Monday, July 25, 2016

Did Your Kids Evolve? From Picky Eater to Foodie

As it should be: peanut butter tops the 'picky eaters' Lucky Bars
Back to school - learning to eat well
As a mom who has been in the trenches and come out the other side - with most of her sanity intact - I think I'm an authority on pick eaters.

Reader, I also WAS the picky eater.

My kids were also picky eaters, a term I really think should be called owner of a refined palate. And honestly, when those picky eaters grow up, they really do turn into foodies.

How the evolution started
As a Jewish mother, I had that classic food issue: food is love. If my kids are rejecting my food, they are rejecting me.

Yes, those are condiments!
But hard as it is to to let this go, I had to let my kids develop their own palates. It helped that I remember how I grew to love pickles.

When I was a kid, I hated all condiments (which mostly revolved around mayonnaise and ketchup, two things I still can’t stand). I lumped pickles into that category, but I noticed that people were always happy when they were eating pickles.  So I forced myself to eat them, developed a taste for them, and now pickle my own vegetables.

At the #KidzVuzBTS back to school event, two ends of the spectrum were represented.  

Picky Eaters Unite 
The Backyard Food Company's pickles
First there was Luckybar, founded by the mother of a picky eater. These tasty bars have more protein than two eggs, so you don’t have to worry about your kid not getting enough nutrition. As a vegetarian, who raised three vegetarian children, I am particularly sensitive to protein availability. The bars have no gluten or GMO ingredients and come in five kid friendly flavors: Pirate Peanut Butter Chocolate, Cosmic Chocolate Caramel Almond, Chocolate Campfire, Crazy Coconut and Strawberry Sandcastles. 

In the interests of journalism I sampled the PB and almond bars, which were delicious.

And yes, I am still picky  - er , of refined palate -and won’t eat marshmallows or coconut.

Once your kids are over the hump
When you have more adventurous eaters, you can introduced The Backyard Food Company. This Rhode Island company, started by two dads from their backyard bounty, is basically ALL condiments. 

The Backyard Food Company makes apple butter, sweet tomato jam, and, yes, pickles. I tasted the crisp bread & butter pickles, slices that go well on a sandwich. The Rhode Island Red relish, made with red peppers, habaneros and ginger, pairs well with mild cheese.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Which is for you? All-inclusive vs A La Carte Hotel

What is your vacation jam?
One of the reasons to travel is to experience the local cuisine. But this can also be a burden; sometimes, you just want everything taken care of for you. 

This is especially the case when my vegetarian family travels together.  We love exploring local restaurants, and all the free things to do with kids in each place we visit, but there is work involved in sussing out the food and activities options.  This is where staying in an all inclusive can be advantageous . You don’t have to do any thinking - everything is taken care of, and you can just spend your time relaxing.

If you are trying to figure out which is better for you, remember that your needs change all the time - what is right for you now may not be right six months later, or a year.

Are you a joiner?
If you and your kids like organized activities, than an option like  all-inclusive resorts in Cancun could be for you. When my children were younger, they really enjoyed the supervised children’s programs at resorts, and staying at an all-inclusive meant we didn’t have to consider the extra cost each time we dropped them off. 

For one week long stay in Cancun, we split our time in two; half the time at an all-inclusive, the rest at an a la carte hotel, where we could dip our toe into local restaurants and spend the day sightseeing or playing at the beach with our children.  After all, part of a family vacation is time together!

All inclusive options usually include alcoholic beverages
Do you like to drink?
Most all-inclusive resort residences include free alcoholic drinks. If you and your spouse want to have a couple of drinks during the day, you don’t have to consider cost. But if you never drink, remember that the price of your all-inclusive is based partly on you taking advantage of the ‘free’ drinks. Your deal isn’t as sweet if you are a teetotler.

Do you like staying in an upscale resort?

It may be hard to believe, but some people prefer roughing it on vacation, staying at a dive where they can slob around in ratty t-shirts and let the kids be as messy as possible. 

Then there's the rest of us. Hot spots like the all inclusive resorts in Cabo San Lucas include family sized villas with marble floors, spa tubs and private balconies. You have plenty of space to spread out, and access to such resort amenities as a full service spa and a children's pool.

Do you like privacy?

If you stay with your children in a suite, it is often a living room with a pull out couch, and a bedroom. So when the kids go to sleep, you have to be quiet; sometimes, you can’t even access the bathroom without walking past the kids. At the resort residences,, the kids can have a separate, private place to sleep and you and your spouse can enjoy each other’s night-time company.

This post is sponsored by Vacatia.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Escape from New York: Weekend in the Country

They didn't look but we enjoyed the view from Mt. Holyoke
After spending the holiday weekend in New York City, we are plotting our next weekend getaway. Not that I don't love a NYC 4th of July; in fact, holiday weekends, when you live in NY, are best spent at home, enjoying the relatively quiet beaches, tons of parking, empty restaurants and lack of traffic.

Last time I had a car to test out, we drove up to Northampton, MA for a weekend of hiking. There are plenty of trailheads nearby where you can park for free and enjoy a day in the woods.

We headed to Mt Holyoke, where the Summit Hotel once welcomed guests. The hotel is closed, though it still has rocking chairs on the porch where you can enjoy the expansive view (park rangers also set up a telescope). What it did not have, when we hiked there, was running water, though it is supposed to be available Memorial Day though Labor Day. There are always porta-Johns, but be sure to bring plenty of drinking water when you hike just in case there is no water.

At the summit
There are several different trails here, none particularly rigorous, but all leading to the almost 1,000 foot summit. You are rewarded there not only with the view but also with picnic tables where you can have lunch.

Ducks swimming in the stream at Smith College
You can also spend a day wandering around downtown Northampton, which is filled with vegetarian restaurants, cafes and boutiques. From downtown, walk over to Smith College, which has miles of wood trails, and a stream where dogs can cool off. We also saw families of ducks swimming around and lots of flat stones for skipping across the water.

Enjoying the sunset from the car on the way back to NY. The traffic, not so much.
Note: GM loaned me a Buick Regal. I was not compensated for this post.