Healthy Snack Idea – Grover’s Broccoli Trees

January 16, 2012


Help Your Furry Pal Grover Find the Broccoli Trees!

These muffins are like hide-and-seek in the kitchen! Kids will love finding the surprise “tree” in every “haystack.”


• 1 small broccoli, in florets
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tbsp water
• 1 tsp salt

Cook Time: Makes: 15 min 12 haystacks

• 1 cup low-fat milk
• 1 cup whole grain cornmeal
• 2 eggs
• 1⁄4 cup sugar
• 1⁄4 cup butter, melted
• 1 cup all-purpose flour

These muffins are like hide-and-seek in the kitchen! Kids will love finding the  surprise “tree” in every “haystack.”


Step 1: Things You’ll Need

Gather these ingredients to make Grover’s Broccoli Trees in Haystacks.

Step 2: Turn Up the Heat

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease 12 standard (2 1⁄2 inch) muffin cups, or line with paper baking cups.

Step 3: Prepare the Trees

Steam until tender or Place the broccoli and water in a microwavable dish. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.

Step 4: Mix It Up

Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Little Hands Tip: Point out that these are all dry ingredients.

Step 5: Count and Stir

Stir together the milk, eggs, and butter in a medium bowl. Little Hands Tip: Count each stir. How many stirs does it take until blended?

Step 6: Wet and Dry

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Little Hands Tip: Talk about how wet and dry are opposites.

Step 7: Spoon It Up

Stir just until moistened. Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into each of the muffin cups.

Step 8: Plant the Trees

Place one piece of broccoli (a “tree”) in each cup. Little Hands Tip: What color is broccoli? What other vegetables have the same color?

Step 9: Hide the Trees

Spoon additional batter into each cup, filling them about 3⁄4 full.

Step 10: Bake and Serve

Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Step 11: Dig In Everybodeeeee!

Enjoy these hide-and-seek treats like your pal Grover does! Broccoli should always be this much fun!

Cambridge Nanny Group
4707 N Broadway
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640
Telephone: 773-856-5525 


How Much Maternity Leave to Take

January 7, 2012

How much maternity leave should you take? It’s hard to know when you’ll go on maternity leave and when you’ll want to return. U.S. law gives you 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but some new moms can’t afford to go that long without a paycheck. Others may want to request additional maternity leave.

These steps will help you figure out mow much maternity leave to request. Take your time sorting through the choices – pregnancy leave is a special bonding time. Maternity leave is also an important opportunity to recover physically from birth and to adjust to life with a newborn.

Here’s How:

Read through your employee handbook and your employer’s policies and procedures to see how much (if any) paid maternity leave you will receive. Your employer may even provide a form maternity leave memo that you can simply fill in.

Speak with other working moms at your company to see what length of maternity leave worked for them. Ask what they would’ve done differently and how they stayed connected to work during their leave.
Crunch your budget to see how much leave you can afford to take. Make sure to understand how the length of your leave might affect your employer-provided health insurance, if relevant.

Discuss leave plans with your spouse , partner, or family to see if another adult could take leave after your leave ends to save money on child care and extend your baby’s time being cared for by a family member.

Decide whether you want to write a maternity leave letter that proposes returning to work on a part-time basis or working from home during the end of your maternity leave. These options may appeal if you can’t afford to take as long a leave as you’d like but you want to extend your time at home with your baby. Negotiating flexible hours may seem intimidating, but you never know unless you ask.


The longer maternity leave you take, the less sleep-deprived you will be when you return to work. Depending on your job, it may even be dangerous to return to work too soon.

Many new moms require 6 weeks to fully recover from the physical effects of giving birth. It make take another 2 or 3 months before you get even 4-hour stretches of sleep at night, depending on your baby. Some babies will sleep for 5 or 6 hours at a time when they’re 4 months old – some don’t do so until 8 months or later.

It’s easier to cut short maternity leave than to extend it. You may want to overestimate how much leave you want, in case you end up needing more than you think.

Remember that giving birth can be unpredictable. You don’t know what your health or the baby’s health will be like immediately after delivery. If your newborn ends up in the neo-natal intensive care unit, the last thing you want to be thinking about is calling your boss to request more leave.

This is a good time to show your commitment to your job. Some employers think pregnant moms have one foot out the door. You need to keep your performance as high-quality as possible, so as not to leave a bad impression before going on maternity leave.

