This One’s For Laura…

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 8.17.00 AM.pngThere’s something about having friends from your childhood that instantly make you feel 15 again the moment you hear from them. That’s what it’s like for the group of girls who have been in my life since high school. We’ve been there for one another through the ups and downs of each of our lives and I feel lucky to know that no matter where we are, something always brings us back together.
Tonight, I dedicate this trip down memory lane to my dear friend Laura. During my teenage years I spent a lot of time hanging out at Laura’s house where I’d get to see her dad Nelson – one of the nicest and coolest fathers I had ever met. Whenever I stopped by, Nelson always had a smile on his face, asked how I was doing and kept the conversation going when most dads would have probably left the room and disappeared. I definitely think that much of Laura’s upbeat and optimistic personality came from her dad. When we were 15 and had the world at our feet, we never thought of losing our parents because they all seemed so invincible. Come to think of it, they were probably the same age we are now dealing with many of the same stresses we face on a daily basis.
Somehow, 30 years have passed since those days hanging out at Laura’s and I haven’t seen my dear friend in nearly 12 years. Sure, we chat on the phone once in awhile and text one another on our birthdays and talk about how important it is for us to find a date when we can all get together, but work and life always seem to get in the way and that never seems to happen. Until now.
Today I found out that Laura’s incredibly vibrant dad passed away suddenly as a result of a heart attack and as my dear friend prepares to say goodbye, I know it’s going to be incredibly hard to face a world without one of the most supportive and positive people on the planet looking out for her.
Luckily, Laura and her sister Karen got the chance to see their dad last week while visiting him in Florida and when I saw their pictures on Facebook, I couldn’t believe how great he looked — it was as if he had never changed from the days we used to hang out at Laura’s house and he’d pop in once in a while to make sure we were all doing fine.
Nelson Beller was one of the greats — a great father, grandfather and friend with an incredibly positive outlook on life. My heart aches for his two daughters Laura and Karen and all I know is that the memories of this incredibly happy go lucky guy who seemed invincible when we were 15 will never fade away no matter how old we get. Rest in peace Nelson Beller. You will be sorely missed.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Homemade Shrimp Lo Mein

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When my 14 year old has a food request, I like to honor it. There is not much that this teen and I can agree upon in these trying teen years so I try to work some magic in the kitchen to make the household a bit more Beaver-Cleaver-like. She meticulously removed the carrots but besides that, it made her night. I hope you like it!
Homemade Shrimp Lo Mein:

1 lb chinese lo mein egg noodles (can get at any Asian supermarket and in some ethnic sections of general supermarkets)
3 cups cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks
5 scallions, washed and chopped into pea sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1-2 tbsp of Tamari or soy sauce, more if needed (Tamari is wheat free)
2 tsp agave nectar or honey
2 tbsp neutral oil like grapeseed, avocado oil or canola oil
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup roasted cashews, chopped
8 oz. cooked shrimp, chopped
Steps:
In a large pasta pot, cook noodles according to directions, drain and set aside.
Do all your prep work while the pasta is cooking (carrots, cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallions, cashews, cook and chop shrimp)
In a wok or large frying pan over low to medium heat, heat up the neutral oil.
Add in the garlic, ginger and scallions and saute until the scallions start to wilt.
Add in the chopped cabbage, prepped carrots and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt.
Add in the noodles, the shrimp, the tamari, sesame oil, the agave and the cashews and stir to combine fully.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
For more great recipes please visit, takebackthekitchen.com

