Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coconut Chicken Cutlets


(totally Paleo!)

So, if you have gotten to know me a little bit, you might have picked up that I try to keep our house on a Paleo tilt. I was really in the mood for chicken cutlets today so I took a look in our cabinets to see what I could use instead of the tradition bread crumbs. I came away with shredded, unsweetened coconut and coconut flour. I thought it was worth a try and the results were delicious! 

Here is what I used:

4 chicken cutlets, rinsed off and patted dry
2 eggs, beaten
about 1 cup of shredded coconut
about 1 cup of coconut flour
olive oil for frying these things up

First, I set up my dunking station. I poured the shredded coconut and coconut flour on a plate and blended them together with my hands. I also beat the 2 eggs in a large bowl. 

Next I coated the cutlets in the egg. 

Go ahead and coat those cutlets in the coconut and flour mixture. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and place the cutlets in the pan. Let the cutlet cook until brown, about 3 or 4 minutes. Flip the cutlets and cook until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. 

Let your cutlets spend a few minutes on a paper towel to soak off any extra olive oil. Then there is nothing left to do but enjoy! I was so happy with how these came out and so were the kiddies! If you want to try something new and give your chicken cutlets a new twist, give this a try! If you are a Paleo household, then this is definitely a recipe for you! 


Monday, May 27, 2013

Stephens State Park, Hackettstown, NJ


Its the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, its 62 degrees and a perfect day to take the family out for a hike. Today we traveled up a bit North of Hackettstown, NJ to Stephen's State Park in Morris county. Our mission today was to find a new spot to kick off our summer of camping and to get in a great hike. It was definitely a success!

Our hike today was WORK, but it was, indeed, great. We planned to follow the orange trail most of the way, and the trailhead is right in the back of the parking lot. As soon as we got onto the trail we were instantly ascending. We began hiking at around 600 ft and walked straight up to over 1100 ft. This may not be all that impressive to a seasoned hiker but it was a record for us as a family.  :) The trail goes straight up for 0.8 miles before it levels out a bit. It isn't until 1.15 miles into the trail that you begin the descent. This nice part is that the more challenging part of the hike is right in the beginning, when everyone is excited and full of energy. 

The trail is engaging: tricky footing, some obstacles, and plenty of beauty to take in. The kids love when there are fallen trees in our path and they get to figure out how to get over or under them. Its usually a little more challenging for the Dad and I because we have to figure out the best plan for getting the baby and the carrier over. It doesn't usually take us long.  :) 

The Dad and olders caught a glimpse of a fox scampering away with what appeared to be lunch in his or her mouth. I was bummed that I missed seeing that but we saw a lot of much smaller forest dwellers. We found a lot of inchworms and caterpillars. We saw almost a dozen millipedes, which the kids thought were really cool.  Our two olders were into naming each one that we found. This one might be "Leggy Fast Racecar" or "Princess Shiny", I am not sure. 

We packed lunch and a blanket so we could picnic with the kiddies. Once we got back down to the bottom of the trail, we crossed a little bridge to a very small island to find a sunny spot and open our blanket. Little Sister was grateful to have some freedom to run around after being part of the hike in our Kelty carrier. Everyone was grateful for a chance to refuel and hydrate. It was a great hike but between the elevation climb and the tricky footing, our energy levels were depleted. 

We couldn't have picked a better spot. Besides a few fishermen on one side of island and a handful of passersby, we really had the spot to ourselves. It was really beautiful having the sun on our faces and the sound of the Musconetcong River right next to us. 

There were many people fishing in this river, a bit more downstream from where we were picnicking. This is a trout stocked river and was hosting both novice and more seasoned fishermen alike. Our kids were really only interested in throwing in rocks and sticks and stirring up the dirt at the bank of the river. To each their own, I guess. 

Big Sister found this dragonfly sunning itself on a tree. It looks like it recently emerged from the shell below it, transforming from a nymph to an adult dragonfly. Pretty freaking cool. 

A view from our descent. Just perfect.

After our hike we hopped over the road to the to check out the campsites. All 5 of us gave the approval so we are planning on heading back in a few weeks to spend a weekend. There is tons more hiking to be done at the adjacent Allamuchy Mountain State Park, there are the nearby Saxton Falls to be seen, Waterloo Village, a replica of a 400-year-old Lanape Village, rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing. Hmm, maybe a weekend is not enough. 

Growing little hikers

Tips on Growing a Little Hiker

Having a crew of little hikers didn't happen by accident. I don't know that I had a set plan mapped out in my head, but I did have the vision in my head of our whole family walking through trees, climbing over boulders and helping each other across creeks and streams.  The Dad and I wanted to grow our kiddies into active kids who love being outdoors. We have had our kids on hikes at a very early age. The best way to inspire the young ones to fall in love with hiking is to simply get up and get moving. But there are other things you can do to help inspire them while on hikes and in the days in between your hikes.

1.Take Neighborhood Walks...

