Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rock The Lunchbox 2014 {with Giveaway}

Summer is nearly over and getting the kids ready for school is not an easy task. From school supply shopping to new clothes, teacher meetings and backpack searches it does not seem to end. In addition to all the supplies the kids need - packing lunches is just around the corner. To help you find healthy lunch ideas your kids will love Annie's Homegrown, Applegate, Honest Tea, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Organics and Rudi's Organic Bakery have teamed up with Rock the Lunchbox to bring you simple tips, lunchbox inspirations and downloadable coupons.

I created a few lunch ideas here at Mamabelly and you can win a fun pack of lunch goodies at the end of the post to create your own rockin' lunches! 

1. A drawing inspired lunch

I asked my daughter to draw a lunch she would like me to pack. This is what she came up with:

And this is how she explained her lunch. I love that she drew each individual Annie's bunny cracker! 

And here is the lunch I made for her according to her drawing:

It was fun to talk about healthy lunch options and let her be an active part in packing lunch. Even though she is only 5 it was great for her to participate in her food choices and she loved being included. This lunch was enough for lunch and her afternoon snack (she saved the yogurt).

2. A Fun Lunch in a Laptop Lunches Bento Box

This is another lunch we packed together in a Laptop Lunches Bento box. She helped pick the ingredients at the store and helped pack the lunch. Well, and taste some of the crackers while Mom was packing them :)

3. Kid Konserve and Blue Avocado Lunch

If you normally pack lunch in plastic bags in a lunch cooler, I have some more eco-friendly suggestions for you. I love using reusable containers instead of disposable bags and Blue Avocado Rezip bags are perfect! They are big and roomy (enough room for a big sandwich or wrap) and much sturdier then those flimsy plastic baggies. I also reused a small Laptop Lunches container to hold the bunny crackers and utilized our Kid Konserve container for the veggies and dip!

This lunch is packed together with a reusable Matkins place mat and contains:

You can win an amazing Rock the Lunchbox prize pack!

It contains:
(Items may vary) Giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Matkins Reusable Placemats Review

Matkins Reusable Placemat Review - mamabelly.com

The first day of school is just around the corner for us and it will bring lunch rooms, sticky cafeteria tables and mystery goop. My kids love bringing cloth napkins to school so they can rest their lunch box, utensils and juice container on it instead of being subjected to the germs on the cafeteria table. I even bring them along to restaurants to save those off the plate chicken nuggets and dropped fries. BUT, cloth napkins aren't really meant for that, stain easily (ketchup anyone?) and are often not big enough. That is where MATKINS comes in!

Matkins Reusable Placemat Review - mamabelly.com

Matkins are reusable, stain resistant, portable and fun placemats that easily roll up to fit in your purse, diaper bag, backpack or lunch tote and will save your lunch from those icky sticky cafeteria tables!

Matkins Reusable Placemat Review - mamabelly.com

Matkins are about 10 x 14" big and made with one 100% cotton side and one highly stain resistant side. They are machine washable and dryer safe, come with a little pocket that holds a mini napkin and can hold utensils, a note or treat. And when you are done with lunch or dinner you simply roll them up and take them with you.

Matkins Reusable Placemat Review - mamabelly.com

They have lots of fun patterns and for a ketchup and BBQ sauce smear test head over to Lunchbox Dad. He put that stain resistant fabric to the test! And for $16 this is well worth it to me to prevent those sticky situations at school, work and while eating out!

The only thing I wish was different are the mini napkins. The napkins are made out of polyester fabric and we simply prefer cotton napkins for the feel. 

Matkins Reusable Placemat Review - mamabelly.com

Overall, we loved trying the Matkins placemats and enjoyed germ and stick free lunches like the one above. To see what we packed for lunch that day click HERE.

To get your own Matkin Placemat head to www.mymatkins.com.

UPDATE: Matkins offered to send one reader their Matkins of choice! Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US Residents Only. Winner will be notified via email and has 24 h to claim their prize.

Disclaimer: Matkins sent me samples to review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Baking Day at Grandma's - a Literary Lunch

Baking Day at Grandma's - written by Anika Denise and illustrated by Christopher Denise - is a beautifully illustrated children's book telling the story of three little happy bear cubs on their way to Grandma's on Baking Day. The illustrations and rhymes in the book portray coziness and love and you can almost smell the cake turning the pages. But this cake is not for eating! The little cubs cut the cake in neat squares, load up the sled and spread some love delivering treats on this winter afternoon!

And yes, the recipe for the mouth watering chocolate cake the three little cubs help Grandma bake is in the back of the book! A must try no matter if you are intending to share or not.

