Saturday, March 30, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: Outdoor Play + Earth-Wise Cooking!

We created our own bookmobile when focusing on Community Helpers.
Last week, Project 101 focused on a favorite, new rabbit book we keep reading and re-reading, Too Tall Houses, and we shared some other favorite bunny books, just in time for Easter. Too Tall Houses also is a great book to transition you from Easter to Earth Day and April, in general, is a great month for focusing on the beauty of the Earth and celebrating all that Mother Nature provides as Spring ushers itself in here in the Northern Hemisphere and the beauty of Fall/Autumn touches the Southern. The books we share this week as part of Project 101, our weekly library challenge where I share a book that the boys have been loving from the library and a book I am reading, focus on celebrating the Earth through outdoor play and earth-wise/planet-pleasing recipes and cooking tips. 

At a local branch of the County of Los Angeles Public Library (which celebrates its 101st birthday this year, hence Project 101), a wonderful book that is a collection of poems was on display: A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Wild Thing absolutely loves this book, and I do too -- it is perfect for encouraging outdoor play and nurturing a love for nature in young ones with poems about playing ball outside, racing, creative walks, playing jacks, blowing bubbles, hopscotch, jump rope, swings and so much more -- including, of course, creative stick play. I do not know about your little ones, but sticks have fascinated Wild Thing for quite some time now and he loves playing with them in a variety of creative ways -- currently a favorite is throwing up rocks and hitting them with a stick, since we have a growing baseball obsession at our house. Another element I absolutely love about the book is the natural diversity of the children featured in the book -- a welcome sight for me, since I am raising multicultural kiddos who have family members of various backgrounds and countries of origins, with relatives who currently live in countries around the world. If you have not read this book yet, I suggest that you definitely add it to your library list!

I also wanted to share this post from Let the Children Play, which shows just how much fun a stick can be, and share that author Marilyn Singer highlights an excerpt from the title poem of the book on her website, which also features writing tips, author interviews and much more. 


As for me, my book this week is Big Green Cookbook. You may think a cookbook is a bit of a cheat, but I am also still reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, which is 700+ pages so this week I had to pick something light! However, it is not just a cookbook, but also offers great insight and tips on having an eco-friendly kitchen and cooking in a planet-pleasing way, as Jackie Newgent calls it. With Earth Day around the corner, this time of year often reminds people to reduce their footprint and live in a more environmentally-friendly way. However, another great benefit of the book for busy families/mamas, is that a key element to eco-friendly cooking is reducing cooking time and reducing water waste by using less dishes when cooking, and I know many of us are often looking for recipes and cooking ideas that make our lives easier. So, this book not only can help you be more earth-friendly, but will give you more time to enjoy your family and your meals together as you spend less time preparing the meals and cleaning up after dinner. Sounds good to me. For some sample recipes from Big Green Cookbook and to learn more about the author, a natural culinary nutritionist, you can visit jackienewgent.com.   



Shared at: Play to Learn Blog Hop, The Children's Bookshelf, Tuesday Tots, It's Playtime, Moms Library, Eco-Kids Tuesday.


Outdoor Play Ideas You Might Also Like:

Ten for Tuesday: Sticks!
Earth Day Scents-ory Bin



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easiest Easter Sensory Bin Ever

My five simple steps for making the easiest (and cheapest) Easter Sensory Bin ever (AKA:  Real Life Easter Sensory Bin):

Step 1: Remove any clearly identifiable St. Patrick's Day items from the St. Patrick's Day Sensory bin leaving relevant items, such as green colored pasta for grass and green and white buttons that will now represent grass or eggs. (Stash away shamrocks, etc. for next year). (If you did not have a St. Pat's Day bin, you can make colored rice like Mama Smiles does. You could also use simple paper shreds in green or pastel colors, as you like). 

Step 2: Cut up a box of Bunny Grahams or cut out bunnies from the latest issue of Country Living that your mother sent you (or draw bunnies on a piece of paper and cut them out). Add said bunnies to the Easter bin.


