Easy Make Ahead Smoothie Packs for the Busy Mom

The biggest difference I have noticed in this pregnancy compared to my first one is my insatiable desire for sweets. And while I am a big believer in having my cake in moderation, I needed to figure out a way to curb that sweet tooth that likes to hit me up mid morning. Or mid afternoon. Or middle of the night. Whatever. #pregnantprobs

And since I have a toddler running around me who insists that snacks are his life source (check out healthy snack alternatives for your toddler here) and a husband I like to cook for, I needed to figure out a healthy way to tame the sweetness I was craving all the time while keeping my sanity in feeding everyone else. Mamas, I give you my ultimate easy peasy smoothie hack.

This post may contain affiliate links. See full disclosure here.

The secret to these smoothies is to freeze the yogurt ahead of time in ice cube trays.

Why is this a hack for me? Because when it comes to smoothies, having frozen fruit is somewhat easy because that can sit in your freezer. Having greens to throw in isn’t too bad because I keep salad around usually. I like to keep a variety of yogurt cup flavors in my fridge but good o’l plain Greek yogurt for smoothies? Nope. It will go bad before I get around to using it most of the time!

The other key to making these smoothies easy peasey and grab-on-the-go ready is a 15 minute plan ahead session. Seriously, besides buying the items at the grocery store, it only took me about 15 minutes to put these smoothie bags together ahead of time and voila! When the cravings hits, I put a bag of my smoothie goods in the blender and within minutes I’m drinking some healthy sweet goodness.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED AHEAD OF TIME:
1 large container of yogurt + ice cube trays
6 bags of frozen fruit (Aldi has great priced frozen fruit that make the perfect serving size of two!)
1 bag of frozen spinach (also found at Aldi!)
1 batch of Kale, stripped from the stems
Flax Seed (because I need that extra boost of Omegas!)
12 Quart sized Freezer Ziploc bags
Orange Juice or Coconut Water to help liquify your smoothie at the time of blending. Both can be found at Aldi of course!

 

FREEZING THE YOGURT TIP

I highly recommend freezing yogurt in ice cube trays  and I personally love these silicone ones. It makes blending simple and quick. You can buy whatever yogurt suits your fancy–greek, nonfat, plain, vanilla, etc. I prefer whole milk vanilla. Just divvy out a whole large container yogurt into some ice cube trays and let them freeze.

One large container made exactly 24 cubes for me, as you can see below.

Once they are done in the freezer get ready to assemble your smoothie bags! I use 2 cubes of yogurt per bag which makes me 12 smoothie bags. Score!

TIP ABOUT THE FROZEN FRUIT
I would plan to get two big handfuls of fruit from each bag which will give you enough fruit for 12 smoothie bags (so for me, that’s 6 bags of fruit). The fruit is not an exact science so eyeballing it is no biggie. If you’re like me, you might buy a variety of fruit so you can mix and match or just buy whatever the heck you want!

TIP ABOUT THE SPINACH & KALE
I just cut up the frozen spinach into 12 cubes. It works out rather nicely since the frozen spinach from Aldi comes as a square block. You can always zap it in microwave while you’re setting up to soften it a smidge to make cutting easier.

The kale does not have to be pretty at all. I just wash it and quickly strip it from the stems using a knife. This handy video shows you an easy way to do it which is what I prefer. My batch of cut kale filled the size of a medium bowl. I still had a little bit left over that I just used in a salad. I wouldn’t worry about chopping it super fine since it’s going to end up in the blender anyways.

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL PUT IN EACH SMOOTHIE BAG
2 frozen yogurt cubes
1 cube of cut from frozen spinach
Handful of kale
1 TBSP of Flax Seed
Handful of your frozen fruit

TIP TO GET AIR OUT OF YOUR BAG FOR FREEZING
If we have them around, I stick a straw down in the bag and seal it around the straw, then suck the air out of the bag to make it as air tight as possible. If you don’t have a straw, you can seal the bag until you have just a little hole open at the top and put your lips up to it to suck the air out. It still works that way too!

When it’s time to blend everything. all you need to grab from the fridge is your frozen smoothie bag and your liquid of choice. You can gradually add your liquid of choice until you reach a consistency you like.

THAT’S IT! I love the way the bags look when I’m all done. I know, my type A personality is showing.

