Food

Disclosure: Balance Bar has provided me to with product to facilitate this review, along with compensation for my time and effort in creating this content. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows I have a sweet tooth. It’s my vice. Even a few years ago when I was on my weight loss journey and meticulously counting calories every day, I always left room for a sweet treat a couple days a week. That treat? Usually cookies or something else that would definitely qualify as not so healthy. Even though I was always careful not to overdo it, there was still a level of guilt about eating “bad” snacks instead of something healthier.

Today, I am focused a lot less on my weight, and a lot more on general healthy living and moderation. Which means that though I sometimes journal my meals, I’m not on a strict calorie count. I just watch what I eat and try to move my body. And my sweet tooth is just a strong as ever. So when Balance Bar reached out to me about trying their newest protein bars, meant specifically to curb those sweet cravings, I couldn’t wait try them.

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Because I’m going to be real with you — when I want a cookie, I have a cookie. I’ve never been great at depriving myself, because I don’t enjoy the idea of a “diet.” I just want to be mindful of what I put in my body and still be able to enjoy the treats I love once in a while. The challenge is that “once in a while” tends to turn into “every day” over time. And I knew I needed to dial back.

What Balance Bar has done is change the way I think about snacking. Now, when I want something sweet, I reach for one, and I can feel good about the fact that though they taste amazing, they are also providing my body with nutrition I’d never get from a cookie. They are formulated to have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and dietary fat that feels indulgent and filling, so I don’t feel the need to keep snacking.

This is helpful when I’m at home working or chasing my little one around because I don’t have to think about what I’ll eat to keep me fueled. (Plus, Juliza likes a little something sweet too. What can I say? She’s her mother’s child.) They’re also great to throw in my purse on my way out the door so I’m not tempted to stop at the drive thru for some french fries or anything else I’d be better off leaving alone. Balance Bar is a snack I can enjoy without thinking about it. It’s a snack I can crave freely.

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And with my oldest daughter home for the summer and wanting to snack all the time, they’ve become a go-to for her as well. They are the perfect snack for her to throw in her bag for quick refueling during gymnastics practice or to keep her satisfied between meals.

Now let’s talk about those flavors. Look. They are an amazing incentive to choose a healthier snack option. I tried Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat, Chocolate Peppermint Patty, Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle and Dulce De Leche & Caramel. And when I tell you they are all scrumptious? I am so serious. I am picky about tastes and textures when it comes to new foods, so I went into this a little skeptical that I’d be able to make myself eat them all. I truly needn’t have been worried. They are all sweet and decadent and so delicious that I don’t even have time to think about the texture. My absolute favorite is Dark Chocolate Pecan Turtle.

And the awesome thing is that there are a bunch of other flavor options you can try if none of these tickles your fancy. Head to your local Walmart store or Amazon to try them for yourselves.

They’ve become the go-to snack for my family this summer, and I’m thankful that I have them without guilt.

Giveaway

Want to try Balance Bars for yourself? Win a box of Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat mini bars.

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My daughter loves Valentine’s Day. She loves decorating a “mailbox” to collect cards from her classmates, and she loves all the candy. What can I say? She’s a kid. Plus she has a mother with a notorious sweet tooth.

This year, Walmart challenged me to share Valentine’s Day party ideas, and I decided to surprise my girls with some homemade treats. Put these three easy DIY snacks together with affordable ingredients and Valentine’s decor from Walmart, and you’ve got an instant party.

Treat 1: Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

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Ingredients

  • Bag of strawberry marshmallows (though white would work too)
  • 4-8 oz. chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions

My daughter brought home a chocolate covered marshmallow that a friend gave her as a gift, and I wanted to try my hand at making them myself. Turns out it’s really easy.

Push a popsicle or lollipop stick through one end of each marshmallow. It doesn’t have to go all the way through, but I suggest trying to push it at least halfway so it doesn’t fall out.

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Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how many marshmallows you plan to make.

Dip half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Coat the chocolate with sprinkles.

