Kaiser Permanente Orange County Farmers Markets and Recipes

This post is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente Orange County.

best-socal-farmers-marketsdid you know that the Kaiser Permanente Orange County hospitals in Irvine and Anaheim have weekly Farmers Markets? it’s true! the Irvine location has its’ Farmers Market on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and the Anaheim location has its’ Farmers Market on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. i had a chance to check out these great Orange County Farmers Markets and meet with one of Kaiser Permanente Orange County’s Registered Dietitians and had the nicest Friday morning shopping, tasting and learning about the best foods to share with your kids and families. i even also learned what foods are best for a pregnant mom-to-be like me!

anaheim-kaiser-farmers-marketthe Kaiser Permanente Orange County Farmers Markets are great. there’s a good variety of produce to choose from, and there are also yummy lunch options, baked goods, fresh bread, juices and natural products available for purchase. check out some of the photos i took from my outing, and be prepared for them to make you hungry!

orange-county-farmers-market-grapesfarmers-market-cornkaiser-permanente-orange-county-farmers-marketsthese are the best peaches and nectarines i have had in forever….super sweet and juicy.

orange-county-farmers-market-watermelonthe Farmers Market is a great place to take the kids as well. it can be a great learning experience, and there are often unique fruits and vegetables that you don’t always see at the supermarket. plus, the vendors are usually more than happy to let you taste test any of the produce before you buy it. i tried passion fruit for my first time. it was really interesting…not sure if i liked it or not though. the vendor added a little bit of fresh orange juice into it and i did like it much better that way, but it was definitely a unique flavor of fruit.

Processed with Snapseed.tasting-passion-fruitKaiser Permanente Orange County has some great resources…including skilled registered dietitians. i was fortunate to explore the Farmers Market with Amanda Amary, RD who gave me some great tips on the healthiest foods to look for at the Farmers Markets. because, just because a  food is at the Farmers Market, doesn’t mean it is healthy.

great-dietitians-at-kaiser-permanente-orange-countywhen purchasing fruits and veggies for yourself or your family at the Farmers Market, you want to make sure that you first go for a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes such as beans and peas and starchy. dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, lettuce or green beens are great choices because they are rich in vitamins. broccoli is especially great because it is full of calcium which is important for children and expecting mom’s nutrition. children and adults need 5-7 servings of veggies and fruits a day. of course, the more veggies the better because fruit has a lot of sugar.

orange-county-farmers-market-broccoliwhen you are looking for fruit, it is best to get a variety of bright colors. try to get organic when you’ll be eating the skin. be selective when spending money on organic…it is not as important to purchase organic when choosing fruit with peels such as oranges and bananas, but organic berries and peaches are best. cantaloupe, honeydew, oranges and grapefruit are rich in folate which is important for nutrition in pregnant women and children, so make sure to stock up on these.

fresh-berries-are-orange-county-farmers-marketit is also important to make sure you and your family are getting enough fiber which aids in digestion. eating fruits with their peels, berries, beans, lentils and almonds are all great ways to get more fiber in your diet.

basically, when you are shopping at the Farmers Market, head towards the rich colored veggies, fruits come second, then if you are looking for a treat, purchase the baked goods and snacks sparingly. by following these guidelines, you will benefit your family’s nutrition. thanks Amanda for so many great tips! also, here is a great Guide on How to Navigate a Farmers Market. it has some additional tips on how to get the most of your experience.

Farmers Market Recipes

additionally, here are some great recipes that Amanda Amary, RD shared with me, i thought that you would enjoy them too. all of these recipes can be made with ingredients that can easily be found at the Farmers Market. Amanda also told me that the Kaiser Permanente Food for Health blog has a lot of great recipes on it, recipes that have been created with your health in mind. so if you are looking for some fresh new ideas, head over and check it out.


Grilled Zucchini, Tomato and Mozzarella Wrap

by Nadia Bordchardt  |  Servings: 1  |  Prep Time: 15

1/2 cup zucchini, sliced
1 6-inch corn tortilla
1 ounce low-fat or skim mozzarella cheese*
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (your personal favorite)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

click here for directions on how to make it.



