New Year’s Resolution Giveaway – Enter to Win!

We’ve teamed up with some of our fave brands for a giveaway to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution momentum going! Whether you’re trying to clean up your beauty or personal care routine or feed your family (and yourself!) a little better, you can find all of these great products at Target! Enter with your email address here for a chance to win a prize pack worth over $300 from Annie’s, Bitsy’s Brainfood, Ella’s Kitchen, The Honest Company, Nature’s Path, Pacifica, Shea Moisture, Shine OrganicsTom’s of Maine, and Yes To.

Target is not a sponsor or administrator of this promotion.

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New Year Giveaway Sweepstakes Rules

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Talking Bold Colors and Healthy Routines with Interior Designer Sara Gilbane

There are so many ways that we’re inspired by the women around us, and we’re so excited to share and bring together the Smart Sisters who we’re lucky to count as part of our Bitsy tribe.

Not only is Sara Gilbane the mother to our kids’ BFFs, she’s also one of our own. We love this brilliant, acclaimed interior designer for too many reasons to list: hilarious, thoughtful, and kind, she’s a forcefield of energy and fun. Add to that– she’s the sort of friend who will step in and overhaul your closet-sized office, because she cares. 

Today, she’s sharing some healthy tips, and encouraging us to go for it, if it makes your heart sing. Words to live by.  

Bitsy’s: What does “healthy” mean to you?

Sara: Feeling good! I try to make healthy food choices, drink my greens, and some days that means exercise, if I can fit it in.

Bitsy’s: What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to health– your family’s, or your own?

Sara: I have two young children, ages 3 and 6, and I’m trying to teach them about making healthy choices.  Right now, keeping them well is the priority– I feel like someone always has the sniffles… or a full- blown cold!

Bitsy’s: What’s your general philosophy when it comes to feeding your family?

Sara: Make it count when I can! Breakfast and dinner are the meals I have most control over, since that’s when I’m home with them. Breakfast is usually a bowl of oatmeal with sunflower butter, a spoonful of coconut oil, and hemp seeds. For dinner, I aim for a protein, a vegetable, and a carb.

Bitsy’s: Can’t-live-without food or drink:

Sara: After all that healthy talk…I’m a sucker for Mexican food. Bring on the fish tacos.

Bitsy’s: What’s your favorite Bitsy’s product?

Sara: It’s a tie between Orange Chocolate Beet cookies and Sweet Potato Cinna-Graham crackers.  Delicious all around!

Bitsy’s: At Bitsy’s, we love bright colors, and we know that color is huge for you, too. What’s your best advice when it comes to incorporating colors into your home?

Sara: If it makes your heart sing, go for it! That being said, you have to find out how much color and pattern you can live with.  If you go for a bold color on the wall, then keep your furniture neutral, and tie it all together with vibrant throw pillows.

Bitsy’s: In addition to color… you love kids. What are your tips for creating a kid-friendly home?

Sara: I did not do much in the way of baby proofing. I am a strong believer in integrating your kids into your life and that means at home, too. All of our furniture is comfortable with durable fabrics, but aside from the clear plug covers I put on all the outlets, I wanted my kids to learn to live with beautiful objects, art, and upholstery. And since the kids are very into making their own art, they love discussing the art on the walls. Inspiration is everywhere! Don’t dumb down your interiors for your kids!

Bitsy’s: On starting a business and building it from the ground up: what inspired (inspires) you?

Sara: I started my business in 2008 amidst the financial crisis, and I was fortunate to have a few clients who were not impacted by the world falling apart. I had one assistant then, and my initial jobs went well and we were profitable.  Profitability was my only goal that year, and it felt great to achieve that.  Every year there’s a new challenge, which keeps things interesting, but I thrive on client interaction. And I love how each project is as different as the owners of each home.

Named one of the Top 20 Next Wave Designers by House Beautiful and one of TradHome’s Top 20 New Traditional Designers, Sara Gilbane is best known for her classic modern-traditional style– combining low-key and elegant pieces with a youthful, chic flair grounded in practicality. Above all, Sara enjoys creating casually elegant homes that are warm, comfortable, and livable. 

