Category: Teen Life

10 Simple Tips for Teens to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Be warned: temptation will be all around us this week, as we get together with family and are surrounded by an endless stream of treats. And although teens can usually get away with sneaking in a few extra calories due to our higher metabolisms, we should still try to avoid packing on those unwanted pounds during the holiday season. To that end, we asked health and fitness expert Justine SanFilippo MS, CHC for a few tips to help keep us in shape this holiday season, and she was kind enough to provide the following guest post:

justine sanfilippoThe holidays are here! This means candy, cookies, presents, days off from school and other activities, and lots of sugar….. or does it? Even though it’s the holiday season, it’s important to still be healthy! This way you will be able to look great and feel great when New Year’s comes around. Here are 10 simple tips to stay healthy this holiday season.

Eat your colors

Eating colorful foods will give you the most vitamins! Greens, oranges and reds such as green beans, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, apples…. Eating the colors of the rainbow will keep you healthy, give you energy, keep you from getting sick, and feel your best self.

Drink lots of water

The body is made of about 70% water, and the human body is made up of TRILLIONS of cells! Each of those cells need water to function properly. Drinking enough water leads to great skin, great hair, a healthy waistline, more energy, and clear thinking.

Have healthy snacks on you

If you are out and about shopping, working on a project, or hanging with your friends, having healthy snacks around is important. The worst thing is to be in a situation where you feel super hungry because that could lead to unhealthy food choices like cookies, candy or fast food. Keep healthy snacks handy like almonds, cashews, string cheese, raw vegetables, fruit like apples, pears or bananas, hard-boiled eggs, Greek yogurt, low-sodium turkey jerky, or even a healthy protein bar.

Focus on protein

Protein builds muscles, keeps your hunger at bay, and is great for the brain and maintaining focus. Especially if you are in sports or are active, you need protein! Foods that contain protein are lean beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shrimp, string cheese, eggs, beans, nuts, hummus, and even healthy peanut butter and almond butter.

Have just one treat

If you are in a situation where there are some holiday treats around, then have just one! That helps get the craving out of the way, and then make healthy choices for the rest of the day.

Brush your teeth

You should brush your teeth anyway, but especially if you happen to have anything with sugar in it. Brushing your teeth keeps the cavities away. Not only that, but it freshens up your mouth so those cookies and candy won’t look nearly as tempting anymore.

Get movinglose inches

Getting the body moving and exercising is important for overall health, but make sure it’s fun! Do something you enjoy. Try taking a walk with a friend or family member, play a sport with your friends, or try a fun Wii video game like Zumba.

It’s okay to say no

If you are invited to parties and events you don’t necessarily want to go to, it’s okay to say no. Setting a healthy boundary is important. Everyone is busy this season, so people will understand if you cannot attend.

Make time for fun

It’s the holiday season after all, so have fun! Wrap presents, decorate, hang out with your friends…. enjoy this time off and have fun.

Remember the reason for the season

The holiday season is not all about eating as many sweets as possible, getting as many presents as possible, or shopping ‘til you drop. It’s about spending quality time with your friends and family and being grateful for everything you have in your life.

Justine SanFilippo is a certified health coach, nutritionist, certified personal trainer and author of the book Lose Your Inches Without Losing Your Mind! To purchase the book, download a free chapter, sign up for a free 15-minute coaching session, or for more free resources to lose your inches, check out her website at


Disney’s Laura Marano Wants You To Eat Your Veggies + BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY!

Laura Marano, from the hit show Austin and Ally, has teamed up with Birds Eye Vegetables and the Walt Disney Company to promote healthy eating just in time for back-to-school season through the “Veggin’ in LA with Laura Marano Sweepstakes presented by Birds Eye.”

The sweepstakes, which runs until September 24th, features a grand prize of a trip to Los Angeles to “veg out” with Laura and enjoy a private dinner with a Birds Eye chef. Woohoo!