Step 3: When de-cluttering the craft/art drawer, take out the Easter stickers from last year which you happened to stumble upon in the nick of time and put Easter egg stickers on the bottom of the bin to be found as the little ones hunt through the sensory bin grass. (Or buy some stickers at the dollar store if you happen to not have any on hand).


Step 4: Add in some brown rice that you spilled all over the counter and kitchen floor, since you can no longer use it to for cooking. 

Step 5: Make a mini version in case the boys do not want to share and to see if there is a preference for compartments to sort/mix things rather than one large bin. 




Finally: Set out for the boys to explore and see what items they add into the mix. 

Or, watch boys take out the playdough and dinosaurs and decide that the Easter grass works much better as a landscape for dino-play. Child-led play - priceless! (And money spent this year on Easter bin - $0.00!!) 


P.S. This is now the 4th way that we have used our colored pasta, which is really important to me since I rarely use food as a play element and the 4th time we have used the same set of buttons as well. Our pasta started in our Dollar Store Christmas Sensory Bin, then moved to the St. Patrick's Day Bin, Easter Bin and the Dino-Play Activity. The buttons began with our Christmas tree lot craft, Green Eggs and Ham shakers, St. Patrick's Day Bin and now in the Easter Bin. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Save Money Too!

Shared at: Play to Learn Blog Hop, Montessori Monday, Tuesday Tots, It's Playtime, Eco-Kids Tuesday, Artsy Play Wednesday                       

More Egg-y Fun In Time for Easter:

10 Creative Uses for Plastic Eggs
Baby Easter Sensory Play + Puppets
 
Mayo-less Egg Salad (w/avocado!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge + Best Bunny Books


The true challenge of Project 101, where I share 2 books each week that we are reading from the library (1 the boys are reading and 1 that I am reading), has finally hit me this week since the book I am reading this time happens to be quite long. I will probably be reading it for a few more weeks, so I will have to find some other short books to also read and share while I finish my behemoth book, but first I will share 1 of the favorites that the boys and I have been reading this week - a book that is perfect for Easter and for Earth Day and connects with my book in an interesting way too. 

Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino is a newer book published in September of last year. I discovered it through a book list at a small, independent bookstore I stumbled upon a few months back. The book looked and sounded interesting, so I added it to our library list, and Wild Thing has really been enjoying it. 

The book has a valuable message as two friends end up competing to see who can build the taller house, until both of their homes come tumbling to the ground, and they learn that it is better to share one small house. The choice saves their friendship and provides them with a happier, simpler way to live. This message is a good reminder for all of us - plus the illustrations and concise storytelling style engages readers. I am definitely glad we discovered this book. I have a feeling it will stay in heavy rotation from the library as a quick new favorite.

I am hoping to build a twig and mud house with Wild Thing outside (a small one of course) as a way to extend the book, since those are the materials Rabbit and Owl use. The book also offers a way to introduce Spring planting and gardening as Rabbit nurtures his garden (and waters Owl in the process!). I hope you will try out this new book too.

I am also reading a book about fierce competition, growth and two houses that become quite divided -- well one, initially, that really was two. As Lincoln asserted, famously: a house divided cannot stand, just as Rabbit and Owl build homes that are too tall to stand, the U.S. faces a deep schism over the growth and continuation of slavery. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin is a New York Times bestseller that requires a sustained commitment. At 700+ pages, to say that it is a thorough biography of its subjects would be an understatement. The book is not just a biography of Lincoln, but also provides detailed biographies for other political figures who competed against and ultimately worked with Lincoln. It provides a very complete picture of the United States at the time politically and socially and of many of the politicians struggling to make their mark on the budding nation. 

While at times I feel like there might be too much detail, what has interested me the most is to know the tones and viewpoints of various thinkers and political figures regarding slavery -- which was the most heated issue of the time, of course, and which has undeniably left a deep scar on the U.S. I am not quite a third of the way through the book and Lincoln is not the President yet, but it is clear that very soon he will be and his surprising and unsuspecting rise is interesting. I look forward to continuing the read, learning the final details of how Lincoln finally does become President and then builds a team to guide the nation through one of its darkest and most challenging times. 

