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6 Healthy Dinner Recipes Your Family Will Love

6 Healthy Dinner Recipes Your Family Will Love

Healthy dinner recipes are not as easy to find when you are trying to cook for a family. Kids tend to have lots of opinions, whether we like it or not. You have to have just the right amount of delicious taste that won’t tip them off to the healthiness of the dish. We all need some help, so I asked some blogger friends for their best healthy dinner recipes to share with you.

6 Healthy Dinner Recipes for Your Family

  1. Pomegranate and Mandarin Orange Salad from Mary Ellen at AllServedWithASideOfLove.com

With bright colors and fresh flavors, this delicious salad hits the spot on all levels.  It’s so easy to make too! Best of all, it can be done ahead of time. Just give it a toss before serving.  The red, orange and green colors in the salad are really festive and perfect for the fall and winter season.  When the dressing is tossed in, this salad just glistens. If there are no nut allergies in your home, sprinkling caramelized almonds on top adds crunch, texture and another layer of flavor.

Link: http://www.allservedwithasideoflove.com/pomegranate-and-mandarin-orange-salad/

Pomegranate and Mandarin Orange Salad

Pomegranate and Mandarin Orange Salad courtesy of AllServedWithASideOfLove.com

  1. White Chicken Chili from 2DadsWithBaggage

This is one of my famous healthy dinner recipes. Well, famous in my own mind maybe. This White Chicken Chili recipe is chock full of juicy chicken. You won’t regret splurging on using only the best ingredients for this dish, like Perdue Farms Harvestland Diced Chicken Breasts. Adding in white beans, a kick of chili powder and a beer for good measure makes this a healthy dinner recipe everyone just gobbles up! Go ahead and make huge batch when the whole gang is coming over. Serve it with bowls brimming with various topping choices including green onions, freshly grated cheese, light sour cream and more.

Link: https://www.2dadswithbaggage.com/hearty-white-chicken-chili-recipe/

white chicken chili

This Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe tastes even better with Perdue Farms Chicken

  1. Ground Chicken Meatloaf from Vera at LadyAndTheBlog.com

The best thing about this easy ground chicken meatloaf recipe is that it only has 6 ingredients. Yet, it is still filled with homestyle appeal. For a quick, healthier spin on an old school classic, this delicious recipe is ready to be introduced into your weekly menu. Kids won’t even be able to guess that it’s healthy!

Link:  https://ladyandtheblog.com/ground-chicken-meatloaf-recipe/ 

Ground Chicken Meatloaf

Ground Chicken Meatloaf courtesy of LadyAndTheBlog.com

  1. One Pot Pasta Fagioli from Lindsey at RedheadBabyMama.com

This is an easy dinner recipe and it feeds a crowd. Pasta Fagioli is one of the traditional comfort foods your family may or may not love already. If you don’t need to feed a small army, this dish freezes well. This is one of the healthy dinner recipes that offer protein, dairy and vegetables all in one pot. It is protein-packed with a low-sugar sauce. It is a complete dinner all on its own. No extra side dish required.

Link: https://www.redheadbabymama.com/one-pot-pasta-fagioli-recipe/

One Pot Pasta Fagioli

One Pot Pasta Fagioli courtesy of RedheadBabyMama.com

  1. Grilled Skirt Steak with Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad from Lesli at 365AtlantaTraveler.com

Not sure what you should look for next time you’re shopping for different types of meat cuts? I get it! Meat can be intimidating. Luckily I grew up with a Dad with made sure to impart on me a talent for grilling. I wouldn’t say I’m a “grill master”…but if other people might call me one I wouldn’t correct them. When buying meat, look for meat with some marbling. It should have a bright, cherry red color. I suggest choosing USDA Choice and USDA Prime cuts for steaks that are great for grilling. Look for grass-fed and grass-finished beef. This grilled skirt steak recipe is a healthy dinner recipe that is impressive to guests.

Link: https://365atlantatraveler.com/grill-recipes/ 

Grilled Skirt Steak

Grilled Skirt Steak with Corn and Cherry Tomato Salad courtesy of 365AtlantaTraveler.com

  1. Chicken Stir fry from Krystyn at ReallyAreYouSerious.com

Healthy dinner recipes can be international too. With some yummy spices and sauces and a nice quality chicken, this recipe is something most families will love. This is one of those healthy dinner recipes that kids of all ages will love. Go ahead and make it as healthy as you want it to be. Add in tons of vegetables. Kids really love this dish. Go ahead  and make the jump and then make this recipe as healthy as you want to be.

Link: https://www.reallyareyouserious.com/spicy-chicken-stir-fry

Chicken Stir Fry

Chicken Stir Fry courtesy of ReallyAreYouSerious.com

Healthy Dinner Recipes for Your Family

Healthy dinner recipes your whole family will enjoy and as for by name. Plus, if you happen to be hosting the football team or just getting into the shower, many of these recipes are fit for a crowd. So get to cooking! Good luck!

 


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Historic Charm at San Francisco’s Huntington Hotel

Historic Charm at San Francisco’s Huntington Hotel

In all the years I lived in San Francisco, I rode the California Street cable car many times up and over Nob Hill. Along this route, riders can marvel at the tony estates and historic high rise buildings that were once housed the richest residents on the West Coast. One of those buildings still stands out as a historic landmark, now a modern hotel within a classic skin. The Huntington Hotel is a great example of a historic San Francisco hotel.

Huntington Hotel with cable car, San Francisco

The California Street cable car line runs right past the front entrance of the Huntington Hotel

Historic San Francisco Hotel

Built in 1924, the Huntington Hotel was originally constructed as a luxury apartment building. Standing 12 floors at the apex of Nob Hill, the Huntington enjoys some of the best views of San Francisco money could buy back then. Luckily, most of those views have been preserved to this day. The Huntington is a historic San Francisco Hotel still in touch with its founding roots.