O Bag


So why her interest in promoting veggies? It could be because most Americans are not eating the recommended amount of vegetables according to the USDA, despite the established health benefits.

According to Laura: “The truth is vegetables are a necessary part of our daily diet. When I started eating more vegetables a few years ago, I found myself having way more energy than before.  Not only do we need to have more vegetables, but with Birds Eye’s new “Step Up To The Plate” series (and their cool new recipes), we are going to find ourselves wanting to have more vegetables.”

In order to enter the sweepstakes,  just go to and enter a UPC code from a Birds Eye product. You can also enter online without the UPC by getting a free code on the entry page OR by texting the word “VEGGIES” to 347639 (Disney).

But…that’s not all. Teens Wanna Know is running its own giveaway! We are giving away a back-to-school prize pack which has the following cool stuff:

laura marano giveaway

Contents include:



2. A copy of ME, YOU, US.  From the publisher: “Remember 80s slam books? What was better than a memory book where teens could talk about themselves and share their thoughts with friends? Lisa Currie has created a slam book for the internet generation with ME, YOU, US. Readers can fill out ME, YOU, US with friends or loved ones, featuring a spectrum of interactive and open-ended prompts asking them to share nicknames for each other, memories of first meeting and dreams of the future. They can pass the book back and forth with their besties, use it as a scrapbook of all the good people in their lives, or share it with boyfriends and girlfriends as a memento of their time together.” So use it with all your new school friends! More info and reviews on Amazon.

me you 2

3. A PAIR OF HEMLETS! What are Hemlets, you ask? “Hemlets are cuffs to add to your favorite leggings that show off your distinctive personality. Just cool, colorful and affordable…there are dozens of patterns/colors to choose from and one size fits most.  Why didn’t I think of that!  So simple, and invented by a 14-year-old teen!”


4. Last but not least, a little something in case you forgot to buy a notebook or need a few more pens for school: A $5 Target Gift Card!



1. Find out the answer to the following question: When Teens Wanna Know interviewed Laura Marano, which organization did she mention she was an ambassador for? (Hint: search for Laura’s name using the search box at the top of this page and watch the Teens Wanna Know episode she appears in to find the answer).

2. Follow us on Twitter.

3. Tweet us the answer by sending the following from your Twitter account: I entered the TWK  to win a  autograph + more at  My answer is: (put in your answer from step 1.) 

4. Tweets must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, September 7, 2014. We will pick one random winner from all entries received with the correct answer and announce on Monday September 8th. We will contact winner via DM on Twitter.

5. Open to United States addresses only.

Good luck! And remember to eat your veggies!


Josh Hutcherson’s “Straight But Not Narrow ” 3-on-3 Basketball Game – Field Report

Special Report By: Hayley Grimshaw (all pics courtesy Hayley)
Anti-bullying teen advocate for TRUCE: promoting cyber-kindness

What does a basketball game have in common with “The Hunger Games”?

The answer: Josh Hutcherson!

Hayley & Josh

The popular movie star of “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, “Zathura” and, of course, as Peeta Mellark in ‘The Hunger Games” played in a Nike 3-on-3 celebrity basketball game in LA on August 8th, 2014 to raise money and awareness for Straight But Not Narrow. SBNN’s anti-bullying mission is to encourage straight people to support gay people

Why basketball? Being from Kentucky, Hutcherson is a huge University of Kentucky fan. He plays in an entertainment league team and finds it’s a fun way to raise awareness and money for a good cause.

At the event, Josh said he fully believes in “standing up for people no matter [their] race, religion or sexual orientation”. And to ultimately say, “What does it matter?”

SBNN has now evolved into a full-fledged charity with merchandise and events to promote acceptance. Event organizers Heather Wilk and Andre Pochon, and their company Cause Creative Marketing, also work to further promote SBNN.

