Jif’s Most Creative Sandwich Contest

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Jif. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

As a busy mom, sandwiches are a saving grace sometimes.  But it can be easy to slip into a run of the same old thing all the time.  I swear I ate bologna (with just mayo) everyday for an entire school year when I was a kid.  Then I couldn’t look at bologna for a good long while.  But sometimes we just have to get a little creative and do something new with the classics.  Sometimes in our house it’s as simple as switching it up from PB on bread to making it a cup of PB and some graham crackers or making peanut butter quesadillas.

If you’re creative with YOUR sandwiches, check this out….now through November 8th, Jif Peanut Butter is running their Most Creative Sandwich Contest – challenging families across the country to create an original sandwich recipe that includes two tablespoons of your favorite Jif products! Parents and children with 6-12 can submit their original sandwich for a chance to win a $25,000 college fund and a trip to New York City!

Peanut Butter Rolls Sushi Style

Peanut Butter Rolls Sushi Style

I love this peanut butter roll which was a past contest winner. We are still trying to decide on what we could make to enter but you should head over and enter now before the contest ends on 11/8, be sure to read the entry rules first too!

Enter Jif’s Most Creative Sandwich Contest!



Get Creative with Starburst Candy Corn #StarburstCandyCorn

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Starburst Candy Corn. I received product samples to facilitate my review and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Tori Spelling for StarburstHalloween is often looked at as a kids holiday by most people.  Visions of kids in costumes collecting candy are usually our first thoughts.  But Starburst Candy Corn wants you to reconsider having a little fun yourself this Halloween.  Yes, I said Starburst Candy Corn.  It’s the fruity flavor you love in Starburst in the iconic candy corn shape.  And Tori Spelling and Starburst think it lends itself to some great projects for mom to enjoy this Halloween.    Check out the  Starburst Candy Corn Facebook for full details on all of Tori’s ideas on how to have fun with Starburst Candy Corn. (I’ve included pictures of just a couple of her ideas.)




Tori Spelling for Starburst

Tori Spelling for Starburst Tori Spelling for Starburst   Tori Spelling for Starburst


As super  cute as all these ideas are, I simply couldn’t bring myself to craft with this delicious Starburst Candy Corn.  So, I picked the Candied Cupcakes Tori made here. Super cute (and girly) and you can still enjoy the candy corn.

Tori Spelling for Starburst


Of course I’m no Tori Spelling, so I didn’t even try to make them EXACTLY like she did. I decided that since this was a fun Halloween idea, I’d put my own lil Halloween-ish spin on the cupcake design.  So one night after tucking the kids into bed.  I started playing in the kitchen.  Because I’m so often ready to crash by the time I gt them to bed I haven’t been doing a many projects lately so it was fun doing something without a deadline where I needed to rush out the door.  I made fun confetti cupcakes (ok they aren’t really Halloween-y but they ARE fun.)  And topped them with purple frosting!  Orange and purple, that’s Halloween colors…right? Eh, I say they are! starburst candy corn review cupcakes craft 4

And since I was alone in the kitchen I may have done some pre-decorating taste testing.  I really like the Starburst Candy Corn.  I like traditional candy corn but I can’t eat very much of it because it’s so sweet.  I like the fruity flavor of this a lot.  Since it’s not all as Halloween looking because of the fruit flavored colors, I went with only using the orange ones.  But I think the other colors would make for adorable cupcakes anytime of the year and pink or yellow would be super cute for a baby shower.







starburst candy corn review cupcakes craft 2 One of my favorite parts of this idea is that you really don’t have to worry about how you frost the cupcake because no one will be able to tell once you add the Starburst Candy Corn to the top!  And since I am a horrible cake/cupcake decorator, this is a huge plus for me!










starburst candy corn review cupcakes craft 3

I was very happy with how they turned out.  I used a boxed cake mix and the frosting actually came straight from the can already purple so it was a super easy project but it was fun to do something creative and crafty feeling by myself for a change.  And there was plenty for the kids to enjoy the next day, after I had a chance to clean up my mess, in peace!  If you’re feeling more adventurous in the kitchen check out this Cheesecake Mousse Paula from Frosted Fingers created and topped with Starburst Candy Corn.

starburst candy corn review cupcakes craft 1


Do you think YOU would like Starburst Candy Corn?



