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Lifestyle

Our favorite recipes that take less than 35 minutes to cook

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We know you already do so much, mama. From errands to laundry and answering emails from your boss—or just answering to that tiny boss in your house—preparing home-cooked meals can be hard to fit into an already packed schedule. (Not to mention finding healthy choices that your toddler won't throw across the kitchen!) But getting a nutritious, tasty home-cooked meal, snack, or dessert on the table shouldn't be such a chore.

That's why we've rounded up some of our favorite, easy-to-whip-together meal ideas—and they all take less than 35 minutes to make.

Even better, they're guaranteed to please even the choosiest family member.

​Garlic Roasted Tomato, Corn + Spinach Flatbread

By Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

Serves: 5

Time to cook: 20 mins

Ingredients

Sauce

Pizza

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500-degrees. If using a store-bought crust preheat oven to suggested temperature on package directions.
  2. Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, stir to combine the tomato sauce, olive oil and salt. Set aside.
  3. Make the pizza: Using the back of your hands, stretch the dough into a 10 x 14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large parchment lined baking sheet. If using a store-bought crust, place on parchment paper.
  4. Spread the sauce evenly across the dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Scatter the corn, cherry tomatoes, sliced garlic, and remaining red onion slices. Arrange chicken slices over top, if desired, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the rim is golden brown and the bottom of the pizza is crisp.
  5. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, top with baby spinach, remaining slices of red onion, crumbled feta, and drizzle with olive oil. Cut into 10 square slices and enjoy.

Pro tip: Flatbread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Chocolate, Banana, Raspberry Quinoa Bowl

By Andrea Marcellus

Serves: 1 Serving, One-Hand Portion

Time to cook: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup quinoa (cooked)
  • 1/2 cup banana (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon almonds (sliced)
  • 2 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoon milk (or milk alternative)
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

    1. Place cooked quinoa in pot and add milk, chocolate, vanilla, maple syrup and salt. Heat over medium-low heat until everything is combined and quinoa is thick, about 5 minutes.
    2. Place in bowl and top with bananas, raspberries, almonds... let your imagination go bananas!

    Lemon Garlic Chicken Zoodles

    By Andrea Marcellus

    Serves: 1 Serving, Two-Hand Portion

    Time to cook: 12 mins

    Ingredients

    • 1 zucchini (spiralized or julienned)
    • 1 chicken breast (cubed)
    • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
    • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 1 pinch salt and pepper
    • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

    Instructions:

    1. In a skillet over medium heat add olive oil and garlic. Once garlic is fragrant, add cubed chicken.
    2. Once chicken is mostly cooked, add cherry tomatoes and allow those to cook until they blister, about 5 minutes.
    3. Next, add the zoodles, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and mix together.
    4. Eat while contemplating the word "zoodles."

    Mixed Veggie Fritter

    By Andrea Marcellus

    Serves: 4 Servings, One-Hand Portion

    Time to cook: 10 mins

    Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoon zucchini (shredded)
    • 3 tablespoon cauliflower (finely chopped)
    • 3 tablespoon butternut squash (shredded)
    • 3 tablespoon broccoli (finely chopped)
    • 3 tablespoon carrot (shredded)
    • 3 tablespoon spinach (shredded)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 3 tablespoon almond flour
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon yogurt (whole milk or plant-based // Optional)
    • 1 Pinch salt and pepper

    Instructions:

    1. In a large bowl, combine the veggies—and any other veggies you want to add—with egg, flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
    2. In a skillet over medium heat add olive oil. Form patties with hands and add to skillet.
    3. Allow fritters to brown about 3 minutes each side. Remove from pan and top with Greek yogurt (if using).
    4. Divide any fritters you're not enjoying right now into a serving container for later in the week.

    Creamy Tomato Soup

    By KidStir

    Serves: 4

    Time to cook: 25 mins

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cream
    • Small bunch fresh basil, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 cup cheddar cheese cubes, optional

    Instructions:

    1. A grown-up should heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Once hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat.
    2. Blend the whole tomatoes and all the juices in a blender. Add the cooked onion and garlic, and blend until smooth.
    3. Carefully pour the pureed tomatoes into the soup pot. Turn the heat to medium-high.
    4. Stir in the cream and cook for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and extra cream, if you'd like.
    5. Ladle the soup into bowls. Stir in cubes of cheese, if you'd like. Top with chopped fresh basil and pass the salt and pepper!

