Healthy Snacking

Family Wellness | January 3, 2014 | By

boy_peeling_orangeDream Dinners has you eating homemade meals at dinner time, but we want to help you avoid ‘famished-overeating’ by incorporating healthy snacks into your diet.

Why healthy snacks?  Because sugary snacks make you crave more sugar causing your blood sugar levels to vacillate like a yoyo.  Low blood sugar makes you feel hungry and therefore eat more.  That’s why you can eat a muffin and feel so hungry in only a couple of hours.

Fiber, protein, and unsaturated oils will slow digestion and help keep your metabolism stable. Fiber rich foods include whole grains, raw fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, and lentils. You can find protein in lean meats, fish, jerky, low fat cheeses, nuts, eggs, and beans. If you eat something sweet, pair it with these other food that will slow its digestion.

You can stop the yo-yoing cycle by wisely choosing healthy snacks. Here are some of favorites from our Dream Dinners Home Office staff.


How to Eliminate Grocery Store Meltdowns

No matter how many years have passed since our kids were little, every mom has a vivid grocery store meltdown story.  That is our kid’s meltdown, not ours.  Well, both are a viable possibility!  When I see little children having tantrums at the checkout or hear loud wailing 3 aisles over, all I have is compassion.  Even on a good day, packing children in and out while focusing on the task at hand really is a lot of work!

My daughter was sweet and easy, but, my son offered me a strong dose of ‘reality therapy.’  He was like a wild animal throwing things and running off.  One time when he


My Simple Resolution … What if it Works?!

I try always to do everything in moderation so my resolutions are usually around improving something, like cleaning out a closet, organizing my pantry, and telling people how much I appreciate them. Hopefully I am making a new habit not just a resolution.

Last year…

During last summer’s vacation, Vern and I decided to chew each bite of food 30 times.  It’s not a magical number, since chewing depends on what you eat, but, that was our resolution. It’s a healthy choice for aiding digestion, increasing satiety, and maintaining weight. We figured if we spent 2 weeks focusing on chewing we could create a habit.


Super Bowl Appetizers

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This year (2014), the Super Bowl will be on February 2nd so make sure to plan ahead with meals off the January menu that can easily be turned into game day appetizers. You’ll be able to spend less time focusing on food prep and more time enjoying the game! Try these great options.

Outlaw Chicken Sliders – A platter of these crispy, cheesy sliders are sure to be a fan favorite and take only 20 minutes to prepare.


Creating Nostalgia is Easier than you Think

creating nostalgic memoriesI like the word nostalgia and the images it evokes.  I think of my grandma’s house, her pink sinks and mint cupboards, the two pre-set tables – one for adults and one for kids, the colored plastic divided plates we always got to use, and the aroma of delicious food bubbling in the oven.  These are my memories of Sunday dinners.

Nostalgia is a wistful desire to return in our minds to a former time in our lives, our homeland, and our relationships.  It’s a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.  (

None of our lives are perfect, and maybe that’s what makes nostalgia endearing, because we remember with fondness something that was special in our past, the ‘cream that rose to the top’ of mundane or difficult times.

What is the essence and causes of nostalgia?  Think of the input you receive from your five senses and the emotion this stirs.  Consider your own heartwarming memory. What
do you see, smell, hear, touch, and taste?  How do you feel?  Our senses are strong evokers of nostalgia because these “stimuli first pass through the amygdala, the emotional seat of the brain. Music, video games, and weather can also be strong triggers of nostalgia.” (


Holiday Family Night Ideas

Christmas, Holidays | December 20, 2013 | By

oasted_pecan_chickenThere’s no doubt that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. But even with all the shopping and prep work that needs to be done, the parties and get-togethers you plan to attend, it’s important to spend some time relaxing with your family.

Try making our Toasted Pecan Chicken with Mashed Potatoes for savory comfort food the whole family will love. Then whip up some hot chocolate and pick out a favorite holiday movie for a relaxing family movie night. Need movie ideas?


Creating Family Traditions, It’s not as Hard as you Think

family traditionsAs a new mom, I remember feeling a little pressure if asked about my budding family’s traditions. We were young, growing, and didn’t have any yet. I wanted to create traditions but somehow got overwhelmed by visions of polished scenes from magazines.

Today, I’ve learned you don’t always have to set out to choose a tradition, it can choose you.  My husband started adding a splash of 7-Up to my granddaughter’s orange juice for a sparkling treat.  This has become an important favorite to her.  Every time she spends the night, she remembers and asks for grandpa’s sparkling orange juice with breakfast.  A tradition has been born!


Bake Cookies Day

Christmas, Holidays, Recipes | December 16, 2013 | By

Just a week before the Christmas holiday, Bake Cookies Day is the perfect reminder to make a few sweet treats to share with family and friends. To get you started, we’re sharing a cookie recipe handed down by co-founder Tina Kuna’s mother. Grandma Rue (as the grandkids who couldn’t pronounce her last name, Ruebush, called her) brought these scrumptious cookies to festive occasions, making every gathering extra special. Whether you’re planning on serving Christmas cookies to your kids, gifting a plateful to friends or participating in an annual cookie exchange, these cookies are sure to be a delicious addition.

Grandma Rue’s Peanut Butter Fingers
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  1. ½ cup butter
  2. ½ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. ¼ cup nonfat egg substitute
  6. ⅓ cup peanut butter
  7. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  8. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  9. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  10. 1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  11. 1 cup chocolate chips
For Drizzle
  1. ½ cup powdered sugar
  2. ¼ cup peanut butter
  3. 2-4 tablespoons milk
  1. Spray one 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In a bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla together with a handheld mixer until smooth. Add the egg substitute and peanut butter and mix until smooth.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine with the sugar/peanut butter mixture until well blended (you may need to mix by hand). Spread the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the baked cookie dough mixture immediately after removing the pan from the over. Let stand for 5 minutes, until the chips have melted. Quickly spread the melted chocolate evenly over the baked cookie dough.
  6. Mix powdered sugar, peanut butter, and milk until creamy, adjusting the milk to a desired consistency, using just enough milk to make the topping loose enough to drizzle. Drizzle the topping over the smoothed chocolate.
  7. Cut into bars and serve.
Dream Dinners
If you’re looking for more cookie ideas, try Martha Stewart’s traditional cookie recipes, these show stopping Christmas cookie recipes and ideas on packaging cookies as gifts from Better Homes and Gardens.

National Cocoa Day (December 13, 2014)


Though the weather outside is frightful, curling up with a cup of hot cocoa can make your day so more delightful. Especially when today is National Cocoa Day!

The difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is that hot chocolate is made with melted chocolate and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. To make the perfect cup of microwavable hot cocoa, combine a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder with two heaping teaspoons of sugar and a dash of salt in a mug. Add two teaspoons of cold milk and stir until smooth, then fill the cup with milk and microwave on high for a minute or until hot.

The great thing about hot cocoa is the endless variety of flavor combinations.


Grace, an Opportunity for Gratefulness

When I was little we said grace ‘jingles’ before our meals like, “God is great, God is good let us thank him for our food.”  Today, my husband usually says an impromptu grace and, in our family, we like to hold hands.

I love the habit we have and how it draws us together as a family, focusing our hearts on being thankful.  Grace reminds us that ‘apart from God, we have no good thing.’

‘Saying grace’ or ‘saying the blessing’ refers to the custom of thanking God for the meal. It’s hard to say where grace began as most religious practices share this common heritage. Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” and it was his common practice to thank God before meals, “before he fed them he broke the bread and gave thanks to God for it (Matthew 14:19).”