Are You Preparing Your Child for Financial Trouble?
By Al Jacobs
In the world we live, no one grows up to become financially knowledgeable without guidance along the way. The number of young adults struggling to make ends meet bears witness to the fact that many persons reach maturity without an ability to look after themselves. Unfortunately, there is nothing that most young people encounter in life that prepares them to survive financially in this world. Whatever Americans know about handling their dollars did not come from school. This is understandable, of course, if only because the typical classroom teacher is equally mystified by the world of money. Nor is there any information to be gleaned from the media and its supporting advertising. Those formative years, in which the average child spends 28 hours per week in front of a television screen, does little more than inculcate a taste for Pop-Tarts, Cocoa Puffs, Hip-Hop music, designer jeans, and the emulation of celebrities.
I'm convinced that financial counseling must come from the parent. If you're not indoctrinating your offspring into sound habits of thrift and discernment, there is a likelihood they will blunder through life with no sense of monetary values. That's a recipe for personal disaster. I'd like to offer the following suggestions on how to instill a sense of fiscal responsibility in your children.
1. First and foremost, start early. There is no more accurate truth than the ancient adage: As the twig is bent, so grows the tree. As soon as your progeny develop an awareness of what is going on around them, they're entitled to instruction and guidance on the realities of the financial world. Admittedly, the approach to your 4-year-old will be far different than to your teen-ager. Nonetheless, if properly presented, both will acquire skills that will accompany them over a lifetime.
Mean what you say. Whether or not you believe it, your children really pay attention to what you say and do. As the first authority that normally appears, a parent becomes a model on which the child fixates. It's important to realize, however, that your counsel must be consistent for the lessons to be learned. If messages are contradictory, they will be received as mixed signals. If, for example, parents proclaim the importance of living within their financial means while simultaneously indebting themselves through purchases they cannot afford, it will not go undetected by the children nor induce them to pursue habits of thrift. The only way that sound financial values can be transmitted from one generation to the next is by a systematic and continuous program that reinforces these values. Only through precept and example will sound habits be engrained.
Don't encourage unattainable goals. Well-meaning parents, who urge their children to aim for the stars while ignoring reality, do them no service. One typical example is the encouragement given to attend a prestigious university when family funds are unavailable. Over the past several years I've fielded many a letter from these children, themselves well into parenthood and overburdened with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid student loans. In most cases, the grandiose plans envisioned never came to pass. Whatever added luster a high-priced school is designed to impart often proves to be illusory. Reasonably priced educational institutions are available and every bit as suitable. The point I want to stress is that realistic and attainable goals, taking into consideration the inherent abilities and limitations of each offspring, must be the basis on which guidance is given. Despite the prevalent attitude in modern society that everyone is endowed to achieve at any level, the wise parent will recognize reality and seek to counsel the child accordingly.
Don't try to direct your child's discretionary spending. If a child is to learn about money, he or she must sense some meaningful connection to it. Though it's the parents' responsibility to advise their offspring on sensible spending and saving, they must not dictate how the youths handle their earnings. The decision on how money received is to be spent-or horded, if that's the choice-is that of the recipient. Most importantly, don't habitually come to the rescue. When mistakes are made, the repercussions are the most valuable part of the learning process. Managing finances is a lifelong challenge, and the sooner experienced, the better.
Don't fight against human nature. Over time I've seen a lot of strange behavior that ignored human nature. One of the more bizarre instances concerned an indolent young woman, who over many years repeatedly received instruction from her wealthy father on how to balance her checkbook. She habitually issued checks whenever she chose. When the account balance fell below zero, the bank phoned her father who deposited more money in the account. Somehow her father never understood that his instruction sessions ignored human nature; the checkbook balance held no significance for her. What's the purpose of this observation? It's to stress the importance of parents' awareness of what is important to their offspring. Human nature dictates that all actions actually have meaning.
AL JACOBS has been a professional investor for more than four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of
Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity
. You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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No Veggie Left Behind
By Missy Chase Lapine
A grateful reader recently wrote to me and said she had a better chance of getting Brad Pitt to call her for a date than to get her kids to eat their vegetables. And her name was not Angelina.
