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5 Snacks to Stop Buying and Start Making at Home

You're a busy mom. From the moment the alarm goes off until you hop into bed, you're always doing something – dropping off the kids at school, picking them up from soccer practice and getting some work done somewhere in between the madness.

Who has the time to make snacks? You're too busy wondering what you're going to make for dinner. I know this sentiment all too well. It's much easier to pick up a few staple snacks at the store and call it a day.

But I've found that it really doesn't take that much time to make some of your kids' favorite snacks at home. As a bonus, your homemade versions are usually healthier and less expensive.

Here are five easy snacks to stop buying and start making at home:

1. Yogurt Pouches

My kids love yogurt pouches, better known as "Go Gurt." And I always assumed they were a healthy snack choice – until I read the ingredients.

Aside from the strange ingredients I couldn't pronounce, the yogurt in these pouches had a surprising amount of sugar.

Yogurt pouches are so easy to make at home, and you can buy ZipZicles online that can be filled with your own little concoctions.

When I say these snacks are easy to make, I'm not exaggerating. If you have a blender (food processor will also work), yogurt and fruit, you're good to go.

Experiment with different fruits and ratios of fruit to yogurt to get the flavors and textures you want.

When you're done blending, use a funnel to fill the ZipZicles pouches and enjoy. If you don’t want to use pouches, you can just fill a baby mason jar with your yogurt. But kids really do love eating out of these pouches.

2. Apple Chips

We love fruit chips in our house, but apple chips are the best, according to the kids. Store-bought apple chips can be expensive (like $1.50 for a very small bag), but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can use your own ingredients and ditch the preservatives and added sugars.

To make your own apple chips, you'll need two things:

  • Apples
  • Cinnamon

Sure, you can make these chips in a dehydrator, but that would take forever. We bake ours in the oven at 250 degrees for about an hour and a half.

  • Bake for 30-45 minutes.
  • Flip the apple slices.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Bake for another 30-45 minutes. 

The chips come out crispy, and they're naturally sweet. Cinnamon makes this treat taste delectable.

3. Cereal Bars

Cereal bars are a great way for the kids (and adults) to get their servings of whole grain and fruit. But these bars can be expensive when you buy them in the store. They're also loaded with sugar and other questionable ingredients.

Making your own is easier than you think.

The trickiest part (and it's really not that tricky) is making the crust.

Here's what you'll need to make the crust:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 2 cups oats
  • I tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups pastry flour
  •  2 tsp. baking powder

You could even turn this into a yeast-based crust and make the dough in your breadmaker to save time.

The filling is so easy to make. Just blend your favorite fruit with a little bit of water.

To make your bars, roll out the dough, cut into bar-sized rectangles, place a dollop of filling in the center, fold the dough  over, and seal the edges to keep the filling inside.

We bake ours at 350F for about 15-18 minutes.

4. Trail Mix

Have you seen the cost of a bag of trail mix? Furthermore, have you looked at the ingredients in these mixes?

It's incredibly easy to make your own trail mix blend, and you can add whatever ingredients you want.

  • Cashews, almonds and pecans.    
  • Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried fruit
  • Dark chocolate chunks, peanuts and pistachios.     

You're only limited by your imagination and your taste buds when making your own trail mix blend. We've even added spices to our mix for a unique flavor twist.

5. Fruit Leather

I can remember eating Fruit Roll-ups as a kid, and now, my kids love them, too. But I can't bring myself to buy a snack that's loaded in sugar and preservatives. The amount of actual fruit in these snacks is questionable.

Like apple chips, fruit leather is so easy to make at home. You don't need a dehydrator either – just some parchment paper and a little time.

To make your fruit snack, puree your fruit in a blender or food processor. You can blend just one fruit, or a mixture of different fruits.

Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the puree onto it. Make sure the puree is evenly distributed across the pan to allow for even cooking.

All that’s left to do is bake your snack at 175F for three to four hours. After two hours, check the fruit leather every 30 minutes, and remove it when it's ready. It will be done when it's dry to the touch.

Which snacks do you make at home? Share in the comments!

Bio: Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website, http://www.village-bakery.com, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at Joe@Village-Bakery.com.


Baby Mantra's Bundle: The Perfect Baby Shower Gift

Baby showers provide some of the fondest memories surrounding the birth of a child. Friends and family come together to celebrate a new life and offer gifts so that parents can have a head start on this exciting journey. Aside from the games and delicious snacks, guests are tasked with finding the perfect gift for the parents to-be. Baby shower gift ideas include something off of the registry, something homemade and sentimental, or something special that guests want to share with the family.