There you go Mamas! I hope this tip helps you in whatever season of motherhood you’re in. And if you like this, join the tribe to receive updates like this straight to your mailbox. You can also always PIN IT for later. I’d love to hear how this method worked for you. Once you try it, come back and let us know how it went in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

 

My Favorite Must Haves for Toddlers to Help in the Kitchen

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Something happened when Bubby started walking when he was about 12 months. He had to be EVERYWHERE I was. And if you know anything about being home with a toddler, a lot of time can be spent in the kitchen fetching snacks, figuring out lunch, surviving meltdown hour until dinner time…

In order to avoid having my clothes tugged on until they were two sizes two big and milk spilled on my shoes, I decided I needed to change my game plan. I needed to help Bubby develop as my kitchen helper. So I did what any good mama does and started googling, looking for tips.

I came away realizing that having kitchen utensils that actually allow my toddling son to feel like he is part of what I’m doing would definitely outweigh the costs. I want him to feel comfortable and confident in the kitchen when we’re cooking. Here are a few of my favorite items!

(This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are always my own and unbiased. See full disclosure here.)

Items and Ideas for Toddlers in the Kitchen. Items for your Toddler to help in the kitchen.

Learning Tower
I absolutely love having a learning tower and I wish I would have bought one sooner. It is by far my favorite toddler kitchen item. If you start looking up learning towers, you’ll find lots of different options out there. I wasn’t too concerned about having one that he could climb in and out of by himself, but I did want one that was smaller and wouldn’t take up a lot of room in our kitchen. I found this one on Etsy and enjoyed that I could customize the colors.
img_0020 img_0041 img_0039The biggest thing I would complain about this learning tower is that at first, I thought I would like how narrow it was so I felt like he was safer while standing with me. After having it for a while, I wish I would have purchased one like this. Yes, it’s bigger, but it’s foldable and I think I would have liked that feature better.

As you can tell, the width doesn’t hinder him from being able to enjoy what he helps me cook with! 🙂

Toddler Weaning Table
This toddler table or as many call it, “weaning table” is definitely my second favorite item. We keep it stashed in corner of our kitchen, and I love how I can just slide it over by the cabinets so he can work on whatever he is “cooking” while I’m cooking. This is especially helpful to have if I’m doing something that is hot over the stove and need him to be occupied with his own task. I can just set him with something easy (like sorting pasta or rice, he LOVES doing that!) and get supper going!
img_0043I also love this table because as he is getting older, he can carry his snacks over to the table by himself and eat on his own. We practice some Montessori in our house and this table helps with that a lot too. I love the versatility it brings and the independent training it offers too! Plus, once you start looking at toddler tables, I felt the price point was decent.

Toddler Approved Kitchen Utensils
I keep a draw like this just for Bubby’s stuff. I can easily grab what I need if we’re cooking a certain item so he can start helping me right away. Here is a list of regular go-to items that you’ll find in his drawer. I bought most of these from Wal-Mart and Amazon too!

  • Silcon spatulas–Wal-Mart has a great selection of these mini sized cooking utensils. As you can see I stalked up on spatulas, whisks and tongs!
  • Baking Utensils are kept with all my other baking supplies. I absolutely love this set and Bubby particularly likes the rolling pin. Right now he sort of whacks the counter with it, but you know, he’ll get there. 😉
  • Strawberry Slicer–Some folks might think this is silly or unsafe, but as he has gotten older and more in control with his motor skills, this slicer has been the bomb. He LOVES pushing down on it and watching the strawberries squish through! And bonus, he can eat what he slices!
  • This hand held fruit and veggie chopper made me nervous at first. But as he has grown, he loves cutting bananas with it. Again, this is one of those skills they develop and if you know anything about Montessori, you know this isn’t unusual to see toddlers use these kinds of utensils.
  • One of my other top favorite items is this tater masher. I used to use beaters to make our mashed potatoes, but now Bubby gets a big kick out of smashing them for us with his own masher.

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As you can see, I keep a jar with a lid and a small bowl of pasta so he can do his little “sorting” game he does. This is one of those of quick items I grab when I’m cooking something hot and I need him to be independent from what I’m doing.

Toddler Apron
If you’re going to be doing all that cooking, then you can’t go wrong with this laminated Toddler apron. It didn’t even occur to me to get one until a friend of mine kind said one time, “uh you know they make kid aprons, right?”. This one works just right for us and I like that I can wipe it clean.

