Educational Toys and Books

Hi everyone! If you are an Instagram follower, you know I do a lot of activities besides cooking with my toddler. Since I get so many messages about the different educational toys and books I use, I thought I’d write-up a blog post about it.  I showcase them on my IG stories almost daily. f you’re not familiar with stories go to my page and press the red ring around my profile name. I also post these items when they go on sale on my deals page. Go here if you want to be added.

Ps: I don’t have a formal background in education, but I do try to make it fun and educational for my kids. We don’t do much television or screen time, so I have to keep my son entertained in other ways. And frankly, I have to entertain myself too!

Just a tip: every kid is different! Some enjoy some activities more than others. Make it fun! Go back to it on another day if he or she is not interested.

Click on the RED links (affl.) for direct purchasing.

TOYS

Alpha Pops

  • 2-piece pops strengthen hand muscles and increase coordination while promoting imaginative play
  • Reinforce upper and lowercase letter recognition through matching
  • Set includes: 26 double-sided pops
  • Winner of 2 awards

Snap-and-Learn Alphabet Alligators 

  • Match upper and lowercase letters with these two-piece gators
  • Reinforce letter recognition and color matching
  • Each alligator is color-coded for self-checking
  • Includes 13 heads and tails marked on both sides to include all 26 letters

Magformers

Imaginative Development: Allow your child to build and create, expanding your child’s imaginative horizons and allowing them to develop their mind in new ways. 

Lincoln Logs

LINCOLN LOGS supports key areas of a child’s development growth. As the stack the different part together and discover how the building system works, they’re strengthening hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, spatial awareness and exercising their imagination!

Practice Shoe Tying

  • 4 chunky foam shoes to lace and learn how to tie
  • Bright, fun color foam shoes and real decorated shoe laces
  • iParenting Media Award winner
  • Includes 4 lacing shoes, 4 printed laces and a shoe tying lesson card

Talking Microscope 

  • Slip in one of the included slides to study some serious amazing scientific images!
  • Explore 12 fascinating bugs up close, learn cool bug facts, and test your knowledge of each creepy critter in fun quiz games!
  • Includes Talking Microscope with 5x focusing magnifier and light for easy viewing and 12 slides.
  • Fun facts and questions, such as “Ground beetles give off a stinky smell!” and “How far can a jumping spider jump?”
  • Winner of 10+ awards including Family Fun Toy of the Year Finalist, Parents Magazine Toy Test Finalist, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Products, and Parent’s Choice Recommended.
  • Supports STEM learning via hands-on experience with a key scientific tool.
  • The perfect first microscope for preschoolers; makes a great birthday gift!

Butterfly Growing Kit

Self Correcting Puzzles

  • Beautifully detailed pictures encourage interest in all things A-B-C and beyond
  • Practice letter recognition and matching skills
  • Wooden storage box with slide-in lid
  • 52 wooden pieces

Ready Set School

  • Skill building set for pre-school children
  • Learn to cut, tie your shoe, and write the alphabet and so much more
  • Parents’ Choice Recommended Award winner
  • Includes 4 wipe away books with marker, 8 finger crayons, safety scissors, 2 stencils, 15 activity pages, 75 stickers, shoelace, and instructions

Magnetic Board and Chalkboard

Pattern Puzzles

BOOKS AND WRITING

Reusable Sticker Book

 

Wipeable Flash Cards – Upper Case

Wipeable Flash Cards – Lower Case

Wipeable Numbers – 1-30

Water Wow

  • Three fun activity/coloring board books, each with refillable water pen
  • Engaging and entertaining animal, alphabet, and number themes
  • Reusable white pages feature simple line drawings when dry; filled with color when wet
  • Chunky-size water pen for easy filling, easy gripping
  • Compact, spiral-bound format that’s great for travel

Let’s Sticker and Paste 

Let’s Sticker and Paste

Let’s Sticker and Paste

Tracing

Tracing

Cut & Paste

Let’s Cut Paper

Kid’s Scissors

 