Help Schwans Feed America

This fall, Schwan’s and Feeding America will encourage consumers to share a few words for what they are thankful for. Schwan’s is making an initial 250,000 meal donation, and then each “thankful” that is shared will trigger a five-meal donation to Feeding America. We’re also promoting “Thankful Thursdays,” where meal donations to FA are doubled each Thursday for the length of program – a great way to help us in the fight against hunger.

feeding america



I shared what I’m thankful for. Won’t you help Schwans feed America but simply sharing what YOU have to be thankful for?


belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits #Sponsored

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for belVita. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating

belvita soft bake breakfast bars

This week my kids go back to school…all three of them!  To say I’m struggling with sending my ‘baby’ off to school is a slight understatement so I’ll be needing all the help I can with reducing stress in other ways.  belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits is one way to do this.  Our house is often chaotic in the morning and we do as much as we can to reduce the morning stress by doing things the night before such as making lunches but finding a quick easy and nutritious breakfast that the boys will actually eat is a struggle.  I had previously heard of belVita but their original breakfast biscuits didn’t look like something my kids would go for.  But the new soft baked line is essentially like having cookies for breakfast (only more nutritious).  What kid doesn’t want cookies ANY time of  the day!?!?

belVita soft baked breakfast biscuits come in mixed berry and oats & chocolate and are currently available in your cookie/cracker aisle for approx $3.69 per box of 5 individually wrapped biscuits.  All the boys loved the Oats & Chocolate variety as did I!  And I was really surprised that it kept me as full as it did for as long as it did.  They are soft so they are a little crumbly but I would consider taking it on the road on those particularly hectic mornings!

If you, like me, could you all the help you can to cut back to school stress, check out this full list of tips:


Easing Stress during the Busy Back to School Season

Soon families everywhere will be getting back in the school year routine. Here are some tips to help parents get ready from the Lifestyle Mom, Dana Hilmer:

1. It’s important to schedule down time for you and your family. Before signing your kids up for this year’s after-school activities, think about your family’s priorities and the impact each activity will have on your schedules.

2. It’s just as important for you to have a tasty, healthy breakfast as it is for your kids. Perfect for eating on the go, belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits come in two varieties, Mixed Berry and Oats & Chocolate, grab a banana and a latte and you’re good to go with nutritious morning energy.

3. Take a little time each night to get organized for the following morning. By making lunches and selecting outfits before bed each night, you’ll free time each morning for other things.

4. Be sure to keep healthy snacks in the kitchen for after-school snacking. Nuts, crackers and fruit are great to give kids right when they walk in the door to keep them from grazing on unhealthy snacks, or spoiling their appetites for dinner.

5. Moms often complain about not having enough time for themselves, but when life gets busy, it’s even more important to carve out that time. Treat “me time” as a priority.

6. Start a to-do list with three sections: the priority of the day for yourself, the priority of the day for your family and the priority of the day for your work. Start with these items, and only move on to other less important items once they’re done.

7. Use Sunday nights to plan your dinners each week. If you take a few minutes to think about how you can creatively use the leftovers from one night to the next, you can create a full week’s worth of healthy, tasty dinners that your family will enjoy.

8. Give yourself the freedom to say no without guilt. Activities or commitments that may not be right for your family are okay to decline. Saying NO gives you the permission to say YES to things that are important to you.

9. Back-to-school season is also cold and flu season. You can keep your entire family healthy with these simple habits: eating well, getting enough rest and washing hands regularly.

10. Create a network of support for yourself. This network looks different for everyone. Consider asking your partner and kids for support. They can be a great help with tasks you feel comfortable handing over.

Getting your day off to a good start can really make all the difference in how you feel all day long, this includes what you eat for breakfast as well as how rushed/stressed you feel as you get ready.  We’ve all had those mornings when we’ve overslept and wake up with that panicky feeling. It’s hard to turn a day around when you start that way.  For me getting everyone to school WITH all the stuff they need is often half the battle but if we can do it without feeling crazy and rushed it really helps me have a much better day!


More about belVita Soft Baked Breakfast Biscuits

· 20% Daily Value of Fiber (contains 7 grams of fat per serving) · 11 grams of Whole Grain per 50 gram serving
· Good Source of Energy Releasing B-vitamins
· No High Fructose Corn Syrup
· No Partially Hydrogenated Oil
· No Artificial Colors, Flavors or Sweeteners

Frito-Lay Summer Fun #Giveaway

I participated in this sponsored campaign for One2One Network. I received monetary compensation and product to facilitate my post, but all opinions stated are my own.