There were about 300 people who came to support SBNN and meet Hutcherson. While waiting in the “meet and greet” line, people of all ages talked to one another about why they were there. Mostly to see Josh, but everyone also agreed SBNN is a good cause. We all may have started as fans of Hutcherson’s, but we all became our own village in support of SBNN.

When people met Hutcherson, there were different degrees of reaction: most screeched, some just giggled, and others actually cried(!) — but all seemed to agree that he is a super nice, cute and talented actor. He really listened and made eye-contact with his fans, and kindly posed for pictures.

This reporter, Hayley Grimshaw, co-founder of TRUCE, a cyber-kindness cause in Marin Co,  took the opportunity to spread the word of our cause.

The idea for TRUCE came from teen suicide tragedies in Marin County two years ago and the possibility that cyber-bullying was a factor. TRUCE stands for: Tolerance, Respect, Understanding, Compassion and Empathy. In fact, it was launched on John Lennon’s birthday (10/9/10) and, as a show of respect to his iconic “Give Peace a Chance,” uses a peace sign in its logo.

truce peace

As Peeta calls for in “Mockingjay”, (book 3 of  “The Hunger Games”): “Cease-fire”.

Upon being introduced to the TRUCE idea, Josh told Hayley, “Right on! We need more people like you!”

Both SBNN and Truce share similar goals:  To reach out to teens across the country and spread the word about the importance of acceptance.

Whats next for TRUCE: outreach to more teens and share thumb rings, in hopes they will remind teens to not send mean texts. Plus, more social networking outreach and supporting SBNN, other Gay/Straight Alliances, non-bullying, and other positive causes.

Feel free to ‘Like” both causes on Facebook:





Tia Blanco Interview – Champion Teen Surfer Shares Her Secrets to Grade As in School and Fitness

17-year-old pro surfer Tia Blanco is an inspiring teen. Not only is she ranked #1 in the NSSA Open Womens Division, #1 in Surfing America Prime U18 Division and is the 2013 West Coast NSSA champion for the Open Womens division, but she is also a straight-A student who maintains a healthy vegan lifestyle and rigorous exercise regimen.

Blanco, who lives in Southern California and is a Trestles local, is one of the hottest up-and-coming West Coast surfers. Blanco was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in Hawaii as well as several spots in SoCal. This “graceful goofyfoot” belonngs to the renown Surfing America team and enjoys painting and yoga. While she is focused on a National surf title and keeping her 4.0 GPA at Connections Academy, her overall goal is to make the ASP Women’s World Tour.

We got the opportunity to ask Tia a few questions about her routines and how she deals with the pressures of her occupation while balancing school and other areas of her life. Check out her answers below.

tia blanco4

Tell us how you got started surfing, and why you decided to pursue it seriously as opposed to a hobby? 

I started surfing when I was 3 years old. My dad got me started because he thought surfing was such a healthy and beautiful lifestyle. I fell in love with surfing and realized that I wanted to do what I love and make a career out of it.

You are in phenomenal shape, which takes a lot of dedication. What do you recommend for teens who just cannot get motivated to workout? 

Thank you!!! I have a “dream board” of cut out pictures of people who inspire me as well as goals I hope to achieve. If your goal is to be in good shape, for example, cut out a picture of someone who has a healthy figure and post it somewhere where you can see it everyday. My inspiration is Candice Swanpoel, the Victoria Secret model. She is perfect!

More tips from Tia:

  • Eat clean, it doesn’t have to be hard! I like getting healthy recipes from
  • Take a run or jog (especially on the beach, if you have access)
  • Try surfing, you don’t have to be a pro to have fun and get a great workout – I go everyday
  • Try yoga at your local studio, home, or the beach
  • Stand up paddling works great for toning your muscles
  • Taking a walk with your dog, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend or parents is always a great way to get exercise (and bond)!

Tell us what your typical week looks like as far as workouts/exercise. 

I train two times a week with my trainer at Forged in Fitness. I also mix in beach runs and yoga. And I surf everyday 😉

tia blanco3

Why did you choose to go Vegan? 

