beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · Recipes · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

Ultimate Portion Fix (UPF) Week 2

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And just like that we’re in the second week! Getting my nutrition and fitness on track has a funny way of becoming addictive, but in a good way. Once I’ve built up a nice streak of working out every day I tend to feed off that, and do whatever I can to make sure I get that workout in! However, I need to be fair to myself, and be patient with myself. I missed a workout at the end of Week 1 (Saturday). We had family over that day, family that was in town and hadn’t met our little bean yet, and between getting the house into a ‘presentable’ state, making a dessert (I made a healthy-ish strawberry shortcake, see below) and just generally enjoying some time with the family – the workout didn’t happen. Oh well, right? But I was bummed! Luckily I have a great Beachbody coach who reminded me just how much I’m doing! She centered me, reminded me I just had a baby barely over a month ago, and that I was actually doing more than I knew with all the healthy eating and workouts all week before Saturday. After hearing her perspective and getting her support, I reset, I should take it easy on myself. So take this as a reminder to do the same for yourself!

You are doing amazing, you are doing more than you know, and the important thing is to just keep going!

My eating plan for Week 2 took advantage of some of the ingredients bought for Week 1, and will use up my last 2 freezer meals I made before the baby arrived. Doing that prep was such a good investment and I am so thankful I put in the time, I’ve been enjoying them for 6 weeks! I also wanted to use up some frozen shrimp I had leftover from Easter.

You might notice I’m doing the same meal plan 3 days in a row this time around (vs. 2 days last week) – this is just another way to simplify, and makes my prep easier!

Let me take a minute to talk about the fixate Broccoli Salad, I had it twice last week and three times this week, so you might think I’m sick of it – but no! This salad is so delicious I think I could eat it every day! Its also easy to prep, and I made a batch of the dressing last week that I’m still using this week. Its just broccoli, red onion, celery, dates, almonds and turkey bacon – so good!

This week I’ve added spinach to my Banana Protein Smoothies, it doesn’t change the taste but does add a great Green Container to my snack – win!

So far today the little lady hasn’t wanted to sleep much, so I haven’t gotten to do my workout yet (Yoga Fix Extreme Real Time today!). So instead I’m doing some Mommy and Baby workout moves, I can still get some form of a workout in even while keeping her close. Important to remember to support her head and keep your balance, but there are a lot of great moves to work your body that you can still do while holding your baby.

  • Sumo Squat
  • Lunges
  • Leg raises
  • 1-Arm Bicep Curls
  • 1-Arm Tricep Dips

I recommend one minute per exercise (for exercises on each side I recommend 1 minute per side).

Another meal that worked out really well was the roasted shrimp and zucchini – its so quick and easy to make, healthy and tasty! One sliced zucchini, 6 shrimp, a little EVOO and seasonings. Cook at 400 for 15-20mins and enjoy!

A new find I have to share is this Lemon Ginger Seltzer from Trader Joe’s. I like the Lemon-Ginger combo for infused water because there are tons of health benefits (immune system boost, good for skin, etc) and a sparkling version is even better.

Snuck in with all this healthy eating was a treat, of course! The weather has been so nice, Ice Cream season has returned! There is nothing better than a kid’s pure joy and enjoyment of ice cream, don’t you think?

Chocolate Ice Cream Monster!

Healthy-ish Strawberry Shortcake

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


SHORTCAKE INGREDIENTS
6 Eggs
1/2 Honey (or Pure Maple Syrup)
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Melted Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup coconut flour
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda

TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1.5lbs strawberries, quartered
3 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw (or plain sugar)
Whip Cream or Cool Whip

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Strawberries and sugar in a bowl and refrigerate to allow juices to develop, at least 30 minutes
To make shortcake, mix wet ingredients until smooth
Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined
Pour into greased 8 X 11 baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes or until golden
Remove from Oven and allow to cool completely – store at room temperature

When ready to serve, slice cake into six pieces, then cut each in half horizontally.
Layer dish with cake, strawberries, cake, strawberries and top with Whipped Cream!

beachbody · Meal Prep · postpartum · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

UPF Week 1

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Ultimate Portion Fix is in full swing! It feels great to be working out again. Today is day 4, so far I’ve been able to get the workout in each day, even though sometimes I have to stop a couple times to feed or soothe my baby girl. I also had to significantly modify yesterdays workout (21 Day Fix Pilates Extreme Real Time). Any moves targeting legs I completed as is, but any targeting core I just substituted in one of the Diastasis Recti exercises, to be safe.