View of San Francisco Bay from the Huntington Hotel

The view from my suite at the Huntington Hotel was not too shabby.

The Most Spacious Rooms Ever

Since it was originally apartments, the Huntington Hotel contains 135 enormous rooms – most are suites. Every suite has a living room, bedroom and bathroom, and all are quite spacious. My corner suite on the 10th floor was larger than most of my apartments in my younger days! For the reasonable rates the Huntington Hotel is charging, these rooms are a massive value.

enormous living room suite at Huntington Hotel San Francisco

The living room in my suite at the Huntington Hotel was enormous!

The living room in my suite had a couch, two arm chairs, an entertainment unit, a large desk and an entire dining room set. Even with all that furniture, there was still a ton of room to move around. Massive I tell you!

The bedroom was large by any hotel standards, and somehow next to that gigantic living room it seemed small. However it was not small in the least, with a king size bed, set of drawers and a close that ran the full length of the room.

king bedroom suite at Huntington Hotel San Francisco

The master bedroom and king size bed at the Huntington Hotel.

In the bathroom, I noticed a feature I have only seen in European hotels. The large glass-enclosed shower area also contained a full bathtub. It’s conceivable that one person could soak in the tub while another showered right there next to them. Whatever bathing rituals you are into, there are options at the Huntington Hotel.

I love a good bathroom, and this one at the Hotel Huntington was awesome.

Fantastic Location Atop Nob Hill

Back in the day when San Francisco was the West Coast financial hub, several prominent families made their homes on Nob Hill. The 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires took most of these grand buildings. In their places rose new magnificent structures to honor what had been lost. The Huntington Hotel stands out as a historic San Francisco hotel which is part of this revival.

Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park are across the street from Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill.

The Huntington’s neighbors are the Mark Hopkins Hotel, The Fairmont Hotel, Grace Cathedral and other iconic structures. One of San Francisco’s fabled seven hills, Nob Hill has always carried an air of luxury. With the California Street cable car line running past, it’s easy for guests to hop on and ride down the hill to the Financial District. Visitors can also change cable cars a couple of blocks down at Powell Street, and catch the Powell Street cable car down to Union Square for a nice day of shopping.

Huntington Hotel San Francisco hall and stairway

Vestiges of the apartment building from another era can be seen in the hall and stairway details.

The Big Four Restaurant

One of the cool things about the Huntington Hotel has been – and perhaps will forever be – the clubby, dark and awesome Big Four Restaurant. It was named after the four big railroad barons that built mansions on Nob Hill in the late 1800s. A pivotal part of this historic San Francisco hotel, the restaurant is a retro throwback to days gone by. Complete with a guy playing a grand piano in the bar, the Big Four conjures images of three martini lunches and big deals being made in the corner booth.

California Street entrance to the Big 4 Restaurant at Huntington Hotel, San Francisco

The Big 4 Restaurant is the Huntington Hotel’s signature bar and eatery.

I sat in the bar and enjoyed a martini (of course) while people watching. Young couples, tech execs and investment bankers mixed with ladies tired after a day of shopping. The bartender was personable and quick-witted, and mixed up drinks right and left. Clearly the team that works here gets along well, because the vibe was downright jovial.

Big 4 Restaurant interior at Huntington Hotel, San Francisco

The clubby interior of the Big 4 Restaurant and bar

My appetite was sated by a delicious Wedge Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing and Bacon Crumbles. After that, I enjoyed a bowl of one of the most delicious French Onion Soups I have ever tasted. Seriously. The melty cheese on top, the floating bread underneath, and finally the onion soup itself – perfect combination. Of course after all that I was so full, So then I ordered the creme brulee, another of my favorite dishes, and this one had a lemon flavor I really liked.

Some of the historic memorabilia the honors the Big 4 railroad magnates who dominated Nob Hill in the late 1800s.

Back for More

Next time I visit San Francisco, I think the Huntington Hotel is one of my newest happy places. Enormous rooms, great location on Nob Hill, fantastic Big Four Restaurant and really interesting history. All the things I love in one place – this historic San Francisco hotel is now among my favorites!

Rates at the Huntington Hotel are reasonable for all they offer. Rooms start at $175/night USD.

Lobby of the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco

Nive combination of old and new in the Huntington Hotel lobby.

 

 

 


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5 Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipes + BLENDER GIVEAWAY!!

5 Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipes + BLENDER GIVEAWAY!!

Blender c/o KitchenAid, but opinions my own!

If your family is anything like ours, it’s difficult to get kids to eat a healthy breakfast during the week. Weekday mornings are a mad scramble at our house, and often there is little time for a full breakfast. Lately I’ve been finding ways to sneak in some vitamins and make them a high protein breakfast before they dash. These 5 healthy breakfast smoothie recipes have become household favorites. Add them to your list of healthy meal ideas!

Start With A Good Blender

First off, you need a good blender that has been designed for smoothie making. No joke, the KitchenAid K400 Stand Blender is a workhorse I am happy to add to my kitchen. So many blenders choke when you try to crush the ice in a smoothie concoction. They spin without mixing anything. Or sometime the ice doesn’t break into small pieces, and you end up with big pieces in your mouth.

KitchenAid K400 Blender on wood counter in home kitchen

This KitchenAid K400 Blender is going to make a great addition to our kitchen.

Another thing I love about the KitchenAid K400 is the lightweight pitcher. It’s made from durable plastic, and easy to handle and clean. Plus the control dial even has a setting specifically marked for smoothies. It’s a great partner for me when I make my healthy breakfast smoothie recipes!

And you can win a KitchenAid K400 by entering our sweepstakes right now! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipes

Here are a few of our family’s favorites healthy breakfast smoothie recipes. I’ve chosen one from each of us, plus a bonus “dessert” smoothie for good measure. In addition, one of our daughters is milk-averse, so these are also lactose-intolerant smoothie recipes. These are easy healthy recipes – perhaps they will end up at the top of your healthy meal ideas list.

