5 Super Quick and Easy Snacks for the Diaper Bag

Before I had my son, I never really carried a purse. It just seemed like such a hassle when I could fit everything that I needed into my pocket. But now? If I don’t have my diaper bag somewhere around me when we go around, then we are testing our limits.

As my son grows older, I know that my diaper bag will evolve. No longer will it be a bag mostly of diapers. Instead it will hold coloring books, juice boxes, and best of all – snacks! Food tends to be more on my mind during the day than anything else. I live for meal to meal. Even though we aren’t big snackers, I know that as Caleb gets bigger, his needs will grow too, especially as we start taking longer and longer trips. So I might as well get used to packing some snacks. Besides, I enjoy having a little treat for myself during the day.

Here are a few of my favorite – and easy – snacks for the diaper bag.

  • Happy Baby Organic Yogis Freeze-Dried Yogurt & Fruit Snacks – Nom, nom, nom. I’m not going to lie, I enjoy eating these myself. These bites are made with probiotics to help maintain digestive health and are certified USDA organic. The size is perfect for little ones learning to self-feed.
  • Banana Chips – Banana chips are a great addition to any diaper bag. They are easy, low-effort, sweet, and best of all, CRUNCHY. I like to snack on them instead of potato chips when I need something to keep my hands busy. Even better, Target has no come out with chocolate-covered banana chips! Yes – CHOCOLATE covered. How yummy?
  • Fruits and Vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are such an easy thing to add to your diaper bag. I highly recommend breaking down the produce and putting them in a container of sorts instead of leaving them whole. There is nothing that I hate more than a mushy banana and if the peel pops? Bleh, your whole bag will smell like bananas.
  • Happy Tot Organic Fiber & Protein Soft-Baked Oat Bars – The package image pretty much sums it up. Even though we tend to avoid overly processed packaged foods in our house, it’s still nice to have something to grab when you are on your way out the door and realize that you don’t have anything packed. These oat bars are made with whole grains and real fruits and vegetables in palate-pleasing combos like apple & spinach and bananas & carrots.
  • Seaweed snacks – Okay. I know that this might be completely out in left field for some but dried seaweed is a great, crunchy and salty snack to pack, even if it ends up being more for you than your little one. Seaweed is chock full of nutrients, including high levels of vitamins A and C, and calcium.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and found a few new snacks for your diaper bag.

What are some of your tried and true favorites?

6 Easy Crockpot Recipes for Busy Moms

Robb and I have always been a bit fan of the crockpot, especially now that our lives have gotten even busier. Today I bring you an awesome guest post from Kayla Clough, the email specialist over at OurStart, featuring some super easy crockpot recipes for busy moms.


Moms have a lot on their plates. We have to work, take care of the house, shuttle kids to lessons and sport, and try to feed our families healthy meals. It can be tiring. At the end of the day, you want to just order pizza and prop up your feet. Doing so sometimes is okay, but it isn’t good for the budget nor your health. You need more crockpot recipes.

In the morning, put in the ingredients and dinner is ready that evening. Crockpot recipes are a blessing to busy moms who want to provide healthy meals. Here are some great recipes to try.

Taco Chili

Taco Chili, created by What the Fork, is perfect for dinner or as an uncooked freeze meal. On the weekend, you can put all of the ingredients into a large, freezer bag and then dump it in when you are ready to prepare it. Make sure you include a variety of toppings like cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips!

Creamy Ranch Chicken and Potatoes

Ranch makes any dinner better. Add in chicken and potatoes, and you get a family-friendly hit! Wishes and Disheshas the easiest recipe with ingredients you probably already have to make this dinner tonight.

Italian Chicken and Potatoes

Moms like meals that don’t require strange and numerous ingredients. Italian chicken and potatoes is five ingredients, which means the recipe won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It would be perfect paired with green beans or fresh Italian bread from the local bakery. The Recipe Critic has the best recipe for this fantastic crockpot meal!

Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies

Honey makes any meal a kid-friendly hit. This meal is great because the veggies are included. They cook in the yummy sauce. You could pair this recipe with a pot of rice for all the juice to soak into, making a complete meal.

The recipe is best if you use chicken thighs. Chicken breasts are fine, but the chicken thighs tend to be juicy and shred easier. Now, the recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, but it is totally fine to use boneless, skinless!

Check out Damn Delicious for her fantastic recipe. Your kids and spouse will beg you to make it again next week.

Pizza Casserole

Every kid loves pizza. Making pizza in the crockpot would be close to impossible, so pizza casserole is the next best thing. The only negative thing about this recipe is that you have to brown the meat and cook the pasta ahead of time. It might not be the best if you have to leave at 6 in the morning. The Cards We Drew show you how to make this casserole. It is sure to be a hit.

