Be Well Family: A Quick Stove-Top Mac and Cheese Recipe That’s Perfect for Kids

iStock

I’m not an alarmist, but this New York Times article about how chemicals are in boxed macaroni and cheese freaked me the eff out. It doesn’t have anything to do with the product itself, it’s the way the food is packaged, and that process causes harmful (hormone disrupting) chemicals to seep into the food. And because of all of that, buying organic or all-natural or the Cristal of mac and cheese won’t matter — the chemicals were found in all of it.

This was a huge blow, as boxed mac is a weeknight staple in our house. Or, shall I say, was a staple. So, I rushed to find a recipe that was as instant as it could be. I wound up tweaking and combining a few, and think the final result is pretty good. It only takes about 15 minutes, doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, measuring or hard prep, and the kids liked it. My only criticism is that it loses creaminess when it’s reheated, so I usually just toss in a splash of milk and a little more cheese before I nuke it. And to jazz it up a bit, I crush potato chips on top, an idea I snagged from Mac Mart on 18th Street. Note: This makes a pretty big batch, enough for family dinner or plenty to reheat throughout the week. Feel free to half it.  Read more »

Be Well Family: Four Easy and Healthy Smoothie Recipes for Kids

iStock

There was a time when my firstborn’s favorite food was curry chicken salad. But then, a familiar story: The older she got, the less she ate. Less quality, quantity and variety. My biggest concern is that she’s not getting enough protein. (She recently declared herself a vegetarian, at age five.) As the first day of school began to approach, I started to wonder how I could get healthier (aka protein-packed, belly-filling) breakfasts in her, so she can make it through the long school day.

My answer: smoothies.

I know, I know, I’m late to this game. (You’ve been making smoothies for your kids for years, I’m sure.) But I’m here now, and I’m psyched about this new morning routine. I started by getting a new blender. After polling some friends (and ruling out the crazy expensive Vitamix), I got this NutriBullet from Amazon. It’s 80 bucks, is a cinch to use and clean and isn’t too imposing on my kitchen counter. I’m pretty obsessed. (Thanks, friends!)

Then, I did a séance to bring back the chef that died in me after I had kids and got buzzing. Below are four recipes that my daughter, in her best Chopped Junior judge impersonation, has approved. They are somewhat healthy (veggies, fruit, yogurt and I sprinkle in a little protein powder that I call “unicorn dust”) and sweet enough for her to like.

Read more »

Be Well Family: The Very Best Lunch Gear For Kids (And Adults)

Photos from clockwise from top left via onyxcontainers.com, thermos.com, tovolo.com, lunchbots.com, kleankanteen.com and builtny.com

One of the best parts of fall and starting a new school year (and OMG, that’s in about a minute now) is stocking up on new gear — especially lunch gear, which just keeps getting cooler and healthier and more fun. (And that’s translated into lunches that have gotten cooler and healthier and more fun.) Here, a roundup of the very best lunch bags and accessories for the whole family.

Read more »

Be Well Family: The Best Secondhand Shopping for Kids in Philly

numbeos/iStock.com

For many new parents, there’s an initial sense of delight at the idea of buying showroom-fresh gear and sparkling new clothes for that little peanut. It’s an understandable instinct, really — new, untouched baby gets new, untouched stuff. But in our experience? That thrill wears off very, very quickly (like, basically the time your kid destroys his first outfit, or barfs in that showroom-fresh swing), and it’s replaced by thrill of the hunt. Where can you get the cutest, most useful, high-quality stuff for the least amount of cash?

Here, we have some answers. Between a handful of amazing annual sales, a few helpful online resources and some excellent brick-and-mortar consignment shops in this city, there are dozens of ways to find solid, squee-worthy secondhand goods for kids and babies in Philly. You’ll never want to pay retail at a big box store again.
Read more »

Be Well Family: What to Do With Kids On Rainy Days at the Jersey Shore

YinYang/iStock.com

Into every Shore vacation, it seems, a little crappy weather must fall. Pre-kids, it’s no big deal: You just break out the wine and the puzzles and have yourself a delightful inside day. Post-kids, it’s pretty much the opposite of that — you get a couple good hours of screen time if you’re lucky, and then it’s basically Lord of the Flies. Unless, that is, you have some tricks up your sleeve. Here, a snapshot of our favorite (screen-free) go-tos for stormy days at the beach.

