Category Archives: Food Gifts

MagicKitchen.com: The Ultimate Holiday Stress Reliever.

Let’s begin this post by discussing the primary causes of stress for most people during the upcoming holiday season.  After researching these causes on numerous and varied sites on the internet machine, from women’s magazines (apparently, men do not suffer from holiday induced stress as none of the articles I read were located on men’s magazine sites) to health sites, I think I can sum them up in one word…”too.”  That one short word that is often confused with its even shorter homophonic buddy, “to,” was the most common word I encountered during my virtual travels.

When Americans are asked why they feel increased levels of stress during the period from Halloween through New Year’s Day, invariably, the word “too” is used multiple times in their responses.  Too much shopping to do, too much travel, I spend too much money, too many parties, too much entertaining, too much cooking, too much work, too much time with family, stores are too crowded, I eat and drink too much, I’m too exhausted, I’m too hungover, I gain too much weight, my expectations are too high…you get the point.  Well, we here at MagicKitchen.com have a way to keep your stress at a manageable level.

For those of you out there who claim the holidays involve too much shopping, too much entertaining and too much cooking, let us take the all those “toos” out of your world (for some reason, spell check wanted to change “toos” into “toes” and that would totally change the meaning, don’t you think?).  MagicKitchen.com allows you to shop for your holiday meals from the comfort of your own home, in your pajamas while enjoying your favorite latte (and avoid those crowds at the mall and grocery store that are way too big.) Simply peruse our special Thanksgiving meal section or visit our a la carte or complete meal menus and make your selections for whatever holiday shindig (how, exactly, is “shindig” a synonym for “party?” The English language is weird.) you’re hosting or attending.

Our certified chefs will then do all the cooking for you using the freshest ingredients…so much for too much cooking.  Next, your meal will be flash frozen to lock in freshness and taste, packed in dry ice and then delivered right to your door.  Imagine, an entire meal of a whole turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, veggies and desert delivered to your front door…one less thing to be stressed out about.

All that’s required of you is to then place our (now your) delicious food in your freezer until the big day and then simply heat it up and serve it to your guests…no mess, no stress.  You have now freed up time in your busy holiday schedule to spend as you desire.  We would suggest you use that time to relax, binge watch your favorite show (Stranger Things seems to be the series du jour right now), spend time with family, learn a new language (ok, that might be a stretch), get outside, grab a movie, tell your friends about MagicKitchen.com (see how I slipped that in there?), read, or engage in your favorite stress reliever.  So there you go, we’ve just removed a couple “toos” from your holidays.

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A Tale of Two (Thanksgiving) Dinners

It was the best of dinners, it was the worst of dinners, it was the age of entertaining, it was the age of cooking, it was the epoch of presentation, it was the epoch of preparation, it was the season of isolation, it was the season of socialization, it was the autumn of family, it was the autumn of folly.

A man, let’s call him Tim, realized that it was late October and thus, was time to begin the laborious process of planning to host his family for Thanksgiving dinner and he began to despair.  He loathed the hours he was about to spend planning, shopping for, preparing and, most of all, cooking the family feast.  For it was the cooking that relegated him to the loneliness of the kitchen while his family conversed, laughed, reminisced, and reveled in each other’s company.  Yes, Tim despaired mightily.

Another man, let’s call him Roger, also noticed that the porch pumpkins had arrived in his neighborhood which meant the time of giving thanks was not too far behind.  However, he did not despair, instead, he rejoiced.  He rejoiced because it meant his far-flung family would soon converge upon his home and he would be immersed in the warmth that is his family, if only for a short time.  Roger would spend little time planning, shopping for, preparing or, best of all, cooking his dinner of thanks.  For you see, Roger, years ago, had discovered a way to host his large family for Thanksgiving while spending every precious moment in their company.

Tim, days after the trick or treaters rang his doorbell and accepting of his fate, began preparations for the fourth Thursday of November.  He counted the confirmations, planned the menu, and then trudged to the local, oversized supermarket to play grocery cart bumper cars with soccer moms, octogenarians, and other work-from-home dads.  He, as always, purchased the staples: a frozen bird, potatoes, rolls, corn, green beans, pumpkin and apples pies, and canned, gelatinous cranberry jelly.

