Best Microwave Ovens

Find the Best Microwave Oven for You

 

I remember when microwave ovens first became popular in the 70’s. I was a kid and some of my friends had them in their homes. I was fascinated by those big, bulky, loud boxes that could cook so much faster than the stove. Microwaves have come a long way since then. Now there are so many styles, options and sizes to pick from.

Finding the best microwave oven is dependent on what is important for you and your household. There are so many options out there, you need to be aware of what is available before you make your decision.

Some of the things to be on the lookout for:

Wattage
Wattage for microwave ovens range from 500 watts to 1250 watts. The higher the wattage, the faster the food will cook. Most recipes are for 800 watt microwave ovens.

Space
How much space do you have in your kitchen for your microwave? And are you going to cook a whole chicken on a regular basis in your microwave or just heat up soup? Think about these things when choosing your microwave.

Purpose
Do you need a combo microwave that cooks like a regular oven too? Or maybe one that has a grill function? These combo microwaves will cost you more but they are more versatile than just a plain microwave oven.

Price
How much do you want to pay for your oven? Microwave ovens range in a wide variety of prices from about $40 to well over a thousand dollars. You do get what you pay for but there are quality microwaves in the lower end price range too.

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Best Microwave Oven Deals for 1,200 Watt Microwaves

1200 watt microwave ovens are the most popular. They are powerful and cook fast. They really don’t use up more electricity than the lower wattage ovens since they will cook the food faster.

1000 watt microwaves are the next most popular microwave oven.

Oster OGG61403 1-2/5-Cubic-Feet Microwave Oven, Stainless Steel

The Oster OGG61403 has 10 power levels and a programmable child lock.

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Panasonic NN-SD681S Genius “Prestige” 1.2 cuft 1200 Watt Sensor Microwave with Inverter Technology & Blue Readout, Stainless Steel

This Panasonic has Inverter Microwave Technology which cooks foods more evenly. It also allows for more interior space inside.

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Sharp R-520KS 2-Cubic-Foot 1200-Watt Microwave Oven, Stainless Steel

Big enough to cook most any dish in, this sleek stainless steel beauty has gotten great reviews.

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Frigidaire FFCE2238LW 2.2 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave – White

A large capacity oven, big enough to hold a 13″x9″ baking dish! It has 10 power levels including a Keep Warm feature.


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KitchenAid KCMS1655BSS 1.6 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with 1200 Cooking Watts, 9 Quick-Touch Cycles, Recessed Turntable and Optional Trim Kit: Stainless Steel

An upper end, heavy duty microwave with 9 power cycles and a kitchen timer.

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What Is the Best Microwave Oven for Home Use?

Some things people are thinking about when shopping for a microwave oven are:

  • Safety – Is it well made? Will this oven leak harmful radiation? Will my young child be able to turn it on and damage it?
  • Quiet- How quiet is it? Be aware that the larger wattage models are also louder. Fortunately they also cook faster. Also does the microwave have a loud ring when it’s done and does it keep on ringing until you open the door and take the food out.
  • Portability- How portable is it? Can it be easily moved from place to place in the kitchen if need be?
  • Size- Is it the right size for me? A single person household or a family who just uses the microwave to reheat stuff will probably do fine with a small model where as a family or someone who does a lot of microwave cooking will need a larger model.

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Best Microwave Ovens for Baking or Grilling

Today’s microwaves can do more than just nuke your food. Some have options to grill your food or bake your food like a regular oven would.

Sharp R-820JS 0.9-Cubic Foot Grill 2 Convection Microwave, Silver

A versatile microwave that will eliminate the need for many other kitchen appliances. This baby microwaves, grills, roasts and bakes. It has 11 power settings.

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 Sharp SuperSteam Microwave Oven

This oven will steam food and work as a convection oven along with being a typical microwave oven. It also includes some cookware such as a steam basket and several racks and baking trays.

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Panasonic NN-CD989S Genius “Prestige” 1.5 cuft 1100-Watt Sensor Convection Microwave with Inverter Technology, Full Stainless Steel

This large capacity oven is also a convection oven so less need to heat up your stove’s oven.

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Sharp 12F639 Microwave, 3 in 1, Steam and Grill

Not only microwaves, this oven also grills and steams. It comes with 2 steam trays and a grill rack.

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Best Low Cost Microwave Oven

Microwave Ovens for Under $100

Oster OGZB1101 1.1 Cubic Feet Digital Microwave Oven, Black

The Oster has an easy to use keypad and 6 cooking options.

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Sunbeam SGS90701B 0.7-Cubic Feet Microwave Oven, Black

Small and compact, this great looking oven has 6 cooking options.