    Orange Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate + Tangy Turmeric Dressing

    By Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

    Serves: 8

    Time to cook: 30 mins

    Ingredients

    Dressing

    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice, from 2 mandarin oranges
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
    • 1 clove garlic, smashed
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    Salad

    • 2 cups dry Sun Harvest Organic Whole Grain Red and White Quinoa*
    • 1, 15-ounce can Sun Harvest Organic Garbanzo Beans*, drained and rinsed
    • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
    • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
    • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    • 3 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
    • 1 cup pomegranate arils
    • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
    • 8 mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced
    • *Available at Smart & Final grocery stores

    Instructions:

    1. Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside and discard the smashed garlic clove before serving.
    2. Cook the quinoa: Place the quinoa in a large saucepan with 5 cups water over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and drop down to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and cook until tender. There will be some water leftover. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
    3. Make the salad: To the mixing bowl, add the chickpeas, chopped green onions, parsley, cilantro, dates and half of the pomegranate arils and pistachios. Pour over the dressing and toss to coat. Transfer to a large serving plate and top with the sliced oranges. Top with the remaining pomegranate arils and pistachios and enjoy immediately.

    Pro tip: Salad will keep well covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

    Grilled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw + Spicy Mayo

    By Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN

    Serves: 4

    Time to cook: 30 mins

    Spicy Mayo + Slaw

    • 1/4 cup First Street Premium Real Mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
    • 4 teaspoons cayenne pepper style hot sauce
    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon First Street Garlic Powder
    • 5 cups Sun Harvest Coleslaw
    • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

    Grilled Chicken and Assembly

    • 2, 8-ounce Sun Harvest skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon Sun Harvest Avocado Oil, for grilling
    • 4 seeded buns or ciabatta rolls
    • 1/4 cup First Street Sliced Hamburger Dill Pickle Chips
    • 1 jalepeño, thinly sliced

    Instructions:

      1. Make the Slaw: In a small bowl, whisk the mayo, yogurt, hot sauce, lemon juice, and garlic powder until combined. Add the coleslaw and red onions to a large bowl and pour over half of the spicy mayo mixture, reserving the other half of the mayo for serving. Toss the slaw until coated and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
      2. Grill the Chicken: Prepare a grill. Place the chicken breasts in a plastic bag and lightly pound out until ¾-inch thick in size. Slice each breast in half, pat to dry, brush with oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning once, until just cooked through, about 14 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, halve the sandwich rolls, add to the grill, and heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
      3. Assemble the Sandwiches: Spread the reserved spicy mayo evenly over the cut-sides of each roll. Layer the bottom half of each roll with a piece of grilled chicken and top with slaw. Place a few pickle chips and jalapeño slices over the slaw and top each with the remaining half of roll. Enjoy!

      Pro tip: The best part about these sandwiches is that you want to keep piling on more slaw to top your sandwich, so make extra and keep crunching!

      Marshmallow Stars

      By KidStir

      Serves: 1 pan of marshmallows

      Time to cook: 30 mins

      Ingredients

      • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
      • 1/3 cup cold water
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
      • 1/4 cup water
      • 1/4 cup corn syrup
      • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • Cooking spray
      • Confectioners' sugar

      Instructions:

      1. Put 1/3 cup of water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water.
      2. Whisk the sugar, 1/4 cup of water, and corn syrup in the saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, stop whisking and heat the mixture until it boils. Place a candy thermometer into the saucepan and turn off the stove when the mixture reaches 240 degrees. This is a job for grown-ups only because the liquid gets very hot.
      3. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the gelatin. Beat on high speed for 10 to 12 minutes or until nice and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla extract.
      4. Lightly spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Then use a rubber spatula to transfer the gooey marshmallow mixture into the pan.
      5. Allow the marshmallows to set overnight on the countertop. This can take 12 to 15 hours.
      6. Lift the marshmallow block out of the pan with a spatula and place on a cutting board dusted with confectioners' sugar. Then use a star cookie cutter to cut out the marshmallow stars.