Being vegan is the cleanest and healthiest diet in my eyes. It is known to reverse and prevent cancers, while eating large quantities of meat has been known to promote various cancers. Also, I would never eat my dogs, so why would I eat a pig? Pigs are said to be smarter than dogs and they are very social animals. Sometimes people don’t see the relationship and connection between pets and other animals.

tia blanco1

How has being a Vegan impacted your life, good or bad? 

Learning about the vegan diet has made me very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes I get so passionate about it that I have to bite my tongue to many ignorant comments. I have learned that my life is not more significant than any other life; Whether it is my mom, friend, enemy, or animal. It has impacted me to love more and hate less.

You manage to be a top athlete while also maintaining a 4.0 GPA…what are your secrets to a) managing your time and b) dealing with the pressure? 

I have learned to prioritize. I try and devote a couple hours out of the day to school. I love to learn. And, I always like having a strong backup plan, if my surfing career doesn’t work out.

Tell us about your partnership with Reef.

I love the company! Reef has treated me so well, from the very beginning. They have helped create lifetime memories and made many of my dreams come true. It is just a bonus that everyone who works there is so down to earth and nice.

What has been the best moment of your career so far? 

Traveling with Reef. I love all of the exotic places we go. Each trip brings new experiences that are priceless.

Have you had any scary moments while surfing?

I guess Teahupoo. I got sucked over the falls when I was duck diving, but thankfully I didn’t hit the reef.


tia blanco2

What are your long-term goals? 

I want to make the CT! {Championship Tour] More importantly, I hope to inspire people to be the best person they can be. And, I want to travel the world with the people I love.

Teens are under a lot of pressure these days, and many of the usual role models (such as singers, actors, elected officials) are not setting very good examples. What message do you have for teens out there in dealing with all this? 

How can you change the world if you are acting like the world? Start by living a positive and healthy lifestyle and the world will change one step at a time!

Anything else we should know?  

Surfing is the best lifestyle I could ever ask for. I am so thankful for everything and everyone who has supported me and continues to do so. (Sponsors – family, Reef, Raen Optics, J7 Surfboards, Sticky Bumps).

tia blanco5

Five Surprising Things You Have in Common with Celebrities

The following is a guest post by Mandy Wilkins.

Alright, we admit it: we’re obsessed with celebrities. Whether they’re strutting down the red carpet or gracing the front of magazine covers, we like to follow their every move. But, once we
strip away all their glitter, money, and fame, it turns out that celebrities are just like us. They share our same fears, aspirations, and challenges. Here’s a list of five surprising things you have
in common with your fave A-Listers:

celebrity1. Body Insecurity

How many times have you looked at the cover of a magazine, seeing a celeb in a crop top and tight jeans, wishing you had her body? It may come as a surprise that nearly all celebrities have struggled with the same body insecurity as you do. Even Beyonce doesn’t wake up flawless every single morning.

Demi Lovato admitted back in 2010 that she struggled with anorexia and bulimia because of severe issues with her body image. After years of dealing with her insecurities, she told Seventeen, “I have come to realize that making yourself happy is most important.”

2. Being Rejected­

Has that cute boy in front of you, that so­-called “popular” group, or even the job you wanted, ever completely rejected you? You’re not alone — in fact, it’s happened to seemingly perfect celebrities. A now­-famous television host was fired from her first job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.” I bet Oprah Winfrey is laughing at that Baltimore station today. Even the iconic Marilyn Monroe was told by modeling agencies that she should consider becoming a secretary.

Next time you’re rejected, focus on your strengths, how you can improve, and remember: you could be the next Oprah.

3. Problems Fitting In

­ Whether you’re a self­-proclaimed “geek” or a self-­assured jock, all of us have had insecurities about fitting in. Even Zac Efron claims that “growing up was hell” thanks to his “uncool” interest in musical theater. But, that interest is what landed his gig in High School Musical – and his status as a heartthrob.

