Oh my goodness, I am hooked on this kale salad recipe! Seriously, this is my new favorite lunch. I actually call this recipe Autumn Awesomeness, but I’ve been eating it all year round. There is something about all the flavors blending so well, crispy curly kale, roasted butternut squash cubes, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, olive oil…and salt. And my mouth is watering once again. This is a super easy recipe with quick clean-up and is packed with nutrition.
More about kale
Curly kale is nutrient-dense. I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just mention the big kale benefits. Per Healthline, curly kale is a huge source of antioxidants, antioxidants fight off free radicals in the body. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting. Kale is a source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium! And get this, it even helps us lose weight.
I’m not a big fan of it raw, but I LOVE it crisped up in a pan, especially with a little…do I even say it?…bacon. Be sure to buy organic. The non-organic is has pesticides on it and is one of the Dirty Dozen foods. You can read more about it here. Spend the extra bucks on organic. I know it’s hard but here’s a post on how to save money at the grocery store, so everything balances out!
What’s up with Butternut Squash?
Butternut Squash is my favorite squash. It’s easy to digest and has great flavor. This squash is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A, E, folate, and B-6. It helps lower blood pressure, cancer risk, and asthma. Butternut squash is also great for your hair, skin, and immune system.
Roasting it in the oven with a little olive oil and salt is my favorite way to cook it. I’ve also had it mashed, which is delightful, especially with a little butter or non-dairy butter. Yum!
This is a great recipe for us folks who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like Crohn’s or colitis. With all the ingredients cooked, it makes it a lot easier for our systems to digest and absorb the nutrients.
Tools needed for this dish
The number one tool for this dish is the trusty cast-iron pan. It gives the food an extra layer of flavor. Believe me, I’ve done a lot of research on what pan is the healthiest to cook with. One that won’t leach chemicals, aluminum, or Teflon into my food and the cast iron wins every time! It may be heavy, but it’s extremely low maintenance. In fact, if you’re anemic (iron deficient) it helps put a little iron in your system.
One more thing about the cast iron pan, it’s SUPER easy to clean, and no soap is required. Seriously, with no soap, you’ll wreck the ‘seasoning’ of the pan. I highly recommend getting a cast iron pan, even if it’s a small one. You can find them on Amazon.
Other ingredients and variations
As for other ingredients, I recommend grilled chicken breast. You can opt for already cooked or make it yourself. When I’m in a hurry I’ll buy the already-grilled chicken strips or a rotisserie chicken. Or if I’m in a BIG hurry I’ll just microwave gluten-free chicken nuggets.
The piece that brings it all together for me is the olive oil. I use a little bit in the pan for the kale, and then at the end to finish the dish. I absolutely love the flavor it brings to each ingredient. My favorite, hands-down olive oil is California Ranch Olive Oil. It’s 100% olive oil. With that said, be sure you get an olive oil you trust is 100%. We don’t need no stinkin’ canola or vegetable oil fillers. For more on oils read my post about omegas.
Variations to the recipe. This is such a versatile recipe that any protein would work: brats, strips of steak, shrimp, or bacon. Adding a thinly sliced red onion also adds more depth. Enjoy!
This is an amazingly healthy yet tasty dish for lunch or dinner. The chard kale and roasted butternut squash complement each other, while the dried cranberries make it pop. This is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free!
4Strips of grilled chicken or 4 GF Chicken nuggets
2TBSPDried Cranberries or Cherries
3 TBSPOlive Oil1TBSP for frying kale, 2 TBSP for topping at the end
Heat cast iron pan on low.
Wash thoroughly, pat dry, remove stalks, and chop. Put chopped kale into the pan. Then add 1 TBSP olive oil. It might get messy and splatter if kale is not dried off. Be careful.
I pre-roast an entire cubed squash. 350 for 40 minutes. Just toss a little olive oil and salt in before baking. Tip: Costco usually has raw cubed squash. Do not use frozen squash! You can also peel and cube your own squash.
After kale is charred and well cooked, wrap a dish towel around the cast iron panhandle and put kale on a plate.
Take leftover chicken, pre-cooked grilled chicken (Costco), or Gluten-free chicken nuggets. Microwave for the allotted time, or cook in your cast iron pan to warm. When done, put on top of kale.
Add squash to kale and chicken. Sprinkle dried cranberries on top. Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Delish!
For added flavor, add thinly sliced red onion, roasted pecans, or crispy bacon!
Calories may vary on chicken type and the amount you use.
