Back to Basics: Teaching Basic Table Manners to Children

Back to Basics: Teaching Basic Table Manners to Children

You know how I feel about making dinner an event in your home. I’m a firm believer in getting everyone around the table together for dinner to reconnect with each other, discuss the day’s events and to nourish our bodies with good home-cooked food.

A few weeks ago I talked about the importance of learning how to set a proper table. Today, I’m going to talk about something else that makes sitting down to a meal an enjoyable experience. Today we’re talking table manners.

My children were taught how to behave at the table from the time they were in their booster seats, so they naturally grew up knowing what to do and what not to do at the table.

This might not seem like a significant life skill to some people, but I believe that it is.

Think about it. How quickly can someone be turned off by a person chewing loudly with their mouth open in a formal dinner setting? It drives me up the wall when someone reaches over my plate to grab something at the table, rather than asking for me to pass it to them.

If you have children around your table, you have lots of time to train them in dinner table etiquette.

Teaching table manners to pre-schoolers.

It’s never too early to start teaching the basic stuff, like washing your hands before going to the table and sitting down on your chair to eat. Those things can start being drilled into a child as young as 2. Between then and kindergarten age, here are some other basic table manners you can start to teach:

• Say please and thank you
• No toys at the table
• Ask to be excused from the table
• Set your napkin in your lap and to use it when wiping your face
• Thank the person who cooked the meal
• Use utensils to eat
• Take small bites
• No running around or yelling during dinner

For children at the higher end of this age bracket, they can be taught to say nice things about the foods they like and to not make a fuss about the foods they don’t like.

Teaching table manners to grade-school children.

A child at this age should automatically wash their hands before sitting down at the table and they should already be sitting nicely at the table, and saying please and thank you. But now it’s time to teach some more adult table manners:

• Don’t slurp
• Use a knife and fork to cut food
• Chew with mouth closed
• Don’t reach over a fellow diner’s plate
• Wait until everyone is served before starting to eat

Include children in discussion around the table and make sure your child knows that you’re interested in hearing about their day.

When they have these manners down as children, it’s really just a matter of refining them through young adulthood.

Comment on their good manners when you find they’re using them. Your praise goes a long way.

Teenagers should already have these basic table manners down, but please make sure there’s a “no phones at the table” rule in place. Lead by example! Everyone should wait until dinner is over before returning to their mobile device.

What is your biggest dinner etiquette pet peeve? Come tell us on Facebook.

My Friday Favorite: Food Containers!

My Friday Favorite: Food Containers!

Believe it or not, this is one question I get asked all the time–what containers should I consider for my leftovers?


I get it because I am always dealing with leftovers myself–I LOVE leftovers because they are the magical beginnings of a new creation or else, just a glorious recap of the night before’s dinner. Either way, I’m good with them because they mean less work and ease of accomplishment for the next meal.


Food Containers (Twitter)

So what do you put these divine leftovers in anyway?


I’ve done it all from Rubbermaid, to Tupperware to mason jars and plenty of wraps, bags and foil in between.


The cleanest however is mason jars–they come in a variety of sizes, can be used over and over and over again. They freeze (if you follow some smart tips to keep them from breaking) and they’re easy to write on (plain old masking tape with a sharpie to identify and date on the lid).


Mason jars are inexpensive and are easy to find whether you’re in a hardware store, shopping online (Amazon for sure), in Target or Walmart–they are everywhere!


The lids need to replaced every once in awhile–they wear out and can get gross if they’re not washed thoroughly because they’re a two piece lid.


I prefer to put both pieces (separated) in the silverware caddy in my dishwasher and I like to use the heat function of the dishwasher (I usually don’t–I open the door and let them air dry; living in Colorado, it’s really dry here) to keep them from rusting.


Sometimes though, you just need a little tiny something to store that 1/2 a lime in or spoonful of gravy (add it to your soup to add texture, depth and a little extra flavor).


That’s when I fall down the ziplock rabbit hole. I have them and I use them but its not my first go to. They do come in handy though!


Speaking of Amazon, here’s a great deal I found (and am getting myself!)


A couple members of our team also rave about Bee’s Wrap.



A Romantic Dinner at Home

A Romantic Dinner at Home

Date night doesn’t always have to mean finding a babysitter and making reservations at an expensive restaurant. That’s nice to do once in a while, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a date night in on a regular basis. Feed the kids early, put them to bed and prepare a romantic, candle-lit meal for just the two of you!

Set the mood

Part of the fun of going to a restaurant for a romantic dinner is the ambiance. Try to recreate that atmosphere at home by setting the table with some linens, flowers, candles, a nice set of dishes and beautiful glassware.

Sexy menu items

We’ve all heard that oysters are good for spicing things up, if you know what I’m saying, but they aren’t the only sexy foods out there.

• Asparagus is a natural aphrodisiac for men and women, so be sure to add some to the menu.
• Figs have been eaten to spice things up between couples for hundreds of years.
• Chiles are also known to turn things up a notch or two in the boudoir! The capsaicin in spicy foods raise the heart rate and trigger the release of endorphins.
• Chocolate-dipped strawberries. It’s cliche for a reason, people.

