Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Toy Season is Coming ....

Some toys are great.  Some toys, not so much!


But what really makes a good toy?  Dr. Toy likes to ask five basic questions:
  • Is this product worth the price?
  • Does it have lasting "play value"?
  • Is it appropriate?
  • Is it fun?
  • Does it meet safety standards?
Dr. Toy's Smart Play/Smart Toys: How to Select and Use the Best Toys and Games, just released in the expanded new 4th Edition, was written for new parents and others who care about children, and is available in toy and book stores or online. Dr. Toy invites us to take the time to describe play and product experiences, and ask questions about toys and products.

Stevanne Auerback, PhD, an established speaker, consultant, author, trained in child psychology, education, special education and child development, is known as Dr. Toy. She joined us on to talk about what makes a good toy? Which toys make the best gifts? Where can I find quality educational toys for my child?  And more ... Listen here:


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Around the World Contest

Our Around the World Contest is OUT of this world - two WINNERS will receive a COMPLETE SET of 12 books!





The "If You Were Me and Lived in ...." series is an exciting introduction to cultures around the world, perfect for ages Pre-K to 8. These books help children realize that although the world is large, people all over the globe are basically the same. 

From food to famous landmarks, this series focuses on what life would be like from a child's viewpoint in Mexico, France, South Korea, Turkey, Kenya, Norway, Australia, Russia, Peru, Portugal, India, and Greece. Coming soon: Hungary and Scotland! Check out Carole P. Roman's site HERE.

How to Enter: Just complete the easy form on our Contest Page HERE. That's it! 

Deadline: Deadline is November 21st at 12:00 midnight EST.

Winner: The winners will be announced in our weekly newsletter.
To subscribe, sign up HERE!

How to Claim: Winners have 7 days from email notification to reply and claim prize or a new name will be re-drawn.

NOTE: Only 1 entry per person please.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kids and Volunteering

Thank you to the kidkind foundation for sharing this great article by Philip Brown, PhD, about the value of children being involved in community service activities.


TOP 10 REASONS TO ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO VOLUNTEER

#1: Volunteering helps foster empathy.
Empathy is the most critical disposition for responding to the needs of others.  We need to be able to imagine what other people may be going through or feeling. Volunteering helps engage our natural empathic sense, but you have to make sure that there are opportunities to talk about the purpose and experience of any volunteer activity if the recipients aren't visible in the process (making sandwiches for the homeless isn't the same as helping to deliver the sandwiches to homeless people).

#2: Volunteering helps develop a sense of self-efficacy.
Children may understand that other people need help or that there are projects that could make a community more habitable or productive, but feel helpless or unclear that an individual can do anything about it in response. Volunteering can provide experiences that affirm a young person's sense that they can make a difference through their own effort and skills. These experiences can empower young people to apply themselves in other contexts, including school and other organized activities, such as faith-based youth groups or scouting. 

#3: Volunteers gain experience working with other people.
Social skills are best learned in social situations. When people come together to engage in a meaningful task, issues of communication, power, collaboration and trust rise to the surface in a supportive context. It's easier, although still a challenge, to learn to navigate these waters with others who may be more skillful and be in a position to offer supportive feedback. It's a good way for parents and children to see each other in a different light, as well, and learn together.

#4: Volunteering develops new skills.
In addition to social skills, practical experiences of organizing tasks and using physical and mental capabilities to get jobs done is fundamental to successful work of any kind. In school, these skills are often fragmented or unrelated to real-world applications. Service activities offer the chance to apply and test our abilities, as well as learn from other kids or adults in a way that engages kids’ natural drive for competence.

# 5: Volunteering provides the opportunity to explore new interests and develop new passions.
There is nothing more exhilarating than discovering a new field of interest that sparks a real passion for learning and doing. One of the wonderful things about being our species is our inquisitiveness and motivation to investigate and find meaning in discovery. Service activities have the potential to expose us to these opportunities and see how other people live their passions.

