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Today's Food & Family Notes

Top Convertible Car Seats With Cup Holders


This may seem like a crazy feature to focus on when trying to find a new car seat. Obviously, safety is the primary concern. You want something that will give your little angel the best possible protection should the worst happen. And of course, you want something that is completely comfortable for them to ride in so that they enjoy their time in the back seat. But for your sanity, making sure you get a convertible child seat with a cup holder is going to end up being a blessing.

A happy baby leads to a happy parent, and having constant access to their favorite sippy cup is going to make them a much more pleasant passenger. Do yourself a favor and save yourself some hassle by making sure that cup holders are a priority. To help you out we have compiled a brief list of some quality options that include this most important feature.

Child Seats With The Almighty Cup Holder

Graco 4Ever All In One

After reading this Graco 4Ever review you can see why this such a popular convertible car seat. It has just about everything that you would want, including 2 cup holders. You can use this one seat from when your child is an infant all the way until they are ready to use a regular seat belt. It is rated for kids up to 120 lbs which means that you will not have to buy separate seats as your child grows. It also passes safety standards set out for child seats so you know that you are getting something that will offer supreme protection.

We have experience with this particular model and it is something that we can recommend with confidence. We bought it for our second child, and let me tell you those cup holders really opened our eyes to just how important they are. It cleans up well and it is pretty easy to install. This would be a terrific choice for new parents looking for a no hassle seat that will stand up over time. It has a lifespan of 10 years.

Evenflo Symphony DLX

This is another popular seat that integrates 2 cup holders into their design. It has excellent features including comfy, energy absorbing cushions to give your child a safe and delightful ride. It is also an all in one seat meaning that it is suitable for kids from 5 up to 110 lbs. You can usually find it online for just under $200 which, for the price, means that you are getting incredible value for the money. It has most of the safety features of higher priced models and it is something that children love riding in. We have never used this seat, but we have found that reviews from parents have been very good for this particular convertible car seat. It is something we would strongly consider if we were in the market.

Graco Size4Me 65

This convertible car seat is one of the higher rated options around. Parents love its protection features as well as how easy it is to use. It is rated for kids up to 65 lbs so you will get a few years of service out of it before having to buy a booster seat. It has one integrated cup holder. Its has an excellent reputation for being something that kids just love to ride in as well. Graco makes fantastic seats that are in the mid-range price spectrum and most of their seats have cup holders. This makes them one of our favorite brand names. The Size4Me 65 is also another excellent option for first time parents in need of a car seat that should not give them any problems.

Disney APT

Kids love Disney products so the appeal of this seat is pretty apparent. This is an affordable seat, but it does have its limitations. It is only rated for children up to 40 lbs so you will have to go out and buy another car seat after a couple of years or so. These also come with 2 cup holders and for the price it is not a bad starter seat option.

After Market Car Seat Accessories

While it will be easier to buy a convertible seat that as cup holders integrated into the design, don’t fret if you have a seat without this feature. Many manufacturers sell cup holders separately that you can add to your existing seat. However, we feel that their value is so high that these should be part of any seat that already hits the market. If you want to save yourself from pulling out your hair while driving down the road then we advise you not to overlook this one simple feature. Less stress behind the wheel will leave you more focused on what is in front of you rather than what is behind you.

Breaking In Your New Toaster Oven With Some Appetizers


With the start of a new football season just around the corner, it is never too early to think about your next Super Bowl party. Toaster ovens are great for this and they can help you prepare some appetizers that will truly leave an impression.  Below are a few of the tasty treats that will leave your guests wanting more and make your party the hit of the season.

Savory & Sweet Chicken Bites

Honey and ginger add plenty of flavor to these tasty appetizers, making them a great alternative to chicken wings or fried chicken tenders. Marinating the chicken at least a couple of hours (overnight is best) before cooking is key to their savory and exotic taste that will rival your favorite Chinese food take-out.


  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless, chicken thighs (approximately 16 thighs) cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Mix first eight ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Pour marinade into a large plastic Ziploc bag. Add chicken. Let marinate at least two hours. Turn occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 425° degrees. We like to use a toaster oven (more on that below) but if you are expecting a ton of people then use your regular sized oven as these are often a huge hit and you will need to make a lot of them.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag (save marinade) and arrange on a sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once.
  4. While chicken cooks, heat marinade in sauce pan, bringing to a boil.
  5. Mix your cornstarch with just enough water to make a smooth and creamy paste. Add to marinade and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and pour glaze into a large bowl.
  6. Toss cooked chicken pieces into the marinade bowl, coating well.
  7. Return to oven and cook additional five minutes.

Makes about 12 servings (1 ½ ounces each) with 179 calories and 4.4 grams of fat per serving. We prefer to use a toaster oven for many of our recipes because of the convenience and the reduction in the amount of time it takes to preheat and cook, plus they are a whole lot easier to clean up. If you get one with a convection cooking feature then it will take even less time although you will have to adjust your cook times slightly. If you do not have one of these small kitchen appliances then you need to get one. You can view recent toaster over reviews at to find an oven that has the features you need while also staying within your money limit. Trust me, having a countertop oven is a blessing and it is going to be well worth it.