Well, fear no more. The days of the picky eater are over, and there's a new life for those super healthy foods we could only wish our kids would eat. How is this possible? Haven't we tried every trick in the book to get our kids to stop demanding white and start eating green food? We've made log cabins out of asparagus and forests out of broccoli stalks. We've promised trips to Disneyland if they'll just take one more bite, and we've turned every food on earth into a mini version of itself hoping they would think it was cute enough to eat. And yet there our kids always sit, staring defiantly back at us with their lips pinched shut.
Every single green bean and leaf of spinach has still been meticulously separated from the buttery mashed potatoes with surgical precision. In the end our garbage disposals are better nourished than our families.So get smarter. Get sneaky! Most of us know perfectly well what our kids should be eating; the trick is simply how to get them to eat it... hmmmmm.... Hide it! Get out that cute mini food processor and puree the super veggies with a little water. Make yourself a smooth and creamy puree that will hide perfectly in all kinds of meals kids already like to eat.
Do your kids like mac n' cheese? Most kids love it and it has a kid-friendly cheesy taste that covers up the "White Puree," which has almost no taste of its own. Throw some white beans, zucchini and steamed cauliflower into blender, then mix the puree in with their favorite boxed macaroni and cheese. Set it on the table and keep your little secret to yourself. They'll eat it right up without a peep of protest. Try steaming and pureeing orange and white veggies like yams, carrots, peeled zucchini and cauliflower and mixing it into pizza and pasta sauce. With this method, you'll smile all the way to the dishwasher after you watched the kids gobble up previously rejected healthy foods. The whole world opens up to you with the sneaky method.
In addition to healthy meals, there will now be peaceful meals, and you can start teaching good nutrition in a much less pressured environment. Because you're confident that your kids are already getting the nutrition they need in the sneaky recipes, you don't have to fight with the same edge in your voice over the plain broccoli stalks that aren't hidden. And all those veggies you used to walk right past in the grocery store? There's now a recipe for every one of them. Your new motto will be: No vegetable left behind.
copy; Missy Chase Lapine
Missy Chase Lapine is the author of
The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals
(Running Press, March 2007). She is the former publisher of
magazine and the founder of a natural baby product line Baby Spareg;. Missy is currently on the Culinary Arts faculty of The New School, in New York City, and operates
The Sneaky Chef
workshops. She is available to individuals, groups and businesses for private cooking instruction, workshops and personal coaching in
The Sneaky Chef
methods and recipes. Missy lives with her family in Westchester, New York. For more information, visit
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
Eating watermelon is not just fun, it is healthy too! Watermelon is chock full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals which are highly reactive molecules that damage cell membranes, attack DNA and cause disease. Tomatoes are often associated with lycopene, but watermelon contains higher levels than fresh tomatoes.
Watermelon can also help maintain cardiovascular health. Watermelon has amino acids, citrulline and arginine, that help maintain the arteries and blood flow. A 2-cup serving of watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C. These vitamins provide optimal eye health, help the body cope with anxiety and panic, and bolster your immune system's defenses.
At the market: Check the watermelon out. Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon with no bruises, cuts or dents. Lift it. The watermelon should be heavy for it's size. The underside of the watermelon will have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
Pre-cut watermelon: Available in many markets, this is a nice option for a small family or when a whole watermelon is too much. Keep the cut surface of a melon covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Stays fresh for 3-4 days.
Storage: A whole watermelon can be stored at room temperature until ready to cut up.
Cubes of watermelon: Place in covered container and refrigerate immediately. Stays fresh for 3-4 days.
Preparation: Wash, slice or cube and enjoy.
Here are some quick ideas to add watermelon into your family meals:
Terrific Breakfast Treat: Cut up watermelon into bite-size chunks and place them in a cereal bowl, top with a fruit-flavored yogurt, sprinkle with a healthy helping of granola. Dig in!
Watermelon Dippin' Stix: Here's a simple creamy snack or dessert. Cut watermelon pieces into 3-inch long sticks. Stack the sticks on a plate and serve them with a bowl of vanilla yogurt flavored with a touch of lime juice and chopped fresh mint or Ranch dressing for dipping.
Shrimp and watermelon skewers: Shrimp and watermelon are a wonderful flavor combination. This simple dish is great as an appetizer or light lunch. Start with a few wooden skewers, thread cooked shrimp and watermelon cubes on the skewer. Place on a serving plate and drizzle with thai peanut sauce or ginger vinaigrette.
