Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kid Friendly, Gluten-Free, Flour-less Brownies

Lately my son, Chase, has an obsession with using our blender. Typically we make smoothies, but today I decided to switch-it-up.

I read in a Gluten Free Magazine (sorry I don't remember the name of the magazine) about making GLUTEN FREE, FLOUR-LESS, BROWNIES in a blender~ I was sold!  Chase totally helped in every step of the process.  By popular demand here is the recipe:

Final product, cut in squares

1 can black beans (rinsed & drained)
3 eggs
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbl. vanilla yogurt
Gluten-free cooking spray (I used soy free butter)
3/4 chopped nuts (optional) I used walnuts


You can use a blender, large food processor or hand-held immersion blender for this recipe. 
Pre-heat oven to 350.

Blend beans and eggs into a paste. Add cocoa powder and vanilla and continue to mix.  Add sugar and yogurt. Blend until entire mix is smooth.

Pour batter into an 8 x 8-inch baking pan well-coated with gluten-free cooking spray. Top with nuts if using.

Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.  This prevents the brownies from becoming crumbly and make them easier to cut and remove from the pan.

Chase eating a brownie

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Yummy Gluten Free Cookies, Muffins, & More!!!

Every Sunday my family and I go to the Studio City Farmers Market.  We pick up our fresh produce for the week, my husband gets a breakfast burrito, occasionally we buy some tamales, and we ALWAYS buy something from The Good Cookies,  You can't miss the Good Cookies and their bright pink booth.  My son, Chase, now knows their booth as "The Pink Ladies."  The Good Cookies are all GLUTEN FREE & DELICIOUS!!!  In the past I have had my fair share of disgusting, dry, mediocre gluten-free treats to say the least.  But the Good Cookies are THE BOMB and I just had to share with you.  Some of our favorites include:

1. The Almond Bar
2. Donut Holes.  Yes, I said it- Gluten Free Delicious Donut Holes.  (pictured below)
3. Banana-Blueberry Muffins
**They make an excellent loaf of bread too**

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Fun with a Little History Too!

As many of us Americans are gearing up for the spookiest holiday and by one of my personal favorites, there is yet another holiday gearing up in the country just south of sunny California. Dia De Muertos is one filled with honor, tradition and love for community not to mention paying tribute to family members that have passed on.  

LA Events:A great listing of events for little ones can be found on Redtricycle’s Blog page.|%20Donut%20Friend%20is%20Your%20New%20BFF%20|%20Only%20on%20Wednesday%20Activities We would like to wish our VIP Families and household staff a safe and Happy Halloween season filled with tricks, treats and lots of scary costumes.
(History of the Day of dead provided by Wikipedia)Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, the celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the Christian tritium of Hallowmas: All Hallows' Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.
 Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festival dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love My Nanny

In honor of National Nanny Recognition Week.  I’d like to recognize and honor my son’s nanny Kristina.  Or better known in our house as “Tee-Tee”.

1.  Chase LOVES “Tee-Tee!”
2.  She’s always on time.
3.  She doesn’t complain when I’m late getting home.
4.   She knows how to divert of crying child
5.  She comes up with fun, new, daily activities for Chase.
6.  Kristina always makes sure Chase is safe
7.  She is teaching Chase to say, “I love you!”
8.   **My house is cleaner when she leaves**
9.  I never asked Kristina to do family laundry, just Chase’s.  During the first two weeks on the job she 
     was doing the whole family’s laundry.  I was SO thankful and told her she didn’t have to.  Kristina 
     said, “since Chase naps 2-3 hours a day, she has down time and actually enjoys doing laundry.”
10.  She lets me know when we are running low on supplies (diapers, milk, etc.)

I can’t just stop at 10… here are a few more reasons I love my nanny:

11. She sends pictures and/or videos of Chase throughout the day.  Not every day, but when she sees something worth taking.
12.  She sticks to Chase’s schedule and suggests when it may be time to alter it.
13.   She gives great feedback.  For example:  Time to ditch the bottle, or time for potty training.
14.  She goes with the flow.
15. She happily grocery shops and runs errands.
16.  Kristina is creative.

17.  She’s silly.
18.  She takes initiative and is always one step ahead.
19.  Kristina prepares well balanced meals for Chase.
20.   I leave for work, with the confidence, and knowledge that my son will be loved and well cared for all day.