Ritz Chicken

The Six Sisters make some fantastic dishes, but their slower cooker Ritz chicken is out of this world. There is so much to love, plus Ritz crackers make everything better. You only need six ingredients, including garnishes. That is impressive. It does take a few minutes to pull the dish together, but it is full of flavor. Ritz chicken is adult and kid approved.

Any of these crockpot meals are perfect for kids and adults. Put in your ingredients, and be ready for a delicious dinner in a few hours. Busy moms rejoice!


Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.

To read more from Kayla and the rest of the OurStart team, check out their Facebook page or visit their Blog.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash [Recipe]

Sometimes it’s the little changes you make that add up and create a bigger impact on your life – i.e. substituting one ingredient for a healthier alterative. One of my favorite ingredient swaps is to use roasted spaghetti squash in place of pasta.

One of the biggest benefits of eating spaghetti squash is that it contains 9% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber, while also delivering a range of nutrients, including vitamins C and A, Potassium & Calcium. It also contains folate, which supports the formation and development of new cells and helps prevent birth defects, making this squash an ideal food for pregnant women.

Spaghetti squash is super easy to prepare. Basically you just cut it in half, remove the seeds and roast for about an hour until tender at 400*F. From there, the possibilities are endless. I like to stay pretty simple and stuff my spaghetti squash with my favorite spaghetti sauce. It creates a meal that I can prepare pretty easily on a weeknight. Let’s face it, after a long day of work, the easier your supper comes together, the less likely you are to indulge in junk foods or takeout.

It’s almost embarrassing how easy this recipe is. To be honest, I wouldn’t even call it a recipe, more like a rough guide. Give it a shot though and let me know what you think!


Print Recipe
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Course Main Dishes
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheese divided
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce * see notes
Course Main Dishes
Servings
2 people
Ingredients
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cheese divided
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce * see notes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400*F. While your oven is preheating, carefully slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, leaving just the flesh. Rub a little bit of olive oil into the flesh, then salt & pepper the cavity.
  2. Place the spaghetti squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for about an hour or until the flesh is tender.
  3. While your spaghetti squash is cooking, prepare your spaghetti sauce. If you make your spaghetti sauce from scratch, you can control the amount of salt and sugar used. I like to add cooked onions and browned hot Italian sausage to my sauce.
  4. Once your spaghetti squash is cooked, fill the cavity with your sauce. Top each half with 1/4 cup of cheese and cook until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

3 cups of spaghetti sauce is equal to one regular jar of sauce. That doesn't include any add-ins such as ground beef, beans, or anything else of the sort. If you have left over sauce after stuffing your squash, save it for another day or simply spoon it over your squash when you serve it.

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Granny’s Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting

I still remember the first time my mother and I attempted my granny’s 16-layer chocolate cake even though it has been almost 20 years now. We had worked all afternoon on it, carefully cooking each paper thin layer of cake, guarding the fudge-like frosting as it cooked away on the stove so that it wouldn’t burn, and finally, assembling it. Pleased with ourselves, we stepped out of the kitchen until a loud splat brought us running back. Our beautiful cake was now in bits and pieces all over the floor – we had assembled it while it had been too warm and the layers had slid apart. I looked at my mom and did the only thing that I could do at the moment. I sat on the floor and started eating.

It was delicious.

That’s the kind of magic that my granny’s cake had. I can’t think of the holidays without picturing her chocolate cake, sitting modestly on top of the freezer in the backroom, though it should have been issued a place of honor at the main table. Every time we gathered at her house, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for birthdays, the cake would be waiting for us. We all had to pass through the backroom to enter our house (no one ever used the front door) so we all would feel a glimmer of excitement when we spotted that cake sitting there.

Even when arthritis crippled her hands, she pressed on, switching from homemade cake batter to one out of a box. She faithfully made her icing the same way, though at times my grandfather had to take over for her (under her watchful eye of course). Sometimes the cake would have 14 layers, sometimes closer to 19. It was always a game to see who could come the closest to guessing the number of layers before we counted, peeling off each layer to eat, line by line.

My granny passed away this past January, only a few brief months before I would find out that I’m pregnant with my first child. I’m looking forward to sharing the magic of this cake with my own child as he grows. Even though I might have learned my lesson to let the layers cool before assembling the cake, who knows, maybe I’ll let him help me and start a tradition of eating cake off of the floor.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Even though my granny started using a box cake mix in her later years, I went with her original recipe. When Robb saw me unloading not just butter but margarine for this cake, he said that it HAD to be good with all of that fat in there.

The key is nice, thin layers. I made my layers just a little too thick but my body was just exhausted. Being 8 months pregnant would do that to you!

There is an ingredient in the frosting that doesn’t normally appear in most other boiled frosting recipes, an ingredient that I think turns this into an almost foolproof recipe – marshmallows. I’ve done a little digging around and it seems that adding in marshmallows became a thing in a few areas of the country back in the 1960’s. When I called my mom to ask if she remembered including marshmallows during our initial fateful recreation years ago, she said that it didn’t seem familiar to her but perhaps that was why her attempt failed.