Before I wrap up, let me circle back to what Wild Thing and Caterpillar are reading and share some other fun bunny/rabbit books that we enjoy, since Easter is right around the corner. A new bunny book is the perfect non-candy Easter basket item and the bunny books we have been reading are fun, heart-warming with meaningful messages relevant all year round.


Many of these books are classics, such as The Runaway Bunny, Tales of Peter Rabbit, The Velveteen Rabbit and Guess How Much I Love You (though it was actually new to us and a sweet book that I LOVE). Others might not be as familiar such as Knuffle Bunny, from one of our favorite authors, Mo Willems, Rescue Bunnies and Too Tall Houses. The Velveteen Rabbit is a beloved book I remember from my own childhood. I appreciated finding a board book version at our library, since the classic version I have is a bit long still for Wild Thing and Caterpillar (3 and 1.5) and Peter Rabbit books can be found in so many variations and varieties, as well as in nursery rhyme collections, which Wild Thing prefers. The Runaway Bunny and Guess How Much I Love You have quickly become new favorites of mine for the wonderful tales of unconditional, grand parental love that they share. Rescue Bunnies was a discovery that did not excite me right away, but won me over in the end because of how much it captivated the attention of Wild Thing, who often wants to read it over and over. He now tells the story himself of a young Rescue Bunnie Trainee who bravely saves a giraffe stuck in the mud in the savannah. Perhaps this illustrates the beauty of your local library - a simple, free way to discover (and enjoy) new books. 

Shared at: Kid Blog Hop #12,       

I hope you have enjoyed our books and will share what you have been reading too! I love book suggestions. Share here or on Facebook at The Good Long Road. I also have a Library List Pinboard that you can follow for great book recommendations and book round-ups and lists like Best Read Aloud Books from Pragmatic Mom, which also features some fun bunny books.

You might also like:

4 Activities for Duck! Rabbit!
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

{Kid's Co-Op} Beyond the Book: Playful Storytelling

Last night I had a great time doing one of my first Google+ On Air Hang-outs as part of the Spring Into Reading Series with Kim from The Educators' Spin On It, Jackie from Ready-Set-Read and Rebekah from The Golden Gleam. We shared some of our favorite Playful Storytelling activities and have already received comments about how informative the Hang-out was with great ideas to extend story time.You can see the full list of Spring Into Reading Hang-Outs here.

 

You can also watch the video on Youtube, if you prefer. I love playful storytelling and activities that extend books and the Hang-Out explained why these activities are so important for nurturing early readers through the way they build vocabulary, oral language skills and so much more. (Not to mention how fun it can be!) So, I am sharing some fun Playful Storytelling ideas from the Kids Co-Op last week too! First, I also thought I would give you a peek at our recycled storytelling props for the Itsy Bitsy Spider that we made from milk caps and toilet paper/paper towel rolls. The spider was left from Halloween. We LOVE making recycled storytelling props. 


I hope you enjoy these ideas from the Co-Op as much as I did: Playful storytelling with The Caboose Who Got Loose from Play-Trains.com, Dr. Seuss playschool with Like Mama Like Daughter, Sticky Board Storytelling from My Little Bookcase, Playful Storytelling with The Gingerbread Man from Happy Whimsical Hearts, and The Snail and the Whale from Growing Book by Book.


Also, for lots of other storytelling and beyond the book ideas, you should definitely check out Read.Explore.Learn from JDaniel4's Mom which posts each Friday and which you can also like on Facebook. I also love the Storytelling Pinboard from Inspiration Laboratories - make sure you are following it for many more great ideas.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

{Project 101} Weekly Library Challenge: Circus Animals, Boats, Family & Maine!


If you have been following Project 101, you know that often there is some connection between the book I share that the boys have been reading and the book that I have been reading, this week is no different. The connection this week is Maine -- one of my favorite states, not only because of the natural beauty in the state, but also because some of my favorite people/friends live there too!  