Protect Your Teeth with Colgate® Enamel Health™

photo (54).JPGHere at Role Mommy, we talk about lots of things — our hopes, our aspirations, funny moments from our lives, and today, we’re going to tackle toothpaste! Yes, the one thing I do the moment I wake up is brush my teeth. The second is drink a piping hot cup of coffee. Now I bet you’re probably thinking, what does brushing your teeth have anything to do with drinking coffee? Well, what if I told you that I recently discovered a toothpaste that actually protects the enamel on your teeth so that you can feed that coffee addiction and not worry about those unsightly stains?
Colgate® Enamel Health™ toothpaste protects your tooth enamel from everyday foods and drinks that contain potentially harmful acids, such as coffee and orange juice. While I’ve seen plenty of people drinking their hot coffee through a straw, I like my coffee the old fashioned way, in a big cup so I can drink it slowly while I plan my day and my brain starts to kick into high gear. You may not realize this, but when your teeth start turning color, it has to do with the things you drink — so why wouldn’t you want to buy a toothpaste that actually protects the enamel so that they don’t become vulnerable.
I’ve been using Colgate® Enamel Health™ over the past week and I have to say, my teeth look brighter and feel smoother already. The toothpaste replenishes natural calcium to fill in the rough, acid damaged spots of your enamel and then polishes the enamel so germs are less likely to stick.
photo (55).JPGColgate has even developed a toothbrush that works hand in hand with their new toothpaste called the 360 degree Enamel Health™ toothbrush with 48% softer bristles vs. an ordinary soft manual toothbrush, it helps protect enamel surfaces and gums.
You can find Colgate Enamel Health with ExtraCare at CVS/pharmacy and if you join the
CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare program, you can save and earn rewards on nearly everything you buy – from household goods, to beauty products, to gifts for family and friends including Colgate Enamel Health! Be on the lookout for great weekly ad offers on the new Colgate® Enamel Health™ toothpaste and toothbrush!
Each time you shop, CVS/pharmacy ExtraCare cardholders can scan their card for ExtraBucks® Rewards, which is like “free CVS money” that can be used on most things at CVS/pharmacy. Unlike other confusing points-based loyalty programs, ExtraBucks Rewards were designed to make it very easy for cardholders to redeem their rewards by spending them on nearly anything they want throughout the store. Shoppers earn 2% back on nearly all purchases made throughout the store (including on all their favorite Colgate products for the whole family!). These rewards are just for scanning an ExtraCare card during each shopping trip, and are paid out quarterly. Members also earn ExtraBucks Rewards by purchasing specially-advertised items that pay out at the time of the qualifying purchase.
For more information about all the ways you can benefit from personalized savings with CVS/pharmacy visit www.cvs.com/extracare
And while you’re here, we are offering a fun giveaway too! If you’re in need of a new toothbrush and toothpaste, then sign up now to participate and we’ll let you know if you’ve won!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I’m proud to partner with CVS/pharmacy and Colgate Enamel Health for this oral health campaign. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturer.

Second Chances

Role Daddy Darin Feldman reflects on the NFL, Ray Rice and whether the football gridiron deserves a second chance…
Knocked out cold! That’s what we all saw. Two people walked into an elevator, the doors closed, and in a split second, a man delivered a devastating blow to a woman that caused her to fall, hit her head and lay unconscious. Then dragged out from the elevator like a sack of laundry, the woman was unconscionably left on public display laying face down and motionless by that same man. Most people would assume that only a heartless street thug would be capable of committing such an act. But it wasn’t. It was the highly revered All Pro running back, 2013 Super Bowl champion, Ray Rice.
Say it ain’t so Ray! This surely can’t be the Ray Rice we have embraced nationally as a beloved powerhouse running back and locally as a home town hero for his exemplary community service. Unquestionably, Ray has been a model of generosity financially and with his time, giving back to programs that once helped him become the star he is today. While we all “knew” what happened that night in Atlantic City, the absence of start to finish optical evidence gave us hope that maybe Ray’s actions weren’t as bad as surmised and everything could just go back to the way it was. He could once again be an iconic football hero. Without seeing what actually transpired in the elevator, people took solace in the human spirit that to forgive is divine and that everyone deserves a second chance. Unfortunately for Ray, the unexpurgated tape eventually did surface and it was uglier than what most could ever imagine. So we now get to question the societal tenet that everyone deserves a second chance.
Surely not all transgressions are forgivable and not everyone is afforded a chance at redemption. We will never see Bernie Madoff manage money again and it is equally unlikely that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong will ever see another endorsement deal. When we grant someone a second chance, we are really opining on the egregiousness of a person’s actions. The offender is being judged on the severity of his action, the likelihood of reoccurrence and how remorseful he seems to be.
Violent encounters like what Ray Rice did are horrible for everyone involved. The victim is traumatized both physically and emotionally, and the aggressor is left to deal with guilt, shame, and the legal repercussions. This form of cyclical behavior is tragic, but the cycle can be broken. Treatment for mood disorders is readily available and it is often mandatory for people like Ray Rice with violent impulses. Thankfully, a large variety of treatment services exist online. Anyone battling with tension and anxiety should seriously consider these services, as they are just a few clicks and a phone call away.
Demonstration of contrition takes many forms. Sometimes its simply “I’m sorry.” Other times, we need more. Show us that you are really sorry! It appeared that Ray’s public apology was heartfelt. But to whom was the apology really directed? Was it to the NFL and his teammates because of the distraction he created and the games that he will miss? Or more importantly, was is it to the countless number of women abused by men whose situation was exacerbated by a public figure’s actions making domestic violence seem acceptable? Ray’s commitment to becoming a future advocate for speaking out against domestic violence seemed perfunctory at best. Showing up at high school alma mater football game and being a sideline spectacle is probably not the best way to show how sorry you really are Ray.
How likely is reoccurrence? Well Ray already told us that it was a 30 second mistake in his life and that it would never happen again. Was the mistake in getting caught on film or was it truly a momentary lapse in all judgement and sensibilities? What was it about that evening that made it so unique from any other night that makes this a one time occurrence? Predicting future behavior is an impossible task but we are asked to do it all the time. And our best tool for seeing into the future is to look into the past. The past is no guarantee of the future, but its our best source of information for guessing it. And this is why the full, unedited version of the tape is so important in our “second chance” verdict for Ray.
What we witnessed on the elevator that evening wasn’t a video of a man just being physically inappropriate with his partner. It was inexplicable rage! Rage like that is rarely a random one time event. Hard to imagine that the first time a man physically assaults his partner is just with one “knock out” punch. So how many times have there been physical altercations between Ray and his wife. Vegas odds say its a lot more than one. Again, history does not predict the future, but it does a pretty good job of showing whats in store.
Should Ray Rice be allowed to play in the NFL again? The answer really comes down to how confident you are that this type of behavior will never happen again. Based on what we saw, how could anyone ever come to that conclusion?
Darin Feldman is the co-founder of A-Game Sports, a youth sports program and facility opening in 2015 in Westchester County, New York. He’s also the husband of Role Mommy founder, Beth Feldman and will be contributing regularly as Role Daddy.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Curried Chicken Salad

