As 2015 draws to a close, head into the New Year prepared to snack smarter and healthier! Why wait to make changes to your diet when the following nutritious snacks are easy to keep on hand to combat cravings!

Pure VanillaPure Vanilla Almond Bars

Simple, wholesome, and organic, the new Vanilla Almond bars from Pure are the perfect go-to snack when cravings strike! As with all Pure products, these delicious bars are certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO verified, vegan and kosher, and will satisfy your sweet tooth, while providing balanced nutrition for your body. “Mom” loves tucking these in her purse for a great sourse of energy while on-the-move with little ones in tow!

Pure Vanilla Almond is the newest flavor to be added to the popular Ancient Grains line. Pure’s crispy ancient grain blend, made with quinoa, amaranth, flax seeds, and hemp, is now enriched with Sacha Inchi, an exotic seed that is a source of complete vegan protein. Combining mouth-watering vanilla with whole grains and almonds, the Pure Vanilla Almond bar has only 150 calories and 6g of sugar, and has fiber and antioxidants as well as 4g of protein. Learn more at www.thepurebar.com.

pure_clusterscp_chocolatepeanutPure Crispy Clusters

Mom” is loving these little handfuls of goodness and flavor that are decadent and delicious! These healthy alternatives to sugary and salty snacks are a win-win for taste buds and health! A perfect blend of crunchy and nutty, Pure’s new Crispy Clusters are a light and healthy snack that are great at any time of day. Made from healthy whole grains, Crispy Clusters have only 110 calories, less than 5 grams of sugar and provide 3 grams of fiber per serving. They also contain complete protein, from ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth, making them an ideal snack suitable to people with dietary restrictions. To top it off, all three flavors are low in sodium, containing 140mg or less per serving. Learn more at www.thepurebar.com.

SuperSeedz Maple SugarSuperSeedz

Who knew pumpkin seeds could be seasoned so perfectly! “Mom‘ discovered these nutritious and absolutely delicious gourmet pumpkin seeds that are perfect to keep on hand for a quick yet healthy snack! SuperSeedz boast up to 9g of plant-based protein per serving, and are peanut-free, tree nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, soy-free and made with gluten-free ingredients. Plus, they are Non-GMO Project Verified! The newest flavor, Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, joins the brand’s eight other existing flavors which includes Really Naked, Sea Salt, Cinnamon & Sugar, Coco Joe, Tomato Italiano, Curious Curry, Somewhat Spicy and Super Spicy, and can be enjoyed as a standalone snack, or as a welcome addition to cereal, yogurt and more! Keep SuperSeedz within reach when temptation strikes as we head into the New Year! Learn more at www.superseedz.com.

Endangered Species Chocolate - Dark Chocolate & Sea SaltEndangered Species Chocolate

Eat chocolate and do good? Yes – it is possible! Endangered Species milk and dark chocolate bars and bites are made with ethically traded, shade grown cacao and natural ingredients. 10% of net profits from your purchase are donated to support conservation efforts! You can learn about at-risk species by reading the inside of each 3oz. bar wrapper, and know that each bite you enjoy is doing good, too! Choose from a variety of flavors to tantalize your taste buds and learn more at www.chocolatebar.com.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

This holiday season, and beyond, you can inspire others to ‘give a chip!’ Deep River Snacks’ offers a wonderful and simple way to give to others while at the same time giving back to what matters most to the recipient with their Chips & Charity gift basket for the holiday season! As charitable giving is a growing trend, this is a perfect gift for anyone from your loved ones to co-workers! Essentially who loves to give back, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Deep River Snacks 2

Chips & Charity is a delicious assortment of kettle chips + a $10 charity gift card that the recipient can use to make a donation to the non-profit of their choice via justgive.org.

These aren’t just any chips – Deep River Snacks’ are proudly made in the USA without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and they are Non-GMO, Certified Gluten-Free, and Nut-Free, too! In addition, each bag features a great charity partner with a back story that means something important to a Deep River Snacks’ founder or employee.