Singer Taylor Swift has never fit in with her young musical counterparts; instead of going clubbing or turning to drugs, she has maintained a wholesome image—and several platinum albums.

More often than not, walking to the beat of your own drum is way better than “fitting in.” Who needs to conform?

4. Work/Life Balance Issues

Going to school every single day and then trying to maintain an actual social life is hard enough. Can you imagine having to balance work and life while the paparazzi track your every move?


Some celebs utterly fail in this department, having their personal lives blow up alongside their work (Lindsay Lohan, anyone?) But other celebs, like Angelina Jolie, seem to juggle it all seamlessly. Superwoman somehow manages to have six kids, an amazing acting career, and a commitment to charity.

According to life coach Jasmin Terrany, finding a balance can be done by focusing on what’s important, deep breathing, and leaving some time to relax.

5. Relationship Insecurity

Trying to date a normal human being that makes you feel good about yourself is hard enough – can you imagine trying to do that in front of cameras?

While some celebrities have excelled at finding a normal relationship under the stress of Hollywood (Ben & Jen), others have crashed and burned thanks to disloyalty (Kristen Stewart), lack of mutual respect (Justin & Selena), and who-­the-­heck-­knows-­what (Miley & Liam). But whether we’re making $7 billion a year or $7 an hour at the movie theater, we all want the same thing out of a relationship: someone who understands, appreciates, and supports us.

Mandy Wilkins is a recent graduate from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She now resides in Atlanta, where she writes about everything from pop culture to children’s literature. This January, she’ll be moving to southeast Asia to teach English

How to Break Up With Mark Zuckerberg (and Other Social Media Stalkers)

Guest Post by Emma Fuller, Omlet

At first, Mark seemed like the perfect guy:  He “shared” regularly, “checked in” often, kept you “fed” with the latest news, and paid attention to what you “liked.”

But before you knew it, Mark began to change:  He invaded your privacy, started keeping tabs on everything you did, he manipulated you, and even gave your secrets away to all of his friends. That’s crazy glue! If a guy did that to you IRL, you would kick him to the curb.


I thought it would be fun to think about our relationship with Facebook like a relationship with a boyfriend. What makes a good relationship, what makes a bad relationship, and how does Mark measure up? For me, the biggest thing is trust. Can I trust someone with my deepest secrets? Can I trust them not to betray me, and share my most private things with other people?

My relationship status with Facebook (in Mark’s own words): “It’s Complicated.” Why? Deleting Facebook sounds great, but is it really practical? No, I don’t think it is. The problem isn’t just Facebook, it’s us. We’ve chosen to be in this relationship, and to share all our personal info with them. We need to start making better choices when it comes to what we share, and how often we share.

Think of it this way: Would you share your diary with the world? I know I wouldn’t even share it with my best friend. All your data adds up, and even if you think your sharing a little, they know a lot about you. Pandora can tell with 80% accuracy what your political leanings are just off the music you listen to!

So how do you set boundaries between you and Facebook?

>>  STEP #1:  Don’t Wait By the Phone

Turn off mobile notifications so that Mark doesn’t message you throughout the day.  Browse and post on Facebook only when it’s convenient for you.

>>  STEP #2:  Limit your “Liking” habit?

Facebook sells your likes and interests to advertisers so that they can specifically target YOU.  I might see an ad on Facebook that is targeted towards 20-25 year old females who like Buzzfeed and the San Francisco 49er’s. We spend time carefully choosing what to like to make our profiles look good to our friends, but rarely do our friends check over it. Facebook encourages this habit so that they have more information to sell.

>>  STEP #3:  Only Post the Big Stuff

Post a photo or two here and there, say “Happy Birthday” to a friend, RSVP to an event, and then LOG OFF.

>>  STEP #4: Only Trust Yourself with Your Data

There are other options for your more personal conversations, whether they be serious, or you just want to share all those photos from the concert you went to last week with your friends. Options that respect you and don’t sell your data.