Rock Crayons

Dot Markers

  • Thirty-two (32) Non-toxic, all natural soy wax crayons in 32 colors: red, green, blue, egg yolk yellow, black, brown, orange, purple, pink, grass green, sky blue, sunshine yellow, gray, tan, peach, white, strawberry cream, honey wheat, gold, pumpkin spice, coffee, tree bark, cranberry, rose red, magenta, periwinkle, turquoise, aqua, spruce, autumn green, silver in a cotton muslin bag.
  • Designed to strengthen the tripod grip muscles in young children and improve motor coordination.
  • Allows small fingers to color easily in large, wide strokes.
  • Crayon size is 1 1/4 x ¾ inch (Images may appear larger) Long lasting and durable. Although appearing smaller, volume is actually greater than major brand stick crayons. Size was carefully selected for the hands of young children!

Dot Coloring Books (girls)

Dot Coloring Books (boys)

Magnetic Calendar 

Learning Clock 

This one isn’t educational, but I’m trying to limit my messages on social media so I can spend time with my kids. Since you asked here is the link to these cars and tracks.

Cars and Tracks 


**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

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Chickpea Veggie Patties

We live on patties around my house. It’s fast and easy to make and always a hit with my two boys. Best of all these bites are jammed packed with veggies. It also includes added protein from the garbanzo beans and cheese in the recipe. I don’t have to worry about making other dishes, because it has carbohydrates, protein, veggies, and even some fat. I serve it with a side of fruit and I consider it a well-balanced meal.

I make a variation of these weekly.  Since I’ve received so many messages on social media about how I make them, I finally got around to writing a recipe blog post.  This is super for baby led weaning! Sometimes I add a little sour cream, marinara, or hummus on top to make it easier to chew. Ps: If you’re not already watching my stories, check it out! It’s the red ring around my profile name. I post kids activities and day to day mom life stuff. We have fun over there !

Chickpea Veggie Patties

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sweet potato (steamed) about 3/4 of a large
  • 1/4 c. peas (steamed)
  • 1/4 c. garbanzo beans (canned)
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheese
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tbs. flour (see tip)
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Steam sweet potato and peas
  2. In a blender blend potato, peas, garbanzo beans,and cheese
  3. Add bread crumbs, flour and egg
  4. Blend until combined, do not over mix
  5. The mixture should be a thick pasty mixture
  6. In a pan, add 2-3 tbs olive oil
  7. Using a scooper scoop out the mixture and place on pan. Smash with a spatula or spoon to form a patty
  8. Brown both sides
  9. Serve with sour cream, ketchup, marinara, hummus, or yogurt sauce
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/01/chickpea-veggie-patties/

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Sweet Potato Banana Bites

Mornings are always rushed at my house. Whether it’s because I have to run to work, or if I’m in a hurry to get my youngest down for his nap. The start of our mornings are always challenging. Making these baby friendly muffins ahead of time saves me a ton of time. And yes, you can have veggies for breakfast!

Best of all, you can add toppings to these muffins like chocolate chips, or sliced almonds. I just choose to make it simple for my 10 month old. We don’t offer sugar quite yet, unless it’s non refined. But for my 3-year-old chocolate chips are fair game.

Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. sweet potato (steamed)
  • 1/2 c. banana (mashed)
  • 4 tbs. wheat flour
  • 2 eggs (scrambled)
  • 2 tbs. almond butter/nutbutter
  • Dash of cinammon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 375F
  2. In a large bowl, scramble eggs
  3. Mix in the mashed sweet potato, mashed banana, flour, nut butter, and dash of cinnamon
  4. Combine until well incorporated
  5. Pour into greased muffin tin
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes
  7. Serve with butter, or drizzle honey for a sweeter variety (no honey before age 1)
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2017/01/sweet-potato-banana-bites/

P.S. See that super cute ring I’m wearing? It’s from Emma J. Company.  Part of the proceeds go to No Kid Hungry with each purchase from the Emma J. Dawn McCoy Collection, $6 goes to NKH. Here’s a closeup, it’s so lovely!