Roger, days after moving all the time-keeping devices in his home back an hour, began his preparations for turkey day by turning on college football, grabbing his laptop and logging on to MagicKitchen.com.  He then browsed their extensive Thanksgiving menu, located and purchased everything his family requested, from appetizers to apple pie.  This simple process took him a total of 30 minutes, but 15 of those minutes was spent yelling at the TV as his alma mater was losing once again.

When the Pilgrim’s favorite holiday finally arrived, Tim just wanted to get it over with, rather than enjoy it.  He got up at 6:00 AM, after imbibing a bit too much the night before, to baste and shove the bird in the oven and then began to prepare the sides, to include mashed potatoes and green bean casserole.  By the time the guests arrived, he was exhausted, still slightly hung-over and began to resent the very kitchen he had so loved after it was remodeled.  That resentment stemmed from the fact that he was trapped in that kitchen along with the new granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and Italian tile floor, cooking for the family whose company he so enjoyed.

A few days prior to Thanksgiving, Roger’s entire meal from MagicKitchen.com arrived at his door, fully cooked and flash frozen.  He then placed it in his freezer until just prior to feast time.  Next, he simply heated it to the necessary temperature and then served it, buffet style, to his guests.  Prior to that, he spent his day conversing with his siblings and parents, playing board games with his nieces and nephews and watching football with his dad and father-in-law, and a grand time was had by all.

The moral of the story: ‘tis better to spend time with family and friends on Thanksgiving then to spend time with kitchen appliances.

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It’s time to Plan Your Christmas Dinner…Let us Help.

Our Moist, Succulent Roasted Turkey Slices
Our Moist, Succulent Roasted Turkey Slices

Every father is known for conveying little nuggets of wisdom to their children.  You know, those short little sayings they stole from someone (most likely their own fathers) or created on the spur of the moment.  Short, pithy witticisms such as, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” or “Sometimes you gotta eat crap…like having dinner at your in-law’s house for the first time.”  or “Adolescent boys are as stupid as a bag of hammers.  What?…no, they don’t get any smarter, but if you’re lucky you’ll find one that works the way it’s supposed to.”

So what does this have to do with your upcoming Christmas feast?  Well, it’s tied to one of the many words of wisdom imparted to me by my father.  Being a spontaneous youth, my dad often said to me, “Even a trip to the frickin’ latrine requires some planning.”  In other words, just about everything you do in life, if you’re going to do it correctly (even in the “frickin’ latrine”) requires some degree of planning beforehand, and your Christmas dinner is no different.

Chicken ana Luisa
Chicken ana Luisa

If you’re going to prepare, cook and present it yourself, then the planning required can seem endless…clean and decorate the house, make the menu, list the ingredients needed, hit the grocery store, prep the food…and on and on it goes.  Well, we here at MagicKitchen.com can certainly eliminate some of that work with just a bit of prior planning on your part (yeah, you’re on your own with the whole cleaning and decorating your house thing).

Think of all the time and aggravation you’ll save if you let our dedicated and trained chefs prepare and cook some or all of your Christmas meal for you.  The entire meal will then be delivered to your door, fully cooked, to be stored in your freezer until the big day when it simply needs to be heated and served.  We offer full-meal packages that serve from one to six and include all the traditional favorites, from turkey to stuffing to gravy to rolls to green beans to pumpkin pie, along with

Crab Cakes, the crabbiest ever.

new specials such as Beef Wellington Dinner,   Crab Cake Dinner,    Chicken Ana Luisa Dinner or Chicken Parmigiana Dinner.

We also offer packages of “just sides” if you would prefer to cook your own bird with your father’s special recipe or have another entrée in mind.  And we also offer the inverse…you can add your own sides and we’ll take care of the turkey for you.  Or you can just order one of our delectable deserts or one or two sides.  You decide…just put a bit of planning into your decision-making process and make my dad proud.

For our entire holiday menu just go here http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/christmas.html

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Holiday Tips for Seniors

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when families come together to spend the Winter Holidays celebrating. In November, we enjoy a huge meal giving thanks for the truly wonderful people and things in our lives.