Multi-Melon Salad: A perfect side dish with grilled fish, pork or chicken. Mix equal parts, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon cubes in a bowl. Toss with raspberry vinaigrette. Sprinkle with blanched almonds, shredded coconut and dried cherries.
Wow Watermelon Soda: Exotic soda flavors are soaring in popularity, but many of them are filled with unhealthy artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup. Why not try making a homemade watermelon soda that the whole family will love?
This recipe will take a few minutes to make, but it's quite simple and the fresh watermelon flavor is totally worth it. To make the soda, you'll make watermelon syrup and add sparkling water or club soda to it. Enjoy quick access to watermelon soda all summer by making a batch of the watermelon syrup and freezing it in So Easy Baby Food Trays (or ice cube trays). When thirst heats up, simply drop a cube into soda water. It's an instant refresher!
5 cups of seeded chopped watermelon
5-6 Tablespoons superfine sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups of sparkling water or club soda
Puree the watermelon in a blender or a food processor. Pour the watermelon puree into a fine strainer set over a bowl. Let it stand for 20 minutes until the juice has drained through. Stir the watermelon gently one or twice, but do not press the puree or the syrup will be cloudy. This will yield about 2 cups of watermelon juice.
Stir the superfine sugar, lime juice and salt into the watermelon juice until dissolved.
To serve, pour frac14;- frac12;cup watermelon syrup with 1/2 cup sparkling water in a glass. Top with ice and enjoy!
Makes 5-8 servings.
About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby, which includes products such as the So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats. Visit them online at
to check out their newsletter. Fresh Baby products are available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target, Wild Oats, and Whole Foods Markets. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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Chill Out This Summer
By Tawra Kellam
The day moms dread all year long has arrived: the last day of school and the first day of summer vacation. To help moms keep their cool by helping their kids chill out, here are some recipes from
1 pkg. flavored drink mix (flavor of your choice)
Mix drink mix half strength according to directions. Chill 1 hour. Just before serving, crush some ice. You can use either a snow cone maker or put some ice cubes in a plastic bag and pound with hammer. Pack ice chips into cups, pour chilled drink mix over the ice and serve. You can also use fruit juice boiled down to half with food coloring added.
Apple juice: green or red food coloring
Grape juice: purple food coloring
Cut bananas in half crosswise. Insert skewer in the thicker end. Place bananas on a tray and place in freezer. When frozen, move to a plastic bag and keep frozen until ready to use.
yogurtnuts, finely chopped
Allow bananas to thaw slightly. Put toppings in small bowls. Dip banana before each bite. Eat plain or roll or dip into any of the toppings. Use the wet topping first so the others will stick.
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 Tbsp. oil
2 cups water
Mix together all ingredients except food coloring in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture gathers on the spoon and forms dough (about 6 minutes). Dump onto waxed paper until cool enough to handle and knead until pliable. Store in a covered container or plastic bag. Add food coloring for different colors. Makes about 2 pounds.
Let them have some creative in the pool out back with these finger paint recipes.
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
frac12; cup cold water
frac12; cup cornstarch
1 frac12; cups water
liquid dish detergent
Dissolve gelatin in frac12; cup water. Set aside. In a saucepan add cornstarch then slowly stir in 1 frac12; cups water until well blended over medium heat. Cook until it boils, becomes smooth, thickens and turns clear. Add gelatin mixture and stir well. Pour into containers and add a drop of liquid dish detergent. Add food coloring until you get the desired shade. Store covered in the refrigerator 4-6 weeks.
Easy Finger Paints
frac14; cup cornstarch
2 cups water
Mix in saucepan and boil until thick. Then pour into a jar and add food coloring until the desired shade is achieved. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Tawra Kellam is a frugal living expert and is the author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook. For more free tips and recipes visit her web site at
. In 5 years, Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 personal debt on an average income of $22,000 per year. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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By Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam
Remember when you used to sit on your front steps on a hot summer day eating a popsicle? It was usually red or purple and on special occasions you got a fudgesicle. Remember how you tried to lick the drips faster than the sun could melt them? Sometimes the drips would roll down your fingers, forcing you to make the mind numbing decision whether to lick your fingers or the new drips forming on your popsicle.
