Tomato & Orzo Soup

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I love this hack for making a hearty family dinner: Start with a canned creamy soup, add a few ingredients for added nutrition, and dinner seems gourmet in minutes flat.


  • 4 cups creamy tomato soup
  • 1 cup canned black beans
  • 2 cups cooked orzo
  • Plain non-dairy yogurt
  1. Heat the soup in a saucepan until warm. Add the beans and cooked pasta, stirring until combined.
  2. Ladle the soup into bowls, and top each with about 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Fruit-Filled Jigglers

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Jell-o desserts might just be the perfect sensory material for toddlers, equal parts play and edible snack! Here’s a fun twist on how Veronika has played with jell-o in the past. As always, I use the vegan jel dessert from Simply Delish.

Prepare the dessert according to package directions (we used strawberry), and pour into very shallow plates or containers as a mold.

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I added a few raspberries as “treasures” for Veronika to dig up. Any other berry or small pieces of fruit would work, too. Consider a fruit your little one hasn’t tried yet, as this game encourages taste exploration!

As I prepared dinner, I sat Veronika down in her high chair and scooped out the thin layers of jell-o. I gave her an assortment of cookie cutters, and let her go to town!

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It was fun to talk about the shapes she could make with the cookie cutters, and she did lots of poking and prodding.

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When she discovered the raspberries, she was delighted! She seemed a bit overwhelmed by the amount of jell-o on her tray, so I pared it down to one portion per cookie cutter shape.

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She grinned when she discovered the taste! This is the perfect activity to fill time while you cook.

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Can Toss Tumble

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Travis has been having lots of arcade fun recently, and we continued the theme with this homemade carnival game. Play it just with family members or invite friends over for a can tumble tournament!

For about a week, I saved any canned goods we opened up: beans, soup, lentils etc. Rinse each can thoroughly and let dry completely.

To make the cans more presentable, we went through a pad of brightly-patterned craft paper and selected patterns we liked best.

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Glue the paper to the cans and let dry. If your kids want to get even more decorative, feel free to add other embellishment like glitter glue or stickers.

Now set up the cans in a pyramid and it’s time to compete.

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We used a beanbag, though a ball would also work.

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Travis was gleeful with each tumbling can! This was such simple but great fun for a little after-school “sport”.

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Note: I didn’t worry about sharp can edges with my five year old, but if you play with younger children, make sure to cover any jagged metal edges with masking tape or painter’s tape.