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We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Simple summer recipes for the busy mom

As a busy stay-at-work mom, I try my best to find healthy meals and snacks that are also fast and easy. Since our family prefers to spend time in the pool rather than do chores and cook fancy dinners in the summer, fast has taken on a whole new meaning. Between work and pre-school and just shy of twenty (no, I'm not exaggerating) kid and family birthday parties so far this summer, I've discovered that you don't have to sacrifice healthy when it comes to enjoying summer meals and treats - FAST. Each simple recipe below doubles as a project, so they're also perfect rainy day activities. Here are my three favorites:

Powerballs - I found this recipe in the September 2008 issue of Wondertime Magazine and have been making it on a regular basis since then. The article says "these wholesome little snacks are simple to make and rival cookie dough eaten right out of the bowl". Yes and yes. In fact, I've shared the recipe with friends and family and my mom, in particular, gets her own container every time my son and I make them. They're seriously good - regardless of your age! The recipe makes 48 powerballs, so there are always plenty to go around. Note: this recipe contains peanuts and peanut butters, for those with allergy concerns. Substitutions work just fine.

Fruit Kabobs - When my husband and I traveled to Japan last fall, we left a gift for the grandparent's to give him each day we were gone. One of those gifts was My First Cookbook, by Paula Deen. The book contains some really terrific recipes throughout as well as a great introduction to table setting and manners. Our current favorite is her recipe for Fruit Kabobs. What you'll need: wooden skewers, 1 pint of rip strawberries, rinsed and patten dry with the stems cut off, green and red grapes, and fresh pineapple, chunked (Paula recommends an 8-ounce can of pineapple chunks, but we prefer the fresh variety). My son loves alternating the pieces of fresh fruit onto the skewers. We have, on occasion, welcomed marshmallows into the rotation for a little extra sweetness. Be careful not to stick your fingers with the skewers - an art my son mastered only after several "ouches". We've enjoyed the finished fruit kabobs as dinner side dishes, snacks and packed them up for both pre-school and picnics. My son's not a "dipper" but a chocolate ganache would be a delicious improvisation on this recipe, if I do say so myself.

Fruit & Veggie Juice (or yogurt) Popsicles - I found popsicle forms at Target for this recipe project. They sell them at most major retailers, including Walmart and various sites online. My son's favorite pops are the ones made with V8 V-Fusion Pomegranate Blueberry juice containing 100% fruit AND veggies. What an inventive way to get kids to eat more vegetables. I'm thankful that my son actually likes vegetables in both cooked and raw forms since I know other moms aren't quite so lucky. Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt has some terrific flavors for the yogurt pops, using both the yogurt or the smoothies as the popsicle base. You can also chop up fresh fruit in small pieces and add those to the pops. Just fill, freeze and enjoy!

The easiest (and most delicious) way to get your five fruits a day is by picking fruit right off the vine. We have four 30-year-old blueberry bushes (trees if you consider I've never pruned the things in the five years I've been living here) in our yard. Each summer since he was born, my son and I create new memories with our "blue pals". My son's favorite thing to do these days is go outside right when we get up in our "comfy clothes" to pick them. He prefers to eat his blueberries with "dew on them". When the grass is a still wet he'll let me pick him up to reach the high ones. Since I don't get to pick up my now four-year-old much anymore, these are such terrific moments for me.

My summers growing up were filled with family, fun and food. We camped, had cookouts, picnics, as well as a working a half-acre vegetable garden. I realize only now how precious those moments with my parents, siblings and friends are to me. Cherished memories. Now my son is collecting memories and I'm feeling good about sharing healthy eating practices in a way that's fun for all of us.

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