The $10 gift certificate is redeemable on justgive.org and allows the recipient to choose from over 2 million charities! What non-profit did “Mom” choose? Lucy’s Love Bus! This incredible organization allowed “Mom’s” daughter to receive Traditional Chinese Medicine while battling neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, for close to three years. Unfortunately, “Mom’s” oldest daughter passed away at the tender age of 5 this year, and this will be her first Christmas without her sweet daughter. Giving back to Lucy’s Love Bus was truly such a wonderful way to honor her little girl and bring hope to other families going through similar situations this holiday season!

Available for purchase on Amazon.com for $24.99, which included 12-2oz bags + $10 charity gift card.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this article.*

The holiday season is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” But for some, it’s quite the opposite and the holidays can actually be more like the most miserable time of the year.

Steve Siebold, a psychological performance and mental toughness coach who is the author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class, says, “The change from everyday routines, the large gatherings, the decorating, shopping and more can make many people feel overwhelmed and stressed this time of year.”

Siebold offers his top tips to reduce the stress of the holidays and make it more enjoyable:

1. Slow down: Life is challenging enough as it is, and with all the extra commitments and things that have to get done this time of year, it can cause panic and chaos for even the most mentally tough people. When you find yourself moving a million miles an hour, take a step back and slow down. Instead of getting overwhelmed in everything you have to do, focus on one task at a time. Looking at one thing in front of you compared to the big picture makes it much more manageable.

2. Ask for help: There’s no reason you have to do everything by yourself during the holiday season. Ask for help. If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, for example, ask your spouse or children to help with the shopping, coking, decorating, setting up the guest bedroom, taking out the trash, walking the dog, etc.

3. Don’t feel bad about saying ‘No:’ There’s only so much time in a day, and with all the extra commitments at the holidays, don’t feel guilty about telling people ‘no.’ A very simple response to soften it is, “I would normally love to help; however, I already have so much on my plate right now. I’ll have to pass on the offer. I would love to help another time.”

4. Take a break: If the holiday season gets to be too much, take a break. Put everything down for a day and go do something you really enjoy. If you feel a day is too long, take 30 minutes to an hour and go for a walk, spend time doing something fun with a friend, take your kids to the park, read a new book, work on your business plan for the New Year, watch TV or whatever it is that will take your mind off of the holidays.

5. Talk it out: It’s never a good idea to keep your feelings bottled up inside. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, talk to a close friend you can confide in, a therapist or try journaling. In fact, become your own best means of support and talk to yourself. Put things in perspective and tell yourself the craziness of the holiday season will only last for a few weeks and then life goes back to normal. Tell yourself it’s only temporary and that you can hang tough a little longer.

6. Lower your expectations: Many people have ridiculously high expectations of what the holidays are supposed to be like. Stop paying attention to what you see on TV. Stop being influenced by those holiday catalogs. Take the pressure off and just let the holidays play out naturally.

7. Focus on being rather than doing: One of the best ways to find happiness this time of year is to focus on being rather than doing. Make a list of the 10 things you are most grateful for in your life, and review them every morning for the month of December. Monitor how this simple activity impacts your emotions.

Article courtesy of Steve Siebold, author of 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class. Learn more at www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com.

*Image courtesy of imagerymajestic on FreeDigitalPhotos.*

Yes, it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, but with cold and flu season in full swing, and the added stress of the holidays (good and bad!), “Mom” has compiled her top wellness must-haves for staying healthy all season long!