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Haier MWM0701TW 700 Watt Countertop Microwave, White

10 power levels and child locks.

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Magic Chef Mcm770B .7 Cubic Feet 700-Watt Microwave with Digital Touch

10 power levels.

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RCA 0.9 Cubic Feet Microwave Oven, Black

Gorgeous with 10 power levels and child locks.

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Best Microwave Oven Brands

I have shown you several of the more popular brands of microwave ovens but there are more. The top searches for microwave oven brands are:

  • GE (General Electric}-GE has been around for more than a hundred years and is known for quality products.
  • Sharp- Sharp is known as an innovative leader with their products.
  • Panasonic- is best known for their electronics but has ventured into kitchen appliances too.
  • Whirlpool- has been making quality home appliances for many decades.
  • Kitchenaid- has always specialized in making great kitchen appliances.
  • Amana- is known for its strength in “the art of common sense”.
  • Samsung- Another company that makes great electronics, they also make pretty nice kitchen appliances too.
  • LG- is a Korean company that specializes in durable, low cost appliances.
  • Sunbeam- has been around since the 1800’s.
  • Oster- is known for their quality products,
  • Haier- is a Chinese company that is known low cost products.

Click on any of the company name’s above to be taken to their line of microwaves for sale.

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How to Clean a Microwave Oven

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Cathy

 

Article by Cathy Ratcliffe
 

 

 

Healthy Treats that Your Child’s Classroom will Love

Is it your turn to be the class mom? Is one of your duties supplying a snack? Or, is there an upcoming holiday or celebration that your child’s class will be participating in? Instead of running out to the grocery store and grabbing a box of cookies or donuts (which many schools won’t even allow you to bring in anymore), fill your child and his classmates’ bellies with some yummy and healthy treats. As an added bonus, you can get your kids involved in making these delicious treats, which will instill a sense of pride and help them learn the value of healthy cooking.

Homemade Trail Mix

A good, old fashioned trail mix will be sure to please even the pickiest eaters – and it’s super easy to make, healthy, and yummy, to boot. To make this treat, you’ll need:

·         A variety of nuts; peanuts, cashews, almonds walnuts – just check to make sure that there aren’t any nut allergies in your child’s classroom.

·         Chocolate chips

·         Raisins

·         Cheerios

·         Dried apricots

·         Cranberries

 

Combine ½ cup of each ingredient in a large bowl and in a matter of seconds, you have a yummy, good for you treat.

healthy treays

 

Image courtesy of Lavinna Reed

 

Yogurt Pops

Turn plain old yogurt into something a little more fun and exciting by making yogurt pops. For this treat, all you need to do is select any flavor yogurt and pour it into a plastic ice pop mold. Insert a Popsicle stick or a plastic spoon into the pop for a handle. Stick the mold into the freezer and you’ll have tasty, refreshing treats. Use Greek yogurt, instead, to add some extra protein. You can also add bits of chopped up fruit to make this treat even more tasty and healthy.

 

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

These are a much healthier option than the traditional deep fried potato chips, and they are a whole lot healthier. For this great tasting, healthy snack for your kid and his classmates, you’ll need:

 

·         2 sweet potatoes

·         ½ teaspoon of sea salt

·         1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

·         Cinnamon sugar (optional)

To whip up this recipe, just scrub down and peel the sweet potatoes. Slice the potatoes into thin piece and toss them in the oil. Arrange the sweet potato slices onto a foil lined baking sheet, placing them into an oven that has been preheated to 400 degrees F. Let them to bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until crisp. Allow the chips to cool and sprinkle some sea salt or Kosher salt on top of them. Alternatively, you can sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top of them to add some extra sweetness.

 

healthy treats

Image courtesy of Tegan Goldstein

 

Need to find a way to store all of these morsels? Acrylic bins are the perfect storage solution because they are lightweight and super portable.

Your child and all of his classmates won’t believe how deliciously amazing, and good for them, these treats are. And, you’ll win the Mom of the Year award for making such totally awesome snacks for the class.

 

 

Tara Heath is a freelance writer in Southern California. Her writings cover all kinds of health topics, and children’s health is something she is very passionate about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Slow Cookers

best slow cooker There are so many great options for slow cookers out there, it’s hard to know which one to pick. This lens will let you see which options customers consider the best in slow cookers.

You can decide for yourself which crock pot is the best for your needs. When you find the right one, you will totally be hooked on slow cooking. It makes meals so easy to do and even non-cooks can do a great job of making a tasty meal.

How I Picked The Winners

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker I was actually looking to replace my 10+ year old crock pot that was still working, but not very well. I knew there were things I was looking for in a new slow cooker but I had no idea there were so many options out there.