This is quickly followed by another family gathering complete with gift giving and delicious goodies in abundance. In spite of all the festivities, families can’t always manage to be together due to large distances, financial hindrances, or illnesses. These things certainly don’t mean our friends or families are pushed by the wayside. On the contrary, we tend to go out of our way to make loved ones feel loved, needed, and thought of during these special days.

Some of the most important people need our help the most during the Holiday Season. They are the elderly citizens of our communities. Here are some great tips and gifts for Seniors and their caregivers for the 2016 Holidays.

  1. walkingparkLooking Good, Feeling Good – We all seem to feel better when we look better. This is at any age, but it is especially true for the elderly. Gift certificates for a beauty treatment or to a barber shop can be just what is needed! Having a fresh hair cut or a beautifully coiffed style can put a spring in the step of aging family members.
  2. A Health Evaluation – This is the perfect time to really evaluate the health of your older family members. Some things to consider when determining how safe they are, include – if they are experiencing things such as memory loss or mobility problems, can they take care of themselves (i.e. bathing, eating, drinking, staying warm, etc.), can they take their medicine regularly, if they can safely drive, and how high are their spirits? Keep in mind that sometimes elderly people are reluctant to give any information letting on that they can’t handle daily life like they used to. Look for clues and signs when talking to them.
  3. Take a Load Off – Many miles can really put a strain on you when you’re concerned about your parents or senior friends. Meal time can be especially difficult. A perfect way to pitch in from across the country is by having healthy meals delivered to them. holiday-dinnerThis will enable you to feel like you’ve contributed to an important part of their day. Any meal can be delivered through MagicKitchen.com. There are many choices on the website from specialized dishes for particular dietary needs to comforting soups and delectable desserts. They will be sure to become favorites quickly.
  4. Give Great Gifts – Sometimes it is a challenge deciding what to gift to the mature members of your family or close friends. Perfect options include: meal delivery (see #3), a photo album of memories from the early days of their lives until the present, consider a clock with large numbers for the days when their eyes aren’t at peak performance, warm socks with a non-skid surface on the bottom, a bird feeder can bring many hours of delight…step out of the box and make it a hummingbird feeder.
  5. senior-man-on-laptop-smallThe Greatest Gift of All – This year, why not give the greatest gift of all to those wise, aging people in your life…the gift of your time. It can be something as simple as a phone call or a card you dropped in the mail for those miles away. Make sure to include all preparations for the festivities, as if they were going to be there with you. If these wonderful seniors are going to be joining you for the holidays, include their opinions and allow them to spend the time helping with the decorations or baking. Even if they have physical limitations, engage them in conversation and describe what you are doing. Ask them to tell the stories of their childhood at this time of year. Please, don’t forget to thank them. This will mean the world to them!

As you gather your family together this year, try to create new memories and traditions that all ages can participate in. Make sure to include some where the youngest are making memories with the oldest. These will carry in the hearts of all your loved ones for years to come. It is certainly time for our country to join together to care and love one another.

Wishing you and yours a Happy, Healthy holidays!

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For Your Christmas Gift List, Go Unique.

As you contemplate what to get your friends, family and coworkers for Christmas, why not avoid the bland, boring, perfunctory, and/or plain?  Nothing says “I refuse to put any serious thought or effort into my gift decision making process,” than a $50 gift card or a tie or cash.  This year, take a risk and go unique and that internet machine makes it easier than ever to do just that.  Simply think about the recipient of your gift and what his/her interests and hobbies are and then take it from there.  With that in mind here are a few uncommon gift ideas (in no particular order…no ranking here, within a wide price range) and where to find them.

Chicken with Artichoke and SpinachHome-delivered meals – from MagicKitchen.com of course.  They (we?) offer a variety of meal bundles such as comfort food, home-style, soup for the soul, diabetic friendly, low sodium, senior, and gluten-free just to name a few.  All you need to do is determine the needs and/or desires (in terms of food) of the recipient, visit http://www.magickitchen.com/ and take it from there.

