One of my favorite parts of my day is going through my newsfeeds and seeing what strikes me—new articles, new recipes, new perspectives. I love being challenged to see a different perspective and being inspired by a new flavor combination or cooking technique. But every once in a while I come across an article or a trend that I think is damaging or dangerous when it comes to having a healthy relationship with food. This week that happened and so I wanted to share my thoughts on the term “healthy-ish.”…
The boys and I are out in Colorado for a few weeks, which means lots and lots of time outside on fun adventures from hiking to visiting farms to riding horses. One of the activities that the boys have been most excited about this trip is apple picking in the horse pasture. And can you blame them? I mean, how cool is it that we get to walk out into a pasture with horses grazing next to us while we pick apples from the trees that have been growing pretty much wildly there for as long as anyone can remember?! We are so unbelievably lucky.
The only pitfall is that the apples are quite tart. My 8-year-old will eat them pretty happily, but my 6-year-old has declared them to be too sour. The solution? Applesauce! If you have never made your own applesauce, you are missing out on such an amazing and very easy-to-make treat! Homemade applesauce is so much more flavorful than the store-bought stuff. Every fall I stock up on apples and make huge batches of apple sauce to freeze and then am so disappointed when we have finally run out, usually around February, and I open a jar of the store-bought stuff which barely even tastes like apples! Apple sauce is a go-to for us as a lunchbox staple either on its own or mixed with plain yogurt, when kiddos are sick with colds or stomach bugs and can’t manage eating too much, as the basis for cakes and breads, and even as a side dish on nights when I am making a new meal that I suspect one or both of the kids will have a hard time with. …
Mom’s Gluten-Free Fruit Crisp
The boys and I are in Colorado this week visiting my parents for Spring Break. Coming home to Colorado is always wonderful because we get to see friends and family, we spend time in the mountains and with horses, and we spend lots and lots of time outside. But the other reason I always love coming home is that I don’t think there has ever been a time when I didn’t fall in love with some new recipe that my mom has either developed or discovered and this week is no exception!…
Sugar-Free Poached Pears
Fall is one of my favorite seasons- the colors, the light, the crisp air, and the produce. I love fall produce. All of it, that is, except pears. I just don’t enjoy eating pears that much. In salads they are ok. But eating a whole pear on its own is just not my thing. Poached pears, on the other hand, may be one of my favorite desserts of all time. It is sweet and delicate and when paired with something creamy you get the perfect balance!
I’ve always made my poached pears with wine, spices, and sugar, which is great for a festive occasion, but I wanted to create something that would include ingredients I had around the house and less sugar. And I did it! This recipe is sweetened entirely with the natural sugars of the pears and the juice. So it is not only decadent and delicious, but it’s healthy, too!
This recipe is so simple that it can be made as a healthy weeknight treat, but so delicious you could use it to impress friends or family at a dinner party or holiday gathering!…
Easy and Tasty Ways to Stay Hydrated
It got hot today in DC and with the heat came the messages about remembering to stay hydrated. Hearing those reminders always makes me feel nervous about my water consumption.
I don’t know about you, but for me, drinking enough water can be quite a challenge. We’ve all heard that we should be drinking 8 glasses of water a day. And many of us know that staying hydrated is important for our joints, our digestion, our organs, our skin, etc. We’ve also heard about the signs of dehydration (pee that is darker than a pale yellow, not going to the bathroom every hour or so, feeling thirsty, headaches, etc.). But for me, drinking that much water can feel like a chore. Honestly, I get sick of just plain, old water. So here are some of my favorite ways to get more water into my body without resenting it….
Healthy Summertime Snacks
I don’t know about in your house, but in my house summer is also a time of voracious eating! The kids are so active whether at home or at camp that they get really hungry. Really hungry. With that kind of clamoring for snacks, it can be tempting to just fall back on the pre-packaged snack foods that are so convenient.