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How to keep berries fresh longer

At nearly $5 dollars per small container, berries are an expensive staple at our house. On occasion when I find it by bulk, I do buy them. Problem is, when I do, they spoil so quickly. There’s always one moldy strawberry in the container that ruins the entire batch. So.. how do you keep berries fresh longer? Do a little prep work before you place them in the refrigerator!

The big bonus is you don’t have to wash them every time you take it out of the refrigerator. It’s also great for toddlers who regularly search the refrigerator looking for a snack. I won’t name any names, but I have said toddler living in my home.  This quick procedure will naturally kill the mold spores and won’t spoil as quickly.

I hope this helps 😉

How to keep berries fresh longer

Ingredients

  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 3 c. water
  • Berries

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix vinegar and water
  2. Add berries
  3. Gently rinse and clean the berries in the vinegar solution
  4. Rinse the berries in clean water.
  5. Drain the berries into a clean container
  6. Lay out a paper towel, or kitchen towel and place clean berries
  7. Pat dry
  8. Store in a clean container lined with paper towel
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/12/keep-berries-fresh-longer/

 

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Stuffing Muffins

At our home, Thanksgiving means lots and lots of leftover food. Either we cook too much or we eat too little. I like to believe we eat too little, but that’s not likely the case. So what to do with all that stuffing and turkey? It’s always nice to have turkey and all the fixings for another day, but I can’t eat three times in a row.  That said, if I change-up how it’s served, a few more days of turkey and stuffing is a-ok in my book. This stuffing muffins recipe is perfect for leftovers and is a big hit with the kids.

Stuffing Muffins

It’s like Thanksgiving all in one bite and is perfect for little fingers. These are also great for snacks on the go especially for those kiddos who love muffins. The cranberry adds the perfect sweetness to every bite and it’s simply delicious.

It’s easy.  First you mix the egg and a little milk in a bowl.

mixing

In another bowl, mix your left over stuffing, cooked turkey, and spinach. We had creamed corn on our menu, and we ate it all. Since I always like to serve veggies whenever I can, I decided to add some chopped spinach.  We love spinach because it’s relatively tasteless and isn’t bitter. You can add leftover chopped green beans or Brussels sprouts too.

stuffing-mix

Next it’s time to bring out your handy-dandy muffin tin. We use our muffin tin a lot around here. Don’t forget to grease it with cooking spray before filling  I repeat, don’t forget to grease it. Or you will have to scrub and soak the tin for days. Trust me, I’ve learned my lesson. One time I had to throw the tin away!

Fill each circle with the stuffing mixture to about 3/4 full. You don’t want to fill it all the way because you need to leave a little room for the egg. You also want to loosely fill the tin.  Don’t smash the filling in because you want the egg to get in between the stuffing.

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Next comes the best part. Sprinkle some dried cranberries over the top to add a little sweetness.

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Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tin leaving some room for it to expand.
Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or so and enjoy!

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PRESS PLAY!

This is my contribution to Tori Spelling’s website. I recently met her and she’s the sweetest gal! She has a lot of great recipes there.

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Chickpea Snack Bites

So many parents who write me asking how to get their kids to try new foods. Themed lunches are a great idea to entice them to take a bite. I’m fully aware some of us including myself may be too busy to create themed lunches all the time,  but once in a while it may help your picky eater. Ps:  If you DO create these lunches, that’s so awesome! I’m a firm believer that once your child at least tries something, they may give that new food a chance. These chickpea snack bites are a delicious protein and fiber addition to your kids lunch box.
img_0754

Much like all dishes I make, this was inspired by my boys. My older son loves squirrels! He helped me make this with a cookie cutter. Here’s another tip for picky eaters who only eat white bread. I know some of you struggle with kids asking, “what are these black seeds on my bread?”.  Right? Try mixing it up. Make a sandwich with one white bread and one wheat. We made the pine cone ish looking thing (I’m telling you I don’t this often), with a grape and a baby carrot. The leaf is a red apple which I carved quickly with a knife. And of course star of the box is the chickpeas. So yummy!