#6: Volunteers learn a lot.
In the process of joining with others in service, volunteers learn about their community and the larger world. It takes us out of our own sphere of self-interest and self-absorption and opens us to issues and solutions, as well as other people's needs.  



#7: Volunteers actually make a difference in other people's lives.
Think about how much more impoverished our communities would be if all of the volunteer services disappeared. This is a lesson that children can be taught early and take with them into adulthood. For example, volunteers are critical in:

Helping families (daycare and eldercare)
Improving schools (tutoring, literacy)
Supporting youth (mentoring and after-school programs)
Beautifying the community (beach and park cleanups)

#8: Volunteering encourages civic responsibility.
Community service and volunteerism are a way to teach the importance of investing in our community and the people who live in it. We want our kids to not only be successful in their work and personal lives, but to learn what it means to be a citizen in our republic. The American values of democratic decision-making, social justice and equal opportunity require active participation for us to have a successfully functioning country.

#9: Volunteering offers you a chance to give back.
It's important for children to see that there are small and large opportunities to support community resources that your family uses or that benefit people they care about. Whether it's offering to help man a booth to support improvements in a park you use, or joining a fundraising walk to support medical research for a disease that afflicts a family member or friend, children and adults alike can feel empowered through participation.

#10: Volunteering is good for you.
While this is the last reason for volunteering on this list, and may not be the most important, it is good to know that research has consistently shown that acting altruistically has real benefits. Volunteering provides physical and mental rewards; it has been shown to:

Reduce stress: When you focus on someone other than yourself, it interrupts tension-producing patterns.
Make you healthier: The moods and emotions that frequently come through volunteer service like optimism, joy, and a sense of self-efficacy can contribute to strengthening the immune system.
Make you happier: Human beings are social animals. Working closely with others in a common pursuit for the benefit of our fellow creatures can fill us with a sense of purpose, and that can lead us to feelings of satisfaction and true happiness.

“Volunteering with your kids touches hearts, teaches important life lessons and engraves fond, lifelong memories of family bonding,” said Leigh Ann Errico, CEO and founder of Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation. “Understanding and participating in activities to benefit the community is crucial to weaving one’s moral fiber.”

Errico built Wear the Cape and established the foundation in 2013 after she came up short in her search for resources on kindness and character-building that would appeal to her own four children. Other parents clearly had faced the same challenge; Wear the Cape’s Facebook page already has over 1,100 “Likes”, all through organic growth. The idea for the brand was sparked when Errico observed that the chance to wear a cape—the organization’s logo—motivates children to act like heroes, or “Cape Kids,” in order to live up to the symbol of honor.

In partnership with Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, Dr. Brown has embarked on a critical mission to help parents across the country support the development of character in their kids. For additional resources from Dr. Brown and to learn more about Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation, go to www.wearthecapekids.com.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide: November

It's time for another look at our favorite month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  We love that it brings us joy, cleanliness, productivity and focus.  (Thanks for keeping us on task Monica!)

Below you'll find an excerpt from the NOVEMBER section (hello holidays!), but feel free to click on the link above to the entire guide if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead (or if you need to catch up from previous months)!  Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

November

The holidays are fast approaching so why not clear out your kids’ (and your grown up) toys to make room for the arrival of new ones? Fall is the perfect time to enroll kids in the toy de-cluttering process because the promise of new toys can be very motivating for them! Pre-holiday time also a great opportunity to get them in the giving spirit. For many kids, knowing their donated toys will go to other children who don’t have any makes it much easier for them to detach from toys they might otherwise be reluctant to part with. 

Once you’ve pared down, if you still have more than enough toys, put half of them away so your kids have a manageable number to play with. Rotating toys in and out of circulation throughout the year is a good way to keep kids from getting overwhelmed and makes it easier for them to clean up after themselves and keep their spaces tidy. Rotating toys periodically also gives kids fresh new things to play with and provides variety without having to buy new things all the time.

