Never Neglect The Sides: Sides That Will Revamp Your BBQ Gameplan

Summer’s here and the grill is hot. But even the staunchest of grillmasters will tell you: a BBQ may be carried by meats and main dishes, but it’s nothing without good side game. And while mashed potatoes are amazing, a bowl of starchy carbs isn’t always ideal for a hot day in the backyard.

Side salads, once the most boring of pot-luck options, deserve a fresh new look to complete your cookout spread.  We’ve teamed up with Simple Truth® to put together some side dishes that avoid the post-meal slog with pure, simple ingredients and vibrant flavors. These dishes are all super easy, super affordable, and most importantly: they’re delicious.

Tomato and Watermelon Salad

Nothing says summer like watermelon; they taste like vacation. Gourmet Chef Brooke Williamson helped us elevate our favorite fruit by tossing with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. The result is a refined salad that will have the whole family smiling like it’s the first day of a three day weekend. Check out Brooke’s 1-minute method here.

Total time: 30 MIN Serves: 10

Ingredients:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk oil and vinegar. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, watermelon, red onion, mozzarella and basil. 
  3. Add the vinaigrette and combine it well. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers. 

Fajita Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is a staple of the picnic table, but if you’re just drenching penne noodles in that white creamy stuff, people will pass it over. Spice it up with some Tex-Mex inspired spins for a more exciting option. This recipe is great because it’s flexible. Swap the chicken for more beans or throw some bell peppers in there. It’s all delicious!  

Prep time: 20 MIN Cook time: 30 MIN Total time: 50 MIN + 1 HOUR MARINATING TIME Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  1. Season chicken with salt and Seasoning Rub on all sides. Place inside a large, zip-top bag. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound chicken to about 1⁄4 inch thickness.
  2. Squeeze juice of 1⁄2 lime into the bag. Add oil. Seal and massage liquid into the meat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high. Discard marinade and grill chicken approximately 6 minutes per side, ensuring a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Chop chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside; keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and immediately add frozen corn to hot pasta. Transfer back to pasta pot. Add beans, tomatoes, and onions. Stir to combine.
  5. To make the dressing, blend yogurt, 1⁄2 avocado, cilantro, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, cumin, and juice of remaining 1⁄2 lime in a blender until completely smooth.

Gently heat pasta mixture on stove until warm. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Add chicken. Toss with dressing. Top with remaining 1⁄2 avocado. Serve, refrigerating any leftovers.

Crispy Chickpea and Orzo Salad

Speaking of pasta salad, Chef Brooke showed us a more gourmet upgrade that uses orzo for a fluffier, richer take. Add some crunch with roasted garbanzo beans and a creamy Goddess dressing, and you’ve got a pasta salad that won’t take up all of your leftover containers. Pro tip: To avoid clumping, wash, drain well, and toss with oil before cooking. Check out Chef’s recipe here.

Prep time: 10 MIN Cook time: 45 MIN Total time: 55 MIN Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place garbanzo beans on a clean dish towel and gently pat dry. In a small bowl, combine beans, oil, salt, paprika, and garlic powder; toss to coat.
  3. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour garbanzo bean mixture in even layer. Roast 40–45 minutes, gently turning every 15 minutes, until crisp and lightly browned.
  4. Add orzo to a large serving bowl. Top with tomatoes, cucumber and beans. Serve with dressing, refrigerating any leftovers. 

Keto Ice Cream Sundaes

Okay, with three salads on the books, you deserve a treat. Sanding by the grill on a hot summer days demands ice cream. So for our final side item, we’re giving the greatest BBQ the curtain call it deserves with a keto-friendly dessert that harnesses the power of the greatest flavor combination known on this earth: chocolate and peanut butter.  


Prep time: 5 MIN Cook time: 8 MIN Total time: 13 MIN Serves: 2

  1. Set sauté pan over medium-low heat. Toast nuts, stirring occasionally, 5–8 minutes until browned and fragrant.
  2. Stir peanut butter powder and water to create drizzle.
  3. Divide ice cream evenly between two bowls. Drizzle with peanut butter and sprinkle with nuts. Enjoy, freezing any leftovers.