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This is a really delicious and simple protein filled recipe that is also perfect to make from leftover roast chicken. Great for lunch , dinner or even a snack!

Curried Chicken Salad:

4 cups chopped, cooked chicken from 2 large breasts
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Steps:
Combine all ingredients together and serve cold on a sandwich or over greens.
For more great recipes, please visit: takebackthekitchen.com

Back at School: Creating a Healthier Next Generation

Written by Role Mommy Wing Mom, Danielle Feigenbaum
snaLogo.jpg Many parents in this country are obsessed with their children’s nutrition, and rightfully so! We know the sad statistics about childhood obesity being on the rise. Speaking for myself, I want my kids to have a well balanced diet and be active so they stay fit. Since school started this year, I decided to stop feeding my kids a sugary breakfast so I give them a hard boiled egg, banana and cereal high in fiber and protein. I want to make sure their brains are sharp, ready to learn and keep them full until lunch. Speaking of lunch, school lunch plays an essential role in our kid’s lives and I think parents and educators need know what is going on in our school cafeterias.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended the School Nutrition Association Conference back in July and it really opened my eyes to everything that goes in to getting the right food into school cafeterias as well as teaching the kids to eat it and even like it. School districts around the country are getting on board with this initiative. From the USDA: “Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, which will help us raise a healthier generation of children. The new standards align school meals with the latest nutrition science and the real world circumstances of America’s schools. These responsible reforms do what’s right for children’s health in a way that’s achievable in schools across the Nation.”
I think some parents (like myself) feel that they can pack a nutritious lunch for their child, but if your home is anything like mine in the morning, it is so hard to pack their lunches at all, let alone make it healthy! Beth Teitel wrote an article for the Boston Globe called At lunch, home-packed may not mean healthy… “The nutritional shortcomings of school lunches have been a matter of national debate for decades — but the focus has been on what schools serve, not on what moms and dads pack in the lunch bags. Now Tufts University researchers have looked inside all those bags — and discovered that none of the lunches met all five National School Lunch Program standards, which emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low- or nonfat dairy, and only 27 percent of the lunches met at least three of the goals. There are many ways to go wrong with lunch, but one of the insidious is what she calls the “at least” strategy. “Parents make the ‘at least’ compromise,” she said. ” ‘At least’ chocolate milk has calcium. ‘At least’ chicken nuggets have protein. If you think of the cumulative effect of the ‘at least’ mindset, we’re teaching our kids the exact opposite habits we want them to have. We’re dumbing down their diets, and more importantly, we’re pushing their taste buds towards junk and away from healthy foods.”
This is such a good point, I find myself doing this all the time. As hard as I have tried, my ten year old and seven year old are pretty picky eaters. When my daughter was at sleep away camp this summer she tried so many new foods and ate healthy foods she never tried before because that’s what all the girls at her table were doing. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing 😉 How great would it be to have that at school as well? All the kids trying the healthy new item that’s for lunch, together. We wonder why European children eat so much better? I saw an article that showed the amazing lunches they serve to their children at school… French school lunches show how to teach kids healthy eating habits. That is all they know and that is what they eat.
Not only do we need to get healthier foods into the cafeterias (which the SNA is doing a great job with), we also need to educate students on why they should eat healthy. Let’s get creative! Some schools have tried colorful signage in cafeterias, creative food presentations (fruit cut into shapes, etc.), taste-test events, student cooking contests, themed-days, and nutrition curriculums incorporated into the classrooms. You can also help at home–read through the menu with your kids, discuss the healthy options, ask them about the new foods they tried at school, maybe reward them with a cool sticker if they try a new food.
For information about cafeteria menu items, nutritional information, or ingredients in your child’s school lunch, contact your school Cafeteria Manager. He/she can answer questions about everything from meal preparation methods to waiting time in line. For more detailed questions, the Cafeteria Manager may refer you to the Nutrition Director who oversees cafeteria operations and menu planning for the entire school district. The Nutrition Director’s contact information is usually available on the district website.
Let’s all get on board and do what we can to help keep our kids healthy!
The School Nutrition Association launched Tray Talk as a way to provide parents with information about healthy school meals and offer tips on how to get involved in school nutrition programs. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/TrayTalk
For more great information please visit: www.schoolnutrition.org