Baked Sweet Potatoes

by Kaiser Permanente Exectutive  |  Servings: 1  |  Prep Time: 15

1 sweet potato

Asian-inspired topping (optional):
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon orange or tangerine juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon thinly sliced scallion

Other simple topping ideas (optional):
1 teaspoon butter, olive oil or coconut oil
For a sweet topping: A pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg
For a savory topping: Black pepper and a pinch of sea salt

click here for directions on how to make it.



Kale-Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash

by Linda Shiue  |  Servings: 8  |  Prep Time: 30

2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1 cup raw quinoa
2 cups water, salted with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
2 cups kale, center rib removed, cut into small pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1/2 to 1 whole pomegranate)
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, chopped

click here for directions on how to make it.



Family Fun at the Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Patch

Processed with Snapseed.last weekend, the boys and i went to the Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival which is a yearly tradition of ours. we were invited by Frontier SoCal to share with you our experience which was really great because this isa really unique pumpkin patch in Southern California. Each year Cal Poly Pomona holds the Pumpkin Festival so that guest from all over Southern California can experience a more farm like experience at a pumpkin patch. it’s pretty incredible…there are pumpkins as far as the eye can see. thousands and thousounds. plus there are food booths, fruits and veggies to purchase that are grown right at the college, games and fun for the kiddies, a petting zoo and more.

check out some of the photos from our visit.

cal-poly-pomona-pumpkin-patch-photo-backdroppicking-out-a-pumpkin-at-the-cal-poly-pomona-patchcal-poly-pomona-pumpkin-patch-wagonplaying-in-the-haycal-poly-pomona-pumpkins-for-saleenjoying-the-pomona-pumpkin-patchcal-poly-pomona-pumpkinscal-poly-pomona-pumpkin-festival-schedulecal-poly-pomona-pumpkin-patch-tipscal-poly-pomona-pumpkin-festival-in-octoberthis year, the added a special kids’ area that was really fun. it had games, mazes, smaller pumpkins, a tractor and things to do for the little ones. it was great.

pumpkin-patch-ring-tossgiant-pumpkins-at-the-pomona-pumpkin-patchrunning-through-the-pumpkin-patch-tunnelpumpkin-checkersbuilding-a-scarecrow-gamelooking-at-a-sunflower-at-the-pomona-pumpkin-patchVann’s favorite part of the Pumpkin Festival was the corn maze. he ran all the way there. him and his daddy got to follow the corn maze map and find different stations to solve a riddle. at the end they got a special corn maze button. they had so much fun.

running-to-the-cal-poly-pomona-corn-mazefun-corn-mazes-in-southern-californiacorn-maze-in-southern-californiaplaying-in-the-pomona-corn-mazeanother fun thing that takes place at the Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Patch is the Insect Festival. there you can see all sorts of amazing insects and also touch a feel them. i stayed clear of any of the creepy crawlers, but i have to admit, there are some beautiful insects out there. here are some photos of the boys inside the insect festival part of the Pumpkin Festival.Read More…

How Kids Can Volunteer to Help Those Who Need Food

Tracking Pixel orange-county-soup-kitchens

did you know that one in four people in the world do not receive meals with the proper nutrients to live a healthy active life? this is very unfortunate. i am so thankful that my husband and i are able to provide nutritious food to my kids, and teach them to appreciate the good food they have. for them to know that they don’t have to worry about going hungry is very important to me. i want them to know that others aren’t as fortunate as them, and for them to want to help others in need. that is why i have partnered with Knorr®, a brand that believes nutritious food should be within everyone’s reach.

in honor of World Food Day on October 16th, i wanted to share some ways we, along with our children, can help people in our community and around the world receive the nutritious food they need. these are great ways we can teach our children compassion for others and appreciation for what they have.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

there are soup kitchens in almost every community. Orange County has one in almost every major city. i try to take my older boys every year to help out. most of them require you to be 13 or older, so make sure that you verify how old the kids need to be. also, there are usually rules about what kind of clothing and footwear you must wear due to regulations, so make sure you know before you head down to help. there are also places that will let you help deliver the meals to the elderly or disabled. this is a great option if you have younger children who want to help.