It’s amazing what slow cookers can do now a days. It makes them even more of a “must have” for your kitchen.

With so many options though, I had to research a lot of different slow cookers to figure out what the best cooker is for the money. I wanted one that had the least amount of complaints and the most amount of customer satisfaction.

I came up with a list of the top 5 slow cookers. Many of them have special features that other slow cookers on the market don’t have.

Fore me personally, I wanted one that would automatically switch to warm after it finished cooking as I have a family that eats at different times. It’s also good if you know you won’t be home in time to turn it off when it’s done.

I wanted one with adjustable settings. My old crock pot only had 2 settings, high and low. It would be great to have several more settings or better yet, one that could be adjustable for a wide range of temperatures.

Though not mandatory, it would be nice to have a cooker that can be used on the stove first to brown the meat and veggies (like onions).

Of course just about all the newer models have an cooker insert that lifts out for easy cleaning and serving. I wanted that and the lid too to be dishwasher safe.

It would also be nice to have some decent handles as my old crock pot didn’t have any handles at all.

I didn’t need to have everything listed. I would have been happy with just some of them. Surprisingly though, I found several models that had all these features and more. Also surprisingly, most were relatively inexpensive, with many being under $50.

After I picked my new slow cooker, I decided to get 2 more for my 2 daughters for Christmas. Though they are young and relatively inexperienced with cooking, crock pot cooking is something just about anyone can do with great results.

Comparisons of Top 5 Slow Cookers

Model

West Bend 84915

Hamilton Beach 33967

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610

Cuisinart PSC-350

Frigidaire Professional

Warranty

1 Year

1 Year

1 Year

3 Years

None Listed

Quart Capacity

5

6

6

3.5

7

Programmable Time

no

yes

yes

yes

yes

Adjustable Temperature

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Auto Warm Function

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Bend 84915 5-Quart Oblong-Shaped Slow Cooker Review

What I did and didn’t like about this slow cooker

 

West Bend 84915 5-Quart Oblong-Shaped Slow Cooker with ToteWest Bend 84915 5-Quart Oblong-Shaped Slow Cooker with Tote price button

This is a great little slow cooker with lots of features for a relatively small price.

I liked that there were so many good reviews for the product with few bad ones.

I’ll talk about the pros below but I think my favorite thing about this appliance is it’s several kitchen appliances in one. You can use it as a griddle or use it on the stove top or in the oven, and of course as a crock pot too.

Here are the pros for the the West Bend 84915

Stove, Oven and Freezer Safe – This is one of the most kitchen friendly slow cookers out there. You can freeze food in it (Hint* If you have leftovers,that you want to use for another meal in the future, just freeze the cooking pot with the food in it. When it’s frozen, pop out the frozen food and transfer it to a gallon size freezer bag and put back in the freezer. Next time you want it, you can pull out the food and either pop it in the microwave or put it back in the slow cooker and warm up on the stove, oven or slow cooker).

Another great thing about being able to use it on the stove top is you can brown your meat and veggies first on the stove before adding the remaining ingredients and switch to slow cooker setting.

 

Griddle – Speaking of this being a versatile product, you can pull off the cooking pot and use the base as an electric griddle. Two kitchen appliances for the price of one! It takes up less space than 2 kitchen appliances too.

 

Keep Warm Setting – This is great if you have a busy family like mine who eats at different times. Just put it on the warm setting and they can have a warm meal ready whenever they get home.

 

Insulated Tote – If you have a church social or party to go to and need to bring your crock pot, well this slow cooker has it’s own insulated carrying case.

 

Easy to Clean – The cooking pot and the lid are both dishwasher safe. But from what some customers are saying, you really don’t need to put it in the dishwasher. It cleans off very easy with just soap and water.

 

1 Year WarrantyXX -This cooker comes with a 1 year warranty which is always good to have on any product you buy.

 

No product is completely perfect and they are a few drawbacks to this slow cooker.

Not Programmable – Some of the cookers are programmable where you can set them for a certain amount of time and they either shut off at the end of that time or swithc to the warm setting. This slow cooker doesn’t have that feature. It does have several temperatures you can set it on but you can’t program for a period of time.

 

Non Stick Coating -This is actually a “pro” for many people as it helps to keep the food from sticking to the cooker and cleans easily. However, someof us are concerned about the non stick coatings used in cookware and would prefer not to have it.

 

  Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker Review

What I did and didn’t like about this slow cooker

XX REPLACE WITH PRODUCT NAMEHamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker price button

I love that this slow cooker has so many positive reviews. It’s obviously a very popular slow cooker. It also has several interesting features that the other slow cookers on this list don’t have. Read the pros to find out more about it.

