The Summer Olympics Are Here!

headerRIF.jpg I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of the Olympics. My kids are somewhat obsessed. Every night we sit around the TV and watch the USA compete in London. Every morning the kids want a recap of what happened after they went to bed. It’s great that they are so into it, and I want to encourage their interest and fascination with the Olympic games.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest literacy non-profit organization, has put together a fun Olympic book list that will entice young sports fans and avid readers alike. Covering everything from culture to geography such as Wilma Unlimited; How to Train with a T-Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals; and some new finds too. There is something for every reader to help get them in the Olympic spirit!
Check out the full Olympic reading list:
RIF also has some wonderful Olympic themed activities that families can enjoy together during this exciting time. They are a fun and interactive way to root on the U.S. during the Olympics while helping children increase vocabulary, and literature understanding.
Also, be sure to take a look at RIF’s comprehensive Activity Library, for other Olympic related activities to do with children during the Summer Olympics:
· Family Olympic Torch: A fun, simple craft the whole family can enjoy to get in the Olympic spirit!
· Olympic Medallions : Design Olympic medallions to award your reading superstar during your family’s “Summer Reading Olympics.”
· Around the World in Eighty Books : Help children learn about the different countries and cultures represented in the Olympics with this visual, cross-country trek.
· Outbatting Pete Rose : Have an avid sports fan? Challenge them to match or break the records of their favorite athletes through reading.

Tricks to Eating Out Guilt and Weight Gain Free with the Mojo Coach

Restaurant Tips and Tricks
By: Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®
While traveling often involves a change in our usual eating and exercise routine, one of the greatest reasons why we put on “travel pounds” is due to how we’re ordering our food and what we’re eating at different restaurants while away. Is there a simple way to navigate a restaurant menu? All it takes is a little education and as usual…a plan.
Let’s start with a short lesson in menu reading. Certain words indicate a food choice is healthy and lean while other words indicate a food is loaded in fat, sugar and calories. What are some healthy menu words to look for when menu reading? Terms like baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, roasted, seasoned, poached, seared and red sauce usually imply that the food is cooked with less fat. While these foods may still contain added fat in the form of oil, butter and cream there is at least the potential for a leaner entrée when ordering foods with these descriptions. So if those are some of the words that indicate a leaner choice, what would be some menu words to watch out for? Words like fried, breaded, battered, crispy, cheesy, buttery, creamy, sautéed, stuffed and white sauce are just a few. Descriptions like these indicate the food is high in fat and calories so if you’re choosing to order foods with these descriptions, use your discretion and limit your portions.
Now that you know some healthy and “red flag” words, what are some tips to use when ordering your meal? Here are a few ideas.
• For a lighter meal one option can be to order an appetizer (as long as it’s a healthy one) with a salad or two healthy appetizers instead of a high fat/calorie entrée.
• You can start with a clear-­‐based soup or salad versus a cream based soup.
• You can ask that the bread basked not be put down on the table. If that’s not an option, make a rule about how much you’ll have before you go and stick to it!
• At a buffet or salad bar, load up on the vegetables and watch out for high fat toppings and mixtures.
• You can portion off half of the entrée and share it or pack it up for another meal.
• You can use the opportunity to enjoy what the restaurant is known for; enjoying a small portion of those foods which are unique, interesting and symbolic of that restaurant while avoiding ordinary foods that you can have anywhere.
• You can substitute fruit, salad or steamed vegetables in place of high fat side dishes.
• You can use condiments like ketchup, mustard, vinegar, lemon and salsa versus butter,
sour cream, cheese or creamy sauces.
• You can ask for foods “dry” or with sauces on the side.
• You can use the “fork trick” for your salad. Some of us have the best of intentions when ordering salad with a high fat dressing on the side yet by the end of the meal, they find they’ve used up most of the dressing. I always encourage using a salad dressing you love because salad is too important of a food to be turned off to by a poor tasting dressing. With the “fork trick” you can have a dressing that’s loaded without the damage! Here’s what you do: Instead of piercing the salad first then dipping it into the dressing try it in reverse! Dip the fork in the dressing first…then pierce the salad. You’ll still get the flavor you love without using nearly as much as if you did it the other way. I do this daily with my favorite salad dressing and one of the most high fat salad dressings there is-­‐ Thousand Island… and it’s worked for years!
So now that we’ve covered a few words to watch out for and some healthy ways to order, what are some behaviors to try so you can enjoy your meal guilt and weight gain free?
• With food still left on your plate, you can casually add some salt, pepper or other seasoning that would make the entrée less appealing to you.
• You can put your napkin on the plate indicating (even if it’s only to yourself) that you’re done.
•You can say something like “Wow that was great, I’m stuffed.” Making a public declaration like that or another you’re comfortable with may make you think twice about digging back in once again.
You can push your plate out of reach. You can put the opposite ends of your utensils onto the plate. Now they’re unpleasant to pick up.
You can pay attention to things like:
-­‐The flavor, texture and aroma the food was designed to give.
-­‐The atmosphere and ambience of the restaurant.
-­‐The conversations and connections with those you’re with.
Being more mindful of your surroundings will help you feel more satisfied with less food.
When drinking alcohol, you can pre plan the amount you’ll have and stick to it! Remember, if you “fail to plan, then plan to fail!”
You can slow down! Put your fork down between bites, drink plenty of water to help pace yourself and enjoy heaping conversations versus heaping portions of food!
One of inconvenience the waiter/waitress or bring attention to themselves. Remember, chances are the restaurant staff has heard your requests before. Also, if you don’t order a meal the way you’d like, the only person you’re really inconveniencing is yourself because you won’t feel proud of the choices you’ve made as well as the way those choices make your body look and feel.
Restaurant ordering doesn’t have to be a daunting and confusing task. It can be simple, delicious and enjoyable with some education and a few smart choices. Enjoy!
Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®, founder of is a leading health, fitness, wellness, lifestyle, self-­‐improvement expert and THE secret behind some of the healthiest, most dynamic, energetic and successful people today. Sign up for your “10 FREE Strategies to Get You Lean, Sleek and Sculpted”! (These are complete programs and videos) and take the FREE “Mojo Lifestyle Assessment” to see how you score.