      Cajun Shrimp

      By Andrea Marcellus

      Serves: 1 Serving, Two-Hand Portion

      Time to cook: 25 mins

      Ingredients

      • 1/2 cup shrimp (peeled and deveined)
      • 1/4 red bell pepper (chopped)
      • 1/4 zucchini (chopped)
      • 1/4 cup corn (frozen)
      • 2 basil leafs (julienned)
      • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
      • 1 tablespoon parsley
      • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
      • 1 pinch salt and pepper

      Instructions:

        1. In a medium bowl combine together shrimp, Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper
        2. Place veggies on one half of a foil sheet and add shrimp on top. Sprinkle parsley and basil leaves over top.
        3. Add olive oil, white wine, salt and pepper. Fold other half of foil over and fold in sides to seal packet. Place in oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through.
        4. It's like camping food, but way cooler, and no bears.

        Speed Crepe with Nut Butter, Berries + Coconut

        By Andrea Marcellus

        Serves: 6-8 servings, One-Hand Portion

        Time to cook: 5 mins

        Ingredients

        • 2 tablespoon coconut flour (Can sub or combine with oat, almond, whole wheat, or other favorite flour!)
        • 1 tablespoon nut butter
        • 1/4 cup mixed berries
        • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut (unsweetened)
        • 3 eggs
        • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
        • 1 pinch salt

        Instructions:

          1. Beat eggs with a fork and then blend in the rest of the ingredients. (You can also use a blender or food processor if you don't mind the cleanup.)
          2. Place a piece of parchment paper in the microwave and a TBSP of the mixture in the center of the paper. Spread the mixture with the back of the spoon until fairly thin.
          3. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Continue in increments of 30-seconds until crepe is fully cooked. Time will depend on your microwave.
          4. Remove parchment paper from microwave and allow crepe to cool.
          5. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Save remaining crepes for later in the week.
          6. Once crepe is cooled to touch add berries and shredded coconut to crepe.

          Tiny Pies

          By KidStir

          Serves: 12 mini pies

          Time to cook: 35 mins

          Ingredients

          • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
          • 2 tablespoons sugar
          • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
          • 2 teaspoons orange juice
          • 1 tablespoon butter
          • 1 pie crust (we used a store-bought organic pie crust)
          • Milk and egg (for brushing on pie tops)

          Instructions:

          1. Mix the chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice in a bowl. Set it aside to get nice and juicy.
          2. Unroll the pie crust and place it on a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on your countertop. Cut out twelve 2 1/2 inch circles with a round cookie cutter or rim of a glass. Press each one into a muffin cup.
          3. Gather the dough scraps and roll them out. Use tiny cookie cutters to make decorative shapes or cut thin strips for lattice toppings.
          4. Add 1 rounded tablespoon of filling to each cup. Dot with a tiny piece of butter. Add a top crust with slits, a pie crust star, or a lattice top. Pinch the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
          5. Brush the mini pies with a beaten egg mixed with a little milk. Bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 15 to 17 minutes or until the filling bubbles and the crusts turn golden brown. Let the pies cool for just a few minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one by running a sharp knife around the edges and popping it out of the pan.

          Pearl Brownies

          pearl brownies

          By Twenty-Five Eight

          Time to cook: 30 mins

          Ingredients

          • 2 cup organic almond flour
          • 1/2 cup arrow root powder
          • 2 tsp aluminum free organic baking powder
          • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
          • 1 Tbsp freshwater pearl powder (we use Sun Potion)
          • 3 eggs
          • 1/2 cup organic avocado oil
          • 1 1/2 cup organic maple syrup
          • 3/4 cup organic cacao powder
          • Optional:
          • 1/2 cup organic. chocolate chips
          • 1/2 cup organic chopped almonds, toasted
          Instructions:
          1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
          2. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients together, set aside.
          3. In a second bowl whisk wet ingredients together.
          4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold gently until combined. (Optional: Fold in chocolate chops and/or almonds)
          5. Pour batter into a prepared baking dish.
          6. 6. Bake 20-25 min.
          7. 7. Remove and let cool.