Simple Truth®  provides all-natural ingredients for fresh meals suitable for any diet. With clean snacking staples to meatless alternatives to your favorite Summer staples, the simple truth: is eating well doesn’t have to mean boring eating. So spruce up your BBQ with a selection of affordable and inspiring ingredients from Simple Truth®.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s® Simple Truth®

New Virtual Camp Aims To Make Gamers Healthier

Virtual Camp for Gamers
(Hybrid ATX)

Gaming. One of the most historically popular methods of leisure. Its benefits are countless: learn problem-solving and social skills, improve focus, memory, and hand-eye coordination. Don’t forget the improvement of relationships. Video games are great! But they do sometimes have negative side effects, be they controller-smashing fits of rage, or addiction, which can lead to lapses in a proper diet, exercise, and exposure to sunlight.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Now there’s a virtual day camp called Hybrid ATX, where kids can learn healthy habits to amass alongside their gaming ones. Video games foster discipline, and that discipline can easily be used to pick up valuable life skills, according to camp founder Sam Gonzalez.

“We are going to lead by example,” said the 28-year-old Navy veteran in a recent interview. “To show that just because you play video games doesn’t mean you’re rotting your brain and you’re gonna die fat and lonely,”

(Spectrum News)

Along with a team of counselors, kids aged 11-15 can play video games while learning about proper nutrition, the importance of emotional intelligence, and ways to nurture their physical well-being under quarantine. Here you can see Sam leading a group in some jumping jacks, a perfect way to kill time during those pesky load screens.

(Spectrum News)

Hybrid ATX, whose slogan is “Building Better Gamers,” also offers kids lessons on the history and evolution of video games, and teaches them about the industry’s wide array of career opportunities. It’s an inclusive, uplifting environment, dedicated to showing kids that gaming can be a tool for positive change and growth and not just a means for saying abhorrent things to strangers on Xbox Live.

“There’s a lot of online toxicity, raging and really unhealthy behavior that happens,” Sam continued. “So we are looking at how to teach them 1) not to contribute to that, and 2) remove them from that when they see it.”

(Spectrum News)

Now if can just offer a course on showing adult Animal Crossing enthusiasts how to channel their focus into real, actual housework, we’ll be golden.

You can check out the Hybrid ATX website right here, where you can find info about a free orientation week for students!

4-Year-Old Celebrates Cancer Remission With Beautiful Photos

4-year-old beats cancer, celebrates with photoshoot
(instagram/kris_bowden)

There are so many things that we prepare for as parents. We prepare to be sleep deprived for a while, we prepare to send our kids off to school, and one day, maybe even walk them down the aisle at their wedding. One thing we don’t prepare for though (because honestly, it’s too painful to even consider), is for our kids to get sick. In March of 2020, the Bowden family faced the unimaginable – their beautiful, smiley, 4-year-old daughter Lula Beth was diagnosed with cancer.

After visiting the doctor, the family was told that Lula had a Wilms tumor on her kidney, a tumor that turned out to be football-sized. To treat the stage 2 cancer as aggressively as possible, Lula’s tumor was removed along with her kidney. Following the incredibly taxing surgery, the brave little girl faced 13 rounds of chemotherapy in just 22 weeks.

“She flawlessly got through them all and remained the light in our family,” Lula’s mom Kristin Bowden told Good Morning America. “She has not complained once and graciously completed her course.”

In just four short years, Lula has endured more than many of us will endure in our entire lives. Her strength, bravery, and positivity inspired both her family and the world. On August 28, 2020, the Bowden family got the news they’d so desperately needed – Lula was cancer-free.