Check out the entire Big O Series (50+ shows) right here!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tween Friendships ...

 Jealousy. Hurt. Inadequacy. Embarrassment.  WHEW!  And that's just the tip of the "Tween Girl Friendship Iceberg"!  Friend issues can be HUGE ... and overwhelming for both parents and kids.  

We are so lucky to have Annie Fox M.ed., parenting expert and school change agent on our side!  In her new book, The Girls' Q&A Book on Friendship50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the Drama, she provides girls with "real solutions" to handle very "real issues" with courage, empathy and respect.  

We did a little Girl Friendship Q&A with Annie on our show (coming soon) but here's even more ............ 

Get it on Amazon.  Click HERE.
Q:  It seems like in 6th grade, all of my friends are starting to dress up for school.  I don’t want to, because I like to wear shorts and t-shirts mostly.  I am feeling pressured though and I am nervous my friends will make fun of me.  Should I try to dress nicer?

Annie:  If you don’t want to “dress up” for school, then you shouldn’t. On the other hand, you have to be realistic about what other people will say when you show up in shorts and t-shirts. A little teasing might come your way, but if you let your friends know that you don’t like it, then that ought to be the end of it… Real friends don’t make fun of each other. Bottom line, this is up to you to decide. Which would you dislike more? Dressing a little “nicer” for school OR being called out for wearing shorts and t-shirts? Think about it.

Q:  I was friends with this girl all of the grades in elementary school and now she won’t even say hi to me in middle school.  I am not sure what I did, but I was hoping we would still be friends.  Should I say something to her?

Annie: It sounds like there was some misunderstanding, at least on her part. Instead of wondering if you’ve done something to upset your old friend, you should talk to her. Otherwise, you may never know why this good friendship ended. Go up to her, smile, say “Hi. I’d like to talk to you in private.” Hopefully she will talk to you and be honest about what’s going on. If you did something she is blaming you for and you owe her an explanation and an apology, please give her one. If she doesn’t want to talk to you, then you have to accept that, even though if can be frustrating when you want to get to the bottom of a conflict and the other person isn’t willing to communicate. If that’s what happens, please be respectful. Do not talk about this girl behind her back. Reach out to new friends and remember what you’ve learned from this situation. You need a friend who is willing to talk about a problem instead of shutting down communication. Since that is important to you, make sure that you are willing to talk to a friend whenever she does something that upsets you. When we talk about problems we make friendships stronger.

Q:  My parents won’t let me have a phone yet and I am the only one of my friends without one.  They are texting to each other all the time and I am left out.  I really want one, but I will not be able to get one until next year.  How can I still be a part of the group if I don’t know what they are always texting about?

Annie:  This is a tough one. Your friends are communicating through their phones. Each time they do, they share information and feelings that bring them closer to each other. I understand why you feel left out. Do you understand why your parents won’t get you a phone until next year? If you aren’t clear about their reasons for waiting, please talk to them. Find out why they don’t think you are ready yet. And during that conversation, hopefully you will have the opportunity to tell them (calmly and maturely) why you believe you are ready to have a phone and to use it responsibly. This conversation may not change your parents’ feelings about getting a phone, but at least you will understand where they are coming from and they will understand where you are coming from.
As for feeling closer to your “always texting” friends… talk to them about it. You might say something like this “You guys are always texting. I feel left out. How would you feel about putting down the phones when I’m around?” Then close your mouth and listen to what they say. Real friends want to make each other feel included… not left out. If your friends aren’t willing to make you feel more included, what might that tell you about the kind of friends they are? Something to think about!

Q:  My family spends a lot of time together and I don’t do much with my friends on my own.  They always do sleepovers and seem to go out all the time.  For now, I am still a part of the group and I know they like me, but I worry that I will eventually be left out since I don’t join in all the time.