For the occasion we packed a delicious Baking Day lunch in our Planetbox Shuttle holding:
  • a piece of Grandma's chocolate cake (recipe from the book!)
  • apple slices
  • one little bear chocolate spread sandwich with a spinach leaf apron and a peanut butter filled spoon

This lunch is easy to make with the help of the CuteZCute Cuddle Palz. See what I used to make this lunch here (contains affiliate links):

Sunday, August 17, 2014

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun

This post was previously published at Diana Rambles as part of the 4 great Bloggers, 4 great tips for the Back2School Bentoing series.

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com
This post contains affiliate links.

Packing fun lunches is not as hard as you think and doesn't necessarily require a cabinet full of bento lunch supplies or artistic skills. With a few (and inexpensive) touches you can change your child's lunchbox into a fun lunch!

1) Cupcake decorations

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

In the picture above I added a reusable silicone straw and a cupcake decoration from the party store to dress up the lunch. My kids were thrilled to slurp their applesauce through the straw and with a quick cupcake decoration I made this simple lunch more exciting. And as you see the lunch came back completely eaten!

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

Same with this St. Patrick's Day lunch. I added three St. Patrick's Day themed cupcake rings from my local cake store and made this simple lunch festive and fun!

2) Silicone Cups

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

To add some color and fun I simply added a cute orange mini silicone cup to hold some Almonds and dressed up this simple Laptop Lunchbox.

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

Silicone cups can also serve as dividers and enable you to pack smaller portions and a larger variety of food which especially appeals to younger children and picky eaters.

3) Sandwich Cutters

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

This lunch was made more fun with a cute plane sandwich. It was made using a Lunch Punch Cutter. The cutter is easy to use (just press down and done) and removes the crust while making your kids sandwich exciting and fun!

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

These mini sandwiches were transformed with a sandwich stamp from All Things For Sale. No artistic skill required. But the outcome is an adorable and appealing lunch.

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

Another fun to use sandwich cutter is the CuteZCute animal sandwich cutter. It cuts the crust off (again, great for picky eaters) and you can choose between four different animal faces. Quick, easy and fun in no time at all.

4) A Lunchbox Note

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

Adding a fun Lunchbox Love note - no matter if homemade or similar to this store bought Lunchbox Love Card (joke edition) - sure will put a smile on your child's face and make lunch a little more special.

5) Food

5 Easy Steps to Making Lunchboxes More Fun - mamabelly.com

But even if you don't have any of the tools above you can still make a cute lunch. This summer BLT lunch was simply made special by adding three Goldfish crackers and with two deli sandwich picks. Similar ones are available at the Dollar Store.

I hope I could show you a few tips and tricks on how to transform you child's lunchbox from drab to fab with a few simple steps. For more product ideas visit my bento basics page.

Here is what I used to make these lunches fun:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Time for a #Wienervention!

My kids love hot dogs. BUT, it is scary to think about what is actually in a regular hot dog!
I was so thrilled when Applegate asked me to be part of their #Wienervention campaign! I want to serve my family hot dogs free of added nitrites or chemical preservatives and with ingredients - but hot dogs they would still love.

This is the amazing #Wienervention kit Applegate generously sent me and I cannot tell you how excited everyone was! Even my pickiest eater wanted a hot dog "right now, Mom!" So it was time to turn on the grill and let everyone pick their favorite toppings!

  • Even though the hot dogs looked a little different than the fair hot dogs no one was deterred and everyone had an amazing time choosing the toppings they wanted! I noticed right away that the hot dogs cooked much better then regular hot dogs and they did not burst or bubble! They tasted a lot "meatier" according to my kids and everyone wanted seconds! And with 4 simple ingredients (beef, water, salt and spices) it is good to know what actually IS in your hot dog!
  • We also loved the Rudi's Organic Bakery hot dog buns! They truly were the best hot dog buns EVER! We will never go back to squishy rolls again. They were big enough to fit two hot dogs (German Style) or an Italian sausage plus toppings and they did not get soggy or break! They crisped up nicely on the grill and my family loved them. We also tried the Rudi's Organic Bakery Gluten Free hot dog buns and I have to say that those were truly the besat GF buns we have had so far! A must try!
  • What about the toppings? We really enjoyed Annie's ketchup and mustard and we will be on the look out for the whole line! They are organic and GF and made with simple ingredients. You cannot ask for more! We also fell in love with Rick's Picks relish and it's a new favorite in our fridge!
  • Susty Party also provided paper straws and napkins to round out the party and we love that they are compostable, non-toxic, renewable and made in North America!!