Be sure to check out my other simple and delicious recipes!
Some people are born smart, others learn how to be smart. Being smart isn’t an amazing test score, that just says you can take a test. Being smart is how to navigate through this world with the intent of making it a better place. We are reminded of stories of people who become self-made millionaires with only a high school diploma. How to be smart has nothing to do with your GPA. But it does have to do with skill and navigation, not to mention aligning your passion with your work. So how do we learn this and how do we teach our young children?
How to be smart
A skill every child and adult can develop is how to learn to be aware of their surroundings. We are naturally born with instinct; however, if you really want to succeed in life, you must learn how to pay attention. With phones, electronics, and puberty, learning how to pay attention is hard for a kid. It’s also frustrating for a parent!
This life lesson of being aware of our surroundings can enhance our ability to succeed in communication, life skills, and survival in many different situations. I’ll teach you how to help your child and yourself become more aware of using your eyes and ears and how sight and sound play an important part in how to be smart.
A fun way to get started
“Shh…walk softly on the dock, we don’t want to scare the fish,” my dad instructed. It was a summer morning. The lake was like glass, not a movement of the wind. Today, at seven years old, I was going to learn how to fish. And the most important fish skill of all: awareness. Some fishermen would argue with me and say patience or the type of bait is more important, but truly it comes down to paying attention. For instance; how do you know what bait to use? How do you know where to fish? Because you are aware of how the fish responds.
We got into our boat, started the motor, and trolled to our fishing spot. My dad whispered instructions on how to bait the hook. He showed me how to adjust the bobber, and he demonstrated how to be quiet watching for signs of a hungry fish.
I wasn’t just learning how to fish; I was learning how to become more aware of my surroundings.
What exactly does it mean to “be aware”?
Wikipedia explains it like this: Awareness is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.
As the world drives to go faster, it’s hard to take it all in, but knowing what to look for can make you a heck of a lot smarter than others around you. The trap we get ourselves into is that we get so focused on our to-do lists, phones, and work that we forget to stop and look around to see what’s happening in our relationships, our children, and our overall path in life. And we wonder why nothing is changing.
There were two major events that helped me understand how important it was to be aware of my surroundings. One was fishing. The other was when I endured a rare sickness.
How being sick helped me
How to be smart doesn’t always come naturally; it is a skill that can be learned. When I was pregnant with my son I had a rare pregnancy disease that robbed me of energy, joy, and time. My body suffered, so much so, the tiniest movements made me vomit. For months on end, I was nauseous, weak, and dumbfounded that this was happening to me. Not only that but my body was snatched of nutrients and vitamins, so much so, my body was actually eating itself. Have you ever heard of muscle wasting? That’s when your body eats itself because you’re not getting enough nutrition from food…in which food wasn’t staying down. It was extremely difficult for others to understand what I was going through, especially if they had been pregnant before without having issues. Just remember everybody is not the same.
However, this is how my sickness helped me. While going through this torturing sickness I noticed the love and compassion of others. Never had I paid attention to it before because I wasn’t the receiver of it. My awareness of how powerful a card was, how impactful a visit was, how humbling a listening ear was, and how a small smile from a stranger made me feel gave me joy, it gave me hope, and it taught me what really matters in this world.
Not only that, but I also became more aware of the power and reality of spiritual presence. My faith grew stronger every day I suffered; I became more aware of His grace and protection. But I had to seek Him to get it. If I hadn’t endured this suffering my eyes would have missed these little gems of light in our broken world.
How to be smart with your eyes and ears
Open your eyes
You probably were thinking you’d get a list of sudoku puzzles or crossword puzzles to make you smarter, yes those games will exercise your brain, but they don’t teach you how to love or sense that others around you are dying for a “hello”. With that said, open your eyes and learn how to look for things. This can help your kids and your teens for that matter.
The simple exercise helps us to pay attention to even the smallest details. Do you know those “Hidden Picture” games in kid magazines? Or the Where’s Waldo books? These games are great exercises for enhancing our skills of paying attention. I would qualify myself as a Master Finder, not only in these games but in finding things around the house and in the store. Having the challenge to find something gets me going. This may sound silly and childish, but these games work to help you become more aware.
Lately, my tween son is in that phase of asking me where everything is. My answer varies from, “It’s your responsibility to keep track of your own stuff” to “If you can’t find it, you can’t have it.” When in fact the item he is looking for is literally right in front of his face. I’m not trying to be mean by not helping him find it, I’m trying to teach him the skill of looking.