Here are a list of Orange County Soup Kitchens/Food Services where kids can volunteer:

  • Orange County Rescue Mission (Tustin)
  • Andrews Episcopal Church (Fullerton)
  • Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen (Orange)
  • Someone Cares Soup Kitchen (Costa Mesa)
  • We Care (Los Alamitos)
  • Meals On Wheels Orange County
  • Ronald McDonald House (Orange)

Making “We Care Kits” for People in Need

this is a great activity for all ages. you can go shopping with the kids to purchase the items to make a “We Care Kit” to give to anyone you encounter that could use one. you will want to include some nutritious food items that don’t spoil for a while, along with some other essentials.

here is a list of items that are best to include:

  • applesauce
  • pudding cups
  • trail mix
  • beef jerky
  • baby wipes
  • lip balm
  • lotion
  • sunscreen
  • travel coffee mugs
  • gift cards
  • socks
  • band aids


try not to include items such as:

  • soap, hand sanitizer or mouthwash – smelly soaps and lotions in the same container as food can make everything taste and smell like soap.
  • crunchy granola bars, candy or sticky food – soft snacks are a safer bet over sticky and crunchy snacks, in case the recipient doesn’t have regular access to dental care.
  • cash, used items, shampoo or religious literature.

when you deliver the kits, do not go alone. it is also best to have an adult pass them out.

Donate Food to a Local Food Bank

have your children gather canned and non-perishable food to donate to a local food bank. they can also ask friends, family and neighbors to donate. some food banks will let the children stock shelves or sort the food they bring in. during the holidays especially, many organizations will collect food. children may also want to use some of their own money that they’ve earned to buy cans of food. make sure that you only bring in food that is not expired.


Here are some local Orange County food pantries you can donate to:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County (Irvine)
  • Orange County Food Bank (Garden Grove)
  • Friendly Center (Orange)
  • South County Outreach (Irvine)
  • Laguna Food Pantry (Laguna Beach)
  • You are Special Food Pantry (Orange)

Tweet a Food Emoji to #ShareAMeal

now this is an easy one! remember i mentioned that Knorr® is a brand that believes nutritious food should be within everyone’s reach? Well, Knorr U.S. is helping to provide $20,000 (which equals 220,000 meals) to Feeding America® in recognition of World Food Day! just $1 helps provide 11 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.

How to Join the Cause

just TWEET #ShareAMeal AND a food emoji between October 13th – 20th, 2016. you will then receive a link to PayPal to give $5 or any amount of your choice to the Global FoodBanking Network, which will be allocated to benefit local and global charities.


i am so grateful for opportunities like these where i can teach my children the gift of giving. everyone deserves to have healthy and nutritious food, and i hope that we can all do our part to make sure those around us aren’t without. doing so will leave you with a warm heart and a desire to help again and again. don’t forget to tweet #ShareAMeal and your favorite food emoji!!!!



This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Knorr®.

Legal disclaimer: Knorr US will donate $20,000 (which equal 220,000 meals) to Feeding America.  Help us donate more to local and global charities.  Tweet #shareameal and a food emoji between October 13 – 20, 2016 and receive a link to PayPal to give $5 or an amount of your choice to Global FoodBanking Network, which will be allocated to benefit local and global charities. See http://bit.ly/2dAz5rD for more details.

*FAO, IFAD and WFP. 2014. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014. Strengthening the enabling environment for food security and nutrition. Rome, FAO. Page 51, Note 6.

Halloween Fun at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California


the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California is all ready for Halloween! for the entire month of October, guests can participate in all the Halloween activities that are happening around the resort. actually, at Great Wolf Lodge, it’s called Howl-o-ween, and even better…all the howl-o-ween activities are included in your stay for no extra cost. the boys and i went last weekend to check out the festivities, and once again we had a fantastic time. Great Wolf Lodge is one of our most favorite places to spend time as a family, and a weekend of family fun is just what we needed.

click here for special Great Wolf Howl-o-ween Deals.

when you enter the lodge, you are greeted by the biggest spider you have ever seen. but don’t worry, it is made of balloons…as well as all the other creepy crawlies climbing up the walls. there is also a giant spider web, and a spooky haunted house in the lobby. all of which are pretty spectacular.


of course, as soon as you check in, you are going to want to run to the water park, but be sure to come back to the lobby each evening dressed in your costume (if you brought one) to participate in all the fun Halloween activities. when you check in, you will be given a schedule so to not miss one.