Summer time means baseball, the beach and backyard gatherings with friends!  While I truly love getting together with friends and family, I tend to be the one that always volunteers to bring the chips to BBQs.  Between my schedule and pure lack of culinary skill, I don’t tend to attempt to get too creative with my snacks.  But thanks to Lay’s and Tostitos I stepped outside of that comfort zone for a recent family gathering and was amazed with the results.

black-bean-corn-bitesTypically when I think of Tostitos® Scoops!® I think of a traditional salsa.  I’ll usually just grab a jar or two off the store shelf and consider it done.  But Frito-Lay asked me to try these Corn and Black Bean Bites.  Because the store was out of limes, I substituted lemon juice. And because my lack of culinary skills left me unable to properly CUT an avocado (instead I sort of mushed killed it) there was not avocado in my creation.  But it was still a BIG hit!  I am honestly not sure if I’ve ever had people ask me what was in something or how I made something before.  It was kind of cool!

Then came the even trickier, at least for me, challenge.  Make a bean or veggie based dip that would be good paired with Lay’s® Classic potato chips.  I don’t know about you but when I think of classic potato chips I’m not thinking of the healthiest of dips!  So I did some thinking and some searching and I came up with something I thought would fit the bill.

kalynskitchen twice baked cauliflower dip recipe pin

Recipe and photo from Kalyns Kitchen

It’s veggie based for sure….healthy, well healthier than some and you can adjust something to make it even healthier if you want.  This twice baked cauliflower recipe turned out AMAZING.  Honestly my biggest struggle was trying to find a dip that I thought went with the Lays Classic chip.  I think this one was perfect.  If you’ve never heard of it before, you can use mashed cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes.  I hadn’t honestly tried it before this party and yes you CAN tell the difference.  Even with the cheese and bacon a slight cauliflower taste comes through.  But this dip was a huge hit.  It was awesome to hear everyone saying how good it was and telling others they HAD to try it.  I did add considerably more bacon than the recipe calls for because, I mean….it’s BACON.  But it was so good!





Not all chips are created equal! Look for chips made with simple ingredients, like Lay’s® Classic potato chips, made with potatoes, oils and salt, and Tostitos® Scoops!® tortilla chips, made with corn, oils and salt.


 Find more from Fito-Lay’s Online:

Tostitos_bag Lays_bag

 Enter to win (1) $50 AMEX gift card

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Stories from the Bright Side from @HAPPYsuperfoods #Sponsored

Sponsored content: Happy Family presents Stories from the Bright Side


“Stories from the Bright Side” is a campaign that Happy Family is running throughout the summer that shines a humorous light on food and feeding challenges that parents have through sharing funny stories told by top bloggers that are then acted out by improv troupe the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

We, as parents, have all experienced funny moments around food and Stories from the Bright Side is meant to make people realize that others are dealing with the same things we are!

Visit the Happy Family Facebook page and upload your own funny feeding story for others to see and laugh about(and also to check out other consumers entries).  There is a sweepstakes that is part of this contest where Happy Family will pick a funny feeding story to award $20K towards a child’s college education (the rules and regulations are on the Facebook page).

Being a parent is full of challenges, including many things you never even considered before kids.  When you learn you will become a parent for the first time you worry about so many things, but at least for me, learning to deal with what others thought about how I should parent, wasn’t even on my mind.  But that changes quickly as people seem to have no issue in telling a new or expecting mom exactly how she should do just about everything when it comes to parenting.  However, for me the most surprising thing was dealing with my own mom’s opinions.

Yes, grandma is a wealth of information and I depended on her a lot to help me overcome fears of doing everything wrong.  But times change and sometimes grandma’s ways become a little outdated as we learn more about children, medicine etc.  It was this idea that lead to MY funny feeding story.  At least, it was funny to me!

You see when my first born was about a year and half old he worshiped his grandma and grandpa.  He also had a sweet tooth unmatched by just about anyone but his mom.  So one evening while over at G&G’s for dinner, grandpa piled a plate full of food fit for an adult and plopped it in front of my toddler.  Now mind you, my son was a good eater.  He ate a great variety of food and healthy quantity but the plate in front of him was simply a ridiculous amount for such a tiny person.  But the boy gave it a good effort and got surprisingly close to finishing.  When he was showing all the signs that he was listening to his body and was done eating, I was ready to let him be done.  As someone with issues with food as far back as I can remember we were letting our kids listen to their own hunger signals and allowing them to stop eating when they were full.  But this went against the house rules of grandma and grandpa and their clean plate club.  As they coaxed and pushed my full toddler to finish his plate, he continued to nibble though he was obviously full. But it wasn’t until Grandma dropped the bomb, no dessert if you don’t clean your plate, that the trouble really began.  That was all it took for my lil man to attempt to clean his plate despite his tummy’s signals to STOP!  And it wasn’t kidding because within minutes, everything his little body didn’t have room for exploded back out on to his plate.  Of course, I felt horrible for my young child who now wasn’t feeling well.  But truth be told, I gloated whole heartedly on the inside because I had repeatedly told them he was full, that they’d given him too much and they were going to make him sick.  Thankfully, I was finished eating….but they weren’t.  Well after that they were!  And no one tried dessert that night.

