All posts by Elizabeth Austin

Elizabeth Austin

About Elizabeth Austin

I am a young mother of two boys ages 2 and 6. We live in sunny Florida! I have spent all my days of motherhood trying to figure it out: How to keep my boys healthy, active and happy. I love to cook, craft and play. I like to add a fun twist to things I grew up eating and doing. I hope that my blog inspires you to get active with your kids and live a happy lifestyle too.

Staying Hydrated

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Staying healthy does not just mean run, play and workout. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of yourself. Healthy food for energy and water to stay hydrated. Most kids do not know the importance of H2o. It is our jobs as parents to ensure that they don’t get thirsty. Drinking plenty of water is an obviously the easiest and best way to stay hydrated.

After a while a lot of kids get tired of water. Bottles get left behind half full and most would rather play in water during a hot day rather than drink it. There are certain foods that help you stay hydrated. Watermelon is number one on my list. Maybe the fact that it is 91% water is why they named it Watermelon. Not only is it a summer staple, but eating it will help ensure that kids are getting some of that important hydration they need. You can also get a pitcher of water, cube up watermelon and add them to the water. It will make the water look more appealing to the little ones. Grapefruit and strawberries are also about 90% water. How easy is it to put out a bowl of fruit? Cantaloupe, baby carrots and celery are other options. Having your kids eat their water is pretty cool.

Along the lines of eating fruit to stay hydrated, adding fruit to water as a flavor is a great idea just like the cubed watermelon I suggested above. Dice up pineapples, oranges, apples, kiwi, or strawberries. If you freeze them first, it keeps the fruit fresher and water cooler longer. Each kid can choose their own flavor, the longer they sit they more flavor that they add to the water. Have you ever tried coconut water? It is delicious.
Make fruit pops. Since so many fruits contain so much water, freeze them and make pops. What kid doesn’t like a fruit pop? You can use cranberry, orange or apple juice. Add your diced fruit and freeze. Simple. Try yogurt too. Yogurt is surprisingly full of water. For every 6 oz of yogurt, it contains about 5 oz of water.
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThere are so many ways to stay hydrated, you have no excuse. The body loses about 10 cups of water a day. As the temperature rises, imagine how much more our youngsters are sweating out. Make sure that for every meal, you serve them water and water filled snacks.

Roll into a healthy summer

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My six year old just received his first pair of roller skates. He chose is really cool helmet, knew and elbow pads. We strapped on the skates, slowly walked through the grass over to the drive way and…down on the ground he went. This went on for quite a while. Despite wanting to give up, we kept going. Suddenly, there he went. He was skating. The smile on his face was priceless. Now that’s all he wants to do.

Roller skating is ranked among the best aerobic exercises according to the American Heart Association.  Roller skating is a workout that involves almost all of the body’s muscles and in particular the heart.  Skating also works most of the major muscle groups – glutes, quads, abdomen, calves and arms. The roller skating is equivalent to bicycling and jogging as a cardio workout. I don’t think my six year old has any want to go jogging any time soon.

I personally grew up in a roller rink. I am proud to say that I was pretty good. Race me backwards, watch me do my tricks. Let the disco music come on and watch me groove. Sadly the closest rink to me is about an hour and a half away. We do have a pretty nice hill on my street though. Roller skating is a low impact work out. It is something the whole family can do together.

Just one hour of moderate roller skating burns 330 calories for a 143-pound person. If that same person roller skates vigorously, he or she will burn up to 590 calories in an hour.The positions adopted during skating also help strengthen and build on muscles in the legs, back and abdomen. This is not just an advantage to those wishing to build up their body mass but also serves as an aid to slim fat. Finally, skating is also of course the perfect way to improve one’s balance.

Get a pair for the entire family. Go on little adventures around the neighborhood. A family that rolls together, stays together.

healthy-summer

Fried Rice

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This is a tried and true recipe in my house. We love Chinese food. More times than not, homemade is much better than take out. In this case, fried rice definitely applies to that better homemade category. Being able to control the type vegetables and the amount of salt and fat is important.