Annie:  It’s a cool thing for families to spend time together. Many tweens and teens that write to me for advice seem sad that they never get to do anything with their family. They miss that! So you’re lucky you’ve got a family that is close in this way. But you’re growing up and it’s also important for you to have time with your friend. I’m wondering if you’ve ever talked to your parents about ways that you can spend a little more time with friends. You might say something like this, “I love you and I love the time we spend together as a family. But sometimes I feel upset that I never get to go to sleepovers with my friends. I’m actually a little worried that they will stop inviting me because I never get to do stuff with them outside of school. They are having a sleepover at _______’s house next Saturday. I’d like to go.” If your parents have family plans next Saturday and you have to be with them, then you might say this, “OK. I get that we’re busy, but I want to go to a sleepover. So which weekend can I do it?” With a conversation like this, your parents will start to understand that being with friends is important to you. Hopefully, they will look at the calendar and find some dates when you can spend part of the weekend with your friends.  I hope this helps.

Q:  I want to try out for the basketball team at my school but I am not sure I will make it.  And, I don’t want to be made fun of if I don’t.  How can I be more confident for trying out, and how can still be ok if I don’t make it?

Annie:  You want to try out for the team… go for it! Otherwise, you’ll never know if you could have made it this year. I understand you are worried you’ll be made fun of for some reason, but don’t let that hold you back from doing what you want to do. As for self-confidence, the best way to build your confidence before the try-outs, is to practice, practice, practice dribbling, pivoting, shooting baskets, etc. Go online, do some research on Basketball skills. You’ll probably find a ton of stuff. YouTube videos, too! Work hard before the try-out and do your best. If you make the team this year. Great. You’ll still be working very hard to get better during the season. If you don’t make this year… you can still play basketball whenever you get the chance. And of course, you can continue working very hard to get better and try-out for the team again next year. Good luck!


50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA on Amazon!


REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW!

As mother's of tweens, we eagerly reviewed Annie's new book before it hit the shelves.  Here's what we had to say:



"My heart aches for young girls' daily challenges in the Q part of the "Girl's Friendship Q&A Book", but I smile big from the A's.  Annie Fox's answers are powerful. They build confidence. They remind girls to be a good friend to themselves first.  They send the ultimate message:  You are normal; you are important; and you are not alone." - Vicky
"Girls Friendship Q&A Book by Annie Fox is a go-to book that EVERY tween girl should have.  The scenarios and quizzes are spot-on the situations they will encounter, and the advice is much more than advice.  There are ideas and choices to empower girls to understand their emotions, make good choices and feel great about themselves.” - Jen

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pretend Play: 5 Top Benefits

Anytime of the year ... Halloween included, children learn by imagining and doing. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas. Dress-up play is vital to a child’s development. 


First things first ... This month, in honor of our favorite holiday, we are giving away an adorable costume from Great Pretenders!  The winner can choose either the adventure cape for boys or the Sleeping Cutie princess dress.  Moms and dads can enter on our Facebook fan page under What Really Matters.  It's so appropriate since pretend play REALLY matters ... 

According to licensed child psychologist Dr. Laurie Zelinger, “It fosters the imaginative processes, and allows for play without rules or script. Dress up allows for experimentation, role play and fantasy.“  Major benefits include:


1.  Social and Emotional Skills:  Dress up allows for experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, children learn societal rules such as how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve. Character play means that the child is "walking in someone else's shoes” and it encourages teamwork along with an interest in peers. The child also learns to negotiate  which helps teach the important moral development skill of empathy. Since children see the world form their own point of view, cooperative play helps them understand the feelings of others.  


