With Spring getting into full swing, Old Man Winter is still giving us a battle by leaving our little ones with remnants of the germs spread during the cold. To help your kiddos fight off that last winter cold or flu, make sure they are getting plenty of the following foods in their diets. Each food, according to Parenting magazine, is a “Super food” that will help your kids’ immune systems be at their strongest! I have provided my take on each food and ideas for incorporating them into your family’s meals. Super foods = super healthy!
- Eggs- these offer protein, which helps kids feel satisfied longer after eating breakfast. They are also a natural source of Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. My daughter likes her egg fried in some nonstick olive oil spray with a little sprinkle of herbs on the top.
- Oatmeal- high fiber + whole grains = a winning breakfast and good combination for helping kids focus in school. I like oatmeal from the brand Better Oats. It is all-natural and comes in yummy flavors, such as dark chocolate, blueberry and maple strudel! Throw in some fruit and milk to drink and your kid’s breakfast is complete!
- Fruit- any kind is an integral part of a child’s diet, but a variety is best in order to get all of the nutrients the different kinds of fruits provide! In my household, my kids and I make fruit smoothies together- a fun and nutritious way to get all that fruit in!
- Nuts- good source of healthy fats, which help with growth and brain development. This is great for a little burst of energy in the morning or for part of an afternoon snack. Also, walnuts are packed with lignans, which have been shown to fight off free radicals that cause disease.
- Milk- provides protein and calcium- need I say more? We like Trader Joe’s organic milk, and occasionally we will drink Horizon Farms organic milk. Milk is one of my main products that I buy organic in order to try and avoid exposure to the hormones that are used to process non-organic milk products.
- Blueberries- provide antioxidants, help protect against heart disease and diabetes, and fight build-up of visceral belly fat! Serve as a side of fruit, in yogurt, on top of oatmeal/cereal, or on top of a stick of celery spread with cream cheese.
- Tofu- excellent source of lean protein and gives potent anti-cancer benefits
- Tomatoes- have lots of lycopene, which has been shown to protect against many cancers. Try this recipe for my healthy pasta in order to help give your kids their serving of tomatoes!
- Low-fat Greek yogurt- contains bacteria that boost immunity and help with digestion for your little one’s tummies. It also has three times the protein and much less sugar than your typical yogurt. Add a drip of honey or maple syrup to the yogurt to make it more palatable for the kiddos.
- Cabbage- contains phytonutrients that help lower the risk for cancer and also aids in digestion. Shredded cabbage is fun to throw over soups as a garnish or even to use in a cole slaw recipe.
- Salmon- has lots of healthy omega-3 fats, which help in brain development and act as an anti-inflammatory. This can be a tricky one for kids to eat, but my little ones like a bit of healthy breading on the outside (Trader Joe’s sells some good salmon fillets that can be baked).
- Cocoa- has high concentrations of flavonoids, known to promote good heart health and improve blood pressure. Hot cocoa…need I say more?
- Black beans- great source of protein, fiber, and calcium. They help guard against heart disease and high cholesterol. Use these as just a plain side dish, as part of a “Make-your-own-fajita night”, or smash them and mix with some lemon juice and cumin for a quick veggie dip!
- Basil- who woulda thought? This herb is packed with antioxidants and can help aid in digestion. Use it as an ingredient in my pasta recipe (linked in the tomato section above)!
- Cinnamon- can help regulate blood sugar and helps with circulation. Sprinkle this on cereal, oatmeal, toast, yogurt and in any baked goods that you whip up!
I had to share…one of my favorite companies for healthy kids’ food, Annie’s Homegrown, is offering up some coupons for a little money off some of their snacks! Not only that, but you can get a free herb kit by mailing in receipts and joining their “Ecobonus program”! I have never seen a rewards plan before for Annie’s products, so I am pretty excited that they are offering one now! I actually buy Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies every week for my son’s lunches, and I splurge on Annie’s Mac & Cheese for the kiddos as well (my husband really likes it, too!). So, my points should start adding up fairly quickly. I will have a whole garden of herbs before you know it! Check out the promotion here.
(image courtesy of Annie’s ecobonus.com website)
I am passionate about giving my family the best of what I can, and that also goes for food. For me, the best means finding the most natural and organic foods that I can that pack the most nutritional punch for their price! It also means being prepared, whether I’m on-the-go, out and about, or at work. I do this by preparing healthy snacks ahead of time, usually on Sundays. I wash and cut veggies and fruits and bag healthy-sized portions of cereals, crackers, and other healthy snacks for my little ones. I am never without my “supply”, therefore, find it easy to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Below, I have outlined some different snacks that I use for my children, some of my own lunch ideas, and some of my favorite websites to help with meal-planning in a healthy way. I hope you can benefit from my research and experience. From what I know, a healthy family is a happy family!