Planning a New England Vacation? Then Bring Along These Summer Reads

There is nothing that quite compares to a New England summer vacation and over the next month, my family is going to be cruising through Connecticut, Rhode Island, Cape Cod and Nantucket. While I can’t wait to relax at the beach, shop at a few farmer’s markets and enjoy a blueberry mojito while watching the sunset, what I love most about vacations is getting the chance to dive into a great summer read.
If you’re going away for a quick weekend getaway or hopping on a plane for a week long adventure, make sure you download these books or go old school and pick up a hard copy! Thanks to Amazon for all the incredible descriptions below that caused me to order all these books in time for our vacation!

1. Jennifer Weiner’s The Next Best Thing – Can’t wait to dive into this delicious new novel by New York Times bestselling author, Jennifer Weiner. At twenty-three, Ruth Saunders left her childhood home in Massachusetts and headed west with her seventy-year-old grandma in tow, hoping to make it as a screenwriter. Six years later, she hits the jackpot when she gets The Call: the sitcom she wrote, The Next Best Thing, has gotten the green light, and Ruthie’s going to be the showrunner. But her dreams of Hollywood happiness are threatened by demanding actors, number-crunching executives, an unrequited crush on her boss, and her grandmother’s impending nuptials.
2. Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead. Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff. Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.
Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice.
3. Summerland: A Novel – A warm June evening, a local tradition: the students of Nantucket High have gathered for a bonfire on the beach. But what begins as a graduation night celebration ends in tragedy after a horrible car crash leaves the driver of the car, Penny Alistair, dead, and her twin brother in a coma. The other passengers, Penny’s boyfriend Jake and her friend Demeter, are physically unhurt – but the emotional damage is overwhelming, and questions linger about what happened before Penny took the wheel.
As summer unfolds, startling truths are revealed about the survivors and their parents – secrets kept, promises broken, hearts betrayed. Elin Hilderbrand explores the power of community, family, and honesty, and proves that even from the ashes of sorrow, new love can still take flight.
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
5. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Nothing like a story set in Italy to give you the ultimate summer reading escape. The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying.
The story begins again in present time, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot–searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. What unfolds is a dazzling, yet deeply human, roller coaster of a novel, spanning fifty years and nearly as many lives.
Got a must read book you’d like to recommend? We’d love to hear about it!

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

For many people, one of the biggest challenges in summer is the lack of desire to cook over a hot stove. For this reason, I have created many a recipe that require no cooking! Dukkah is of Egyptian origins but can be modified many ways with different nuts and seeds. This protein filled topping that can be sprinkled over a slice of bread with cottage cheese, over a salad or even eaten with a spoon. Enjoy!

1/2 cup plus 2 TBS toasted sesame seeds
1/2 TBS ground coriander
1 1/2 TBS toasted cumin seeds
1/2 TBS ground pepper
2 TBS cashews, ground
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Grind everything together in a coffee grinder. Sprinkle on anything or eat by the spoonful like I do!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

FamilyiTrips App to the Rescue!