To celebrate Lula’s journey and clean bill of health, Kristin Bowden, a photogropher, staged a stunning photoshoot. The powerful photos have spread across social media platforms, drawing both support and congratulations from around the world.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

She did it!!! CANCER FREE 😭🧡😍

A post shared by Kristin Bowden (@kris_bowden) on

Lula, smiling in a brightly-colored dress fit for a queen, holds up a sign. The sign reads, “It came. We fought. I won.” In just six words, Lula tells a touching story. Her smile shows the world that her spirit is stronger and brighter than ever, even after all she’s endured.
Kristin continues to document the emotional journey, with a more recent photo celebrating the removal of Lula’s port – a tube put in place to make it easier for doctors to deliver intravenous medication and fluid.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

HER PORT IS OUT! She is D O N E!

A post shared by Kristin Bowden (@kris_bowden) on

Kristin shared an important reminder on Instagram, telling her followers that “No one has a free pass in this life.” Lula’s photos remind us that we are stronger than we think we are – that though we all face challenges in life, we can come out the other side, our smiles wider and brighter than ever.

Star-Studded Table Read of ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ Happening Tonight

Fast Times at Ridgemont High Table Read
(Youtube/Entertainment Tonight)

Though the past several months have been a new level of rough, a lot of exciting things have risen from the ashes. Our favorite places are closed, our favorite activities are postponed indefinitely – but the good news is, everyone is in the same boat. We’ve had to explore new ways of staying entertained, and at times, invent our own. Fortunately, so have our favorite celebrities, often in the form of virtual table reads and cast reunions from some extremely nostalgic movies and TV shows.

A decade after its release, the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World cast came together for a hilarious table read that brought us back to a time when finishing our popcorn too quickly was our only movie theater concern. For the ultimate nostalgia trip, Malcolm in the Middle’s cast re-read the script of their very first episode 20 years later, which felt more like a family reminiscing than some actual family reunions I’ve attended. The latest volunteers offering to take us back to simpler times are a lineup of celebrities doing a virtual table read of the quintessential coming-of-age movie, Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

Nearly 40 years ago, Fast Times At Ridgemont High took us on a journey through the unforgettable real-life experiences of writer Cameron Crowe, who adapted the movie from his book. Crowe chronicled his experiences as he went undercover as a high school student in San Diego, and brought the wide range of characters he interacted with to life once again in his classic film. We met everyone’s favorite stoner, Jeff Spicoli (played by Sean Penn), the archetypal hard-ass teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and a host of other teens just trying to come into their own without getting in too much trouble.

Now, Comedians Dane Cook and Ivan Dudynsky assembled a star-studded cast who signed on not only to give us some much-needed entertainment, but to benefit nonprofit organizations like Sean Penn’s foundation, CORE, and the REFORM Alliance – both of which help fight the spread of COVID-19. The list of celebrities taking part includes Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Jimmy Kimmel, Morgan Freeman, Shia LaBeouf, Matthew McConaughey, and Julia Roberts, and more surprises are definitely in store. The table read is part of Dane Cook’s “Feelin’A-Live” fundraiser, which will stream on September 17 at 9 pm ET on CORE’s Facebook Page. Learn it, know it, don’t miss it.

Dad Returns Snarky Birthday Card to Son 28 Years Later

Dad Returns Birthday Card After Decades
(Twitter/robwitts)

Birthdays are the universal equalizer. No matter who you are, where you’re from – everyone in the world gets older each year – even the Terminator. And birthdays are often a time for celebration, even amid a pandemic. For one UK dad, his son’s 42nd birthday was an opportunity for a little bit of justice.

It all started when Rob Witts was just 14 years old. To celebrate his dad’s 42nd birthday, Rob hand-made a card that was equal parts thoughtful and snarky. The front of the card featured a smiling cartoon with the words, “Hey everybody! He’s 42! Of course,” while the inside of the card read, “…We won’t draw attention to it, will we?”