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Herbal ZAP

This is Ayurveda made easy! Simple to add into your daily wellness routine this winter, Herbal ZAP makes instantly dissolving Ayurvedic herbal beverages that support healthy digestion, which is the key to overall good health. Herbal ZAP formulas work by harnessing the power of ancient herbal formulas that have been transformed into instantly dissolving crystals infused with powerful herbal extracts. Containing 14 potent Ayurvedic herbs, Herbal Zap works according to the principles of Ayurveda, restoring balance to the vital energies, doshas, increasing Agni, “inner-fire”, and promoting a positive state of health. The product is sustainably and ethically produced and they are proud to be non-GMO Verified as well as Kosher, Vegan and Gluten-Free. Herbal ZAP is available at select Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts Farmers Market, EarthFare, SuperSupplements, Central Market, and online at http://www.herbalzap.com/.

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Fit Radio

Rev up your winter workout to ease stress and combat the typical holiday weight gain in advance! With Fit Radio, manually putting together upbeat playlists for the gym this winter is now a thing of the past. Simply choose your favorite genre, push play and go! Designed to amp up your workout and stop you from spending time flipping through songs to find a high-energy track, FIT Radio provides users with mixes that maintain the same rhythm and BPM (beats per minute) throughout an entire set to keep you motivated and focused. FIT Radio is powered by real, professional nightclub DJs from around the world – available to you at the press of a button. DJs upload new mixes daily to FIT Radio, which helps to keep your workout fresh. “Mom” loves that you can try this app for one month to see how you are enjoying the tracks during your regular routine. http://www.fitradio.com/

Hawaiian Essential Pack 1

Hawaiian Essential Travel Gift Set

This line of travel-ready essential oils means that you can breathe more deeply and relax more thoroughly, even if for just a brief minute during the day, knowing that you are tapping into the earth’s most powerful natural remedies. The gift set is an extraordinary selection of the brand’s most-loved essential oil blends, with remedies for common ailments including insomnia, headache, insect bites, and hay fever. Each lovingly hand-crafted batch is tested and proven to be safe and highly effective. Tuck the Hawaiian Essential Travel Gift Set into a purse, laptop bag or backpack for on-the-go, too! $45.95. http://hawaiianessential.com/

Tea Drops Box With Cup

Tea Drops

A warm cup of tea is the perfect remedy after a long day! Tea Drops are pressed tea made with genuine tea leaves that dissolve in hot water. Each Tea Drop is handcrafted and infused with the finest organic teas, spices and earth-derived sweeteners. Simply pour boiling water in a cup, add a Tea Drop, stir and enjoy. Choose from caffeinated, caffeine-free and natural wellness Tea Drops. Flavors include citrus ginger, vanilla white, rose earl grey, turmeric, cardamom spice, matcha green tea, sweet peppermint and pumpkin spice for fall. “Mom” loves that Tea Drops come packaged in a paulownia wood box that is eco-friendly, sustainable and biodegradable. Sold online at www.myteadrop.com; $12 for an 8 pack.

Peppermint New Design

Ice Chips

To soothe a queasy tummy naturally, ginger and peppermint are always a top choice in “Mom’s” arsenal of home remedies. When you are so nauseous even drinking tea is making you grimace, Ice Chips® offers a delicious, all-natural and sugar-free candy in both Ginger and Peppermint flavors that may help! Place a tin in your purse, backpack, or purse for refreshment and to quell the queasies. Made with xylitol and safe for the expectant mom, Ice Chips® are available in 20 tantalizing flavors, such as Ginger, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Cinnamon, Strawberry Daiquiri, and more! www.icechipscandy.com

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GoGargle!

With soothing ingredients like honey, chamomile, aloe & mint, GoGargle! is a simple, surprisingly tasty way to soothe a sore throat. GoGargle! comes in the form of an effervescent tablet that you simply drop in a glass of warm water to dissolve. Not only are GoGargle! tablets simple to use and perfect for on-the-go, GoGargle! tablets dissolve quickly, so you can start gargling sooner! GoGargle! can be used by the whole family. Available at CVS stores nationwide. $6.99. http://www.gogargle.com

