Sitters Unlimited of Southern CA

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Archive for April, 2011


Quick and Easy Popcorn Recipes for Family Movie Night

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Sugar Free Kettle Corn

I came up with this quick and easy caramel corn recipe after an afternoon candy-making session. Because I’d spent the last few hours making candy on the stove top and soaking and scrubbing the hardened candy from all my utensils and pans I wasn’t interested in going down that road again so I came up with this super-easy-microwave caramel corn that the kids can even make themselves.

Make up a batch of microwave popcorn. My favorite is Newman’s Own Organic Microwave Popcorn. Not just because it’s organic but because it is truly the best tasting micro-wave popcorn EVER.  Dump the popcorn into a large bowl.

In a tall glass jar or large measuring cup place 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey. Microwave until it boils and then let it boil for another minute, watching carefully to make sure that it doesn’t boil over. If it’s threatening to boil over, just stop the microwave, let it settle down a bit then continue microwaving. Don’t worry. This isn’t an exact science. You can’t ruin it if you tried.

Once the syrup has boiled for a minute or more, carefully pour it (it’s HOT) over the popcorn and gently mix with a large spoon. Done!

Reese’s Popcorn

Using the same method as you used with the Kettle Corn, you can now make  Chocolate Covered Popcorn. Yay!

In a large bowl place 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup agave nectar or honey. Microwave for one minute. Stir and put back in microwave for three minutes so that mixture boils for at least one minute.

Remove from microwave and add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter. I use grain-sweetened chips to keep it healthier. Stir until melted.

Dump in 4 cups popped popcorn. Stir until well covered. You can stop at this point or add more popcorn a cup at a time, stirring until covered. When you’ve reached your desired popcorn to chocolate ratio, pour the popcorn onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until the coating is hardened. Break apart and store in airtight container in fridge.

Variation: add toasted nuts when stirring in the popcorn

Gourmet Parmesan Popcorn

Mix in a large bowl:

  • 1 tablespoon flavored oil such as truffle oil, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic-infused oil, chili-infused oil …
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (crush herbs in your hands before adding to bowl) such as basil, parsley, oregano, Italian seasoning …

Pour 1 bag of popped micro-wave popcorn into bowl and toss until well coated with seasoning mixture.

If you have a favorite popcorn recipe please feel free to add it in the Comments section 🙂


Totally Healthy Chocolate Rice Krispy Bars

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In my search for goodies that aren’t loaded with sugar I came up with this recipe that’s just as easy as the traditional rice krispy bar recipe; easier really since it can be done in the microwave instead of the stove top. My apologies that you may have trouble finding all of these ingredients in a traditional grocery store and if you have to sub more traditional ingredients that’s fine, it just won’t be quite as healthy as my version, but hey, anything is better than the sugar-laden, butter clogged traditional rice krispy bar, right?

The green powder is optional but I add it to all things chocolate. The chocolate hides the flavor. Trust me, no one will know there’s spinach in their chocolate bar so there’s no reason for not packing extra veggies into the dessert.


  • 1 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (choose a brand without added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon green powder (I use Isagenix organic green powder but you can use whatever brand is available to you)
  • 1 serving chocolate protein powder, 1/4 cup (I use Isagenix organic but again, use whatever you have available just make sure there is no white sugar added to it)
  • 4 cups brown-rice krispies (these are rice krispies made with brown rice & no added sugar)

In a large glass bowl microwave agave nectar and peanut butter for one minute. Stir until well mixed. Microwave for another two minutes until mixture boils for 30 seconds to one minute.

Remove from microwave and stir in chocolate chips.

Microwave coconut oil for one minute or until melted. Pour into bowl. Stir until chips are melted.

Stir remaining ingredients (except rice krispies) until well mixed. Stir in rice krispies.

Pour into wax paper lined 8 x 8 pan. Refrigerate until cool. Cut into squares and store in fridge.

If your family doesn’t thank you with sloppy chocolate kisses then you didn’t make it right 🙂

More Healthy Recipes Your Family Will Love


Childrens’ Books Recommended By Oprah’s Book Club

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Browse this list of new and classic children’s books recommended by the Quicklists Consulting Committee of the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and grow a little reader today!
Here is a list of books recommended by The American Library Association and Oprah’s Book Club.

Infants to 2 Years

Help your little ones discover the joy of reading by starting them early with books that will excite their imagination, introduce them to colors and shapes and we’ve chosen books that adults will also enjoy coming back to over and over – as we all know is going to happen when your little ones fall in love with these books.

Mr. Gumpy’s Outing

By John Burningham
On a perfect summer day, Mr. Gumpy decides to take a ride on the river in his small boat. First he adds a boy and girl, and then an array of animals until the goat’s kick causes a cumulative effect and everyone lands in the water. The book ends with a tea party for all.

The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town

By Judy Sierra; illustrations by Melissa Sweet
Parents try to round up the letters of the alphabet as they “skitter-scatter, helter-skelter.” Rhyming text and humorous illustrations highlight each letter until they are all finally asleep in bed.

Rhymes Round The World

Compiled by Kay Chorao
Rhymes and songs from across the globe will delight young children. Full-page illustrations dramatize the sense of play.

Ten Tiny Babies

By Karen Katz
Babies enjoy a bouncy, noisy day until they are finally fast asleep at night.

3 Years to 5 Years

You’ll enjoy spending time with your little ones reading these books. At this age the pictures are still part of the story and these books are beautifully illustrated.

Higher! Higher!

By Leslie Patricelli
When her dad pushes a young girl in a swing, she goes “higher, higher,” until she reaches fantastical heights and meets an airplane, a rocket and even an alien!

Wombat Walkabout

By Carol Diggory Shields; illustrations by Sophie Blackall
Children count backward from number six when they join these adorable wombats on their walkabout. When a hungry dingo captures four of the wombats, the two that are left have to figure out how to outsmart him to save their mates.

All the World

By Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Follow a circle of family and friends through a day of enjoying the world around them and their many connections.

Bubble Trouble

by Magaret Mahy
In a humorous, rhyming text, Little Mabel blows a bubble that encases her baby brother. He happily floats through the neighborhood as everyone follows along trying to figure out how to rescue him.

My Garden

By Kevin Henkes
A young girl imagines her dream garden complete with jellybean bushes, chocolate rabbits and tomatoes the size of beach balls.

6 Years to 9 years

These books will help children ages 6 to 9 years discover the joy of reading by themselves. These books are so much fun though that you’ll enjoy reading these books right along with them as this is a good age for “shared reading”, you read one page, they read the next and so on until one of you falls asleep.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters

By Lenore Look; illustrations by LeUyen Pham
When Alvin’s father takes him camping to instill a love of nature, like that of their hometown hero Henry David Thoreau, Alvin makes a new friend and learns he can be brave despite his fear of everything.

The Night Fairy

By Laura Amy Schlitz; illustrations by Angela Barrett
Wingless and alone, Flory the young fairy must learn to make it on her own while also learning the value of good friends


By Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan; illustrations by Cyd Moore
Miss Hawthorn, a strict and orderly art teacher, meets her match in the free-spirited Willow, whose creativity and kindness transform her teacher and their classroom.

Pippi Longstocking

By Astrid Lindgren; illustrations by Lauren Child; translated by Tiina Nunnally
This book is a new translation of the adventures of Pippi, a young girl with strength and imagination, who lives with her horse and monkey without adult supervision. The artwork is cleverly integrated into the text.

10 Years to 12 Years