In trying to figure all of this out for my family, I have decided that it is important to try to maintain the snack and mealtime structure we have during the school year. I try to stick to our snack routine to make sure that the mealtimes are still the main focus. For us that means a small mid-afternoon snack (now that my kids are older the mid-morning snack has disappeared– at least on most days), which always includes either a fruit or a vegetable, or both. Recently, that hasn’t been cutting it for my 9-year-old in the late afternoons, so I have told him that he can eat as many fruits and vegetables as he wants between afternoon snack and dinner. That way, he can munch away and I don’t need to worry about empty calories. Win-win! That being said, however, I do think it is important not to get so bogged down in the rules that we forget to have fun and relax. Afterall, we want our kids to have a healthy and happy relationship with food, rather than a rigid one, so there is definitely a time and place for flexibility and ice cream!
Here are some of our fun, favorite, simple snacks that help us make it through the summertime snack attacks:…
To Sneak the Vegetables or Not to Sneak the Vegetables. That is the Question.
So you are sitting at the dinner table and your four-year-old refuses to even take a bite of the roasted broccoli that is being served that night. You take a breath and lightly say, “Ok. Well, if you change your mind the broccoli is here.” Then you try to focus on enjoying your own broccoli in the hopes that modeling an enthusiasm for vegetables will help to change things over time.
The next night the same thing happens with peas. And the night after that with salad.
These days, one of the common themes that often comes up in discussions about how to raise healthy eaters is that we shouldn’t force our kids to eat certain foods because that risks causing deeper issues with food later on. Many argue that even the “you need to try it” rule is a risky undertaking. Instead, we are encouraged to offer the foods in a relaxed manner, over and over again, and prepared in as many ways as possible. Some encourage making the food more fun by decorating it or cutting it into special shapes. But overall, the main messages are: 1) don’t fight with your kids about food and 2) don’t insist that they eat something they don’t want to eat….
Get in the Habit of Healthy
These are all things that we know would make us healthier, but breaking out of our dependence on pre-packaged foods, take out, and sugar-laden beverages can be really hard. That is where taking advantage of the summer can come in.
You may be saying, “But summer is the time to relax? It’s the time to eat lots of ice cream and popsicles and cookout food!” That is true and I am actually not going to tell you to cut all of that stuff out (unless you want to!).
But I think that it is time to reframe summer a little bit. Summer can be the time of fun treats and relaxing, but it is also a time of abundant produce. Those fruits and vegetables that you are supposed to be eating more of all year round are in season right now! This is when they are at their freshest and tastiest. So why not use that to your advantage and try to use summer to get into the habit of healthier eating? Here are some different ways to set up some new habits:…
1-Minute Dessert: Sweet Yogurt Dip
This recipe starts with a story. One day over the summer I desperately needed to go to the grocery store and I needed to do a real shop, not just pick a few things up, because our pantry was incredibly bare. Unfortunately, though, school was out and camps had not started yet, which meant I had two boys with me who had no interest in going grocery shopping. What’s a mom to do? Bribe. So I did. I bribed them with a treat each if they would help me out and not beg and plead for each thing that caught their interest. They agreed. So in we went.
We had made it through the produce section and were entering the bulk foods when my little one cried out, “YOGURT PRETZELS!!” And then my older one cried out, “YOGURT PRETZELS!!” These two kids could not be more different in their taste in food- my younger loves all things protein (read: meat) and my older is a vegetable addict- so this was a rare moment. I was about to say, “Great! Yogurt pretzels can be your treat!” When a little voice inside my head said, “But what is actually in yogurt pretzels?” I had looked it up before and deep down I knew the answer: Not yogurt. Yogurt pretzels do have a tiny, tiny bit of dehydrated yogurt in them, but mostly the coating is confectioner’s sugar. So really what they were asking for was candy and I wasn’t a big fan of that idea. But inspiration struck and I said, “what if we made our OWN yogurt pretzels?!” Luckily they loved the idea….