How to be smart at finding things
Tip #1: when finding certain objects whether it be inside or outside, look for a piece of the object, not just the whole thing. Rarely is the entire object going to be visible. Look for a part of it. This technique works for fishing and hunting too.
Tip #2:envision yourself finding it. What reaction will you have? Will you pause and whisper to yourself that you found it or will you yell in excitement? Visualize yourself finding the object.
Tip #3: Lastly, but firstly, pray to God to help you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. He knows exactly where it is, so why not ask him to help you find it? Most importantly, listen for his hints of where to look.
Seriously these tips work. It not only applies to finding objects, but it helps you to know how to look for things or pick up on cues from others. It’s all in the details.
Use your ears
Like using your eyes, use your ears too. Ears come in handy when it’s dark or when you’re lost in the woods. I know this is obvious and basic, but life is fast and there are some things we just plain forget to tell our children. Have you heard the lesson about listening for the road when you’re lost in the woods? How about listening for a car coming when you’re riding your bike on the road?
When talking with others, listening is key to becoming smarter. In fact, if you shut your mouth and let the other person talk, you’re already smart. People who talk a lot generally have lower self-esteem. Just know that gives you an understanding and a direction in how to navigate the conversation. While you’re listening to others talk, ask them questions, be curious, they obviously need something, and having you listen to them is just what they might need. This, folks, is smart. Help your friend get out what they need to and help them come to their own conclusion in solving their problem.
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett
Tips with listening
Tip #1: If you’re in a strange place, unplug the earbuds. Pay attention to the sounds around you.
Tip #2: If you’re having a conversation with someone, listen to what they’re trying to tell you. There is more behind the words they say. Like when I was enduring the sickness. People understood that what I was really telling them was that I felt alone and needed comfort. Be aware of what they’re really trying to say, then act on it.
Tip #3: As in fishing or hunting, use your ears for clues of where they are. Is there a splash in the water? Are there leaves rustling or twigs snapping?
Wrapping this all up
Be aware of the peace that is offered daily by nature, the kindness that is freely given by others, and the small blessings that are awarded without reason. This, my friends, is how to be smart. I encourage you to stop and look around; for I know you’ll be amazed by what you see and find and to build this skill as much as possible, for it will help you in more ways than one.
Hold on to your apron for this amazing gluten-free no-bake cookie recipe with coconut! It’s actually one of the healthiest cookies for school lunches and after-school snacks! They taste so good, you wouldn’t even know it. These are easy to make and are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free. Learn the benefits of coconut, peanut butter, and more!
Cookies are one of my absolute favorite food. So when I had to change my diet to gluten-free, you better believe I got a little depressed! Let’s face it gluten-free cookies are not the same as chewy gluten-filled cookies. But we gluten-free consumers need to work with what we got.
What does gluten even do in cookies?
What gluten does for cookies, is that it helps hold things together. There have been countless attempts in making the perfect gluten-free cookie. Problems arise when it crumbles in your hand and clumps up your mouth along with an occasional crumb going down the wrong pipe. It boils down to the flour. Gluten-free flour can be tricky. In my kitchen, we have done a lot of experimenting! However, in this gluten-free no-back cookie recipe with coconut, there is zero flour.
Easy Peasy Making
This is probably my favorite gluten-free savory cookie. On a hot summer day, the oven stays off. What I love about no bake cookies is that you can easily make these cookies camping or in a hotel room These decadent cookies melt in your mouth and feel sinful to eat, but they aren’t!
Peanut Butter Benefits
Peanut butter has been around since only 1904. It was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair. It was used as a protein source for World War I and World War II.
Not only is peanut butter a good source of protein, but it also contains omega-3 fats. It is a good source of vitamin E, vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium. Believe it or not, it also has copper in it!
Peanut butter is good for your heart; it can help reduce the risk of diabetes, and it even has some anticancer properties.
Where to buy peanut butter
The best kind of peanut butter to buy is organic. Organic peanut butter doesn’t have any added trans fats, sugars, or other hydrogenated oils. When those extra things are added to peanut butter, there are NO health benefits; in fact, it’s the opposite. Hydrogenated oils increase omega-6s, and when you get too much of a good thing (omega-6) it makes it bad for your body and may cause weight gain along with inflammation. Yikes!
Spend the extra money and buy organic! Organic peanut butter is simply organic peanuts and salt. Please read the labels on your peanut butter, it makes a huge difference. I personally like the Costco brand, Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter. Plus, I store my peanut butter in the refrigerator.