Every once in a while a few drips would get out of control and fall on your bare toes. Remember how your dog's tongue felt like sandpaper when he licked the sweet gooeyness off of them?
It's funny how we try to make drama and expensive memories for our children when it's the simple everyday things we remember the most.
Try some of these ideas to keep the kids entertained this summer:
To find popsicle molds, look at discount and mail order stores or garage sales. If you don't have any molds, use small paper or plastic cups. Put a wooden stick or plastic spoon in the center.
For mini popsicles, pour orange, apple or grape juice or flavored drink mix into ice cube trays. Partially freeze and then place toothpicks in the center of each cube (or place plastic wrap over the top, secure and insert toothpicks through plastic wrap).
Making your own popsicles can give great variety and keep your kids cool this summer!
For non-traditional popsicles:
Freeze applesauce in popsicle molds.
Mix fruit or jam into yogurt. Freeze in small, snack sized Ziploc bags for frozen yogurt on the go. Cut a hole in the end of the bag for easy access/eating.
Mix gelatin and freeze. Add gummie fish or worms before freezing for added fun.
Freeze syrup from canned fruit.
Add food coloring or sprinkles to yogurt or softened ice cream for added pizzazz. Then freeze in popsicle molds.
When you have leftover jam or jelly, put 1/4 cup of hot water in the jar and shake well. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
If jelly or jam doesn't set up well, use for popsicles or add more water, boil and make syrup.
Make a batch of pudding. Add coconut, nuts, marshmallows, crushed cookies or sprinkles if desired. Pour into molds. Freeze several hours until firm.
Stick a toothpick in the center of blackberries, strawberries, raspberries or sliced bananas.
Dip in chocolate if desired. Freeze on a tray. Once frozen, store in freezer bags.
For easy snow cones, freeze orange juice (or any other flavored juice) in ice cube trays. Store frozen juice cubes in a plastic bag. Blend 5 cubes in the blender until they have a shaved ice consistency. The shaved ice will keep its consistency if kept frozen in a container.
For watermelon popsicles, blend one cup each watermelon chunks (seeds removed), orange juice and water. Blend well. Then pour and freeze into molds.
For strawberry popsicles, blend 2 cups strawberries, 1 cup vanilla ice cream or yogurt, 4 cups orange juice and 2 tablespoons sugar. Blend smooth. Pour into molds and freeze.
For banana popsicles, dissolve one 3 oz. package strawberry gelatin with one cup boiling water. In a blender, mix gelatin, 1 banana and 1 cup yogurt or ice cream. Blend well and pour into molds.
These can be eaten out of the package, but if you like them hot, place them in a small thermos and pour very hot to boiling water over them. Put on the lid and by the time you are ready to eat them, the water will have heated them through.
1 pkg. pudding (not instant*)
3 cups milk
Combine 1 large package of pudding with 3 cups of milk. Mix only enough to blend well. Quickly pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Chocolate and vanilla pudding may be layered for a fun treat. Makes 8-10 popsicles.
*Regular homemade pudding may be used instead of store-bought pudding mix.
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of
. As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own home business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. They have helped thousands of people all over the world to save money and get out of debt. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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The Carb Conundrum
By Elizabeth Yarnell
As Americans we have mixed feelings about carbohydrates. On the one hand, we blindly jump on the low-carb bandwagon and follow unhealthy, low-carb or no-carb diets in our pursuit to lose weight quickly. On the other, we love our white bread, enriched pasta and potatoes in any form. Our expanding waistlines witness our confusion.
While protein is the building block of muscle mass, carbohydrates are what give us the energy not only to lead active lifestyles, but also to complete autonomic functions such as breathing, blinking and heartbeats.
A body denied carbohydrates enters ketosis, an unbalanced, acidic state, and then begins to cannibalize itself in the pursuit of fuel for energy. Talk about an unhealthy state!
The key is in knowing which kinds of carbs help us and which we'd be better off without.
Processed and refined carbs, like those found in white and wheat breads, white crackers, pastas, etc., and white rice, come from grains where the bran and the germ have been removed. That amounts to lost dietary fiber, protein, and a host of other nutrients. What are left are calories that the body can't completely access without the missing elements.
Complex carbohydrates- like those found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds. seaweeds and vegetables and fruits- provide exactly what our bodies need in just the right proportions and amounts to be most fully utilized.