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons agave sweetener
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup ice
Strawberry Banana smoothie with fresh fruit on wood counter

Ahh the favorite stand-by, the ever popular Strawberry Banana smoothie.

Mexican Coffee Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup chilled coffee
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
Mexican Coffee smoothie with cinnamon sticks.

Mmmm this one is my fav – the Mexican Coffee smoothie.

Cucumber Smoothie

  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled/seeded/chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
  • 1 cup ice
Cucumber and Lime Smoothie with Agave Nectar and mint

Agave nectar makes this Cucumber Smoothie sweet and delicious.

Mango-Pineapple Smoothie

  • 1 cup chopped mango
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup ice
  • Sprinkle with coconut
Mango Pineapple smoothie with fresh fruit and flowers

A taste of the islands surrounds this Mango Pineapple smoothie recipe.

Cookies & Cream Dessert Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla cashew milk ice cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 3 Oreo cookies
Cookies & Cream Smoothie made with Oreo Cookies

This Cookies & Cream Smoothie is more like dessert!

*Note: I freeze the fresh fruit so it provides an even smoother, icy consistency when blended with the other ingredients.

I hope you enjoy these healthy breakfast smoothie recipes as much as our family. What’s your favorite smoothie combination?

And don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes to win this awesome blender!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

man making smoothie with KitchenAid K400 Blender


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Mohonk Mountain House Great for Families

Mohonk Mountain House Great for Families

When the rigors of city life are just a little too much to handle, it’s nice for families to escape to the countryside for some fresh air and relaxation.  We are not campers in our family, so a visit to the country still requires a level of convenience not normally associated with tents, campfires and sleeping bags. We’ll leave all that to Sixth Grade Camp. A place like Mohonk Mountain House is great for families however. It’s the perfect combination of the great outdoors and luxury accommodations in an historic Victorian Castle.

Victorian-style architecture at Mohonk Mountain House

View of the Victorian castle-style architecture of Mohonk Mountain House

There are literally so many ways to enjoy Mohonk Mountain House, we’d venture to say there is something there for everyone. It really is one of the best places to travel in the Hudson Valley area – take it from one of the best travel blogs you know (hehe).

A Balanced Visit to New York State

When we decided to take a trip to New York, we knew our time in New York City would be frenetic. There to speak at a LGBTQ travel conference in Brooklyn, we spent a bit of time also seeing some of the city’s top sights. We did all the family activities while in the City and covered a LOT of territory. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, we visited Ground Zero, toured the Statue of Liberty and saw a Broadway show. And that was all in one day! Another day we strolled through Central Park, toured the Metropolitan Museum of Art and saw the lights of Times Square.

Our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was epic.

It was a whirlwind of energy and excitement, and we needed to balance that experience with a little calm. A trip to the Hudson Valley would be a nice balance, we thought. And we were so right – particularly about staying at Mohonk Mountain House.

Mohonk Mountain House is Great for Families

As we drove out of the city and headed for Upstate New York, we immediately rolled down the car windows and drank in the clean fresh air. The green trees lining the roadway were a nice change from the dense buildings of New York City. But nothing prepared us for the drive into Mohonk Mountain House. It was like we had entered a long-ago lake estate out of a historic novel from the 1940s.

Mohonk Mountain House front facade at dusk

At dusk, lights begin to glow from the windows at Mohonk Mountain House.

Mohonk Mountain House is great for families for a number of reasons, but most of all because it offers that throw-back, carefree family resort feeling in a historic setting. Once we disembarked the car and checked into our room, we realized just how many things there are to do here. Quickly we agreed we should have booked a longer stay!

We saw other families here of all shapes and sizes – young, old and everything in between. More than one family group was there on a reunion, and had been coming to Mohonk Mountain House together for decades. There were also couples here, straight and gay, enjoying the romance and quiet of this mountain retreat.

Mohonk Mountain House deck with rocking chairs overlooking Mohonk Lake

Morning coffee in a rocking chair overlooking Mohonk Lake.

An Historic Hotel

Celebrating 150 years in 2019, Mohonk Mountain House has quite a storied history. The architecture, furnishings and overall footprint of the resort contain so much of the decades past, it makes for a fun exploration. Even the homey gift shop still has an old fashioned soda fountain from days gone by. It’s all just wholesome clean fun!

The resort sits on the edge of Mohonk Lake, and was originally established in 1869 by Albert K. Smiley. As its popularity grew, Mohonk Mountain House grew along with its reputation. Buildings were added to accommodate more guests, and now the hotel contains some 259 rooms, suites and cottages of various configurations.

The original buildings blend into the newer additions at Mohonk Mountain House.

Our room was spacious, with two double beds an enormous bathroom and a sitting area with armchairs and a writing desk. Furnishings are dated, but appropriately so and kept in pristine condition. The room opened up on to a lengthy balcony with rocking chairs, overlooking the landscaped grounds and the lake beyond.

balcony view from the 6th floor rooms at Mohonk Mountain House, New York

The view from our balcony at Mohonk Mountain House

Things to Do at Mohonk Mountain House

Honestly our family could have stayed a week at Mohonk Mountain House and not experienced everything this enormous resort has to offer. One of the things we loved the most was the hotel’s all-inclusive approach to creating a pleasant stay for all guests.

morning mist over Mohonk Lake with swimming dock and gazebos, Mohonk Mountain House, New York

Morning mist settles over the mountains above Mohonk Lake.

All-Inclusive Meals and Activities

All our meals were included in the price of our stay, and the restaurants were absolutely incredible. Buffets at breakfast, lunch and dinner were enormous and varied, with so many choices it was hard to decide what to eat first.

The wood paneled dining room offers buffets to fit any palette.