The addition of eggs mixed into the rice is a perfect addition to the protein train. Adding vegetable to any dish is a plus. This particular dish, allows for a different variety of veggie options. I personally like carrots and onions in mine. When I have them in stock, zucchini is really good too.

I use boil in bag rice for all of my rice recipes. I personally cannot cook rice to save my life. I have no shame. Do what you have to do to insure your family eats well. Don’t let something like not being able to cook rice, set you back or deter you from trying new things.• 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
2 large eggs, beaten
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small onion diced
2 large carrots chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups cold cooked brown or white rice
2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

Boil rice. Or cook it if you kn Let cool.Jow how (fancy pants)
Sauté your vegetables, carrots and onions with garlic.

Add your rice to hot oiled skillet with the beaten eggs. Stir and mix continuously until eggs are cooked. Add veggies and soy sauce. Top with scallions.
rice2Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Bounce into feeling good

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A must have on our property is our trampoline. It was a Christmas gift for my son 3 years ago. It still gets used every day, almost all year long. A trampoline is a terrific piece of equipment that is nothing but fun. My kids can jump for hours.

Today, more and more families are introducing fitness into their own backyard. Unlike video games, or computers a trampoline is a source of fun that has no added expense or needed upgrades. With a trampoline in your own backyard your children will be more active, healthy, and close to home. Being on a trampoline improves many areas of co-ordination, such as balance, agility, rhythm, and timing

Everybody loves to bounce! It’s natural! The younger your children start bouncing, the better. In a very short period of time you will be amazed at their new skills and development. Their co-ordination and balance will improve dramatically. While learning these very important skills, your children are having fun-the time of their lives!
Also, with regard to safety, children with a good working knowledge of a trampoline are going to be less likely hurt themselves in other activities such as skating, or even riding a bicycle. They’re going to have better balance and co-ordination and generally a better knowledge of how to protect themselves in other sports if they fall. We have the net around our trampoline so that the kids cannot injure themselves.

Jumping and bouncing are not the only things you can do on a trampoline. Any excuse to be on it will be beneficial to your kids and family.

*Give the kids some chalk, it washes right off. You can draw a hop-scotch board or a twister board for extra fun.

*Stand a basketball hoop outside the net with the hoop over the top, the kids can play a game of hoops and jump high for a slam dunk.

*Hand them a beach ball, have the children bounce it up in the air and pass it around without it touching the ground.

*Add some extra jump action by trying to jump rope on the trampoline. See who can jump the longest.

*Are you a yoga family? Why not try some of your favorite yoga moves on the soft surface of a trampoline? You may not be able to do all the poses, but you can certainly do some and have fun trying!

Any reason for your children to get off the coach, go outside in the fresh air and play is worth the investment.

Why Snacking is So Important?

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I am a mother of 2 young boys. Anyone with even one child knows the struggle. The breakfast struggle, the lunchtime struggle, and the all time worst dinner struggle. Poor veggies are pushed around the plate in endless circles. The dog is under the table eating more than the kids. There is something about sitting down for a meal that makes children become stubborn and no longer hungry. Snacks for me are a savior.

Throughout the day, I like to give my kids as much snacks as possible. We’ve all had our little ones who fall asleep before dinner time. You can’t wake them because they’re grumpy and most likely won’t eat.  All kids go through their no eating phases too. Its natural but you feel so guilty because you know they need to eat something.

Usually, breakfast is the best chance of happy plates out of the three daily meals. Kids wake up hungry and they usually don’t mind what is served. How can you go wrong with breakfast anyway? A couple hours after breakfast, I like to offer my boys something light but nutritious. The key is to give them something they can eat on the run, and avoid sitting at a table making it feel like another formal meal. Some veggie sticks, some fruit pops, cheese sticks or fruit like a banana or apple are good examples.