Our #Wienervention was a huge success! Stage your own #Wienervention at home and find product coupons here: Applegate, Rudi's Organic Bakery, Annie's.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wonder Pets Lunch with CuteZCute

My daughter loves the Wonder Pets - especially Linny, the Guinea Pig. I have been trying to create a Linny lunch for her (with little success...who knew making a guinea pig was so hard!) and finally realized that I can use the CuteZCute Cuddle Palz hamster. I surprised her with a Linny Lunch this morning and she loved it:

I packed our Easylunchbox with:

The fruit chews are not only delicious but you can also mold them into fun accents for lunch or pastries!

Things I used to make this lunch (contains affiliate links):

Friday, August 8, 2014

BONGA Boabab Review {and GIVEAWAY}

My kids love fruit leather and fruit snacks. I admit I do, too! They are portable, yummy and convenient but unfortunately most fruit snacks are loaded with sugar, artificial color and flavors. So, I was thrilled when Bonga Foods approached me to review their BAOBAB Superfood chews and Superfood powder and GIVE SOME AWAY TO YOU!

Bonga Foods was launched by three So Cal moms. It is a new line of baobab superfood products from Africa's "Tree of Life."  According to Bonga foods, "the baobab (BEY-oh-Bab) tree produces fruit that is exceptionally high in soluble fiber and vitamin C; rich in minerals and electrolytes; bursting with antioxidants; and one of the few plant sources of calcium. It dehydrates naturally on the tree, falling to the ground when mature, and is then sustainably harvested by women in sub-Saharan Africa. The baobab powder is simply separated from its seed and sieved in its natural, unprocessed form before packing. The unique combination of nutrients found synergistically in baobab is not compromised since the fruit does not need to be pasteurized, heat extracted, freeze dried or concentrated."

When the BAOBAB Superfood chews and powders arrived first at our house my kids immediately wanted to try them. They are conveniently packed in 40 g serving sizes and therefore great for on-the-go, lunchboxes, after sports snacks or wherever you love taking your snacks!
What did my kids think? They LOVED them!  Here is what they told me:

  • They loved that there is so much more in the individual packages than in regular fruit snacks (40 g of Bonga Superfood chews compared to 14g of a regular food snack). Some of my kids actually can only eat 1/2 a bag which makes sharing and trying all flavors easy and fun!
  • They loved the taste! And with no added sugar I am happy, too! (this is not a low calorie snack and still contains sugar.)
  • You can play with your food! Not only are the fruit chews yummy as is you can mold them by rolling them out with a rolling pin and shaping them with cookie cutters or making them into fruit strips (you can see examples in my lunch below!)
And what did I think?
  • I love that one package of Bonga Superfood chews contains 7g of fiber,
  • that it is a good source of calcium, Vitamin C, minerals and electrolytes,
  • that they are gluten free,
  • that they are raw organic and sustainable,
  • that Bonga Foods donates 10% of all profits to the Bonga Foundation, which supports the women who harvest the fruit in southern Africa and their families, as well as other women's and environmental causes here in the US.

My daughter starts Kindergarten in the fall and we are practicing school lunches so I made her this Minnie Mouse inspired lunch with Bonga BAOBAB superfood chews (in our Planetbox Shuttle) with:
  • a halfed cereal bar surrounded by Pomegranate BAOBAB superfood chews and with a molded superfood chews Mickey Mouse sillouette
  • organic cherry yogurt with another superfood chews Mickey sillouette
  • two nut butter Minnie Mouse sandwiches with superfood chews hair bows
  • carrots, celery and grape tomatoes.
We also tried the BAOBAB superfood powder and I like that I can easily add more nutrition to our smoothies and juices. 

For more recipe ideas for both the superfood chews and the powder visit their amazing website here: BONGA FOODS

**Bonga BAOBAB superfruit chews and powder are available at select Whole Foods Market stores and available online at JohnPaulSelects.com/bonga and at Bonga Foods**

And now the best part: 

  • a variety box full of Bonga Foods Superfood Chews in Mango, Pomegranate, Raspberry and Strawberry (so naturally, sweet, it's hard to believe there's NO ADDED SUGAR!)
  • Bonga Foods Raw Organics Baobab Superfood Powder, which can be added to boost up the nutrient level of water, smoothies, baked goods, yogurt parfaits and more; 
  • and a Bonga Foods t-shirt (as seen in the pic above worn by Bonga Foods Co-Founders at the EIF Revlon Run Walk to End Women's Cancers in LA on May 10 pictured left to right: Mary Grace, Michaeline DeJoria and Nancy Nehorah)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to US Residents only. Winner will be notified via email and has 24 h to claim their prize before I redraw a winner. GOOD LUCK!

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