HEALTHY KIDS’ SNACKS
Here are some examples of what I give (or have tried to give) to my kids (ages 2 & 4)
- peeled and sliced apples (or any fruit, for that matter) with cinnamon and yogurt for dipping
- peeled and sliced sweet potato slices
- veggie straws (I like Trader Joes’ brand or Sensible Portions from Costco)
- Archer Farms brand blue tortilla and flax seed organic chips
- Clif Kidz bar (my daughter likes the chocolate brownie kind)
- Annie’s Homegrown snack packs (organic, all-natural; comes in chocolate, chocolate chip, cheddar or honey graham bunnies)
- Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Goldfish (NOT the colored ones…these are not made with whole grains)
- Devin’s Freezie Smoothie
- Healthy chocolate chip cookie
- Kashi TLC cereal bars
- dry Kashi Heart to Heart cereal or Trader Joes’ High Fiber Organic Oh’s
- Happy Tot organic fruit, veggie & supergrain pouches
- Stonyfield or Trader Joes organic French Vanilla yogurt with fruit
HEALTHY KIDS’ LUNCHES
I try to vary up lunches, especially during the summer when I am home, but my kids do love their “stand-bys”. Below are some routine lunches that I make my for my little ones that are well-balanced and pack that nutritional “punch”!
- Happy Face sandwiches
- Butternut Squash mac & cheese- for this, I actually just make a box of Annie’s Homegrown Organic mac & cheese according to the instructions, making sure to add just a bit more milk than the recipe calls for. Next, I add some of my butternut squash puree that I always have on hand…I add about 4 tbsp. or more to an entire box of prepared mac & cheese, but you may want to start with 2 tbsp. to make sure that your kids will still like the texture. I tend to add a little bit of water to my squash when I am pureeing it so that it comes out in a very creamy consistency. Also, make sure that you completely mix all of the ingredients to make the mac & cheese (milk, butter & cheese with cooked macaroni) BEFORE you add the squash puree. Finally, mix until puree is not visible. Serve with sliced strawberries (or other fruit) and enjoy!
- Soy corndogs from Trader Joes, veggie straws and all-natural applesauce (if I serve ketchup, I make sure to serve up one with NO high fructose corn syrup, like Hun’ts all natural)
- Quesadillas- using a whole wheat tortilla and an all-natural cheese, I just roll up the cheese in the tortilla. You could also grill this in a pan with a little non-stick olive oil spray.
- Whole wheat pasta w/veggie sauce- I boil pasta according to directions (we use Penne or Rotini usually), then add a spaghetti sauce to which I have added about a cup of squash puree. I just mix it all together in a big pan and serve. Sometimes, I will boil turkey sausage and slice it up and simmer with the sauce a bit if I want the pasta to be a bit heartier. This is a great meal to freeze as well.
- Yummy brand chicken nuggets from Costco. Now, I know that a chicken nugget is naturally not the first food that comes to your head when you think “healthy”. However, I have found that in the way of chicken nuggets, this brand, by far, outdoes the other commercially available brands. It is made with real white meat chicken and the breading has all natural ingredients, including flaxmeal seed! Nice!
NOTE: I serve all of the above meals with a side of fruit.
WEBSITES TO ENCOURAGE HEALTHY EATING FOR KIDS
- Kids in the Kitchen- article about how your little ones can help you in the kitchen!
- Produce for Kids- lots of links on everything from how to make holiday food fun and nutritious to how to make your family’s meals healthier
- Healthy Dining Finder- helps you find healthy menu options for the whole family in restaurants near where you live
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters- fun activities to help kids learn about fruit and veggie nutrition
- Choose my Plate- a government-sponsored website, focused around the new nutrition initiative of My Plate. Show you how your kids’ good nutrition habits can lead to more success for them. Lots of information and fun activities for kids!
- Interactive Nutrition Games for Kids- list of links to interactive online nutrition games for kids
*This list will keep growing as a find more…I have tested out each of the websites on my own son and made sure that they were legit. :)
Below you will find a sample week-long menu of healthy, kid-friendly lunchbox menus. I actually got an email about this from Circle of Moms, but I modified the menu to make it “megacool” healthy! Anyway, I hope you can infuse some creativity into your kiddos’ lunches and help them see that eating healthy can be fun and delicious!
Monday: Bento Box or Snack Lunch
- Peanut butter or hummus (coupon in Oct. 2 SmartSource insert for Tribe hummus) with “dippers” (apple slices, carrots, celery, bell pepper, whole grain crackers, etc.)