Thumbnail image for image.png Summertime is the best, I love it. One of my favorite things to do during the summer is to travel with my family. Recently we had a trip planned to Maine and my husband thought it would be fun to make a stop in Boston on the way for a couple of days. Since we are coming from NY, Boston seemed like the perfect place to break up the road trip, not to mention a great city to explore. Now that my kids are 8 1/2 and 5 1/2, it is easier to travel… no bottles, no strollers, no diapers etc. The only problem? We knew nothing about sightseeing in Boston!
Here is where the FamilyiTrips Boston App saved the day! Created by award-winning travel journalists, this user-friendly app makes planning easy by pinpointing exhibits and experiences best for young kids, grade schoolers and teens, by showcasing little-known gems, and by allowing you to create a personalized itinerary that matches your family’s needs. Locals and travelers also use the detailed plan-ahead information so as not to miss out on what they want to see and do.
I loved being able to do research and make plans ahead of time, but also felt relaxed about switching things around while we were there, since I had all the information I needed right at my fingertips. Everything is broken down by age range so we could find appropriate activities for my kids. The trip was amazing, from the museums to the tips on walking the freedom trail with young kids, to the places to eat, it could not have worked out any better.
The Washington DC and Boston FamilyiTrips app were on the iTunes Hot List for Travel apps! More cities are being added soon. Fun facts and illustrations add to the enjoyment, and my kids love using the app too! The apps are compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Purchase for $2.99-$4.99 through or from the iTunes store. Updates are always FREE.

Eco-friendly Children’s Toys

Written by Role Mommy contributor, Danielle Feigenbaum

planwood-100x100.jpg Buying gifts for babies and young kids isn’t easy. Whether the gift is for a friend, family member or your own children, PlanWood toys makes it simple to choose a wonderful, fun gift that you can feel good about giving. You can get everything from a dancing alligator, adorable doll house, play food, sorting and stacking toys, and so much more.
PlanToys® are made from non-toxic, natural materials such as organic rubberwood. Their toys enable children to play, learn and become closer to nature. PlanWood is made from the 2 tons of sawdust that the toy factory produces daily, truly using every part of the rubberwood tree. Less than 1% of formaldehyde-free E-zero glue is used and it isn’t treated with any other heavy chemicals. Another plus of PlanWood is that organic colorant can be added during the composite process, which is more eco-friendly than the water-based paints and finishes PlanToys uses on its rubberwood toys. Parents will also love that the new PlanWood toys can safely go in the dishwasher. So if you have a little one who loves putting everything in her mouth, you’ll be able to easily keep her toys clean, that is a huge plus.
I was lucky enough to receive a Doll House from PlanToys. My husband is the handy man in our family, but he was traveling for business this week so I was left on my own to assemble it. It was a little tricky (for me) but I did it! The house does not come with any furniture or dolls so my kids used what we already have around the house (Polly Pockets felt right at home as did my son’s batman and transformers) Even though my kids are a little on the older side (the house is ideal for ages 3-6), they did play with it for hours! I think this would make a great present, just remember to buy some dolls and furniture to go with it.
It’s so hard to know (and scary to think about) what goes into making the toys our kids play with. Babies and toddlers put everything in their mouth, so it is reassuring to know there is nothing harmful or dangerous in PlanToys.
Take a look at the website for all the great toys you can enjoy buying and feel really good about giving! Happy Shopping.

Discover Your Fitness Personality with The Mojo Coach

Want Lasting Exercise Motivation? Discover Your Fitness Personality
Written by Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®