While the healthfulness of oats made headlines for a while, all whole grains offer similar benefits. They're low in fat and good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
A recent Tufts University study showed that consuming at least three servings of whole-grain foods daily can lower risks for abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), high blood pressure and poor blood sugar control. Eating any whole grains- not just oats - can put you in better shape for treating or avoiding diabetes, cholesterol issues, heart disease and even cancer.
Even though diabetics are often advised to restrict carbohydrate intake, the American Diabetes Association encourages even diabetics to include three daily servings of whole grains. Though refined carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar levels because they move through the body so quickly, whole grains are digested slowly, maintaining a glycemic balance while providing a satiated feeling.
Whole-grain diets also promote bowel health through maintaining regular movements and promoting growth of healthy bacteria in the colon.
Look for labels that read "whole wheat" or "whole grain" rather than simply "wheat" or "multi-grain". Here are some whole grains to help expand our healthy carb repertoire:
Whole-grain corn (grits/polenta/popcorn)
Bulgur (cracked wheat)
Quinoa (the only grain that is a complete protein)
Sorghum (a gluten-free grain)
Try this light and easy quinoa meal as a tasty alternative to rice, pasta or potatoes. Feel free to build it ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you're ready to cook it in a fully-preheated oven. When doing this, remember to reserve the liquid and then add it right before cooking or you'll end up with a quinoa patty!
1 frac12; cup quinoa
2 cups broth or water
1 tsp. cumin
1- 1 frac34; lb. beef or turkey tenderloin
1frac14; tsp sea salt
2 scallions, sliced into thin rounds
2 fresh green chiles, stemmed, seeded, chopped (Anaheim for milder palates; pasilla, poblano or jalapeno for a spicier meal)
2 small yellow summer squashes, halved, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 leaves kale or chard, destemmed, roughly chopped(about 4 cups chopped)
Preheat oven to 450F. Spray inside of 3 3/2- or 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with olive oil. Pour in quinoa. Add liquid and cumin and stir to dissolve and evenly coat grains.
Set trimmed tenderloin in next and sprinkle with sea salt, scallions and green chiles. Layer in squash, followed by red bell pepper. Fill to the top with greens, making certain none hang over the edge.
Cover and bake for about 35 minutes, or until about 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully-cooked meal wafts from the oven.
My husband prefers this meal with a sauce such as salsa or gravy, while I appreciate the unadorned elements as presented here and the satisfied-but-not-stuffed way I feel after eating.
Quinoa is the only whole grain that is a complete protein as it provides all the essential amino acids in a balanced pattern. With more high quality protein than any other whole grain and wheat and gluten-free, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wa") is also light and delicate with a delicious nutty flavor that is perfect for summer weather.
Once the staple food of the Incas, the ancient Andean civilization respectfully referred to quinoa as the "Mother Grain".
Nutritional Analysis per serving
(based on using organic chicken broth and skinless turkey meat)
Sod 553mg (268 if made with water instead of broth)
Elizabeth Yarnell is the inventor and author of Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking. Her recipes are protected under US patent no. 6,846,504. Learn more about Glorious One-Pot Meals at
. Reprinted with Permission on DrLaura.com.
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Budget Stretching Advice for Organic Foods
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
By weight, a baby will eat more, drink more, and even breathe more air than an adult. This means what you feed your baby (or child) has a much greater impact than it would have on you.
Most people would love to go "all organic" with their food choices. Who really wants the pesticides, hormones and preservatives in their food anyway? But going organic can be a pricey proposition. If your family is like most, your budget cannot afford 100% organic, so why not consider buying organic for some foods. Here is some simple advice on prioritizing your organic food purchases:
1. Eat organic at the top of the food chain: Purchasing organic dairy, egg and meat products is a great place to begin organic food purchases. Livestock eat pesticide-laden feed, are often dosed with antibiotics and hormones, and all of this ends up in the package at the super market. Even though produce is often associated with organic food, many of the residues on these foods can be eliminated or greatly reduced by properly cleaning and peeling them. There is no way to remove or reduce the contaminants in the meat, dairy and egg products.
2. Buying organic for produce with the highest levels of pesticides: Pesticides levels vary in produce. Foods that take a long time to grow have higher pesticides levels and foods that are high in sugar content tend to attract bugs and insects, and as result are sprayed more frequently.