Back to School Savings with Walmart

photo (36).jpgWhile I am a Type A mom in nearly every aspect of my life, when it comes to Back to School, I am a last minute shopper every step of the way. In fact, I like to call our supply shopping excursions, a “Back at School” expedition. This past week, I decided to give Walmart a try instead of being caught on a never ending line at one of my usual go-to office supply stores.
My son and I came armed with his supply list and we got to work. But before we did, I noticed something really cool — Walmart isn’t just a place to shop for school supplies, clothes and home goods but you can even find inexpensive supermarket finds there too.
Now here’s the best part. Walmart has launched a super cool app called Savings Catcher where you can scan your Walmart receipt and start earning money on a Walmart e-card if they find that a nearby retailer is selling the same item for more money. That means, that you can earn money for shopping at Walmart on the items you buy. And you don’t have to scan any advertising circulars to find your own deals. Walmart does it for you.
photo (35).jpgOn our visit to Walmart, I purchased several ESPN themed binders for my sports loving son, notebook paper, pens, pencils, folders and some grocery items too like Sparkling Ice — which happens to be one of my kids favorite drinks and was on sale the day we were there.
The next stop is to scan our receipt with Savings Catcher and get ready to start saving. After 2-3 business days, you are then notified by Walmart to find out if you’ve saved money on your purchases. It’s that simple.
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Walmart then compares advertised prices from the top retailers located nearby the Walmart store where you shopped. When you submit your receipt using their website, you will see the list of retailers that we are comparing to. When you submit your receipt using their app, you will see the number of top competitors near the Walmart store where you shopped. The name of each competitor will then move across the screen.
While I’ve never been a savvy couponer, having the Walmart Savings Catcher instantly provide me with additional funds to shop for purchases is a no brainer. Looks like I’ll be headed back there soon so I can start saving by shopping.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Cafe Mom. All opinions and stories are 100% my own.

Take Back the Kitchen: Alma’s Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan

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I forgot all about polenta until I saw it in Trader Joe’s yesterday! I was looking for gluten free dinner ideas to make a special dinner for my niece who is going out of town and I saw the prepared tube of polenta on the shelf. These tubes are so user friendly and can be fried up and embellished to become a delicious side dish or appetizer in just a few minutes. Try the following recipe and let me know what you think!
Fried Polenta with Olive oil and Parmesan:

One tube prepared Polenta, sliced into 1/4″ round slices (should make about 20 slices)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil, divided
Steps:
Heat up a medium to large size non-stick skillet over medium heat (I like the eco friendly ceramic skillets) and add a tsp of the olive oil until hot.
When the oil is smoking a bit, add as many slices as you can to the pan, leaving a little room around them so that you will easily be able to flip them with a spatula.
Wait a few minutes and check with a spatula to see if the underside is getting golden brown. When it does, flip it over and cook until that side is golden brown.
While you’re waiting for the second side to get brown, place a little of the cheese on top.
When the cheese is melted and the second side is golden brown, remove from the pan and loosely cover with aluminum.
Start making the second batch and when they are all done, serve immediately. Enjoy!
For more great recipes please visit: takebackthekitchen.com
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