What’s up with Coconut?
Coconut is so incredibly healthy for you. These cookies have coconut oil, coconut milk, and organic shredded coconut. Coconut oil may be 90% saturated fat, but the highest in content of lauric acid, which in a twisted way can help improve the level of lipids traveling through the blood. That means it is likely it will reduce the risk of heart disease! That sounds pretty technical, but I wanted to share this with you because I eat this every day. Why not add it this gluten-free no-back cookie recipe? Here are some more coconut benefits:
15 Benefits of Coconut
1. It helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.
2. It can help treat Alzheimer’s.
3. It BE good for the old liver.
4. Reduces Inflammation and Arthritis
5. It’s antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral! Works well on cuts and skin issues.
6. Improves energy
7. It helps the gut heal by destroying bad bacteria and that nasty Candida (yeast overgrowth).
8. Prevents Osteoporosis by helping to increase the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
9. It’s Anti-aging. Now we’re talkin’!
10. It helps balance hormones naturally. Now we’re really talkin’!
11. Thickens hair and helps with dandruff. It’s a natural
12. It helps improve sleep when consumed every day.
13. It can help with environmental allergies if you rub the inside of your nose with it.
14. Speeds up the healing of sunburn.
15. It’s an amazing oil to make homemade popcorn with. Just sub coconut oil in place of your other oil. Yum!
When buying coconut oil get the Virgin, Unrefined. We get our coconut oil from Costco because we go through quite a bit. If you don’t have a Costco Membership, no problem! You can get it on Amazon. I highly recommend this product, especially if you use a lot of it.
Let’s get to the gluten-free no-bake cookie recipe with coconut!
Get all your ingredients out and ready to go. This goes kind of quickly!
Size a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper over a cookie sheet.
With a food processor or handheld pulser, process the oats with a few good pluses. This makes the oats easier to chew and digest. If you like the oats whole, skip this step.
In a saucepan, turn heat to medium and add the coconut oil.
Slowly add the maple syrup, honey, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Using a whisk, stir the mixture.
Add the peanut butter and continue to whisk. Then add the cocoa. Keep whisking!
Bring to a slow boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
Stir in the oats.
Add the shredded coconut.
Using a spoon, scoop mixture onto the cookie sheet to desired size, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.
After at least 60 minutes, remove and put cookies in a baggie for storage in the frig. Or, simply enjoy your amazing no-bake cookies!
Calories are an educational guess, this depends on how large you make your cookies. I based the calories on a cookie the size of the palm of a hand or 3-inch diameter. If you want to cool the cookies faster, put them in the freezer for about 30 – 40 minutes.Store cookies in the frig. for up to 10 days. NOTE: I experimented with organic sugar cane instead of syrup and honey, and it didn’t work for me. While in the saucepan it became frothy and gave the cookies a grainy texture and burnt-like taste.
All in all
This gluten-free no-bake cookie recipe with coconut is a perfect 3:00 pm snack at work, after school, or even for breakfast. I’ve been known to eat one after a workout; it’s healthy, full of protein, and has just the right amount of carbs and benefits from coconut. Note, I have not tried these with almond butter or cashew butter, but I’m sure it would work beautifully. Enjoy!
Be sure to check out my other sweet treats!
All are gluten-free and dairy-free. Simple and delicious.
Need some fresh kid activities at home? There are three words that wreak havoc on a busy mom, “Mom, I’m bored”. Remember we’ve all been there as kids too. Bored is not a bad thing, but it’s a lot more fun when we can spark an interest in our kids and get them out of their funk. Here are 10 fresh ideas you can pass on to your kids and even teenagers!
Chores are not what they’re looking for…
Mom is great for thinking up solutions to boredom questions. A few ideas I like to rattle off to my son are: clean your room, organize your closet, dig a hole, read, vacuum the living room, wash windows, sweep the driveway…and the chore list keeps building. But chores are not what a kid wants to do when they are bored.
Outside fun to cure the ‘bored’!
During the pandemic the phrase, ‘I’m bored”, went from hearing it three times a day to 20 times a day! We, moms, get so sick and tired of hearing it. And yes, we can say to them to go outside and play; there is nothing wrong with that. They’ll find something to do in God’s creation.