The eating plan has been going fairly well. On Day 1 my Brother-in-law (professional chef) made homemade fried chicken, so I broke my meal plan on the first day, but it was worth it! Day 2 I was perfect to make up for it 🙂 In general it is a lot of food – and I’ve found some great new recipes even in the first week. Fixate has a bunch of good options for vegetables/salads. Two favorites this week (so far) are the Fixate antipasto salad and the roasted cabbage with Cotija cheese.

Fixate Antipasto
Fixate Roasted Cabbage

I was able to complete the bulk of the food prep Saturday/Sunday before the week started which is essential. I’ve been fitting in the other steps here and there where I can. Its been a super rainy week here, which gets a little depressing when you can’t get out of the house with the baby, so I’m glad I’ve had the Beachbody workouts to get me moving a bit and get those endorphins going!

It’s not always easy to fit all that prep in, or get anything done in a day it seems! I’ve taken to ‘baby wearing’ lately. Its one guaranteed way to calm my little one down, as she loves to be close to me. There’s not too much I can get down while wearing her, but prep is ok (I’m just slow and can’t bend over!)

#Momlife. Instant Pot and Rice Cooker going while baby sleeps, for the win!

beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · postpartum · Recipes · Ultimate Portion Fix

Prepping for Ultimate Portion Fix

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As mentioned in my last post Ultimate Portion Fix! I am planning to start this program this coming Monday. One of the most important things when it comes to eating clean is preparation, and that is especially true for a Portion Fix (container based) program.

I know I am much more likely to stick to the healthy eating 100% if the food is prepped and ready to go. If too much work is required at the end of a hard day (and with an infant, aren’t they all challenging in some way?) then I am waaaay more likely to choose fast food, or make a quick grilled cheese or something that doesn’t contain a vegetable. So my main focus this week is to make a plan, and prep for that plan – that will help me be successful next week.

Due to the fact that I am breastfeeding, I fall under calorie Bracket C (1800-2199 calories) in the Ultimate Portion Fix Program. Now let me say when you are eating clean without any processed food, 1800 calories goes a long way! Here is my meal plan for next week.

My first thought when I finished laying this out was Holy Moly that’s a lot of food! This is a good thing, since I’ll also be incorporating daily workouts for the first time in quite some time (modified as appropriate). However my second thought was – wait this is going to require a LOT of prep! A few notes on that – first, I have 4 of the items already done and frozen from my Freezer Meal Prep I did in late February. Without these completed, I would not attempt this meal plan, because it would just be too much. Second, there are ways to simplify if you don’t find yourself with meals already prepped (and I will utilize these in coming weeks).

  1. Instead of targeting too many complete meals/recipes (like Taco Bake or Balsamic Chicken Salad) just go for basics – cook a bunch of chicken with just olive oil and seasonings and add this to salads, wraps, pasta or with veggies on the side all week long per your containers.
  2. Just roast a huge batch of veggies on Sunday and use them all week to pair with chicken or other protein.
  3. Make a big batch of quinoa and/or brown rice on Sunday and have it on hand to pair with veggies and chicken.

In this way, instead of worrying about creating specific recipes you are stocking your fridge with healthy bulk items (easy to prepare) and then you can throw together a meal easily day of.

I would still 100% advise you to create your meal plan ahead of time though so that you can be sure you’ve cooked enough staples to get you through and to eat all your containers!

It’s also very common for people to eat the same thing for all 5 weekdays. I myself will probably do this once I return to work. This also cuts way down on the complexity.

Once I’ve determined my meal plan, I list out my ingredients (this list pictured above doesn’t include any ingredients for the freezer meals that are already done) and then I make a plan of attack for prepping. Normally, I would do all the prep in one day, typically Sunday – but with two kids under 3 I’m going to try to spread it out since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get a 3hr block of time to dedicate to prepping.