2.  Language Skills:  When children engage in pretend play, you will hear words and phrases you never thought they knew. Pretend play requires children to invent and tell stories and since almost all children narrate their pretend play experiences, they train their minds to transform ideas into words. Children usually mimic words and ideas from parents, teachers, daycare or what they hear on TV. This repetition builds vocabulary and helps kids visualize what they say, especially when adults offer feedback to help kids better understand the words they use. This also helps with grammar – they may not know the rules but they are training themselves  to speak like adults. This also helps make the connection between spoken and written language — a skill that will later help them to read.


3.  Self-Control:  Young kids typically have little self-control. During pretend play, children have to take a role and play within those boundaries, especially when other kids are involved. Studies show that children control their impulses significantly better during pretend play than at other times. Did you ever wonder why parents often make up a game to get their children to eat their vegetables or finish chores? Transforming an unappealing task into a make-believe game is a popular trick among clever parents and educators.


4.  Problem Solving Skills:  Pretend play also provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s the logistics of sharing toys or a pretend problem the children are escaping from, the child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever. Role playing games lead children to face situations that far exceed kids' real-life experiences. Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way. Children often use pretend play to work out more personal challenging life events too, whether it is coping with an illness in the family, the absence of a parent or divorce, or a house fire. Although kids may not always act logically during tough pretend dilemmas, the very process of problem solving becomes habitual. By practicing problem solving in an artificial environment, kids are better prepared to think of creative solutions to their own real-life problems.


5.  Self-esteem:  By giving your child complete control in their pretend world and accepting them as a silly character, you are enhancing their self-esteem. While they use their own initiative to develop story lines, their creative imagination to expand stories and their own personality to choose a character they enjoy, you are enhancing their self-esteem by allowing them complete power in the world & enjoying it with them. Take for example superheroes. Considering the thrill children get out of pretending to be a grown-up, it's no wonder that they're also crazy about mimicking the most powerful version of adults: superheroes. Pretending to be Batman or Wonder Woman allows a toddler to feel brave and invincible, which helps them develop self-confidence. Similarly, all that running and leaping keeps them active and builds strength, balance, and coordination.



“Confidence is brought about in children by the realization that they have the ability to be anybody they want in this life and accomplish anything they desire. Our goal at Great Pretenders is to help kids achieve that level of confidents and to start young.”

“Surely pretend play has many benefits for child development but one of the main things is that it’s also FUN for parents and for children! It’s a great bonding experience, especially when you participate in your child’s make belief world”   Kate Muddiman, Creative Director, Great Pretenders

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thriller Meets Love Story

"Thriller meets love story in a novel 
where characterization shines."


Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island by award-winning author, Michael Phillip Cash, is an emotional thriller intertwined with a love story.  This book has received almost all 5 Star Reviews and has ranked high on Amazon's best-selling list for the past year!  

Get it on Kindle for 99 cents or in paperback on Amazon, and his website, MichaelPhillipCash.com.  Find more about Michael Phillip Cash on his Facebook page and discover fun give-a-ways and other promotions!



Michael Phillip Cash is an award winning and best selling author of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels. Stillwell: A Haunting on Long IslandThe Hanging Tree, and Schism: The Battle for Darracia have all been named to Foreward Reviews Book of the Year Awards. Cash currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children. Michael's new book, The After House, was just released on Amazon.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

The ULTIMATE De-Cluttering Guide: October

We LOVE this month-by-month de-cluttering guide from our "Big O" Organizer, Monica Ricci!  


With Monica's practical tips you can say GOODBYE to (insert your own here): overwhelm, nick-knacks, disorganization, lost items, and stress.  Then say HELLO to (insert your own here): joy, organization, cleanliness, productivity, and focus.

Below you'll find an excerpt from October, but feel free to click on the link to the entire guide above if you're feeling extra motivated and want to de-clutter ahead! Enjoy and let us know how your de-cluttering is coming along - drop us a line on FaceBook or through email!

October is here ...



It’s officially autumn and that means it’ll soon be time to cozy up under the covers a little longer in the morning. Your bedroom is where you replenish your body and mind each night and it’s an important space, so take this month to de-clutter and organize it. If your bedroom is home to workout equipment, a desk, your entire office, or anything else that negatively affects your quality of sleep and happiness, now is the time to take action.