Boogie Wipes

Boogie Wipes

Tuck these handy little wipes into a backpack, purse, pocket or diaper bag to help clean little noses wherever you are this season! Boogie Wipes are saline infused wipes that clean runny noses and get rid of congestion for instant relief. The moist wipes can be used by the entire family, and since they’re made with aloe, chamomile, and vitamin E, Boogie Wipes will prevent chapped noses which are caused by friction with the common tissue. “Mom” loves that they come in convenient packages just like tissues! You can download a Boogie Wipes coupon for extra savings here, as well. http://www.boogiewipes.com/

DripDrop

Staying hydrated is essential when working out in any climate. DripDrop is a powder electrolyte solution that you add to water to treat dehydration. Invented by Dr. Eduardo Dolhun, a Mayo-clinic trained physician, as an alternative to sports drinks (i.e. Gatorade) and pediatric solutions (i.e. Pedialyte) – DripDrop REALLY WORKS! It has been clinically proven to hydrate 150% better than plain water and 43% better than sports drinks and contains 3x the electrolytes and 1/2 the sugar of most sports drinks. DripDrop comes in powder packets that can be added to a water bottle and it’s easy to carry in your purse, backpack, laptop bag, or pocket. http://dripdrop.com/

*Companies provided images and information for this article.*

Thanksgiving is almost here and while you’re planning that great turkey dinner, don’t forget about sprucing up your home as you welcome friends and family to celebrate the holiday with you.

Designer Robin Wilson, founder and CEO of Robin Wilson Home, who focuses on creating healthy and beautiful spaces for her clients and has products at national retailers, offers these eight tips to create a warm, inviting and healthy home this Thanksgiving:

1. Start with curb appeal: The exterior is the first impression your guests get of your home so you want it to look clean and inviting. Add fresh mulch, trim overgrown trees and shrubs and plant new flowers, and make sure the front door is freshly painted. Always wear a mask to prevent breathing in fumes and goggles to protect your eyes.

2. Make the windows sparkle with newspaper: Yes, you read that right. Spray your windows with non-toxic cleaner and wipe away with newspaper. The high absorbency of newsprint makes it so effective at cleaning windows because it absorbs the liquid instead of pushing it away. Be careful to stay on the glass and not dirty up moldings and trim.

3. Clean the chimney and stove: This isn’t just to help Santa when he descends into your home next month. A dirty chimney is a fire hazard and can release toxins into your home. On a related note, it’s also a good idea to clean your stove before you do any intensive holiday cooking. It’s also a good time to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and have new batteries.

4. Switch to LED lighting: If you’re doing a lot of entertaining this holiday season, switching to LED lighting will keep your electric bills down. LED lighting is the most energy efficient lighting source available. And if you have young children, LED lights are cool to the touch.

5. Get your couches and rugs professionally cleaned: sofas and rugs can harbor all kinds of allergens, mold and bacteria. And if you have dogs or cats, removing the dander will help you and your guests prevent the “wheezes and sneezes.” Plus, a good looking couch will attract your company allowing time to catchup and reminisce, or just watch the parade or football games together.

6. Put on fresh bed linens: If out-of-town family and friends are staying with you, new linens are always a nice touch. Hypoallergenic comforters and pillows are a good choice especially if you don’t know if your guests have any allergy/asthma issues. For this reason, also use nylon shower curtains which don’t off-gas like vinyl does.

7. Non-toxic cleaners this time of year: With the cooler weather, most people keep their windows shut for the next five months, keeping everything sealed up and trapped inside. For this reason, it’s especially important in the winter to use non-toxic cleaners as you prepare your home for the holidays.

8. Make it smell like the holidays: To make it feel like the holidays it needs to smell like the holidays. Consider soy candles as a healthy alternative to regular candles, which not only add a visual element and warmth, but come in a variety of scents.

*Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by artur84.*

R.W. Knudsen Mulled CiderIn the midst of the holiday bustle, it’s easy to fall short on good eating habits.

Heeding five hints, however, can help you celebrate a happy holiday season with family, friends and feeling good about yourself.

