Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Healthy Mom & Toddler Friendly Snacks and Lunches

A new thing for me being at home now is feeding Avery all day long. She is a little grazer, meaning meals are not her jam, but snacks are. Seeing as she needs about 1000 calories a day I just am trying to make sure she gets those in and in the most nutritious way possible. I might dedicate another post to talk more about us working on her sitting and eating at the table with us since that is another topic entirely!

I am also busy, I do not have time to make her different snacks or meals for the most part, so what I eat, she eats! Every week I plan two breakfasts, three lunches and three to four snack ideas for us for the week so I can make sure we have the necessary groceries.

So what do we eat these days? Well a lot! I am a snacker too, and typically eat my lunch in two parts, with Avery around 11am and then when the girls are napping around 1pm. This is especially helpful if I squeeze in a workout when they nap and can have part two of my lunch after that.

Snack Ideas:

  • Apple or celery and natural peanut butter. I will sprinkle hemp hearts or coconut on them as well. Maybe a couple chocolate chips since we both LOVE chocolate.
  • Veggies or crackers and hummus. I love the beet crackers from Costco!
  • Multi-grain rice cakes with avocado and sea salt.
  • Plain Greek yogurt with homemade granola or berries, hemp hearts and coconut.
  • Smoothies! I use Shakeology every other day and combine it with water, almond milk, frozen fruit (mango, blueberries, banana are the go tos), spinach and chia seeds.
  • Hard boiled eggs (more for me than Avery).
  • Unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon.
  • Larabars.
  • Homemade energy/oatmeal balls. There are so many varieties of these I do not think we would ever get sick of them!
  • Trail mix. I always try to have two types of nuts, dried fruit and seeds in the pantry. I have seen some toddler friendly ones with Cheerios, yogurt bites and more so that is on our list to try.
  • Homemade Popsicles. We have not tried these yet but plan to this summer!
  • Chocolate Greek yogurt – my favourite night time snack. Plain Greek yogurt, cocoa powder, stevia, berries and coconut.

Lunches:

  • Salads. Avery loves salads if they “right” things are in them. My goal is always three to four veggies (plus the base of spinach or whatever), and a protein (egg, chicken, roasted chickpeas, quinoa). I sometimes just give Avery the salad parts but other times she eats it as a salad. Having quinoa pre-cooked in the fridge is a huge help, as I often make quinoa salads too.
  • Smoothies (see above). If I have this more as part of a lunch I will usually add in avocado for more healthy fat.
  • Wraps. For Avery – peanut butter with bananas or strawberries for me veggies and hummus or egg/tuna salad made with hummus or avocado.
  • Mini pizzas on thin buns or english muffins. Tomato sauce, toppings and a little cheese in the toaster oven is so easy.
  • Egg and avocado on toast.
  • Pasta salad. Avery loves noodles, so pasta, veggies with olive oil and some spices is easy and she loves it.
  • Quesadillas. For Avery it is usually cheese and avocado but for myself I add other veggies as well. Avery prefer her veggies raw (toddlers!).

Our lists are by no means fancy or extensive but it gives me enough to work with. We also eat leftovers for lunches often too or re-purpose supper leftovers into lunch ideas so when I am planning suppers I keep in mind lunches for us as well as Chad.

Lindsey

Please share your go to snack and lunch ideas!

Small Changes, Big Impact

I really struggled for a title to this post, just so everyone knows. Post titles just are tough for me!

Anyways, with spring comes a refreshed feeling, the feeling where you want to make changes, whether it is to your diet, house, or wardrobe.  It is an awesome feeling (I think) so I take full advantage of it.

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(source)

One area we really wanted to focus on this spring was our diets. We eat good, but we also had a lot of room for improvement. Being honest, since having Avery our diets have slipped a bit so we both knew this was the time to get back on track. Nothing drastic, or life changing but small changes which all (can) lead to a big impact in many ways.

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(source)

Here are the small changes we committed to making a few weeks ago. I have to say though Chad has really impressed me and had awesome will power, me? I am a tad more weak Winking smile But this not about perfection, it is about trying to make these changes.

1 – Drink more water. Duh. I know everyone says this but it is true! I cannot stress this enough. For two years now I aim to drink 3-4L a day. I am pretty good at sticking to this one.

2- Add more vegetables into our meals. This fell off this winter especially, less fresh veggies from the garden, and less salads. My goal now is to have 3-5 veggies in our meal, including at least one side veggie. This summer we will have our garden again making this a lot easier!

3- Stopping buying flavoured Greek yogurt. We never use to buy this and then started buying it again last year. We both like plain Greek yogurt with fruit so have decided to stick with it. We do usually have a small container of Vanilla on hand for Avery though.

4 – No more nightly treats.  Once you start you cannot stop! Anyone else with me here?  Of course, if we are hungry we have a snack. but no more snacks/treats just because. And treats are still allowed but just not every night.

5 – Less alcohol Sad smile Another bad habit that started about a year ago. We have drinks at home 2-3 nights a week. Now, we save it for nights out with friends or when we have company over.