For the boys, the library book I am highlighting this week is another book they love to read over and over and that we keep rechecking from the library: The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. This fun rhyming book tells the story of a circus ship that crashes off the coast of Maine and the Isle that the animals make their way to after the wreck. The animals and islanders end up discovering they love sharing their Maine Isle together -- and ultimately they join together to protect the animals from the Circus Master who comes to find them. There are fun I Spy elements to the book, and it is great for counting too. Wild Thing loves counting and finding all 15 circus animals in the sea after the crash and hiding in the town later in the book. Interestingly, the book was inspired by a real event in which a ship with animals did crash and the rumors of exotic animals forever after seen in rural parts of Maine. 


I am reading The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons by Amanda Blake Soule (of SouleMama.com) with Stephen Soule. After reading the introduction, I skipped to the March chapter and have chosen to slowly read this book throughout the year -- slowing down to take the time to discover the sense of wonder and notice the changes that each month brings -- though our seasonal changes here in SoCal are much more subtle than hers in Maine! She shares why slowing down is important:
Wonderful things happen in our family when we choose to move slowly through our days. When we stop running and rushing about, we discover more time, energy, and space for the things most important in our lives. By slowing down, our connections with our children and as a family inherently become deeper, our creativity thrives, and we find meaningful ways to fill our time.
For each month, the book suggests things to make and do. For March, she suggests making a terrarium and noticing animal tracks and other signs of Spring. In general, she reminds me to notice the changes that nature brings -- and this reminds me to take note of the growth and change happening within our family. I encourage you to slow down too -- and savor the moments!

Sharing at: The Children's Bookshelf, Mom's Library, Kid Lit Blog Hop.

You might also like:
C is for Cornhusker!
Move, Eat, Draw, Learn with Duck! Rabbit!

 

Friday, March 15, 2013

{Kid's Co-Op} Rainbow Activities for Kids + Color Learning (in 2 languages!)

I added rosa and anaranjado too! 
Through the posts I am featuring, you will find over 100 rainbow activities here! Wild Thing and I are enjoying helping Caterpillar (19 months) learn his colors. Wild Thing (3) thinks it is so fun that he can help his brother to learn - and we are both enjoying coming up with fun ways for him to engage with different colors and reinforce his association. At the same time, it offers me with an opportunity to help Wild Thing learn the Spanish words for the colors, which is something I originally introduced to him through the great Rebecca Emberley book My Colors Mis Colores - a simple bilingual book that has really worked well for us.

In addition to sharing some of the color activities we have been doing, I am also highlighting the fun rainbow crafts, activities and snacks highlighted last week through the Kid's Co-Op. With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner and Spring on its way for many of us, it is the perfect time for rainbow fun -- and I love that rainbows provide great learning opportunities. You can use basically any of the activities featured to help your children learn their colors -- or to help them learn the names of colors in a new language! As you engage with the activity talk about the colors, say the color names over and over, ask your child to get a certain color (ask in both languages), and have fun.

Our rainbow color sorting station is made from toilet paper rolls wrapped with paper, as are the clouds (with cotton balls added on). I did a similar color sorting activity about a year ago with Wild Thing and see many very cool activities like this all over the blogosphere, so I cannot take credit for originality, but I do like the spin I added this time by making ours look like a rainbow and using it to reinforce Spanish language words with Wild Thing. I gave he and Caterpillar an egg carton with pipe cleaners, pony beads, pom poms, milk caps and other items that could be put into the corresponding tubes. I had some scraps of colored paper after I set up the activity so I used those to create a rainbow invitation to play for the boys.

Caterpillar and I had lots of fun creating rainbow art together. Caterpillar would pick a paper scrap and tell me the color and then put glue on it with a glue stick and then I would put in on the bubble wrap (he was not really interested in the putting it on the paper/bubble wrap part, just the glue part!). If he was not sure of a color, I would remind him. I also would ask him for a certain color sometimes, as well. The activity also utilized his fine motor skills as well as helping him build his vocabulary and learn his colors. Here is our final masterpiece. 

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Now enjoy all the other rainbow fun from the Kid's Co-Op last week!