... and take them often! Getting the kiddies into the backyard to run, dig and play is great.  Its also great, in my humble little opinion, to walk together as a family unit. Its fun, gives the kiddies practice with distance boundaries (how far from me is too far) and it is quality time. It keeps their little feet moving, too. Getting out on a neighborhood walk helps build up your little one's endurance for a hike. A typical neighborhood walk for the mob and I is between 1.5 and 2.5 miles. That makes hiking 2, 3, and 4 miles trails possible for us.

Anyone can do it.  Start small and make it work for your little ones. If walking to the corner and back is your starting point, then great! Start there and slowly build. We will see you out on some local trails before you know it.

2. Geocaching

My little hikers uncovering a cache on a summer hike.

Geocaching is treasure hunting! What could be more fun than that!? Some folks hide geocaches which are containers holding a small sign-in booklet and sometimes small treasures (trinkets that other treasure hunters have left. If you take a trinket, you should leave a trinket). By signing up at the geocache website, you can find where caches are near you or your hiking destination, get coordinates and find some treasure! This is becoming a real favorite for my little hikers. And I think the Dad really likes the thrill of the hunt, too.  

3. Give the Kiddies Tasks

Giving the little ones a mission they will enjoy keeps them more engaged on a walk or a hike. 

  • complete a checklist of things to find
  • count the number of (squirrels, dogs, other folks, school busses, anything) we see 
  • find 5 leaves you'll want to use for art
  • name things on our walk that start with the "b" sound (or any ol' sound you wish)
  • bug catching (provided the grown up is not creeped out, of course)
  • let the kiddies choose the paths (also a great way to teach left and right)
  • be the map reader on the hike
  • GET CREATIVE! Whatever might appeal to your little ones is a good choice. 
Sometimes kids have fun just being on the walk or hike and sometimes they need a little inspiration. Keep a couple of ideas in the back of your mind to use whenever the need should arise! 

4. Take Pictures

Believe this or not, one neighborhood walk my two olders pretended they had cameras and took imaginary pictures throughout the whole walk. On another walk I allowed them each 3 pictures with my phone. We would walk and when Big Sis or Brother found something they wanted to snap a picture of, they got a turn with my cell/camera. It wasn't a big deal to me but they loved it! When we got home, I uploaded the pictures to my laptop and the future photogs got a huge kick out of studying the pictures they took. So much so, that they got kid-friendly cameras the past holidays. 

5. Extend the Fun Past the Walk or Hike

My little hikers using leaves in
Fall art project. 
It is not uncommon for us to return from a walk or a hike with treasures in tow: a giant leaf, sticks, pine cones, a locust shell.... Lots of times these things will be added to our outside collection. The kids will spend some time arranging things on the picnic table. I give the kiddies some time to do that and then show me everything on display. They feel really proud of everything on display and its a great chance for them verbalize why they found each thing to be so special. 

Occasionally we will bring some of our treasures indoors. We might pick our favorite and bring it in to draw a picture of it, paint it or do another type of art project with our finds. 

Talk about the walk or hike, write about it, draw a picture. Make sure that the little ones feel that their experience is important.


We love to hike as a family because we have FUN! We laugh, we talk, we discover new things, we share a really cool experience and we bond. Our kids seem to love it as much as we do and we want to make sure this is always a fun experience for them. We hope they are always happy to hear our plans include a hike. We think about ways to keep them motivated and engaged but lots of times we don't need to do a thing. Really, what kid doesn't want to be climbing over rocks and trees, finding new interesting creepy crawlies, seeing birds, foxes, deer, and just getting to be a part of our amazing outdoor world. 

Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you are inspired to get out there and hit the trails! I wish you and your little ones many, many happy hikes!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5 Things I want my healthy hungry kids to say


I am definitely on a mission to grow some pretty healthy kids. I think that every little step I take in that healthy direction is important. Its been a process, All the healthy habits we have today we didn't necessarily have yesterday. And hopefully tomorrow we will have another one to add. These are some of the things I have added to our healthy habits as of late. These aren't the only healthy choices out there but these are some that have worked for us.

So, what do I want my healthy hungry kids to say?

1. Kale Chips? YES! 

I try to be mindful to include all those super nutritious dark, leafies into our menu. I have read enough to know they are beneficial to my growing kiddies. I would like to think I am relatively successful...I hope so anyway. Our fridge usually has spinach, collard greens, or swiss chard making a brief layover before it gets cooked up. I have recently become a bigger and bigger fan of the ultimate dark, leafy green: Kale! 

I will be honest. I tried to ignore the buzz over this super food at first because I was a little intimidated about preparing it for the kids. When I began this journey of getting away from processed foods and cooking as much good, whole, healthy foods as possible, I had some foods that I was a little afraid of. Kale was one of them. But you really can't ignore kale.

Kale is great for my kids. It is high in fiber, provides lots of iron, Vitamin A, C and K, has lots of antioxidants, calcium, potassium and even Omega 3 fatty acids!  Come on, that kind of goodness can't be ignored! 