With all this planning for next week, I didn’t make a meal plan for this week. I had a bunch of leftover Easter food we’ve been eating, I also used my Chicken Teriyaki freezer meal paired with brown rice and asparagus for dinner Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ve just been keeping it simple. Today for lunch I whipped up a healthy broccoli slaw salad – it took less than 5 mins and was delicious!

Quick Slaw Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
1/2 bag Broccoli Slaw Mix
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/4 cup walnuts
4 Tbs Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette (or similar)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small bowl mix the tomatoes, cucumber, celery, walnuts, dressing and lemon juice.
In a serving/storage bowl place the broccoli slaw and pour the tomato mixture over the slaw.
Stir to coat
Enjoy!

The other prep I’m doing this week is physically. I won’t be fully cleared for exercise until next week, but I have been doing the post-natal workout on beachbody on demand (which is especially designed to start easing postpartum women into workouts) and have been making a special effort to get a full 1mile+ walk in each day. This will help me hit the ground running next week!

beachbody · Exercise · Meal Prep · postpartum · self care · Ultimate Portion Fix

Ultimate Portion Fix!

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The time has come – time to get serious about getting back in shape and just getting healthy again! My path to a balanced, healthy lifestyle of exercise and clean eating is the Ultimate Portion Fix program. This is the latest Beachbody program, and I must admit I’m a full-blown Beachbody believer! For full disclosure, I am also a Beachbody coach (although this was on hold during my pregnancy). I’ve completed various Beachbody programs over the years, 21 Day Fix and Extreme, 80 Day Obsession and Shift Shop. I’ve loved them all and had results each and every time. I first tried 21 Day Fix when I was preparing for my wedding, and was able to lose those pesky 10lbs before my big day!

The largest transformation I’ve ever had (so far!) was after the birth of my first child. For some reason, I expected to be one of those women who is just magically skinny weeks after giving birth. I don’t know why I had that expectation (because I was clueless about what it’s really like to have a baby, most likely ;)) but I did. I was WRONG. Instead of being magically skinny I was exhausted, out of shape, and eating tons of junk because I had no time or energy to eat healthy. After about 2 months of this I decided something had to change and started the Shift Shop program. The results started almost immediately – within 2 weeks I felt better, energized and confident. By 1 month I was starting to feel progress physically – exercises that I could barely finish at the start were now too easy, I was increasing my weights, etc. By 2 months I was seeing the results – not just fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes but actually liking the way I looked in them. By the time my son was 6 moths old, I had not only lost all the baby weight but had actually hit my goal weight, which I don’t think I had been at for a decade!

July 2017

For each program I’m completed, I’ve used some version of the portion-controlled meal plan. I believe it is the best way to eat because it is :

  • Balanced
  • Easy to follow
  • Sustainable
  • Largely Plant-based
  • No deprivation!

I don’t believe in crazy fad diets that may be effective short-term but then you can’t keep it up and you end up gaining back all the weight (and then some). So, when I was looking into what program I’m might try after this pregnancy, I was psyched to see a new Portion Control program available. If you’ve ever tried 21 Day Fix (or 21 Day Fix Extreme), the Ultimate Portion Fix is very similar. Essentially it is an update to the meal planning guidelines and containers that were developed for those programs, incorporating all the learnings over the last 5 years and including 100+ new recipes. They are also updating the 21DF and 21DFX workouts.

The version of the program I ordered (there are different options in terms of the supplements) pictured above came with:

  • Ultimate Portion Fix Kit:
  • 30+ Step-by-Step Videos
  • Workbook
  • Daily Logbook
  • Set of 7 Portion-Control Containers
  • FIXATE® Vol. 2 Cookbook
  • FIXATE Cooking Show
  • 75 Healthy Lunch Ideas For Kids (Digital PDF)
  • Access to nutrition tracking and the Ultimate Portion Fix program through the Beachbody App
  • 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix EXTREME workouts shot in real time, updated for faster progress
  • 30-day supply of Beachbody Performance Stack
    • It includes two supplements —Energize and Recover— designed to help give you a blast of energy, sharpen your focus, improve your performance, and speed recovery.*
    • I LOVE the Energize to take before workouts, I’ve actually missed it during my pregnancy and can’t wait to start it up again!
  • Performance Shaker Cup
  • Free Access to my own Personal Coach
    • This is one of the greatest benefits of Beachbody programs – you gain an entire community of people who are going through the program alongside you – they help offer support, but it also keeps you accountable as you want to check in with your team every day!

