Homemade HEALTHY Movie Theater Popcorn

homemade healthy movie theater popcorn how to make

Throughout the course of making healthy changes to my diet, the one thing I’ve really missed is good popcorn. Last year for my birthday, my sisters got me an air popper, which is AWESOME, minus the fact that air popped popcorn tastes NOTHING like actual delicious, buttery movie theater popped popcorn.  In fact, as my husband would say, it tastes a whole lot like cardboard.

I did find one tasty recipe for Rosemary and Black Pepper popcorn, and it was good, but it wasn’t what I’ve been looking for and consequently, while I’ve done great resisting microwave popcorn, I’ve almost always caved and went for the artificially disgusting popcorn you can get from the movie theater… until now.

This past weekend, my daughter, my husband and I decided to have a Harry Potter movie marathon.  I volunteered to make popcorn.

They both groaned and requested a trip to the grocery store to buy a bag of movie theater popcorn.

I refused.

But instead of subjecting them to cardboard flavored popcorn, a quick google search revealed that I may, in fact, be able to make a good substitute at home.  With just a few modifications, here are the results:  Delicious movie theater butter popcorn, without all the unhealthy stuff – because really, popcorn in and of itself is not terribly unhealthy, it’s all the junk we add to it. And while this isn’t 21 Day Fix approved, it’s an ok cheat once in a while.  The secret is using Ghee (clarified butter) instead of regular butter, which makes your popcorn overly soggy and not tasty.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn

2 T. Coconut oil

1/4 cup melted ghee

Himalayan pink salt to taste

Directions:

Heat a saucepan over high heat – I used a 3 qt saucepan.  Melt coconut oil completely.  (You could use a different type of oil, but you won’t taste it.  I was wary, but the popcorn did not have a coconut flavor at all.)  Dump in 1/2 cup popcorn kernels and shake around in pan to coat them with the oil.  When one kernel starts to pop, cover your pan so you don’t end up with popcorn all over your kitchen.

When the popping stops, dump your popcorn into a bowl and drizzle with melted ghee.  Add salt to taste and enjoy.

amy allen fitness star diamond beachbody coach

Eating Healthy With Kids

One of the things I hear all of the time as a health and fitness coach is “But what will I feed my family? I don’t want to make them eat what I am eating all the time…”

This has been especially true since the release of the 21 Day Fix. While following the program, you are learning HOW to eat. There are very specific things you can and cannot have, and it can be difficult to incorporate that into your family life, especially if you have picky kids. That is something I have struggled with as well.

21 day fix containers portion sizes control 21dayfix eating healthy with kids how can i

I homeschool so I am with my kids 24/7. And that means they eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack with me every day. Even if I wasn’t trying to follow a specific meal plan like the 21 Day Fix, preparing all those meals for three different picky children can be exhausting.

potatoe and leek pizza homemade picky kids how to eat healthy with kids

So a while back, I came up with a plan. I created a weekly meal plan for them, using healthy foods that they like (and are pretty easy to prepare from scratch). All of their breakfasts, lunches and snacks during the week are preplanned, and they are the same every week. In the morning, when they wake up, I tell them what the meals are for the day.

This actually saves me a ton of time and stress. I do make everything from scratch so I know what goes into it, but I make it up ahead of time because I already know what we will eat.  There is no arguing with my kids about what to eat, or thinking about it, or changing your mind. I’ve included all their favorites on the menu, and things the don’t like as well. So now I know what they are eating for every meal… That means I can plan my food schedule without having to worry about if they will like it or eat it.

Here is an example of what the kids weekly menu looks like:

amy allen fitness downloadable download meal plan for kids breakfast snack lunch dinner healthy wating with kids eating

You can download a blank copy of my Weekly Menu Plan here and plan your own weekly menu!

You may have noticed that the dinners are blank… as you can see above, I print this form off and put it in a plastic sleeve in our kitchen organization center, then I reuse it every week. I have already filled in the things that don’t change, but I leave our family meals blank so I can write them in. I’m not a short order cook, so the family eats whatever I make for dinner… so if I’m following the Ultimate Reset or the 21 Day Fix, everyone else is following that at dinner time as well. If they don’t like it, at least I know they ate during the day.

It’s nice because I can also customize this to my life. You’ll notice we go out to eat twice a week, every week. On Thursdays, we have a homeschool group, so I scheduled food that is quick and easy to pack for lunch.

As a side note, I will say that for years, people have told me that if kids are hungry enough, they will eat whatever you put in front of them.  I’m not saying that’s not true, but I know from my personal experience, it hasn’t worked that way.  My children are stubborn and they will choose not to eat for three days before they will try something they don’t want to.  So for me, this is a great compromise.  They are exposed to new foods at dinner, but the have enough healthy foods during the day that I know they aren’t starving if they choose not to eat what we are having.

So that’s my solution for healthy eating with kids. For my family, this has been one of the best things I have implemented and I hope it helps you!