          **Always check with a physician before ingesting.

          Creamy Asparagus-Artichoke Soup

          Creamy Asparagus-Artichoke Soup

          By Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD for Eating for Pregnancy

          Serves: 4

          Time to cook: 15 mins

          Ingredients

          • 3 tablespoons olive oil
          • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
          • 1/2 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
          • 4 cups stock or water
          • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
          • 16 ounces green asparagus, tough ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
          • 1 (13.75-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
          • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon (optional)
          • Freshly ground black pepper
          • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

          Instructions:

          1. Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the beans, stock, and salt and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus, artichoke hearts, and tarragon, if using, and return to a boil.
          2. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
          3. Remove from the heat.
          4. Allow the soup to cool slightly, then puree it.
          5. Adjust the seasoning and consistency, add the lemon juice, if desired, and serve.

          Pro tip: You can replace the asparagus with an equal amount of broccoli or zucchini. Garnish with nuts and seeds for extra nutrition.

          Gingery Cran-Bran Muffins

          Gingery Cran-Bran Muffins

          By Catherine Jones and Rose Ann Hudson, RD, LD for Eating for Pregnancy

          Serves: 15 regular muffins or 52 mini muffins

          Time to cook: 35 mins

          Ingredients

          • Cooking spray (optional)
          • Bran or similar cereal
          • 1 cup boiling water
          • 1/4 cup canola oil or melted unsalted butter
          • 3/4 cup sugar
          • 1 cup buttermilk
          • 1 large egg
          • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
          • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt
          • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
          • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots (optional)
          • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
          • 1/3 cup chopped candied ginger (optional)

          Instructions:

          1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray the muffin wells with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
          2. Place the cereal in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it—do not stir. Set aside.
          3. Combine the canola oil and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together. Add the buttermilk and egg and whisk again. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger and whisk just until well combined. Add the cereal mixture and mix with a spoon, then add the dried cranberries, walnuts, and/or candied ginger, if using, and mix just until combined. (The batter will be quite thick.) Let the batter sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
          4. Stir the batter, then divide evenly among the prepared muffin wells. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean: about 20 minutes for regular muffins, about 12 minutes for mini muffins. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

          Pro tip: No buttermilk in the fridge? Make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Vegan? Use your favorite nondairy milk made into buttermilk and omit the egg.

          You might also like:

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          I'll admit it: I love a pretty pink and blue nursery. It sounds overly cliche, but it's really classic. Traditional nursery colors are all well and good, but wouldn't it be cool to incorporate the same colors you love in your living room and bedroom in your baby's room? If you're ready to step outside the box and be a tad darring, we reached out to designers at Decorist to help us reimagine nursery color palette trends to put a spin on our existing designs.

          Here are the top new nursery color palettes for 2020:

          1. Mint colorways

          "What's really popular are subtle mint shades paired with organic neutrals (think textural ivory and wood tones) with soft pops of black and white, creating a soothing retreat for you and your little one," says Decorist designer Meg Weber. When used in its more vibrant shades, mint can add moments of playfulness and it blends itself well to maximalist spaces. "There is a strong case for calling this shade of green, in its more subtle hues, the new grey," says Weber. "It feels updated and can act as a neutral itself while adding more dimension."

          Get started with:

          Pairings:

          2. Blue + yellow balanced with brown + grey

          It's important to remember that blue isn't just for a boy nursery, and pink isn't for girls. The color of your nursery is all about colors you like that make you feel good. You want it to be your happy place.

          A blue and yellow palette is a great foundation for any nursery. "This color palette is a classic that strangely feels new again with the infusion of brown and gray furniture in fun colors and bohemian accents," says Weber. "The key is to keep a neutral ground so the blues and yellows pop in a modern way and work with bold geometric shapes. This palette is another great gender neutral option that can also grow with your tot."