So, how to get my kids to ask for it.....ah, that is tricky unless you know about KALE CHIPS. I made them once and found out MY KIDS LOVE THEM! Once I pull them out of the oven they probably last a whole 3 minutes before I am left with just an empty bowl. Its a great snack or side with any meal. As a parent, you really feel like you did a job well done once you see the empty bowl.

2. Mmmmm, beeeeets......

I don't know about you but I was always told beets were good for your blood, but I really had no idea why. I sort of assumed it had something to do with all that oh-so-good-for-you iron. Or was it those much needed B-complex vitamins? Being just curious enough to investigate, it turns out that beets are rich in something called glycine betaine. (Say what now?) Glycine betaine keeps a toxic metabolite in the blood in check. When not in check, this toxic metabolite could otherwise promote plaque formation in veins and arteries as well as heart and vascular disease. That makes this glycine betaine (which I can type just fine but probably couldn't pronounce correctly) seem like a pretty good thing. So now I get it!  Beets are really good for your blood! And I kinda wanna eat more. 

Beets also contain lots of fiber, potassium, Vitamin C and antioxidants... so I definitely want my kiddies to eat up! Getting my kids to eat them wasn't a problem. I cube them and pop them in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and they come out like candy! Nobody in this house can resist them. 

3. What's a Juice Box?

(You caught me! This actually should be in a post about "Healthy Thirsty Kids" but I hope you will let me slide.)

Ok. I will be honest. The kiddies do know what juice boxes are and will totally ask for one if they see some. Do they get to have one once in a while? Sure. And I can live with "once in a while". I can't really live with "several times, every single day" however. There are some healthier juice box choices out there and I am grateful for that. I also know that lots of children's juice boxes have added sweeteners, added dyes and who knows what else these days so in our house we don't drink juice boxes. Hard to believe? Let me share my big secret: I just don't buy them. Genius, right!? But there is more to the reason why we don't have juice boxes in our house.  

This wasn't always my policy. We did have them in the house at one point. I remember I would feel pretty good about buying something that said "contains vitamin C" or "fortified with calcium". But the more I moved our household away from processed foods and towards just straight good, whole food, the life of the juice box shortened. To get Vitamin C, it makes way more sense to me to just eat the afore mentioned kale, beets, or an orange, an apple or any of the other rich, whole food full of a bunch of yummy goodness. Having an apple juice box instead of an actual apple robs my child of a majority of the healthy benefits of the apple, like the fiber, for instance. Why does an apple need to be picked, transported, processed, put in a container, shipped, stocked, shelved and then finally purchased to get only some of its healthy benefits to my kids? Grab an apple and your done! So, juice boxes are out. Fruits and vegetables (and tons of them) are in. And if the kiddies are thirsty, there is always chilled water in the fridge! 

4. I Finished My Salad!

Lunch is served!
Not unlike a lot of people, the Dad and I eat at least one fresh vegetable salad a day. The more colorful, the better. We throw in everything and anything we have in the fridge, lettuces, baby spinach, peppers, celery, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes.... you get the idea. As our olders got bigger and no longer needed separate food preparation, I noticed that we packed their plates full of veggies but not always a salad. Not sure why. Knowing that eating raw vegetables gives kiddies the largest amount of vitamins and minerals a veggie has to offer before some is lost in the cooking process I am more conscious about including a colorful salad with dinner. I always go for two raw veggies on the lunch plate but being sure to add a salad at dinner too makes me feel twice as good.

5. An Avocado Please!

And as far as the baby is concerned, I would like her to say something along the lines of "Yummy, yummy!" Most of the above really pertained to my two older children and so does this section, of course. But avocados are something I really like for the olders and youngest alike. Avocados are soft, yummy and easy to digest so they are a great early food for the littlest member of any mob. Yes, avocados are high in fat... so eat up! Avocados are full of what is known as "good fats" which is great since we all need fats to promote healthy brain function. Something about knowing that and watching  the Little Sis learning and knowing her brain is making amazing connections everyday makes me feel really good about supporting that with the yummy avocado. Avocados are also full of fiber, Vitamins B6, E and K, and when I need a couple of commas to list the positives of a fruit that is a pretty good indication that I am going to want to use it in our family menu. We keep a full stock of them in the house, they are a go-to snack for us. Now there are tons of great recipes for avocados but over here we just split them in half, pull out the seed and grab a spoon!

These are not the only things I want my healthy hungry kids to say but it is a good picture of what I am trying to accomplish. I want them to eat good, whole foods. I make sure refined sugar is scarce over here. I work to keep my house filled with fresh, nutritious, local foods and as minimal amount of processed food as possible. This hasn't always been my lifestyle but it is a choice I made for my family and myself. It is a choice I am very serious about. Some days, some meals don't always fit into my idea of healthy. Sometimes we eat things that aren't the best choices. It happens. But being a healthy kid and being a healthy family isn't about that one meal. It is about staying the course and developing healthy habits together for the long term. One by one we worked the things in this post into our lives. We are going to make it work, one meal at a time.