The Environmental Workers Union analyzed a large number of foods and found that you can reduce risks of pesticide exposure by as much as 90 percent by avoiding the dirty dozen, or the top 12 produce items with the highest pesticide residues. Here is the list:
On the flip side, these fruits and veggies have the lowest levels of pesticide residues:
3. Buying organic for children's favorite foods: Babies and toddlers are notorious for having some strange eating habits. One of them is eating the same foods day in and day out. This is a perfectly normal development step for your child. Buy organic foods for what your little one is eating the most of at meals.
4. Be flexible. Buy what is on sale: Organic foods are like all other foods products, there are always specials on foods that are in season and there are always coupons. Keep your menu-planning flexible to take advantage of supermarket deals and remember the savings from one coupon can often equal the price difference between organic and conventional.
5. Buy private label: If you think your family budget can't afford the prices at the fancy natural products stores, think again. Wild Oats, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's all offer a private-label brands of juices, soups, sauces and other processed edibles.
6. Explore the bulk aisles: If you thought the bulk bins were only for hard-core hippies, think again. Many common kitchen staples like pastas, cereals, nuts, and spices are offered in the bulk section. The foods are in large containers and are priced at a per pound rate. Bulk foods are more affordable than the pre-packaged foods. If you are intimidated by the bulk food aisle, ask for help. The people who work in the bulk food section are extremely helpful and very willing to support new customers.
About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby. Creators of products that include the So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats; Fresh Baby offers parents convenient and practical support in raising healthy children. Visit them online at
and subscribe to their Fresh Ideas newsletter to get monthly ideas, tips and activities for developing your family's healthy eating habits! Fresh Baby products are available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target, Wild Oats, and Whole Foods Markets. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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Saving the Soul of A Nation
By Dan Solomon
Nations have come and gone down through the years. Some nations or tribes have stayed in existence for thousands of years, while others have become extinct before the year 200. So many nations have left a mark in our history. One must entertain the thought, is it fate or a pattern that keeps a nation from fading away? Out of love, one must be willing to sacrifice in order to keep the nation vibrant.
If we can look at a nation as a membership, each member plays an important role in determining the longevity of that nation. All members contribute in a positive or negative way, which in turn causes a positive or negative reaction.A nation can have a soul of love, war, hate, caring, peace, domination, controversy, consumption, conservation, exploration, contamination, conquering, knowledge, good, evil, and or expression. A nation can be known for many things, the thing that dominates normally determines its impact and or longevity.As you ponder the condition of the soul of your nation, you can make a difference in a positive or negative way. Positive things may lead to harmony, negative things may lead to dysfunction, however in the short term you may not see the results.
Leadership: All levels of leadership play an important role in the state of the soul of that nation. The masses sometimes follow the temperaments of leaders. Leaders don't have to be perfect, but should have integrity, sincerity, and a love and concern for all of the people that come under that position. Leaders should maintain a vision or goal that will keep the people inspired and reaching for higher heights. The power of influence should be used to promote a quest for beneficial achievements.
The protection of children: The protection of the children is vital in maintaining a healthy soul of a nation. In protecting the children, that nation is saying it cares about its future. By not sacrificing the children, the nation can live for another day. Loving and caring for the young produces life for the nation. Keeping a certain focus on the children brings a certain level of unity.
Education: Knowledge is a very powerful tool, which can lead to creativity. Education can lead to creativity, innovations, and self-sufficiency., which provides for a sense of hope. Gaining more knowledge can lead to hope. People maintaining knowledge of the past, present, and future promotes a mind set that all things are possible. Drawing from the knowledge of the past provides track records on failures and successes.
Caring for the poor: In caring for the poor, it may not be as important as to how they got there, but will help be available if someone happens to find themselves in that state. Protecting the poor is vital for a nation to have a healthy soul. Providing the poor with fair prices for goods, services, and interest rates helps prevents hopelessness. Keeping the poor out of a state of hopelessness lowers the crime rates. Lower crime rates help the economy and make it a pleasure to live in that nation. The poor will sense love and concern when treated fairly, knowing that it would be difficult to repay the deeds in the same respect.