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Place the marshmallows, stick side down, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes or the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

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Once the chocolate has set, they’re good to go!

Treat 2: Pretzel Wands

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Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • 4-8 oz. white chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles

Directions

If you have never had chocolate-covered pretzels, you need to make these right away! The combination of sweet and salty flavors together is magical. I had these at my niece’s birthday party last year, and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.

Dip each pretzel stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length, and let the excess chocolate drip off.

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You can then decorate the wands however you’d like. We used sprinkles, but you could use a different type of hard candy or something else entirely. Maybe you could drizzle dark chocolate in a pattern.

Anyway, once decorated, place them, chocolate side up, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. You can speed up the process by putting them in the freezer or fridge, like the marshmallows.

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These are SO good! And your kids will have too much fun spreading Valentine’s day magic with their wands.

Treat 3: Strawberry Roses

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Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole strawberries
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks or lollipop sticks
  • Optional: Whipped cream

Directions

After all that sugar, I wanted to give them something a bit healthier. This is the easiest of the three snacks, but the result is so pretty! I found this idea at Spend with Pennies and I had to try it!

Wash and dry your strawberries. Insert a toothpick or lollipop stick in the stem end of each strawberry.

Starting from the bottom (nearest the leaves), make small slices slightly angled towards the center of the strawberry, but be sure not to cut all the way through.

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This will create the rose “petals”. Use the knife to bend each piece out toward you slightly, which will create a layered effect. Turn and continue making slices. You’ll probably be able to do 5 or 6 on the bottom row.

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Move up the strawberry, continuing to cut. For each row of petals, cut between the petals you have already cut. The closer you get to the top, the thinner you’ll want to cut, so the petals will “curl”.

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That’s it! Serve right away for best results 🙂

These treats are a great start to a Valentine’s Day party, and you can find affordable themed plates, cups and other tableware at Walmart to complete the fun.

More Valentine’s Day Party Ideas

Check out these ideas from other Walmart Moms.

Simple decorating ideas from Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes

Gorgeous Valentine’s Day tablescape from Liz at Hoosier Homemade

Affordable decorating tips from Linsey at Lille Punkin

Tissue paper pom tutorial from Tara at Unsophisticook

Making the most of your party on a budget, from Heather at The Domestic Diva

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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If I’m honest, my husband is really the only football fan in the house. I’ll oblige him and watch games with him, but the only game I’ll really watch with any level of interest is the Super Bowl. One of the ways we enjoy the game is by having a bunch of finger foods on hand so we can snack to our heart’s content. So when Walmart asked me to share a recipe in honor the big game, sharing this one was a no-brainer.

I discovered this recipe a few years back, and trust me when I tell you it does not disappoint. These wings are crazy addictive — hence the name. And I added my own twist with just a little curry powder to boost the flavor factor.

I headed to Walmart to pick up all my ingredients at affordable prices. Assuming you don’t have any of the ingredients on hand at all, you’ll spend about $25 total. But since you probably have many of them in your pantry already, it will likely cost considerably less than that.

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds chicken wing sections
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup butter

Directions

Pre-season the wing sections with 1 tablespoon of the curry powder and a light dusting of your favorite seasonings to taste. I am partial to Goya Adobo and Badia all purpose seasonings. You don’t need a lot, because the “breading” will be packed with flavor. This is just to make sure the chicken under the coating is still well-seasoned.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, paprika, the remaining tablespoon of curry powder, salt and pepper in a bowl.

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Melt the butter in the microwave or a small pan. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Trust me on this step. It will save you lots of scrubbing later.

Dip each wing section in butter, then roll it in the cheese and seasoning mixture. Arrange them in the foil-lined pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need more than 1 for this amount of chicken.

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Bake for 1 hour, and prepare to lick your fingers in delight!

It’s hard to take a photo that really does these wings justice. But when I tell you that these will go fast, I mean it. They are SO good!