You may be torn about whether you’ll want to return to work. Do not share these doubts with your supervisor or colleagues, even your close friends at work. You never know what may happen with your finances or career goals post-partum, so keep your options open.

Know your rights. It’s illegal for employers to fire women because they become pregnant or take maternity leave. But, companies can let you go if it’s part of an overall reduction in workforce or for cause. Make sure you don’t give them a reason to give you a pink slip.

If you suspect pregnancy discrimination, consult a lawyer or the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

What You Need:

–Your employee handbook or manual of policies and procedures.
–Contact information for other working moms at your company.
–Your monthly household budget.
–Internet connection or directories to research child care in your area.

Katherine Lewis

Katherine Lewis
Working Moms Guide

Cambridge Nanny Group
4707 N Broadway
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640
Telephone: 773-856-5525 


Winter Soup Ideas

January 2, 2012

A hearty bowl of hot soup is great on a cold, winter’s day.  Here is the recipe for a glorious Thai Chicken Soup that silky and sublime and a hearty Tuscan Bean Soup.  Be sure to decrease or omit the serrano chili’s if you don’t like heat.

Thai-Style Chicken Soup
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 4

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
3 lemon grass stalks, bottom tender 5 inches halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
3 shallots, chopped
8 sprigs of cilantro, chopped coarsely
3 tablespoons soy sauce (originally fish sauce)
4 cups vegetable broth (originally chicken broth)
2 (14-ounce) cans coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
½ pound button mushrooms, sliced
1 pound seitan, sliced or cubed (originally boneless, skinless chicken breast)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

½ cup cilantro leaves
2 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
2 scallion, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan and add lemon grass, shallots, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Cook over medium heat until softened, 2-5 minutes.
  • Add vegetable broth and 1 can of coconut milk; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Pour broth through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Return broth to saucepan.
  • Add remaining can of coconut milk and sugar to broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms, and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Add seitan, and cook for another 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Combine lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a small bowl; add to soup.
  • Garnish individual soup-filled bowls with cilantro, chiles, and scallions. Serve soup with lime wedges

Tuscan Bean Soup
Adapted from Emeril
serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups of yellow onions – diced
  • 1 cup of celery – diced
  • 1 cup of carrots – diced
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 ounce) – rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (15.5 ounce) – rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of chick peas (15.5 ounce) – rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (14-ounce)
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil
  • 8 ounces of baby spinach – washed

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes.

Finely chop the FRESH rosemary, thyme, and basil and add them to the pot.

Add the diced tomatoes, the kidney beans, cannellini beans, chick peas, and the chicken stock.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn down heat to simmer. Simmer for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the spinach, and recover the pot. It will take approximately 1-2 minutes for the spinach to wilt.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Cambridge Nanny Group
4707 N Broadway
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640
Telephone: 773-856-5525 


Take the Pledge

Support with Integrity

Women who choose to breastfeed deserve unified support from other breastfeeding mamas, organizations, professionals and helpful friends. The ultimate goal is to have a happy, healthy mama and a happy, healthy — well-fed — baby.

Take the pledge to agree to stand together for breastfeeding success and to support all mamas who desire to breastfeed, no matter what technique, position, frequency, equipment, duration or organization she chooses.

Support with Integrity Pledge
• I PLEDGE to use my energy to help defuse dogmatic battles about what technique, position, frequency, equipment, duration or organization a woman chooses for breastfeeding. I affirm that my time is best spent directing my positive, encouraging support toward helping mamas successfully breastfeed.

• I PLEDGE to keep my ego in check, while treating other breastfeeding boosters, lactation facilitators, breastfeeding organizations, and mothers respectfully, knowing that we’re all working toward the common goal of providing breast milk for babies. I also welcome respectful disagreement with my own opinions and accept that disruptive disagreement is counter to the goal of helping mamas feed their babies.

• I PLEDGE to agree that there are many right ways to breastfeed a baby. A breastfeeding mother should not feel pressure or judgment to perform a specific way. There isn’t a “wrong way” as long as the breast milk is flowin’ and the baby is growin’.

By displaying the Support with Integrity badge and signing the pledge, I agree to hold hands and help mamas get what they need to make breastfeeding work for them, no matter how they choose to do it. If a mama and baby are making it work, I’ll stand and cheer them on from the sidelines.

Caveat: This is not a place to judge those who choose not to or cannot breastfeed. This is a pledge to be supportive of all those who choose to support breastfeeding.

Cambridge Nanny Group
4707 N Broadway
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60640
Telephone: 773-856-5525