1. Focus on fun. Holidays often revolve around food and spending time with your loved ones. This year, try a new activity that the entire family will enjoy. Step outside the box and create great memories you’ll have forever.

2. Motivate now. Don’t wait for the New Year to get started on your resolutions. Try integrating best practices into your life today. Aim to take a daily walk or eat vegetables with every meal.

3. Indulge in moderation. No need to skip your favorite seasonal foods. You can still enjoy all the delicious holiday treats without the guilt by planning your portion size and sticking to it.

4. Sip seasonal. Holiday beverages can be delicious and festive. Try a glass of R.W. Knudsen Family® Cider and Spice, made with 100 percent juice from ripe, whole apples and naturally flavored with allspice, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel and orange peel.

Hot Mulled Cider

Ingredients

4 cups R.W. Knudsen Family® Cider & Spice

5 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 orange (peeled and sliced)

6 slices fresh ginger (peeled about ¼ inch thick)

Additional cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Simmer 20 to 25 minutes. Strain mixture. Divide warm liquid among individual mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

Serve and enjoy.

5. Enjoy simple things. Using R.W. Knudsen Family® Just Juice® can be the key to creating simple salad dressings, reduction sauces and marinades. R.W. Knudsen Family® believes great juice is the result of great fruit—so for more than 50 years, it’s produced quality juice products, including more than 100 types of natural and organic fruit and vegetable juices, carbonated fruit beverages and specialty items.

Learn More

For facts and recipe ideas, see www.rwknudsenfamily.com and www.facebook.com/RWKnudsen.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image of “Woman With Santa Hat” by Ambro courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.*

Five Tricks for a Healthy Halloween

By Vanessa Chamberlin, author of The Fire-Driven Life

Halloween is such a challenging time for health-conscious parents. Everywhere we turn, people are offering the least nutritious, most sugary food around: candy! From classroom parties to neighborhood and family gatherings—there’s no way to avoid it. But if you are prepared and have some tasty, plant-based recipes in your toolbox, it will be a lot easier to partake in the festivities without overdosing on refined sugar. Plus, there are some easy tips (and tricks!) that can help you have a happier, healthier Halloween.

Always eat a healthy meal first. Whether it’s trick-or-treating or going to a party, make sure your kids go on a full stomach so they’ll be less likely to fill up on sugary snacks. On the day of school parties, make a filling, nutritious breakfast, and send them to school with extra special healthy lunches. Pull out your whole toolbox for this one! We’re talking cookie cutters for fun shapes, carving the fruit—everything. Your kids won’t want to miss out on this lunch, which will help them feel satisfied and loved all afternoon.

Send your own snacks. Whenever possible, send your own snacks. Even if you know that your children are going to be eating candy and cupcakes at their holiday parties, at least you can send them with some more balanced foods and encourage them to get their friends to try.

Enlist the help of some professionals! It never hurts to make sure a trip to the dentist falls before Halloween, and ask their help in making sure to explain to your kids why their dental health is so important, and how candy is bad for their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a big scary lecture, but just a simple reminder that a healthy smile starts with a healthy diet is a nice thing to reinforce.

Plan or attend a party that’s more in line with your lifestyle. Many of us have friends who understand why we’ve shaped our habits and lifestyles for healthy living, and they either do the same or are at least supportive and understanding. You don’t want your kids to feel left out, so if they’re not participating in other events, give them something else that’s fun. You might be able to get some of their close friends and families to join in, too. Not many parents like the idea of their kids getting a heavy dose of sugar either trick-or-treating or going to a party, so I’ve found it’s a welcome invitation when I invite people to celebrate holidays with us and have a nutritious night of festivities!

Finally, just talk about it beforehand. Let your kids know that you want them to have fun, but not eat lots of candy and junk that will make them not feel good. Ask if there is anything they would like to bring as a treat or eat before a party, and see if you can accommodate their requests. It’s so important for children to feel loved and respected as humans who have their own desires and opinions. Asking them to be involved in your holiday planning can go a long way!

