Posted in Couponing, Home Economics, Kid Friendly, Opinions & Commentaries, Product Testing

Product Review: Circle with Disney

Thanks to McCormick Spice company, I was gifted a $50 Amazon gift card for taking part in their online customer advisory surveys on Christmas morning! Bonus points for the perfect timing but I’m still partial to Epicure at this point.

I went on after seeing a Facebook advertisement for Circle. I was super surprised at the genius in what it said it could offer: a simple plug-in and go device that can control the internet for every other device in your house.

I don’t think I’m alone in this battle: I am constantly nagging my kids (ages 11 and 14) to get off their electronics. Even though I limit their screen time, it seems like as soon as I allow it there is this turn. It’s like crack for kids. (Disclaimer: Not that I really know what crack is like!) This drug-like system that takes them away from this physical world and transforms them into comatose hybrids that look like my children. They then react quickly when I tell them to remove themselves from their alternate realities (how many tabs and screens can you have open at once – no wonder the internet is dragging!!!) It seems easier to let them have it than fight for their attention to real life (dinner, chores, homework, lessons, appointments etc.). Yet being the good mom that I am, I don’t back down from a challenge most times. I’m here to raise good people on planet Earth – not some Matrix they are not old enough to choose to be in at their every whim!

So being the frugal person who doesn’t drop dollars like it grows on trees (or falls like snow in Canada these days!), I went on to Circle’s website to really discover if I could entrust them with my money, internet and sanity.


I was delighted to discover that not only can I limit the internet for each device, there were SO MANY problems that were solved with this little square box (love the irony of it being called Circle!).

Here’s what I thought were some super cool things Circle can do:

  • Everything is controlled by an app on my cell phone
  • Every device can be assigned to a specific family member or user (kids’ friends beware!)
  • Each user has their own “rules” that you can assign
  • Rules include limiting internet times per day and for bedtimes
  • Certain apps/websites (Facebook, YouTube, Minecraft, Netflix, Instagram, etc.) can have set limits per day – that means no binge watching Vampire Diaries all night kiddos
  • Limits can be different on weekdays and weekends
  • Ultimate pause button exists on the app & for each user – When I call for dinner, I will definitely get a quicker response!
  • Rewards can be granted such as extra time, later bedtimes, etc.
  • Chore apps can be linked to Circle to ensure that beds get made before electronics are allowed (I’m going to enroll in a few of these apps too – what a super great discovery!)

So I figured – what the hay! I have $50 in free “play money” & I have free Amazon Prime 2-day shipping, so for out of pocket $62.99 I was willing to gift myself some possible sanity. (Currently Circle retails for $129.99 Canadian but is on sale for $99.99 on
Set Up

It arrived in the guaranteed time and I quickly tore open the package. It was so cute and somehow in a Tiffany blue box. (Good play Disney, good play for those moms you target so well!).

The best thing is that it is literally a plug-and-play device. The installation was so simple and it walks you through everything on the app. It was the easiest thing – exactly what was promised. Within 3 minutes, Circle was working, app was installed and the basic setup had begun.

How many devices do you have in your household? Be a little patient as Circle will recognize them all (Apple or android, it doesn’t matter, plus printers and more I discovered!). The names they come at can be cryptic but that’s not Circle’s fault. I figured out the printer by looking at the manufacturer (Canon). Honestly I really didn’t have to do anything – this little square box had already won my heart for how much work and think-less process / system it has. Thank you on behalf of parents everywhere!

A bonus feature the actual device has is temporary backup power. Not for power outages, silly! If your kids are smart, they might think to pull the power cord in order to deactivate Circle and gain some extra screen time behind your back (oh because your kid is such an angel…..). Don’t tell them, but it sends a message to the app letting you know it happened. Ha ha! Good play Disney, good play! Win for the parents again.

As parents, we can get caught up in the internet too. So we can actually be a user and set limits (“rules”) for ourselves as well. Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram/etc. won’t suck us in for more than ____ hours a day if we set up limits in our user profile.