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Grow your own Egghead Sprouts

After we grew our own organic sprouts a few weeks ago, Madison had the idea to grow eggheads.  I’m not sure where she saw this or how she came up with the idea, but its a great fun way to get your kids excited about eating something healthy and new, like sprouts, and it was a fun project for us to do together… and you know this healthy homeschool mama is always up for fun and messy projects to do with her kids.

Organic Egghead Sprouts

Ingredients:

1 egg

1 tsp organic sprouting seeds

water

all natural cotton

serrated knife

egg dish

markers

bowl

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

Step One:

Cut the top off your egg.  I’m sure there is a better, more efficient and more practical way to do this, but we just grabbed a serrated knife and literally sawed the top off of our eggs.  And it worked really well.  If you are doing this with kids, you might want to do it for them, and if you are kid reading this, have an adult help you cut the top off.

Step Two: 

Once you have a decent hole in the top of your egg (about 1/5 of the way down the egg), dump the whole egg into a bowl.  You can use it for breakfast.  Now you have an empty but dirty egg.

Step Three:

Rinse the inside of the egg really well.  I suggest using some dish soap – you’re going to be growing something edible, so make sure all the egg is gone.

Step Four:

Dry off your egg and draw a face on it.  We just used regular markers.  If you have an egg dish, that’s really handy, but if not you can cut off a portion of your egg carton to have something to hold you egg while the sprouts grow.  Now you have a pot made out of an eggshell – time to plant your sprouts.

Step Five:

Fill your egg with a bit of all natural damp cotton. It will be mostly full – 3/4 of the way or more – with cotton. Put about a tsp of sprouting seeds on top and pour water over your seeds, then drain it.  The seeds will be very close to the top of the shell.  You want the seeds to be damp but not soaking wet.

Step Six:

Water your seeds for the next few days – sprouts grow in about 2-5 days.  After 2 days our sprouts looked like this:

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

Remember to keep the seeds/sprouts damp everyday!  After four days, our sprouts looked like this:

making your own egghead with kids homeschool project organic sprouts

So after four days, they were long enough to EAT and enjoy on our salads.  You can pull them out or you can trim the tops and they will keep growing – the “hair” can get very long.  All three of my kids had a fun time pulling the sprouts out of the “head” and at least trying them – it’s fun, it’s healthy, and it’s a memory they will always enjoy.

Amy Allen star diamond coach

Organic Banana Pancakes

Yum Yum!

My husband and kids love pancakes, but I don’t like them at all… and I like making them even less now that we have started eating clean which means this mom doesn’t buy Bisquick anymore! Consequently, we rarely had pancakes until I found this recipe, which is perfect for making pancakes for my kids on a week day. The recipe only makes a few, which is great for a quick and healthy breakfast! And if my very picky eater loves them, they might be worth a try at your house…

Organic Banana Pancakes

  • 1 Organic Banana
  • 1 Organic Egg
  • 1 T. Organic Almond Butter
  • Optional – Chocolate chips

Just mix up the first three ingredients and pour on to a hot griddle. If I’m feeling like a nice mom and we happen to have any in the house, sometimes I’ll sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Once the first side has browned, flip to other side. Let that side brown, then enjoy!

A hot healthy breakfast in minutes!

Overdoing it

Okay, I can’t be the only oneIMG_0498 who does this. As soon as I found out I had cancer, I was scared. I was scared that I wouldn’t be there to raise my kids. I was scared that my two boys wouldn’t remember who I was. I was scared that someone else would help my daughter get ready for her wedding or be the one to hold my grandchildren.

So I overdid it.

If something happened to me, I wanted to make sure that I went out with a bang. I wanted to create memories that even if the boys didn’t remember, they could at least look back at the pictures and think of me. I wanted to take my daughter to her first concert, even through she was only eight because what if I wasn’t there to do it when she turned fifteen. I wanted to take my son to meet his favorite person in the world, Mickey Mouse. I wanted to dress up like The Incredibles for Halloween because we had the perfect family for it and what if I wasn’t there next year to do it with them? I wanted to create the biggest, best birthday parties my kids had ever had because what if it was the last one I had with them? I wanted to be there to see them do everything.

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And so I overdid it. Really, in just one short month, before I even started my chemotherapy, I packed it in.

I took Madison to her first concert, Taylor Swift. It was a surprise for her eighth birthday. We got makeovers and sang along at the top of our lungs.

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The whole family got in the car and drove to Disneyland so Mason could meet Mickey Mouse and have one last family vacation before starting what we expected to be a miserable six months. 

We didn’t dress up like the Incredibles that year. I ordered the costumes but the sizes didn’t match up… it just wasn’t meant to be in that time. But the costumes were bought and I let my husband know that they needed to be the Incredibles the next year if I wasn’t around. But I was. And we were.

IMG_9521 I had the BEST birthday parties ever. And I had always been a little extreme with cakes, but this year, I went over the edge. I set the standard high – I’m going to have to dial it back in over the next few years.