Dress for the occasion

Change out of the yoga pants and put on that killer little black dress and a sassy apron! Wear your heels while you’re cooking (or being cooked for!). Put on your favorite music, pour a glass of wine and have fun with it.

Reconnect with your honey over the chopping and peeling.

Serve your fancy meal in courses if you’d like to draw out the evening. Sit down to your salads while your main course cooks away. After your main course, clean the kitchen before serving dessert.

What you do after dessert is up to yourselves. 😉

An Easy Guide to Carbs and Starches

An Easy Guide to Carbs and Starches

Everyone seems to be trying to cut back on carbs these days—including yours truly! Many of us trying to adopt a more Paleo-based diet have been weaning ourselves off of carbs, or at the very least, eating them less frequently.

Everyone needs some carbs—the good carbs—in their diet, while there are others that nobody really should be eating. Our bodies need carbohydrates to make glucose—the main source of energy our cells use to function. We need to be sure we’re choosing the right types of carbs for the job.

Let’s take a step back to grade school science class here for a few minutes to discuss what carbohydrates and starches actually are and to talk about which types to eat less of and why.

The different types of carbohydrates

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

  • simple carbs like candy and sugar, which are basically just empty calories
  • complex carbs like whole grains and vegetables
  • and fiber

We should be getting the majority of our carbs from natural sources—fruits and vegetables—and we should avoid eating simple carbs at all costs.

Simple carbs and some complex carbs will spike your blood glucose levels, which may lead to insulin resistance. We don’t want this because insulin is the hormone that tells the tissues in our bodies to use the glucose from our blood as energy. We don’t want glucose left hanging around in our blood because it can stick to proteins and prevent them from doing their job.

Fiber is a carbohydrate, technically, but our bodies do not digest it. There are two types of fiber: water-soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, soaking up fluids in our small intestine and our stomach. It also absorbs cholesterol and fat. Insoluble fiber is the guy that moves through our bodies cleaning up toxins and speeding foods through our digestive tracts, aiding in the elimination of waste (read: keeps us regular). If our diets are rich in fiber, our bodies run much more efficiently.

Some folks think that if you eliminate grains you’re eliminating fiber all together but that’s very far from the truth. Veggies are the place where you should be getting your fiber. In fact, an artichoke has 10.3 grams of fiber while a slice of whole wheat bread only has .5!

Starches fall under the category of complex carbohydrates. Certain starches should be eaten by everyone, while some aren’t good for us at all.

Good starches

Natural starches are a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Examples of these would be sweet potatoes, lentils, beans, carrots, apples, oats, brown rice and peas. (Obviously, if you’re 100% paleo you won’t be eating legumes and rice.)

Sometimes starches are refined into foods that are unhealthy: french fries, pastry, tortilla chips, etc. These foods are examples of carbs you should avoid.

Starches you should limit or avoid all together:

  • White pasta
  • White rice
  • White potatoes
  • Corn
  • Breads and baked goods

Your dinner plate should be made up of veggies and protein. If you must eat bread or potatoes, eat them for lunch or breakfast so you’ll have a chance of burning them off throughout the day.

And if you really want to up level your ability to handle carbs, try our BRAND NEW Carb Arrest! This is my personal safety net supplement, check it out!

Top 5 Benefits of Using Coconut Aminos

Top 5 Benefits of Using Coconut Aminos

One of my favorite things in life is sushi. I love it anyway you give it to me—rolled, not rolled, plenty of wasabi…just load me up!

But sushi means soy sauce and soy is definitely not a health food—especially considering non-organic soy sauce most likely will be GMO soy.

Soy seemingly has a wonderful nutritional profile. But at issue here are the lectins and the fact that every time you eat soy, you’re slowing down your metabolism function (thyroid) by 30%! Not to mention that it is a top phytoestrogenic food and endocrine disruptor—who needs THAT?

Anyone suffering with thyroid disease knows that threatening the already weak thyroid is not a wise move. So years ago, when I discovered a tasty substitute called Coconut Aminos, I was beyond excited.

Coconut Aminos are made from two ingredients—aged sap of coconut blossoms and sea salt. That’s it. It is a low-glycemic, vegan, and gluten-free with 17 amino acids. 

Plus, Coconut Aminos have about 65% less sodium than regular soy sauce.

And just to make it even better—Coconut Aminos have a whole load of health benefits, including weight loss!

Here are 5 to get excited about:

  1. Weight Loss: Adiponectin, a hormone that lives in your fatty tissue, is increased by eating coconut products such as Coconut Aminos. This is a good thing because adiponectin regulates a number of metabolic processes, including fat burning! Coconut Aminos help to increase adiponectin, score!
  2. Immune System Enhancement. Antioxidant rich, Coconut Aminos naturally support the immune system by providing protection against free radicals, atoms that cause cell damage and aging, to name just a few of the damaging problems associated with free radicals.
  3. Heart protection. Coconut Aminos and other coconut products, increase HDL (the good cholesterol) and help to regulate blood pressure.
  4. Lowered Risk of Colon Cancer. A University of South Carolina study showed that people who ate coconut products had reduced inflammation and greatly reduced occurrence of malignant tumors in the colon.
  5. Mental Health Benefits. Coconut is rich in inositol. According to WebMD, this may help balance certain chemicals in the body to possibly help with conditions such as panic disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

But, there are downsides to Coconut Aminos and both of them give a lot of folks pause—the price and the scarcity, they can be hard to hunt down.