While gifts can only help prepare new parents for so much, they are a great way for guests to join in on the celebration and introduce parents to new products for baby. Luckily, with the help of Baby Mantra’s Baby Shower Gift Pack, you can get everything a mom or dad needs to prepare for their newborn’s bath and body care.

Baby Shower Gift Pack

The Baby Mantra Baby Shower Gift Pack helps moms and dads prepare for the arrival of their new bundle of joy. With natural baby wash and newborn shampoo, all products are EWG Verified, tested for allergies, free of parabens, fragrances and dyes. The pack is a great way to purchase a variety of essential products at one time. Safe and healthy, new parents can be confident that their little one’s skin will be protected and cared for day and night.

The Pack Includes:

●     Newborn Wash and Shampoo with Coconut Oil and Lavender

●     Calming Lotion with Shea Butter and Lavender

●     Calming Massage Oil with Apricot

●     Bubble Bath with Lavender

●     Diaper Rash Ointment with Sunflower Seed Oil

The next time you are in need of the perfect baby shower gift, head to Baby Mantra to check out The Baby Mantra Baby Shower Gift Pack, and other all natural baby products.


What is HR Software?

Modern businesses rely heavily on technology. They spend a lot of time, and money, on sourcing the best equipment and software.

Most company owners recognize the importance of using the latest innovations to help them to serve their customers effectively. However, there is one area of most businesses that is often neglected. Firms rarely invest in purchasing HR software for their personnel department to use.

This is a real shame, because using this type of software brings many benefits. Modern HR software can do so much more than help you to get your payroll right. Today, you can turn your HR department into an internal hub that brings everyone together and ensures that everyone is working as an efficient team. Below are just a few examples of how that can be achieved.

Run an efficient appraisal process

An important part of making sure that every member of your team is pulling their weight is setting targets, and measuring progress. Most firms do this using an appraisal process.

This approach works well. However, that is only the case when appraisals are carried out on time, and the data gleaned from the interviews is actually used. The best HR software includes modules that will help you to manage the process, and ensure that everyone does what he or she should to make your appraisal system work.

Manage absenteeism

Most firms use their HR system to keep track of hours worked and make sure that people are paid on time. This is important, but so is managing absenteeism.

If you want to, you can use the information you gather to make sure everyone is paid properly to spot members of staff that are taking more time off sick than average.

Once you spot a problem, you can take the time to discuss the issue with the person concerned, and find out what the underlying cause is. Often these conversations are enough to stop people taking time off sick without good cause.

Roll out best practice

Every company has to evolve if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. As a result, managing change is an important part of the modern business world.

The tools that are included in today’s HR software packages make it easy to roll out best practice and keep track of progress. Most of the best packages include scheduling modules that keep track of what needs to be done, when, and by whom.

Run staff bonus schemes

For any firm staff motivation can be a problem. It is hard to keep everybody enthusiastic and working hard.

A good way to do so it to set up and run some sort of staff bonus scheme. This task can be done more efficiently using a HR software package.

If you would like to learn more about how to set up a staff bonus scheme, you can do so here.

As you can see, using something like Cascade Human Resources Software brings many potential benefits. As a result, if you have not seriously considered investing in this type of package we strongly urge you to take the time to do so.


What are the Advantages of a Discount Dental Plan? 

Many Americans are looking for ways to reduce their dental health care expenses. Unfortunately, they are finding the New Year is bringing rising premiums, higher out of pocket expenses and deductibles. Quality dental care is crucial, for the old and young alike, but the high cost can be financially stressful. Which is why so many people are choosing dental discount plans over traditional dental insurance.

Inadequate dental health can cause more than just cavities, it can also lead to serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections and diabetic complications.

Traditional Insurance Plans

Besides the high annual cost, the typical dental insurance plan has many shortcomings. For instance, the average copay has the insured paying over 20% for just a filling and 50% for a crown, while many other procedures are not even covered.

Then there are the annual maximum payouts, they are usually as low as $1,000 to even $2000. Unfortunately, all it takes is a few dental procedures, such as a tooth extraction, and a root canal with a crown, to reach your max and leaving you paying out of pocket.

The Affordable Care Act

Dental health plans under the Affordable Care Act are required to provide Pediatric Dentistry to meet the requirements of “essential health benefits”. The requirements for adults are not the same. While new ways have been formulated to find dental insurance in the marketplace, it hasn’t led to lower cost or a higher quality of care.