For your healthy Halloween toolbox, here is a great recipe that kids love, and would easily fit into any festive party platter spread!

Gone in a Day Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup chunky peanut butter

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 TBS maple syrup (add more for desired taste)

1 cup raisins

Preparation

Combine peanut butter and coconut. In a separate bowl, combine cocoa, and maple syrup. Combine the two mixtures and add the raisins. Dough will be stiff. Roll into balls. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.

Article courtesy of Vanessa Chamberlin, a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Lifestyle Coach and author of The Fire-Driven Life: How to Ignite the Fire of Self-Worth, Health, and Happiness with a Plant-Based Diet.

For more information, please visit, www.vanessachamberlin.com and connect with her on Twitter, @vkchamberlin.

*Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Bee Health ImageApples, broccoli, cherries, almonds-they all have something in common that may surprise you.

Besides the fact that they may be in your kitchen right now, each one of these foods is available thanks to the honey bee and other pollinators. In fact, about one-third of the human food supply depends on bees and other pollinators. Chances are, honey bees have a hand in producing some of your favorite foods. And with all of their hard work, bees need to eat, too.

However, bees are struggling to find adequate, diverse food sources due to habitat loss. Recently, the White House launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to create ways for everyone to support the issue and increase forage. With a global population expected to rise to more than 9 billion people by 2050, 70 percent more food will need to be produced. This means we all have to pitch in to help feed the bees so they can continue to produce the fruits, nuts and vegetables that people need for a healthy diet.

Join the effort to create a million pollinator gardens and feed the bees.

Here are three ways you can help increase forage area for bees and other pollinators:

• Learn more about native bee-attractant plants.

The Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Smart mobile app can help you choose the best plants to grow in your garden to attract bees and other pollinators.

• Ask the Feed a Bee initiative to plant flowers on your “bee-half.”

Feed a Bee is an initiative to increase forage areas for honey bees and other pollinators.

By visiting www.FeedABee.com, you can ask the Feed a Bee initiative to plant flowers for you that produce the pollen and nectar that bees need to survive and thrive. Nearly 200,000 people have pledged to plant 50 million flowers in the U.S., and it doesn’t stop there. Feed a Bee is also partnering with government and nonprofit organizations and businesses across the country to plant thousands of acres of forage for bees.

• Grow your own bee-attractant plants.

Through FeedABee.com, you can also commit to planting your own bee-attractant plants using a helpful growing guide and tips for creating bee-attractant habitats for pollinators. Additionally, you can share your planting photos using #FeedABee on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

Whether you own acres of land or a flowerpot on your balcony, have a green thumb or struggle to keep fake flowers “alive,” you can play a part in helping to feed a bee and, in turn, help them feed the world.

To learn more about bees and why they are important, visit http://beehealth.bayer.us/home.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.*

Grilling SafetyGrilling is one of America’s favorite pastimes and a popular summer activity in backyards across the country. More than 60 percent of American households will cook kabobs, fresh vegetables, and of course meat on propane grills this summer, according to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). PERC is an energy check-off program dedicated to safety and training for the propane industry.

“Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends,” says PERC President and CEO Roy Willis. “And with the onset of warm weather, it’s also a good time to review outdoor safety tips, including safe grilling techniques.”

Willis offers families some simple reminders for preparing and maintaining safe cooking conditions while using propane grills.

Before using the grill, he recommends reviewing and following all grill manufacturers’ instructions.

“If you buy a propane-powered grill and assemble it yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter,” Willis says. “Better yet, have the grill assembled before you bring it home. If you’re planning a more elaborate outdoor kitchen, be sure to get in touch with your nearest propane professional for tips on products and access to qualified installers.”

Next, the location of the grill is an important consideration. PERC reminds families that the only safe location for any grill—including propane cooking units—is outside in a well-ventilated area and a safe distance from the home.