For example, there’s Omlet a super fun, easy and social chat app that lets you easily message friends, share photos, post videos, and express yourself without Mark or anyone looking over your shoulder. With Omlet you’re as safe as you can be while still keeping in touch with all your friends. It’s your data, you should be able to control it AND still have a fun conversations with your friends and family.

[Note to teens: this guest post was written by someone from Omlet…we are running it because its kind of cute but it is intended as promo and you should keep that in mind]

Perfect Bars – Tasty, Wholesome Nutrition From a Family-Owned Business

Let’s face it. A lot of the food which is mass-produced by large conglomerates is simply not good for you and only intended to addict your taste buds while enriching owners. Just walk down the center aisles of any supermarket and you will see tons of artificial colors, synthetic preservatives, massive amounts of refined sugar and cheap, low-quality fats in those brightly colored packages. Profit, rather than the well-being of their customers, is obviously the priority for many firms.

Fortunately, consumers are starting to catch on and make better choices when shopping. And some smart manufacturers are taking advantage of this and making foods without all the nasty stuff inside that still taste great.

The Perfect Bar is a product which fits the “healthy while still being tasty” bill perfectly.


First a little background. Perfect Bar was created by a health and fitness pioneer named Dr. Bud Keith, who was a friend and associate of original fitness guru Jack LaLanne. He took organic peanut butter and blended it with other wholesome ingredients, including honey, veggies and fruit, and announced, “It’s Perfect!” In 2005, his eldest children took his recipes and launched the Perfect Foods Bar, now simplified to just Perfect Bar.

From the company: “Perfect Bars are gluten free, high in protein, packed with vitamins, contain 20+ organic superfoods and boast an ingredient label that is easy to pronounce and understand. Plus, they are sweetened with honey and contain NO refined sugars, artificial ingredients or preservatives—ever.”

We were recently sent a sample pack to taste the different varieties, which are Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cranberry Crunch Lite, Carob Chip, Fruit and Nut, Vegan Almond Coconut and Almond Acai Lite. The bars are substantial and dense, and none of us at TWK studios were able to finish an entire one at once without sharing. All of them were fantastic, with our preference leaning towards the more exotic bars such as the Cranberry and Acai ones. The bars also come in mini sizes, and these are definitely easier to consume in one sitting.

Inside each variety are things most teens know are good for them but rarely like to eat, such as kale, flax seed, rose hips, papaya, dried tomato, and even spinach. The amazing thing is that you cannot taste them…the bars are delicious and sweet. They are not diet food, but will leave you feeling full for a while, while satisfying your sweet tooth.

One caveat: the bars are made of real food and have no toxic preservatives, so they do best under refrigeration. You can have them at room temperature for about two weeks, but any longer and the natural oils will begin to separate. That’s a minor inconvenience for such a fresh, power-packed product!

To sum up: we highly recommend these bars to teens everywhere. Ditch the Snickers and get some of these instead…your body will thank you for it.

Find a local retailer here:

Watch the story of The Perfect Bar and the family who runs it here:

Mother’s Day Recipes any Teen Can Make

A lot of teens struggle with what to get their moms on Mother’s Day. While she always appreciates the hand-made cards and extra hugs, why not surprise her with a tasty treat?

To help you out, the stars of the upcoming movie “Moms’ Night Out,” in collaboration with eMeals, have provided some easy-to-make, delicious recipes that even teens can try. If you are not an experienced cook, might want to have Dad or another adult help you out.

Here they are:

Actor – Trace Adkins
Bones’ Bacon-Cornmeal Pancakes
Treat Mom to these Natural & Organic big pancakes with bacon in them. Bones approves of the popular maple and bacon flavor pairing.