6 – Very limited pop/juice. I was not too bad here, Chad had room for improvement. It is pretty simple though, we just do not buy it!

All these small changes definitely add up over time to make a big impact on your body, and again, it is not about perfection but doing your best. I like to follow the 80/20 rule, after all we all still need alcohol and treats! Not sure I could ever give up wine and chocolate…

Lindsey

What are some small changes you make to your diet to feel better?

So You Want to Meal Plan

Almost 6 years I sat on the beach with some friends of mine. There was nothing overly special about the day, just a fun summer day with friends but the day is embedded in my memory for a particular reason. I cannot remember how we got onto the topic but my one friend told me about how she meal plans every week for the coming week. It was a “Aha” moment for me. How did I, a type A planner never think of this?! I can literally say that this day changed my life. And no, this is not being dramatic Winking smile

The whole process – meal planning, sharing the meal plan on here, and writing my grocery list might take me a total of 30-40 minutes. I can tell you that not doing it would take much more time, from staring blankly into my pantry daily, extra grocery store trips and wandering around the store not knowing what I needed for the week.

While I titled this post “So You Want to Meal Plan” I am more trying to convince you first in case you said “heck, no!” when you read my title. But it is REALLY easy, I promise. And seeing that I have years of weekly meal plans on here, if you search “Foodie Friday” your job can be done just like that!

Here are my simple steps to meal planning:

1) Look at your week ahead. Is it really busy? Are you eating out at all? Do you need leftovers? Answering these types of questions will help you choose recipes. I usually cook longer recipes on the weekends an leave quick recipes for during the week.

2) Use Pinterest and cook books to find recipes. Pinterest can be your BFF here. I have boards organized for different meals, and simply scroll through my boards when I am meal planning.

Meal plan post

3) Once you find 2-3 main meals you want to cook check out the ingredients. If there are lots you need to buy think of meals where you can use the same ingredients to reduce waste and save money.

4) Plan your remaining meals.

5) Write out your meal plan. I got this Martha Stewart peel and stick board for my fridge so the meal plan for the week is easily visible:

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6) Make your grocery list, and organize it by how your grocery store is laid out. I find if we do this we have less impulse buys!

7) And of course, go shopping!

A few of my meal planning tips:

– Make sure you have leftovers for lunches. I eat out lunch about once a week and Chad rarely does. So this means I am packing 8-10 lunches a week. The larger meals I make on the weekend come in handy for lunches.

– Prep on weekends. I need to take my own advice here! I do cook quinoa on weekends usually and then I will usually only cook chicken one time a week to save time.

– Start off slow. Maybe only plan 2-3 meals a week, I know after a few weeks you will be planning all your meals Winking smile

– Try new recipes! We rarely eat the same meal in a month. I love trying new recipes and have the variety.

Still not convinced? Meal planning also helps to create balanced meals. You can plan to make sure meals are balanced, and will have all the ingredients to do so. I make sure we have vegetables at every supper, not too many carb based suppers, and we eat a variety of suppers with and without meat every week. It also can reduce food waste if you plan right. I make sure to use ingredients across multiple recipes so that very little food is tossed out.

We have always been busy people, so meal planning literally saves me. I have no idea how’d we survive without it! And I know, we eat much healthier because of it. So give it a try, I promise you will like it too!

Lindsey

Mama Talk – Introducing Solids

So while this is titled introducing solids it is also about our adventures with solids in general. I had a few requests to talk about baby led weaning so also want to share our experiences so far with it. You can also see many of Avery’s meals on Instagram using the hashtag #minimeals.

Before I get started on this post, please remember I have no education in this topic. only have read some stuff and have been experimenting as we go. It is always best to do your own research before feeding your baby solids and decided what is best for you and your baby!

Backing up… We started solids just after 4 months. I started them for a few reasons, but mainly because Avery was showing interest in food and I really believe when a baby does that it is time to try and see if they are ready for solids or not. I do not believe that every baby should not have solids till 6 months. Every baby is different, some may be ready before, some later (though there are reasons why babies need solids around 6 months).

We started with the typical rice cereal. I bought one the was organic, whole grain with only two ingredients, brown rice and iron. The next day she ended up with her first and only diaper rash. I decided to stop the rice cereal and try homemade oatmeal cereal. With no reaction to it we continued with it, slowly adding in fruits and veggies every 4-5 days to start. To start I did solids once a day mid morning.

First foods (in no order):

– Applesauce (store bought – unsweetened)

– Mango

– Banana

– Carrot

– Sweet Potato

– Butternut Squash

– Avocado

We stuck to those foods till about 5.5 months and slowly moved to two meals a day, still a mid morning meal and then supper with us.

My plan was to start baby led weaning at 6 months. We bought this book as our guide. A few people have asked why we decided to do BLW, and I guess for us it came down to allowing Avery to learn about her food in its true form, experiment with it and to realize what she was eating. Mushed up foods does not allow for this. We still do some mashed foods as well.