What: The Atlantic City Aquarium, in … yes .. Atlantic City, nestled in cute little Gardner’s Basin, which also boasts great boat-watching and a smattering of restaurants.
Why: This teeny aquarium is good for a couple hours of entertainment, even if you do have to trek to A.C. to get it. The place features a feeding show every couple of hours, wherein a staff diver jumps into the giant tank to feed the sea turtles and fish, while the kids gather around the window to watch. (More exciting than it sounds.)  There’s also plenty of opportunities to pet baby sharks, horseshoe crabs and stingrays, plus a couple floors’ worth of fish, snakes, lizards, frogs and various sea creatures to take in. The place isn’t fancy, but it’s a nice change of pace, it’s climate-controlled, and it’s shockingly affordable. (Just $6 for kids; $10 for adults; free for kids under 3!) Read more »

Be Well Family: The Ultimate Guide to Spraygrounds in Philly

iStock

It’s that time of year, y’all: Long, hot summer days, and kids who are dying to be outside for every single moment of them. It’s why Wee Wander’s annual list of spraygrounds is so popular and why we’ve updated it for 2017.

But first: The official, city-listed hours for most city-run spraygrounds are generally 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends, “with varying schedules” — with definite emphasis on the “varying schedules” part. Hours of operation have been known to be sporadic and do vary. So here, where we could, we’ve provided the latest known hours, though some sprinklers are run simply by community volunteers and don’t necessarily have set schedules. (In short? A quick call to the park or park rec center before you go might keep things from getting tantrum-y.) Also, it’s very helpful to follow your local park or parks on Facebook: Information tends to be updated pretty regularly there.

Anyway. Without further ado …

If you’re near: Art Museum
Check out:
Sister Cities, 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The water: There’s a reason people are obsessed with this place: In addition to the active, cooling water jets that are embedded in the bluestone plaza, there’s also magical, shaded little wading/boat pond, and water trail where kids can splash and play, as well as float boats and other toys that you borrow from the park or bring from home. Also: The Logan Square Cafe on-site sells ice cream, snacks, pizza, salads, sandwiches and more … plus, there’s a Rita’s stand some days on the plaza.
The hours: The pond is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; the jets generally tend to run at the same hours. All is weather-permitting.

Read more »

Be Well Family: My Tried-and-True Game Plan for Traveling with Young Kids

mother and two kids walking in the airport, family travel

My husband and I have been flying with our kids since they were infants. Nothing too crazy, mostly lots (and lots) of trips to Florida, and a couple of flights out west. Now, flying with infants is basically all about a strong drink and then counting down until the wheels hit the ground. But flying with the bigger kids — aged two and up — can actually be dare, I say, pleasant. At least that’s what I discovered once I honed my flight game plan. First the rules I live by, then the plan.

Rule #1. It’s all about time management. I am very calculated in the order in which I do things, and I divide up the flight the way I would schedule a morning at home: breakfast, some play, an errand, snack, TV time, lunch and nap. That sort of thing. But more on that later.

Read more »

Be Well Family: 25 Best Father’s Day Gift Ideas for 2017

All images via respective retailers

PSA: Father’s Day is June 18. Do you know what you’re getting the dads in your life? We’ve polled some actual dads about what they really want this year, as well as the best things they’ve ever gotten … and we used that intel to put together the 2017 guide to excellent gift ideas for every sort of dad there is. So: No flasks, money clips or shammy cloths this year, okay?

Read more »

Be Well Family: Fun Family Getaways Near Philadelphia

Imgorthand/iStock.com

Every year, about this time — that is, after the winter’s done but before the true beach weather hits — we tend to get a little antsy, a little restless. Ready for an escape, ready to hit the road. Enter, the quickie weekend getaway: Something driveable, something fun, something simple, something that’s just not Philly. And that’s exactly what we’ve got here — four weekend getaways perfect for families who want to get the heck outta dodge (without a ton of effort or a plane ride).

Read more »

Dear People Everywhere: Please Stop Inspiring Me with Your Stupid Quotes

iStock

 

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.
It comes from an indomitable will.” — Gandhi

This is the quote that was staring me in the face as I attempted to deadlift 90 pounds. It graces the wall of my gym, but was actually put there by a juice company that operates inside. A juice company. My trainer pushed me through my last exhausting set, at the end of an already grueling workout, after I had rushed to get my kids to school and was anticipating rushing out after so I could get to work just a little late instead of very late. My point: People, there could not have been a more apropos time for some “you go, girl!” 
inspo.

And yet all this quote did was make me want to heave that barbell right through the juice company’s frosted glass window.

I didn’t immediately understand why this made me red-face-emoji mad, but it definitely had to do with the fact that by the time I read that quote, despite that it was only nine in the morning, I had already been bombarded with plenty of “inspiration” that day. There were memes on my Instagram and Facebook feeds; a “dance like nobody’s watching” in an email signature; and there was something about how “moms rule” on a coffee mug. Read more »

« Older Posts