(Left to right) B. Inspired Mama has adorable St. Patrick's Day Crowns that we will have to make since we have all of the items on hand - I love the rainbow element she added to these. Momma's Fun World shared Rainbow Science for kids using Kool-Aid. Housing A Forest shares TONS of rainbow crafts and activities from the PLAY Group in her post. And I love the Ice Cube Rainbow Painting activity from JDaniel4's Mom, which is an activity I have been wanting to do with Wild Thing and Caterpillar. 



Plus, The Educators' Spin On It has over 100 rainbow activities linked up and features lots of great learning activities using rainbows.


 
Finally, there were also some yummy rainbow snacks that were shared: Rainbow Cake from House of Burke, St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Platter from The Joys of Boys and Rainbow Jello from Mess for Less. Creative Kids Snacks also shared rainbow fruit snack ideas.

Shared at:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

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Also shared at Eco-Kids Tuesday, Artsy Play Wednesday, Spring Break Activities Linky, Tuesday Tots.             

Now, it is time for the Co-Op! Link-Up and Play!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

{Kids Get Arty} Inspired by Inocente

Kids Get Arty, a bi-monthly challenge from Red Ted Art to explore real artists, is something I look forward to every two months as it challenges me to really engage my boys in art and to help them learn about artists in a fun, hands-on way. 

As an independent filmmaker whose latest film, Smuggled, is an award-winning fictional/narrative film that tells the story of a mother and son who are being smuggled into the U.S. in a hidden compartment beneath a tour bus, the Academy Award winning short film Inocente naturally caught my attention as, at the time the film was made, Inocente (the subject of the film) was an undocumented homeless teenager in San Diego, who happens to also be a very talented artist. 

I watched the film at mtv.com and quickly understood why the film won the Oscar. Not only is Inocente a powerful, compelling, engaging subject but the filmmakers do her story justice. Her story will pull at your heart as will her art. So, this month for Kids Get Arty, I decided to do a large art piece with the boys inspired by Inocente - her spirit and her techniques.

Inocente piece that inspired me personally as we painted together.
Exploring various techniques is a great way to engage younger children (Wild Thing is 3 and Caterpillar is 19 months) in the process of exploring artists, since emulating exact art pieces or style might be beyond their abilities. I knew that the bold, graphic images that Inocente created would not be something we could create, but I loved watching Inocente paint - pouring paint at times, splattering paint at times, rolling paint on the canvas, letting paint drip from the brushes, using brushes in a traditional way, putting paint in the palm of her hand and using her fingers to paint, and sprinkling glitter onto one of her pieces, so I encouraged the boys to try each of these techniques too. 

Also, we had never really done a large art piece (besides one mural we did almost a year ago), so I liked that aspect of being inspired by Inocente as well -- creating a large art piece together (myself and the boys) and painting on a piece that is on the floor, as Inocente often did. I hope you enjoy the many photos from our art experience -- and if you decide to watch the film, which I hope you will, be forewarned that you may shed a tear (or two or several, a few different times). (Also, if you want to watch this with your children, depending on their age, you may want to only show select excerpts since she talks explicitly about being abused as a child and her and her mother both share openly about their struggles related to homelessness).

The film has also inspired me to make a donation of art supplies to a local shelter for homeless youth. If you decide to do something similar, call ahead first to find out what supplies they need and will be able to use. 

Pouring.

Spreading with a scrub brush.
Swirls added by mommy.
Wild Thing uses his paintbrush. I layered on a heart.
Wild Thing enjoyed paint layering as well.
Caterpillar mainly did this paint layering.

We also added some splatters to the heart.
And took a tricycle riding break...

...and did some nice painting on our feet!
I had to take and share this photo of Caterpillar with paint-splattered feet because the film often focuses in on the paint-splattered shoes that Inocente wears. All in all, I really loved our collaborative art piece! Oh - and I should share that the larger containers of paint were paint that we made at home with corn starch, sugar, salt, water and food coloring -- I got the recipe from Red Ted Art. I then put the paint in two recycled containers. It worked out wonderfully. 
Our final masterpiece!
I should also add that this art activity engaged the boys for much longer and much more completely than possibly any other art or craft project we have done. I think the whole body/gross motor skill element really drew them in, as well as the novelty of it. Plus, my boys love to be outdoors, so art outside always goes over well -- and it was a perfect way to usher in the time change (we did this after their nap because it was still light) and enjoy the nice weather we had today.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Four Simple Family Breakfast Ideas - Simple Family Dinner Blog Hop