I could go on and on about how much we appreciate, love, and respect Tee-tee.  We hope she is a part of Chase’s life and our family forever!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Most Important 20 Minutes of Your Day, Read with a Child


      As the school year begins and your little ones start an exciting new year we are left thinking about some things that could help your nanny or our VIP Parents aid in their child having a successful year.  Did you know that parents or caregivers that read to their children at least 20 minutes every day before a child enters a school setting is setting then up for major success when they enter the classroom?     
      Spending just 20 minutes a day reading to a child, in any language will aid in the cognitive development and shape young developing minds.  One of the most important factor, they learn to recognize words and it aids in giving your little guys a boost in their speaking and listening skills.   Not only are the words important in reading but recognition of pictures when they are very young. 
      We have taken the time to give you a list of some of our favorite books as well as some of our VIP Nannies favorite books that you can share with your family.  Some of these books are classics and others work in a series to help with colors, numbers, shapes, manners and even concepts like love or the importance of friendship.  All of the books listed you can fins at your local book store or Amazon.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do, and remember: The most important 20 minutes of your day, read with a child!

The Story of Ferdinand by: Munro Leaf Ferdinand is a little bull who much prefers sitting quietly under a cork tree-- just smelling the flowers--to jumping around, snorting, and butting heads with other bulls. This cow is no coward--he simply has his pacifist priorities clear. As Ferdinand grows big and strong, his temperament remains mellow, until the day he meets with the wrong end of a bee. In a show of bovine irony, the one day Ferdinand is most definitely not sitting quietly under the cork tree (due to a frightful sting), is the selfsame day that five men come to choose the "biggest, fastest, roughest bull" for the bullfights in Madrid.

Where the Wild Things Are by: Maurice Sendak Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rampage to continue unimpaired. Sendak's color illustrations (perhaps his finest) are beautiful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder. The wild things--with their mismatched parts and giant eyes--manage somehow to be scary-looking without ever really being scary; at times they're downright hilarious. Sendak's defiantly run-on sentences--one of his trademarks--lend the perfect touch of stream of consciousness to the tale, which floats between the land of dreams and a child's imagination.

Corduroy by: Don Freeman Have you ever dreamed of being locked in a department store at night? The endearing story of Corduroy paints a picture of the adventures that might unfold (for a teddy bear at least) in such a situation. When all the shoppers have gone home for the night, Corduroy climbs down from the shelf to look for his missing button. It's a brave new world!

The Giving Tree by: Shel Silverstein "Once there was a tree ... and she loved a little boy." Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return. 

Madeline Adventures by: Ludwig Bemelmans These are the stories of a young orphan girl in Paris and her curious behavior. The is nothing frightens Madeline—not tigers, not mice, not even getting sick. To Madeline, a trip to the hospital is a grand adventure. This series has a ton of different stories for children to follow Madeline and her adventures.

The Little House by: Virgina Lee Burton The Little House, a poignant story of a cute country cottage
that becomes engulfed by the city that grows up around it. The house has an expressive face of windows and doors, and even the feelings of a person, so she’s sad when she’s surrounded by the dirty, noisy city’s hustle and bustle: “She missed the field of daisies / and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.” Fortunately, there’s a happy ending, as the house is taken back to the country where she belongs. A classic!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by: Laura Joffee Numeroff and Felicia Bond If a hungry little traveler shows up at your house, you might want to give him a cookie. If you give him a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. He'll want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache, and then he'll ask for a pair of scissors to give himself a trim.... The consequences of giving a cookie to this energetic mouse run the young host ragged, but young readers will come away smiling at the antics that tumble like dominoes through the pages of this delightful picture book.

Chicka Chick Boom by: Bill Martin Jr. In this bright and lively rhyme, the letters of the alphabet race each other to the top of the coconut tree. When X, Y and Z finally scramble up the trunk, however, the weight is too much, and down they all tumble in a colorful chaotic heap: "Chicka Chicka . . . BOOM! BOOM!" All the family members race to help, as one by one the letters recover in amusingly battered fashion. Poor stubbed toe E has a swollen appendage, while F sports a jaunty Band-Aid and P is indeed black-eyed. As the tropic sun goes down and a radiant full moon appears, indomitable A leaps out of bed, double-daring his colleagues to another treetop race. This nonsense verse delights with its deceptively simple narrative and with the repetition of such catchy phrases as "skit skat skoodle doot." Ehlert's bold color scheme, complete with hot pink and orange borders, matches the crazy mood perfectly. Children will revel in seeing the familiar alphabet transported into this madcap adventure. Ages 2-6.