Simulated sunrise alarm clock – An extremely appropriate gift for those that suffer with the winter blahs, aka seasonal affective disorder.  This simulated sunrise clock gradually brightens the closer it gets to your wake-up time and it offers five calming, natural sounds to wake-up to as well.  It also works in reverse, as both the light and natural sound diminish as you drift off to la-la land.  Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0093162RM/?tag=dodochristmas2016-20

Macaron making kit – NOT to be confused with the Americanized “Macaroon” (the almond-based confection), the French macaron is a to-die-for meringue-based cookie.  This kit provides the receiver with everything they need to make a variety of macarons, from “rose” to “Earl Grey” to “wasabi” (yes, I just wrote wasabi).  Check it out… http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/macaron-kit

3dpen3D writing pen — This hand-held 3D printer is perfect for the artist on your list.  It extrudes (or exudes, I’m not sure which) a warm plastic gel that hardens in a few minutes and allows the user to create works of art that have depth, height and width…hence 3D.  It comes with 50 plasta-gel refills of various colors.  Get it here:   http://www.hammacher.com/Product/Default.aspx?sku=89808&refsku=87427

642 Things to Write About – This notebook of writing prompts brings out the creative writer hiding in all of us.  It offers a series of prompts and space to pontificate.  Here’s a couple of examples: “You have been evicted from your home, but rather than live on the street you go to Ikea.  At night, you hide in the bathroom until the janitor leaves.  Write about your life.”  And “What is the sound of silence and when did you last hear it?” Read more here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/642-things-to-write-about

Pac-Man video game console – This full-size arcade console will fill the owner’s home with the vintage “wocka, wocka, wocka” sound as players run from (or chase) blinky, pinky and those other two ghosts through the most famous of mazes.  The game, while a bit expensive, also comes with 12, pre-loaded classic arcade games such as Galaga, Dig Dug, and, of course, Ms. Pac-Man.  Fulfill your classic gamer’s wishes here: http://www.hammacher.com/Product/Default.aspx?sku=11801&PID=7101032&source=cj

Custom Bobblehead – Why collect bobbleheads of famous athletes when you can give any person on your list their own bobblehead?  Simply visit this site  http://www.1minime.com/ , pick a body-style (they have over 450 to choose from, such as: Scarface, a pimp, various athletes, the grim reaper, a ninja, a princess, a bride, rock star and couples too), upload a picture and they’ll take it from there.

cokemachineVintage-style Coca-Cola vending machine – This mini-fridge vending machine holds ten 12-ounce cans of your favorite beverage (not necessarily coke) and is perfect for an in-home bar, game room or the ever popular man cave.  It offers push-button vending…just remember to keep it well stocked.  https://www.sharperimage.com/si/view/product/Coca-Cola-Vending-Fridge/201599

A Listography Journal – An alternate way to journal, this series comes in a variety of titles that coerce the writer to reflect upon their life as they compile lists of their favorites and from either their present or past.  Titles include lists that deal with your favorite films, books, food, travel places, and things you’d like to do in the future.  Get writing here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1452106517/?tag=dodochristmas2016-20

Teas from around the world – Give the gift of global teas to the tea lover on your list.  It contains a set of ten tubes of loose-leaf teas from various global tea-producing areas.  Each tube makes enough tea for 6-8 cups.  The teas range in flavor from Long Jing to bancha tea mixed with roasted rice.  Read more here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/tea-from-around-the-world-set

DIY Computer – For the computer geek, er, genius in your life.  This computer kit comes with everything one would need to build a computer, to include a wireless keyboard, speaker, HD screen, and PCU.  It comes with a step-by-step instruction guide and gets the owner started on coding skills and making their own apps and games.  https://kano.me/store/uk/products/kano-complete

sockMembership in the sock-of-the-month club – Usually socks, well, suck as a gift.  However, many use socks to express their individuality, and this gift certainly will help them in that endeavor.  They offer a variety of socks from traditional to quirky, from no-show to over-the-calf.  The recipient can receive one or two pair of socks every month with a new design that have never been sold before.  Learn more here:  http://www.sock101.com/sock-of-the-month-club-s/1869.htm