So as I sit with my morning coffee, I’m waiting for the bustle of my children to start. 8am on weekends is when Circle allows them the internet (they need their sleep!) and I expect my 14 year old won’t venture out of her bed until she hits her limit and gets upset that she doesn’t know how this episode of Riverside ended. Well, it’s her own darn fault… maybe looking at nail polish designs on Pinterest for 10 minutes beforehand wasn’t such a great idea now, was it?

I’m raising good people, and part of that is letting them discover within limits how to make choices for themselves. It’s kind of like teaching them the currency of time: you should budget accordingly so that you don’t end up with a zero bank balance before the end of the day (or pay period /month) wondering where it all got spent.

With Circle, I think my family will have definitely less arguments over screen time plus it will give my mind and voice a much needed nag-break. It’s a great tool to separate the rules, rule maker (um, parent) and the choices and self-control growing kids have themselves. Well done, Circle.

Please Note: No company sponsored this post. The money was spent by me and was an actual personal purchase.

Posted in Healthy

Child is a Picky Eater? Think again. 

In my experiences teaching with Nutrition Bites, I’ve been thrilled to help many families. The parents hire me, yet the entire family benefits.

Children learn kitchen safety, how to use appliances & of course how to cook. Beyond that comes all of specialty work of teaching nutrition and coaching. The lessons & knowledge are shared back at home with “Look at me!” Moments, increasedself-confidence & role modelling for siblings. 

Many times picky eaters end up in my kitchen studio. They are sometimes my most challenging work but my greatest accomplishments. 

For example, this one child has been consistently challenged to eat something other than chicken nuggets. This week we tackled the issue by making homemade chicken nuggets. 

We made three choices:

  • Plain nuggets
  • Garlic & Onion seasoned nuggets
  • Italian seasoned nuggets

Three of the ideas I used to help this student along are easy to do at home. 

  1. Make a healthier nugget coating. 
  2. Let him help cook the recipe from scratch. 
  3. Let him decide out of options which flavour he likes best. 

He surprisingly selected the most flavourful & nutrient-dense option! 

I love how my students grow their minds and tastebuds after only a few lessons. It never gets old when I celebrate healthy food choices with an initially reluctant student. 

Here’s the simple recipe we made. 

Recipe for Healthy & Easy Chicken Nuggets 


  • 2 cups of Breadcrumbs 
  • 1/4 cup of Wheat Bran (extra fibre) or Psyllium Husk Fibre
  • 1/4 cup of Wheat Germ (extra vitamins)
  • 2-3 teaspoons of seasoning 
  • 2-4 boneless, chicken breasts (fresh or frozen) 
  • 1 egg (optional)

Seasoning Ideas


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. 
  2. Mix first three ingredients together in a large bowl with one type of seasoning. 
  3. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. 
  4. Toss chicken pieces in bowl filled with dry mix coating. Make sure all sides are coating. Press coating into chicken pieces of not sticking. 
  5. For extra thick coating (optional): Crack egg into separate bowl & scramble. Dip chicken pieces quickly in egg “wash” and re-dip pieces into the dry mix. 
  6. Discard extra dry mix seasoning when done coated by raw chicken. 
  7. Place chicken pieces in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, approximately. (Cooking time will depend on size of chicken nuggets.)

I’m always ready, willing & able for helping others get healthier in little bites. Feel free to contact Nutrition Bites for more information on any of the Healthy Food & Nutrition services offered for children, adults and small businesses. 
*Epicure seasonings are by far my first choice. They are super healthy compared to many store-bought options. I also am an Independent Epicure Consultant because I was a loyal customer for 10 years & wanted to offer these super healthy & easy meal options to families in my community & across Canada. For more info you can visit my website & online store by clicking on the seasonings links above, or follow my Epicure Pages on Facebook:

Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Kid Friendly, Opinions & Commentaries

Cookbook Review: It all beings with food.

It All Begins with Food: From Baby’s First Foods to Wholesome Family Meals: Over 120 Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating and Healthy Living – Cookbook review

Just a little over a month ago, the nutrifoodie in me was surprised when I peeked into my mailbox:  Food Bloggers of Canada had selected me to receive a copy of “It All Begins with Food” to review it.  I’m assuming they picked me, as my niche seems to constantly revolve around children and the parents who love them dearly (is that you?).