Now maybe I’m a little twisted because I could see the humor in the situation, or maybe is karma, but nonetheless I saw it in the moment. Often times when we’re in the trenches of parenting we can’t always see the humor.  But when you look back I’m sure EVERY ONE has a funny feeding story to tell!

Enter Stories from the Bright Side at Happy Family’s Facebook page today!


Launched on Mother’s Day 2006, and founded and operated by moms, Happy Family™ is the first organic brand to offer a complete line of nutrient-rich foods for babies’, toddlers’, and kids’ growing bodies (Brands include: Happy Baby, Happy Tot, Happy Bellies, Happy Puffs, Happy Yogis, Happy Squeeze and more). Constantly innovating, Happy Family has been a pioneer in the industry, adding extra nutrition to its products—like Salba, the super chia, probiotics, and Choline for brain health—whenever possible. Happy Family has been consistently recognized for its dynamic team and its extraordinary growth and innovation, including winning Food Processing Magazine’s R&D Team of the Year, being named by Forbes as one of America’s most promising companies; and most recently, Shazi Visram, CEO and Founder of Happy Family, being named a member of the Young Global Leader Class of 2013 by the World Economic Forum. Happy Family believes that every baby deserves to be a happy baby. With every product sold, the company supports Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that feeds starving children in Malawi, Mali and Sierra Leone.

Visit the Happy Family store locator to find a store near you where you can use this  $.50 off Happy Family organic snacks and meals!

Visit Facebook


I have been compensated for sharing about the Happy Family Stories from the Bright Side promotion, story and opinions expressed are my own.

Up Market Fresh Experience with Walgreens #Sponsored

WalgreensBusWeb upmarket_juiceWeb
Recently while in Chicago I got to experience samples of Walgreens innovative fresh food and refreshments in celebration of the new fresh foods offered at select stores.  Walgreens is currently in the middle of its Up Market Fresh Bus tour in Chicago and wants you to come check them out too.

The “Up Market:  Fresh” bus’ daily location and featured sample menu items are shared via Twitter @upmarketfresh.  But here are some upcoming locations:

6800 Ogden Ave.,
Berwyn, IL 60402
Friday, August 9 – Noon–2 p.m.

Bud Billiken Parade
3405 S. King Dr., Chicago, IL 60616
Saturday, August 10–6 a.m.–10 a.m.

StreetFood Artistry
Zhou B. Art Center, 1029 W. 35thSt., Chicago, IL 60609
Sunday, August 11–11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Elvis Is Alive 5K
Lincoln Park Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum/Diversey Harbor
2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago, IL 60614
Thursday, August 15–6 p.m.–9:15 p.m.

Free tastings include:

  • Juices  — Samples of nutritious, fresh-made juices made from a combination of fresh fruits and vegetables. “Skyline Sunset” is a featured juice and is a blend of watermelon, pears and oranges.
  • Smoothie — The featured smoothie will be the “Da Bears Blend,” which is blended fresh from bananas, strawberries and orange juice.
  • Frozen Yogurt  Two premium, low-fat frozen yogurts will be sampled alongside a selection of toppings.
  • Café – Visitors can receive free samples of a selection of coffees brewed using the same fresh roasts and barista quality techniques showcased at Walgreens.

I tried a little of everything but the Cafe (cuz I am not a coffee girl) and it was all delicious.  I am personally excited about the items coming to one of my local Walgreens because with our crazy schedule I can regularly be found wandering the aisles of Walgreens searching for an easy on the go snack for the kids and I.  It’s crazy how hard it can be to find healthier options for on the go but Walgreens is trying to make it easier for us.