Reducing violence: People who have not been victimized by crime can maintain a glass of innocence. Maintaining wholesomeness may be more of a challenge for those who were victims of crimes. Less violence says that the nation's soul is healthy. Providing people with a sense of justice and equality can lead to less violence. Providing positive outlets and opportunities can be a deterrent for boredom and hopelessness. Boredom, hopelessness, poor morals, anger, and or scarcity are key factors for most violence, becoming creative to remove these factors is key.
The strength of a belief in God: The strength of that nation's God or higher power plays a key role in the health of the soul of that nation. What people believe causes them to act and react in positive or negative ways. Nations with strong beliefs in God are likely to achieve healthy souls due to a reverential fear of their God. Having a Higher Authority to give an account to tends to lead to caution in those nations actions. Strong belief in a God leads people to love, which promotes healthy souls. The nations that follow the positive characteristics of their God will normally promote harmony, growth, and prosperity.
Good moral standards: With members of that nation doing the right things, it leads to a healthy soul. Good moral standards will not allow members to hurt and use one another, which lead to conditions of peace for that nation. Treating others fairly and respectfully promotes environments of trust and hope, which leads to having a healthy nation.
Following these key factors consistently and continually will save the soul of a nation. We do have the power to change the things that don't promote a healthy soul. There is power in the unity of the majority as well as the minority. Promoting a healthy soul is each member's responsibility to each other.
Dan Solomon is the author of The Price of Favor WWWJS. Dan has served as deacon, church trustee, Bible study and adult Sunday school teacher for his church in addition to director of a ministry for boys, missionary president, and head of prayer warrior's group. He and his wife Shirley are the parents of two sons and live in Warner Robins, GA. For more information visit
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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Time with the Kids vs a Home-Cooked Meal? You can have both!
By Elizabeth Yarnell
Believe it or not, today's mothers spend more hours focused on their children than the mothers of the 1960s did. While we like to hark back to the
Leave It To Beaver
halcyon days of mothers greeting kids after school with milk and cookies as an ideal for raising happy children, the reality, according to a University of Maryland study, actually looks better these days.
Based on detailed time diaries kept by thousands of Americans, mothers in 1965 spent 10.2 hours a week focused on their children in activities such as reading with them, feeding them or playing games. While the number of hours dropped in the 1970s and 80s, it began rising in the 90s and is now higher than ever at almost 14.1 hours each week.
But ask those same moms how they feel about it, and at least half will say they don't have enough time with their kids.
The study shows how these extra hours spent with kids have been stolen from time spent on housework, cooking, meal cleanup and laundry. Oh, and sleep!
What I found most interesting was that moms almost halved the time they spent in cooking and meal cleanup. Unfortunately, this might suggest that we're relying more on take-out, fast food or prepackaged frozen meals. Along with the cost of convenience, we're also paying for undesirable amounts of sodium, additives, fats and calories.
I firmly believe that meals don't have to be time-consuming to be healthy; that you don't have to face an hour of cleanup after dinner in order to serve delicious, home-cooked food.
Here is a quick and easy kid-friendly recipe that can be easily adjusted for using fresh or frozen foods, depending on your rush level and how recently you've been to the grocery store. Regardless, you can feel good about serving it, and it won't eat up important time better spent with your kids!
Garlic Fish and Potatoes
16 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1 - 1 1/2 lb. filets of white fish, such as flounder, tilapia or sole fresh or frozen
2 russet potatoes or 16 oz. frozen hash browns (loose, not in patties)
4 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen
4 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray inside of 3 1/2- or 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and lid with olive oil.
Drop whole, peeled garlic cloves into Dutch oven. Scrub and cube potatoes and place in pot; or shake frozen hash browns in (break apart hash browns so that they are not frozen in a single mound). Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper, if desired. Set fish filets in next, in a single layer as much as possible. With thinner filets, it is ok to have multiple layers as long as the filets are not frozen to each other. I find it easy to separate frozen fish filets using the tip of a knife as a lever and applying a little pressure.
Tuck carrots into the crevices and follow with corn and broccoli until pot is full. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper.
Cover and bake for 40-53 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fish. Note: using frozen foods WON'T necessarily increase cooking time! You'll know its ready 3 minutes after the aroma of a fully cooked meal wafts from the oven.
Your kids won't eat fish? Although the fish species suggested here are very mild flavored and a great way to introduce more fish to non-fish-eaters, try substituting 4 pieces of chicken for a different meal.