After graduating from Brown University and studying interior design at Rhode Island School of Design, Sara launched her career in 2003, working with acclaimed design firm Kemble Interiors. Sara has been featured in House Beautiful, Trad Home, Lonny, The New York Times, Elle Decor, Better Homes and Gardens, and The New York Observer. 

For more information, visit www.saragilbaneinteriors.com

 

 

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The Power of Positivity!

It’s Wednesday night and we’re half way through the week. At our house, this often means we are ALL getting tired. And that can mean my little angels can get a little rowdy, and my patience might be wearing thin.

Tonight, when this started to unfold, I was thinking about the things I learned long before Alex and I started Bitsy’s together or had children. In our non-profit work with young people we practiced something called positive youth development.

There were so many things that we learned through this work that I try to apply with my own kids. One of the greatest things that we can do with all young kids (and kids of all ages for that matter) is to reinforce when we “catch” them doing something right.  Using a positive statement in this moment is so important in reinforcing the good behaviors and choices.

I thought I’d share some quick and simple examples from our past lives practicing “positive youth development.”  They’re pretty obvious statements… but sometimes the obvious things in life are the easiest to put into practice…

Positive Statement Examples to share with your kids and the young people in your life:

▶ That’s great!

▶ That was helpful

▶ I believe in you

▶ Would you help me?

▶ I like spending time with you

▶ Thank you

▶ You can do it!

▶ I had fun with you today

▶ I am really proud of you

▶ You did it!

▶ You must be proud of yourself!

▶ Good answer

▶ Congratulations!

▶ Look how much you have improved

▶ Keep trying!

▶I agree

▶ I see, exactly

▶ Please

▶ That’s right

▶ Good idea

▶ Very clever!

▶ Excellent

▶ I understand

▶ That’s interesting

▶ How considerate

▶ I’m glad

▶ Good job

▶ I like that

▶ Give it a try

▶ I can tell you’re working hard

▶ Your work is impressive

▶ Will you show me how you did that?

To tell you the truth, I think we all can use a little positive reinforcement. No matter how old we get. Spread the love.

Xx

Maggie

 

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Sharing the Love on Valentine’s Day

We love Valentine’s Day around here. You get to tell those closest to you just how much they mean to you AND there are tasty treats, fun crafts, and love everywhere.

What better for a healthy and tasty Valentine’s snack than our Smart Cookies! Here are some ways we like to use our Smart Cookies to spread the love on Valentine’s Day.

  • Put a couple of letters into a cute bag, tie it up with some colorful string, and give them to your kids to pass out to their classes.
  • Spell out “I Love You” or another cute note to your kiddo in his or her lunch box.
  • Use the Smart Cookies and some hot glue to write out a special message on a piece of construction paper for a memorable homemade card.
  • Create homemade tags to attach to a bag of Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin Smart Cookies that says “You are so SWEET!”

What fun ways do you get your little ones involved in celebrating Valentine’s Day?

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Fun Winter Activities for Kids!

Well, winter is definitely upon us in New York City!

While we love the change of seasons (and the chance to go skiing!), all of this cold weather has our kiddos going a little stir crazy. Here are some of the (free!) ways we keep our little ones happy and active during the winter:

  • Build a fort in the living room
    • Take all of the pillows off the couches and beds and let your kids use their imaginations to build a big play fort. Add in some blankets and flashlights and they’ll stay entertained for hours.
  • Throw a dance party
    • There’s no more fun way to burn some energy and warm up after being outside than an impromptu dance party. Turn up the music and see what funny moves your kids come up with.
  • Play with your food
    • See how many words you can spell using a bag of Bitsy’s Smart Cookies. For older kids, play I Spy and have them use the cookies to spell out the objects they find.
  • Put on a play
    • Have your kids write and direct a play for the whole family to perform. Invite neighbors or grandparents over to be the audience!

What is your family’s favorite way to stay entertained in the winter?

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Making HEALTHY CEREAL look COOL!

Thank you Tracy for this awesome email and for sharing your Facebook post!

When we launched our line of cereals it was a response to the direct link that has been made between the sugary cereal aisle and childhood obesity.  There has been a clear need to do things better when it comes to kids cereal for a long time!  Making cereal is not easy. But we’ve done our best to be innovative and push boundaries — like putting vegetables in cereal!  And in making organic cereals bright, colorful, with fun characters and games, we’ve done something quite different than what any other organic cereal brand has done before in their traditionally brown attempts to convey the message of “natural.”  Fruits and vegetables are bright and colorful – so why shouldn’t organic food brands for kids be as colorful as the rainbow of the produce section!