Stuck in a breakfast or dinner rut? We do our fair share of cereal or bagel/English muffin + cream cheese mornings (Wild Thing calls it bagel and snow), but I also really enjoy making breakfast with Wild Thing and have found that having breakfast for dinner is a great way to shake up a dinner rut. (I know I am not the only one). So, when I decided join in with about 30 other blogs for the Simple Family Dinners Blog Hop, I was pretty sure I would end up sharing my favorite simple breakfast ideas -- all of which are fun to have the kids help you to make and many of which can do double duty as either a nice dinner alternative or snack/lunch box items. Plus, they all are made with real ingredients and can be tailored to different dietary needs rather easily - my favorite (actually the favorite of the entire family) is gluten free. So, I hope we inspire you to hop in the kitchen with your kids and get cooking!   

First things first, French Toast -- ours has a bit of twist and is so moist and good that we do not even use syrup -- though Wild Thing often loves to make it snow by sprinkling on some powdered sugar. The secret is in the bread. We use cinnamon raisin bread, preferably one with thinner slices. I find that the thin slice helps keep it really moist. Wild Thing (as you can see) loves to help prepare the batter, stirring the eggs. 


We include a dash of milk, cinnamon (I just let him shake in as much as he wants, within reason) and then I also add in some orange zest. It is a subtle thing, but it works really well. You know the rest, dredge the bread in the batter and then put on a hot, buttered griddle pan. (When I get to that part, Wild Thing is occupied with getting plates on the table). Quick, easy and fast -- breakfast (or dinner) is done!   



Pancakes are another family favorite, but I like to mix it up. We have done corn cakes and a pancake topper taste test in the past. Recently, I had some bananas that were moving steadily toward being overripe, so I knew banana oat pancakes would be the perfect solution. I used this recipe from Healthy. Happy. Life. (which is actually a recipe for vegan pancakes) as my guide, but smashed up the bananas instead of using them sliced and made a few other variations. For instance, I did not have flax seeds, nor buckwheat flour and I added in some oats (maybe 1/2-1 cup and then slowly added in the flour stopping when I realized the batter was a good consistency because the oats off set the amount of flour needed). Also, my favorite tip for gluten-free (easy and cheap) pancakes is to take rolled oats and put them in the food processor to create oat flour. It is so easy and works really well in pancake batter, plus it is much cheaper than buying gluten-free flour. We are not gluten-free, but I often make oat flour because I like the flavor and convenience of it. Also, I am not a huge fan of syrup (mainly because most syrup at stores is really just high fructose corn syrup and sugar and real maple syrup can be pricey, but also because even the good stuff seems too sweet), so I am always getting creative with pancake toppings using fruit, applesauce, etc. This time, I decided to make a peanut butter-honey syrup because I thought it would compliment the bananas and it did! Yum.  


The syrup involved mixing peanut butter and honey together and putting it in the microwave.
Another peanut butter oat combination that we love is our Banana Peanut Butter Oat Breakfast Cookies. These are really fun and great because they can be made anytime and kept for later. Plus, what kid does not like the prospect of eating cookies for breakfast? (Or they make a great addition to a lunch or a snack bag). Here is my recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • cinnamon and nutmeg (Wild Thing shakes it in for me!)
  • 1/4 cup or 2 TBS peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups oats 
  • 1 egg
  • 3 mashed ripe/soft bananas
  • sunflower seeds (I just toss some in)
I mix all of the dry ingredients (except the oats) and then add the eggs, bananas and other wet ingredients and add the oats last (as you may decide to adjust the amount of oats a bit). Then they cook for 12-15 minutes in an oven pre-heated at 400 degrees.


