It was a happy day when my son could finally eat those hard-to-chew foods and so many more options for snacks opened up! Still waiting to get there with my daughter!
One of those wonderful but harder to chew, easily portable, no refrigeration needed, healthy snacks are nuts! Nuts offer a snack filled with protein to keep the kiddos full of energy for a while. They are also packed with antioxidants to help protect against illness. Some experts believe balanced diets high in varied antioxidants from natural sources (food, not pills!) not only protect against long-term illnesses such as cancer but may even protect against or lessen the effects of everyday sicknesses like colds!
I usually like to pair the nuts with fresh or dried fruit for some color appeal. Giving my son nuts in a shell creates a fun activity to keep him amused for a while… I usually crack some of them open to get him started so he isn’t starving and frustrated with trying to open a shell for one measly nut at a time!
My daughter doesn’t have all of her teeth yet, so I’m still waiting to give her whole nuts. I do like exposing her to different nuts however, in different nut butters and also ground up in dishes or baked goods.
My kids and I have been loving these occasional sunny, warm spring days and even managed to get a few seeds into our garden! Not sure what will actually come up, and where things will come up since both my one and three year old helped me plant the seeds, but it’s been fun!
I have great memories of seeing the kids eat sugar snap peas and tomatoes right off the plant last year – no encouragement to eat veggies needed! Everything tastes so awesome when it’s fresh and the kids learn so much about where their food comes from when they see the whole growing process.
Most kids I have met seem to naturally enjoy gardening (who wouldn’t love digging in the dirt and hanging outside on a sunny day?)! Every time we pass seeds in a store my son wants to buy some to plant!
I am pretty new to the gardening realm, having started about ten years ago. What has worked best for me is talking to avid gardeners about what is easy to grow in the region and getting their advice. Some years I’ve planted way too much and it goes to waste. The fun part is planting and for me the hard part is maintaining (apparently plants need water to survive…). Now I try to narrow my plants down to foods we really love and are also a little pricey in the store. For example, I use a lot of onions but I don’t grow them because they are so cheap that it’s not worth my time.
My recipe of the week is pretty simple – take any veggie from the garden, chop it, put it on a kabob and serve with a dip. Food on a stick or right off the plant is so much more fun!
Incredibly Creamy and Yummy Avocado Ranch Dip/Dressing
Makes four servings
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 T. chopped fresh dill, or 2 tsp dried
- 1 T. white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Scoop all ingredients into blender and puree. Can make ahead one day and store covered in fridge.
Original recipe from Eating Well, March/April 2013
I love to bake. Turns out, most kids do too! Baking gives us a fun activity to do together, and we end up with food to eat – double bonus! It takes a little preparation for a smooth activity – I pull all of the ingredients out before starting, and have to help with some measuring and mixing, but I’m always surprised by how capable 3-year-old hands can be! Granted, sometimes the measurements aren’t perfect, but the end results are still usually delicious!
We bake all kinds of goodies, including cakes and cookies (yes, dietitians eat these things too – just not every day!). We often make muffins with some healthy substitutions. Love mini muffins – perfect for little hands! If we have enough I wrap some individually in plastic wrap, enclose in a Ziploc bag and freeze for a great snack later on.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins
Yield: 12 regular muffins
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, or a 24 cup mini muffin pan, or line with paper liners. Place raisins in a cup, and add enough hot water to cover. Let stand a few minutes to plump.
- In a large bowl, sift together the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and add eggs, pumpkin, oil and honey. Mix just until the dry ingredients are absorbed. Drain excess water from raisins, and stir in along with the nuts or chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin cups so they are 2/3 full.
- Bake for 18 minutes (15 minutes for mini muffins), or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan before removing.
Adapted from Colleen Moir’s Pumpkin Wheat Honey Muffins
“I don’t like vegetables”. No, this isn’t a quote from my 3 year old! This is something I hear often when I’m working, from grown-ups! Whenever I hear this comment I always think three things – 1. You haven’t tried them all! 2. There are probably a few you might like! 3. You probably grew up eating plain, steamed broccoli.
Some people love the taste of plain vegetables, however, given the naturally strong and sometimes bitter nature of a lot of vegetables, most of us enjoy a little added flavor. My kids LOVE broccoli, but I’m pretty sure that if I served it straight from the steamer without any extras it would never leave the serving bowl! If it takes a little bit of disguise or flavor enhancement to get some protective, nutritious food into my kids’ mouths, I will do it!
My go-to, quick and easy vegetable preparation is to add garlic salt, steam it in the microwave, drain the water and finish with a small pat of butter. Adding the butter at the end adds a punch of flavor and richness, and just a little goes a long way. This is such an easy method that it allows me to get a vegetable on the table with little preparation, and fast… when I am super organized I get this prepped early in the day, and just have to move the bowl from the fridge to the microwave when mealtime comes!
So, yes, I serve salt and fat to my kids… in my defense they will (sometimes) eat their vegetables. Occasionally they will even eat the vegetable first, and ask for more!
This is a great recipe I make for meals, and also as an appetizer for parties… every bite is always eaten!
- 1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), broken into 1-inch florets, stalks peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), broken into florets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On two rimmed baking sheets, toss broccoli and cauliflower with oil, garlic, and lemons; season with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and tossing vegetables once halfway through.
Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, December 2008
I was the perfect mother, before I actually had kids. I had great plans to avoid all prepared, processed and junk foods… then I realized that when raising children you sometimes just have to try to survive, and have something to put in their mouths. I mean, something that they will actually agree to put in their mouths! This is my daily struggle. I want to feed my kids healthy foods that they enjoy. I also want to have time to play with my kids and not spend all day in the kitchen. And, I don’t want to spend their college fund on those healthy, already prepared foods.
Three years into this adventure of raising kids, I’ve figured out some things that make it a little easier to feed myself and my family healthy foods. I hope that by sharing some of my favorite recipes, tactics, and nutrition information I can help other caregivers have less stress over meal planning, and more time to play and enjoy their children.
The most helpful information I get about parenting usually comes from other moms and caregivers. Please share your favorite food tips, we all would love to hear them!
One of our favorite snacks:
- ½ cup yogurt
- Ice cream cone
- Sprinkles (just a light dusting to add fun)
Spoon yogurt into cone, and add a few sprinkles for a festive and protein-packed snack.