Monday, July 21, 2014

A Tiger Sandwich Lunch For My Son


This week, I thought it was time my son got his own special lunch. It has been awhile since I made one for him specifically, mainly because it's summer and we have been crazy busy. I wanted to try out these fun new cutters that I received from BentoUSA. They are a new release in their CuteZCute line. They were so easy and fun to use, a must for parents with a busy schedule! I also wanted to use more of my new lunch box containers from Fit & Fresh. This is their bento box model. To see my recent review of their products click HERE.

Why did I make tiger sandwich? Well, first of all because we had the right food, and second I thought my son would like to take a bite of this ferocious beast. I used chicken, bread, cheese, and greens so that he could make his own sandwich if he wanted to. I also thought the mango fruit dish was a fun addition. If your kids are a fan of animal themed lunches, you might want to give this easy one a try!

Ingredients
1 slice of bread
2 slices cheddar cheese
1 small square & four thin strips of nori (dried seaweed)
Handful mixed greens
1 strawberry
3 baby carrots (or whatever veggies your child likes)
1 mango, cut into slices
Handful of raisins
1/2 cup of shredded chicken

Directions
1. Use CuteZCute cutter on bread and cheese to make tiger shape. Seriously, the tiger is that simple.
2. Put nori square on bread and then cheese on bread. Place nori strips on cheese as shown.
3. Arrange mixed greens as the background in the main dish and place tiger, strawberry, and baby carrots around as shown in picture.
4. In first side dish, place desired amount of shredded chicken. In second side dish put the mango slices side by side and then fill in the gaps with raisins. This makes your tiger striped fruit dish!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Fit & Fresh Lunchboxes: Are They Fun & Functional too?

Fit and Fresh Review
It's almost "back to school" time which means shopping for pencils, paper, and lunchboxes. Investing in the right lunchbox is an important decision. As the parent you need the container to be practical and help your job to be easy. Your child wants the box to be cool so they can show it off to all their friends. 

I had the opportunity to put the Fit & Fresh line of lunchboxes to the test over the past few weeks. They carry every possible size and color of lunch container you can imagine. Whether you are a kid, or adult, Fit and Fresh has an option for you.

The thing is, none of that matters if the quality is poor or the kids don't like the look of them. So read on to find out what I found when I tested the Fit & Fresh line for fun AND functionality. Make sure and check back Monday for a special lunch I made in these lunchboxes!


Fit and Fresh Review

As you can see from the pictures above, the containers come in many fun colors and in any size you could ask for, including a full bento box. One of my favorite features is something that you don't think about until you already have the lunch ready--the ice pack. It can be a trick figuring out where to put them. Fit & Fresh created a little latch system inside each lid that will hold their ice packs. I love this idea! When I used them to take my own lunch to work, it kept the turkey pasta nice and cold.

All of their containers are BPA free and top rack dishwasher and microwave safe. This is important because you don't want to spend a bunch of time cleaning parts by hand if you don't have to. I ran each box through the dishwasher multiple times and they came out good as new. I also tested them in the microwave without any problems.

One of the issues I am always concerned about with these types of boxes is if my kids can open them. My daughter is going into second grade and has had some issues with this before. The Fit & Fresh lids are plastic with a soft lip around the edge. My daughter could open it no problem but I would test it out with younger kids before I sent them to school with it.

The one change I would make is with the bento box (pictured on the left). I wish the plastic dividers were removable so that you could reconfigure the box to work with other smaller size Fit & Fresh containers. Currently, you can only fit their smallest size containers. The bento style lunchbox can also be used with their insulated bag. These bags come in a variety of fun designs. I would highly recommend you get their bag if you are picking up a bento box. They work well together. 

The Fit & Fresh containers are sold individually and in kits. It is up to you to choose the amount of containers and style that is best for your child.

The other product I was fortunate enough to review was a drawstring insulated lunch bag...and it was shaped like a monkey! This might be the coolest lunch bag I have ever used. I even packed my lunch in there and took it to work one day.
Fit and Fresh Review
There is a monkey face on the front with a tail on the back. The top is opens and shuts with a drawstring. Inside is room enough for three lunch containers and a juice box or small water bottle. Also inside is a little pocket which can hold silverware, napkins, etc. In my lunch, I was able to fit a sandwich sized container with pasta in it, a medium container with grapes, and a small container with a little dessert. I did wish this bag was big enough to fit a bento style box, however.