After letting your frosting cool for just a few minutes – and be careful because it will be hot – start stacking your cake, pouring the frosting over layer by layer. Making this cake requires a tremendous amount of patience.  If you try to hurry through it, your layers will start to slip and slide just like ours did.

The worst part about making this cake is even after you get it all assembled – you still have to wait. Wait for it to harden and solidify. It’ll be well worth the wait, trust me.


Print Recipe
Granny's Old-Fashioned Multi-layer Cake with Boiled Chocolate Frosting
Don’t be ashamed if your first couple of attempts at making this cake come out less than spectacular. It took my granny years to perfect her cake and even then, she would occasionally put out a product that was, in her mind, “sub-par”. I simply called it rustic.
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Course Dessert
Servings
1 12-layer(ish) cake
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 stick margarine room temperature
  • 1 stick butter room temperature
  • 2 c. white cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 c. self-rising flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 1/2 c. white cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 12 large marshmallows
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour your 9” baking pans (I used shortening and flour).
  3. Beat butter, margarine, and sugar together with an electric mixer until creamy.
  4. Add in your eggs, vanilla, milk, and flour, mixing until well combined.
  5. Using a measuring cup, measuring out just over ¼ of a cup of batter in each of your baking tins. Smooth out the batter using the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake each layer for 8-10 minutes until done - depending on the amount of batter you add to each tin will dictate how long it will take to cook. You’ll want the cake to spring back when touching lightly in the center. Remove from pans to the cooling racks.
  7. Wipe out cake pans, grease and flour the again, and bake the remaining cake layers as directed.
Frosting
  1. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the cocoa powder, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, margarine, and marshmallows over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful as the liquid will be hot.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Assemble your cake, pouring your frosting over each layer.
  5. Let sit for a and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Don’t be in a rush. If you notice that your cake is starting to slide after you begin frosting it, secure it with a few wooden dowels or skewers. Since the layers are so thin on this cake, you will notice that you can see the ridges through the frosting. That is okay!

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5 Essentials for the Breastfeeding Mom

Breastfeeding can be hard for so many women, myself included. I still have days where it hurts or I just feel drained, literally. Typically those days come after a long night and in my hurry to get Caleb back to sleep, I don’t take the time to make sure that he is properly latched. On those days, I find myself switching out one of Caleb’s normal feedings with a bottle of formula just to give myself a break.

Those days are thankfully fewer and fewer now that I realize how to correct that issue. Overall, I believe that breast is best but when it comes down to it, I’d rather make sure that Caleb isn’t going hungry.

My biggest piece of advice to you as a breastfeeding mom (or mom-to-be) is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. If you find yourself having a difficult time breastfeeding and are in pain constantly when you nurse, don’t be afraid to speak with a lactation consultant in your area.

These are some of the products that have saved my sanity when it comes to breastfeeding.

Kindle E-Reader with Built-in Light – When you’re breastfeeding, there really isn’t much else you can do at that moment (unless you have a sling or a carrier and then it’s game on). My Kindle has been a lifesaver, especially at night when Caleb needs to be fed and I don’t want to cut any lights on. It’s easy to control a Kindle with one hand and it allows my brain to relax/focus on something else for a bit. I’m currently working my way through Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family which was recommended to me by Robb’s cousin.

Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner – The Boppy pillow was one of the first items that I added to my baby registry. I didn’t use it as much as I thought that I would the first week or so but I’ve been using it more and more lately. It helps me put Caleb in the perfect position to feed. It also gives my arms a break from holding him and Caleb likes to rest in his Boppy pillow.

Milk Drunk – Chocolate Protein Powder for Breastfeeding – This is a delicious protein powder for smoothies filled with lactation-boosting ingredients such as fenugreek, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and oat flour. Bonus – it’s vegan! I also recommend Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals as well for lactation support. I’ve used both to help boost my milk supply. I still haven’t managed to have enough extra milk to start storing some for when I go back to work but that’ll be my goal for February.

Nursing Bra – I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see the need for a nursing bra until I actually purchased one for myself. When I’m at home, I don’t bother with a bra unless I feel that I am needing the compression support. But I’ve found that with a nursing bra, I can wear it out in public for just in case or wear it around the house and it leaves me feeling a little less exposed to the elements. With the temperature in the house around 65°, that’s a pretty nice feeling to have.

Medela Tender Care Lanolin Tube – There are dozens of nipple creams out there for your tender bits and I recommend that you have something to keep your nipples from being chapped. I’ve been using Medela’s because I have received so many samples of it (nearly time I went to the doctor, I received more samples). Medela lanolin (lanolin is wool wax) is a thick, almost salve-like consistency that provides  soothing relief. I’ve also developed my own nipple butter that I will transition to once I’m all out of Medela lanolin (coming soon to my Etsy shop).

Did you have any issues breastfeeding?