          Get started with:

          Pairings:

          3. Jewel tones + vibrant tropicals

          Jewel tones are officially trending in 2020 and it feels especially fresh when paired with tropical accents and hints of blush. If you're looking for depth in your nursery, go for rich colors like sapphire, topaz, emerald, ruby and amethyst. This palette works best when executed with a maximalist approach, layering color on color and mixing bold patterns with natural materials. If you're new to the trend, and not quite sold on it, start small with a jewel tone rug. Rugs are a great way to add color without fully committing.

          Get started with:

          Pairings:

          4. Neutral Bohemian colors with a touch of terracotta

          When it comes to Bohemian colors, you'll want to look to browns, greens and grays. Think of 1970's design when creating a Boho aesthetic—it's all about mixing colors, patterns and textures. "While I'm personally not a huge fan of Boho, I do love the serene and neutral space it creates," says Decorist designer Belinda Nihill. "Layering texture rather than color is such a beautiful way to do so. For boys, I love adding leather and timber to the soft neutrals; for girls, it's the palest of blush tones."

          For terracotta colors, you'll want to look for earth tones that land somewhere between orange and brown.

          Get started with:

          Pairings:

          5. Brooding, moody hues

          "Brooding hues are also trending across the board in home decor and translate beautifully to nurseries," says Weber. Moody hues like blue, green and gray undertones are soothing and can make both large and small spaces feel extra cozy. They also look lovely paired with dark greys and rust, and can be infused subtly or saturate a room.

          Get started with:

          Pairings:

          We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

          Lifestyle

          It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

          We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

          If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

          Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

          Laura Prepon is a mama x 2! 

          Actors Laura Prepon and Ben Foster share 2-year-old daughter Ella and now share another "bundle of love".

          Prepon announced her pregnancy back in October on Instagram:. "We are so excited to announce that our family is growing. Life is beautiful!" and has now announced her birth as well.

          "Overwhelmed with gratitude." she captioned an Instagram photo of her baby.

          Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

          A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

          The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

          "At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

          Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

          Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

          Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

          Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

          "Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

          Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

          The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

          Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

          Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

          Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

          Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

          Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

          Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

          Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

          It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

          News

          We are constantly absorbing emotions from those around us. That's part of the reason being around kids and teens, with their roller coasters of emotion, can be so exhausting. And when our own hearts and minds are clouded by emotion, we are not showing up and responding with our wisest mind and most open heart.

          Our capacity for calm in the midst of a kid's emotional storm offers hope, because it signals that calm is possible in the midst of chaos.

          What's happening in your child's brain during a tantrum

          Neuroscientist Dan Siegel and parenting expert Tina Bryson creatively describe "downstairs" and "upstairs" aspects of the brain. Our primitive brains—the limbic system and amygdala—are reactive and emotional, driven by impulsive, short-term interests, and primitive drives. This childlike, impulsive, instinctual system lives downstairs.

          Meanwhile, the outer cortices of our brains, which enable us to inhibit impulses, slow down, gain perspective, process emotional stimuli, and articulate these stimuli into thought and action, live upstairs. This upstairs area helps us plan, think before we act, take perspective, make moral decisions, and form relationships.

          The "wise mind" integrates both our emotional and our rational minds, according to Marsha Linehan, the creator of dialectical behavior therapy. The four aspects of our brains—left, right, upstairs, downstairs—need strong connections to work together to build wise, healthy brains.

          During a tantrum, when the amygdala and emotions flare up, it's almost impossible for logic to penetrate our kids' closed-off outer cortices. Helping them settle down from a tantrum to engage their wise mind takes wisdom, compassion, and plenty of patience on our part.

          Why children (unlike adults) can't calm down during a tantrum

          Our children are not miniature adults—their growing brains are actually incapable of taking an adult perspective on a situation and using that knowledge to calm down.

          Remembering this can help us see that tantrums are not methodically manufactured manipulations. A child's tantrum operates at an instinctual level that simply won't respond to reason.

          Once we recognize this, we can make more effective choices about responding.

          How to respond calmly to a tantrum

          Yes, sometimes challenging behaviors are premeditated, and in those cases, we should respond with intention, logic, and clear boundaries or consequences. However, when our kids are experiencing a limbic system meltdown, what they need is connection and calming.