Here are the pros for the Hamilton Beach 33967.

Temperature Probe – This is great for roasts or poultry. You can make sure the food cooks to the right temperature internally.

 

Clip On Spoon – There’s a handy clip on spoon. This is definitely something you don’t see on other crock pots.

 

Control Panel – The Hamilton beach 33967 has a programmable flat panel control psnrl with 3 different ways to cook your meals: programmable (for a certain perios of time), manual (set high or low and turn it off when you are ready) and probe (use the thermometer probe).

 

Auto Warm – When using the programmable setting it will turn off to Auto Warm when done so your food will be still be warm when your family is ready to eat it.

 

Dishwasher Safe – The stoneware insert and glass lid are dishwasher safe making it easy to clean.

 

Cliptight Lid – If you need to travel with this slow cooker, it has a cliptight lid so it won’t spill.

 

Full Grip Handles – The full grip handles also make it easy when travelling to carry.

 

1 Year Warranty – Always good to have for any appliance you buy.

 

There are a few things I don’t like about the Hamilton Beach 33967

Short Cord – A few people complained that the cord is so short, you have to use this cooker right next to an outlet. Persoannly, I like the shorter cords as I hate having a tangled mess of cords all over my countertop.

 

Cooks Too Fast – A few folks complained about the cooker cooking too fast. Really this is all relative to what you are used to in a slow cooker. The first few times you use it, you might want to moniter how fast your food is cooking until you are used to how this slow cooker works.

 

Only 2 Settings – There were some complaints that there were only 2 settings: hot and low. But when you include the auto warm feature and the 3 different modes you can cook in (programmable, manual or probe) there are more options than just the high and low.

 Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker Review

The good and the bad about this Crock Pot

 

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow CookerCrock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker price button

This crock pot had very few complaints and was described as a good sturdy basic crock pot. It does have some nice extras though.

Here are the pros for the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610

Programmable -You can program it for up to 20 hours!

 

Auto Warm – When it’s done with it’s cooking cycle, it switches to warm and will stay there for up to 6 hours.

 

Countdown Timer – The timer counts down to how many hours and minutes you have left until your food is done. Conveniant for planning on when to cook the rest of the meal.

 

Locking Lid – The lid locks so you can easily travel with it.

 

Easy Carry Handles – The handles make this crock pot easy to carry if need be.

 

Dishwasher Safe – The stoneware and lid can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

 

Oven and Microwave Safe – The stoneware can also be used in the oven and in the microwave.

 

1 Year Warranty – It’s always good to have at least a one year warranty with small appliances.

 

Here are the cons for the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610

Runs Hot -About the only real complaint I found was some said it cooked too hot. But then someone else thought it didn’t get hot enough. Go figure. Anyway, like I mentioned in the review above this one, keep tabs on it the first few times you use it until you are comfortable with how it cooks.

Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker Review

What was good and not so good about this slow cooker

Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow CookerCuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker price button

I wante to include at least one smaller slow cooker for those who are cooking for only themselves or for a small family. This Cuisinart one fit the bill nicely. It has lots of features most of us want in a slow cooker and had few complaints.

Below are the positives for the Cuisinart PSC-350.

Touchpad Control Panel – For a modern look and ease of use.

 

Programmable – The Cuisinart PSC-350 is programmable for up to 24 hours of cooking time.

 

Countdown Timer – It counts down so you can easily see how much time until your meal is ready.

 

4 Cooking Modes – This little slow cooker has 4 cooking mdes: High, Low, Simmer and Warm.

 

Auto Warm – After the cooking cycle is over, it automatically switches to auto warm and stays on the warm setting for up to 8 hours.

 

Stay Cool Side Handles – The handles will stay cool so you can easily move it without having to use pot holders.

 

Dishwasher Safe – The ceramic pot and glass lid are both dishwasher safe.

 

3 Year Warranty – This the only slow cooker I found that actually had a 3 year warranty instead of the typical 1 year warranty..

 

Here are the cons for this slow cooker

Short cord – A few folks complained about the short electric cord. But like I said before, I see that as a plus as you don’t have a long cord hanging on your kitchen counter.

 

Small but Deep – A few complained about it’s size. True, this cooker won’t be big enough to cook a large pot roast. The larger slow cookers are better for that. This model is best for small families who will be cooking smaller meals.

 

Frigidaire Professional 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker Review

The good and bad about this slow cooker

 

Frigidaire Professional 7-Quart Programmable Slow CookerFrigidaire Professional 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker price button

The largest of the bunch, the Frigidaire Professional is a classy looking work horse. WIth lots of great features, it’s a must for anyone cooking for a large family.