After lunch, which is usually a light meal anyway, I like to offer almost another meal in the form of a snack. A platter of deli meat, cheese, crackers and veggies with a dipping sauce. The reasoning behind the meat and cheese platter idea is that I can set it out and the boys and come and munch as they please. It is the freedom that they seem to like. No one is staring at them telling them what to eat. Another option are smoothies. Vitamin packed glasses of fun. What kid doesn’t like smoothies? They are sneaky ways to ensure that your child is getting the nutrients they may later skip out on.

After dinner is a little bit harder. Every parent wants their child to finish everything on their plate. Lets be honest though, it doesn’t happen as often as we would like. You can only make a 2 year old do so much before they end up winning the war. Making a deal with them sometimes may help you at least win a battle. Offering them the choice of “eat your green beans and you can have a treat” usually works. And while you may be thinking ice cream for dessert, you can’t reward them with something like that. Frozen yogurt is a good alternative. A bowl of fruit on top of yogurt with granola.

The whole point is to keep our little ones with full happy bellies. Just because you may not be able to eat like that, doesn’t mean that they can’t.

How do your kids like to snack? How do you ensure that your kids are getting all the nutrients they need despite curveballs that they may throw at you?

lovefood

Justin sometimes gets really excited about food

Healthy Smiles and healthy kids.

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A healthy kid can be based not only on over all physical health. Oral health connects to not only brushing teeth regularly but making healthy food choices as well. Even though little ones have their baby teeth, taking good care of them now will not only ensure that the adult teeth come in healthy, but it begins to form healthy habits for when they grow up.

teeth

With my first son, I was not the best at ensuring that his teeth were being taken care of. You think that they can’t get that bad and that they are going to fall out anyway. About 15 cavities later and teeth that won’t fall out fast enough, him and I both have a few found passion in teeth health. He wants to have a nice smile and is now helping ensure his little brother keeps his teeth clean too.

We all know that milk is a very important vitamin that is beneficial to teeth health. On average, most children should be consuming at least 2 cups of milk a day.  Cheese, chicken and nuts are also great options that offer calcium. Another important benefit is that these foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by not only providing calcium but the phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth.

Fruit is a no brainer when it comes to healthy eating. They are also very helpful in maintaining a healthy smile. Due to the high water content they stimulate the flow of saliva which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles.

Be careful with acidic fruits such as citrus fruits (I use limes/lemons on almost everything so this is a tough one for me and tomatoes. If you have to have them like me, mix them into a large meal or serving so that it dilutes and minimizes the amount of acid actually being consumed.

We obviously all know things that are not good for our teeth. Candy, cookies, cakes pies, chips, French fries…am I making you hungry yet? Anyway, If it doesn’t sound good for your waist line, it probably is not good for your teeth. Foods that contain high amounts of sugar provide a fuel source for bacteria.

The best beverage choices include water , milk and unsweetened tea. Limit your consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea with added sugar.

Avoid exposing your teeth to constant sugar and constant decay causing acids.

What do you do to ensure your child keeps their smile white and healthy?

Magic Beans

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Growing up in a Mexican household, beans have always been a huge part of my diet. I have passed that on to my kids as well. Beans are full of nutrients. The fact that they are so inexpensive, and a little can go such a long way is a bonus. Something that can be prepared the day before, used for breakfast lunch and dinner, and can be transformed easily like beans makes them a miracle food.

Many beans can carry between 50 to 100 calories per cup, with only 1 gram of fat, and the good kind too!  But that’s not all they also provides a whopping 8 grams of protein and 119 percent of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C. You’ll also get 8 percent of your daily recommended allowance of iron, which you need to help your muscles utilize oxygen to its best advantage.

There are many ways to use beans. Mix together some ground turkey, kidney beans, tomatoes and onions for a protein packed chili.

Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of Ground Turkey
  • 2 cans of Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 cans of Light Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 Diced Tomato
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce

Directions:

Brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Drain. Add all ingredients to crock pot. Season to taste. Cook on low for about 4 hours, until ingredients cook together.

I am Mexican so my favorite bean is a Pinto Bean. Traditionally the pinto is what re-fried beans are made out of. They are such an easy bean to prepare. After I make the beans, I serve them whole. I add vegetables to the pot like tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. This is a great way to add some more veggies to a meal. For breakfast the next morning, I mash them up and “re-fry” them. As a side to scrambled eggs and a corn tortilla, my kids can’t get enough. That is another super protein packed meal thanks to a bean.

To prepare a pot of Pinto beans you first need to soak and clean them. Remove the cracked and split beans. You should also keep an eye out for tiny rocks that may have slipped through the sorting. Talk about all natural huh?

The ratio is five cups of water per one cup of beans. Add together and bring to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt. Once brought to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 3 hours or until soft.

To re-fry, mash the beans and add to a skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil. Heat until the consistency you want. If they get too dry, you can add a little bit of water to the pan.

I hope this ode to the bean, the super protein legume, makes you want to add a few to your and your kids diet. Let us know what your families’ favorite bean is and how you like to prepare it.

Pinto beans with sliced sweet peppers

Pinto beans with sliced sweet peppers

Super Foods for Super Kids

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A super food is something that contains high amounts of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Adding any of these to your child’s diet is a great start to making your kids super healthy. A super food is a food that provides fiber, vitamins, minerals and are high in antioxidants.  Eating these types of food is so important for your kids in order to keep them strong as they grow up.

Blueberries are a very super duper super food. These small berries are jam packed with antioxidants.  They are proven to improve brain function too. These sweet little fruits are so easy to incorporate into any ones diet. Top your waffles or pancakes with them. Add them to your little ones cereal. Can you say blueberry muffins? Who doesn’t like an antioxidant filled muffin? I know I do, and I know my kids don’t mind them either. Add them to some yogurt for a yummy breakfast or a healthy after dinner dessert. If you have never made fruit pops, here is a recipe for a blueberry version. These are great for the summer.

Blueberries

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In a small saucepan, bring blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, crushing berries against side of pan with a wooden spoon, until mixture is syrupy, 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until cool, 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar, yogurt, and cream until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add blueberry mixture to yogurt mixture; gently fold twice to just combine. Pour into ice-pop molds. Freeze until solid.

Most parents of small children know the power of ketchup in getting their child to eat certain foods. Tomatoes, a main ingredient in ketchup, are a super food for children because they contain lycopene, a nutrient that protects a child from cancer, according to Parenting Magazine. Tomatoes are fairly simple to get kids to eat because they make up many of their favorite things, such as spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and ketchup. Tomatoes can also be tossed in salads, layered on sandwiches or served as a side dish when diced up and lightly drizzled with salad dressing.

According to Family Education, sweet potatoes are kid friendly and versatile, making them a super food that many children will enjoy eating. They contain vitamin C, potassium and fiber, nutrients that fight off disease and promote a healthy digestive tract. Sweet potatoes can be served baked, roasted or steamed as a healthy snack or side dish. These orange vegetables are a good first food for babies just beginning to eat solid foods. They come in a jar or can be prepared at home. As children get older they can eat diced sweet potatoes as a finger food. If you have never tried sweet potato fries, here is a great and simple recipe. Switching these out for plain fries is a great alternative. Kids will love the sweetness too.

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potato wedges with oil, salt and pepper. Spread the wedges out on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until browned and tender, turning once, about 20 minutes total

 

Get Fishy With It

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Since we moved to Florida, we eat a little bit more fish than we used to. It helps that we live only 5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. My husband and oldest son go fishing every chance they get. On days that their luck was a little low, we have some incredible fresh fish markets very close to us too. It is something quite amazing though for my son to bring home his days catch to feed his family.

travisfish

Fish and seafood should form a major part of any healthy diet. It is an excellent source of protein, a vital source of essential fatty acids and contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. It is also low in calories which make it great for any ones diet. In addition to vitamins, fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients offer a variety of health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are also credited with promoting healthy brain function. Fish that are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, perch, cod and sea bass.