In fact, the Outdoor Industry Association states in their study, “Reconnecting youth with the outdoors has become critical to the health of future generations and the health of our natural landscapes.” Getting outside is HUGE for our kiddos. Take a gander at these nature quotes and understand the power of the outdoors. Please encourage them to do so. To help you out I created a slew of printables for kids that encourage them to learn more about the outdoors and have fun doing it.
10 kid activities at home
1) Make them laugh.
When they say “I’m bored” reply with “Hi Bored. I’m Mom, how are you doing today?” Encourage them to read some jokes or to create three new jokes for supper time. Try to avoid the eye roll or a harsh reply. Instead, give them a tickle in their side and tell them you want a comedy show after supper. Reiterate their creativity and how funny they are. I created Lunchbox Note Jokes to get them giggling. These are fantastic Dad jokes.
2) Create a talent show.
Speaking of shows. My family enjoys watching talent shows on TV. Why not have your own talent show? Have your kids put together their very own talent show? They can do multiple talents and practice, practice, practice. Have them make a talent show sign, tickets, a curtain, and maybe even create a theme song or commercial! This is super fun. Kids can do magic tricks, dance, sing, do bike tricks, trampoline routines, swimming tricks, trick shots, drawing, card tricks, jump rope, chalk art, you name it. Golly, I want my son to do a talent show now!
3) Restaurant fun!
Have them play restaurant for real. This isn’t necessarily a chore. But have them cook dinner, complete with menu, table service, and multiple courses. They’ll need an appetizer, soup or salad, main meal, and dessert. If they aren’t old enough to cook, have them make a pretend meal and menu.
4) Get out the scavenger hunt on steroids
Get them busy with a scavenger hunt. There are many scavenger hunt printables out there, or you can simply create your own, it only takes a few minutes. If you have older kids I highly recommend my very own Scavenger Hunt Challenge! This involves a little bit of set-up, but it will keep them busy for three hours, yes 180 minutes. Personally, I found it very fun to watch. This is a fun teenager activity, seriously, it is! You can download this hunt by subscribing to my newsletter, you’ll find it in my Freebies!
5) Write stories or comics
Some kids love to read, others do not. My son is the NOT one. Instead of reading, have them create a comic book with pictures and bubble text. Give them ideas of what to write about by what your child likes. Is he/she into gaming? Pizza? Sports? Robots? Hunting? Cooking? You can get these blank comic books on Amazon to help guide them into making a masterpiece! My son made a whole series of comics about his superpower and his superpower friends. It was hilarious! To get the juices flowing read them their favorite children’s books. On that note, check out my new children’s book, INK!
6) Photography at its finest
If you want them off the gaming, turn on camera mode. Have them head outside and take pictures of what’s going on around them. You can ask for a gallery of photos that you all can review at dinner time. Have them take pictures of leaves, flowers, wildlife or bugs, or anything blue, yellow, or red. They can create a game with photos too; for instance, you have them take 10 pictures and you have to guess what they all have in common…like things that move, things that fly, etc. Don’t want them to have a phone in hand? We had gotten our son this fun children’s camera. It worked great and he absolutely loved it!
7)Obstacle course to the rescue
Have them create an obstacle course. With American Ninja Warrior going on, this is super fun for kids. Essentially, sidewalk chalk can go a long way here. They can draw different jumps, hopscotch boards, cartwheel areas, and walk on a line. The kids can set up things to climb and jump over. If you have a play structure or live by a school or playground they can do things there. They can even pretend to not touch the ground as one of their obstacles!
If you have an older kid or teenager who can navigate a phone and a playlist, have them create a playlist for YOU! This can take them forever but it also helps them feel needed and special.
9) Puzzles and Printables
As I mentioned earlier, have them do puzzles. I created some amazing activity pages for kids that will keep them busy and have fun doing it. My activity pages include camping, fishing, fireflies, trees, sports, and more. They are fun to do as a family too! You can find them all here.
10) Start a business
Have them think of a business and plan it. They could start a coloring business, mowing business, flower arranging, baking, trick show business, LEGO building business, video making, practice being a nurse, toy cleaning gig, toy fixing, dog walking, swing-set testing, Hot Wheels cleaning, cookie baking, you name it. Make sure you have your kids write down their income and expenses so they can learn how to keep track. For more money management tips, check out this post!
BONUS IDEA! This has been one of my favorite kid activities at home EVER! Create your very own putt-putt golf course around the yard or at a park. All you need is a putter, a few golf balls, and a cup or a piece of yarn to make a “hole”. Seriously, this is fun for your toddler to teenager.