At dinner, there were also options for traditional table service with a menu, which we also enjoyed immensely. The historic dining room was paneled in wood and seemed like a mountain lodge of enormous proportions.

steak dinner at Surrey Restaurant, Mohonk Mountain House, New York

My steak served in Surrey Restaurant was fine dining at it’s tastiest.

Mohonk Mountain House is Great For Families Because…

  • Hiking – There are trails around the lake, up and over the hills and up to the Skytop Tower where you are rewarded with views for miles.
    walking path at Mohonk Lake, New York

    Taking a stroll around Mohonk Lake only takes about 90 minutes on mostly flat ground.

  • On the Lake – Boating, swimming and fishing are all activities to be enjoyed on Mohonk Lake. We did not get a chance to try any of these, thus the desire to have stayed at Mohonk Mountain House longer.
    boat dock at Mohonk Mountain House, New York

    The boat dock is a just a few steps from the main buildings at Mohonk.

  • Carriage Rides/Horseback – There are significant stables on the grounds of Mohonk Mountain House, available to guests for reserved outings and adventures on the nearby trails.
  • Kids Club/Teens – Sometimes its nice for families to have some fun separately as well as together. The resort offers activities for kids of different ages to have fun with each other rather than spend the whole time with their parents.
    boy and dad fishing at Mohonk Lake with Mohonk Mountain House in distance, New York

    Fishing along the banks of Mohonk Lake.

  • Evening Activities – There were so many activities in the evenings as well, and a surprising number of people gathered on the front balcony just to watch the sun set over the Adirondacks. Movies, dances, guest speakers, storytelling and other fun things are all offered as part of the all-inclusive experience. This is another main reason why Mohonk Mountain House is great for families of all ages.

And Don’t Forget These Too!

  • Spa & Indoor Pool – If a massage sounds good after all these activities, there is a beautiful spa with 16 treatment rooms. A fitness facility and indoor pool for swimming laps are also part of the offering.
    indoor pool at Mohonk Mountain House, New York

    Even the indoor pool at Mohonk Mountain House is lodge-chic.

  • Tennis/Golf – Guests who are feeling competitive have a number of choices onsite as well. The 9-hole golf course was created in 1897 and is still a huge draw, along with 6 tennis courts.
  • Sitting – And if all that is just too much, sitting in a rocking chair to take in the beautiful scenery is a perfectly acceptable resort activity at Mohonk Mountain House. In fact, there are dozens of nooks and crannies throughout the property to do just that – indoors and out.
    practice green at Mohonk Mountain House golf course

    Even the practice putting green is picture perfect at Mohonk Mountain House golf course.

Getting to Mohonk Mountain House

Pretty much renting a car is your best bet. The Mohonk Mountain House is located up a curving road at the top of a peak. Taxis and ubers can be hired, but options are very limited. It took us about two hours to drive up from New York City smooth sailing.

Mohonk Mountain House from across Mohonk Lake, New York

No matter where you stand, the views of Mohonk Mountain House are spectacular.

Costs and Fees

Mohonk Mountain House is great for families because there are a variety of  pricing options. Best to consult the resort website for best rates, which begin around $800/night USD. This price includes:

  • Three meals daily featuring fresh, locally sourced cuisine from our farm-to-table partners
  • Most resort activities and evening entertainment
  • Fitness, yoga, and meditation classes
  • Afternoon Tea and Cookies
  • And more
    scenic waking path at Mohonk Mountain House, New York

    Rocky outcroppings and greenery abound along the paths at Mohonk.

Pretty sweet deal considering all that you get. (Plus tons of happy family memories you will all carry for the rest of your lives!) For all these reasons and more, 2 Dads With Baggage agrees that Mohonk Mountain House is one of the best places to travel in Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley.


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Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe

Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe

I am a brand ambassador for Perdue Farms, and they sponsored this post.

Halloween at our house is a thing. We have a bunch of friends over to hang out, hand out candy and eat. While the kids trick or treat and gorge themselves on candy, the parents hang out with a glass of wine and our tradition: Jon’s Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe. My famous White Chicken Chili is chock full of juicy chicken, white beans, a kick of chili powder and a beer for good measure, Everyone just gobbles it up! I make up a huge batch so the gang can help themselves. We serve it with bowls brimming with various topping choices like green onions, cheese, sour cream and more.

I use only the best ingredients, like Perdue Farms Harvestland Diced Chicken Breasts. Perdue Farms chickens are raised cage free with no antibiotics ever, all vegetarian diets and no hormones ore steroids. Just delicious chicken the way it should be. And it makes great chili, BTW – Halloween at our house, or any other day of the year.

Hearty White Chicken Chili

As the kids have gotten older the crowd just grows with friends and hangers-on. We think they might just be coming for this white chicken chili alone! If you want to grab on to this tradition at your own house, you’ll need to know how to make this chili.

Chili ingredients for the jumbo batch!

Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe

(makes about 12-15 servings)

  • 2 pounds Perdue Farms Harvestland diced chicken breasts
  • One large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • One stick of unsalted butter
  • 4-6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bottle of beer (optional)
  • 1 can mild green chilis, chopped
  • 4-5 large cans white beans (Great Northern or Cannelini Beans work fine)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne (if you like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

In large pot, melt butter and cook onions and garlic until limp. Add chicken broth, beer, spices and green chilis. Bring to boil. Add white beans and refried beans, stirring well. Reduce to simmer and add chicken, heavy cream and cheese. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls, and serve with toppings.

white chicken chili

This Hearty White Chicken Chili Recipe tastes even better with Perdue Farms Chicken

Topping ideas:

  • chopped green onions
  • pico de gallo salsa
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  • pickled jalapeno peppers
  • bacon crumbles
  • sour cream
  • green salsa
  • chopped cilantro

Oh and don’t forget the cornbread – we serve it up with lots of butter and sweet fresh honey.

Hope you like it – let us know how it goes!