Chickpea Snack Bites

P.S. if you don’t give sugar to your child, you can always serve it plain or with parmesan and garlic.

After we made the lunch, we made eating the meal a fall activity. Every morning, two squirrels pass through our back yard. We went looking for them at lunch time. When we couldn’t find them, we set up a picnic blanket on leaves. They never show up when you want them to. I read a book and voila.. it was a fun day.

Chickpea Snack Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 can garbanzo beans (organic if possible)
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. coconut sugar
  • 1 tbs. maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Wash garbanzo beans and drain
  3. Rub off shells and remove (don't worry about removing it all, just try to)
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  5. Bake garbanzo beans for 20-30 minutes, check every 15 minutes and shake baking sheet for even cooking
  6. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients
  7. When beans are crispy, transfer them to a bowl and mix in maple syrup mixture
  8. Bake for another 5 minutes to carmelize
  9. Cool and allow to dry and serve
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/11/chickpea-snack-bites/

**Thank you Yumbox lunch for sponsoring this post. If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

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Avocado Pasta

Is red pasta sauce getting old? I’m always trying to find other sauces for my pasta monsters, aka my two boys. Now that my second son is eating quite a bit, I try to make homemade as much as I can. This avocado pasta sauce is easy and tasty, with just a few ingredients. It doesn’t require cooking either so it’s perfect for leftover pasta.  I don’t know about you, but I make enough pasta for an army. It never fails, I always have leftover.

kiddo-avocado-pasta-2

 

 

 

Tip: if your avocado isn’t really ripe try adding some olive oil. Also, my video says 2 garlic cloves, but half of one or one small one should be plenty.

Avocado Pasta Su

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 garlic clove (small, or half)
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. basil leaves
  • 1/2 c. spinach leaves
  • 2 tbs. lemon (or less depending on taste)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Blend everything!
  2. Top on cooked pasta
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/11/avocado-pasta-sauce/

Recipe adapted from Jo Cooks

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Chewy Granola Bars

I love granola bars, especially chewy ones. I just don’t like the ingredients list on the store-bought ones. This chewy granola bars recipe has no refined sugar and only uses three ingredients, four if you add chocolate chips. You know.. it’s totally optional, but also totally necessary. You can also add cranberries or leftover Halloween candy, like m&m’s. It just depends how strict you are on sweets.

In just 15 minutes and voila, you’ll have a quick relatively healthy treat to share with the little ones. Note: No honey before one years old.

granola-bar-1

Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1.5 c. rolled oats
  • Chocolate chips, or desired toppings (optional)

Instructions

  1. Note: no honey before one years old!
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. In a bowl, mix honey and peanut butter until well combine
  4. In a small sauce pan, pour honey and peanut butter in.
  5. Cook on low until melted
  6. Mix with rolleds oats
  7. Add chocolate chips
  8. In a baking dish, press down oats mixture until even
  9. Bake for 15 minutes
  10. Allow to cool and cut into bars
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/11/chewy-granola-bars/

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UppaBaby GLink

UPPAbaby G-LINK Review

I have always been a fan of the UPPAbaby brand. When our first son was a few months old, we began using the UPPAbaby G-LUXE. I absolutely love it, and so does my husband. 0167_GLINK_JakeNaturally, we were thrilled to hear about the release of the double version, the UPPAbaby G-LINK.

I’m a no frills type of gal when it comes to strollers. I look for practicality and ease of use. Now that I have two kiddos to haul around, it’s even more important to me. Actually, it’s vital to my survival. Having two kids is no joke, and I need to make life “on the go” as easy as possible.

From the minute I opened the box, I knew this stroller would not disappoint.  First, it’s only 24.5 pounds! That’s super light for a double stroller. Don’t let the light weight fool you, it is very well built and sturdy. Similar to its sibling the G-LUXE, it stands on its own when folded. That means I can be hands free when taking it out of my trunk or when I need to store it like at restaurants or commuting on a train. This is a huge plus when I’m unloading my car. Especially now that I need both hands; one for my toddler and one for my newborn. I don’t have to find a wall to lean it on.