Bacon flavored toothpaste – Nothing says fresh breath like bacon!  For the person that just can’t get enough bacon in their life, this is the gift for them.  This 2.5 ounce tube of pork goodness will leave the taste of breakfast in the user’s mouth for hours and cause people in the vicinity to develop a strange craving for crispy bacon.  Yes, this is a real thing and here’s the proof:  https://www.offthewagonshop.com/collections/weird-funny-gifts/products/bacon-flavored-toothpaste

Star Wars BB-8 robot – Modeled after the famous robot from The Force Awakens, this smaller version reacts to commands from either a Smartphone app or its owner’s voice!  It also has autonomous behavior that permits it to wander around on its own as well as an adaptive personality that allows BB-8 to develop a unique personality through interactions with its owner.  Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Sphero-Star-Wars-BB-8-Droid/dp/B0107H5FJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471962679&sr=8-1&keywords=sphero+bb8&tag=goodhousekeeping_auto-append-20&ascsubtag=goodhousekeeping.gallery.399

wine-glassesMusical wine glasses – each glass in this set of two is actually capable of playing a note in the A-major scale.  The note it plays is dependent upon the level of wine in the glass.  Each note is clearly marked on the glass and all that’s required to get it to tone is a quick swipe around the rim of the glass with a wet finger.  A unique take on the toning bells idea, party goers can actualyl play songs which is made easier with the included downloadable sheet music.  See them here:  http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/major-scale-musical-wine-glasses-set-of-2

Wonder Woman apron – We all have a wonder woman in our life so why not let her know that with this colorful kitchen accessory.  It might not improve her cooking skills, but she’ll definitely look better (if that’s possible) while working on those meals.  Peruse it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00541NO4E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00541NO4E&linkCode=as2&tag=tuckerheavy-20&linkId=TOPMX4MOVPHGBKZG

Mossy Oak pink camouflage duffle bag – Have a woman on your list that loves outdoor activities, like hunting or fishing, but still wants to exert her femininity?  Then this is her gift.  This 20-inch bag features the famous Mossy Oak camo accented with pink handles, zippers, shoulder and reinforcing straps.  See if it’s what she’s looking for here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009RUQC0G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009RUQC0G&linkCode=as2&tag=tuckerheavy-20&linkId=XCYP4P2VAYYGSMGE

Bluesmart carry-on luggage – With this innovative carry-on, the owner can track the whereabouts and condition of his/her bag through 3G and GPS technology.  It beams this info to a smartphone.  It also comes with a battery and two USB ports that can be used to charge a phone six times over.  This TSA approved luggage also features a water-resistant surface and a built-in scale.  Be amazed here:   https://www.amazon.com/Bluesmart-1-Smart-Carry-On-Luggage/dp/B00X5OUC1U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=boost&srs=12034488011&ie=UTF8&qid=1447630729&sr=8-42&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=88e08fc43edcdb6ca1d2f6c087bbd695

stripedPlant Theatre funky veg kit – Who hasn’t wanted to grow multi-colored Swiss chard, purple carrots, red Brussels sprouts, or striped tomatoes?  Well, this kit provides its recipient with everything they’ll need to grow all of them (seeds, pots, and peat blocks).  The perfect gift for those who desire to create a psychedelic salad.  Here it is: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Theatre-Funky-Veg-Extraordinary/dp/B00Q74B3D6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1447636639&sr=8-11&keywords=gifts&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=cbf9f11b0a3ae61da87481d8e45753d2

Exploding Kittens card game – this family-friendly card game bills itself as a “card game about kittens and explosions and sometimes goats.”  I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, but if you’re curious you can check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Exploding-Kittens-About-Explosions-Sometimes/dp/B010TQY7A8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=randallheavy-20&linkId=4382a5fc7f6304a38277eda570e1ff6f

There you have it…20 unique gift ideas for just about everyone on your gift list.  So please, this Christmas, take a chance and give a gift that is truly as unique as you are.  I’ll just leave you with a quote from one of my favorite Hugh Grant movies, Four Weddings and a Funeral,  “Why be boring?”  Happy Holidays!