4 slices bacon
2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Pure maple syrup

  1. Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp, and crumble.
  2. Combine cornmeal mix, flour, sugar, and crumbled bacon in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and 4 tablespoons oil in another bowl.
  4. Add to cornmeal mixture, stirring until blended.
  5. Brush a large nonstick skillet with 1 tablespoon oil; heat over medium heat.
  6. Pour about 1/2 cup batter onto hot skillet for each pancake.
  7. Cook until tops are covered with bubbles.
  8. Turn and cook other side until golden brown.
  9. Serve with syrup.

Actress – Sarah Drew
Ally’s Berry-Almond Breakfast Quinoa
Allyson loves this Clean Eating quinoa recipe to start off the day. Surprise mom with this healthy fare, and let the kids help slice the strawberries.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
4 teaspoons honey

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Combine milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a small saucepan; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until warm.
  3. Divide quinoa evenly among 4 breakfast bowls; pour warm flavored milk over quinoa.
  4. Top with strawberries and almonds.
  5. Drizzle with honey.

Sunrise Smoothies
Mother’s Day means it’s strawberry season, too. Pair this smoothie with Ally’s Breakfast Quinoa.

16 oz package frozen pineapple chunks
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup crushed or cubed ice

  1. Combine pineapple chunks, strawberries, orange rind, orange juice, yogurt and ice in a blender.
  2. Cover and pulse until blended, scraping down sides as needed.

Actor – Sean Astin
Sean’s Shrimp and Grits
Here’s the ultimate comfort food, equally as good for a special occasion brunch as for dinner.

1 cup quick-cooking grits
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
4 slices bacon
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1/2 cup white wine (or sub chicken broth)
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Cook grits according to package directions. Stir in Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons butter and garlic salt.
  2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in skillet. Crumble and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, green onion, garlic and Creole seasoning; cook 2 minutes. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until wine evaporates. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shrimp, and cook 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. Serve shrimp over grits; top each serving with crumbled bacon.

Actress – Patricia Heaton
Sondra’s Favorite Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast
This is a messy but awesome Healthy Breakfast splurge for Mom. Change directions and make it indulgent by using thick slices of French bread and add whipped cream.

French Toast:
1/2 cup cream cheese spread, softened
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
8 slices whole grain bread
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Tropical Compote:
1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks, thawed
Juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

  1. Stir together cream cheese and orange rind until well blended.
  2. Spread mixture evenly over 4 slices bread.
  3. Top with remaining 4 slices bread, pressing gently around the edges to seal.
  4. Heat a large griddle or large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat.
  5. Whisk together milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs in a shallow dish until well blended.
  6. Dip 2 sandwiches in egg mixture, soaking 30 seconds on each side.
  7. Add sandwiches to skillet; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  8. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 sandwiches.
  9. Combine pineapple chunks, orange juice and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until syrupy. Stir in coconut.
  10. Serve Tropical Compote over French toast.

In addition to making some tasty food, make sure to check out the upcoming family comedy “Moms’ Night Out” coming out May 9th! Here is the trailer:

And one last thing: to help make the best recopes you can, get some quality kitchen equipment, such as mixing bowls. Read the full info here.

Stop Bullying – One Teen’s Story

We reached out to teenage anti-bully crusader Rebecca Parkin, from England, to write a piece for us on her experiences and to talk to a few adults about the subject. Here is her article:

bully stopLiving in a society is very hard for everyone. However sometimes people take being ‘normal’ too seriously and bully or harass those who are different or unique. My mission in life is to make my community and those around me bully-free. Not only do I want to create this positive atmosphere around me; I want to inspire people from all walks of life from all over the world. When I was younger I was always the odd girl out. Everyone fit into these cliques, except me. I was the outsider, the one that didn’t fit in, but stood out.

I spoke to several people about their thoughts on Bullying.