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They’re the best non-fried wings you’ll probably ever have. So you’re welcome 🙂

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Over the past few years, I’ve become mildly obsessed with cranberries. Whole, jellied, juiced — all of it. The flavor just makes me happy, and I’ve managed to get the rest of my family on board. So when Walmart shared their Holiday Entertaining Guide with me, I was so happy to find a cranberry-based recipe to try. And this is now officially my favorite holiday drink.

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Seriously, head to Walmart right now for these ingredients. You won’t be disappointed. And if you want to add a little heat, there’s a cocktail recipe too, alcohol included.

Cranberry Fizz Mocktail

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Ingredients

3 ounces sparkling cider or ginger ale
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 lemon or lime
Sugar & Cinnamon Mix (blend completely):
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions

Rub a lemon or lime around the rim of your glass and then dip into the sugar/cinnamon mix.

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Fill the glass with ice, and add the cranberry juice.

Add a splash of fresh juice of lemon or lime. Top off with sparkling cider or ginger ale.

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Bonus Tip

For a festive garnish, skewer some cranberries and freeze them overnight. Place a skewer in the drink for an extra splash of color and to help keep the drink cold.

Trust me when I say that the cinnamon/sugar mixture around the edge of the cup is where the magic happens. You can make it without ice, as I did, but don’t skip the cinnamon. The flavors together (and the look of the sugar around the rim) feel like you’re drinking something really sinful, even though it was safe to share with my oldest daughter.

Thank me later 🙂 And Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

When I was growing up, lent was always an interesting time at my house. Because honestly, meat was a huge part of our diet, and meals usually started with the meat and built from there. So lent presented a challenge. We usually wound up eating lots of starches and vegetables, with very little protein on the table.

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Thankfully, my husband is a lot better at making meatless meals than I am, as he grew up eating them. So when Walmart asked me to share a vegetarian recipe for lent, I asked him to lend me his skills in the kitchen and share this rich, filling chili recipe.

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Ingredients

  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 packages Morningstar Grillers Crumbles
  • 2 cans tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste

Directions

Add all the ingredients to crock pot, starting with beans on the bottom, and mix well. Turn the crock pot on low, cover and cook for 8 hours.

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Alternatively, you can set the crock pot on high and cook for about 4 hours. But on the lower setting, this is the perfect meal to start in the morning before you leave for work, and it will be done to perfection when you get home. It is awesome even without the cayenne and hot sauce, but my hubby and daughter like it spicy. It’s also great when served with crackers or over rice.

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Serves 8.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Baby Juliza likes to eat. No. Really. She has a knack for sniffing out whenever someone is eating, and she loves to sample a little something from everyone’s plate. This is her “I’m about to eat” face, so excited that I couldn’t get her to keep still long enough for a photo.

For the most part, I’m content to let her eat table food — fruit, veggies, chicken, fish — even macaroni and cheese and whole wheat spaghetti. But there are moments when we’re eating something she really just shouldn’t eat — pizza, for example — or we’re in a hurry and I want to provide healthy options for her. I know I can head to my nearest Walmart and find an abundance of organic baby food options, including Plum Organics, Gerber organic, Earth’s Best Organics, Happy Baby, Ella’s Kitchen, Beech Nut and more.

My little stinker loves the Plum Organics fruit and vegetable super puffs, in large part because she can feed herself with her fingers. I prefer to give her real fruit and veggies when I can, but these are a good stand-in that I won’t feel terrible about giving to her. She’s also a fan of their Little Yums teething wafers, especially now that she’s cutting the second of her molars and her gums are very swollen.
 

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of the squeezable packs of fruit and veggies because I can’t see what’s in the container, but I’ll give them to her as snacks at home when I can squeeze the contents into a small bowl. This is a packaging quibble for me though. The quality of the food is great, and I like the Gerber organic options because they tend to be a bit more affordable than some of the strictly organic brands. Plus, I’m happy to see a traditional baby food maker wade into the organic pool. 

The selection really is great, and everything is reasonably priced so I can get a lot for my money. This isn’t always true when buying organic for the rest of the family, so I appreciate that we can do what’s best for Juliza without breaking the bank.