The only part that i felt was missing from the monkey bag was a carrying strap. The drawstrings must double as a carrying strap. This is a little annoying at times. The whole bag can be easily wiped down to clean it. This monkey bag sells for $14.99. There are other animal varieties of this style for sale as well.

Overall, I was very pleased with Fit & Fresh's line of products. They offer a wide variety to fit many people's tastes and the products seem to be well made. They work easily for adults and kids and are also reasonably priced. You can go to www.fit-fresh.com to see all of their products and to place an order. Please be sure and check back Monday to see the fun lunch I made in the Fit & Fresh bento lunchbox!


Disclosure: I received these products for free from Fit & Fresh. I have received no other compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.


#lunchboxreview

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sorry Kids, I Will Never "Let" You Beat Me


I just spent part of tonight beating my 7 year old daughter at Chutes and Ladders. Ok, it was only one game, but it was hard fought and I pulled it out at the end. It might sound like I enjoyed it, but c’mon, it’s Chutes and Ladders, no adult ever really enjoys that game! But I did care who won and who lost. In fact, whenever my wife and I play board games, sports, card games, or hopscotch with our kids—we don’t let them win. We never have. Yes, I know, we are terrible parents, right?

Listen, we don’t pull out every trick in the book or use grand master strategy to destroy them. I don’t get up and do a happy dance or throw it back in their face when they lose. However, sometimes they do win and it is fun for everyone. The thing is games aren’t always just about fun, sometimes they can teach us about life.

What kind of horribly competitive parents would do this? We are the kind of parents who love our kids and who actually want them to learn something about winning AND losing as they grow up. Somewhere along the line our culture came to the conclusion that our kids must win at everything. Every participant gets a trophy and we don’t use red marks on school papers. Well sorry kids, that doesn’t fly in our house and we will never “let” you beat us.

In his incredibly insightful book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, Dr. Seuss has a few lines that have rooted themselves in my parental thought process. The good Dr. says:

“Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.”

As parents, we forget this. We shield our kids from the disappointments and losing in life. Sometimes it’s because we love them so much we never want them to experience defeat. Sometimes it’s because our own identity is tied up in them winning and it’s our own ego that gets in the way. No matter what it is, it’s not helping our children.

I remember playing little league baseball and seeing a few of my teammates getting trophies at the end of the season. I wanted one so bad that it drove me to be better. I practiced harder so that one day, I might get that trophy. If everyone got one would it have cheapened it? Absolutely. I want my kids to know the hunger that drives you to be the best and the exhilaration of accomplishing that. I also want them to know what it feels like to be humbled because someone is better than you. Because there is always someone better. It’s just a matter of time before you meet them.

It’s not that we don’t want them to win. It’s that losing “well” is just as important as winning “well.” My kids hate to lose. Honestly there are times when they’ve cried after losing a game. These moments of emotional distress turn into teachable moments to talk to them about how you can’t and won’t always come out on top, and that’s ok. Losing sucks, there’s no way around it. However, losing can show us how we can improve and how to maturely let someone else have the limelight. I love teaching my kids strategy about the game as we are playing it. When they get beat because of it, they see firsthand how to get better. If I let them win, I would deprive them of all these things. I also want our kids to know that they don’t always have to win to make us proud and they don’t have to win to get our love, they have that no matter what.

We are proud of them when they are in the front holding the 1st place ribbon, and we are proud of them when they play the best that they can and lose. In fact, I will hate when they are old enough to be on a team where everyone gets a trophy. Not only is it something else to clutter our house with, but it also hinders the drive to get better. Don’t get me started on the report card system. I am not ashamed to admit that I have problems figuring out exactly how my daughter did in school by her confusing report card. I need to hire a military code breaker to decipher the paper just to tell me if she passed 1st grade. How can I help her improve if I can’t even figure out how she did? With grades like A, B,C , D, and F you knew exactly where you stood and where you needed to go. Sometimes I feel as if schools are more concerned with everyone feeling special than they are with teaching them how to succeed.

I hope all three of my kids find where their talents are and beat the snot out of the competition. I will be there to cheer them on when they win. I will also be there to hold them when they lose. Hopefully, they will do each with grace and maturity.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to beating my son at Star Wars Chess.