At 5.5 months with BLW we introduced new foods like:

– Hummus

– Chickpea and broccoli patties

– Quinoa

– Rice cakes

– Whole wheat toast

– Steamed carrot sticks and broccoli

– Plain yogurt

– Peach, apple slices

– Cucumber slices

– Egg yolk

– Shredded cheese

– Homemade banana and coconut teething cookies

– Smoothies (plain yogurt, avocado, spinach, peaches and frozen banana)

– Banana and pumpkin pancakes

I still want to introduce more protein in the form of beans, lentils and tofu, quinoa pasta and eventually meat. Obviously we will also introduce more fruits and veggies as we go along too.

I do not have a huge explanation of when I give Avery what and why but I generally try and stick to this:

Brunch (since we still only do a 10:30-11am feed vs breakfast and lunch):

– Grain – either whole wheat toast “sticks”, oatmeal or pancakes (which are actually made from brown rice flour)

– Fruit – Typically I choose two

– Optional – dairy (plain yogurt)

Supper (with us around 6:30pm):

Protein – quinoa, chickpeas so far, but soon we will also add the sources above.

Veggies – Typically I choose two

Fruit – Usually just one at supper

The other thing I make sure to incorporate daily for her is spinach for iron. This is because we do not give her the iron fortified cereal. Green peas, kale and asparagus are also all good options, but some are recommended to introduce closer to 8 months. So we have stuck to spinach and peas. I make spinach smoothies for brunch or I made a pea and spinach “sauce” for on quinoa or with pasta eventually.

Spices are also a GREAT thing to add into your baby’s meals. There are so many benefits to different spices and it gives food flavour vs being so bland. I think this also will help the baby be a less picky eater later. Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, curry are all great options. Remember to always limit salt with your mini meals!

Now to share what some of Avery’s meals look like:

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Sweet potato, steamed and mashed, applesauce with cinnamon, whole wheat toast and hummus.IMG_20140513_184230

Top: Chickpea and broccoli patty, lightly steamed carrot stick and applesauce. Bottom: Avocado, mashed, egg yolk and a peach slice.

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Butternut Squash, steamed and blended, hummus and whole wheat toast, cucumber and apple/kale puree.

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Top – Same as above, Left – Quinoa with pea and spinach “sauce”, mango slice and applesauce with cinnamon, Right – Shredded cheese, lightly steamed carrot stick, quinoa cake, hummus and yogurt mixed with mashed banana.

A smoothie

Green smoothie – Avocado, spinach, frozen banana, plain yogurt and peaches.

Right now I would say we are in transition to BLW still and I often use purees to mix with things like yogurt or oatmeal or use as a “sauce” over quinoa. Avery has no teeth yet but does really good at still munching away on foods.

Since this post is getting long I will share the recipes I use in other posts, but if you want them sooner let me know and I can let you know before.

Lastly, here are some resources I use:

Baby Led Weaning

Wholesome Baby Food

Lindsey

PS A reminder that Avery’s giveaway is still open!

Live Right Now

How is everyone’s Monday going? Not bad over here, we survived our trip home yesterday with only wet roads but came home to more snow.

Today I wanted to start the week off on a positive note and share a initiative I was contacted about last week. Right away a few things appealed to me about this initiative, one it is from CBC, so it is  Canadian and two it is promoting Canadians to be healthier this Spring and enjoy more meals together. The initiative is called Live Right Now.

Now for a few more details. Live Right Now is donating meals to Canadian families in need by keeping a number count of meals that people share with friends of families and then ‘check-in’ online, then that number is donated through Food Bans Canada. Now I am not sure about you guys but in our house we love to give back in any way we can to people in our community and country. I recently heard a statistic that in our city as many as 250 kids go without lunches every year. VERY sad, and something that we can all help to eliminate. I am sure these stats are common in other Canadian cities as well and goes far beyond not having a lunch, to maybe barely having more than a meal a day.

There is no cost to you to join Live Right Now, and it can take as little as a minute or two a day for you to do your check-ins.

Another really neat element to this initiative is their free interactive meal planner, where you can browse more than 300 recipes and automatically create recipes.  You guys know how much I love to meal plan and really believe it helps make life WAY easier and helps me to create healthy and balanced meals for my family. I cannot wait to try some of the recipes I’ve found already, guilt-free quinoa cookies, chicken and sweet potato curry, cinnamon apple bread pudding and more! I know there are recipes for everyone on here, and they can be sorted by things like vegetarian and kid friendly.

So to recap, you just need to go online, sign up and then check in every meal you share with other people, then for every meal you check-in one meal will be donated to a family in need! So easy.

I have started to check in my meals this weekend since on our ski trip we enjoyed supper together with our friends both nights and breakfast Sunday morning. I hope you join in too and help other families in need!

In other exciting Monday news, I picked up a mystery package at the post office today and received two new cookbooks!

cookbooks

Vegan Baking and Farm Fresh Recipes. I have already browsed both cookbooks and cannot wait to get in the kitchen… more specifically get in the kitchen and bake brownies – both cookbooks have recipes so I think I might need to do a taste test comp and maybe have my family over to enjoy a new meal so we cancheck it in J

Lindsey

Are you going to join Live Right Now?

What was the last meal you enjoyed with friends and family?