Alrighty, mamas, let’s hear it. What would you add? What are some of your favorite items to have in the kitchen with your littles? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

Five Items Under $20 Your Kitchen Needs for the Holidays

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The holidays are coming and the cooking is happening. Holiday party at the office, party at your neighbor’s, cookies for your son’s first grade class and the list goes on and we haven’t even hit December yet! Not to mention the annoyance that happens when I go to make those mentioned cookies for my son and my husband did not clean off the sheet from his pizza from the night before. Thankfully, I got a hack for that. Read more below, you’ll thank me later.

Find an awesome recipe online, but it calls for a food processor? I don’t know about you, but food processors are a tiny investment, so many folks don’t have one and you need to make cookies NOW. Don’t worry, I got a tip for that too to help you “process” that dough.

I am always looking for ways to make my life easier in the kitchen. When it comes to managing food for your household and you’re on a budget, we all need the little help we can get. I thought you’d like to see some of my favorite kitchen items I use ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME. And guess what? They’re all mostly $20 or LESS. So without further ado, here are some items you are going to want to check out to make your kitchen life a little easier this time of year.

(This post contains affiliate links which means if you click through then I may get a small commission to aid in my coffee and writing addiction. Thanks 🙂

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Silicone Cooking Sheets
I seriously do not know how I survived this long without these genius cooking sheets. I can put the stickiest cookies known to man on these puppies and when they are done baking, the crumbs and crusted goods just wipe right off with the dish rag. Forget crusted cheese pizza you have to scrape off with some heavy duty elbow grease! Forget worrying about your baked chicken sticking to the pan. No joke. These sheets alone will save you time in the kitchen. Dare I say, they may make you WANT to bake cookies…

Handheld Mixer (Beaters)
I didn’t even know what a food processor was until a few years ago. Yes, I lived in a box, apparently. I guess I heard of it but it seemed like a mystery to me. I remember reading recipes that called for a food processor and I just shrugged my shoulders moving on to the next recipe. I remember watching Martha Bakes and she used one to make some cookie dough. It dawned on me that I had been using hand-held beaters for as long as I can remember to basically do any job a food process does (within reason, obviously you can’t chop carrots with beaters!). My tip for you is to have these on hand for that recipe that requires mixing with a food processor. They take up little space and are awesome to have for a quick go-to in your kitchen to speed up the mixing process. Your Thanksgiving snickerdoodle cookies will thank you. And your friends will love that homemade cheesecake you whipped up with these bad boys.


Hand Blender
If you have been dying to make some homemade soup, or need any sort of quick blending, pureeing of any kind, then you seriously need to consider having one of these in your home for the holidays. And better yet, I bet you use it throughout the year too. I use mine to make baby food, a quick yogurt smoothie, or a yummy berry glaze for my waffles. This little guy is so versatile, don’t be quick to shrug it off as a waste of space. It will help you make the yummiest broccoli and cheese soup. Trust me.

Handheld Slicer & Dicer (with storage container attached)
This one is $22 but I absolutely LOVE IT and I would guess this is another one you’ll use more than just for the holidays. I HATE chopping onions for a wintry chili. I can’t stand cutting up carrots for stew. I just want it done quick and fast. I received one of these as a Christmas gift from my mom a few years back and I don’t know what I did without it. The clean up is easy. I can move it around wherever I need it in the kitchen because there are no chords. This is definitely one of my staple kitchen items that gets used even more than during the holidays!

Pan Organizers
I don’t know about you, but during the holiday season I tend to cook more. Shoot, during the fall and winter alone I find our stove and oven use triples! It’s during these times when I grunt and groan because pans and sheets don’t get put back where I’d like and I can never seem to find that one small skillet I love to use for breakfast sausage. This feeling of angst increases during the holidays. There’s no time like the present to make your kitchen as accessible as possible so you can enjoy baking without the searching and groaning. I bought one of these a few years back and it has made grabbing pans so much easier. I bought this one too to organize my cookie sheets and muffins pans. It’s fabulous.

Here are a quick few more of my favorites in the kitchen to cut down on annoyance, because hey, wine can only do so much 😉 and to help cut down on the budget if I need freeze or reuse items.

Extras
silicone muffin cups–because you can freeze any liquid in these and reuse them for all your baking needs!
2 cup pyrex with lid–becuase measureing 1 and 3/4 cup never felt easier.
ice cube trays–because I’m addicted to freezing leftover turkey, chicken, or beef broth to reuse for later.
cooling rack–because I get tired of using parchment paper to cool cookies
gallon freezer bags–did I mention I have a freeze-the-leftovers problem??

What about you? What are some of your favorite, staple items in your kitchen that are fairly inexpensive? Tell use below!
Peace,
Glo