0167_GLINK_Folded

A huge reason why this stroller works for me is because I wanted to accommodate both my newborn and toddler without any fancy attachments. My oldest son is 2.5 years old and his little brother is 2 months old.  The G-LINK is suitable from birth up to 50 lbs. It comes with a handy infant insert so I don’t need a car seat or any other attachment for the stroller.0167_GLINK_Flexible

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know my oldest son eats like a teenage boy. At two, he’s already almost 40 pounds, so I needed to find a stroller with a high weight limit. The maximum weight limit for the stroller is 100 lbs.combined.

Accommodating my kids sleep and nap schedules is very important to me. The side-by-side seats can recline in four positions, independent of each other. It allows for a full recline. You heard me right folks, a full recline! That in itself is amazing! This means when my toddler wants to look at sights and scenes, he can sit upright while my newborn dreams about his next meal. Rest assured, my infant is secure because the stroller comes with an infant head support and mesh foot barrier. So back to napping, there is a peekaboo window in the back of the stroller so I can peek in to see if the kiddos are still sleeping. That may not sound like a big deal to you, since you can just go to the front and see, but convenience is key in my book. I’m usually rushed these days, saving just a few minutes is super helpful for me, especially since my newborn sleeps best when moving. Below the peekaboo window is a handy pocket for your cell phone or any items you might want to store, like keys or a wipes for a quick cleanup.

A big plus to the G-LINK is its large canopy shade.  It especially comes in handy on hot summer days. The canopy offers generous coverage and includes an extended SPF 50+ UV shade. I have yet to see a canopy this big for a stroller! That means no blankets to drape over when the newborn is sleeping. One less thing to carry, right? Speaking of carrying, there is a ton of storage space in this stroller! Check out the video below, I was able to fit a large ball AND more in the bottom two storage compartments. 

Last but not least, every mom’s dream. It’s easy to open and fold back! I despise strollers that are not easy to put away or fold open. If there are too many levers, buttons or strings to pull, I go mad!  With just a few clicks it folds nicely. For you tech folks the dimensions are:

Unfolded: 30”W x 29”L x 42”H

Folded: 18”W x 18”L x 41”H

The only con I see to this stroller is its price. It ain’t cheap. In my humble opinion, you get what you pay for. It’s worth every penny, especially since it has such a high weight limit. So if you’re on the market for a high quality, long-lasting stroller, this stroller is for you. Another plus if you register your stroller within 3 months with proof of purchase there is a FREE extended warranty for 3 years.

Here’s a video I shot for you to see how fun and easy the G-LINK is:

*Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the product for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.**If you decide to make a purchase through the  affiliate link, Amazon will pay me a very small commission for it. This does not cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rollups

Tis the season for pumpkin! Every fall, I make pumpkin rolls. You know the one that involves a lot of work., but is so yummy that you end up making it regardless? This year however, I have my hands full with two kids. Nevertheless, my pumpkin roll cravings are still going strong. One afternoon, I improvised, and that day, I bit into the best pumpkin cream cheese rollups I’ve ever tasted.

pumpkin-rollup-

Pumpkin Roll Ups

 

This is a such a great, easy fix to my cravings.  It has the perfect crunch with a creamy warm filling. Best of all, you can make just one or two rollups, instead of baking a whole roll. You also don’t need an oven or mixer.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Rollups

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bread (fresh is best)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs. milk
  • 2 tbs. brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 c. pumpkin puree
  • 2-3 tbs. butter
  • 3 tbs. cream cheese

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix pumpkin puree and 1 tbs. brown sugar, set aside
  2. Using a rolling pin or glass, flatten bread by rolling. Cut ends of bread if desired
  3. Spread cream cheese on one end of the bread
  4. Top with pumpkin puree mixture
  5. Roll like a tube
  6. In a pan, add butter
  7. Brown all sides
  8. Dip and roll in remaining brown sugar
http://easytoddlermeals.com/2016/10/pumpkin-cream-cheese-rollups/

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