And don’t forget to camp in the backyard! What a fun activity for all your kids and your dog. Pop up a tent and roast some hotdogs on a fire. Here are some ways to camp more comfortable!
Wrapping up kid activities at home
There you go! Ten ways, plus a bonus, to answer the dreaded “Mom, I’m bored”. Remember kids are kids, they haven’t been exposed to all the fun things you have done in life yet. The best way to make kid activities at home a win is to be happy, thankful for their honesty, and to encourage their creativity. Be sure to check out some of my favorite family games and children’s books to read as a family!
Camp more comfortable by asking yourself, “What’s the purpose of the camping trip?” This should be the first thing you do before you start packing. Are you going to lay in the sun at the beach, hike in the woods, rock climb, swim, fish, or relax by the fire? Knowing the answer to this will help you pack efficiently and wisely. In this post, we’re going to talk about shelter, sleeping, cooking, water, activities, hygiene, and coffee. Let’s reduce stress and get camping comfy style!
Why is getting out in nature so important?
First and foremost, nature heals. We are creatures who not only depend on nature for our survival, but it nourishes our souls and reduces stress. According to “Nature’s Nurture” by Wendy Helfenbaum, an article in the Costco Connection it says that nature decreases anxiety and negative thinking. It goes on to say that outdoor activity improves our mental and physical well-being and reduces high blood pressure. Nature even helps us learn better! There are so many positive benefits nature holds for us. This doesn’t mean you have spent hours outside to gain from it, but studies show that even 10 minutes can lighten your load. And all we need to do is open the door.
There is something about nature and embarking on a family adventure. Nature relaxes us and opens our minds and hearts to experience God’s beauty. Family camping is a popular activity, or simply doing a family outdoor activity together is fun like cornhole, volleyball, or a scavenger hunt!
#1 How to make camping more comfortable in the weather
The main issue with camping is the weather. Before you pack your first item, look at the forecast. The key here is to have a plan for the opposite…at least something to get you by, like an umbrella or stocking cap. We’re not going to let the weather get in our way of the “serenity now” experience.
My essentials no matter what kind of trip we go on include: a rain jacket, wool hat, dry-wick pants and shorts, wool socks, 3 pairs of underwear, 1 vest, 1 fleece or down jacket, 2 t-shirts, 2 long sleeve shirts, and I never leave home without my swimsuit. Of course, this packing list depends on how long you’ll be gone. With that said, it’s a good idea to pack a little pouch of laundry detergent.
#2 Getting Z’s in nature
Sleeping matters. Take sleep seriously. When we’re tired, most of us tend to be a bit on the cranky side. Sleep can ruin our trip. Without it, our bodies fall apart, our minds get messed up, and we’re not fun to be around. Make sleep your priority. By making your sleeping area comfy, you’ll sleep like a rock. Take note of the area you’re sleeping on; whether it is the ground, hammock, bed, or picnic table…I’ve seen it…make it as comfortable as possible. If your campsite has access to electrical service and you want to block out the neighbors’ chatter, use a white noise machine.
During the night our temperature changes; to stay warm people generally pile on the blankets, but what you really want to do is to beef up what you’re sleeping on. The ground will sap your heat and energy, so think sleeping mat/s. If you’re in a hammock, think about laying on top of a couple of sleeping bags before you crawl into yours.
As for sleeping bags, they are great for sleepovers and hammocks, but when you’re camping at a modern campground in the dead of summer, you’re probably best served with sleeping on top of your sleeping bag and then using a sheet and thin blanket over the top of your body. And don’t forget your precious pillow!
#3 How to make camping comfortable with meals
Cooking. Food is probably the next priority…assuming you’re bringing your own water. Typically when people think of camping they think of hot dogs. However, now a day, people are making gourmet meals! My rule is whatever floats your boat. I like things to be easy and already prepped. With that said, I spend an afternoon preparing our meals and planning our vacation menu. I get specific with what we’re having for each meal because when I’m camping I don’t want to be cooking or worrying about what we’re going to eat.
As for cooking equipment, this depends upon your camping shelter. Are you using an RV, 5th-wheel, camper, pop-up camper, tent, or just a hammock?
#3.2 Cooking in a Tent
If you’re in a tent or hammock, you have more freedom to camp in places that don’t provide an electric and water service. This brings tremendous opportunity to camp in amazing, hard-to-reach, campsites with breathtaking views. Tent camping also forces you to simplify and keep things simple the whole vacation. With that said, cook more comfortable in a tent by getting a titanium pot and a camp stove. The pot will serve you in many ways. You can almost cook anything in the pot. Plus it boils water when you don’t have a water filter. And, golly, if you’re in bear country or if you get lost, you can use the pan to bang on it and make some noise!