I am planning to start the program next Monday, as this is when the new live versions of the 21DF Extreme workouts will start to stream. I’ll be 5 weeks postpartum and ready to start exercising again (although I will need to modify some exercises) and ready to start eating a bit more healthy (although still consume at least 1800 calories a day to support breastfeeding). For the rest of this week I’ll be getting ready, making my meal plan, shopping and prepping food, and reading up on all the program materials and videos!

If you are interested in taking this journey with me, or learning more about Ultimate Portion Fix (or any Beachbody program) please let me know in the comments section!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Meal Prep · postpartum · Recipes

Healthy Postpartum Meal Plan Week 3

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Trying to keep it simple this week so that I’ll have time (and energy) for Easter prep later in the week! So I’m only making 3 meals (+ a freezer meal already made) to fuel the whole week. Throw in a couple easy breakfasts and lunches here and there and happy healthy family achieved!

Monday

Sometimes I forget how much I love cereal. Its not always the healthiest option, so I don’t rely on it too often, but it does hit the spot sometimes! Any cereal makes a more complete meal with fruit and nuts added – I had Kashi 7 Grain cereal (which I love) and added strawberries with slivered almonds.


Eggplant Parmesan

Let me just say it – this meal was a home run. I loved it, but my toddler wouldn’t try it – too bad because I think he would have loved it too, but no dice.

This recipe is from The Stay at Home Chef, but I made a couple modifications.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • freeze dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese divided

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Lay out in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let sit 1 hour to release moisture.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
  • Set up 3 shallow dishes for dredging. In the first dish, stir together flour, salt and pepper. In the second dish, whisk eggs. In the third dish, stir together panko bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, and garlic powder.
  • Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour mixture, dip in egg mixture, and then coat in bread crumb mixture. Place onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle on a light coating of parmesan cheese.
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, flipping eggplant slices halfway through.
  • Spread 2 tablespoons of marinara into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 dish. Layer half of the eggplant slices onto the bottom. Top with half of the remaining marinara, and then layer on all mozzarella to desired cheesiness. Sprinkle on half of the basil and half of the parmesan cheese.
  • Place remaining eggplant slices on top and cover with remaining marinara, basil, and parmesan cheese (a little extra mozz is a good too).
  • Bake, uncovered, in the 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and the top is bubbling and lightly browned.

Tuesday

As I’m starting to get back into a fitness mindset, I’ve reintroduced protein powder into my diet (I had cut it out during pregnancy to be extra careful). I tried Orgain Peanut Butter because I’m comfortable with the ingredients, and I’m happy to report that it’s delicious! This will be my new go-to smoothie recipe for Spring and summer, its like a milkshake or frappucino! I included oats to keep my lactation needs in mind.

Espresso PB Protein Shake

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
4 oz Espresso (or coffee)
3/4 cup Almond Milk
1 banana (frozen)
1 scoop Peanut Butter Protein Powder (I like Orgain brand)
1/4 cup old fashioned oats

INSTRUCTIONS
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth
Serve and enjoy!

When I was at the grocery store I saw the Sonoma Chicken Salad in the prepared food case (at Whole Foods) and couldn’t resist. Having some prepared chicken salad just makes meal time easier. If you can’t get this near you though, Whole Foods has posted the recipe. I highly recommend it. I had mine on some whole wheat English muffin with a can of sparkling water.

Since I had this chicken salad for lunch, I saved the Eggplant Parmesan leftovers for dinner and moved Apricot Chicken to Wednesday.

Wednesday

Apricot Chicken and Rice

Make the rice first (this can also be made ahead of time). I used basamati rice, added slivered almonds and a few diced dried apricots to the rice.