Evaluate the space to identify items you can either relocate or part with completely. Can you move your workspace to the corner of another room? Perhaps swap the guest bed for a futon and put the exercise equipment in the guest room. Unless you have an infant in a crib next to your bed, banish kids’ toys from your room. Your goal is to make your bedroom into an adult-only space where you can relax. Keeping only the things that support the function of your bedroom in that room helps facilitate good sleep, which is crucial building block of your health, happiness and success. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Purses Need LOVE too!

Recently, on our popular The Big O: Organization series, we spent some time talking about purses.  Clearly, one of those items in our lives that if neglected, can lead one to feel cluttered, unorganized and frazzled.  On the show, expert organizer and media girl, Monica Ricci of Catalyst Organizing, shared some FUN-tastic resources for keeping our purses in order.  Here's what the purse police suggested:

It's fashionably functional and allows you to swap bags quickly and with EASE.  We love our Pouchees! https://www.pouchee.com

The Pouchee has all kinds of hidden compartments!
Take it out and transfer it when you purse-change!


The original thin wallet ... yes, called the Allett. http://www.all-ett.com

The very 1st compartmentalized handbag ... the one and only purse Monica ever carries - her precious Butler Bag! http://www.butlerbag.com

The Famous Butler Bag!

Imagine ... all your rewards cards on your phone!  Meet The Key Ring ... stop fumbling and losing, just save $. https://www.keyringapp.com

The world's thinnest full-featured wallet ... the cute Pursette. http://www.pursettes.com

Organizers, organizers and more organizers ... through Kwiki Boutique. http://kwikiboutique.com

SUPER fun and adorable! Jen's find: http://www.blueq.com/zipper-pouches/

Jen's pouches from Blue Q that she loves because they are so durable!
Inside of Jen's purse with all her pouches. 
You can even see her Flip and Tumble bag too. 

Source: The Big O: Five Right Now!  Want to feel lighter, more motivated and better organized?  Listen to these 5 simple ideas for things to organize RIGHT NOW that will yield big results in little time.

About The Big O  Get yourself and your life more organized (and be amused along the way) by listening to The Big O: Organization, the most popular program on What Really Matters.  Throughout this ongoing series,  hosts Vicky and Jen, along with organizing expert Monica Ricci, have explored the core principles and benefits of organizing and have cleared the clutter from offices, wardrobes, kitchens, basements,  holidays, small spaces and much more.  Each of The Big O episodes (over 55 of them!) delivers much more than the expected, as the humorous chemistry between Vicky, Jen and Monica keep you entertained with stories, and often admissions, of personal organizational obstacles.  These audio shows are loaded with ideas, strategies and simple tips to get your life in order, room by room and step by step!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

We Ask the Chefs! (#5 Food Staples)

We've mastered the grill and made simple meals with 5 ingredients or less. We've gone decadent with desserts and prepped for holiday baking.  We've cooked bikini-style and southern-style.  We've prepped quick meals with less stress, under $10, and in our slow-cookers.  All of this and much more on our popular Ask-a-Chef Series.  

Part of the fun was giving our guests a cooking survey ... kinda like a sneak peek into their kitchen, a feel for their favorite books, tools and foods.  Now, how about pulling all of those helpful tidbits into one blog post?  Here ya go!  
Feel free to help a fellow cook out by emailing us or commenting right here about your kitchen favorites.  Bon Appetite!


The Ask-a-Chef questions are .... 
(We'll divide these up into 5 blog posts so look for them all under the heading "We Ask the Chefs!")

#1  What is your favorite cookbook?
#2  What is your favorite cooking tool?
#3  What is your signature dish or your specialty?
#4  What is your favorite cooking website?
#5  Name one food item that is a staple in your fridge.