#3.4 Cooking in a Camper
As with all the other types of camping shelters, I mentioned before you will most likely camp somewhere with an electrical hook-up and have access to water unless you’re ‘boon-docking. Boon-docking is where you aren’t hooked up to anything except maybe a solar panel.
If power is on your side, I’d suggest bringing a Crock-Pot or an air fryer. Our 5th-Wheel has an over, but we use the air fryer instead. It’s cleaner, easier, and does things the oven can’t do. The air fryer’s capabilities give you more cooking options. The Crock-Pot comes in handy when you’ve had a full day and don’t want to cook when you get back to camp. Gosh! Don’t forget the grill! We have one of the skillet grills that you can essentially cook anything on it, including pancakes. And, yes, still have a titanium pot on hand.
#3.6 Our 5 Quick Camping Meals We like
Chicken salad. I pre-make this at home and serve it with grapes and chips.
Mac & cheese with brats, hot dogs, or salmon patties. A side of spinach or broccoli is usually served with this. It’s also tasty to put potato chip crumbs on your mac & cheese!
Sloppy JoesThis is my favorite recipe. No mess, no fuss with the kids. I serve green beans, potato straws, or a store-bought salad on the side.
Pulled pork nachos. This is so yummy. I simply buy pre-cooked pulled pork (not the saucy kind), I then put a layer of corn chips, cheese (fake cheese in my case), the pork, and taco sauce. Pop them in the microwave then put fresh avocado and diced tomatoes on top. SO GOOD! Here’s a link to the recipe.
Burgers and sweet potato fries. We make the fries in our air-fryer. In fact, we’ve made the burgers in our fryer too! I add a side of spinach, green beans, broccoli, or grapes.
As for dessert, I either bring pudding and whipped cream, homemade granola bars, stuff to make rice crispy treats, or premade cookie dough to bake a fresh batch. Of course, you have s’mores to fall back on. Heck, you could make cookie s’mores! Whaoza!
#3.8 Grab something for your lap and booty
A lap pad or cushion is a must when it comes to eating in a camp chair. Simply place it on your lap and eat. You can make your own lap/booty cushion by getting a foam cushion at your local hobby shop and sewing a small pillowcase for it. Wa laa! Simple, but VERY helpful! I handmake these myself. If you want one of mine, contact me through my Etsy Shop.
#4 Drinking water while camping
There is no joke about drinking water. Clean water is a must no matter if you’re in the backcountry or in a fancy campground. Please bring a filter. If you’d had Guardia or some other illness from water, I know you wouldn’t leave home without one. Plus, dehydration is no joke.
For our camper/5th wheel, we really enjoy the gravity-fed Berkey Water Filter you put on your counter or picnic table.
Of course, you can bring jugs of water, been there, done that, and frankly, that’s not fun. Jugs are heavy, and what if you run out of water? Now what?
Please do not drink from any body of water without first either boiling it to a roaring boil or putting it through a filter…note the titanium pot. Dehydration comes quickly if you get sick from bad water. The pot will seriously save your life.
#5 Camping activities for kids
How to make camping comfortable with kids? It’s a great idea to have some activities on hand for foul weather. When the weather is super nice, activities come naturally. The park system has great ideas of where to go and what to explore, so use those services. But if it’s rainy or cold you can still have fun!
First off, it is okay and healthy for your kids to play outside even if the weather isn’t ideal. I remember playing in the rain all the time! Just be sure when they’re done to warm them up and get dry quickly, there is no time for hyperthermia.
Bust out the board games. Here is a list of some of our favorite and top board games. This is something the whole family can enjoy and make memories with. If mom or dad needs a break from the littles, download my Camping Kit or Outdoor Activity Bundle before you leave. This will not only keep your kiddos busy, but if you get the bundle they’ll learn about trees, fireflies, and general nature. These activities actually help your child learn how to play outside!
If you have tweens who have a phone, they might have fun making trick-shot videos. My son did this video and was busy for hours! Here is a link to one of his videos while we were camping: David’s trick shot video.