Trick-or-treating is one of the favorites. just follow the treat map to get your trick-or-treat bag, and then to one of the seven trick-or-treat stations located on the first two floors of the Great Wolf Lodge Southern California.

great_wolf_lodge_halloween_trick_or_treat_mapmy boys chose to dress up as a cat and a shadow (aka black morphsuit). very interesting choices, but whatever makes them happy. right!img_5714_retthere’s no age limit on the trick-or-treating and you can get a fun treat or candy at each of the stations. just follow the signs all around the lodge.great_wolf_lodge_trick_or_treat_trailhalloween_fun_great_wolf_southern_californiapeep_hunting_great_wolf_lodgegreat_wolf_lodge_halloween_treatsspooky_fun_witch_at_great_wolf_lodgetrick_or_treat_station_great_wolf

there’s even a teal pumpkin station that has an allergy-friendly treat. it is really important to the GWL that everyone gets to enjoy the fun.


another thing!….while you are out trick-or-treating or out exploring the lodge during the day, keep you eyes peeled for PEEPS! yes, PEEPS. there are 12 of them hidden around the lodge. if you can spot them all and write them down on the contest card, you can have a chance to win a special Howl-o-ween prize at story time each evening. so don’t forget to get your card and fill it out.


other Howl-o-ween activities at the Great Wolf Lodge include a costume parade and Halloween story time with Wiley.


there is also a Monster Mash Dance Party each evening which the kids just love! so much fun.

halloween_dance_party_great_wolf_lodgeat dinnertime, if you eat in one of the Great Wolf Lodge restaurants such as the Loose Moose Kitchen…one of our faves, look for some of the Halloween desserts. there’s pumpkin pie, pumpkin treats, and yummy cupcakes of course.


besides all the Halloween activities, there are still all the standard fun things to do at the Great Wolf Lodge. from the water park to playing Magiquest to fun afternoon activities and crafts in the lobby. let me share some of the photos from our stay.great_wolf_lodge_baby_water_slideflowrider_wakeboarding_great_wolf_lodgegreat_wolf_lodge_flowrider_freebest_family_water_parks_californiagreat_wolf_lodge_wave_poolgreat_wolf_lodge_kid_areacraft_time_great_wolf_lodge_socalcraft_time_great_wolf_lodgeplaying_bingo_great_wolf_lodge

did i mention everyone gets orange Howl-o-ween ears when you check in for your stay during October. aren’t they cute! even my teenager loved them.popsicleblog_at_great_wolf_lodge_socalMagiquest! magiquest_great_wolf_lodge_southern_californiahalloween_fun_in_orange_countyteen_fun_great_wolf_lodgemagiquest_great_wolf

and where else can you play video games in your pajamas at 9:00 at night!playing_games_in_pjs_great_wolf_lodge

and as you probably know, i am expecting a baby girl in just a couple months. so this time my stay was a bit different. i couldn’t do the waterslides like last time, so i had sometime to myself when all the boys were off playing. but i must say…i still had a great time.pregnant_mommy_great_wolf_lodgei went to Scooops Spa and got an ice cream pedicure! yes, it really did come with ice cream.scooops_pedicure_great_wolf_lodgeice_cream_pedicurei played in the kiddie area with my youngest, Vann.


and went in the wave pool and lazy river. there is still so much to do. i i highly suggest that any mom take some time to herself and get one of those ice cream pedicures.lazy_river_great_wolf_lodgei also want to mention how much i love the Paw Passes. the Paw Passes can be purchase at check-in, and include a bunch of activities offered at the resort (at a discounted rate) and include things like a Magiquest game, arcade credits, a treat, and more. there are different ones to choose from, so you can decide the best one to meet your needs. i love them because the kids can pick the things they want to get throughout their stay. this time we had custom bracelets on our Paw Passes, which was something we hadn’t tried yet. the boys really liked designing and picking out their bracelets. it was a fun souvenir to come home with as well!


wow! what a great weekend our family had!


each night little Vann ended up like this. all tuckered out from all the fun we had.great_wolf_lodge_beds

Howl-o-ween at the Great Wolf Lodge was the perfect was to get into the holiday spirit. i can see us coming for a stay every year during October because it was so much fun. and if you are interested in a stay, click here for special Great Wolf Howl-o-ween Deals.