Simple Black Bean Salsa & Corn

This is such and easy and tasty Super Bowl recipe, you’ll want to make it year round! Make it a day or two in advance to let the flavors meld. If you want to spice things up, throw in diced jalapeno peppers for added kick.


  • 15 oz can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 15 oz can whole kernel corn (rinsed and drained)
  • 16 oz jar of your favorite salsa

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Chill and serve with baked tortilla chips or fresh veggies. Voila!


If you have shied away from hummus because you aren’t a big fan of chic peas, think again! Roasted red peppers and kalimata olives give this recipe extra flavor. With less than 50 calories a serving, you can eat it guilt free!


  • ¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • ¼ cup kalimata olives (pitted)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Place all ingredients in a good food processor and chop until smooth. Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables or baked chips.
Makes about 1 ½ cups. Serving size is 2 tablespoons with 49 calories and 1.3 grams of fat per serving.

Party Safely

Hopefully these recipes will help make your Super Bowl party one to remember while not being too much work to prepare. If you have the right kitchen equipment, like a toaster oven and food processor, then things will probably go a lot smother. Remember, just because it is a party does not mean that you have to serve food that is unhealthy.

Resurrecting Your Diet With A Juicing Machine


If you are feeling run down, eat fast food 7 nights a week, or need something to jump start your day with some much needed energy, then getting a home juicer can help. We all know we should be getting more fruits and veggies, but it just sounds like a lot of work. Having a juice extractor in your kitchen can alleviate this by letting you get the vitamins that you need from fresh foods without feeling like you are constantly grazing on vegetables. Fast, simple, and efficient nutrient intake can really bolster your health and how you feel about yourself.

Finding a high quality juicer that helps do the job right can go a long way to get your juices flowing (pun intended) about juicing. If you love something and it doesn’t seem like a lot of work then you will be more inclined to pursue it on a regular basis, and this is where finding the right juicer for your needs come in. For a closer look at the top machines of 2016 we recommend you check out the juicer reviews on Veggie Files.  For now, we will give you a brief rundown on some of our favorite juicing choices that can improve your overall health and the quality of your diet.

Centrifugal Juicers

These are perfect juice extractors for folks that want something simple and fast. If you are not too concerned with top notch efficiency and are willing to settle for slightly less quality for something that is super easy to use and reduces the hassle of juicing, then this is the type of machine that you want. They are loud, but since they are so fast you will not have them on that long. Centrifugal juice extractors are also relatively less expensive than masticating machines. There is only one brand name that is the most recommended in this category, and that is Breville.

Breville JE98XL

This is one of their most popular models. It is a mid-range juicer both in price and in performance. It does not have a stainless steel body like some of their more expensive machines, but the plastic does not make it an eyesore. It comes with two different speeds which is great for customizing between hard and soft foods. This juicer really shines with harder foods such as apples and carrots. It is not so great with leafy foods like spinach and cabbage.

If you are new to juicing and want something that is not super expensive but will still offer you a high quality experience then this model would be the perfect choice.

Breville BJE200XL

This is their basic starter juicer. It has one speed so there really is no guess work. It absolutely obliterates anything that is dropped into it which sounds great, but it leads to a less efficient juicer on some foods. This is not an ideal machine for leafy greens, but for a small beginning investment this is an awfully appealing route. Clean up is a breeze and it gets pretty good reviews from first time owners. Perfect for those on a budget.

Breville 800JEXL

If you have the money to go a few steps up from the BJE200XL then this model is tremendous. A stainless steel body truly shines in any type of kitchen. It has a more powerful motor to cut through all types of fruits and hard veggies. All of this style and performance does come at a price, however, as this juicer will set you back around $300. It is one of the top rated juicing machines and is quite impressive for those who need a no nonsense juicer to get the job done fast.

Masticating Juicers

If you have a little more patient and have a little more time to get a slightly better quality juice, then these types of machines will serve you well. Luckily, there are more brand names available that make high quality masticating extractors from which to choose.

Omega Juicers

This company makes some of the best rated juicers period. They are well built and come with very long warranties which is quite appealing considering their price. Some of their top rated models include the 8006, NC800 and the VSJ843. All of them are great for leafy greens so you can juice all of the kale that you want knowing that you are going to be able to extract most of the juice from the pulp. These juicers are also very quiet and easy to operate. You really cannot go wrong with any offering from Omega.

Kuvings B6000

This is their newest and best juicer to date. It is an upright design which is intended to save you some room on your kitchen counter. One feature that really sets it apart from other vertical masticating juicers is its very wide feed chute. You can drop a whole apple down there without having to cut it up which will wind up saving you a bit of time. It is pricey at around $400 but the convenience features that it offers makes it still a good value.


This is another company that has some very nice masticating juicer offerings. Their SlowStar model is really attractive that comes in one color, a bold red. This is sure to turn heads as well. As a masticating juicer it also will give you excellent performance with leafy veggies. If you wish to take full advantage of the power of green juice then the SlowStar would not be a bad option.

Don’t Go On The Cheap

We all need to save money but when buying a juicer you will be best served to not go cheap. A poorly made juicer is likely to be inefficient and a hassle to operate that you are not going to want to use it that often. To get the most out of what juicing has to offer you are going to want to do it every day. Don’t get something that will sour you on the whole experience. Look to spend at least $100 for a juicer to give you the full benefits of freshly made juice. Your body will someday thank you.

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