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The Truth About Perdue Chicken

The Truth About Perdue Chicken

Recently I had the opportunity to tour the Perdue Farms chicken facilities in Salisbury, Maryland. They promised to open the kimono and show us any part of the chicken raising and processing chain, from hatchling to table. Without going into great detail, I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding the truth about Perdue Chicken. Like many of us, I didn’t understand the process taken by companies like Perdue in supplying quality food to American dinner tables. After this few days spent with the Perdue team as part of their new brand ambassador program, I walked away pretty darn impressed.

I feel 100% honest in telling you the truth about Perdue Chicken is positive, regardless of being paid as a brand ambassador. And I am being paid, so let’s put that right out there. Nonetheless, I learned about how Perdue humanely raises poultry in a healthy way for both the chickens and the people that eat them.

I’m no expert, but I did witness some interesting things I want to share with you.

A Perdue team member toured us through the egg hatchery, where 1.2 million chicks are hatched each week!

The Truth About Perdue Chicken

Truth #1: A Family That Truly Cares

In order to fully understand raising chickens from start to finish, we had to begin at the beginning. A visit to the original Perdue Family Farmhouse was instrumental in gaining understanding of the commitment this family has had to raising chickens. Inside the homestead, there are historical artifacts and records going all the way back to 1920 when Arthur Perdue started raising chickens in the backyard for their eggs. It was cool to see real people behind such a giant company. In fact, we were fortunate to meet the second, third and fourth generation Perdues who are still running this family business today.

Original Perdue Family Homestead in Salisbury, Maryland

The Perdue Family started their chicken business from this modest home in Salisbury, Maryland.

When I say a family that truly cares, I mean it. This is the most fundamental truth about Perdue Chicken: behind this enormous enterprise is a caring and dedicated family that still owns and runs it. The Perdues are regular, down to earth people that show up to garden parties in shorts and flip flops. A family that greets you on the porch of their family homestead with a beer in hand and a genuine smile. My corporate greed detector did not signal the alarms. This is an authentic family business. A big and successful one to be sure, but a good one.

Jim Perdue and Jon Bailey stand on porch of Perdue Family Home in Salisbury, Maryland

Standing with Perdue Farms CEO Jim Perdue on his grandfather’s porch where it all started.

Truth #2: Family Farmers are a Perdue Hallmark

Just like the Perdue Family has been doing this for nearly 100 years, the company only works with family farmers. Perdue does not own 98% of these chicken farms – they own the chickens themselves. Family farmers produce the eggs that are shipped to Perdue for hatching in their facilities. The chicks are distributed to family farms where they are raised. These farmers are typically mom-and-pop farmers raising those chickens until they are ready to be processed.

farmer explains about raising Perdue Farms organic chickens to visiting media

We visited an organic chicken farm, run by a family who raises chickens for Perdue.

These are real people – I met some of them. They are not mad scientists or money-hungry corporations robotically raising chickens like some factory. We visited the farms and saw the chickens in their barns. We talked with these families whose livelihood depends on successfully raising healthy chickens. These farms are inspected regularly by government officials as well as Perdue teams, making sure they can guarantee the facilities are clean and safe. In fact, Perdue policy requires farmers to go above and beyond the federal guidelines.

It was eye-opening for me to see the personal side of this story.

organic chicken farm with indoor/outdoor barn access

The chickens raised on this organic farm have full access to the outdoors every day.

Truth #3: Perdue is On the Cutting Edge of Animal Care

Several years ago, Perdue was called out by environmental groups for chicken farmers using some less-than-savory husbandry practices. It wasn’t pretty, and Perdue took serious heat. In response, the company did not try to hide from the situation. In fact, they worked together with several non-profit activist groups to form an annual Animal Care Summit.  Now in its fourth year, this national summit brings together those organizations for real conversations about how to do better. Perdue has been working with some of the top animal rights groups in the US to be at the top of humane practices.

One truth about Perdue Chicken is they are not 100% perfect. However, Perdue is now widely heralded as leading the charge within the entire US poultry industry. The company is lauded for its best practices in humane chicken farming. From egg to pullet to the chicken we buy from Perdue, the company can now tell you exactly how that chicken was raised humanely. In this process, Perdue has become the largest supplier of organic chicken in the entire US.

organic barns offer outdoors at Perdue Chicken

Chickens love to scratch in the grass and hunt bugs outdoors at this organic farm.

Truth #4: Hatcheries Are Not Dystopian Factories

Perdue produces A LOT of chicken. In order to do that, they hatch A LOT of chicks. In fact, they hatch about 1.2 million chicks a week at this facility. A WEEK!  Perdue sources these eggs from family farmers they have carefully vetted to ensure the laying hens are treated well.

Perdue Farms executive shows guests a fertile egg

A Perdue Farms executive shows visitors how to tell if an egg is fertile by shining a flashlight.

State of the art incubators help ensure a very high success rate. Eggs are kept at a perfect 98-degrees to simulate a hen’s body temperature. Special devices rotate and turn the eggs every hour, just like a mother hen moves her eggs around in the nest.

chicken eggs at Perdue Farms hatchery

Chicken eggs at the Perdue Farms hatchery await the day when baby chicks emerge.

Truth #5: Chickens Flock Together Naturally

When we view alarming photos of chickens crowded into small spaces with hardly room to move, it’s greatly upsetting without context. In fact, chickens are naturally flocking creatures that enjoy close quarters. I can attest to this – we raised chickens in our San Diego backyard for several years. They stuck close together regardless of having the free range of our backyard.

chicken pullets

Pullets like these grow to full size in well-maintained barns.

Touring the barns where these chickens are raised for Perdue, we noticed this flocking behavior immediately. The barn is enormous and there is plenty of room for the chickens to spread out and enjoy their own space. Instead, they are all crammed to one side or the other because that is their natural state. The truth is, chickens gain comfort from one another in close – often touching – proximity. Those scary photos of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions? Actually kind of manipulative in my view.

