karonadrummond

Because We Love Children

Blueberry Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, I know it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. I have a friend on vacation in Australia right now. It’s winter there. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Aaaaaah…. But I digress.

Anyway, I don’t get in the kitchen a lot in the summer. But when we had blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips in the house at the same time, I couldn’t resist. I braved the kitchen. I turned down the a.c. a bit and went for the prize.
The outcome would be worth it. I was going to modify a banana bread recipe, make it healthy, and create world peace!
Well, at least I hoped to get my kids eating a treat that also happened to be healthy. That might be the first step to creating world peace, right? Right!

So I challenge you: Bring in some bananas, blueberries, and semi-sweet chocolate chips into the house. Then create something amazing and eat it. As you wipe the blueberry juice and melted chocolate off your children’s faces
(and yours), keep smiling because you just had a sweet treat that’s too healthy to feel guilty about. Enjoy!

Karona’s Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

3 medium ripe bananas, sliced and mashed
1/2 cup softened Smart Balance buttery Spread or 1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener for baking (zero calories and all natural!)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (You can use all dark brown sugar if you don’t have the Stevia)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups whole grain flour ( I used Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour)
1 cup (preferably fresh) blueberries
1 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, stir together ingredients in the order listed above. Spoon
mixture into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Put in top or middle rack of oven. Check at 15 minutes. Muffins should be
come out clean when a toothpick is inserted. It will probably need about 20 minutes. Let muffins cool. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or some frozen vanilla yogurt.

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Disney World Tips for Families

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(This is me in the classic “Singing in the Rain” pose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve saved the money for that big trip to Disney World. Congratulations! Planning can be
part of the fun. My husband, the two kids, and I just got back. We had a blast! Here are a few tips that we gathered in out process. We took a road trip. So some of my trips will pertain to traveling by car.

1. Order a planning kit from Disney several months in advance.
Hop over to http://www.disneyworld.com get the process rolling. They will send you a free video with lots of info. about the Disney World parks and accommodations. If you are planning a road trip, you would benefit from going to Florida is full of beautiful tourist destinations. Maybe you can squeeze in a couple while you’re in the neighborhood.

2. If you are doing a road trip, consider the benefits of renting a car. My husband and I both drive older cars. We keep them maintained and drive them into the ground. We didn’t want to tack on an extra 2,360 miles onto one of our cars in one fell swoop. And what if our old car broke down? There’s a vacation buster, for sure!

So renting a car made good sense for us. We used Avis http://www.avis.com because we had good success with them on a previous vacation and they are conveniently located nearby our home. We had the car for about 12 days at a cost of around $380. We had peace of mind that we were driving a new car. And if we had any trouble, Avis would come get us and put us into a working rental car right away.

3. Staying in the Disney World Resort is worth the money. Even though we were driving and could have stayed off property, we chose to stay within the resort. We chose from the least expensive resort hotels, the “Value
Resort Hotels”. The Value Hotels are further away from the parks, and the rooms are smaller and not as fancy as the more expensive hotels. Still, the hotel (We stayed at All Star Music) was decorated up really cute. The room was clean and comfortable. We had our choice of two very nice pools with activities and movies for the kids while they were swimming.

When you stay at the Disney Resort Hotel, you don’t have to worry about parking hassles. You just hop on the Disney Transportation System (for the Value Hotels it is a bus) and let them drive you to and from. Aaah…
Yes, we could have saved a few bucks by staying off property. But the convenience we received, the time saved, and the immersion of staying in the resort was worth it.

4. Planning your eating. Disney has thought a lot about what makes their customers happy. I was VERY
happy to know that we could bring food into the park. If you fly in, you will probably need to purchase some sort a a meal plan and then take snacks to munch on here and there throughout the day(s). Each resort hotel has a little store with a few basic food supplies. They also each have a quick service food area. The meal plans can be quite expensive.
So weigh your options carefully.

If you are doing a road trip, here is what we did to save money and time: When we arrived the first night, we went to the nearby Target and stocked up on food for the week. We bought fruit, cereal, beef jerky, nutrition bars, etc.
My husband brought a small microwave with us. (The Value Resort Hotels have mini refrigerators, but no microwaves.)
We bought a bunch of Hormel Compleat meals.

We got up each morning, ate a big breakfast, and packed our backpack and fanny packs. We carried in bottled water, beef jerky, fruit, and other nonperishable food items. We “backpacked” through the parks. When we were waiting in line for a ride or show, we ate a bit here, a bit there. Finally, when we got back to the hotel at night, we ate our Compleat meals. Yes, we were all ready for regular food when we arrived back in Texas. But it was a workable solution that helped us get more out of ours days in the parks.

5. Use the fast passes if there are crowds! We waited an hour and a half for Space mountain. (Ugh!)
While we were waiting, we noticed people zipping right along in the fast pass line. We assumed the fast pass was for people who paid extra. But when we (and especially our teenage son) investigated further, it turns out that anyone can use a fast pass! We happened to be in the park during a busy week. The fast pass allowed us to do so much more.

Here’s how it works: Go to a popular ride you want to ride. If there is a long wait, go to the fast pass area. Put your ticket in the machine. The machine will give you a little paper that tells you when to return. It is as if the computer is holding your place in line. You will be given a one hour window in which to return to ride the ride. When you return, you will show your little paper to a couple of workers as you get into the fast pass line. You will only have to wait
about 5-10 minutes to board the ride. Whoever at Disney who thought this system up is a genius. Thank you, whoever you are!

You can only hold one fast pass during a time period. So plan your day around your fast passes. Do the less in-demand rides, the shops, and the shows in your waiting time. You will be amazed at how much you get to do, even when the park is crowded.

6. Pin Trading is So Fun! disneygo.com/eventservices/whatispintrading.html
My 10 year old daughter loved this. You buy a starter set of decorative Disney trading pins at any Disney store in the park. My daughter started out with all Tinker Bell pins. She also bought a Disney lanyard to wear the pins on. Then the real fun began. At every park and every store, workers will trade pins with you. Sometimes other guests will trade, too.
My daughter traded continually. There are pins representing every Disney movie and character. In addition to being fun,
pin trading helps the children attending Disney to be comfortable talking to Disney staff members. That way, if a child got lost, he/she would already feel comfortable going up to a staff member for help. Great thinking, Disney!

7. Check the weather. Be prepared for rain. It tends to rain a lot in Florida. Before you book your Disney World vacation, check yearly trends for Orlando weather. Some months are rainier than others. Even in the less rainy times, you should bring a couple of umbrellas or some rain ponchos. We didn’t heed this advice and ended up having to buy a couple of umbrellas at the park during a downpour.

I hope for you that if you dream of going to Disney World, your dream will come true and that you have a wonderful time!

🙂 Karona Drummond

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