          When children descend into lower-brain chaos, parents need to work overtime to first calm our own prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is associated with planning and thinking and is located just behind the forehead—so we can view the situation clearly.

          When we show that we've regulated our own emotions, it signals to kids that it's safe for them to calm down. It also models and mirrors to them (often literally, through what are called mirror neurons) how to calm down. Thus, the quickest way to cultivate calm in a child is to practice being calm yourself.

          As one meme I recently saw on Twitter says, "Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down."

          Telling kids to relax doesn't work nearly as well as a soft voice or a gentle touch, both of which turn on the "attend and befriend" response, shut off fight or flight, thin out cortisol, and boost oxytocin, the so-called love hormone.

          Once we establish that fundamental connection with our child (or anyone, for that matter), we can open our hearts and minds to each other, see each other's perspective, and move on together.

          Once your child calms down, you can move toward processing and planning verbally. Here are some things to try:

          • Continue to engage the PFC by asking what consequence they think would be fair or asking them to reflect on why certain expectations exist in your household.
          • Don't forget your kids' basic needs. That PFC is an energy guzzler—sometimes just a rest or snack is all that's needed to get things up and running again.
          • Sometimes you have to get creative and throw your kid a curveball, maybe literally. In other words, you have to hijack their lower brain by getting them to do something with their bodies—playing catch or doing a few downward dogs.
          • Engage their senses with strong sensory stimuli, like eating a bit of spicy food, smelling or tasting a lemon, or moving to a different room or getting outside.
          • Try to jump-start their PFC with a seemingly random question, like what they want for dinner or what's the name of their best friend's mom.
          • Decrease the dominance of the amygdala with games—a quick round of cards, some fun verbal wordplay, or a checkers match. From there, you can steer your kids back into their wisest minds.

          When we interrupt tantrums like this, it's vital that, once things calm down, we address what triggered the tantrum. You don't have to rehash the details of every conflict, but remember that consistency is always key to raising resilient and healthy kids. So if you say you are going to come back to something later, come back to it. This lets kids integrate the experience with their whole brain once it's fully back online.


          What's happening in your child's brain during a tantrum

          Neuroscientist Dan Siegel and parenting expert Tina Bryson creatively describe "downstairs" and "upstairs" aspects of the brain. Our primitive brains—the limbic system and amygdala—are reactive and emotional, driven by impulsive, short-term interests, and primitive drives. This childlike, impulsive, instinctual system lives downstairs.

          Meanwhile, the outer cortices of our brains, which enable us to inhibit impulses, slow down, gain perspective, process emotional stimuli, and articulate these stimuli into thought and action, live upstairs. This upstairs area helps us plan, think before we act, take perspective, make moral decisions, and form relationships.

          The "wise mind" integrates both our emotional and our rational minds, according to Marsha Linehan, the creator of dialectical behavior therapy. The four aspects of our brains—left, right, upstairs, downstairs—need strong connections to work together to build wise, healthy brains.

          During a tantrum, when the amygdala and emotions flare up, it's almost impossible for logic to penetrate our kids' closed-off outer cortices. Helping them settle down from a tantrum to engage their wise mind takes wisdom, compassion, and plenty of patience on our part.

          Why children (unlike adults) can't calm down during a tantrum

          Our children are not miniature adults—their growing brains are actually incapable of taking an adult perspective on a situation and using that knowledge to calm down.

          Remembering this can help us see that tantrums are not methodically manufactured manipulations. A child's tantrum operates at an instinctual level that simply won't respond to reason.

          Once we recognize this, we can make more effective choices about responding.

          How to respond calmly to a tantrum

          Yes, sometimes challenging behaviors are premeditated, and in those cases, we should respond with intention, logic, and clear boundaries or consequences. However, when our kids are experiencing a limbic system meltdown, what they need is connection and calming.

          When children descend into lower-brain chaos, parents need to work overtime to first calm our own prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is associated with planning and thinking and is located just behind the forehead—so we can view the situation clearly.

          When we show that we've regulated our own emotions, it signals to kids that it's safe for them to calm down. It also models and mirrors to them (often literally, through what are called mirror neurons) how to calm down. Thus, the quickest way to cultivate calm in a child is to practice being calm yourself.

