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Teenage years are an interesting chapter: not only do teens learn (with parental help) how to become successfully independent, teenage years are also very important and formative years in terms of setting lifelong habits and defining values. Food, drink, and physical activity are huge components of teenage life. Teens need to create healthy habits such as a balance between healthy foods, sweet treats, soda consumption, and physical exercise; in turn these habits will make their transition into adulthood a smooth and happy journey! My stepson just turned 15, and my husband and I put a huge emphasis on helping him become a health-conscious and balanced individual in relation to what he eats, drinks, and his physical activities.

Mixify - 7 Tips to help teens find life balance

Here are 7 tips to help your teens find healthy balance and make smart food and drink choices:

1. Cook at home from scratch, using whole food ingredients! I remember my parents cooking this way when I was growing up, and I know that it was the best way to instill my core food habits. Being a good role model for your teens and being consistent with healthy food choices is the best way to establish healthy eating habits. Kids like to mirror. Lead by example!

2. Always welcome sweets and treats, in moderation! Teenagers love sweet drinks, energy drinks, and other fun treats. Set a personal example by consuming those fun foods in moderate quantities and balancing healthy foods with fun foods.

3. Actually have a conversation about your food philosophy! Whenever it seems appropriate or whenever the subject of food comes up, we talk with our teen about how to maintain a balanced, healthy diet, how to balance healthy foods with fun foods, such as desserts and sweet drinks, and how to make sure everything is consumed in moderation. Talking about food is important, and it’s usually a fun conversation, too! It’s especially important during teenage years when kids are more capable of understanding and making the right food choices.

4. Get plenty of physical activity every day! My mother-in-law always said that the best way to keep teenagers out of trouble is to keep them busy with sports. I have seen the wisdom of those words as I’ve watched my stepson and his peers grow up. It’s very important for our family to keep our teenager busy with healthy activities that benefit both his mind and body. That’s why in the fall he is involved almost every day in cross country training, in the winter he skis, and in the spring he is a part of track-and-field team. He also does cross-training for all these sports in between the seasons. All three of us are active skiers in the winter, making sure that we spend as much time outdoors as we can. We started him skiing early on, when he was 8:


Now, at age 15, not only is he an excellent skier, he has found a true passion in skiing:


5. Get outside with your teen! In our current world filled with technology and internet, it’s important to find balance in that too, and we make sure to spend a lot of time outdoors! We like to be active, but we also like to be out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, being with other active friends and their kids, and appreciating the beauty around us. Only out in nature we can become witnesses to really striking moments:


Trust me; experiences like that really have a formative effect on our teens. They learn to appreciate the beauty and the world around us and to see that we are not the only inhabitants on the Planet Earth:


6. Get good sleep! Making the right food choices, active lifestyle, and good sleep will help your teen go through his/her teen years and the hormonal changes in a smooth manner.

7. Help your teen discover his/her passion! Everything will be easier, more fun, and more positive for your teen if you help him/her discover his/her passion and support it! When teenagers have a hobby they are passionate about, it helps them stay balanced emotionally, helps them feel fulfilled and important. What does your teenager enjoy doing? Hiking, biking, photography, science projects? Help them discover things they feel passionate about and support them in pursuing those passions!

We’re all busy, including our teens. But amid tons of homework and after-school activities, let’s communicate with our teens about healthy eating, having an active lifestyle, occasionally enjoying sweet treats, sodas, and the idea that everything we eat and drink should be in moderation. It will help make their transition through adolescence so much smoother and happier.

Mixify is an on-going effort by Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi to educate teens and help them balance their foods, drinks and physical activities. For teens, MyMixify.com offers experts (from nutritionists and dietitians, to coaches and athletes) who are standing by to answer any questions they might have about healthy balance. The website also provides tips and tools, such as healthy recipes, a calorie calculator, tools to discover national parks, trails, and nature in general! Parents can also connect with ABA Delivers on Twitter, or ABA Delivers on Facebook. You can also learn more about America’s Beverage Companies’ commitments and initiatives to helping achieve a healthier lifestyle, such as removing full-calorie sodas from schools, and their new goal to cut beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025 via Delivering Choices for Balance.

“Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi understand that getting a balanced mix of foods, drinks and physical activities for your family isn’t always easy. That’s why they’re coming together for the first time ever to talk to teens about balancing what they eat and drink with what they do. With tools to help teens get active and information to help them think about when they’ve had too much, or maybe when it’s time for a treat—America’s beverage companies are supporting our efforts to find a balanced mix that works for our families.”

We are also giving away a $100 Visa gift card! To enter for a chance to win, please leave a comment telling me: What do you do to keep your family balanced? Any tips or real life examples?

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 12/15/14 – 12/24/14.

Be sure to visit the American Beverage Association brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!


The story goes that after borrowing $45,000 from friends and opening their very first health food store in Austin in 1978, the Whole Foods Market® founders lived in that store for a little while, because they got evicted from their apartment for storing food in it. Today, Whole Foods Market® has one of the best brand images out there, a loyal fan base, is ranked #218 on the Fortune 500 list, and has revenues of $12.9 billion in 2013. What can I say? I wouldn’t mind living at a Whole Foods Market store for a while. :)

I am one of many loyal Whole Foods Market customers who want minimally processed products free of certain artificial ingredients, and don’t want foods that contain nitrates, harmful pesticides, artificial colors, antibiotics, and hormones. In this blog post, I am going to dig a little bit deeper why exactly I choose to shop at Whole Foods Market. I admire Whole Foods Market not only because of the high quality standard they set for their products, but also because I respect their values and philosophy about life.

Whole Foods Market

10 Reasons why I choose to shop at Whole Foods Market:

[click to continue…]


Today’s recipe is an amazing Pumpkin Apple Spice Bundt Cake: flavorful, moist, light and fluffy! It’s everything you will want in a holiday cake! Perfect for Christmas, Thanksgiving, all year around, really!

By the way, today I’m guest posting over at Oh Sweet Basil – a wonderful blog that you will love to follow! Please head over there to check out the recipe! Carrian of Oh Sweet Basil is a beautiful mom of two, with the health and fitness being a major part of her family’s life (and her blog!) She shares not only great recipes on her site, but also fitness tips and ideas.

pumpkin bundt cake, pumpkin spice cake, apple bundt cake

Back to the cake! It’s a healthier kind of a dessert: I am using Greek yogurt to replace half the amount of oil. Pumpkin, as we know, is full of anti-oxidants. And, this cake is literally stuffed with apples, as you can see on the photos. Yumminess! [click to continue…]


healthy mashed potatoes with greek yogurt, how to make mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes with butter, gluten free side dish, gluten free mashed potatoes, dairy free mashed potatoes

Deliciously creamy Greek yogurt mashed potatoes is my new favorite, healthier recipe for mashed potatoes! No milk or half-and-half are used, just Greek yogurt, some butter, and water from boiling the potatoes. Greek yogurt adds a nice “tang” to the potatoes, and chopped green onions as garnish on top are perfect!  [click to continue…]


chicken pasta, broccoli pasta, sun-dried tomato cream sauce recipe

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Delicious Chicken and Broccoli Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce: short, penne pasta smothered in a flavorful, creamy sauce spiced up with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and crushed red pepper flakes! When you taste this dish, it will make you feel like you just had a taste of Italy!

First, drain and reserve all olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar. Then, add 2 tablespoons of that reserved oil to the hot skillet and saute first sun-dried tomatoes, then add chicken (generously salted on both sides and sprinkled with paprika):

cooking chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper

Add half-and-half and Mozzarella cheese, heat it up to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce to simmer. [click to continue…]


how to roast spaghetti squash, how to cook spaghetti squash in the oven

I love spaghetti squash. It’s so easy to deal with it – just cook it in the oven, and then, if you don’t want to pretend that spaghetti squash is just like pasta, I have links to 4 good recipes with spaghetti squash right at the end of this post.