And do you know what positive thing came out of this? We lived. People always ask “What would you do if you knew this was your last day?” We lived like these were my last days. We created memories. And the experience taught me to appreciate life, to not take any time for granted, to not think that one day we’ll get around to it, to do it now before it’s too late. Each day is a gift. Unwrap it. And then go ahead and make the most of it.

Get in the picture!

Have you seen this article? It’s written by a photographer who wouldn’t get in front of the lens because she was ashamed of her weight. Or maybe this one? It’s a mom who realized that she was never in pictures with her kids. They didn’t like the way they looked and so they stayed out of the pictures. I think this is something that can happen so easily with cancer patients and survivors.

 

When I started to lose my hair, when it thinned out, when I got it cut so short, I stopped being in the pictures. I didn’t want to see myself that way. I can only think of one picture I have of myself when I was going through chemo. And I didn’t mean to be in it.

 

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This was at my middle son’s birthday party. He turned three in March, so I was about ¾ done with my treatment at this point. My hair was getting pretty thin and it had been quite a while since it had been colored. It wasn’t me. But you know what? He didn’t care. And from the other side of the journey, I regret it. Now there is a big period of my life, almost a year, where I stepped out of the picture. I was there, but I didn’t think I would want to remember it. But I do. And I regret not being in the picture.

Foreshadowing

I’ve noticed a trend in my life. Anytime I start to get complacent or cocky or think “that could never happen to me,” that exact thing happens to me.

 

For example, I watched Super Nanny one time – remember that show? And I remember thinking “I’m so lucky; my daughter would never act that way.” And later that day, she acted exactly that way, throwing an outrageous fit in front of my friends. Completely embarrassing.

 

Another example. I was at church one time, listening to someone asking for prayers because of a situation going on in their lives that required a lawyer. I specifically remember thinking how lucky I was that in my life I never dealt with situations like that, and that same day, I ended up needing a lawyer.

 

Seriously. This happens to me a lot. And when it happens, it’s like I need a lesson in humility.

 

A few days before my youngest son was born, my mom called me to tell me my grandfather had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We had a long conversation about what his treatment options were. I thought he shouldn’t even attempt chemo. I had seen what it does to people, especially older people, and I didn’t want to see him go through that. I thought he should just enjoy the rest of the life he had left. My mom disagreed. She thought he should have chemo and fight it, prolong life as long as he could.

 

I clearly remember thinking “I’m so glad I don’t have to make this decision.” I knew what I would do. I would fight. I had two (almost three!) kids to raise. They would need to know their mama. I didn’t want someone else to be their “mom.” But I never thought I would have to make that decision within a few months. I never expected to be going through chemo with my grandfather and comparing out war stories and our port scars. It was like a smack back to reality – don’t get too comfortable. Don’t get too cocky. Because that’s when the hard lessons have to be learned.

Telling your kids you have cancer

I have three kids. When I found the lump in my neck, my youngest was about three weeks old, my middle child was only two and my oldest was almost eight. Of course the younger two were too little to understand what was going on, but my daughter was scared. She didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t know what to say to her. Sitting down with her, trying to find a way to explain to her what cancer is, what it can do, and that I had it was one of the hardest things I have ever done and in retrospect I probably did it all wrong.

We found out I had cancer on a Friday. My husband took me to the doctor. When we got home, he went into work, shared with his boss the situation and was immediately sent home. On Sunday, we went to church and I shared that I had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and I wanted prayers right away. We had only lived in Arizona about three months so I was amazed at the outpouring of emotion I saw there. People were praying for me, hugging me, crying… there was an outpouring of emotion that was not at all what I had expected. Up until this point, I hadn’t really talked with my daughter about what was happening beyond saying I was sick, but when she saw people crying and hugging me, she started to realize the severity of the situation. At this point, I knew I should have talked with her prior to sharing it with other people. Hindsight is 20/20.

You never want to tell your kids you might be dying. I didn’t want to scare her. I never mentioned the word cancer or talked about dying, although she eventually realized that lymphoma is cancer and cancer is deadly. But I never said I wouldn’t die either. I didn’t want to lie, and that’s a real possibility when you have cancer. Ultimately, I just shared that I had something called lymphoma, and that even though I didn’t look or feel sick right now, there was a sickness in my body that I had to fight. And that fight, going through chemo, was going to make me a lot sicker before I got better. I think presenting it that way was a good way to explain it – she was prepared for me to be sick and knew that it was normal, nothing to be scared about.

Now we are past it, I have been trying to pay it forward. My husband, the kids, and I participate in walks to raise money for Lymphoma research and I think it really increases their awareness of how many people this affects. Being diagnosed with cancer is not something that just happened to us – it’s something that changed our lives – and from the other side of that journey, I can see that it was a blessing. Nothing but good has come from this and now I want to make sure that my kids can see that. Even in times of adversity, search for the positive.

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