One of the reasons why we lose motivation to workout is because the exercise we’re doing isn’t in line with our “fitness personality.” Just how we each have our own personalities, we each have a fitness personality too. The more closely you cater to that personality, the more you are going to enjoy your exercise and the faster you are going to see results. So how do you discover your fitness personality? The first step is to take a look at your needs, your current health, interests and lifestyle.
Once you’ve figured out where you are and where you want to go, you need to figure out what type of exerciser you are. Do you like yoga, Pilates, do you like to run, exercise with fitness DVD’s, take classes, Zumba or dance? Do you like weights, spinning, cardio or kickboxing? Do you like to exercise alone or with a partner? Does a gym motivate you or intimidate you? Do you like to workout with music and if so, what kind? Do you like to work out indoors or outdoors? Are you competitive and would a team sport work for you? These are just a few of the many questions to consider when creating a program around your fitness personality.
Next, you need to determine the best time of day for you to get your workout in. My clients and I have found that it’s usually best to get a workout in before the day starts because as the day progresses, obligations come up and exercise is one of the first things to go if you have a lot to do. One suggestion is this: when you wake up, immediately put on your workout clothes. This way, you’re mentally getting prepared and giving yourself a running start to get your exercise in as soon as you’re able to. If that’s not an option, keep your gym bag packed and ready, exercise on a lunch break or hit the gym before you come home at the end of your day.
A word to guilt ridden parents who don’t want to take more time away from their families to get their workout in: The healthier you are and the better you feel, the more you have to give. When you’re unfit, unhealthy, stressed, exhausted and depleted, you’re just not offering your best to those you love.
Taking some time for your own self-­‐care, taking time to burn off some steam, improve your health, and increase your energy creates a better, more fit, happier and healthier you. You’re also setting a great example around the importance of health, fitness and taking care of yourself. Isn’t that what you want to give those you love?
Lastly, find out your “why.” What’s the reason why you’re working out? Is it to become healthier, gain more confidence or so you look better in your clothes? Is it to have more energy throughout your day, to improve your quality of life, to easily climb the stairs or to feel sexier? We typically stay motivated when the reasons we’re choosing to exercise are specific to us and deeply personal. Once you’ve determined your “why” keep referring back to it to help power you through your workouts.
The key to a lasting fitness program you enjoy is to discover your unique “fitness personality” then creating a program around that in a way that suits your lifestyle, that’s fun and brings results. Also, as you change and grow, so will your goals and interests. Just as flexibility is an important component in a well-­‐balanced fitness program, it’s equally important to be flexible in your approach to discovering and working with your unique fitness personality.
Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC The Mojo Coach®, founder of is a leading health, fitness, wellness, lifestyle, self-­‐improvement expert and THE secret behind some of the healthiest, most dynamic, energetic and successful people today. Sign up for your “10 FREE Strategies to Get You Lean, Sleek and Sculpted”! (These are complete programs and videos) and take the FREE “Mojo Lifestyle Assessment” to see how you score.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

Sometimes a salad is all we need for dinner if there is enough protein. Try this easy , delicious and different salad tonight!

Mediterranean Summer Salad with Maple Soy Vinaigrette:

6 cups leafy salad greens
1 cup grapes, cut in half
1/2 cup small dice feta cheese
1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1 cup cooked green lentils (boil dry lentils until tender-about 25 minutes)
Toss salad ingredients together and drizzle on dressing
I like my Maple Soy vinaigrette:
Maple Soy Dressing:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
8 TBS soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
Whisk all ingredients together and refrigerate
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

envelope.jpgWhen I was getting my son ready for sleep-away camp this year, I made sure he was aware of some important things – like how to turn on the shower, where to find his socks and how to make his bed. I had heard horror stories of kids who never showered at camp because they weren’t taught how to do it by themselves so I was determined to ensure that my 10 year old wouldn’t be that kid.
I thought I had everything covered. And I did…except for the letters.
A few days after he arrived at camp, we started receiving letters home from him with our address written on the back flap. While the card still found its way to our mailbox, we never told our son where to write our mailing address. Somehow, I must have thought that part would be instinctual – except my son decided that it made the most sense to write all the addresses down on the wrong side. Plus, he also lost the entire page of addresses I had typed and printed out for him before he left, so I had to re-send it via bunk notes so he could write his grandparents. Ironically, they received their letters in the same condition with their mailing address on the back flap.
When I ran into a friend of mine and confided his letter writing faux pas, she revealed that when her son first went to sleep-away camp, he told her he had sent her a ton of letters but she never received them. A few weeks into the case of the missing camp letters, she finally solved the mystery – her son was putting his own mailing address on the front flap so the letters kept going back to him!
And here’s another doozy – we were out to dinner the other night with friends and they told us their son received a letter from one of his best friends who was away at camp. He was so excited to hear from him that he ripped open the envelope only to find a letter that read:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m having a lot of fun at camp and haven’t cried yet….
It turns out, his mom had armed him with pre-addressed envelopes. All he had to do was write a letter and then put it in the right one and voila, mail it to out. Easy, peasy. Except he didn’t read who he was sending his letter to and thought this one was going to his parents.
I guess in this age of technology, parents have taken letter writing skills for granted. But let that be a lesson to all of us. Sending email is easy – but nothing beats receiving a good old fashioned letter from your child – no matter where they write the address — as long as it gets there and we’re able to read through his practically illegible handwriting that he’s having a great time, then all is right with the world.

Project You Summer Edition is Here!

Sure it’s already July and we’re halfway through the summer, but that never stopped us! Project You, the Summer Edition is finally here. We are so proud of our latest issue which is filled with book reviews galore, amazing beauty, entertaining and health tips, funny essays, travel secrets and so much more. Thanks again to all of our amazing contributors!
Take a look, click on the links and enjoy what we’d like to call a labor of love!