Fish is a protein that can be made so many different ways. Baked, fried, stuffed, poached and smoked. The possibilities are endless. When kids think of fish though, they think of fish sticks. There is nothing wrong with that. Most boxed, frozen choices though are high in calories and low in vitamins. Just one frozen fish stick of 28 grams already nets you 81 calories, which is pretty significant if you consider the actual size of a single fish stick.

Despite what part of the country you live in, you should be able to find fresh fish in a market near you. So instead of buying premade fish sticks for your little ones, make your own. You can make these homemade fish sticks in about the same amount of time it takes to bake a box of the frozen kind.

  • 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal flakes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  • 1 lb of your favorite white fish
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.

Place breadcrumbs, cereal flakes, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Transfer to a shallow dish.

Place flour in a second shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge each strip of fish in the flour, dip it in the egg and then coat all sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared rack. Coat both sides of the breaded fish with cooking spray.

Bake until the fish is cooked through and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Fish sticks or fish nuggets?

Fish sticks or fish nuggets?

Zucchini Pizza

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Pizza is on the top of I think everyone’s favorite food list. It is definitely on the top of every child’s list. We all know though that it is a guilty pleasure that we cannot eat all the time. An alternative I like to make is Zucchini pizza. Everyone enjoys the flavor of this delicious and different way to serve zucchini. It is a healthy, quick meal to prepare and a change from what we know as pizza.

An average slice of cheese pizza is about 200 calories. They have almost 400mg of sodium and 8 grams of fat. That greasy goodness can become a nightmare for any ones diet. Zucchini is very low in calories. They contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a great source of dietary fiber. Vitamin A and Potassium are other amazing reasons to try this recipe. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.

Switching a meal like this is so beneficial to your kids health. Not only physically, but breaking the normal cycle is just as important. Introducing them  to new foods and new experiences will help them make create better eating habits throughout their life. Maybe at the food line in school they may actually go for the veggies if they have a positive experience with it at home first.

Here is my recipe for Zucchini Pizza. Like any pizza, the toppings are endless. Have fun with it. Get your kids involved too in helping and customizing their personal pizza.

Zucchini Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 4 zucchinis
  • olive oil
  • shredded low fat mozzarella
  • grated parmesan
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • basil

Slice the zucchini in half. Slice off the bottom to keep in stable. Brush with olive oil. Top with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Use mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese or mixed blend.sprinkle with basil..

Bake 375 for 20 to 30 minutes until soft.

zucchini

Make a Switch 2

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Every parent likes to find quick tasty meal options for their kids. There are so many bright colored boxes that attract our little ones eyes. Sometimes we might give in. But for the well being of our kids, we need to break the cycle and just say no. There are so many different alternatives that can be substituted for these quick tasty, unhealthy options.

Frozen waffles are always a fast breakfast treat. But they are high in sugar. They really don’t have as much fiber as they should either. They really don’t taste that great unless drowning in syrup and butter. Making homemade waffles is not as hard as it seems. Its as simple as mixing a batter and pouring into a waffle iron. Waffle irons are not expensive either. I actually found mine on sale at Walgreens for $4!

Waffle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups
  • 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Stir dry ingredients and then wet. Mix together
  2. Add to heated waffle iron for about 3-4 minutes
  3. Top with fruit, yogurt, low fat whipped cream, preserves..etc.. The possibilities are endless.

waffle-2

Lunchables are another popular kid treat. Maybe its the bright yellow box or could it possibly be the candy that comes with every meal? Now this a no brainer. Lunch meat, crackers and cheese is obviously a great meal plan. These packaged meals are very high in sodium, calories and fat. Make your own Lunchable. Slice up some fresh from the deli meat, whole wheat crackers and all natural cheese. Adding some fruit could be the special bonus too. They are also quite expensive. You could probably purchase all of your own ingredients, enough to last a week for the same price as two Lunchables.

Macaroni and cheese is a very popular side in my house. Who doesn’t like Mac and Cheese? When one thinks of healthy, powdered processed cheese sauce usually is not the first thing that comes to mind. Making this classic from scratch is not much harder than dumping sodium packed powder onto low fiber, bland noodles.

Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • (16 ounce) package whole wheat macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups 1% milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in boiling water, 8 minutes. Drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour to make a roux. Slowly add milk to roux, stirring constantly. Stir in Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and sauce is thick, about 3 minutes. Place macaroni in large baking dish and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well.

Bake in preheated oven until cheese sauce is hot.

Toast to Healthy Snacks!

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After a long day at school, kids need fuel. Fuel to complete hours of homework and hopefully a couple of hours playing with friends and neighbors before they eat dinner, go to bed and start the cycle all over again. I know the second my boys walk through the door in the afternoon, they make a beeline for the pantry. This close to dinner time, I don’t feel like cooking anything heavy that will curb their appetite. There are many small but nutritious snacks that can be made for those hungry little bellies.

Toast is one of my boys favorite things to snack on. Mine too! Toast is a perfect example of being able to customize the same “meal” to different tastes without too much of a hassle. It is fast, filling, (not too filling) and can be topped with yummy flavors. And remember, just because its toast, butter is not always needed! No need to add extra saturated fats to your kids’ diet. I use whole wheat bread. It has much more nutrients. Raspberry preserves are delicious, and there are so many different kinds. Peanut butter or almond butter is also other no brainers. Any kind of fruit added to a piece of toast is also always a winner. If your kids like cottage cheese, a little of that with some peaches is delicious.

French toast is not just for breakfast anymore. Add an egg to it for some extra protein. Now remember, just because its French toast, you don’t need to add butter and sugar packed syrup. Top with preserves, fresh fruit like bananas and berries, or simple cinnamon. A little bit of Greek yogurt dolloped on top sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Now with any kind of snack or meal that is being prepared for kids, it helps making it fun. Telling them that it is good for them, doesn’t really seal the deal. Here is cute way to serve toast that would make any little one want to go wild!

Teddy Bear Toast

Ingredients:

  • Slice of Whole Wheat Bread
  • Banana Slices
  • Jelly or Raisins
  • Peanut Butter

Toast Bread, Spread Peanut Butter, Position banana slices for ears and nose. Add drops of jelly for the eyes and nose, or place raisins in the same spots.

Teddy Bear Toast

Teddy Bear Toast

School Lunches

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I have a son in Kindergarten. He could not wait to go to his big kid school, ride the bus and eat school lunch. Well, he’s at the school, there are no buses for our area, and he ate school lunch for about a month before we pulled his lunchbox back out. At first he was very excited about getting pizza and corn dogs. But after a while, like all things, he go tired of it. Now I am a young parent. It wasn’t but 10 years ago that I was in a lunch line trying to find something that looked edible. I understand the feeling. 

So here I have my 6 year old telling me he would rather have a peanut butter and jelly than what he was being offered. At first I was a little upset. I know that what they are offering isn’t always the tastiest but I know that regardless of taste it is a well rounded meal. I told him to try it out for a couple more days until I could get to the grocery store to get things for his packed lunch. I asked him during our ride home after school what he had that day. One day he said just pineapples, another it was juice and applesauce. He wasn’t even eating his food. I felt horrible. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how healthy something is if the child isn’t eating it. But now he is happy, full and healthy. 