#Fatherhood

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Deluxe Prize Pack Giveaway!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Yasso frozen greek yogurt. I was provided with product samples, and received compensation for participating in this promotion.

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt is hooking up Lunchbox Dad readers with a deluxe giveaway that includes a T-shirt, water bottle, multiple boxes of frozen yogurt bars, and more! You couldn't ask for a better prize pack for the middle of summer. Yasso makes some amazing frozen greek yogurt with flavors such as chocolate covered raspberry, peanut butter cup, mint chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, and more. Not only that but these are way healthier than your typical run of the mill ice cream bars.

All you have to do to enter is use the Rafflecopter Widget below, but hurry the drawing will happen soon!

In case you missed it, you can check out my post HERE that talks about all the fun we had with a Yasso party in the park. The kids and adults all left with smiles on their faces!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Turtle on the Beach Lunch

Turtle Lunch
Recently my blog was featured on Good Morning America! I had the pleasure to make personalized lunches for three of the hosts and a few other GMA logo lunches. The great thing about these is that they are all simple enough for anyone to do and you can replace the names with whomever you are making the lunch for. Since my daughter is on summer break, I thought I would share the recipes for these lunches over the next couple weeks. But don't worry, there is plenty of other stuff in store as well! 

I thought I'd show you a lunch that looks hard but is so easy and fun. All you have to do to make it your own is switch "GMA" for the name of the person you are making the lunch for. This is made in an Easy Lunch Boxes container.


Turtle lunch
Ingredients
Broccoli
Snap peas
White rice
Mango
Grilled chicken strips
Fresh spinach from bag for "name"
Black food coloring marker

Directions
1. Cook rice according to box and place enough in main container to cover the bottom. Make turtle out of snap peas and broccoli and place in main dish where shown. Use black food coloring marker to make the eyes.
**for short video tutorial on how to easily make the turtle click the YouTube link below**
2. Choose 3 of your largest fresh spinach leaves and your longest leaf (including stem). Use sharp knife to cut a letter from each large leaf to form “GMA.” Cut GMA logo swoosh from longest leaf. Arrange logo letters and swoosh in main container where shown in picture.
4. Slice mango if you have not done so already. Place slices on end, with pointy part up, in side dish as shown. Pack in tight and they will stay upright.
5. Place grilled chicken slices in other side dish and put a few very small pieces of broccoli on top.
Turtle Lunch Bento

One of My New Favorite Grill Recipes: American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages

This shop has been compensated by #CollectiveBias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone.
American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias #Shop

You know that feeling when you've found that one recipe? You know the one. It makes your mouth water just thinking about it, but it's simple enough to throw on at the last minute for those unexpected guests? The American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausage has become one of my family's go to grilling recipes for this month. We have used it tailgating, for family events, and also "just because." 

As a kid, I grew up loving sausages and loving baseball. There was something about sitting in the stands and having a hot dog while watching the two teams compete. It didn't matter whether it was the majors or little league, it wasn't baseball without a dog. I still loving going to the ballpark and getting a polish sausage smothered in peppers and onions. However, after I came up with this recipe, the ballpark frank has some serious competition. In fact, after you taste this recipe, you may never want to have a sausage another way again.

I found the American Craft sausage on a trip to Safeway grocery store. They were so easy to find because they are located in the same aisle with hot dogs, and right next to the bacon, which you will need for this recipe anyway!

American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias #Shop

The great thing about American Craft Sausages (besides the taste) is that they are handcrafted to deliver the best possible flavor. If you look at how they make them, you will see they start with the best cuts of 100% pork and make them only with real ingredients like garlic and bourbon. Beyond all that, what doesn't go in them is just as important. American Craft doesn't have any nitrites, nitrates, or MSG. All you taste is the sausage, unlike other lower quality brands. All of this means is you need to use American Craft sausage in this recipe or you won't get the amazing taste that you and your family want. 

So #StartYourGrill and get ready for a recipe that will make you the hero of your next backyard party!

