snacks

Five ways to feed the little people in your life

Smoothie Face

If you’re a parent, you know the struggle that exists around mealtime - multiple snacks, every hour it seems, if your children are anything like mine.

Despite your greatest efforts, does convenience allure you, convincing you to purchase the bright-colored, health-touting packaged food items at the grocery store?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

As a parent, I’m all too familiar with the day-to-day stress, hangry kids, and too much to do in too little time. Stressing about how to nourish not only my body, but these growing children, should  not be a burden, but rather an empowering choice of health. There is freedom in creating routines and committing to discipline. Your health and the daily meal times are no exception. 

Since feeding our family does not need to be difficult, you may wonder where to begin.

Let’s start with a few basics that are good for you and your littles:

1. Be a healthy model

Make mealtimes fun by setting a good, healthy example - eat your veggies and try new foods. Nosh on sauerkraut with your breakfast sausage; wrap a big, leafy green around a piece of chicken; sauté green apples in coconut oil or ghee and sprinkle with cinnamon for dessert (it tastes like apple pie, folks!).

The more your kids see you enjoying healthy meals, the more they will want to join you. If your kids lean toward the picky side, hiding veggies in meatballs or egg muffins is a great tool to have under your belt. Also, make sure they know you’re not their personal chef; cook meals for the family not for each individual person.

 

2. Include protein with every snack or meal

Since protein is satiating, be sure to add protein to every meal or snack. Include hard-boiled eggs or egg muffins, sugar free deli meat or protein-laden leftovers, whole-milk yogurt or chia seed pudding, sugar free jerky or smoothies with collagen.

 

3. Involve your kids

You might think taking your kids to the grocery store or having them help in the kitchen is a nightmare waiting to crash and burn on your family dreams. On the other hand, if you preface the outing as a treasure hunt allowing them to pick out healthy items, such as 2 - 3 vegetables or fruit they will eat during the week, you may have success.

Including your children in the kitchen with meal planning, cooking a meal – if old enough – or simply letting younger kids stir in some spices while you’re preparing dinner, encourages them to try new flavors and makes them curious about all the combinations they could create . Better yet, planting a garden with seeds your kids pick out and watching your garden grow, takes the learning experience to yet another level.

Regardless of whichever approach you take, exposing your kids to whole, nutrient dense foods and including them in decisions will get them excited about buying, preparing, and eating real food.

 

4. Utilize dips for healthy fats

If you have a picky eater, including some dips might be the game changer. With a dollop of almond butter, any green apple or banana gets an extra kick. Use avocado or guacamole, along with kalamata olives to spice up carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks, and other veggie slices. Drizzle warmed coconut butter and cinnamon on a mashed sweet potato.

 

5. How much to eat

It takes a sufficient amount of energy to swim, have dance parties, and jump on the bed. In general, children have no limits when it comes to eating whole, real food. They also eat more often for a good reason – their minds and bodies are growing. While high-quality (ideally grass-fed, organic) proteins, healthy fats and nutrient dense carbohydrates are good for all of us, for kids, extra carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables and fruit, are important.

 

Keep it simple with these snacks:

raw

Apples
Bananas
Berries
Carrots

Cucumber

Grapefruit

Grapes

Kiwi
Tomato
Zucchini noodles

  

roasted

Asparagus

Beets
Broccoli

Carrots

Delicata squash

Parsnips

Zucchini slices

  • Coconut butter stuffed Dates

  • Banana and almond butter sandwiches

  • Whole Milk, grass-fed yogurt (with a dollop of raw, organic honey)

  • Avocado with salt

  • Egg muffins or crustless quiche

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Chocolate Pudding (made with avocado and coconut milk)

 

When convenience reigns, these packaged items are, well, convenient:

  • Sausage (we like applegate or aidells)

  • Deli meat (we like applegate)

  • Plantain chips

  • Trader Joe's Apple Fruit Bars

  • Larabars or Kit’s Organic fruit and nut bar (Clif Bar)

  • Epic bars and bites

  • Chomps

  • Applesauce packets

  • Individually packaged nuts

  • Siete chips

  • RX bars

 

So far this has worked for me. My kids are adventurous eaters, love helping in the kitchen and honestly don't know how spoiled they are when it comes to the delicious food I feed them. Now if only I could get them to do more chores!