Below are what’s great about the Frigidaire Professional.

6 Cooking Options – The Frigidaire Professional has 6 cooking options: Buffet, Soup, Low, Medium, High and Warm.

 

Touchpad Control Panel – The touchpad sports a bright LED display for easy reading.

 

Auto Warm Function – After the food has finished cooking, it switches over to the warm mode and will stay there up to 3 hours.

 

Ergonomic Handles – To make it easy to carry.

 

Dishwasher Safe – The ceramic crock and glass lid are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

 

Beautiful Design – Many customers remarked on how beautiful this slow cooker is.

 

Below are the bad  things about this cooker.

Too Hot – Some complained about it cooking at a too high temperature.

 

Lid Not Tight – There were several complaints that the lid was loose but one person reported after several uses, the lid “settled” in to fit correctly.

 

What size slow cooker is best?

Slow cookers come in all sizes. I have seen them from 16 ounce capacity to 8 1/2 quart capacity. It just depends on how big of a crowd you are cooking for. Hamilton Beach 3 in 1

When I had 6 people living here, my 7 quart slow cooker was just right.

Now that there are only 4 of us living here, the 5 quart works well. The only time I wish I had a bigger one is if I’m cooking a large roast or if I need to take my slow cooker to a party or a church thing.

So, the question is how often would you need a large slow cooker? If it’s often, even if you have a smaller family, then go ahead and choose a larger slow cooker.

Or you could choose a crock pot like the one shown in the picture above. The Hamilton Beach 33135 3-in-1 Slow Cooker has 3 different sized crocks to fit in it: 2 quarts, 4 quarts or 6 quarts.

 

Here’s a Yummy Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Recipe

Cathy

 

Article by Cathy Ratcliffe
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Healthy Family Summer Eats

Happy family playing together in a picnic outdoors Routines often get tossed out the window when summer kicks off, and that includes your family’s regular eating habits. Kick off the summer with a commitment to your family’s health and nutrition with the following delicious and kid-friendly recipes:

Grilled Vegetable Skewers

Traditionally, firing up the grill can be an unhealthy approach for feeding the family if you plan to just toss on the hot dogs. Hot dogs are packed with sodium and white hotdog buns are almost entirely carbohydrates. When you’re grilling, set out an assortment of kid-friendly vegetables, including cherry tomatoes, yellow summer squash, zucchini and bell peppers. Let the kids make their own kabobs and serve them with plain Greek yogurt dipping sauce and corn on the cob.

Homemade Smoothie Pops

Rather than feeding your kids sugar-packed frozen treats from the store, make your own smoothie pops with fresh fruit. Blend up favorite fruits into a puree, pour them into a freezer pop mold or small plastic cups. Put a stick in the middle and freeze overnight. You can even make layered pops by filling the molds only part of the way with the first type of fruit and repeating with another. A layer of yogurt in the middle adds protein too, which is perfect for replenishing energy after an afternoon in the pool or playing in the yard.

Nutty Energy Bars

Granola bars are a parent’s best friend for curing hunger when you’re out and about. But some granola bars are secretly packed with ingredients you’d rather not feed your kids. Make homemade energy bars with your favorite combination of nuts, seeds, grains and dried fruits. Bake up a big batch at home and cut them into bars to stash in your bag for easy snacks when you and the kids are on the go.

Infused Water

Staying hydrated during the summer is essential, and sugary juice is the last type of beverage to drink for quenching thirsts. Even 100 percent fruit juice is packed with calories and sugar — resulting in energy peaks, tooth decay and worsening thirst. Stick to water and make it more fun and flavorful by infusing it with fruit, lime or lemon. Slice a few strawberries and put the slices in a pitcher of ice water, or make a cool spa water with cucumber slices and mint leaves. Eventually, your family will be so accustomed to drinking water, which is good for your health and your teeth according to Kool Smiles dentistry.

Seasoned Popcorn

Movie popcorn aside, popcorn is actually a very healthy whole grain, as long as you don’t drench kernels in salt and butter. This summer, invest in an air popper and pop your own varieties of seasoned popcorn. A little garlic powder, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs make a delicious savory popcorn. Lightly dust bowls of popcorn with cinnamon and sugar for a sweet snack.

Fueling your kids with healthy meals, snacks, beverages and desserts will help keep them going strong and feeling great all summer long. They need a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, whole grains and fiber and free of excess carbohydrates and sugars.

Janine Larsen

This mother of twins takes a no-nonsense approach to health, wellness and parenting. She lives with her rambunctious family and two dogs outside the Chicago area.