As most kids do, Rob proudly presented the card to his dad and immediately forgot about it. That is, until his own 42nd birthday. Now a father of three himself, Rob received an envelope in the mail from his parents. Inside was a beautiful card from Rob’s mom, some pictures from his childhood, and the same 42nd birthday card he had given to his father decades earlier.

A brand new note written inside of the card read, “I guess if you wait long enough, what goes round comes round!” Rob’s dad had also corrected the names, so the greeting now read “Happy 42nd Birthday Dad Rob! From Robbie Dad.”

Though the card itself was a surprise, the hilarity was not. Rob told The Dad, “He is a really caring and considerate man, and we share a sarcastic sense of humour – lots of bad puns and so forth,” he said. “This act was entirely in-keeping with my dad’s sense of humour.”

Rob now lives about four hours away from his parents, and since the pandemic, their in-person contact has unfortunately been limited. However, It would take far more than a pandemic to keep Rob’s dad from making his birthday a memorable one. The photo of the decades-old birthday card along with the story have gone viral on Twitter, accumulating over 100,000 likes in over a week.

Many speculated that Rob’s dad had spent the past 28 years carefully plotting his revenge, but Rob offered a far more innocent but equally excellent explanation. “He and my mum had been looking in their attic for photos of my sister and me at the same age that our kids are now,” Rob said. “The card had been in one of the boxes, and he saw an opportunity! So it was clever opportunism and luck rather than determined planning, and I think I’m relieved to know that.”

Maybe what Rob’s dad meant when he said “what goes round comes round” had nothing to do with justice at all – maybe it was really about the touching things family members do to show how much they love each other. Whether it’s taking the time to hand-make a card for your dad, or caring enough to hold onto it nearly 30 years later.

Father Figures: But With Him

“My wife and I tried for over 4 years to have a baby.

We went to a fertility specialist and did a round of IVF. I met my wife for lunch and she told me the IVF failed.

She told me if I wanted to leave her she wouldn’t blame me. That I shouldn’t have to be stuck with someone that can’t have children. I told her that I loved her and children or no children I wasn’t going anywhere!

We tried again three years later. This time with an egg donor. The odds were against us. When we went in for the implantation we were in our late 30s. It was our last chance; we couldn’t afford it a third time.

When she showed me the pregnancy test I was so excited our dreams were happening.

Gavin was born 3 weeks early and he was just perfect. He is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. He is my everything. He is 3 years old now and I don’t want to be anywhere else but with him.”

– Doug Spink

NFL Team Fills Stadium With Cutouts of Young Fan Who Lost Battle With Cancer

Ravens Superfan Mo Gets Cutouts
(Instagram/Ravens)

Professional sports teams have been letting fans purchase cardboard cutouts to fill stadiums. Strangely, seeing cardboard fans in seats has helped make broadcasts a little less weird.

The Baltimore Ravens took this idea and ran with it. They filled their stadium with hundreds of cardboard cutouts of one teenage superfan who recently lost his battle with cancer.

While some NFL stadiums are allowing small amounts of fans in-person, and some broadcasts are using virtual fans. Others are following the lead of Major League Baseball and filling their empty stadiums with cardboard cutouts. For the Ravens season-opener against Cleveland (total domination by Lamar Jackson and Co., as they routed the hapless Browns), they wanted to do something special.

So, they filled a section with 575 cutouts of Mo Gaba, a superfan who lost his battle with cancer over the summer. They also included one cutout of his mom, who helped him during his fight.

“It’s just hard to believe that my son left behind a legacy and just him being himself,” his mom said in tribute video the Ravens produced. “He did nothing out of the ordinary and what he did in 14 years of his life, I can’t help but be proud of him.”

Mo was more than a regular superfan, the team also rewarded the youngster for his dedication when they had him announce a draft pick in the 2019 NFL draft for the Ravens. Mo, who was born blind, made NFL history by being the first person to read an NFL draft pick written in braille.

Warning, this tribute video from the team will make you cry.

In a statement, the Ravens said the section is dubbed “Mo’s Rows” and will stay in place until fans are allowed back at games. Once they return, the team will find another way to represent the young fan.