What about you? Do you buy organic baby food? What are your favorite brands?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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I confess: I love potatoes. Like, I’d give them a Valentine’s Day present and take them out to dinner if I could. But…I’ve never been a big fan of mashed potatoes. It’s definitely not about taste, but more about texture. I just can’t get down with potatoes that aren’t mashed just right. And it can be hard to do it right. This recipe though? It has made me come around, and my daughters can’t get enough of it. Even baby Juliza.

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Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • ¼ cup Country Crock® Spread
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil

The first, and one of the most important, steps is to cube the potatoes pretty small. This makes it a lot easier to mash them later without a lot of lumps and chunks.

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Cover the potatoes with water in saucepan and bring them to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Drain the water.

Return potatoes to the pan and mash them. I personally like to use a large metal spoon with holes in it because I can press down on a lot of potatoes at once. Add milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

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And this is the next important step. Add the Country Crock® to make the potatoes creamy, buttery and perfect.

Then mix in your fresh herbs, and save a bit to use for garnish. I used dill and basil, but realistically, you can use whatever you have on hand. Dill, though, is a great flavor to add to potatoes.

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Honestly, these potatoes are hard to mess up and really delicious. They’re a great beginning to any meal, and they’re so good and flavorful that you’ll never need to cover them with gravy.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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Like most kids in America, I loved Disney movies when I was growing up. While it wasn’t lost on me that very few of the characters actually looked like me, I still enjoyed the fantastical stories of adventure and love. Peter Pan was always one of my favorites. The idea that there could be a place where children could be children — doing whatever they pleased — was fascinating to me. And Captain Hook was the villain I loved to hate. Plus, I always felt a little sorry for Smee, and loved Tinkerbell’s sass and Wendy’s levelheadedness.

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Well, I’ll get a chance to relive my childhood joy tonight when Peter Pan Live! airs on NBC at 8/7c, and you can too! The stars include Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver, and Walmart is a presenting sponsor. It promises to be a good time, and Lord knows I need some of that right about now! NBC provided me with a party pack, and my daughter and I had a great time making some Peter Pan themed snacks with supplies from Walmart to get us in the mood to watch. If you’d like to get in the spirit too, check out these recipes.

Ticking Croc Brownies

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You’ll Need:

  • Box brownies (or feel free to make them from scratch)
  • 4-5 colorful ice cream cones
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • White icing

When I was little, I remember being terrified of the idea of a ticking crocodile that bit off arms. But by the time I finally “met” him near the end of Peter Pan, my opinion had changed. I was sort of happy he’d given Captain Hook what was coming to him. I found this snack on Pinterest via Creative Stirrings and thought it was too cute! Ideally, I would’ve used green cones, but I had to work with what I could find.

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Simply make brownies per the instructions on the box. I actually had to use 2 boxes to fill my glass Pyrex baking dish. Next, cut off about 1/3 of each cone. Four to five cones should suffice.

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To make eyes, push a mini chocolate chip into a mini marshmallow, using some white icing as “glue” to hold them together, if you need to. Then use some icing to attach two eyes to the top of each cone.

Finally, lay the “crocs” on top of the brownies in random positions.

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How cute is that? Peter would be proud! So is Mr. Crocodile.

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But we’re not done yet. To go with the brownies, we’re having…

Fairy Fizz Punch

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You’ll Need:

  • Pink lemonade
  • 7Up or Sprite

Mix 1 part lemonade to 1 part soda. Done. Couldn’t be simpler.

Then drink this perfectly pink, fizzy concoction in Tinkerbell’s honor while you enjoy the show.

Watch & Tweet with Me!

My family and I will be getting dressed up in our Peter Pan gear, swords included, to watch live. Baby Pan is ready!

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Plus, you can join me, Walmart and a few other Walmart Moms on Twitter as we live-tweet the show tonight starting at 8/7c using the hashtag #PeterPanLive. Hope to see you there!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received a party pack, gift card and compensation from NBC for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.