“Grills should never be placed in a confined area,” Willis says. “Make sure your grill is at least five feet from your house on a level surface away from siding, outdoor furniture or anything else that could be a fire hazard. It’s something that you don’t always think about when you’re grilling, but it’s a basic safety measure that’s easy to implement.”

Whether the grill is equipped with an automatic ignition or needs to be lit manually, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed precisely.

“Always use caution when lighting the grill and never stray from the grill manufacturer’s instructions,” says Willis. “If the flames go out for any reason, turn the grill and gas off and wait 15 minutes before relighting it.”

PERC also encourages families to keep the top open when lighting the grill. This allows for ventilation and ensures that propane vapors are not being released into the confined grilling area.

Finally, proper storage of propane cylinders is an essential safety step when using propane-powered grills.

“Be sure to store propane cylinders upright and outdoors, and keep cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline or other flammable material away from cooking areas and gas appliances,” Willis says. “Removing combustible materials from any heat source is always a good idea.”

PERC reminds families that propane is a safe fuel when handled properly, and encourages grillers to learn about additional resources on www.usepropane.com.

“Grilling is an enjoyable way to prepare food and celebrate warm weather,” Willis says. “Enjoying warm weather throughout the summer can be easy with safe, efficient propane grills.”

*Recipe and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Strange MagicCapable, strong and confident women are in the news with increasing frequency these days-from politicians and movie stars to women making strides in sports, business and the military. Parents are becoming more aware that helping their children—particularly girls—build skills that lead to empowerment is important for success in life. But many parents may be wondering just how to go about it.

Child and adolescent psychotherapist Katie Hurley, a parenting expert and author of the upcoming book “The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World,” notes that empowerment begins at home with day-to-day activities.

Here are some easy tips Hurley recommends as effective in helping your daughter to be her best self.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. One of the most important things parents can do is open the lines of communication. Listen before you respond. Allow your child to vent and articulate her emotions, while letting her know you’ll just listen, without judgment. Showing empathy is important (“I hear you” and “How can I help?”). Give lots of love, acceptance and support. This will help her know that what she thinks and how she feels is important and that she is a priority for you.

Help identify good models. Watch what she’s watching and discuss it together. Kids today are often plugged into their own world and tuned out to their parents. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and remain in the dark. Watch her—or your—favorite shows or movies together. The subtle lessons in a film can be the impetus for discussing issues and providing role models. One such film is “Strange Magic,” Touchstone’s newest animated tale from George Lucas, now on DVD. A key character is Marianne, a female whose journey to empowerment includes learning to see people not for how they look, but for who they really are. George Lucas notes, “The point of the film is that everyone deserves to be loved and true love goes much deeper than just infatuation or looks…It’s about finding true beauty in someone’s soul regardless of how they look.”

Encourage girls to aim high. Remind them that hard work and dedication are part of what it takes to reach goals and dreams. The key to building girls up is to help identify and then support their strengths so you can encourage them to reach their goals.

Resist jumping in to “fix” things. Rather than solving your daughter’s problems, try stepping back so she can work through conflicts and find solutions on her own. When you empower your daughter to problem-solve, you show her you have confidence in her ability to handle her life. This allows her to enlist your participation in a discussion and show your support through the process.

Success is a team sport. Healthy competition is good. When young girls learn to stick together and lift each other up, they internalize the valuable lesson of teamwork. Whether your daughter is athletically, artistically and/or academically inclined, help her find ways to join with others and learn how to be a team player. Let her know it’s OK to compete by using her strengths to the best of her ability.

Build empathy by volunteering together. Helping others is a great way to spend quality time together and learn to focus on other’s needs, which is a great leadership skill. Search for monthly volunteer opportunities and choose one that appeals to both of you. Spend some time doing good to feel good together.

Learn More

For more tips from Katie Hurley, visit http://practicalkatie.com.

• Disney’s “Strange Magic,” http://strangemagicmovie.com, on DVD and Digital HD.

• Pre-order Hurley’s “The Happy Kid Handbook” on Amazon.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*