Mo’s Rows “serves as a tribute to the young fan who, with his positive outlook and zest for life, captured the hearts of countless Baltimoreans,” the team said in a statement.

The team also honored him with a special “Mo” in one endzone.

“The Great Grass Race” Is Basically The Cannonball Run With Lawnmowers

Great Grass Lawn Mower Race Across US
(Facebook/TheGreatGrassRace)

Lawnmowers are far more than just tools to keep our yards looking better than the yard of the rival dad across the street. Lawnmowers help us stay connected to our communities, and did you know there are lawnmower gangs that keep our parks trimmed? Not to mention mowing lawns give dads some much-needed “me time.” So we’re all in for a new streaming service called Menace Vision that’s giving us another highly unusual use for our favorite motorized lawn care companions – a race across North America.

This is far from the fast-paced action-packed reality show we’re used to, but with everything in the world being as chaotic as it is, 10 mph may be exactly the speed we need right now. The Great Grass Race’s Facebook page explains, “Six teams race across North America with just a lawnmower, a trailer, and people skills to rely on. No gas. No food. No money.”

The Facebook group has accumulated over 2,000 followers, with members of the community often popping in to share that they’d run into the show’s camera crew on their journey across the US. The race is set to last roughly three months, as contestants make their way from Los Angeles, California to New York on their trusty Craftsman T110 lawnmowers.

The neon green team spoke to KSN about the competition. “Everybody had a box with their name on it and inside the box was your color shirt so you had to match up with somebody,” one competitor explained. This means that teammates embarking on this nearly 3,000-mile trek were initially strangers.

The challenge extends far beyond the act of riding a lawnmower across the country – contestants have to rely on the kindness of strangers for food, shelter, and whatever else they may need along the way. With additional challenges thrown in and perpetually-changing rules, this race keeps the six brave teams on their toes.

The show’s creator and executive producer Denis Oliver told FOX10, “I wanted a show that everyone could relate to while also forcing people, including strangers, to work together toward a common objective. This long lawnmower ride is a metaphor for our longing to bridge the tremendous distance we feel between each other right now.”

While the show will also be available on other streaming services such as Google Play and Amazon Fire TV, Oliver created Menace Vision to generate more revenue to fund future shows and donate to charity. The Great Grass Race began on July 10 and is expected to continue through mid-October. Who will succeed? Whose ass will be grass? Only time will tell.

Toddler Amazed By Superstore

South Park Is Tackling COVID in New Hourlong Special Episode

South Park Special COVID-19
(Comedy Central)

After 23-years, South Park has finally found a topic worthy of if its first hour-long episode: COVID-19. The iconic Comedy Central show is airing an hour-long pandemic special on September 30th and the coronavirus and life in 2020 will be skewered in a way only Trey Parker and Matt Stone can.

South Park has ably tackled apocalyptic and depressing stories before, injecting them with a cathartic amount of laughter. Their brand isn’t for everyone, and some people seem utterly intent on never laughing again, but for adults who like jokes, this is going to be a very funny special. We’ve seen COVID humor in 30 Rock and Parks and Rec pandemic specials, but those were limited by the format. This…will be something much greater.

Here’s the full episode description: “Randy comes to terms with his role in the COVID-19 outbreak as the on-going pandemic presents continued challenges to the citizens of South Park. The kids happily head back to school but nothing resembles the normal that they once knew; not their teachers, not their homeroom, not even Eric Cartman.”

The preview shows Randy trying to take advantage of the pandemic, Cartman afraid he might be forced back to school, and Kyle doing his best to practice social distancing. It also shows a classroom with masked kids in plexiglass dividers with a detective as their new teacher.

There’s no official word on the premiere for the show’s 24th season, but the pandemic special promises to be one for the pantheon. The “Pandemic Special” airs September 30th at 8:00 p.m. on Comedy Central and will be available to HBO Max viewers the next day.