  • David Nicholson, a youth patron for Ambitious about Autism said; “from personal experience, bullying can have a detrimental impact on mental health, confidence and self-esteem. I was bullied at school and it made me lose confidence. I wasn’t happy. Bullying is unacceptable and we need to stamp it out.” David was different from the other pupils at his school and they used that against him. Nobody deserves to get bullied, not now not ever.
  • Claire Ryan, a parent patron for Ambitious about Autism said; “Talk to someone, get help and support as soon as possible. You don’t have to deal with it alone.” I totally agree here, victims of bullying really need to speak out. Never hide what’s happening even if a bully has threatened you if you do tell anybody; the bully is only saying this because they are scared that others will find out what they are doing, and honestly it is very shameful.
  • Eva Firios, a talent agent and actress from Colorado said “It’s really bad here and the parents of the child who is the bully don’t care and they stand up for their child, saying it his or her right to do so.” This was one statement that I found most disheartening. How some parents agree to let their child continue this awful and damaging behaviour is beyond me. Parents need to understand what’s actually happening because of bullying: there’s more suicides, more depression…what happened to loving each other and compassion?
  • Michael Hering, CEO and President of LodoCinema, during a conversation I had with him about bullying, told me, “One of the biggest problems about bullying is that it causes a decrease in the quality of life by both parties. Bullying is an act of hate — plain and simple. I think the issue goes further than the obstruction of a happy healthy mental attitude of the individual getting bullied. The real issue is the culture and society the bully is influenced by. If we can unlock the root causes that create the need to bully, we can begin to make steps towards a better society.” This is true. We need to educate our children to love one another and show compassion. Parents need to take responsibility too,.If a child is being hateful you need to find out why. Have they learnt it from you? Is something negative happening in their lives they need help with? Are they depressed? All things that need investigating.

bully girlsThe people above are doing great things in the world and understand bullying and the effects it causes with not only young people, but adults too.

I was a victim of bullying, I have Autism and I was labelled the “weird” or “strange” girl in school. I may have been different in some ways, but I still wanted the same things from life; love, happiness and compassion. Because of my Autism I found it extremely difficult to socialise with others my age, as my brain worked in a slightly different way from my peers.

During my younger years I constantly moved schools due to lack of understanding from the educators and my peers. I went to five primary schools and I’ve been to two high schools. At my old high school, teachers would mock me in class in front of other pupils who bullied and harassed me outside of the classroom. There were young people who threatened me online and physically beat me up in school because they wanted to ‘show off’ and look good in front of their friends. I had no friends. I had nobody to turn to during these times.

However I had one supportive teacher who I still have to thank today for helping me during those years. I wouldn’t have made it without her. She spoke to the people who were bullying me because my head of year [in Britain, the teacher in charge of all the students in a particular year in school].didn’t do anything. She was like a friend, someone who cared about me. There was a time when I was afraid of being in school, unaware of what could happen. There were days when I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to continue fighting.

The other thing that helped me through was my faith in God. I turned to my religion when I needed help. I prayed and prayed and God answered and he guided me through this life and that’s the reason I’m here today. I have to say that Demi Lovato, my idol was also a major contributing factor to the reason I began to fight — the reason I wanted to follow my heart and show that I have a lot to offer and I’m not just that girl who’s kind of weird and different, but I’m a girl who can change, inspire and influence other people’s lives.

I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to say that I finally made it, it took a while but I’m through the other side and I can’t wait to continue on my journey.

I want every single young boy or girl who’s currently a victim of bullying to know that one day you will make your mark on this world and everyone will follow your footsteps, because you’re the ones that stand out, the ones people are envious and curious about. Just believe and let your heart go wild and never ever stop dreaming!

rebecca parkin facebook

I’m 16 years old and I’m an Anti-bullying Activist, I was bullied when I was younger and this is a subject I am very passionate about, I want to help young people understand and realize there is nothing to be ashamed of and things do get better. I’m a Young Journalist for ChildLine, I write their column in First News. I am a Youth Patron for Ambitious About Autism and I represent the charity internally and externally. I am a member of Rotherham’s Youth Cabinet representing young people’s voice in our community.

I do singing, acting and public speaking in my spare time. I love to express myself using the voice I’ve been blessed with.

You can find me on: