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18 Blogs Featuring Directions for Making Your Own Nut/Seed Butters

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While peanut butter has long been a staple in pantries due to its smooth taste and punch of protein and healthy fats, not everyone is able to enjoy the popular nut butter. To still enjoy a version of nut butter without eating peanuts, more people are increasingly turning to alternative nut butters. In fact, many people are even going so far as to make their own homemade nut butters to spare the expense that typically comes with a jar of nut butter. If you suffer from nut allergies, need to avoid sending your child to school with anything containing peanuts or are just looking for a fun nut butter alternative, use these 18 blog entries as inspiration.

Peanut

Did you know that most commercially prepared peanut butters contain added sugar, salt and oil?  By making your own peanut butter you can avoid all of those unnecessary extra add-ins. Take a look at these six blog articles to learn how simple it is to make your own peanut butter.  Once you make your own you may never go back to store bought!

Other Nuts

For those who have a peanut allergy or who just want to try something different, try creating a nut butter using a different nut.  Hazelnut butter is a popular choice, especially when cocoa is added to create a chocolate hazelnut spread. To mix up a batch today look at these six blog posts for directions.

Nut-Free

If you are allergic to all nuts or are looking for a peanut butter substitute that you can send with your child to school, nut-free butters may be your solution. Some seed butters taste like peanut butter and have a similar consistency. These six blog entries will explain how to turn sunflower seeds into tasty sun butter and pumpkin seeds into pumpkin seed butter.

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24 Blogs Explaining How to Make Your Own Natural Pesticides for the Garden

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While pesticides are necessary when it comes to keeping your plants alive, commercially available pesticides can be harmful for your garden and your houseplants. When used in a garden, the vegetables end up coated with a harmful spray that affects any wild life that consumes the plants, as well as your family. Even ground water can become contaminated. By using homemade natural remedies, however, you can be sure that everything is organic and safe if ingested.  Take a look at these 24 blog entries to learn recipes for making your own pesticides.

Vegetables

Aphids, slugs and many other types of pests can cause extensive damage to your vegetable crop.  Often, these insects can cause so much damage that you may not be able to harvest anything.  However, by mixing up a batch of homemade insecticide you can treat the bugs and prevent any further damage to your crop. For pesticide recipes for vegetable plants, check out these six blog articles.

Flowers

Have you ever looked at a rose that had holes in its leaves? This is an indication that the rose in unhealthy and needs to be treated with an insecticide. Homemade solutions allow you to keep your flowers healthy and ensure that your family and pets stay safe. In addition, homemade solutions are much cheaper than their store-bought counterparts. Read through these six blog posts to find various homemade treatments for flowering plants.

Fruit Trees

Everyone wants the fruit that they pick off of their fruit trees to be smooth and blemish free, but if you are fighting an insect infestation you’ll likely find that you’re picking more damaged fruit than not. To combat this, you’ll need a spray insecticide that isn’t harmful if ingested. These six blog entries will give you options for treating your fruit trees.

House Plants      

Gnats, fruit flies and other insects can get into your house and live on your houseplants, destroying them in the process.  There are several different ways you can treat your houseplants for these bugs, and you’ll find many different solutions in the following six blog posts. Take a look and see if you can match the pesticide to the pest to have the most success.

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30 Blogs Containing Creative Way to Decorate a Boys Bedroom

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Decorating your child’s bedroom can often be quite the undertaking. From picking the perfect paint shade to coordinating furniture and accessories, it can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t already have an idea of where to start. One way to cut down on the stress of decorating is to come up with a theme that you are able to tie colors, bedding and accessories into. Age is another important factor, as a nursery is much different to put together than a teen’s room.   These 30 blog posts are full of photos of various rooms for boys, and hopefully will give you some inspiration for creating a room for your son.

Nurseries

Because nurseries are short-lived and your baby boy will transition into toddlerhood quickly, some people prefer to paint the room in a versatile color palette and then change it as the boy ages. Others take on the project with big plans of murals and mobiles and stars on the ceiling.  How you create the nursery for your son will depend on whether you want to use a theme or not.  These six blog entries share tons of nursery ideas from which you can draw inspiration.

Toddler

Once your baby boy enters the toddler phase, you’ll want to upgrade his room to a “big boy” room. Buying the bed is an important factor in this, as you’ll have to decide between purchasing a toddler bed or a regular bed. If you opt for the toddler bed, keep in mind that you’ll need to upgrade again in a few years. On the other hand, if you choose a bigger bed, you’ll be able to use the bedroom as a guest room any time you have company. These six blog articles will help you determine how to go about decorating your toddler’s room.

Teen

Pre-teens and teens often have a pretty good idea of how they would like their room to look, so you’ll have less to discern when decorating a teen’s room. They also are more likely to want neutral colors or to integrate a hobby into their room’s theme. Look over the room designs in these six blog posts with your teen and see if you can come to a meeting of the minds.

Themes

Using a theme to design a room can be a lot of fun.  If your child loves dinosaurs, use that passion to create the ultimate dinosaur room. If he’s into skateboards, use actual skateboards as shelving instead of basic shelves. Check out the themes in these six blog entries for more unique ideas.

Timeless

Timeless rooms are those that focus on using neutral colors and colors that grow with the child instead of rooms that are full of age-specific colors and designs. Many people also opt for white furniture instead of furniture that is trendy or has designs on it. Timeless rooms allow you to build on the basics. These six blog entries will share some pictures of timeless room designs and make some suggestions on how to create a timeless room.

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24 Blogs with the Best Dorm Room Decorating Ideas

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Going to college is an exciting time for teenagers. For the first time, they’ll be living on their own without you under the same roof. As exciting as this transition is, however, it’s also an overwhelming one. One way you can help make this transition easier is by helping your child decorate her dorm room so that it reflects her personality and individuality. It’s important to remember while you’re preparing to decorate that space is limited and that your teenager will need to coordinate with her roommate before taking over the whole room. These 24 blog entries are full of design plans, wall decorating ideas and storage solutions that help you maximize both horizontal and vertical space.

Design Ideas

In the interest of cohesiveness, it’s a good idea for your teen to get to know her roommate prior to college. This allows them to coordinate colors for bedding and decorations so the room looks put together. If their decorating tastes are patently different, you’ll want to make sure that your teen decorates only her side of the room. These six blog entries look at several different dorm room design options that could be the perfect inspiration for your teen.

No Holes Wall Décor

It’s not uncommon for dorms to forbid students from putting holes in the walls. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions available that allow students to hang artwork and other wall décor up without hammering in a single nail. Take a look at these six blog posts for lots of decorating ideas that don’t require nails.

Small Space Storage Tricks

Items that have hidden storage space are a good investment for small spaces like dorm rooms. You can also purchase items that do double duty to help maximize space. You’ll find plenty of space-saving ideas on the next six blog entries.

Go Vertical

Floor space may be limited in a dorm room, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t viable space to take advantage of. For instance, you can hang removable hooks and buy shelving to stay organized and cash in on vertical space.  For other vertical storage ideas check out these six blog entries.

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Simple Solutions for Stain Proofing Your Couch

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Nice furniture can be costly, and when you find a piece you love it is not easily replaced. An unsightly stain on your couch can make a poor first impression on guests and lower the appeal of the entire room. Being that the sofa is often the gathering place for the family, it is a very likely location for spills and other accidents to occur. Add children and pets to the household equation, and the chances of a couch stain increase even further. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to keep your upholstery spot free.

Buy Smart

First, when you are buying your furniture you’ll want to buy something that is strain resistant and that will hold up well over time. If you do not yet have a couch, consider leather or vinyl, which wipe clean. Other good choices include ultrasuede, twill, denim, velvet, wool, felt and other natural fabrics with a touch of synthetic fiber woven in. A tightly woven microfiber is a popular choice, and most sales associates will understand what you are looking for when you use that term. You can request a stain resistant coating to be professionally applied when ordering your new furniture. If you’re choosing fabric upholstery for your couch, see that it comes with cushions that are in removable covers. This is a wise decision so that you can throw the covers in the washing machine in case of a stain emergency.

Guarding Your Existing Couch Against Stains

If you already have a couch, you still have options. The first is to stain guard the couch. There are many stain guard products out there made specifically for upholstery that you can spray on to create a protective coating that repels stains and liquids. You can also opt to have this professionally done to your existing couch.

You will want to vacuum your couch regularly. This will prevent stains from forming as a result of dust and dirt buildup. You will also want to wipe the couch down with a wet cloth at least once every six months. Many people also use a lint roller regularly on upholstered furniture to keep it looking fresh and preventing a build-up that can result in spots and discoloration.

Change Household Habits

Consider banning food from being eaten while on the couch. Beverages should also be forbidden from this space because even water can create a stain. Think about having food and beverages kept on a nearby table in the family room, or even in the kitchen. Keeping food off the couch is not only good for your couch, it is also healthier for your family. Studies have shown that eating in front of the TV is linked with various health issues. If you must have snacks during family movie night, creating a picnic on the floor is a fun alternative.

Cover That Couch!

As a further precaution, you may want to invest in a slip cover. A slip cover will fit over your entire couch and should anything happen, such as a spill or a nose bleed, it will be the slipcover that will be stained and not your furniture! Then, you can remove the slip cover, treat the stain and throw the entire thing into the washing machine.

If you don’t have a slip cover, you can use a sheet to cover the seat cushions and a throw to cover the back cushions. While not the most attractive option, it will still protect your upholstery somewhat from stains.

Cleaning Up Potential Stains

Should you still get a stain despite all your preparation, attend to it as quickly as possible. First, try to blot up the excess liquid. After blotting, use plain water and a rag to clean the spot. This may be all you need to remove the stain, especially if you have treated the fabric with a stain guard. If this does not work, you have several other things you can try. Whatever product you use, always test it first on an area that is not usually seen, like the underside of a cushion or the back of the couch. For vinyl or leather, you can use soapy water followed by rubbing alcohol on most stains. Always follow this up with a leather conditioner on leather furniture. For fabrics, you can try rubbing alcohol, vinegar, oxygenated cleansers and stain removers made specifically for upholstery.

Taking the extra time and expense to implement these tips can potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road. It will also keep your furniture looking wonderful so you can enjoy your living space for years to come. Best of all, you can appreciate the time with your family without having to worry about spills and stains.

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24 Blogs Sharing Refreshing Cold Coffee Recipes to Enjoy this Summer

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Once the weather starts warming up, downing a cup of hot coffee first thing in the morning starts to sound less appealing. Giving up your morning jolt of caffeine, however, is likely out of the question, which is why cold coffee recipes are the perfect way to marry your cup of caffeine with the hot weather. From iced coffee to coffee-inspired desserts, there’s a recipe twist on the traditional hot cup of Joe for everyone, which you’ll find in the following 24 blog posts.

Iced Coffee

While many people think of iced coffee as being a strongly brewed cup poured over ice, iced coffee is actually much more complex than that. There’s an art to brewing coffee for cold coffee drinks, and when done incorrectly you’ll end up with nothing more than cold, watered down coffee. To achieve coffeehouse iced coffee, you first must learn how to cold brew coffee and add it to a glass of ice flavored with your favorite syrup. Check out these eight blog articles to find different iced coffee recipes.

Frozen Coffee

Iced coffee is good, but blended frozen coffee is even better for people who love sweet treats. These eight blogs share a variety of recipes that use coffee in various frozen drink recipes, allowing you to whip up the perfect cold treat.

Coffee Desserts

Coffee isn’t just for first thing in the morning or an afternoon pick-me-up, it’s also the perfect addition to desserts. When added to chocolate, cold coffee can enhance the chocolate flavor, and when drizzled over cake it can make the cake moister. To find more ways to incorporate coffee into your desserts, go through the following eight blog posts.

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10 Ways to Keep Bugs Out of Your Picnic Food

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With warm weather comes the opportunity to move life outdoors. This, of course, includes meal times. Picnics provide a welcome break in the day and a great chance to enjoy the weather. They allow you to take in nature as you dine, and they make for a more exciting feast for the children. Eating is a not a boring chore when placed in front of a new backdrop, especially if it is one that promises fun and games after the last bite.

All that being said, nothing can ruin an outdoor meal quite like insects. Finding creepy-crawlies in food and beverages can quickly destroy an appetite. And buzzing in the ears and bites on the skin will deter most people from the fun of dining outside, too. Thankfully, you can reduce the numbers of bugs you encounter on your next picnic and, more importantly, you can also keep them away from your food. Here are some easy tips to make your next picnic experience bug-free.

  • Go Under Cover – There are dome shaped covers made of lightweight netting that you can purchase to keep over food that is not currently being eaten. As a thrifty alternative, you can use new shower caps or aluminum foil instead. When it comes to drinks, use cups that have lids and straws to keep the bugs out. You can also opt to cover your entire picnic by dining under a screened tent!
  • Spring for Citrus – Everyone knows that using citronella candles repels bugs, but did you know that you can also use real citrus fruit to do the same thing? Surround your picnic with orange and lemon peels to deter unwanted pests. Grapefruit essential oil also works very well.
  • Stay Away From Water – While a picnic near a pond or lake sounds like a visually appealing choice, the water is a huge draw for mosquitoes, horseflies and other bugs. Moving your outing further inland will reduce the amount of insects you encounter, especially those that like to bite.
  • Create Barriers – There are some things ants just won’t cross. One of those things is water. Put the legs of your picnic table in containers such as cans, pie tins, or upside down Frisbees and fill them with water. The ants will be unable to cross the water, rendering it impossible for them to climb up to the table. Just make sure that the water is fresh, because stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another item they will not cross is cornstarch. Make a boundary around your dining site with it and ants will not dare to enter your domain!
  • Dress for Success – Bright colors attract all sorts of insects, especially bees. Dress in plain, neutral attire when heading out to eat al fresco. Don’t forget to ensure that your picnic blanket and tablecloth adhere to this dress code as well!
  • Try the Hanging Bag of Water Trick – This is claimed to be a saving grace at many an outdoor barbecue and picnic. Fill large, resealable freezer bags with water and put some pennies in the bottom. Hang these around your picnic site and watch how the flies stay away. It is said that the reflection created by the water is too confusing to the flies due to how their eyes work, so they stay away from these areas.
  • Get Minty Fresh with Mouthwash – Mint is an herb that insects detest. Since you would not want to spray a harmful chemical around the area you will be eating in, spray some minty mouthwash instead. You’ll enjoy the smell while the bugs run from it!
  • Plant Marigolds – Cheerful and lovely, marigolds are a wonderful way to dress up your outdoor meal. Not only will they serve to decorate, but marigolds also repel insects and animals.
  • Make Fly Traps – Mix up a batch of molasses and cornmeal in an old pie tin and place it a good distance from where you are dining. The flies will be attracted to this and then will get stuck in there, leaving your picnic in peace. If you wish to be more humane, you can just put out sugary water to attract insects. They won’t get stuck, but they will be kept busy for a while as you eat.
  • Install Fans – Consider bringing some battery operated fans to your picnic to not only keep yourselves cool, but also to keep the insects at bay. Bugs don’t bother people much when it’s windy. You might think this is because the fans blow the insects away but, in fact, the fans work because the breeze disperses all the smells that attract them to you and your picnic. Whatever the reason, it works quite well!
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What to Look for When Buying Your First Family Car

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Transitioning from your sporty coupe or flashy roadster into something more suitable for family excursions can be depressing, but it can also be fairly confusing. With so many features and options available, choosing a family car for the first time is anything but a walk in the park. Before you become overwhelmed and discouraged, however, consider these hints and tips for selecting and purchasing the perfect car for your family.

Safety Features

The first and foremost consideration when choosing a family vehicle is safety and security. After all, you’ll be carrying around the most precious possible cargo. Before making a hasty decision based solely on size and fuel economy, take the time to carefully research crash safety ratings and tests to ensure that the automobile you’re bringing home has all of the necessary features to keep your family safe. All of the optional bells and whistles in the world aren’t as important or as valuable as dependability and safety in the event of an accident.

Roominess

Infant car seats are much bigger than your baby, and the seats only get larger as your child grows. Since she’ll be riding in a booster seat until she’s large enough for the factory installed restraints and belts to fit her properly, your child will be taking up a lot more room than you realize for quite some time. The space factor only increases in importance as you have more children. Make sure that the car you select is large enough to accommodate your child, your partner and at least one other passenger.

Economy

As fuel prices continue to rise with no lasting relief in sight, the fuel economy of your car is almost as important as the sticker price. Make sure that you’re able to comfortably afford the amount of fuel the car will require in order to get you where you need to go, and that you’re making the most ecologically sound choice by choosing the most efficient model in your price range that suits your needs.

Ease of Access

With a small child in tow, you’ll be wrangling a safety seat, a diaper bag and a full complement of items designed to keep her happily occupied during your trip. Juggling all of those things isn’t easy, so it’s wise to look for a car that you can easily get your child into and out of so that you’re not constantly frustrated by the simple act of loading up for a trip to the grocery store.

Child Seat Compatibility

From the time your child is a newborn to the moment she’s able to properly wear the shoulder and lap belts intended for adults, your child should be riding in a safety seat. That means that any car you choose should be as accommodating to a child seat as possible. Look for specialized belts and additional features designed to make installation and removal of a child seat as simple as possible, especially if you’ll be moving the seat from one vehicle to another regularly. Also, make sure that the vehicle is large enough to comfortably fit the seat, and that your child will be properly situated for optimal safety in your new car.

Cargo Area Size

With each addition to your family comes a longer grocery list, more gear to tote around and a more urgent need for cargo space in your vehicle. A cute hybrid hatchback might look great in your driveway and save tons of money in gas, but it’s not going to be suitable if you can’t fit the groceries into it while your kids are strapped into their seats. Make sure that you have plenty of cargo space before signing on the dotted line to ensure that you’re still satisfied with your purchase a few years down the road.

Doing your homework on models and makes that you like before ever visiting a dealership will help you have a solid game plan in place and will reduce the likelihood of impulse buys at the hands of a slick, persuasive salesperson. Knowing what you want and what you need before you shop is one of the most effective ways of ensuring that all of your criteria are met the moment you pull your new car off of the lot.

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How to Make Beds Like They Do at a Hotel

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Do you ever wonder why no matter how hard you try, your bed is never as perfectly welcoming as the beds you return to in hotel rooms? There is just something about those crisp, wrinkle free sheets and perfectly tucked duvet covers that beckons you to snuggle in. Well, now your bed at home can be as luxurious as the ones you sleep in while traveling. Simply follow these steps to create your own sleep utopia.

  • Underneath It All - Five star hotels don’t begin the bed-making process with the fitted sheet. Placed atop the firm mattress are usually a mattress protector, a boxed feather bed, and then a felt sheet protector. So if you are looking to improve comfort, consider adding some of these layers beneath your sheets.
  • The Fitted Sheet - With sheets, the higher the thread-count, the more softness you will experience. Hotels usually use 300-400 thread count sheets in order for the sheets to last through many guest stays. At home you may even want to increase to a 600 thread count. Egyptian cotton is said to be the best material for sheets, but it is really a matter of preference. Some people like the feel of sateen, while others are partial to micro cotton. Choose what feels best to you while paying attention to quality. Once you have your comfortable sheets, you are going to want to wash and starch them. Then, iron them to make them flat and wrinkle free. If you don’t iron, you can send them to the dry cleaners or just put them on as soon as you remove them from the dryer. Be sure to tuck all the corners of the fitted sheet under the mattress. Then, walk around the perimeter of the bed and tuck in all the edges tightly so there are no visible wrinkles.
  • The Flat Sheet - Place the flat sheet upside down on top of the bed. Again, pull it tight and tuck it under the mattress. Why upside down? When you fold it over later, it will display better.
  • The Light Blanket - Place a thin blanket on top of the flat sheet. Tuck this in at the bottom of the bed. Now, fold it over at the head of the bed about twelve inches.  Fold your top sheet over twelve inches as well on top of the blanket (yes, you will have to untuck a little of your top sheet). Now go around the perimeter of the bed and tuck your thin blanket in tight so there are no visible wrinkles.
  • The Comforter/ Duvet - With your comforter or duvet, you have two choices. The first choice is to lay the duvet over your bed so that is hangs over equally on both sides. Pull it up over your pillows that are piled evenly and lying flat on your bed (be sure to fluff first) and tuck it under by pushing your hand under the pillows, making a perfect crease. Your other option is to again lay the duvet or comforter on the bed with it hanging equally over both sides. Then, fold it down about halfway so that you can proudly display your perfect top sheet-blanket fold. This creates a more layered look for your bed.
  • Pillows - If you chose to pull your duvet or comforter over your pillows, you can skip this step. However, if you folded your comforter down, you will want to fluff the pillows and then smooth the cases with your hand to ensure they are wrinkle free. Again, it is a good idea to iron these for optimal crispness. You will want to place larger pillows in the back against the headboard. Two or three placed in decorative shams is the norm. Follow with two medium standard size pillows in front of those. Have these in decorative pillow cases that match the rest of your bed ensemble. Finally, place a small decorative pillow in the front.
  • Optional - For an added touch, spray on some rose water, lavender or mint for a natural, herbal scent that welcomes you home. Add a colored throw or bed scarf to the foot of the bed to dress up a neutral ensemble.

Following these steps will help ensure that you retire at the day’s end to a relaxing retreat. The added comfort will increase the quality of your sleep, making you feel rested and energized in the morning. You’ll wonder how you ever slept before learning these tried and true secrets of the perfect bed.

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12 of the Best Side Dishes to Serve When Cooking Chicken on the Grill

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As the weather warms up and the days get longer, covers come off of grills that have been sitting idly by through winter’s chill. When you slap that chicken onto the flames, you’ll want to have some great sides to compliment your meal and the changing of the seasons. These are 12 of the best sides to accompany your freshly grilled chicken, turning an ordinary meal into a quick backyard barbecue.

  • Corn on the Cob – Whether you toss it on the grill alongside your chicken or steam those ears, there are few things that pair with grilled meat of any kind better than fresh corn on the cob.
  • Baked Beans – Baked beans are a staple of backyard barbecues for lots of reasons, not least of which is the huge payoff in flavor for a relatively small time investment. There are even some higher-end canned versions that require little more than opening and heating, letting you give the grill most of your attention without sacrificing the rest of the meal.
  • Potato Salad – You just can’t go wrong with a classic, and potato salad is definitely a barbecue all-star. Cool, crisp veggies and soft, creamy potatoes pair perfectly with grilled chicken, and even a novice cook can whip up a batch of potato salad.
  • Fajita-Style Veggies – Give your grilled chicken a fiesta flare by serving it with sautéed or grilled onions and peppers. For an added kick, mix the mild bell peppers with their warmer brethren. Just be sure to carefully wash your hands after cutting hot peppers and avoid touching your face and eyes during prep time.
  • Rice Pilaf – Serving grilled chicken atop a bed of perfectly seasoned rice pilaf is a classic combination. If you want to save some time, look for pre-seasoned rice blends that require little more than the addition of water and the application of heat.
  • Sliced Fruit – Your chicken will be hot from the grill, so cooling things down with a summery mix of sliced fruit is a great way to celebrate the changing seasons. If your fruit salad will include apples or pears, you’ll also want to toss the mixture with a bit of fresh lemon juice to prevent unsightly brown discoloration.
  • Coleslaw – Whether you prefer your coleslaw with a mayo or vinegar base, it’s still a great complement to grilled chicken. You can customize your recipe to include raw slivers of almost any vegetable, so get creative!
  • Insalata Caprese – Perfectly ripened tomatoes, fresh, creamy mozzarella cheese and fresh basil can turn your grilled chicken into a summer feast with an Italian flair. Drizzle the whole mixture with a bit of olive oil and enjoy!
  • Macaroni Salad – When the weather is warm, chilled side dishes are even better. It doesn’t get much simpler than macaroni salad, another great dish that requires very little time and offers a big flavor payoff.
  • Squash and Zucchini – Fresh squash and zucchini tossed with a bit of olive oil and fresh dill is a healthy and delicious side to accompany your grilled chicken. You can roast, sauté or toss the mixture on the grill in foil packets.
  • Deviled Eggs – If you can boil an egg and slice it in half, you have most of the necessary skills to create tasty deviled eggs. You can modify the recipe to suit your tastes, but a high-quality brown mustard will have a better flavor profile than the bright yellow ballpark variety. If the best cook in the household is occupied at the grill, these simple eggs are easy enough for almost anyone to manage.
  • Veggie Kabobs – Skewering a variety of veggies to toss on the grill next to your chicken is a quick, easy way of preparing the entire meal on the grill. Just make sure that you cut the veggies in relatively uniform pieces to ensure that they cook evenly.
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