Kid-Friendly Cheesy Bacon Risotto


Do dinners where the whole family sits down together really make a difference??

Absolutely!

According to a recent study at Columbia University, teens that sit down to dinner with their families at least five times a week are less likely to use drugs, smoke or abuse alcohol than teens who eat with parents 2x a week or less. That should be incentive enough to start making family dinners a regular part of our days - no matter how busy we might get.

Risotto with melted cheese and bacon should be tempting enough to get everyone to sit down together and eat...it works at our house and we have two of the pickiest little eaters around town!

Kid-Friendly Cheesy Bacon Risotto (This serves about 4)

Ingredients

1 Tbs. Olive Oil
6 oz. Arborio Rice
4 cups vegetable  or chicken broth - use reduced sodium to keep recipe healthier
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices cooked crispy bacon, crumbled (I use veggie bacon when I make the Risotto and it is delicious too)
1/4 cup scallions (adds a nice crunch, but is optional )
Salt and Pepper to taste

** If your kids will eat veggies - try adding in some pan-cooked asparagus and broccoli and/or peas when you add the bacon crumbles. 

Directions

Heat oil in medium pot, then add rice.
Cook until the rice turns translucent, then add 1/2 cup broth
Stir frequently over low heat until until liquid is absorbed
Add the rest of the broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender (if rice has not cooked and tender when the broth is all gone, then add some boiling water until rice is cooked.) This process will take 15 - 20 minutes. Just be sure to add broth slowly - letting it absorb before adding more.
Add cheese, stir until it melts 
Stir in bacon and scallions, remove from heat.
If you want, add salt and pepper to taste.

Tastes yummy by itself, or you can add oven roasted or grilled chicken or salmon to make it an even heartier meal.

Women and Heart Disease: Have You Checked Your Heart Lately?


February is American Heart Month, and Feb.3 is National Wear Red Day.

We know that more women die from heart disease than from all cancers combined. But how many times have we read or heard this fact, and then tucked it away in the back of our minds somewhere without really thinking about what that means to each of us?

Do you know if you are at risk for a heart attack, stroke or heart disease? Have you really changed your eating habits yet- is your kitchen filled with heart-healthy foods - or are you not sure which foods even meet the criteria?

Should I ask about your exercise plan and how that is going?

If you are anything like me, the answers to those questions are not what they should be.

The fact is that most women will have have at least one risk factor for heart disease even if they don't know it. And whether we like it or not, how we live our daily lives will affect our risk for heart disease greatly. Things like sitting at our desk for hours without getting up and moving is a big red flag for heart problems later. And drinking soda, eating those sugary desserts....very bad. Many habits we have or have had, we now know are bad for our hearts, the problem is that we do not always make conscious efforts to change those habits.

But making the right lifestyle choices - not smoking, watching our weight, exercising every day, and eating a heart-healthy diet - can help significantly lower our heart disease risk. We have the power - we just need to use it. And don't get caught up in the thought that you are still too young to worry about heart disease - because you are not.

"Heart disease is often perceived as an "older woman's disease," and it is the leading cause of death among women aged 65 years and older. However, heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women aged 25–44 years and the second leading cause of death among women aged 45–64 years. Remember that many cases of heart disease can be prevented! - CDC "

So here are some great websites to visit as American Heart Month approaches, where you can learn about women and heart disease, why heart disease is the number one killer of women, heart-healthy food choices we need to be making every day, and the risk factors that can increase our chances for heart attacks, strokes and other heart problems - and what we can do about them.

HeartHealthyWomen

The American Heart Association

Go Red For Women

CDC

 Go Red For Women (an awesome place to get started ) is offering a free online program that should help you kick-start tour heart health regime if you haven't yet.  Go Red For Women's BetterU 12-week online nutrition and fitness program will focus on a different area of your health each week, and give you step-by-step guidance, motivation and encouragement. You will get access to expert tips, an online journal, and a downloadable BetterU coaching tool. They also give heart-healthy strategies for women in their twenties through their 60's.

Do you want to know if you are at risk, and how a high of a risk, for heart disease? Heart Healthy Women has a free online assessment tool to help you calculate your risk, and help identify areas in your lifestyle that can be modified so as to reduce your risk.

And at The American Heart Association website, you'll find the very latest recommendations, updates and advice for women and heart disease prevention.

Please, take some time to check on your heart. As women, we tend to be the nurturers and take care of everyone else but ourselves. We need to remember to take the time for ourselves and take charge of our own health. And don't forget to wear red this Feb.3 to show your support in the fight against heart disease in women.

Should Hospitals Give Into Celebrities' Indulgent Demands at The Expense of Other Patients?


Like so many others, I was very excited to hear that Beyonce had given birth to her baby this past weekend.  

Like so many others today, I am disheartened by the reports that the super- star couple placed such strong-handed demands on the hospital that other parents also in the hospital were adversely affected.

I had heard the rumors like everyone else had, that Jay-Z had reserved a private floor at the hospital, paying $1.3 million to do so, and the couple's own security team would pretty much be in full force. They are famous and they have money. Lots of money. So it was not a big leap to imagine the couple being a bit 'extreme' when it was time for the birth of Blue Ivy.

But some reports say that Beyonce and her mogul singer husband made it clear with their demands that they had little respect or concern for other patients and families in the hospital.

Parents are speaking out about how poorly they were treated while Beyonce was in the hospital, with one father reporting he was denied access by Jay-Z's security team to the ICU unit where his premature twin babies were being treated because that particular hallway was closed off for Jay-Z and Beyonce.

I have had a child in the ICU. I pity the person that would try to keep me from my child, ever, but try to do so when he is sick? Seriously???

One of the {alleged} requests demands that Jay-Z and Beyonce had was for the hospital personnel to turn in their cell phones (okay, so no sneaking pictures of the new baby, I can get that.) But what I am having an issue with is that they also {allegedly} wanted all security cameras throughout the hospital to be covered. Which, {allegedly} they were.

Wait. Aren't those security cameras in place for the security of all patients? Don't other new parents also having babies that same weekend as Beyonce rely on those security cameras to help secure the safety of their newborns? Don't they deserve security measures as well, even if they are not as wealthy or are celebrities?

I have no problem with anyone choosing to spend as much money as they want, or to go as luxurious in their own accommodations as they want to. But if anyone else is made to feel inferior, not respected, or made to give up their own rights so as to indulge others then something is wrong.

Of course we do not really know the whole truth- nor will we, probably. Maybe the complaints from other parents were exaggerated.  Maybe feelings were hurt if it seemed that little Blue's birth overshadowed other parents celebrating their 'bundles of joy' being born that same weekend, thus sparking some to voice their concerns.

Maybe this whole 'diva' birth thing is just drama and not fact. Maybe Beyonce and Jay-Z really do have respect for others and just didn't realize they might be stepping on some toes.

Maybe.

I hope so.

Photo Credit: PacificCoastNews.com



Build-a-Bear Recalls Colorful Hearts Bear


Build-a-Bear has voluntarily recalled almost 300,000 of their Colorful Hearts Bears after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that the teddy bear’s eyes could loosen and fall out, posing a choking hazard to children. A Company spokeswoman, Jill Saunders, has said no injuries have been reported.

The Colorful Heart Bear is the latest in a series of Build-a-Bear products to be recalled. In November 2011  a Teddy Bear Swimwear Set was recalled by the toy company after a 3-year-old girl tried to pull the bear's inner-tube accessory over her head and couldn't get it off. Another product, the Love Hugs Peace Lapel Pin, was also recalled in August when paint on the pin was found to contain excessive levels of lead. 260,000 folding beach chairs were recalled in 2009 when the CPSC alleged that sharp edges on the chairs could cause injuries when they were folded.

"That we have conducted three product recalls this year despite the fact that we have not received a single injury report related to any of those three products clearly demonstrates how seriously we take product safety," says Build-a-Bear spokeswoman Jennifer Saunders

Parents that have purchased a Colorful Hearts Bear can return them to any Build-A-Bear store for a coupon good for any available stuffed animal, the company says. Consumers can also call 866-236-5683 for more information.

Winter Vacation Blahs? Here are Some Fun Printables & Coloring Pages for Kids


I don't know if your house is anything like mine is right now or not, but here is a quick peek into ours -

kids getting cranky, bored, and generally not fun to be around

The Christmas tree is still up but looking just as cranky and tired as the kids are,  and I really believe it is  sending me telepatheic pleas to put it out of its' misery. (soon, tree, I promise.)

Christmas cookie crumbs, candy-cane wrappers, dry pine needles and general miscellaneous debris from the holidays are still hanging out on our floors.

Parts of various toys and games are strewn about the family room (and the dining room. and the living room. and the backyard. Yea, you get the idea, I know.)

The whining is getting louder and whinier. (that would be me.)

For us, there is a three-week winter break. Which means we are just starting the second week today and have another full week looming ahead. 


Damnear me.

The letdown after the holidays is a tough stretch to get through for us grown-ups. Putting decorations away is never as much fun as taking them and putting them up was. Finding homes for toys that were once dearly coveted for Christmas but have already become over-used and boring is not nearly as fun as it was wrapping them up while anticipating kid's smiles upon opening them up on Christmas morning. Sigh.

But we will get through this 'mourning' period and emerge ready to start the new year with energy and eagerness.

So I tell myself.

So today I have been seeking out some activities Ala the Internet that my kids can do so I can get busy taking down the tree and vacuuming the last remaining evidence of the holidays from our carpets.

Here are a few fun things I found, including free printables, coloring pages and easy crafts for kids.

Martha Speaks Coloring Page (parents.com)
Super Why Coloring Pages (parents.com)
Mitten Sun-Catcher (Kaboose.com Plus so many more activities to find on this site!)
Free Printable Winter Word Search (activitiesforkids.com) (my 7-year-old found this one to be a big hit!)
Lots of fun free coloring printables at familyfun.go.com!

One more idea: take miscellaneous pasta from your kitchen, blank paper and glue and let the kids create their own 'art masterpieces.' (this should keep them busy enough for you to get a couple of things done, anyway!)