Check out this awesome Ask-a-Chef line-up!

Melissa d'Arabian, Host of Ten Dollar Dinners on Food Network

Devin Alexander, Host of Healthy Decadence on Discovery Health Channel
Aviva Goldfarb, Founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble
Sunny Anderson, Host of Cooking for Real on Food Network
Susan Miller, Director of King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center
Kelsey Banfield, The Naptime Chef
Claire Robinson, Host of 5 Ingredient Fix on Food Network
Judy Sipe, Chief Culinary Officer for The Food Channel
Susan Irby, The Bikini Chef
Gale Gand, Nationally Acclaimed Pastry Chef, Restaurateur, and Author
Judith Finlayson, Journalist, Author, Cook and Slow Cooker Connoisseur
Kathy Maister, Founder, Host and Editorial Director of StartCooking.com
Paul O'Toole, Culinary Expert of 30 years, Host of Cookin' with Passion

Here we go with the last one #5 ...

What is the one food item that is a staple in your fridge or pantry?

• Bacon in my freezer for making little lardons.  It slices easily when frozen, and a little goes a long way in flavor.  (Melissa d'Arabian)

• In the fridge it's bacon, in the pantry it's canned tomatoes.  You can pretty much find uses for these in anything!  (Sunny Anderson)

Non-fat plain greek yogurt.  Not only do I enjoy it for breakfast, but I use it as a base for cream sauces, in smoothies, in place of sour cream on mexican-style dishes.  It's delicious, high in protein, has fat-burning properties, and as you can see, greek yogurt is very versatile.  (Susan Irby, The Bikini Chef)

• Fresh herbs are a great thing to always have on hand; I know I always do. They are cheap to plant, pot and keep in your window, and they are a fast, fat-free, flavor addition to any meal.  (Claire Robinson)
• Linguine Rigatti, Nutella, whole milk for tea, heavy cream, raisin bread, blocks of parmesan, apple sauce for the husband...oh wait, you said one.  Sorry!  (Gale Gand)

• Kosher salt, olive oil and good butter. That is three, but they are essential!  (Kelsey The Naptime Chef)

• Coconut Water. I drink it for an afternoon snack or after a work out.  Also put it in smoothies in the am. It’s a fabulous electrolyte replacer.  (Judith Finlayson)

• Great Oils, Spanish vinegars and salts, sherry vinegars, aged balsamic.  (Judy Sipe)



• For Cooking: yogurt.  I’m a huge fan of Fiber One’s new yogurts.  For Convenience: Weight Watchers Smart Ones Entrees; they’re lifesaving particularly after I’ve been travelling and don’t have groceries on hand.  There’s so much excess fat and calories in take-out, it’s insane.  I love the Orange Sesame Chicken and Cranberry Turkey Medallions from Smart Ones Fruit Inspirations Line (I helped create them) and then I also love the Thai Chicken with Rice Noodles (which I did not help with, but is so fantastic, I’ve served it to girlfriends on reality tv night along with a couple of homemade dishes!)  (Devin Alexander)

• Yogurt!  Flavored, plain, and Greek style are on my weekly shopping list.  (Kathy Maister)

• In my fridge—yogurt, preferably the thick, greek yogurt—yummy for cooking, baking, and just eating plain. In my pantry—how can you even ask? King Arthur Flour, of course—I’ve used it my whole life and wouldn’t think of baking without it.  (Susan Miller)

•  Onions! You can do so much with them from raw to cooked, I just love them and they are so very good for you also.  (Paul O' Toole)


• We are kind of crazy for Trader Joe’s whole wheat tortillas at our house. My husband especially likes to wrap almost anything, and I love how they can turn so many foods into a healthy hand-held meal. Lately my favorite combination is hummus, diced Persian cucumbers, feta cheese and fresh mint wrapped in a tortilla.  (Aviva Goldfarb)
No one could list just one, could they?