relevant for CRONers, who tend to waste away on their journey to immortality.

Protein-rich foods are the most nutrient-dense. Think of liver, eggs, wild salmon, sardines, oysters, mussels, and steak and you’re thinking of some of the best sources for iron, zinc, vitamin A, B-vitamins, omega-3s, copper, choline, manganese, and plenty of others. Even the most protein-dense plant foods—legumes—are extremely rich in micronutrients. Just make sure you focus on protein-rich foods rather than protein. Protein powder is certainly an effective tool, but it should never be the basis of your diet.

9. Set up an account with a food tracking app or website, track your 30-odd most common foods, and determine their caloric efficiency

Everyone’s ideal “caloric efficiency” diet is unique. Figuring out the caloric efficiency of the foods you already eat will help you structure your diet better than I could. Aim to fill those RDAs.

10. Survey the list of supplemental Primal foods and aim to eat them regularly

A couple years ago, I wrote a list of the most important “supplemental foods” that any Primal eater should be including:

  • Egg yolks
  • Liver
  • Seaweed
  • Turmeric
  • Bone broth
  • Bone marrow
  • Shellfish
  • Aged cheese
  • Natto
  • Small whole fish
  • Red palm oil
  • Brazil nuts
  • Purple or blue foods like berries, purple sweet potatoes, and vegetables
  • Fermented food

Because they’re so nutrient-dense, you don’t need to eat them in huge amounts. In the case of certain ones like Brazil nuts, liver, and turmeric, you probably shouldn’t eat them all the time because you risk overdoing certain critical nutrients (selenium, vitamin A, and hormetic polyphenols, respectively).

I also wrote another post on important Primal foods, with some repeats and a few more specific recommendations. 

So that’s about it, folks.

What do you think about caloric efficiency? How do you strive to make your diet more efficient?

Thanks for reading.

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The post The Benefits of Caloric Efficiency (and 10 Ways to Achieve It) appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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Brussels Sprouts, 3 Ways

This trio of healthy Brussels sprouts recipes is delicious enough to convert even those who feel dubious about this vitamin C-packed cruciferous veggie. Here, the leafy sprouts get their moment in the spotlight first as the star ingredient in a delicately crunchy raw salad, then tossed into a peppery pasta carbonara and finally topped onto a shiitake-sesame rice bowl and drizzled with a smoky tahini dressing.

Brussels Sprouts Carbonara (pictured above)
Serves 4

Salt
8 ounces quinoa spaghetti
4 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, smashed
8 ounces shredded Brussels sprouts
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecorino, optional

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp; drain, reserving some of the bacon fat. Using the same skillet, cook the garlic and Brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and season with plenty of pepper. Add the drained pasta, bacon, Brussels sprouts and some of the reserved bacon fat, if using; toss to combine. Serve with the cheese, if using.

Per serving: Calories 285.5; Fat 6.3 g (Saturated 1.8 g); Cholesterol 98 mg; Sodium 190 mg; Carbohydrate 48.2 g; Fiber 4.8 g; Sugars 1.6 g; Protein 10.1 g

Sesame Rice with Warm Brussels Sprout–Shiitake Slaw and Smoky Tahini Dressing
Serves 4

For the Smoky Tahini Dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water

For the Sesame Rice:
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For the Warm Brussels Sprout–Shiitake Slaw:
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 5-ounce container sliced shiitake mushrooms
One 10-ounce container shredded Brussels sprouts
1 Medjool date, finely chopped
Salt

Make the Smoky Tahini Dressing: In a blender, blend together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and water until creamy.

Make the Sesame Rice: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add the rice and salt, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, until al dente, about 15 minutes; drain. Stir in the sesame oil and sesame seeds.

Make the Warm Brussels Sprout–Shiitake Slaw: Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, Brussels sprouts and the date; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Divide the rice among 4 serving bowls, and top each with some of the warm Brussels sprouts–slaw and tahini dressing.

Per serving: Calories 500; Fat 25 g (Saturated 3.5 g); Cholesterol 29.9 mg; Sodium 660 mg; Carbohydrate 61 g; Fiber 11 g; Sugars 8 g; Protein 17 g

Brussels Sprouts, Walnut & Gorgonzola Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
Serves 6

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces shredded Brussels sprouts
1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and cranberry juice. Whisking constantly, slowly stream in the olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Place the Brussels sprouts, kale, cranberries and walnuts in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette; massage with your hands until coated and beginning to wilt; season with salt and pepper and top with the Gorgonzola.

Per serving: Calories 238.7; Fat 21.4 g (Saturated 3.2 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 86.3 mg; Carbohydrate 9.8 g; Fiber 3.3 g; Sugars 3.4 g; Protein 5.8 g

Silvana Nardone is the author of Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed.



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When Athletes Inspire a Coach: My First Raw Nationals

Lately

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^^When you walk to school with a turtle peeking out of your backpack! Mazen said: “He looks like E.T.!”

Breakfast of eggs, grapes (which I am currently obsessed with), and blueberry mini muffins I have coming up for a recipe post!

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Next up: green smoothie, fried egg, and mango.

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And finally, a pita stuffed with banana and almond butter and a handful of raspberries. Mazen is currently obsessed with stuffed pitas : )

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I had a lot of soup for lunches last week. This was a Cook Smarts chicken soup, which I topped with cheese and Greek yogurt.

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One day for lunch I got a big green smoothie from The Juice Place downtown.

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This guy was the almond butter one with added spinach and granola on top.

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Lunch date at Lampo! I had the kale salad (which is small but mighty) plus the Hell Boy pizza, which is the BEST! So spicy with a drizzle of honey, and the prosciutto pizza with arugula and lemon is another favorite.

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For dinner I went over to Sarah’s and made a Cook Smarts butternut squash soup to go with pesto zucchini and rice. We stirred some cooked chicken into the soup to bulk it up a bit with protein.

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As mentioned above, that Cook Smarts chicken poblano soup. With all the toppings!

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And finally, I went to Southern Crescent with Mazen’s teacher from last year, who is helping me book a tropical vacation for this winter.

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The restaurant is in this house in Belmont, and it has an epic porch/patio set up for dining. We sat out on the porch looking in at the cozy bar.

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Specializing in New Orleans and southern fare, we started with the jalapeno pimento cheese dip and fried okra. Both were amazing!

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I had the shrimp and grits for dinner, which were fabulous. So great as leftovers for lunch the next day!

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Hope you guys are having a great week! Sylvia says hi : )

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