Chicken barn where pullets grow to full size for Perdue Chicken.

Truth #6: Perdue Chickens Lead a Good Life

There is a globally accepted standard for animal husbandry, and Perdue Chicken is a leader in the US. These Five Freedoms have been endorsed by the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). By going even above and beyond these guidelines, Perdue can ensure its chickens are treated well and lead a good life. There are no cages, no mills, no factories and no cruelty. I saw it all with my own eyes.

The Five Freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
  2. Freedom from Discomfort
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
  5. Freedom from Fear and Distress.

Chickens enjoy sticking together, and also having stimulation in their environment.

The Perdue folks go out of their way to provide a stress-free environment. Hides, shelters, ramps and other climbing structures are offered inside and outside, and the chickens enjoy interacting with this environment.

Truth #7: “No Antibiotics Ever” is the Mantra

Perdue is a leader in the industry, and one of the reasons is the company’s strict adherence to their No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) pledge. People do not want to consume things laden with antibiotics, which in turn can affect humans negatively. Perdue simply does not use them – ever.

Farmers keep the barns in which they are raised extremely clean, dry and free of contagions. Thus, Perdue can ensure the chickens their farmers are raising have not been artificially pumped full of chemicals. So for Perdue, No Antibiotics Ever is a reality.

newly hatched chicks at Perdue Farms hatchery

Brand new Perdue Chicken hatchlings are ready to travel to nearby farms.

Truth #8: Process of Continual Improvement

Perdue is not perfect, and they know it. The company folks I met fully admitted this, and also that they are dedicated to getting better and better. The Perdue family members I met personally looked me straight in the eye when they affirmed this promise. I believe them.

What impressed me most about this company was their earnest desire to do the right thing. Yes, they are successful and big and making lots of money. But here’s the thing – I would rather spend my money with companies that are trying to do the right thing.

And that’s MY truth about Perdue Chicken. It’s just that simple.

man in cowboy hat lays back in seat of John Deere tractor, Salisbury, Maryland

I got into the farmer role with this tractor on a Maryland farm. No wisecracks please.

 


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Las Vegas: Is Vdara Hotel Good for Kids?

Las Vegas: Is Vdara Hotel Good for Kids?

When we travel to Las Vegas as a family, we look for places to stay where the kids won’t be overexposed to more adult activities. When people ask is Vdara Hotel good for kids, our answer is a resounding yes. In fact, we’ve returned more than once because we enjoyed this hotel so much.

Recently we were back in Las Vegas for a family reunion of sorts, uniting there with Triton’s siblings for a weekend of laughs and good times. Although we did not bring our girls this time, the good experience at Vdara cemented our positive opinion. The all-suites Vdara Hotel is good for kids because this is one of a very few hotels on the Las Vegas Strip with no casino. In addition, the entire hotel and all of its spaces are non-smoking.

Exterior of Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

Vdara Hotel Las Vegas sits on the edge of the Las Vegas Strip. (photo courtesy of hotel)

Is Vdara Hotel Good for Kids?

There are several reasons that make the Vdara Hotel good for kids. With so many hotel choices on the Las Vegas Strip, we’ve been to many of them. Each has something we have enjoyed with our family, like our recent trip to Paris Hotel Las Vegas. The reason we like Vdara so much is the more calm and quiet vibe it offers.

No Casino at Vdara

It’s no secret how Las Vegas makes its money on the casinos and gaming. We’ve had lots of fun playing blackjack, craps and video poker too! Plus the hotels here have gone out of their way to cater to all travelers, whether they like to gamble or not. Family travel to Las Vegas has risen steadily because of the entertainment options. This is why we’ve taken the kids here so many times and had a blast together.

Without a casino in the lobby, this makes the Vdara Hotel good for kids because you don’t have to walk them through the gaming areas to reach your room. If you are wanting a calmer and more chill vibe but still the heart of everything, Vdara is a great choice. Plus Vdara is just steps from the Aria Hotel & Casino and all its restaurants, shops and yes, gaming. If you are jonesing for a quick game of poker, you can find active tables right nearby.

Aria Hotel as seen from front entrance of Vdara Hotel, Las Vegas

Aria Hotel is literally across the driveway from Vdara Hotel Las Vegas.

No Smoking Anywhere

Most Las Vegas hotels and casinos are now non-smoking zones. There are still a few that allow smoking on the casino floor, and even these do a fantastic job of masking the smoke and odor with fresh scents and even ionic air purifiers.

Still, smokers find a way to light up. They might walk outside the hotel lobby doors to have a smoke in a designated area, but it’s still present for hotel guests. If this really bothers you, then staying at a hotel like Vdara is great because it is clearly positioned as a non-smoking option. Because of this, people who like to smoke are probably not going to stay here.

Vdara hotel sign at hotel entrance, Las Vegas

Simple design sets the Vdara Hotel entrance apart from flashier hotels nearby.

All Suites Hotel

For traveling families, staying in a hotel suite can have huge advantages over a traditional hotel room. At Vdara, the suites are spacious and contain a living room area and sometimes a completely separate bedroom. In our room, the couch folded out to a comfortable bed for the kids. During the day, we folded it back up for extra room and places to spread out.

Vdara Hotel Las Vegas living room corner suite

The living room of our corner suite at Vdara was chic and comfortable.

Vdara Hotel rooms also have mini kitchens included. For families with small kids, this is a huge plus. When our kids were little, they wanted a snack at strange times. Or sometimes they needed a drink of juice or a bowl of cereal and milk to munch on. Having a kitchen in our hotel room gave us the ability to meet the needs of our kids without having to rely on room service or the mini bar.

late night snacks at store in Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

If we wanted to use the kitchen in our suite at Vdara, the lobby store was stocked with options.