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The Perfect Corporate Gift Idea: Healthy Meals

Business People Group Gift Box New Year Christmas Hat Corporate Present Party Holiday Flat Vector Illustration

Yes, it’s that time of year…the time to start thinking about gift ideas despite the fact that we’re still days away from Thanksgiving.  So why not combine the two things that most people enjoy about the holidays, food and gifts, by giving the gift of food?  And not just any kind of food, but healthy, delicious, chef-prepared food delivered right to your boss’ or coworker’s or employee’s or client’s door (either home or office door, your choice).  If this sounds like a great idea (and that’s because it is) then of course MagicKitchen.com can help you deliver the perfect corporate gift for the holidays.

Stuffed_BellPepperIn fact, many corporations use the holidays to give “the gift (of food) that keeps on giving the whole year” (a direct quote from Uncle Eddie in Christmas Vacation, btw).  They do so in the form of a recurring meal plan (usually lunch) for their employees.  And it’s way better than a one-year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club that Clark Griswold received from his Scrooge-like boss.  I mean, after all, jelly isn’t a stand-alone meal.  It requires something more to spread it on, like bread, crackers, fish or Brussel sprouts…hey, try it before you go “Ewwwww!”

Also, Jelly is not exactly a healthy option.  Many corporations are providing nutritious meals to their employees as a means to create a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.  Studies have shown that workers who regularly eat a healthy lunch have increased energy, morale and productivity.  More and more companies are incorporating healthy meals into their corporate wellness programs as they tend to lower absenteeism, decrease health costs, and assist in creating a culture of health and well-being.

And if they’re given in conjunction with the holidays, a meal program can be used to thank employees for all they’ve done over the course of the previous year, as a Christmas bonus…so long as they aren’t expecting a large cash bonus which they had planned on Chicken-ana-Luisausing to put in a family swimming pool.  Because if they are and they don’t get it, they might launch into an obscenity-laced tirade in which they make the unfortunate suggestion that someone abduct their less-than-generous boss as Clark Griswold did.

So if you’re interested in sending either a one-time meal or a full meal program as a corporate gift, then simply visit MagicKitchen.com’s corporate gift page here: http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/corporate.html and give the gift of delicious and nutritious food to any and all on your corporate gift list.  However, if one of them is named Griswold you might want to go with another option.

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Send a Group Gift Certificate for Healthy Meals

How often do you look to the Internet for something to send to a friend, loved one, or co-workers when they are grieving or, perhaps celebrating? You want to show your friend you are thinking of them and that you care when they are going through difficult times.

It seems we tend to think of flowers as an appropriate gesture when someone has lost a loved one. They convey respect, love, and of course sympathy. But maybe it’s time to think outside the vase, and send healthy prepared meals instead.

date-meals2This is also true when someone is ill. In essence, they have lost the life they once knew, this can be pretty devastating. During the grieving process, self-care can get placed on the back burner. On the flip side, when celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or even the birth of a child, flowers serve as a common gift. With that said, the new parents, elderly, or college student might appreciate a different type of gift.

Take a moment to consider something to replace the standard gift basket or vase of flowers. Flowers are wonderful; beautiful to look at, but maybe the situation really calls for an alternative. Perhaps something more practical.

Sending healthy meals as a gift just might be more useful. Think of the time saved in meal planning, the grocery store run, and preparation. If someone is sick, wouldn’t it be great to send them a healthy, delicious, comforting bowl of soup?

How about giving the new parents a break and have meals ready to pop in the oven or microwave? These would definitely come in handy for parents of multiples. What do you do when there are several people who love the idea of sending meals rather than flowers? MagicKitchen.com has the answer for you in the form of group gift certificates.

Group gift certificates work especially nicely when the group of people live in various parts of the country. Send an email to everyone in the family or office, letting them know the gift certificate is available and ready to load. They each can decide whether they want to contribute and how much to give. And the person receiving the gift certificate can select what meals they like, as well as using the gift certificate for delivery charges.

date-meals1Using MagicKitchen.com’s website to do all of this takes the chore off your shoulders. These group gift certificates for meals can work essentially for all occasions when you typically give presents. New parents are learning to work on very little sleep while maintaining the rest of their chores. Friends and family members have birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and a plethora of other opportunities where a group gift certificate would be a welcome surprise. It means they get a break from the chore of cooking and can enjoy your thoughtfulness when they sit down to eat. I know I will be using this option next time the opportunity arises. Will you?