#6 Hygiene while camping
Hygiene when camping can be tricky, especially if you’re in a tent. How do you camp more comfortable in this department? It kind of depends on how long you’re going to be gone. If you’ve gone for a weekend in a tent, you can probably wait to shower until you get home. If you’re in a campground that has showers, by all means, use them, but please wear flip-flops in the shower, trust me on this. And most campers have a shower, so do what you will.
Going to the bathroom. Yep, we’re going there. With tent camping, you have three choices. The first choice is to walk to the bathroom if you’re in a campground. The number two option is to bring a pee bucket and pee in your tent with the bucket. I know it sounds gross, but if it’s storming outside, I’d rather pee in a bucket than hold it.
The last option is to go outside. For men, going outside is part of their nature, for women, it’s a bit more intimate with the ground and feet placement. I’ve heard of people hugging a tree and going, and others hover, yet my preferred method is to squat. Peeing outside will come naturally; you’ll learn how to aim and avoid your feet. Just don’t wipe with any kind of leaf, bring your own tissue and either put in a Ziploc or bury it when you’re done. My secret bathroom weapon that makes my camp more comfortable is the baby butt wipes, enough said.
#6.5 Ticks & Mosquitos
I’m not sure what the purpose of ticks and mosquitos is, but at least there are some species that eat them. How to keep ticks off you and how to stop mosquitos from biting you can be done with a few simple steps. First, bring your own bat and chicken to the campground, the bats will eat the mosquitos and the chickens will take care of the ticks. Now that would be a scene, wouldn’t it?
If you want to kill two birds with one stone, grab your handy bug spray and spray on your clothes if you use DEET. Deet is a serious chemical, please use caution in using it. Spray it on your shoes and clothes only. Do not use it on the skin.
Wear light clothing so you can spot the ticks more easily. I can’t stress enough how much I dislike these bugs. It’s okay to have anxiety about this, I do! If you have a pet, protect them and yourselves by giving them their flea & tick medicine. Ticks can attach to your pup or outdoor cat VERY easily. Your pet can then bring them inside and then ticks can attach to YOU!
Tick season is April to October in most parts of the country. If you’re picnicking in the grass, hiking in the woods, or chasing your dog in the tall grass, please do a tick check every night before bed. Ticks like to hide by the hairline, near and behind ears, armpits, bellybuttons, the back of knees, in-between toes, and in the private areas. Look for little black dots.
If you have a tick on you, keep calm as much as you can. Carefully remove them with a Tick Twister or tweezers. Be sure not to squeeze the body, get as close to the head of the tick as possible and pull straight out. Be sure to wash the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Put the tick in rubbing alcohol…this kills it. I recommend keeping the tick in a jar or freezer bag and putting it in the freezer…this is just in case you start to experience symptoms. While you’re at it, take a picture of it. The doctor can send the tick to the lab and test it for Lyme’s Disease.
Mosquitos are more prevalent than ticks, at least where I live. They like that sweet blood. Stay away from eating bananas. I know it sounds weird, but there is something about bananas and mosquitos. Wear long-sleeve clothing and spray the good old bug spray.
Natural ways to consider are using lemon eucalyptus oil or spray. They also don’t like tea tree oil, lavender, and peppermint. Smoke from a campfire helps as do the Thermacell devices. Honestly, there are so many mosquito tips and tricks out there. Just be smart. Cover your skin, use a spray you are comfortable with, and don’t eat bananas.
There is nothing like a cup of hot coffee in the morning. For camping in a tent without electricity, use instant coffee. Just boil water in your titanium pot, pour in your cup, and mix. It certainly does the trick. Instant coffee has come a long way.
Camp more comfortable with your coffee in the camper. If you want to keep the mess at bay, simply spend the extra bucks and get a KeurigK-Slim. We tried the traditional coffee pot and the one-cup serving kind. Both worked, but we got tired of wet coffee grounds in the garbage and down the sink. Coffee grounds are hard to get out of the tank. We splurged and bought the small Keurig and use K-cups. Yes, it’s a little more expensive, but it’s a nice luxury while camping. If you’re peeing in a bucket, drink the good stuff.
Camping Comfortable Conclusion
Camping is meant to refresh and enjoy the outdoors, so why not camp more comfortably? When you camp more comfortably, you’re likely to camp again. It’s not to cause stress or poison ivy on your butt. It’s a fact that trees help relieve stress and nurture the soul. Remember the great outdoors is good for the soul and mind alike. It’s those awesome sunsets, rainbows, thunderstorm clouds, and majestic scenery that attract us to the wonderful creation God gave us to enjoy.