Goodnight Moon by: Margaret Wise Brown In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. "Goodnight room, goodnight moon." And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room--to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one--he says goodnight. In this classic of modern children's literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day.

The Series of Book by: Karen Katz Where is Baby’s Belly Button and Toes, Ears, Nose! 

The Series of Books by: Sandra Boynton Her books are funny stories dealing with lots of different topics and have some of the most entertaining illustrations that children specifically toddler age LOVE. Moo Baa La La La and But Not the Hippopotamus

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by: Eric Carle Eric Carle's classic story begins one sunny Sunday, when the caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through three plums--and still he was hungry. Strikingly bold, colorful pictures and a simple text in large, clear type tell the story of a hungry little caterpillar's progress through an amazing variety and quantity of foods. Full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!

Blueberries for Sal by: Robert McCloskey "The adventures of a little girl and a baby bear while hunting for blueberries with their mothers one bright summer day. All the color and flavor of the sea and pine-covered Maine countryside."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Learning, A Great Time for Reading!

There’s no question that children loose some of the information that they are taught through out the school year. But, how much information are we looking at? A study by Dr. Harris Cooper, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia found when students return to school after a long summer vacation they've lost one to three months worth of learning. With the prevalence of learning disabilities multiplying rapidly, parents are looking for ways to keep their little one’s brain firing on all cylinders through-out the summer.

Here at VIP Nannies we wanted to offer a few secrets for helping your children keep up their academic momentum.

Reading is a Cornerstone of Learning
All over Los Angeles, Public Libraries have summer reading programs that are fun and interactive. Stop in to your local branch, snuggle up in a cozy chair, and point out new words in books. Let your child turn the pages of the book as you read together to make them feel accomplished and like they are a part of the process. Bring the fun home with you where you can act out the story for people in your family (or your nanny!). This will also aid your child exercise critical reading, comprehension, and recollection.

Additional Resources
If you are a tech savvy person or maybe just a homebody, you still have a plethora of options.  All you have to do is start a summer reading camp online. Websites such as Book Adventure and Scholastic are great resources, and include online reading programs that your child can log reading minutes to earn rewards. With high goals in sight they might even sent a World Record!

Math Is All Around Us
Opportunities for math are everywhere whether you are at the store or the park. On your next shopping trip encourage them to do simple math like: count the items in the cart, add up the cost of the items, or compare the number of hot dogs in a pack to the number of hot dog buns in a bag.

Don’t Forget Fun!
Even though keeping your child’s brain function at its peak is important, make sure you remember it’s summer! You may be tempted to push academics all summer, but make sure you don’t loose the specialness and relaxing nature of summer. Reading can be something the want to do—not something that they are forced to do. By finding what type of literature they love, even if they are comic books or magazines, you encourage literacy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

3 Tips for Successfully Traveling With Your Nanny

It’s that time of year again! Your children are out of school, and vacation plans are in the making. Whether you are going on a road trip or a plane across the pond, it’s always a challenge to make sure that everyone has a positive travel experience, expectations are set, and you have prepared for every little hiccup in your adventure.
 If your nanny is traveling with you or you plan to hire a "travel nanny," it’s important that you communicate with your her.
Three keys to a successful trip are:                    
1)    Planning and preparing in advance.                                

2)    Being clear about expectations.
3)    Setting boundaries.

First Start by asking yourself some key questions: What are my childcare needs? How many hours a day will I need assistance? What expectations do I have for the nanny during the trip?
Second make sure you have done your financial planning ahead of time. This is pivotal so that no one is surprised or disappointed when you are on the trip or after you have returned home. Typically the family covers transportation, lodging, meals and required activities, while the nanny is responsible for personal expenses (souvenirs, expenses when not on duty, etc.).
Open communication with regards to every aspect of the trip is essential.  Will you require the nanny to dress any certain way? Did you inform her of the sleeping accommodations, special activities and responsibilities? This open venue for communication is especially important if she is a live-out nanny that you previously haven’t been in such close quarters with.
An important thing to keep in mind is that this is your vacation, not the nanny’s and that while you want them to leave with happy memories, it is still important to maintain a professional interaction.

Planning can also be important when it comes to preparing your children.  With an equal balance of interactive activities, paired with downtime, children can be seasoned travelers. Make sure you research heavily before hand to get to know your destination’s advantages and disadvantages. This will help when you are planning clothing and activities. Have your nanny pack bags with the children making sure they bring their favorite stuffy, travel games, and snacks.
Most importantly be open to flexibility. Traveling together can be a memorable experience for everyone!