In addition to getting to check out the Bus and the samples, I also had the chance to meet Danni Allen, most recent winner of Biggest Loser.  She is super super sweet and a had some great tips to share from her weight loss experience:

walgreens fresh bus up market danni allen chicago biggest loser bl14 fresh tips

walgreens fresh bus up market danni allen chicago biggest loser bl14

Have YOU Tried Honey Bunches of Oats Lately? @HBOats #HoneyBunchesGreek

Honey Bunches of Oats recently sent us their newest variety of cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch , to try.  As a family we eat a lot of cereal, and honestly I buy a lot of the sugary cereals I loved as a kid.  But apparently I’ve done some things right in teaching my kids about eating better than I do/did because when given the choice they often pick something I NEVER would have touched as a kid.  They pick things with ‘fiber’ or ‘nut’ etc in the name.  Now mind you I realize that even the best cereal isn’t a completely rounded meal so I do try to get them to do a small bowl and add a fruit and usually a yogurt.  Still, I do feel better when the cereal is of the better variety.  But I have to admit that Honey Bunches of Oats, is NOT something I would try, for myself normally.  But the Greek Honey Crunch actually looked pretty good when I opened the box for my kids.

So, I took a minute and sat down and had a bowl with the boys.  And it WAS good.  Like, we ate the whole box in one morning and the boys asked when I was going to buy it again good?  Like they’ve already nagged me about getting it again because my last two cereal purchases have come from a store with only generic brand cereal options.

So if you or your kids are like I am and tend to require a coma inducing amount of sugar in your cereal to actually make you stop to eat breakfast, check out Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch.  It really has a great level of taste and sweetness but I think it’s still mellow enough that you could easily add fresh fruit to it if you enjoy your cereal that way without having too many conflicting flavors.  

Get your crew moving with over 2/3 of your recommended daily servings of whole grain, 12 essential vitamins and minerals, 5g protein and just 230 calories in a 1c serving of Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch.

Be sure to stop by and learn more about Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Cruch and the rest of the Honey Bunches of Oats line at the Honey Bunches of Oats website, the HoneyBunches of Oats Twitter account (@HBOats), and the Honey Bunches of Oats Facebook page.


Have YOU tried Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch?  I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

I am part of the Mom It Forward blogger network. Mom It Forward and Honey Bunches of Oats partnered in support of this campaign. Honey Bunches of Oats compensated me for participation in this campaign. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Be a Champion

Get your yogurt on with Chobani.  Enter to win samples of their unique and delicious flavors on the Chobani Facebook page!

Million Step Challenge with @BestBuyWOLF #MillionSteps

This month I recommitted to my journey to get healthier.  I lost 50 pounds in 2012 and felt great.  Then I fell of the wagon so to speak.  It’s really hard to explain how or why I let it happen.  With knowing that it’s really not that hard and  feel great when I eat well and move more you’d think I wouldn’t let it get so out of control.  But I do, I did.  I gained over 15 pounds back in the same time it took me to lose 50.  I guess the upside is I’m still ahead of the game!  

So I know, it’s cliche to vow to get healthy in January.  But that’s exactly what I’ve done and thanks to Best Buy and their challenge to the Best Buy Blogging Board I’ve had the chance to try a few new tools.

Recently I spent an entire day playing with the Cusinart: Compact Juice Extractor.  I think I bought more fruit and vegetables than I ever have in a single shopping trip.  I think I also  cleaned and peeled and sliced more than I ever have before too.

I’m not sure we’re going to be juicing on a regular basis because it really is a lot of work.  But the Cusinart Compact Juice Extractor was beyond easy to use.  It made zero mess (outside the machine) and I really thought cleaning the machine was easy. 

Because we’ve never done anything like this and we are all fairly picky eaters I thought many of the ‘recipes’ sounded risky.  So we experimented by juicing each item individually. We tasted each one and then each of us mixed up our own creations.

My personal favorite was just the straight orange juice.  We got about 32 ounces from a full bag of oranges but it was the best (pulpfree) OJ I’ve ever had.  Thirty two ounces was simply not enough to go around.

And for dessert (because we didn’t want anything to go to waste, right?) we made smoothies.  Or something sort of like smoothies because I don’t ever actually have ice in the house.

Stawberry banana….yum!

Like I said I’m not sure we’ll be juicing regularly anytime soon, but it was a great reminder of how delicious simple, clean eating can be!!  

And don’t forget to follow @BestBuyWolf or #MillionSteps on Twitter to see how the Blogging Board is doing on the Million Step Challenge!!

If getting healthier is on your list of things to do this year, check out these great Best Buy coupons for savings on tools to help YOU reach your goal!

I have been compensated for this post, however all opinions expressed are my own.