Fun Pool Area

The Vdara Hotel pool area is not vast, nor is it designed specifically with families in mind. Still Vdara’s pool area is fun and welcoming for families. The pool party scene you might find at some other Las Vegas hotels is not present here. Music beats, cocktails can be ordered, and young people still enjoy sunning themselves poolside.

With our kids, we reserved a cabana at the pool. This allowed us to provide shade and a place for the kids to retreat if they needed a break from the action. It also provided our family with some separation we enjoyed as the day moved along. We had a great lunch served here too.

pool cabanas at Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

The pool cabanas at Vdara Hotel are spacious retreats. (photo courtesy of hotel)

Easy Location

Located in the heart of things on the Las Vegas Strip, Vdara Hotel offers easy access to everything our family needed. With kids, we could walk next door to see the Bellagio Fountains or across the street to peruse the stores at Miracle Mile Shops. The tram station is located steps from the hotel, which transports riders from this station across to Crystals shops and Park MGM Hotel & Casino.

Although we missed having fun with our kids, it was nice to have an adult weekend in Vegas.

Vdara Hotel is Good for Adults Too

On this recent trip without the kids, our adult family members enjoyed staying at Vdara for the same reasons.

master bedroom with king bed at Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

Design accents and color schemes at Vdara Hotel are muted and classic, like here in our master bedroom.

Plenty of Room

It was nice as adult couples to enjoy our own spacious suites. Our huge room was on a corner overlooking the hotels along the Las Vegas Strip, and we had an enormous separate bedroom and bath.

Master bathroom with soaking tub and walk-in shower in the corner suite at Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas

Who wouldn’t love this gigantic bathroom at Vdara, complete with soaking tub and walk-in shower.

The lobby spaces were also large and uncrowded. We enjoyed grabbing coffee at the convenient Starbucks and a nosh from the lobby restaurant, Market Café. Even the lobby bar Vice Versa is super chill, with seating options both indoor and outdoor. We tried both, and on each visit received excellent service for cocktails and snacks.

Vice Versa lobby bar and lounge at Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

Super comfortable and inviting Vice Versa, the lobby bar and lounge at Vdara Hotel.

Oh, and there is a Starbucks located inside the Vdara Hotel lobby, which made Triton verrrry happy!

Starbucks in the lobby of Vdara Hotel Las Vegas

Triton is always happy when a hotel like Vdara has a Starbucks in the lobby!

Great Spa

For a little added relaxation, we retreated to Spa at Vdara and it was heaven. I honestly had one of the best massages I have ever had at this spa (ask for John) and was thoroughly happy with the facilities. Although not huge, this spa is peaceful and well equipped. We spent time in the wet and dry saunas, took a plunge in the whirlpool, and set off for a relaxing rub.

If you are looking to pamper yourself, no need to go further than the second floor at Vdara.

whirlpool room at Spa at Vdara Hotel

The whirlpool inside the Spa at Vdara relaxed us before our massages. (photo courtesy of hotel)

Great Location Near All the Action

Vdara was an easy uber ride from the hotel to any of our destinations. One night we traveled to the Wynn Hotel for dinner at Cipriani and the show called La Reve. Another night, we ubered over to Caesars Palace for dinner at Mr. Chow, and then walked to The Mirage to see The Beatles’ LOVE by Cirque du Soleil.

fire and water scene in Le Rêve The Dream show at Wynn Las Vegas

Le Rêve was an incredible production of water, fire, dance and music.

During the day, we went for a nice walk over to Bellagio to view the dancing waters in their famous fountain. Inside the hotel (thank goodness for AC) we ambled comfortably through the gorgeous lobby to view their latest Instagram-worthy Autumn display inside Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden.

Good Prices

Without all the bells and whistles, Vdara Hotel can sometimes offer a less expensive room rate than some of the other casino hotels. Of course this depends greatly on the circumstances of day of week, time of year, occupancy numbers, etc. Still, we found Vdara to be an affordable option on the Las Vegas Strip.

Prices at Vdara start at around $111/night USD and go up from there, depending on a variety of factors.

Aria Hotel as seen from front entrance of Vdara Hotel, Las Vegas

Aria Hotel is literally across the driveway from Vdara Hotel Las Vegas.

Other Vegas Hotels With No Casino

There are several other Las Vegas hotels with no casino, with a couple of large options right on the strip as well. We love the Delano Hotel in Las Vegas for this same reason, plus its signature style and upscale offerings.

This sculpture in the lobby of the Delano Las Vegas is made from hanging rocks

 

 

 

 

A new option we have not yet experienced is the MGM NoMad Hotel Las Vegas located within MGM’s new Park MGM Hotel & Casino. What used to be the Monte Carlo Hotel is now reborn and the NoMad in Vegas carries the same cachet as its sister hotels in New York, LA and London. We’ll have to put this one on our list for next time!

Other non-casino hotel options on the Las Vegas Strip include the Four Seasons Hotel, the Mandarin Hotel, and the Signature at MGM Grand.


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Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Traveling

Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Traveling

There are so many life lessons kids can learn from traveling. In fact, that may be the best reason to travel as a family. Even more than having fun, relaxing or shaking up your family routine, traveling will help you all learn more about yourselves and the world around you. We know it sure has for us!

For our family, traveling with our kids allows us to see the benefit of viewing our trip through their eyes too. After talking with multiple parents, we are convinced this is true. No matter how often you have been to a certain destination, children will see it differently. They literally will view your travels from a different perspective than you. If you get on their level – both physically and mentally – you can actually learn from your own kids.

family with two dads poses with daughters at main entrance of Disneyland, Anaheim. California

Around the corner or across the globe, family travel opens our eyes to new adventures.