With all the attention paid to affordable health care, experts say standard dental coverage has changed little over the last 20 years while leading to greater out-of-pocket costs for consumers,” according to ABC News

Discount Dental Plans

Discount dental plans are becoming increasingly popular. They tend to be more affordable, whether annually or monthly, and provide significant savings with participating dentists. These plans provide pre-negotiated discounts for most dental procedures, cover pre-existing conditions, eliminates the hassle of deductibles, less paperwork and there is no cap on the total savings.

Our goal at True Dental Discounts is to provide both individuals and families with affordable and quality dental care. Learn how you can save on exams, braces, dentures, cleanings and many other dental procedures by contacting TrueDentalDiscounts.com.


5 Gadget Gift Ideas For This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and the season for gifts is set to come along with it. Everyone around the world has already started to look for the best gift which they can present to their loved ones to express their love and gratitude for them. While doing so, it is important to ensure that you choose such a gift that is both useful as well as appreciable.

There are a lot of options that one can consider to present their loved ones with. But in this post we will focus on gifts that will be a perfect present for tech geeks. Here's a list of five amazing gadgets that will lit up the faces of your dear ones with happiness and glee. Each gadget has its own unique purpose and will surely delight your close ones with its design and utility.

1. Sony Play station 4 500GB console

Gaming console is probably the most common and sought after gift that can be presented to a gadget geek. Someone who loves playing games will surely be more than happy to receive such a pleasant surprise. When we talk about gaming consoles, the first name that pops up in our minds is the Sony Play Station. Sony's series of Play Station consoles are the most sensational gadgets and have always received unprecedented success and love. The latest in the series is the PS4 which has the best of specifications and controls to play with. The product allows gamers to tap unseen zones of their creativity and push themselves to develop some amazing and enthralling gaming experiences. The main highlight of the console is the 'Suspend mode' that eliminates load time on your saved games and enables you to directly start from the saved point. Enjoy endless challenges and share all your achievements as you reach to the top of the table in your designated game.

2. VicTsing speakers

VicTsing presents you with the most stylish and elegant speakers that can be gifted to your loved ones on this special occasion of Christmas. This wireless speaker is a waterproof gadget with 5W drive and built-in mic. Its impressive design boasts of a silicone case that guarantees a shockproof and dustproof experience with up to a gradation of IPX5 level. The device has an inbuilt 5W speaker along with A2DP support that lets it stream incredible stereo sound with crystal clear sound and high range output. Moreover, the speakers can be easily carried and tied to a mount because of the detachable suction and aluminum alloy hook. For best shower speakers choices I recommend you visit Topreviewhut.

3. Autel Robotics

If you are a video enthusiast then you will surely appreciate this beautiful drone from the Autels. The X-Star premium features a 4K Ultra HD video camera with quick release 3-axis gimbal stabilizer that can record and display HD videos for as far as 1.2 miles away. The device has a 64GB card and comes in a semi hard, splash proof zipped case. Dual GPS/GLONASS outdoor navigation, SecureFlyTM magnetic interference protection and Starpoint Positioning system are some of the main highlights of this device. Its LCD display and intuitive one touch controls helps the drone to record and display HD videos with great amount of clarity and details. The gadget is safe and stable at even low altitudes and can work smoothly even without the free Starlink mobile app. But still having the app will be an added advantage because it will render you with many extra capabilities that can be useful to control its flight, rotation and operation.

4. Nintendo New 3DS XL special edition

The future of gaming and entertainment is set to change with Nintendo's new 3DS XL system that combines next generation portable gaming and super stable 3D technology with added controls. The system can play all the Nintendo DS games though they will not appear in 3D format. This new version boasts of a faster processor for easy loading, built-in amiibo support for greater compatibility, NFC support and a C stick that powers you with enhanced controls. The device lets you take 3D photos and allows you to connect with your friends as well. Games like super Mario world comes pre-installed on this gadget which can be used by anyone whose age is 7 or more.

5. HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud Stinger is the ideal headset for gamers who prefer to enjoy light weight comfort and high quality sound while playing their favorite games. The headset fits conveniently around your neck and gives less strain to your ears, thanks to its 90-degree rotatable ear cups. It has a adjustable steel slider for enhanced stability and has its volume controls placed below the right ear cup for quick and easy accessibility.  Its multi-platform compatibility lets you enjoy the same kind of experience on all kinds of devices including PC, Xbox One,PS 4,Wii U and mobile phones. Additionally, the device has a microphone that has high end features like swivel-to-mute and noise cancellation capabilities.