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com Blogger

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Tips for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…I know there are millions of parents out there feeling the exact same way I do. Why? It’s that time of year again, time for those kids to head back to school. In some parts of the country, school has been in session for several weeks already. Some even started the end of July.

College students, though aren’t quite so fortunate. The average start date across the nation is late August. Right now there are many college students buying bedding, laptops, and other electronic devices and accessories. Here’s a few tips for those headed back to class soon.

  1. 41oiFXyshXL._AC_UL480_SR480,480_Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay motivated to study or go to class when the memories of Summer are still on the surface. Who wants to be stuck in a class room when the sun is shining outside and the thoughts of the pool are beckoning? How do you stay motivated? Here are a few suggestions. Use fun flags to mark the important items for tests or papers. These are super cute and you can find them on Amazon.Another great way is to make your notes look pretty with different colored pens and highlighters. Change colors every 10-20 minutes, or as your focus/topic changes. You’ll start to see a difference and it will make you want to study those pretty notes.
  1. organizedBe Organized: Organization is one of the best ways to get your act together and keep it together the whole semester. There are literally a ton of planners and organizational tools on the market right now. If you choose to start being a more organized person when heading to college this year, start with a planner. Get one that has plenty of room for keeping track of your activities. Write down the dates/times for those study groups, keep your goals in one place, and color code important items.
  1. college-sleepGet enough sleep. This is when you rest and recharge your body and brain. Something we all need. Late night study sessions…or parties…aren’t great for when you have class at 8 am.
  1. Resources: Know what resources are available to you and how to access them. I’m not talking about just the library and tutoring. You should have online access at this point, so don’t forget about the resources there…possible books (free?), local maps, check for discounts for being a student, transportation, and other opportunities available to you as a student. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  1. Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com, prefect for college kids
    Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com

    Food: You need some…make it healthy. The Freshman 15 (15 pounds added your Freshman year) are REAL! Parents of new Freshmen – (ok, even Seniors) we want to make sure our kids eat healthy. They will always be our kids, right? What better way for them to kick off the new school year than with a send off gift they can really appreciate? I’m not talking about a new laptop or cell phone. I mean healthy meals, delivered right to their apartment or dorm rooms. None of us want to see our kids spending either their hard earned money (or ours) on fast food. They need to eat much healthier than that in order to be able to soak up all the information they will be getting during the semester. So do them a favor and make sure they have a few healthy, “brain food” meals for the week.

Good luck this year to all college students, near and far. I wish you a happy, safe, and productive year!

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Why Isn’t Dad Eating? Senior’s Changing Nutritional Needs

elderly-handsIt is estimated that there are over 3.7 million malnourished seniors living in the United States at the current time and even more with various vitamin deficiencies. The reasons for this are varied and range from loss of appetite due to medications to depression to dental issues.

Whatever the cause, not eating properly as we age can become more serious due to the changing nutritional needs of seniors. Thus, determining exactly why the seniors in your life aren’t eating properly as well as knowing what they SHOULD be eating can go a long way to getting them back on the road to proper nutrition.

lemon-herbsAs we age, we suffer from (among other things) appetite loss due to diminished taste buds and sense of smell. Add to those two causes the side effect of loss of appetite from medication and it’s easy to understand why some seniors have lost the interest they once possessed in food.  One way to combat this is cooking with lemon juice, vinegar and different herbs rather than butter and/or salt. These tastes will often be discerned where more subtle ones won’t.

depressed-senior-manSome seniors tire of cooking for one and eating alone and, therefore, do less of it. Depression, especially after the loss of a loved one, can also cause many seniors to eat less. Finally, dental issues, such as tooth loss and the pain associated with it or ill-fitting dentures can be the reason some seniors avoid eating certain foods.

Now, once you’ve figured out why the senior(s) in your life aren’t eating the way they should, the next task is to determine what they need to be consuming to meet their unique nutritional needs. Generally speaking, a proper diet can aid in preventing or treating heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, constipation and certain forms of cancer.