We just wanted to share and say thank you to all the moms, dads, kids, grandparents, and everyone, who gets as excited as we do about making better products for all of our children.

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45 FUN FREE THINGS TO DO OUTSIDE WITH YOUR KIDS THIS SUMMER

 

  1. Go to the playground!
  2. Sidewalk chalk (make hopscotch! Create a sidewalk art masterpiece!)
  3. Blow Bubbles!
  4. Go on a nature walk!
  5. Ride bikes
  6. Plan a picnic
  7. Make mudpies
  8. Read the book Going On A Bear Hunt and then go on your own “Bear Hunt” in the yard
  9. Hula Hoop!
  10. Finger Paint!
  11. Plant a garden
  12. Go on a scavenger hunt
  13. Play Red Rover!
  14. Read a book in the shade
  15. Play Ball! Tether Ball, Wiffle Ball, Baseball, Basketball , Tennis, Flag Football, Soccer
  16. Roller skate
  17. Set up a lemonade stand or a neighborhood car wash for a great cause!
  18. Discover new bugs and insects!
  19. Water balloons!!
  20. Feel the grass between your toes!
  21. Daydream and look for shapes in the clouds!
  22. Learn to sail a boat! (even little kids can start in small boats)
  23. Take a run through the sprinkler
  24. Water the plants
  25. Play games like Follow the Leader!
  26. Eat popsicles! (make your own with fresh fruit!)
  27. Put on a play!
  28. Build a fort
  29. Set up a blanket and take nice long snooze
  30. Wash your dog
  31. Take outside showers!
  32. Pitch a tent and camp out in your own yard.
  33. Build a sandcastle
  34. Swim
  35. Go to the beach and do a shell walk
  36. Tie Dye!
  37. Make a flower arrangement or floral wreath
  38.  Paint a flower pot
  39. Ride scooters
  40. Jump Rope
  41. Keep it old school and learn to play jacks
  42. Bring checkers out on the porch
  43. Swing!
  44. Bring inside toys outside: dolls, transformers, you name it!
  45. Just PLAY!!!

 

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LOVE, LOVE, LOVE… ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

Underneath the layers of heart-shaped chocolate boxes, there is something pure and wonderful.  The spirit of Valentine’s Day.  That all amazing, all powerful, abstract yet very real thing called LOVE.

Love’s not perfect.  It makes mistakes.  It asks for forgiveness.  It’s pure and it’s complicated.  It’s sloppy and beautiful.  It inspires us or at times holds us hostage.  It can make us want to jump for joy or punch a wall.  Love is crazy.  Love never stops trying.  Love is all you need.

Love is ALL of the above.  And of course, in all of it’s fabulous complications, love is just another word for family? Or even parenthood?

To kick it off this season of love, I thought I’d share some of the part aspirational and part gut-check, little love mantras I find myself repeating as I coach myself through parenting and surviving the day to day.   They’re not perfect and probably not all that original nor groundbreaking.  But here you go!

Love is A Strategy.  You may have heard this here before but this is hands down my all time favorite self-coined expression for handling everything from business to life.  Love Is a Strategy.  Treating people with kindness whether employees, colleagues, bosses, clients, customers or what have you, makes a BIG difference.  Easy in theory, not always in actuality, but always worth remembering and repeating.

Love Yourself.  Most people (self included) are pretty tough on themselves.  I try to remind myself that life’s not about holding yourself to some standard of perfection, but rather a standard of grace.  I can’t help but admire those who seem to have mastered this balance as they ride the waves of the ups and downs of life.  Can I take a surf lesson from you oh graceful people!

Be a Loving Person AND A Tough Person.  My dad used to tell me as a kid that the most important thing in life is to be a good person.  That simple but big picture message of being good/kind always really resonated with me.  It grounded me growing up and as an adult gives me a little perspective on all the other “junk.”  Part 2…  TOUGH.  As a mom in an increasingly complex world, where well, people aren’t always all that nice, part 2 of this message with my own children is that it’s important at times to be tough.   What I mean by tough is that ability to bounce back, persevere, stand ones ground and be resilient.  Life requires a little grit mixed in with the kindness.