“It all begins with food” is one of the best introductions to this cookbook.  It really shares the viewpoint behind the vision of Leah Garrad-Cole’s mantra of healthy living and her company Love Child Organics.  Teaching them through my Nutrition Bites business services, this book has given me hope that there are cookbooks out there for the kitchen and not just the coffee table or pristine cabinet.  This is a cookbook that will get messy pages fast because you will probably want to use almost every recipe.

Being a nutrition expert myself, I am so happy that the author explains that this is from a mom to a mom.  Her expertise is in experience and she has certain views that might not be completely supported by professionals in my field.  Leah’s views on GMO and understanding of pesticides are one sided yet has made her baby food company known and very successful, as that is what Canadians are asking for.  She does a good job of explaining the organic movement but there are points missing that could only come from an education of sciences (nutrition, agriculture, etc.).  The repetitive “from a BPA-free can” in the ingredient lists should have been in the introduction in my opinion as more of an education rather than a constant stressor for parents that might not have that option.  I realize the health risks involved, so don’t misunderstand me.  I just think that it is very hard to tell when shopping since those aren’t labelled on most products, and could cause a reader to not make the recipe.  Being a Professional Home Economist, I am truly aware of what stops the average consumer from cooking at home. Ok, I’m done with the few warnings because the nutrition science nerd wouldn’t feel comfortable not ethically pointing these out to the average consumer.  It’s one thing to take with a grain of salt, and with this cookbook, you might really be looking hard to find another grain of it – because it’s that healthy!

Let’s start from the beginning.  The cover looks like natural and “normal” foods including burgers and pizza buns that kids would recognize – bonus!  Event the picky eaters will not have many complaints if you cook recipes from this book.

The first 81 pages consist of a guide interlaced with coloured charts, but not the obviously childish bright and primary colours, perfectly styled for the mom in mind (who needs Crayola colours – we are a bit more grown up than that!).  The ingredients are well explained but not always available.  It does offer a few substitution suggestions in one of the pages of the beginning guide, so be sure to look if you get stuck at home.  The chapter titles are simple and colour coded to allow any reader to quickly find what they are looking for.  On almost every page are tips and tricks to help too – it’s reminds me of Looneyspoons & Homegrown the Cookbook.  One example is providing complimenting foods that might pair well with certain recipes.

From a health perspective, I truly think the modern mom will appreciate the identifying icons with each title make it easier to identify which are free of wheat, dairy, eggs, etc.  I love that she lists key nutrients (but I did not verify them) and she also helps.  I highly recommend page 126: The Smooth O Matic graphics spread over two pages is perfect for busy mornings or trying to use up ingredients you already have on hand.

Her values of NOT hiding vegetables in kid foods is something that I would totally support.  I suggest parents to try many things before resorting to this tactic.  As a recipe developer, myself (I rarely have time in between teaching kids to cook with Nutrition Bites, raising my own growing daughters, and running my new Growing Up Healthy company), I absolutely am in love with her placing a space of every recipe for “Date Tried”.  Yet, this cookbook is so pretty I wonder if anyone would write in this gorgeous book – please do and just get a second copy when it becomes illegible or falling apart.  I guess based on the quality of cover and pages you will probably get 5-10 years depending on how much you make time for cooking (you should plan it into your schedule at least one day more than you are doing right now!).

The beauty of all the recipes is the simplicity of them that rely on the flavours and colours of food to make them irresistible to try. They are so gorgeous, you start eating you’re your eyes and any adult would be tempted to make most of these recipes for themselves.

The recipes are so kid and family friendly using whole food ingredients that I completely support this cookbook.  I encourage many of these simple but flavourful dishes. Working with kids in my business this is definitely a cookbook I will be using and recommending to parents.  It could have been a two volume book – one as a guide – one as a cookbook. Her passion for the healthiest options shines through.  Her use of nutrient-dense foods is obvious for us in nutrition and she is truly a visionary I can completely identify with.  We care about our children, your children and everyone’s daily health through delicious food that is easy to cook at home.

Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Opinions & Commentaries, Product Testing

Food Magazine Review: Milk Street

I have to confess that as much as I am tech savvy, I’m still in love with traditional print. The ability to bring things to read without requiring a cord or battery is still brilliant in my mind.  I also love turning the pages and the whole experience of knowing that it will never require downloading and can be recycled in some way or kept as a reference for later and possibly repeated use.

Meet what I consider the Foodie version of Nutrition Action Newsletter: Milk Street.  (As a backstory, the Nutrition Action Newsletter was my favourite until they stopped producing a print version early last year to many nutrition experts’, including myself, discontent.)

What Milk Street does is take the approach to be ad-less.  That’s right – it is all CONTENT and absolutely NO advertisements.  The editor retains complete control of content and doesn’t have to play nice with the big box businesses of food.  Consider it the high-end, grassroots magazine that allows the best recipes and so much knowledge of how to cook well at home (and yes, at times, gourmet).

I stumbled upon the “Charter Edition” (read: FIRST EVER ISSUE published!) in Chapters when I wanted to find some cottage magazines to inspire my best friend while taking a much needed vacation.

My May-June 2017 Issue set my opinion in stone for future editions and so I thought to share this with others who might appreciate the fun & experience of cooking at home.

Christopher Kimball’s obvious experience and depth of knowledge plus passion is displayed in every page and picture.  The once in a while caricatures bring a New Yorker edge to the magazine, the quality of paper makes you feel like you stepped into a stationary heaven and the content…. well have a look at the table of contents that really is a Recipe Index AND my favourite parts: Every Issue “staples”.

The editor founded Cook’s Magazine in 1980 but is back to the new approach of The New Home Cooking – It’s a Professional Home Economist’s dream!  It not only inspires you with recipes that range from beginner/easy to more advanced, but as well explanations of the basic WHYs of food science along the way.

There are even step-by-step PHOTOS that teach you how to make the recipe, showing exactly how whipped egg whites should look with “gentle peaks” and WHY this consistency is important!

The Book Reviews are more about history, memoirs and stories behind food rather than cookbooks galore.  There are tidbits of mini stories, creative ingredient ideas and frugal tips along the way.  Plus reviews and explanation of equipment to consider in your kitchen.  A great balance to all the recipes, all issues also include Cocktails & Wine sections.  Because a great cook always knows that food needs a drink to compliment it.

This is a well-thought out master plan “that’s both simpler and smarter”, even touts the editor.

This is a magazine you should try out.


  • Easy for the average cook to follow
  • Great recipe ideas
  • Digital option included with subscription
  • Background Stories included with a recipe
  • Global flavours represented often
  • Explanation of ingredients – completely assuming they are teaching you
  • Paired with a public television show and public radio show
  • Online video recipe guides


  • American / Published in USA – Increases cost & content might sometimes (not usually) reflect that (Canadian order site
  • Cost without advertisements increases what you pay
  • It is paired with its own private cooking school (so it does have a pseudo & inadvertent advertisement for a company)

Final Verdict – Thumbs Up!  I don’t mind paying a premium at times for amazing content and no fillers!  (Kind of like Epicure spices, 😉 )

Note: These opinions are my own.  I have no way been endorsed or asked to write this review.  I purchased the magazine myself and have no affiliation or kickbacks to suggesting this magazine.

Posted in Healthy

Sunshine Tea

A lightly flavoured, caffeine-free tea that brightens up your morning by drinking during the moonlight. 

  • 2 slices of a lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 inch of fresh ginger, peeled & chopped 
  • 1-2 tablespoons of honey


  1. Boil water. 
  2. Place ingredients in a heat-safe mug. 
  3. Pour boiling water over ingredients in mug until covered & mug is almost full. 
  4. Stir gently. Savour. 

Find more recipes at 

Posted in Home Economics, Ontario, Opinions & Commentaries, Special Events

#PHEcProud Project – Day 1

The #PHEcProud Project

Day 1

Join Sandra Venneri of Nutrition Bites every evening at 9pm for 30 days while she shares with you topics on home economics and being a Professional Home Economist.