Essentially, just about everything seniors eat should provide some nutritional value…no empty calories! Of course we all immediately think of fruits and veggies, but there’s one simple rule to remember: when it comes to fruits and veggies think “color.” Yes, color. There’s a reason they come in a variety of hues. Their color is derived from the fact that they’re packed with a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. So don’t just think leafy greens, think yellow peppers, orange carrots, red raspberries, blueberries, red apples, white asparagus, and blackberries. It’s a simple way to ensure seniors get a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

hippocrates

Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com
Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com

Also, seniors need plenty of lean protein, vitamin D and calcium from varied sources such as seafood, poultry, legumes, nuts and fat-free or reduced fat dairy, while avoiding red meats and fried foods. They also require plenty of whole grains (think quinoa, brown rice, popcorn) and fiber (which can be derived from fruits and veggies) and they should stay away from trans and saturated fats as well as sodium. Just remember, when it comes to eating, food consumed by seniors should provide nutritional value. If it doesn’t, they shouldn’t eat it. (Although an occasional piece of dark chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.)

MagicKitchen.com provides Senior Meal Plans and individual senior meals, so if you’re worried about your older parents eating right, visit us.  Order a la carte or see our complete meals. Either one provides good nutrition and great taste, wrapped up in a convenient package.

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A Tribute to Dads (mine in particular)

welder1Yes, folks, Father’s Day is just around the corner and I thought I’d share a few humorous anecdotes about my 80-year-old dad that are still fresh in my mind despite the attempts of time to erase them from my memory.

My dad was forced to quit school at the age of 13 and is still the smartest man I’ve ever met (although age has slightly dulled the sharpness of his intellect).  His dad sent him off to work in a local automobile factory where he welded car frames just outside Huddersfield, England in 1949 as the country was still recovering from World War II.  He told this story, and continues to do so, in a vain attempt to toughen me up as I whined about trivial things in my life, such as when the arm came off my G.I. Joe or when I was denied use of the family car.

As I approached adulthood and went through the “difficult” years, I remember telling him that I didn’t care about his “stupid” life story and his version of the “having to walk 6 miles, uphill, to school in all types of weather” tale.  In fact, I told him that I never wanted to hear it again on several occasions.

Portrait of a smiling man with arms folded against white backgroundHowever, in 1991 as I traveled across the Kuwaiti desert during Operation Desert Storm, I desperately wanted my father to be there to relate that story to me once again and I thought about it often as the heat, sand, and events of war threatened to destroy my resolve.  When I returned home and revealed this fact to him, he simply said, “I didn’t know when, but I knew that story would help you at some point,” and as he said those words I’m sure I saw him do something I had never seen him do before…wipe a tear away from his eye (which he still adamantly denies to this day).

As a child, I remember my dad working long hours at the sheet metal shop and coming sheet-metal-shophome exhausted every evening.  During the summer months, my mom had her hands full with three young children to care for.  As a, shall we say, “mischievous” child, I got into more than my share of trouble and my mom would use the often heard refrain, “You just wait until your father gets home,” which usually meant a spanking of some type.

However, when I was ten I remember giving my younger brother what I deemed, an attractive haircut.  My mom deemed it otherwise.  I knew I had stepped in it yet again and waited with fear in my room for the inevitable squeaking of my door which would spell my doom.  My dad simply came in and said, “Son, I’m never going to hit you again.  It’s not the right thing to do (he would often ask me when I had a dilemma, “what’s the right thing to do?”).  But your mother expects me to give you a spanking, but I don’t want to fight that battle with her right now.”  We then proceeded to act out the spanking behind the closed door, complete with my dad hitting my bed with his belt and me crying out in feigned pain.  And he has never raised his hand in anger to me again.

hugLook, my dad  is and was not perfect, but he did the best he could for me and my siblings with the resources available to him, and I’m sure yours did the same.  I sometimes resented him, as all children do, but I have come to understand, as a father now myself, the immense difficulty of this…”job” isn’t the right word.  So, this Father’s Day do something simple and heartfelt for your dad…a thank you and a hug would probably suffice.  I know it’s all my dad requires.

Steve, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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