Roasting spaghetti squash could not be easier, but if it is your first time, just follow the instructions. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the squash in 2 halves, scrape out the seeds and the fiber out of each half. Spray oil over the cut sides and inside of the squash. Place the squash on the foil-lined and lightly greased baking sheet cut side down.

cooking spaghetti squash

Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the baking sheet with squash from the oven when it’s cooked through and soft. Allow it to cool right on the baking sheet. [click to continue…]


vegetarian enchilada casserole, enchilada casserole recipes, mexican enchilada casserole

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole – a delicious, super easy to make casserole dinner recipe! The vegetables are roasted in spices (cumin and chili powder) before we add them to the dish, which adds lots of Southwestern flavor! Other ingredients include green and red bell peppers, corn, salsa, enchilada sauce, sour cream, Mozzarella cheese, and corn tortillas. If you love Mexican food or Southwestern recipes, you’ll love this!

enchiladas with black beans, corn, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and corn tortillas

This casserole is amazing when hot right out of the oven, but it tastes even better the next day, or 3-4 days later! I just finished the last slice of this casserole (5 days later), and I can tell you that it was better than the 1st day! I guess all the flavors really blend while sitting in the refrigerator for days. :) [click to continue…]


mushroom pasta, garlic pasta, gluten free pasta

Garlic Mushroom Fettuccine Pasta smothered in butter and shredded Parmesan. Sometimes, the simplest of recipes are truly the best!

Italian mushroom pasta, pasta with mushrooms and garlic

This recipe takes only 30 minutes to make, but the resulting dish tastes like something you would order in a high-end Italian restaurant. [click to continue…]


vegetarian lasagna recipe, spinach lasagna recipe, butternut squash lasagna recipe

This Butternut Squash and Spinach Three Cheese Lasagna recipe is healthy, vegetarian, perfect for the Fall and Winter season, and popular with kids! The lasagna combines Ricotta, Parmesan, and Mozzarella cheeses with spinach and pureed butternut squash to create the ultimate Fall & Winter comfort food.

three cheese lasagna recipe, vegetarian lasagna recipe, gluten free lasagna recipe

This recipe uses butternut squash puree, which you can easily make by following this easy step-by-step tutorial: how to make butternut squash puree. Or, you can always buy pureed butternut squash at the store. [click to continue…]


shrimp pasta recipe, shrimp penne recipe, spicy pasta sauce, spicy tomato sauce, gluten free dinner recipe, gluten free shrimp pasta

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$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway right here, on my site!

Spicy Shrimp Pasta in Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce – this pasta has everything you crave for in an Italian pasta: easy creamy tomato sauce made from scratch, seafood, spices (garlic, paprika, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper) – all of that over the perfectly shaped penne pasta.

shrimp pasta, shrimp pasta easy, shrimp and penne, seafood recipes, seafood pasta, red crushed pepper and basil pasta

Penne is perfect for this dish as it holds the sauce very well, and with every bite you will get not only pasta and shrimp but a generous scoop of sauce too! I’ve used gluten free pasta (Tinkyada brown rice penne) for this dish as well, and it was marvelous! Whichever pasta you use, make sure to cook it al dente, then rinse it with cold water, drain it, and only then add it to the sauce. This will preserve the pasta structure and prevent it from getting mushy in a creamy sauce. [click to continue…]


quinoa salad with feta, quinoa salad with butternut, salad with caramelized onions, gluten free salad, gluten free lunch, healthy recipes

Healthy Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Pine Nuts, Caramelized Onions and Feta cheese, with French Vinaigrette salad dressing (I used Brianna’s French Vinaigrette salad dressing – it’s excellent! and it’s gluten free!). This delicious salad is perfect for the Fall, and it’s a great way to use butternut squash a little bit differently than usual. All ingredients match one another really well, and the salad dressing is so good! I’ve been eating this for lunch for days now, and this salad keeps you full and satisfied for a long time. It’s healthy, vegetarian, gluten free, full of anti-oxidants (squash) and protein (quinoa). [click to continue…]