Love Can Not Be Seen nor Touched, But Felt with the Heart.   “You know that we are living in a material world…”  Sorry, grew up in the 80’s.  There is a real challenge that I’m only beginning to understand that comes with nurturing kids to grow-up as driven people who understand that happiness comes from much more than material success.  Translation: my hope for my kids is that when they hear the song All You Need Is Love that they understand what those sweet lyrics mean.  And that by the time my kids are grown, the world has realized the importance of the word “balance.”  Wouldn’t that be lovely? Sigh.

Love Means Listening. Really Listening.   Sometimes “noise” is coming in from all angles, even in my own head, and I find myself not REALLY listening.  I try to coach myself: Pause. Clear the noise. Listen.  And when I’m not, I think it’s okay to take a “do-over,” and try again.  If life followed “Love Rules” I think there would be more do-overs in general. Right?

Give Great Valentines Cards.  What makes you feel better than a note or card that truly tells you that someone gets you and appreciates you?  For me — NOTHING!  Take the time to write a heartfelt note that goes beyond the pre-printed hallmark sentiment for the special people in your life of all ages. Teach your kids the fine art of expression by sitting down and making Valentines together.

Say I Love You.  We say a lot of I Love You’s around here.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics it’s one of the most important things you can do for your kids.  PHEW… I’m doing one thing right… Makes me feel a little teeny bit better about my daughters TOTAL obsession with Minnie Mouse.  Yes I broke the no TV until you are two rule with my second child…  Eek. True confessions.  But I couldn’t love my kiddos more.  And LOVE, not perfection, is all you need.

XOXO

Maggie

P.S.  One last loving idea (a little plug here -can’t resist)… a box of our SmartCookies is a great healthy alternative to a box of chocolates for your own little sweethearts!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

 

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Going Back to Our Roots—Recreating Thanksgiving

#TBT ThrowBackThanksgiving – Bitsy’s Co-Founder Maggie Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with her son on Central Park West in New York City.

Going Back to Our Roots—Recreating Thanksgiving

by Laura Cipullo RD, CDE, CDN, CEDRD, Mom, and Bitsy’s Registered Dietitian 

Here in the USA, Thanksgiving is the day to celebrate the harvest. Thanksgiving dinner is informally yet nationally known by all as the meal and even day of binging on harvest foods, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, of course, a pie of apples, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.

How did we get from giving thanks to a day that sometimes seems focused simply on overeating?  For many of us there is nothing to be more thankful for than a healthy family.  So how can we return to the roots of gratitude of Thanksgiving, while celebrating over a traditional healthy and wholesome family meal?

As you read this blog, consider how you and your family can go back to the roots of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives gave thanks for the plentiful harvest. Both pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives were accustomed to giving thanks by feasting and sport, whether recreational or dance (the latter referring specifically the natives)1.

The original feast likely included wild fowl of some sort, but not necessarily turkey. Rather, it was geese and waterfowl such as ducks that probably appeared on the first-ever Thanksgiving menu1. And if there was stuffing of the fowl, it would have been made with herbs and onions; perhaps the Pilgrims even used oats. What about cranberry sauce? Being that sugar was quite expensive at that time, it can be assumed our sauce version was not on the table. Rather, cranberries were found in recipes of Wampanoag dishes, and “possibly added tartness to a Pilgrim sauce1.” However, it was “fifty years later when an English writer would mention boiling this quintessential New England berry with sugar for a “Sauce to eat with… Meat.”1” Potatoes are from South America and were not yet a staple in New England’s diet. Wampanoag did eat other tubers including Jerusalem artichokes, groundnuts, Indian turnip and even water lily. Pumpkins and squashes were native to New England but again, sugar, butter and piecrust were not available and thus pumpkin pie was not on the first menu1. “Today’s typical Thanksgiving dinner menu is actually more than 200 years younger than the 1621 harvest celebration and reflects the holiday’s roots in Colonial New England of the 1700s and Victorian nostalgia for an idyllic time when hearth and home, family and community were valued over industrial progress and change.1

So the recipes have changed since the first three-day celebration of Thanksgiving, and it could be said that we have certainly lost some of the true focus of the day, gratitude.  As we teach todays children the meaning of this special holiday, let’s go back to giving thanks and move away from mindless eating.