The Apricot Chicken recipe comes from Chef in the Burbs blog.

INGREDIENTS (for me this made 6 servings)

  • 4 thin chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • ½ cup apricot jam/jelly/preserves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oil in an oven safe 12″ saute pan over medium high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper chicken breasts and add to saute pan.
  3. Cook for five minutes or until golden brown.
  4. While chicken cooks, stir preserves, soy sauce and garlic together in a glass measuring cup and microwave for one minute, stirring a couple times during microwave time.
  5. Move oven rack to just below broiler and turn broiler on.
  6. Flip chicken and pour glaze over.
  7. Broil for two minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I had so many leftovers of this Apricot chicken that we basically ate it the rest of the week. I once again pushed out the Turkey Sloppy Joes (froze the turkey), so I had a nice break from cooking until Easter.

Check out my post on our Easter Dinner here

Holidays · Meal Prep · Recipes

Easy Crowd Pleasing Easter Menu

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Happy Easter! This was my first time hosting since the birth of my daughter, and even though its a small group – 5 adults and a toddler – I still wanted to choose items that would be manageable without sacrificing taste or quality.

Here’s what I planned:

In the end, I didn’t make the asparagus. Between morning Easter basket time with my son, church, and nursing my daughter, it was a little too much. While I would have preferred to have a green vegetable as part of the dinner, we really didn’t need it and were very happy with the meal as it was, I’m glad I kept it stress-free. I’ll eat the asparagus this week instead.

Appetizers

What could be easier than these two options I picked? Very little. Comte is a French cheese that we get around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter). Its delicious and my toddler asks for it by name – its a little more special than just throwing some cheddar out there. The shrimp is a relatively healthy option and we won’t get too full before the meal by snacking on these.

Cocktails and Wine

I worked hard to build up enough breastmilk so that I could enjoy a glass of Prosecco, it was so delicious! Once Springtime starts, Rose is my wine of choice – but its got to be a good one – bad Rose is especially bad. We had a bottle of Cossinelle Gamay that my family enjoyed, but I went for the Prosecco this time.

I did not join in for a Whiskey Sour, but if you can enjoy an cocktail, I recommend starting guests off with one than switching to wine (or beer). My husband makes a mean whiskey sour, per the below.

Hubby's Whiskey Sour

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


INGREDIENTS
2oz Fresh squeezed lemon and lime mix
2oz Bourbon
1oz Simple Syrup
1 Bing Cherry

INSTRUCTIONS
Shake first 3 ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into cocktail glass, add cherry and enjoy!

Main Course

The good thing about my menu was that each item is pretty easy to put together. The negative was that there was very little that could be prepped ahead of time, meaning everything needed to be done on Easter itself. (The bread and cake were made ahead, on Saturday).

Baked Ham with Orange Mustard Glaze

I found this recipe on Food Network and loved it. I like that they offer various glaze options. I chose the Orange and Mustard and it was a big hit. This recipe is definitely my new go to for ham. I also served the ham with fresh pineapple slices – a great combo!

Honey Glazed Carrots

The carrots were also very successful – a little different because they incorporate lemon to cut the honey a bit. I also wanted to be sure I could cook everything except the ham on the stovetop, since I do not have a double oven and a 10lb ham takes up the full oven! This recipe also came from Food Network, was easy and tasty. I used full size carrots instead of baby (I did 3 carrots per person), cut in half before preparing. I also didn’t bother with the parsley (once again when juggling two kids under three I don’t take on too much!) and you won’t miss it.

Mashed Potatoes

You might notice that every holiday meal at my house includes mashed potatoes. Maybe its my Irish background or maybe its because they are so delicious, we’ll never know, but they never disappoint!

My method – Peel Russet Potatoes (2 medium per person) but keep whole. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a rolling boil and cook until potatoes are fully cooked, drain. Heat whole milk (roughly 1 tablespoon per potato) in separate pot on low until warm (using cold milk can lead to a gummy consistency). Return potatoes to pot or large bowl, add in butter (roughly 1 tablespoon per potato) and mash potatoes using electrical mixer or by hand. Slowly add warm milk until desired consistency is reached!