A small 8 ounce bottle can cost anywhere from $5 to $10 online or at the local health food store; it’s not cheap to get your faux soy sauce on!

That is till I found Coconut Aminos and Trader Joe’s! For just $2.99 a bottle, these lovelies taste just the same as the aforementioned Coconut Aminos, so you can imagine the happy dance that ensued once I discovered them sitting on my local TJ’s shelf.

(Those poor customers in the store that day…they had to see that! :-O)

Anyway, when I find something great, you know I love to share it. And this discovery is way up there in the Land of Great!

Here’s a fabulous recipe from Dinner Answers that will introduce you to this wonderful flavor!

Pan Seared Salmon with Coconut-Herb Greens

Serves 4


1 cup canned full fat coconut milk

1 large lime, juiced

4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced and divided

1 teaspoon coconut aminos

1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, divided

4 tablespoons fresh chopped chives, divided

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

8 (4-6 oz) wild salmon filets, (4 filets will be for another meal)

1 large tub super greens

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium sauce pan, stir together the first 3 ingredients along with 2 gloves garlic, coconut aminos, jalapeno, 1/2 the cilantro and 1/2 the chives, over medium heat.  Bring t a low simmer for 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Cook the salmon, skin side down for 2-3 minutes per side, or until each side has a nice seared crust and is cooked through to the desired doneness.  Remove the salmon from the skillet and place half into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for later use.

In a separate skillet, heat the remaining coconut oil and add the spinach and remaining garlic, salt and pepper to the skillet with the remaining ghee.  Cook until the greens wilt, about 2-3 minutes.

On 4 serving plates, place some wilted greens, a piece of salmon and then pour over some of the coconut-herb sauce to serve.

Dinner Answers has recipes like this and THOUSANDS more! Whatever your eating style, you’ll find it in Dinner Answers. Choose your favorite recipes and the program automatically makes your menu for the week, AND the grocery list you that you can send to your phone (or your spouse’s!) for easy grocery shopping.

Get your own Dinner Answers right now

Leaky Gut. What’s All The Fuss?

What’s the fuss about leaky gut?

You heard the words “leaky gut” bandied around a lot, I bet. And in your mind’s eye, do you see your poor intestinal walls pouring water out like sieve?

That’s a dramatic visual, however it’s helpful for understanding the problem.

Your intestinal walls are supposed to be barriers to keep the bad guys out and the good guys in. If there are holes, there are problems, no matter how small the holes.

Interestingly, your intestinal track is the place where your nutrients are absorbed AND the lion’s share of your immune system is active.

According to a study done by Massachusetts General Hospital, “Intestinal immune cells play an unexpected role in immune surveillance of the bloodstream.”

This shows you the great importance of proper digestion.

Without proper digestion, you end up with poor nutrition (because you can’t absorb the nutrients like you should), and a myriad of symptoms from the inability to lose weight, joint pain, skin issues, depression, ADHD, autoimmune disorders, food sensitivities and, the ever popular, diarrhea.

You can’t ignore a leaky gut—you have to vigilantly fix it.

Healing your leaky gut is possible—here’s how:

  1. Clean up your diet—that means get rid of the irritants like sugar, gluten and dairy (just TRY going sugar, gluten and dairy free for 30 days and watch what happens!)
  2. Get that fiber in (most Americans are woefully deficient on their daily fiber intake)
  3. Balance out the bad bacteria with the good stuff (probiotic and eating fermented foods)
  4. Remember, digestion starts with the first bite—chew your food well!
  5. Are you 35 or older? We lose the digestive enzymes our bodies make with age—it gets progressively worse with each birthday!) In my opinion, it’s imperative to use digestive enzymes with each meal (and say goodbye to heartburn and antacids!)
  6. Bone broth—are you drinking it? Standard issue for leaky gut, my friend!
  7. L-glutamine—in loose form, added to your morning smoothie. Helps heal your gut and makes your skin lovely!

I’ve dealt with leaky gut myself—it’s a bit of a battle, but the results have been stellar.

I’ve lost weight, my skin has cleared, my joints no longer ache, my tummy isn’t bloated and though I technically “have” Hashimotos, I’m now in remission!

Getting a grip on your gut is the cornerstone of getting your health BACK!

And check this out—I’ve created a Gut Check Bundle (the SAME one I use daily!) to help you heal your gut.

Not only will it help heal your gut, but it will save your wallet too—right now, it’s 20% off—for a very limited time.

Don’t delay—now is the time to get your leaky gut under control!

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