American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias #Shop

Ingredients
American Craft Sausage (either Garlic & Onion or Smoky Bourbon flavor)
Strips of bacon, one for each sausage
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 cup fresh cilantro
Ranch dressing
Hot Dog or Sandwich style buns
American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias #Shop
Directions
1. Wrap each American Craft sausage in one strip of uncooked bacon. Sprinkle with brown sugar and lightly pat the sugar onto the bacon to help it stay on. The brown sugar will caramelize while it cooks and give you an amazing sweet and salty flavor. Alternately, you may cook the bacon with brown sugar separately, dice it up, and top the sausage with it later. I prefer to cook it as shown.
2. Barbecue each sausage, making sure both it and the bacon are done evenly. You will know the sausage is ready when the bacon is crispy, but not burnt, and the sausage looks about ready to pop. Make sure you remove the sausage before it bursts, to seal in moisture. If you are barbecuing on a propane grill, cook the sausages over indirect heat in order to prevent bacon drippings from causing flare ups. 
3. Place sausage in a robust bun. This is not a recipe to go cheap on the buns with. Don't use the .99 cent special! I use a sourdough sandwich roll with mine. 
4. Top sausage link with avocados and tomatoes. Sprinkle cilantro sparingly over the top. Finish by drizzling ranch dressing on everything. 
5. Serve immediately with your favorite chips and side of summer fruit. However, be warned, you will be addicted to these American Craft Bacon Ranch sausages after only one time! You will keep coming back again and again so you might as well buy extra.

American Craft Bacon Ranch Sausages #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias #Shop

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Brought the Party to Us!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, in conjunction with Yasso frozen greek yogurt. I was provided with product samples, and received compensation for participating in this promotion.


A party at the park with kids sounds like fun for many families, but for this get together we were looking to take our afternoon outside to the next level. The first step was inviting a few of our friends and their kids to join us. The next step was deciding on food. It is summer, and the day was hot, so it was clear we needed something tasty to cool everyone down. We had a bunch of kids and adults so whatever we chose had to work for everyone. This is where Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt came in. 

I remember as a young kid, playing with my friends in the neighborhood, and hearing the serenade of the ice cream man. There was no sweeter music in our neighborhood. Our ears were finely tuned to recognize his song and be able to make it inside to scrounge up change, and outside again to stop him, just in the nick of time. We would lineup to fill our stomachs with the amazing treats that he produced. 

Although those ice cream bars were fun, I know now how unhealthy they were. This is why I loved handing out Yasso to my family and friends, I was able to be the ice cream man. Only this time I knew I was giving them a healthier, but still tasty, alternative to the typical run of the mill ice cream bar.


I just drove down to my local grocery store and picked up some boxes of the four flavors (but Yasso has tons of varieties) that the store carried. The great thing was that there was enough so everyone got to choose whatever flavor they wanted and there was no fighting over the last one. We handed the Yasso bars out to the kids first. They had worked up a sweat at the playground so they couldn't wait to get their hands on these. The hardest part was choosing what flavor. Everyone had had the challenge of choosing between Mint Chocolate Chip, Sea Salt Caramel, Dark Chocolate Raspberry, and Peanut Butter Cup.

The kids made their choices and those frozen yogurt bars kept the peace for the rest of our time there. As parents we know how precious that time is. The best part was that all the parents were able to enjoy their time as well. We visited and laughed (of course we tried the Yasso bars too, because we couldn't let the kids have all the fun). 

My favorite flavor was definitely the Dark Chocolate Raspberry. It's blend of decadent chocolate with refreshing fruit totally hit the spot! I am huge on texture and the crunchy shell combined with the creamy yogurt was an unbeatable combo in my book.

the part of the Yasso bars that impressed me as much as the taste was what was missing from them. I'm talking about the calories, gluten, and artificial sweeteners. I couldn't believe there was only 100-130 calories in each bar, no gluten, and no artificial sweeteners. Each bar is made with only natural ingredients, and because it's made with real greek yogurt, there is plenty of protein in there! 

Needless to say the party at the park was a hit. The kids ran, and jumped, and played. The adults pushed babies on swings, chased the kids around, and caught up with what was going on with each other's families. The party was great but most importantly it brought friends together for a brief moment to share good times and good dessert.

The best news for you is that you can share your own great times this summer like I did. Grab your kids, go play outside, and get your favorite flavor of Yasso frozen greek yogurt. Create your own memories that your family will talk about for years to come. 

Yasso frozen greek yogurt comes in eleven different flavors. You can check out Yasso at online at www.yasso.com or just go down to your local grocery store to get some today!