Amassing Life Experiences

Sometimes at dinner we reminisce about some of the amazing places we’ve visited around the world. Sunsets in Hawaii. The food in Mexico. Zip lining in Costa Rica. We have tons of obvious favorites over the years. However, when we asked our teen girls their most memorable foreign destination, they both said it was our journey to Cambodia. Sophia and Ava didn’t pick a trip with the poshest hotel or the most luxurious destination. The girls chose our family adventure in Asia because of the fantastic people we met there! We’ve learned through our girls that it doesn’t have to be all about what you do when you travel. It matters so much more WHO YOU ARE when you travel.

family with 2 dads ziplining in Costa Rica

When in Costa Rica, we ziplined as a family for the first time.

Since we have been traveling with our kids since the very beginning, we have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from traveling with them. They have really taught us so much. Looking back through all our travels from Istanbul to the Mexican Riviera to our annual jaunts to Palm Springs, we have had some fantastic trips with our girls. From these trips, we’ve grown in every way and learned much more than we anticipated.

9 Life Lessons Kids Can Learn from Traveling

  1. We are more alike than we are different.

Kids often point out people and places that are unique to them, we have found that they notice the things that are the same even more. Our girls have made friends in places where they didn’t speak the language. They have smiled at other little girls who seem so different on the outside, but they just noticed is that the girls were the same age as them. While we often focus on the differences around us, kids can help us see we are really more the same.

little kids role playing as Kings and Queens in London, England

Getting the kids to participate in an activity helps them play with new friends despite language differences.

  1. The world is bigger than just my corner.

Sometimes it is easy to think that everyone operates the same way we do. We assume every neighborhood looks like ours, the schools are run the same way and the food, clothes and toys are all the same. And then we get out of our bubble and see that there is so much more to see. We learn from travel by observing places and people that are not what we’d usually find near our home. Kids have a great way of pointing those things out without making it seem like they are wrong.

Immersing your kids in the local culture helps them feel more a part of it.

  1. When in doubt, you can always find a pizza.

Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t travel halfway around the world just to eat the same pizza you could eat around the corner from your house. However, you learn from traveling with kids that sometimes there is something to be said for finding a piece of home when you are far from it. Even finding a pizza place in Paris or an ice cream shop in Madrid can make a big difference. The truth is that you can’t always make your Nana’s Pasta Carbonara recipe when you’re on the road. (Save it for when you get home.) It’s OK to give in to the comforting pleasures of home every so often.

We found wood-fired pizzas like our favorites at San DIego’s Buona Forchetta in the tiniest towns of Italy.

  1. Be kind.

We all know this, right? No matter where you travel the Golden Rule applies. Kids instinctively understand this (even if they don’t always follow it). Do onto others what you would have them do onto you. No matter where you are or who you are with, treat everyone around you with kindness. In 1944, my Pop was the valedictorian of his high school. In his Valedictorian speech, he wrote about the definition of leadership and how it relates to kindness. He wrote that “Our leaders in political and community life must be capable, intelligent and honest, worthy of the faith of the people.” In other words, be kind.

girl blowing kiss on bridge in Amsterdam

Ava fell in love with Amsterdam.

  1. Never make assumptions.

You do know what making assumptions turns you into, right? A jerk. When you travel, let go of what you think people should be like. Avoid the stereotypes that often come up. Kids are usually ignorant of these preconceptions and just see things as they are. Take a cue from them. On a recent vacation in Loreto, Mexico, I wasn’t sure how I’d be treated as a gay man. Thankfully, it was awesome. Safe and relaxing with  no second glances or side eyes, this city shattered any assumptions I had made. This is one of the best life lessons kids can learn from traveling.

 

  1. Remember that not everyone needs saving.

When you travel, it can be easy to think you are the great white knight riding in to save the locals from themselves. In reality though, maybe no one needs saving. Before you start “helping” the people you meet on your travels, but sure the help is wanted. Kids seem to understand the value of “doing it myself”. Learn that from them. We can find lessons in so many different places. One steaming hot day in a Cambodian jungle, where we pushed through a 12-mile jungle bike tour, we were shocked to see the obvious poverty. We passed homes with no doors, windows, or sometimes even walls. Some houses had chickens walking freely inside. Yet these people don’t need us sweeping in with my Democratic, American ideas to “save them”.

American girls with Cambodian boy monks near Siem Reap, Cambodia

When we visited this Buddhist monastery in Cambodia, the girls found kids their ages.

  1. You get what you pay for.

The farther away we travel, the more this adage is true. Don’t cheap out, especially when it comes to where to stay (this doesn’t mean you have to break the bank). Your lodging, whether in an Airbnb type of situation or a local hotel, you will spend a large portion of your trip there. You want to make sure it’s safe and clean above all else. As far as valuable life lessons kids can learn from traveling, this is one of the more important ones.

little girls making scary faces in London black cab

Sometimes traveling with kids can get a little out of hand.

  1. A smile always translates.

Have you ever noticed that children smile at everyone? They don’t try to TALK REALLY LOUD thinking that will help someone understand them. They just smile and point to the playground. Smiles can overcome a lot. On our family trip to Cambodia, there were so  many unique places to discover and things to see. However, our girls said it was the Cambodian people, specifically the other kids, that affected them deeply. “Their lives are so different from ours – so hard in comparison. Yet they smiled so much and were genuinely pleased to welcome us.”

  1. We can do hard things.

One thing we believe in our family is that we can do hard things. We can deal with things we don’t understand. We can zip line through the Amazon. We can deal with travel delays and airlines losing our luggage. We can survive 13 hour flights and hotels without air conditioning. When your kids start forgetting this, remind them. And then say it again to remind yourself. We can do hard things.

Many Lessons Learned

The things you learn from travel aren’t always quantifiable. You can’t always see them in the Instagram photos you post during the trip. They may be hidden unless you look for them. So look for them! Let your child lead you. Traveling with your kids will help to highlight what is most important for families. That time together is precious. The truth is that our kids are wise beyond their years. They understand more than they can communicate and are often given credit for.

Kids can be astute travelers too. There are so many valuable life lessons kids can learn from traveling that will last a lifetime.