What other tips do you have? Want some of these recipes?

What trip makes the best Spring Break?


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From the desert to the ocean, we chased one sunny adventure after another on our Spring Break.

We began our trip in the wee hours at the Oakland airport, where we were welcomed with a short security line, and a pleasant gift of Peet’s Coffee from a fellow mother who obviously recognized my valiant effort of traveling alone with young kids! Coincidentally, she was traveling with her grown daughter to San Diego to look at colleges.

Sidenote: I feel like this day will be here sooner than I want! Please time, slow down!

Shortly thereafter, and eager to get the party started, we boarded at Southwest Gate 23, where the pilots gave my girls 15-seconds of fame by inviting them to “fly” the plane. Let’s be honest, sitting in the cockpit when you’re under 8 years old is like winning the lottery.

But let’s back up a hot second to the gear we were carrying aboard.

Once you become a parent you realize your life will never be the same. Not only will you always have a little sidekick, but you will also be the proud owner of a bazillion pieces of, sometimes unnecessary, paraphernalia.

Especially when it comes to traveling.

I like to keep it minimal, especially since it’s only me that will be doing the heavy lifting, but traveling with kids requires some strategy and superfluous goods. 

For Easter, the girls were gifted hatchimals, a cute bunny purse with a couple of dollars tucked inside, and a personalized Spring Break adventure journal. These items were not so neatly thrown into their backpacks (I’m realizing more and more how much it’s up to me to teach these children of mine to NEATLY put things where they belong!) along with the snacks they had picked out: epic bars, Thrive market jerky, Rx bars, larabars, olives, dried mango, cuties, and some foursigmatic elixirs (which were more for me!)

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

 

Charlie had a few books, and Sam had me for her entertainment. The iPad was charged and ready, if needed. However, I try not to rely on it and have them use their imagination before turning on screens.

Landing in Ontario, we grabbed our rental car (which wasn’t that simple, but I’ll save you from that debacle), downloaded The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett to listen to on audible, and off we went for the hour and a half drive to Joshua Tree.

Arriving hungry, we promptly bought some smoothies to cool down and fuel up for the rocky afternoon.

Stopping at The Natural Sisters Café, the girls decisively chose the Killer Bee smoothie (more for the fun name than the ingredients) and I, wanting some greens, picked the What the Kale smoothie. Both were delicious! Despite being surrounded by mile high, veggie packed plates of food other diners were enjoying, we drank our smoothies and selected somethng to munch on from the plethora of goodies out of our snack bag, such as the Manzanilla olives from Trader Joes.

I highly recommend this small pit stop to stock on snacks, or to sit down and enjoy the people watching.

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

The girls slurped and munched, while I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold. The older I get the more I try to practice the power of now - of being intentionally present - but sometimes that mama brain kicks in and various scenarios begin to unravel in my mind.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our glamping trip to Yosemite last summer was simply bearable.

While I never regret getting out into nature, like most solo parenting, your limit of directing, disciplining, and sometimes simply talking, approaches sooner than typical.

Plan and simple, our trip to Yosemite needed two adults to make it work comfortably. We had glimpses of fun, but it was difficult with big emotions and four little legs that didn’t care to walk.

With this as my foundation to work with, I was a little nervous to venture out into the desert with creepy, crawly critters and only hard, dangerous surfaces to climb. This wasn’t your everyday Gymboree class folks!

But like most things, I nearly always opt to brave the adventure. One way or another we were going to have a good story to tell.

At the Joshua Tree visitor center on Park Boulevard, I introduced the girls to the animals and vegetation they were about to experience, grabbed our junior ranger guides, a few $1 bottles of water, and off we went.

Once we paid our $25 pass fee, all plans I had researched went out the window. After a morning of planes trains and automobiles, we jumped out at the first outcropping of rocks. I’ve never seen my girls so excited - they jumped out of the car, ran as fast as they could, and went for it.

Let’s be honest, no one needs instructions to boulder.

It’s only natural to start climbing and aim for the tippy top, as they did. Yet somehow I wasn’t prepared for that.

After all, they’re 4 and 6.

There’s two of them and one of me.

The rocks are not forgiving.

My joyous heart was so proud of them for enjoying themselves and being brave, but it was also in tension with the thought, “Oh shit, they could actually get really hurt up here!”

Thankfully their own defenses restrained them and they were cautious enough.

As beads of sweat culminated on our brow, we eagerly climbed, spotted many of lizards including a huge chuckwalla, pounded the water (note: bring more than you think you’ll need!), and pretended to be queens of the world when we were perched high, looking out above the surreal desert floor.

Sheer gratitude set in, and my heart was so happy! How long had it been since I had been on vacation with these two? Since we took time out of the everyday grind of work, school, laundry and go, go, go?

Simply too long.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes vacations to recapture the wonder and beauty of your family!

Regardless, it was glorious.

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

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JT4.jpg

 

Getting back to the plan though. I had only allotted two days in Joshua Tree, so off we continued to Skull Rock, to work our way backwards to the entrance.

At this point though, a certain 4-year old was hitting her witching hour.

“Carry me”

“I need more water”

“It’s too hot”

“I have to pee.”

“I don’t want to do this.”

We tried to muster up enough excitement to explore Skull Rock: we crawled through caves, climbed to dead ends, and bumped this rock and that rock. But the hot afternoon sun wasn’t doing us any favors. We were running on fumes.

We returned to town to rest our weary heads for a millisecond before heading out for dinner. I found us a little Airbnb within 2 miles of the main strip of Joshua Tree that was just the right size for us. It didn’t have a kitchen but I figured we could go without for one night.

This meant a dinner date, and I had heard rave reviews for Pie for the People. At only 5:30, off we went.

First of all, I can’t remember the last time I had pizza, and second, who were we, eating a dinner so early?

Well, we weren’t the only ones. The line was already out the door when we arrived, which was a good sign.

And needless to say, their gluten free pizza rocked. As did the Greek salad, even though it didn’t have cucumbers! Next time I’ll order two pizzas and my own salad though. These girls can eat!

All attempts to convince the girls to watch the sunset in the park failed. C'mon, who was I going to tell if they stayed up past their bedtime? Yet as it usually does, the whining won and I succumbed and I took my party poopers home!

Thankfully National Park passes are good for 7 days, so we went back for a quick rendezvous the next morning, after a healthy and bountiful breakfast at Crossroads Café, another joint I highly recommend.

I’ve been known for tornado style road trips, and this was one of them. Our next destination: San Diego!

However, the three hour jaunt south only felt long the last hour in the car when I was ready to eat and move my legs. We owe it to our fine Taylor Swift sing-a-long for our mighty survival, albeit arriving hungry!

There’s no shortage of excellent eateries in San Diego, but we were hungry and as we edged closer to the San Diego city limits, everyone had different opinions as to what they wanted to eat. My mama superpowers hedged bets that Tender Greens would appease even the pickiest of eaters.

Off to La Jolla we went.

With full bellies we meandered around the mall and read some books at the amazon bookstore. Despite it being a bit overcast and most definitely cooler than Joshua Tree, my antsy legs and tired butt couldn’t keep myself or these girls in the car for much longer. We opted for a round of miniature golf.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, not realizing this would only be their second time playing. They HAD NO CLUE how to do it.

Remember what I said about having to teach your children EVERYTHING?

Not quite getting the hang of it!

Not quite getting the hang of it!

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Was this hilarious or absolutely the most painful hour of my life?

We may have lost two golf balls in the process, but we completed the course! Praise the Lord!

Seeing that we were staying with my stellar friend, Erin, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, we hit up Trader Joes for easy dinner fixings and a bottle of wine. While she may not appreciate her doorbell ringing when you come to town, her company, as well as her dog Captain, are top notch. If you opt for an Airbnb, with a kitchen, I recommend finding the closest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to cook up a good meal like you would at home.

For us, dinner on the patio, with wine in hand, included spaghetti squash with a tomato meat sauce (sautéed ground beef smothered in your preferred sugar-free tomato sauce), and a side salad with easy toppings like artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and avocado.

Our hearts were happy, full, and tired!

The adventures didn’t stop there though! Isn’t Spring Break just the greatest!

Now Thursday, and more than pleased to take on the mothering role, I whipped up some scrambled eggs featuring some leftover tomato sauce, warmed up some water for coffee, and sent Erin on her way to work with a nice breakfast in her bag. Making sure Captain had done his business, we were on our way as well!

Gosh, I miss being a SAHM and making sure everyone is taken care of! But I digress…..

By now the girls were ready for their second breakfast and I wanted to see some architecture!

Did you know that I studied architecture, and my first job out of college was with Miller Hull? Yep!

Somehow I had forgotten about their work on Point Loma, so we went in that direction making a pit-stop at Liberty Public Market for snacks, which was sadly closed. Thankfully the beautiful Moniker is next door. We chose to grab a matcha (for me) and cinnamon almond milk steamers for the littles before continuing on, checking our adventures off of the list.

The Wharf at Point Loma. Check!

The San Diego Zoo - ALL DAY LONG! Check!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Sadly Friday was our last day there, and it came all too soon.

We said goodbye to Erin, and Captain, and meandered ever so slowly to Mission Beach to meet up with my cousins, who also happened to be vacationing in SD.  

For the next couple of hours we basked in the glorious sunshine, caught up on life, attempted boogie boarding, dug for sand dollars, and of course snacked. Our snack game was still going strong! But so was my sunburn. Why is that I remember to apply sunscreen to my children but forget about my exposed, paler skin. Where’s my mom when I need her?

With the polar opposite weather up north in the Bay Area, where it was complete downpour and storms, we were fortunate to stay a couple of extra hours due to a delayed flight.

Out of the goodness of their heart or my super negotiating skills, we managed to keep our rental car without paying more. We took advantage and took in the sights, sounds, and smells of Balboa Park. If I lived here I think I’d wander through the park every day, there’s just something about it!

Yet even with a delayed flight, the minutes quickly passed and like that, our trip was coming to an end. Back to reality, and the very wet Bay Area we went. Spring Break 2018 was over.

We not only survived the very few meltdowns and new environments, we made some very special memories that I hope my girls treasure and recreate with their families someday.

Until next time San Diego….


It's not obvious but click the name of the place, snack item, or book below to find out more information.

Joshua Tree restaurants:

The Natural Sisters Café

Pie for the People

Crossroads Café

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

San Diego family friendly, healthy restaurants...and a place to get healthy:

Tender Greens

True Food

UTC Dining Options

CrossFit Invictus (my favorite gym!)

 

Airbnb:

EchoLove Casita with Glenn

 

Essentials:

Snacks

epic bars and bites

larabars

RX bars

Thrive market jerky

Fruit

Veggies

Foursigmatic Elixirs

Water

 

Entertainment

Coloring paper and crayon or pencils

Ipad

books

Binoculars

Camera

Magnifying glass

 

Personal Items

Sunscreen

 

Books I brought but didn’t touch:

Miracles Now

How to win friends and influence people

The Circle Maker



 

Coco for coconut

Right before it became pumpkin spice coconut butter!

Right before it became pumpkin spice coconut butter!


Back in the day when I used to shop at Costco, the bi-weekly staples were bacon, meat, fish, veggies, fruit, a huge ass jar of coconut oil, and bags upon bags of nuts – almonds, walnuts, and pecans. On special occasions I’d splurge for macadamia nuts and proceed to nosh on them on the ride home to appease my traffic woes through downtown Seattle.

The superfluous amount of nuts was a two-fold dilemma: 1) our favorite chocolate chip cookie used solely nuts as the base instead of flour, and 2) being a SAHM, I basically survived off of nuts, smoothies, and the leftover bites on itty bitty plastic plates (yep, I know, disgusting).

Then one day it happened. I had hit my quota and my body purely rejected nuts.

If I feel like getting a headache, having my stomach distend as if I was 7 months pregnant, and have gut issues for a few days, I may partake in a nut. But let’s be honest, it’s not a nice predicament to willingly put myself in.

I say all of this because perhaps you have mild symptoms of eating too many nuts also. They’re
delicious, full of healthy fats and vitamins, and an amazingly easy snack to consume. But let’s face it, it’s easy to overdo it. I only say this so that you’ll pay attention the next time you reach for a nut. Stop and see how your body truly feels when you eat them. If you think you may want to eliminate your handful of almonds (like every health magazine has told you to eat at 3pm), you may want to turn to another lovely fatty friend and my favorite nut replacement - coconut.

Fun fact, coconut is not a nut. I repeat, it’s not a nut! It’s in fact, a fruit.

Back to the story - not knowing how I’d replace my beloved nut fetish, I quickly discovered my love for coconut butter. Okay, okay, I guess I did have an adjustment period, and it did take some time to acquire a taste for it. But once that all fell into place, there wasn’t a week that went by where I didn’t make my own coconut butter and have fun with different flavors.

A spoonful here and a spoonful there, and I barely missed my crunchy nutty friends.

Now that I’m working again and eating real food throughout the day, I don’t make it as often anymore. Which, when I think about it, is such an oxymoron. These days I have less time yet I meal plan and therefore have a stocked fridge. Unless of course you come over on a weekend and I haven’t gone grocery shopping.

Anyway, when I do make coconut butter, it’s usually to make chocolate coconut cups. I love
myself some Eating Evolved coconut cups, yet my budget does not. I can’t just buy one package you know. So I make my own.

When I saw that they had pumpkin coconut cups, I felt up for the challenge.

First things first, I don’t understand the pumpkin spice craze come fall. I do have a soul
and like pumpkin bread but I by no means run out as soon as the first yellow leaf succumbs to the season change and frantically buy every pumpkin spiced item in town. But that’s beside the point. Making your own pumpkin coconut butter may just be the easiest thing in the world. Making the chocolate pumpkin cups on the other hand, can be quite the feat. Not hard, but difficult for this impatient heart of mine.

Are you ready? Here's what you do:

  • Grab a bag of shredded coconut.
  • Fill food processor - nearly to the brim
  • Blend until smooth – 5-10 minutes
Get yo'self some shredded coconut. Trader Joe's has the best deal!

Get yo'self some shredded coconut. Trader Joe's has the best deal!

Throw a pinch of sea salt in there and let it whirl!

Throw a pinch of sea salt in there and let it whirl!

You can proceed from there and add fun things such as:

  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Dehydrated fruit – strawberries are a favorite
  • Cacao powder
  • pumpkin spice

From there, drizzle it on everything, replace your mid-afternoon snack attack with a
spoonful, or try one of these recipes:

  • Warm coconut butter on a freshly roasted sweet potato with cinnamon. Yes please!
  • PaleOMG’s apple pie bites. Hot damn!
  • Make mint chocolate coconut cups. Mmmmm.
  • Drizzle over berries or coconut oil sauteed apples. Sure thing!
  • Add 1-2 tbsp and blend into your favorite morning drink. Bring it!

Do note, unless it’s summer or you live in a sauna, coconut butter will harden.


If you don’t want to do any of that, try Eating Evolved and use my code (ERINHTMT) for a special treat when you place an order.

What else do you do with coconut butter??