A great thing about the breakfast cookies and pancakes is that they are great ways to use up the bananas that have been sitting on the counter for almost too long -- or you can buy the red banded bananas (that are sold often for 29 cents a pound) specifically for this purpose. Also, the oat flour also works well in the cookies making them a great gluten-free option as well. I plan to try both recipes out with sunflower seed butter soon as I suspect it will work as a nut free alternative for children with nut allergies. If anyone does try that, please leave me a comment and let me know how they turn out. My other favorite, healthy cookies are our 3 Ingredient No-Bake Cookies. Super, duper easy.

Last but definitely not least is the family favorite: Hashbrown-Crusted Quiche! (100% Gluten-free and 200% delicious). This recipe is great because you can throw whatever you want, practically, in as a filling: bacon, ham, sausage, veggies, etc. We often do turkey breakfast sausage, but I have also done spinach, collard greens, and just cheese. A great combo is mushroom and sausage (sautee the mushrooms first). I find that I prefer a cheddar or sharp cheese blend with meats and parmesan shredded cheese with veggies, especially greens, but that might just be me. Also, an easier alternative with this dish is to lose the hashbrown crust and just make a frittata, which I often also done in muffin form with great success. This is probably the most popular breakfast for dinner that we make. My disclaimer is that the crust makes this one a little less simple, mainly in terms of prep time, but I still hope you will give it a try. Here is the step by step.

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. Shred/grate potatoes, enough to line a pie pan. If you have small red potatoes, you need about 10. If you have big Idaho or Russet potatoes, you need 2-3. I don't like to peel my potatoes, but you certainly could. (I throw mine in a food processor making the grating/shredded process rather easy).

3. Mix potatoes with 2-3 tablespoons melted better and line pie-pan with hashbrowns. (You could also use frozen hashbrowns, just make sure you thaw them first).

4. Put in oven and crisp the hashbrown crust (25-45 minutes). The cook time can vary so you have to check.

5. While hashbrown crust is in the oven, cook the meat you want to add or sautee your vegetables. (If you use ham, you would not need to cook it).

6. Beat 6 eggs. Add freshly ground pepper (a few twists), a dash of milk (if you prefer, probably 1/4 cup) and cheese.

7. Mix eggs, sausage and mushrooms together and pour over hashbrown crust (once crust is crisp, but not overdone).

8. Reduce oven to 350 and cook for 30-45 minutes (use a toothpick to check for the eggs to be done). If you do a frittata, you simple start at step 5 as you prepare your filling. Also, the cook time for frittata muffins is much shorter. I have only made them once and cannot remember the exact cook time, but I would start checking at 15 minutes. I think it is somewhere between 15-25. 


While this one takes a bit more time, for much of that time items are just sitting in the oven, so I will often get the hashbrown crust started and then go play with the boys or have them help me make the egg mixture and then play with them again during the second round of cook time in the oven.

I hope we have inspired you to shake it up at breakfast or dinner! So many great bloggers are involved so you can find lots of other great ideas from them too, and you will definitely want to make sure you are following the Simple Family Meals Pinboard.   

Also, if you have not liked The Good Long Road Facebook page, please do. Each Monday, I share a meal plan for the week and recently shared a great recipe that got my toddler excited about eating mustard greens! Oh - and you might also want to check out my Eating the Alphabet A-Z post with 30+ Kid-Friendly Veggie Recipes, including an amazingly delicious Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese.

Here is the complete list of bloggers joining in the fun: 
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom | Inspired by Family | Sun Scholars | This Reading Mama | Life by Ashley Pichea | In Culture Parent | Raising Life Long Learners | Glittering Muffins | Life at the Zoo | Octavia and Vicky | Kid World Citizen | Kitchen Counter Chronicles | Nomad Parents | Childhood 101 | Triple T Mum | Adventures in Mommydom | The Freckled Homeschooler | Teach Beside Me | The Chirping Moms | Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes | So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler | Pickle Bums | The European Mama | The Golden Gleam | Forever, For Always, No Matter What | Motherhood on a Dime | Harrington Harmonies | Rainy Day Mum | Jenni Fischer | Cakes and Sribbles | Toddling Into Madness | Mermaids' Makings | Mud Hut Mama | Here Come the Girls | All Done Monkey | Small Potatoes | Little Artists
 
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