summer

  • Summer Reading Tips

    I have always loved to read. Even as a kid I was never pushed to read. Give me a good book any day and I’ll get sucked right into it. Reading has many benefits that can especially help with brain development. The United States Department of Education found that children who choose to read on their own time are more likely to score higher on reading scores than those who don’t (from the National Education Association). The Department had polled 12th-grade students in the 1990s and found out that the number of students who said that they “never” read or “hardly ever read” rose from 9 to 16 percent (National Education Association). Most kids have a hard time getting excited about reading: when it’s assigned to them, it feels like a chore, and when it’s on their own time, it seems boring.

    “Incentives”

    Fortunately, there are always so many ways to help your child get excited about reading over the summer. Many organizations and companies have summer reading programs. For example, T.D. Bank will give $10 to kids in grades K-5th who have read 10 books over the summer months. The kids just have to track their reading on a sheet and hand it into their nearest bank (you can find the information here). The organization We Are Teachers posted a list of 10 programs that they love on their blog. It includes programs from companies like Barnes and Noble, Scholastic, and Chuck E. Cheese.

    Ideas

    We Are Teachers also suggests checking out your local public library. Public libraries will always have summer reading activities for kids of all ages. For example, the Princeton Public Library offers a program for kids ages K-5th, while the Woodbridge Public Library offers an escape room type activity for teenagers. The libraries have great programs that will not only get your kids reading, but will have them getting involved with their community as well.

    If your child is struggling to find something to read, Read Brightly has created their own list of what they think were the best children’s and YA books of 2018. Surely, your kid will find something to read on this list.

    Activites

    If you want to plan out an entire summer’s worth of reading, Reading Rockets has a list of activities and adventures that you can do with your kid over the 10 weeks of summer. These activities are more educational and help maintain reading skills over the summer months. One activity involves writing out favorite flavors of ice cream and listing them in alphabetical order. These are great activities for younger kids who are just developing their reading skills.

     

    Summer reading doesn’t have to be hard. There are so many helpful and amazing ways to get your kids’ minds active, and still make sure that their season off is one to remember.

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  • Summer Barbecue Ideas for Non-Meat Eaters

    One of the best things about summer is the backyard barbecues. It’s so great to get together with friends and family and enjoy each other’s company and – of course – the food. Barbecuing is common because the food preparation and cook time are usually pretty simple. All you have to do is throw a couples burgers and hot dogs on the grill and you’re done. However, burgers and dogs aren’t the crowd pleasers that they used to be. I am a pescetarian, I eat fish but no other meats. Sometimes I feel left out at barbecues and other social gatherings because there usually aren’t any options that I can eat and enjoy. According to a study done by Credit Donkey in 2015, about 16 million Americans are vegetarian. Rise of the Vegan says that now 6% of the American population is now vegan. The pescetarian diet has also become very popular and keeps growing as well. Having non-meat meal options are now essential to the perfect barbecue.

     

    Here are my recommendations for great non-meat barbecue food, from one pescetarian to all the other non-meat eaters:

     

    Seafood:

    It’s really easy to grill fish and other kinds of seafood. Shrimp skewers are always popular and are easy to prepare. Bobby Flay has a recipe made with soy sauce and ginger – for a more Asian style flavor. All you have to do is marinate the shrimp and then grill and serve. Here is the recipe.

     

    Pasta Salad

    Whenever I go to my family’s barbecue, I always look forward to my mom’s pasta salad. It’s made with rotini pasta, roasted red peppers, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots, and shredded mozzarella cheese. It’s usually served cold and is completely vegetarian. To make it a vegan option, put the cheese on the side and let guests sprinkle it into the pasta. I love this dish because it’s refreshing, light, and easy to prepare and serve.

     

    Dips

    With any good barbecue, you can’t forget about appetizers. Guacamole and mango salsa served with tortilla chips are fun options, and are completely vegan. Inspiredtaste.net has a guac recipe that I really enjoy. They suggest to add tomatoes to the dip for an extra flavor and to leave the overall product chunky instead of creamy. I personally like guacamole that is left chunky because it keeps the flavor alive, and you can really taste all the ingredients. Here is the recipe. Food blogger Kate has a recipe for mango salsa that includes red peppers, a jalapeno, and cilantro for added flavor. It’s a fresh and ripe recipe with an extra kick that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Here is the recipe.

     

    Desserts

    No barbecue is complete without dessert. The blog A Virtual Vegan has a list of vegan-friendly summer desserts. My personal favorite is the chocolate and raspberry brownies. Here is the website with all the ideas.

     

    What I love about barbecues is that it’s a great way to bring people together for a summer afternoon. And you want everyone that goes to the barbecue to feel included by having food options that everyone will enjoy. I hope these recipes serve you well and are liked by your crowd.

     

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