          As one meme I recently saw on Twitter says, "Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down."

          Telling kids to relax doesn't work nearly as well as a soft voice or a gentle touch, both of which turn on the “attend and befriend" response, shut off fight or flight, thin out cortisol, and boost oxytocin, the so-called love hormone.

          Once we establish that fundamental connection with our child (or anyone, for that matter), we can open our hearts and minds to each other, see each other's perspective, and move on together.

          Once your child calms down, you can move toward processing and planning verbally. Here are some things to try:

          • Continue to engage the PFC by asking what consequence they think would be fair or asking them to reflect on why certain expectations exist in your household.
          • Don't forget your kids' basic needs. That PFC is an energy guzzler—sometimes just a rest or snack is all that's needed to get things up and running again.
          • Sometimes you have to get creative and throw your kid a curveball, maybe literally. In other words, you have to hijack their lower brain by getting them to do something with their bodies—playing catch or doing a few downward dogs.
          • Engage their senses with strong sensory stimuli, like eating a bit of spicy food, smelling or tasting a lemon, or moving to a different room or getting outside.
          • Try to jump-start their PFC with a seemingly random question, like what they want for dinner or what's the name of their best friend's mom.
          • Decrease the dominance of the amygdala with games—a quick round of cards, some fun verbal wordplay, or a checkers match. From there, you can steer your kids back into their wisest minds.

          When we interrupt tantrums like this, it's vital that, once things calm down, we address what triggered the tantrum. You don't have to rehash the details of every conflict, but remember that consistency is always key to raising resilient and healthy kids. So if you say you are going to come back to something later, come back to it. This lets kids integrate the experience with their whole brain once it's fully back online.

          Learn + Play

          Most nights as I put my daughter to bed, rocking her to sleep in the darkness, I find my mind wandering to all the things I need to accomplish once she's asleep. I can't forget to throw that load of laundry in the dryer. I need to make sure I finish that lesson plan. I really should mop the kitchen tonight if I have time. As a busy working parent, the mental to-do list is never-ending, and my mind is always taking inventory of all that I've accomplished, and all I've yet to get done.

          But tonight as I rocked her, I looked down at my daughter's legs, which now stick out past my arms when I cradle her in the rocking chair. I recalled how my arms used to wrap completely around her tiny little body. She used to lie in my arms, swaddled tightly like a little burrito, and her entire body would fit perfectly in my arms. It feels like this was only yesterday.

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          I blinked, and somehow my tiny, sleepy newborn became a sweet, but strong-willed toddler.

          I stared down at her little face in the darkness, forgetting the list of things I wanted to accomplish once I put her to bed. I watched her eyelids flutter as she fought sleep, and I recalled all the sleepless nights we spent in this rocking chair.

          I remembered rocking her back to sleep on that very first night home from the hospital, so overwhelmed with love and joy, but also plagued with exhaustion.

          I thought of all the nights between then and now. The tough, sleepless nights—through growth spurts, teething, and colds—and those sweet, easy nights where she drifted to sleep effortlessly and slept the whole night through.

          I watched her eyelids become heavy as she drifted off to sleep, and I snuggled her a little tighter and rocked her a little longer. The days have flown by since we brought this tiny little blessing home, and I know that time is never going to slow down.

          I know that there will come a day in the not-too-distant future where my precious little girl won't want her mama to rock her to sleep anymore. She won't want to hear Goodnight Moon for the one-millionth time. She won't want me to kiss her forehead and wish her sweet dreams before tucking her into bed.

          So tonight, I made sure to be present in the moment rather than letting my mind wander to the next item on my to-do list. I watched my precious girl fall asleep and I savored every moment of it. I rocked her and rocked her and then rocked her some more.

          I stared at her sweet face, wishing I could freeze this moment and keep her my baby forever. But I know that the future will bring new and exciting things as well.

          For the time being, I'm going to enjoy where we are right now and do my best to just be in the moment. Because the laundry will still be there in an hour or two, and if the floors don't get mopped until tomorrow, nothing is going to happen.

          Right now, just being here in this rocking chair with my baby is the most important thing in the world.

          Life
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