Click here to view the #PHEcProud Project – Day 1 video on Nutrition Bites’ YouTube channel.


Posted in Healthy

Daytime London TV Debut

I made it to one of my dreams last week….. Cooking on a TV show!  Thank you to Rogers for asking me to be on their show.  You can watch me here while Bob Smith, the host, makes 2 of my vegan recipes – Banana Muffins & Cherry Vinaigrette.

Nutrition Bites: Helping others get healthier in little bites – Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You can always find the recipes and media links at



Posted in Healthy

Local Business, Nutrition Bites selected as a finalist for the 2017 Mompreneur® Start Up Award


Local Business, Nutrition Bites selected as a finalist for the 2017 Mompreneur® Start Up Award

London’s Own Sandra Venneri of Nutrition Bites is proud to announce that she has been named a finalist for the 2017 Mompreneur® Start Up Award. The winner will be announced at The 2017 National Mompreneurs® Conference on Saturday, March 4th, 2017.

For Immediate Release:

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2017 – LONDON, ONTARIO – The Top 22 finalists have been selected for the fourth instalment of The Mompreneur® Awards brought to you by Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc. and ParentsCanada Magazine.  Every year this award gets bigger and recognition gets more renowned as the achievements and contributions of women and their businesses in Canada grows. This year two new awards were added to include women across all areas of business.


Local Mompreneur Sandra Venneri of Nutrition Bites has been named a finalist by her peers and the business community. The task of determining who will win one of the four Awards being presented at this year’s 2017 National Mompreneurs® Conference will now be left up to an expert panel of judges. The winner will be chosen based on a select set of criteria for each award including track record of success; product innovation of business idea; growth potential and scalability; revenue; inspiration to others; and impact on the community.

Nutrition Bites empowers others with practical skills, such as cooking lessons and mindful eating workshops, to become more confident in their daily health choices. The company recently launched Growing Up Healthy Seed to Fork Kits, an affordable food literacy activity for all ages and stages.  It teaches the connections between growing food at home and cooking fresh ingredients while encouraging healthy eating. Conceived by Sandra, this social enterprise started in response to the confusing and contradictory health messages constantly facing consumers. Sandra is excited to be a Mompreneur Top Finalist. “It recognizes my hard work and efforts in my first years of business but also shares my passion and story.  I hope it encourages other women and our daughters to design their dream jobs!”

The 2017 Mompreneur® Awards presented by TruShield Insurance will be handed out at The 2017 National Mompreneurs® Conference taking place over 2 days during International Women’s Day Weekend, Friday, March 3rd, and Saturday March 4th 2017. The conference will take place at the Sheraton Airport Hotel & Conference Centre – 801 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON.


To interview Sandra Venneri about being a finalist or to provide commentary on being a Mompreneur and business leader please contact:

Sandra Venneri, Owner of Nutrition Bites

Phone: 226-377-2223

For more information on the Conference & Awards, to obtain a Media Pass or to speak to CEO Maria Locker please contact:

Rania Walker, PR & Media Relations

Phone: 416-258-8953


About Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc.

Mompreneur® Showcase Group Inc. ( is the trusted national network that supports, educates, and empowers moms in business across Canada. With close to 20 satellite locations in Canada supporting over 17,000 women entrepreneurs, the company also includes Mompreneur® Magazine and Mompreneurs® Momentum Enterprise of Canada (non-profit) under its umbrella of properties.



About ParentsCanada

ParentsCanada Magazine is one of Canada’s leading resources for parents of newborns to teens. Its focus is on providing parents the tools they need to make positive choices for their families.



About TruShield Insurance

The TruShield Insurance solution was specifically created to provide Canadian small businesses with the insurance coverage they need. TruShield Insurance is the small business division of Federated Insurance Company of Canada, a leading specialized insurance provider. A 100% Canadian owned company, Federated Insurance has been part of the Fairfax family of companies since 1990.  Learn more about TruShield Insurance at