Don't be nervous about the amount of garlic! Although it may seem like a lot, when the cloves are left whole they impart a milder, nutty flavor.
Nutritional Analysis per serving, based on 2 servings and using flounder, fresh potato and carrots and frozen corn and broccoli.
Elizabeth Yarnell is the inventor and author of
Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking
for more information on this unique, patented cooking method and to sign up for Elizabeth's newsletter. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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Home Cooking -- Mmmm Good!
(easy ways to make fixing meals at home doable)
by Jill Cooper
OK -- There's no way around it. Just accept the fact that tomorrow your family will eat three meals -- again. People have been doing it since Adam and Eve started munching fruit in the garden of Eden. Burying your head in the sand and not thinking about it will not make it go away.
I know that even the thought of making a meal at home strikes terror in some of your hearts and the only reason the rest of you aren't feeling terror is because you are probably so tired you can't feel terror or any other emotion. But with going out to eat being one of the top 3 causes of credit card debt and child obesity and diabetes on the rise, I think we need to start reconsidering cooking at home.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
One of the biggest reasons people hate cooking at home is their kitchen is such a disaster area. Take the time to clean and organize that one room. If you need to get some help, then do, even if that help means hiring someone to help you get it organized. In the long run, it will pay for itself (probably after the first one or two weeks cooking at home).
Once your kitchen is clean and organized, keep it that way. When your kitchen is clean it should only take you about 15-20 minutes to clean up after each meal. For the $40 or more you would have paid plus all of the time you would have spent going out to eat, keeping it clean and organized is time well spent.
The evening or day before you go shopping for groceries, clean out the fridge and check your pantry. Remember that once it has been organized, if you do minor cleaning and organizing weekly, it won't take much time. Plan a a leftover night that evening, too. This will help reveal what you have too much or too little of, what you need to use or buy and empty the fridge so you have room for the new groceries.
Make a week's worth of menus. Sit down with grocery ads, your recipe file and your favorite cookbook (hopefully that is Dining On A Dime ;-). This is a good time to throw in one or two of those new recipes from magazines that you have wanted to try. If you get stumped or you need help to get you started, flip through your cookbooks or recipe files. You will be surprised how much this will help motivate you.
In a notebook, write a weeks worth of menus. You only have to do this for 3 weeks, because at the end of that time you will have 21 menus. You now have almost months worth of menus (since most people will go out at least once a week to eat and have a leftover night once a week this helps to fill in the days for the rest of the month). You can then just use these same menus over and over.
Don't restrict yourself by saying that you have to have fried chicken on Monday, roast on Tuesday, etc. Instead, list the menus in categories like elaborate (for the days you have more time) and quick (for those "nothing has gone right today, so what can I fix when I am blurry eyed and have only 5 minutes" days). I usually make about 3-4 menus in each category.
Be flexible. If you get to the grocery store and they have some thing unbelievable on sale then adapt your menus accordingly.
Plan what you are going to have for dinner the night before or first thing in the morning.
Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and take out anything that needs to be defrosted.
Prepare as much as you can the night before or first thing in the morning. Clean carrot sticks and veggies and make Jello, pudding or desserts. Fry hamburger for a recipe or even make a whole casserole so all you have to do is pop it into the oven.
It is much easier and less stressful to do as much as possible ahead of time than to try and do it at 5 o'clock -- the busiest time of day (when everyone is tired, fussy and needs your attention). Besides, it is easier to concentrate on fixing 2 or 3 items ahead of time instead of trying to take care of 5 or 6 things all at the last minute.
Give yourself a break. You will be saving a great deal by eating at home, so use some convenience foods like bagged lettuce or sliced and buttered French bread. Line your pans with aluminum foil and don't feel guilty about using disposable pans or paper plates. We are funny creatures. We don't feel guilty spending money to go out to eat (where people throw away the trash for you), but feel awful about buying much less expensive disposable pans and paper plates. Go figure.
Don't forget the meal is not finished until the kitchen is clean and left ready for the next meal.
Jill Cooper raised two teenagers alone on $500 a month income after becoming disabled withChronic Fatigue Syndrome. She is the co-author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook with her daughter Tawra. To read more of Jill's articles and for free tips and recipes visit
. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.
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