Thank you Great Wolf Lodge for hosting our family for Howloween! #SoCalHowloween #GWLSoCal

10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

with a fourth baby on the way, i often get asked what items i would recommend getting a new mom for her new arrival. since my youngest is six, it’s been a LONG time since i bought anything for a baby. in fact, i mostly used items i already had on -hand for my last two children, so its practically been fourteen years since i looked at baby gear. there are so many new and amazing baby products out there….so many things you can buy a baby – from clothes to strollers. so i wanted to come up with a list of items that might be a little extra special for a mom to receive at a baby shower – things that she might not buy herself. so i partnered with ScholarShare to create this list of 10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love!

i think all of these items are pretty neat! i didn’t have them with any of my other babies because they either weren’t available yet, or they weren’t necessities. but sometimes its fun to get things that you wouldn’t always splurge on. let me share them with you.10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love


10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love

my number 1 on the list….
1) Scholarshare Gift Certificate – more than ever, i’ve been thinking about my kids future. now that i will have four children to care for, saving for college is going to be a necessity. i want my children to have every opportunity available to them. attending college without worrying about debt would be a wonderful gift to each of them. family members and friends can purchase Scholarshare gift certificates in any dollar amount for the baby. this would be one of the most appreciated gifts, especially since they will probably already receive a lot of the baby necessities. why not get their college accounts started early….every little bit helps. i wish i had started my other boys 529 College Savings plans at birth. i definitely know better with this baby.  (p.s. you don’t need to be a California resident to sign-up. This college saver account is available nationwide.)

and then there are also these great gifts.

2) Mommy Teething Necklace – i love chunky jewelry, and these teething necklaces would be perfect for a mama to wear when she has a baby who is going to try and grab her jewelry and suck on it. these necklaces are made with silicone and natural wood beads that are teething and baby-friendly!

3) Joovy Boob bottles – i recently fell in love with the Boob bottles. they come in PPSU (Polyphenylsulphone), PP (Polypropylene) and glass! i am especially excited about the glass ones…they have a optional silicone sleeve you can pair with them to prevent breaks. Boobs are BPS, BPA, phthalate and lead free and offer the safe delivery of formula or milk.  The new nipple design has a CleanFlow® Vent System, and they have an ergonomic shape that fits nicely in your hand.

4) Jujube Diaper Bag – i’ve never had a fancy diaper bag before…and this time around, i am going to go for it. i recently learned about the JuJube bags, and i think one would make the perfect diaper bag. they are stylish, have lots of great colors and features, have a compartment for you to keep your phone and money, plus they are durable and easy to clean. everything you would want in a diaper bag.

5) Joovy New Nook Highchair – this is a fantastic highchair made by Joovy. it features a large swing-open tray that can operates using only one-hand motion…two hands are not needed! plus, you don’t have to line up cumbersome rails. there is no need to remove dishes from the tray before taking the child out of the chair – simply swing the tray open, unbuckle your child.

6) Honest Diapers – OMG!!! i just love the patterns. all my other kids just got plain white diapers, but i am excited to splurge on some of these cuties this time around.

7) Mist Wipe Warmer – i know many people think a wipe warmer is totally unnecessary, but i did have one with all my babies and loved it. super convenient to use, especially on newborns because the wipes are warm and not cold. anything to keep a baby calm and happy. right!

8) Milkmaid Goods Nursing Poncho – i’ve always used a blanket if i needed to cover-up while nursing. but i just love these nursing ponchos from Milkmaid Goods. the prints are super cute and stylish, and you can also use them as a blanket, or a carseat/shopping cart cover. psst…they also have the most adorable baby swaddle sets.

9) Playtex Diaper Genie Complete – never had a Diaper Genie or any kind of fancy diaper pail, but i heard they are awesome. this one comes in pink!

10) Freshly Picked Moccasins –these little leather baby and toddler shoes became all the rage just after my youngest was too big for them, so i am so excited to get a couple pairs for the baby. they are great because they stay on baby feet and you don’t have to worry about ties and buckles.

and there you have it – 10 Baby Shower Gifts Moms Will Love! i’m sure any of these baby items would make any mom feel special to receive. i can not wait for my little one to arrive in just a few months. i just love babies…and their gear is just so darn cute too.


{Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.}