Give thanks and be mindful this Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips:

  1. Read your children stories on www.scholastic.com about the first Thanksgiving. Books may include: Thanksgiving for Emily Ann  and The Thanksgiving Story.
  2. Start your Thanksgiving afternoon giving thanks for health with a fun family activity, whether it be a game of football, a drumming session, or even a family yoga session.
  3. Start your Thanksgiving meal with a prayer or poem about thanks. Your children can write these poems.
  4. Recreate the original Thanksgiving meal of stuffed fowl, with Indian corn, cranberries, and squash. Research dishes native to the Wampanoag’s. Make multiple dishes without added sugar. This will be both an educational and experimental lesson.
  5. Practice mindfulness at the meal. Perhaps read the story of the first Thanksgiving meal between dinner and dessert.
  6. Discuss giving thanks. List five things you are thankful for and five things you can do to give back at the end of the meal.
  7. Celebrate this holiday season by volunteering and doing an act of service and giving together as a family.  For ideas on how to volunteer with young children visit www.generationOn.org or www.handsonnetwork.org.

 

References:

1. “Partakers of Our Plenty.” Plimoth Plantation. Plimoth Plantation, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

http://www.plimoth.org/learn/thanksgiving-history/partakers-our-plenty

 

 

 

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Is “Gluten Free” for Your Family?

As moms and co-founders of a children’s food company, we are always working to educate ourselves on food and families.  How do we help families make SMART choices for their kids, knowing that all children are different?  We love getting the latest insight from Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, and Mom.  Below she shares some of the current research on autism spectrum disorders and following a gluten, casein free diet.

Is “Gluten Free” for Your Family: Autism and Gluten, Casein Free

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, and Mom

There aren’t too many quality research studies reporting on the gluten-free diet and its efficacy for children with autism spectrum disorders. However, you definitely hear the media and parents supporting it. The latest solid research a.k.a. randomized double-blind study only had fifteen children with ASD. This particular study from 2006 looked at the effects of the gluten-free, casein-free diet on autistic symptoms and urinary peptide levels. Surprisingly, there were no statistically significant results, still leaving the need for more research and many parents without answers. When reading the overall research, it seems parents may notice behavioral changes but nothing consistent across the board and nothing significant enough to make the recommendation to follow this diet.

However, when you keep reading, the association between ASD and GI (gastrointestinal) complaints is quite clear. Adverse GI symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain are reported from 9 to 91 percent in different study populations1. The cause of these GI problems is unclear, but it appears to relate partially to abnormal carbohydrate digestion1 and abnormal gut flora possibly due to excessive use of oral antibiotics2. If gut flora is a concern, probiotics may help decrease ASD symptoms.

As parents wait for more information, many are willing to try the variety of diets that promise decreased symptoms. Like any child, a child with ASD is an individual and may/may not respond to dietary changes. It could be like many other foods—there are intolerances or sensitivities not recognizable as food allergies. There are many questions for parents to ask themselves and/or their child’s team. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what you think is best for your child.

TO CONSIDER Before Starting Any Possible Therapeutic Diet:

  1. Is this therapeutic diet supported by top quality research (such as double blind)?
  2. Will my child be at risk for a nutritional deficiency (such as calcium) on such a diet?
  3. Will my child readily accept the new foods? Are tastes and textures already an issue?
  4. Should I ask my child’s physician about the potential to trial probiotics rather than change my child’s diet?
  5. Should my child take a gluten-free, casein-free multivitamin and mineral?
  6. Should I have my child see a LEAP-certified RD?

References:

1. Williams, B. L., M. Hornig, T. Buie, M. L. Bauman, M. Cho Paik, et al. “Impaired Carbohydrate Digestion and Transport and Mucosal Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Children with Autism and Gastrointestinal Disturbances.” PLoS ONE 6, no. 9 (2011): e24585. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024585.

2. Adams, et al. “Gastrointestinal Flora and Gastrointestinal Status in Children with Autism–Comparisons to Typical Children and Correlation with Autism Severity.” BMC Gastroenterology 11, no. 22 (2011). doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-22

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