Bread and Dessert

Cinnamon Bread

I debated whether to go sweet or savory for the bread with dinner. In the end I went for the cinnamon bread because it pairs so well with the salty ham. This is one of my mom’s recipes, and its another staple in our family for many different holidays or get-togethers. She lists the walnuts as optional – but I always go for the walnuts.

Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe comes from Flour Bakery. If you live in the Boston area (or are planning to visit) Flour is a must-visit place. Everything they make is amazing, and I highly recommend the cookbook as well.

That’s it! My advice is to keep it easy and enjoy the day, I know we did. For leftovers we love sandwiches of course, but ham is great in quiches and soups too!

Holidays · parenting

Best Easter Basket Items for a Toddler Boy

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Easter is a time for celebration, but the religious concepts that are the basis for the holiday are a little too advanced for a toddler. You can start to build associations for them though – that Easter is a happy time, it involves family and Springtime – a time of renewal and rebirth (and also chocolate and the Easter Bunny because why not let them be kids for a while…)

Maybe its because I have a newborn and want to be sure my oldest doesn’t feel forgotten, or maybe its because the day I went shopping for Easter was my first time at a store in weeks after the birth of my daughter, but I did go a little overboard with my sons Easter Basket this year. As I went back over all the items I had to actually assemble the basket, I saw that some of my choices were better than others.

Here are the best items to assemble a well-rounded, fun, and affordable Easter Basket.

Sand Toys – Summer is around the corner, and there’s not much that little boys (and girls) like more than playing in the sand (and getting dirty in general). If you don’t have a traditional Easter ‘basket’ you can even use a sand pail as the basket itself which would be super cute.

Books – Basically any occasion that calls for gifts (holidays, birthdays, etc) I include books. My son does love to be read to, but I also want him to associate books with presents – so that he’ll be excited to get a new one. There’s nothing I like more than getting a new book (I’m actually guilty of buying books constantly. I read obsessively, but my ‘To Read’ list is long and the stack of books in my nightstand waiting to be read is substantial – which makes me happy). For the basket, I wanted to include some Easter books but also just some books I know he’ll love. Here’s what I chose:

Puzzles – puzzles actually have a ton of benefits for early childhood development, and yet they are disguised as toys! Some of the benefits:

  • Cognitive – Color, letter and spatial awareness skills 
  • According to the Child Development Institute “a child’s brain development is influenced significantly when a child acts on or manipulates the world around him or her. Puzzles provide that key opportunity. Children learn to work directly with their environment and change its shape and appearance when they work with puzzles”
  • Confidence – the sense of accomplishment that comes with completion of the puzzle brings a ton of satisfaction to a child. Overcoming the challenges involved in solving puzzles gives them a sense of pride and self-esteem.
  • Motor Skills Development

I chose this Fire Truck puzzle for my son’s basket (he LOVES firetrucks) but also had a custom one made from Shutterfly, where you can add any photo you want to the puzzle, this picture is the moment he met his sister for the first time 🙂 and dinosaurs, of course.

Candy – He doesn’t get much candy, but he sure enjoys it when he does! He likes gummy bears and chocolate, but his Easter basket will have bunny chocolates (and the bag is cute too). Fun fact – 59% of Americans eat their chocolate Easter bunnies ears first.

Play-Doh – my son loves play-doh, and we need to keep replenishing the supply. I’m happy for him to play with it as its creative and quiet 🙂 These are perfect because they come in eggs and pastels for Spring!

Bubbles and Truck – For my son, if there wasn’t a car or truck involved then you’ve failed. He’s just obsessed. After a recent trip to the zoo, when I was asking him about which animals he saw and what was his favorite thing, all he could talk about was the tractor he climbed. Yup, that’s my son. I also included the bubbles because he’s finally old enough to hold it and create the bubbles himself, another activity that’s perfect for nice weather.

Stickers and Coloring – More creative, quiet, and affordable items – win, win, win! This sticker book is perfectly Easter and the Thomas (invisible ink unless you color on the page) will be a big hit!

That’s it! Throw it all in a basket (or bucket) with some Easter grass and have a great day! Maybe buy some extra chocolate for yourself too 🙂