- Boiled egg
- Cherry tomatoes, snap peas or any other favorite fruits or veggies
OR try the following menu…
- organic cheese slices (COUPON for Organic Valley cheese slices)
- turkey or “veggie” pepperoni
- whole grain crackers ( COUPON for Kashi brand!)
- grape tomatoes and carrot sticks
- strawberry slices and a few raspberries (try buying these organic if possible)
- whole wheat pretzels
- piece of dark chocolate for dessert! (COUPON for Ghirardelli dark chocolate!)
Tuesday: One-color lunch (I don’t recommend doing this a lot since it is important to see lots of color from the different fruits and veggies in one meal, but kids seem to be fascinated by things that are grouped by color! Why not lunch?)
- Annie’s cheddar bunnies
- organic cheddar cheese chunks
- dried apricots (COUPON for Sunsweet dried fruit)
- orange slices
- bbq flavor Popchips
Wednesday: Deluxe Bagel lunch
- whole wheat bagel (make sure there are no high fructose corn syrups!) with sun butter and raisins sprinkled on top
- organic string cheese
- fresh pineapple chunks
Thursday: Leftover Chicken lunch (use leftovers from dinner the night before to whip up this fun lunch!)
- fruity chicken kebabs, made with chicken chunks, grapes and strawberries
- whole wheat mini bagel with cheese
- sliced cucumbers
- Apple and Eve juice box (COUPON)
Friday: PB & J lunch (a twist on the classic lunchbox staple!)
- sandwich with whole wheat (no high fructose corn syrup!; COUPON for Aunt Millie’s all natural bread) bread, natural peanut butter (Smucker’s is good), and all-natural fruit spread (we like Polaner)
- organic cheese sticks or Babybel Laughing Cow cheese wedges (Coupon for $1/2 Babybel cheeses in Aug. 7 SmartSource insert)
- fresh fruit
OR try swapping the fruit and cheese for more veggies and a little bit of dessert, for example
- same sandwich as above
- all-natural tomato soup (COUPON)
- broccoli florets or baby carrots
- one square of dark chocolate
Did you try any of the menus above with your kiddos? How did they like it? How easy/hard was it to prepare?
Have a “megacool” lunchbox week!
As you know, I am all about taking the chemicals and processed foods out of my family’s diet. I know it may sound like a seemingly insurmountable task, but you really can do it! Here are a couple of articles that will inform you a bit more as to why it is a good idea to eliminate processed foods and artificial ingredients from your children’s diets. Also, one of the articles gives you tips on how to start the process! Happy reading!
If you go to the Welch’s Facebook page on Wednesdays and “like” them, they will be giving out coupons for $1.50 off of any of their products! I like the all natural strawberry spread…this will make for a great bargain if I can find it on sale!
Your child’s diet and his/her behavior
I read an article yesterday that I would like to share with all of you Megacoolmamas! As you know if you’ve read “My Philosophy”, mostly everything my family and I eat is as close as it can be to all natural. Not only do I feel better physically when I eat “clean”, but, most importantly, I know I am doing something good for my family by choosing products that do not use artificial ingredients. This article chronicles one mother’s conversion from artificial to natural products and the effects she realized those artificial ingredients were having on her child’s behavior. Here is the link to the article. Enjoy!
And, speaking of eliminating artificial ingredients, it’s easier than you think! And, you might think it’s more expensive to do so, right? Not necessarily! That’s what my blog is about…helping you make that change and save you money at the same time! I’m sure that if you follow my tips, you will save money on what your old grocery bill used to be! I spend a LOT of time researching good, healthy buys for my own grocery list, and I share them with you! I hope you can benefit from all of my hard work!
Happy Tot find at Target
Have you seen the “new” trend in helping kids get their fruits and veggies lately? I’m sure many of you Megacoolmamas already know about this, but I just wanted to share…Happy Tot is a brand recommended by Dr. Sears that produces these cute little pouches of fruit/veggie purees that are chock-full of everything good for your little one! They are 100% organic (yay!) and can be re-sealed and re-used at a later time (their no-spill top is awesome)! Here is a pic of what I got today at my local Target at $1.19 a piece…my kids LOVE them! And I LOVE knowing they are getting their fruits and veggies!
Healthy Lunch Maker Tool
So, I found this neat online tool that helps you know whether the lunch you are packing for your kids is nutritionally appropriate for his/her age and nutritional needs! I tried it and found that my son is probably getting too much protein in his lunch, so it was useful! Here’s the link…let me know what you think!
Have you tried eliminating artificial ingredients from your child’s diet? Did you notice any changes? Let me know!