We pack him his favorite peanut butter and jelly. He switches between apples and cheese, oranges or a banana. He also takes an applesauce and yogurt. He loves water. He always has his bottle on him full of fresh water. So now instead of being served a lunch that is being wasted, he eats what he wants in his lunch until he is full. He brings home his leftovers for either a snack or takes it back the next day. No waste.

Now don’t get me wrong. Not every child hates school lunch. There are more than 32 million children who eat school meals every day. It is just as important as ever to ensure that there is something healthy for our youth to have access to. For many school children, school lunch is their only meal of the day. In the past few years the quality of the food has also increased. New meal and nutrition plans have been set up. Salad bars have been placed in many lunch rooms. That is something I would have personally enjoyed having.  School lunches also expose some children to food they may have never had before. 

So many kids these days are so picky with what they choose to eat. In a situation like school, we cannot be there to tell them they cannot leave the table until all of their green beans are gone. Sometimes we have to put trust into our child and listen to what they want. In the long run, they are the ones who will benefit from it.

Funny Wraps

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Funny Wraps

By: Elizabeth Austin

We all have that picky little eater in our house. The one who sits at the table, arms crossed just staring at what seems like to them, the mountain of veggies and protein on their plate. Sometimes there is no amount of coaxing and begging and bribing to get them to take a bite. It is a battle not many of us can win. There is a simple way to get kids to eat those veggies without a fight. One trending way is blending veggies down to pulp and mixing them into things. What they can’t see won’t hurt them? Don’t get me wrong, this is a genius idea. My only issue with it is that they will never learn to love veggies if they never know they’re eating them. So if this is the route you would like to take, I recommend you not do it every single meal. Here some examples of how to hide veggies into a meal that your kids will love.

Squash and Pea Burger- Blend cooked peas and squash and add to ground turkey then shape into patties, cook as normal

Carrot and Zucchini Spaghetti- Cook zucchini and carrots, either blend and stir into sauce or chop very small and add

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese-Boil Cauliflower, butter, milk and mozzarella and blend, then serve over elbow noodles

Really there are thousands of ways to hide veggies. Let us know if you have a favorite way to hide veggies that even the pickiest of eaters enjoy.

I am stubborn and like to make a dish that is so fun to eat that it doesn’t even matter that veggies are in them but can still be seen.

One of my personal favorite lunches, or dinner on nights I don’t really feel like cooking, is Wraps. There are so many different variations, ingredients, sauces and ways to present wraps. They are a healthier alternative to sandwiches. I use whole wheat wraps. They are lower in calories (you only use one tortilla as opposed to 2 slices of bread per sandwich) and are packed with fiber. Many wraps are about 60 calories with about 10 grams of fiber.

So my favorite wrap is a turkey wrap. In this wrap I am going to thinly slice carrots and celery and add some lettuce. Depending on what I have, I use hummus or light sour cream instead of mayonnaise.

Caterpillar wrap

Caterpillar wrap

It is Easter so how about a Bunny Rabbit Wrap

It is Easter so how about a Bunny Rabbit Wrap

Remember, as long as kids are eating their veggies, it doesn’t really matter how you present them or choose not to present them.

Whole wheat wraps, turkey, hummus, carrots, celery and lettuce

Whole wheat wraps, turkey, hummus, carrots, celery and lettuce

Thinly slice veggies

Thinly slice veggies

Lay everything on the tortilla, roll tight and slice about 1 inch pieces

Lay everything on the tortilla, roll tight and slice about 1 inch pieces

 

So after you have cut, sliced, spread and assembled your wrap it is time to make it fun.

I shape the wrap pieces into fun shapes and designs. Here are two of my kids’ favorites.

Summer Kabobs

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When I think of summer I think of grilling. I picture the kids running around the sprinklers, kiddie pools, water balloons. Outside eating is not always simple and getting the kids to stop playing to come inside to eat is not an easy task either. Food on a stick. No plates, no utensils, no table necessary. Kabobs are an all time favorite of mine. They are fast easy and can be extremely healthy! They give kids the energy to keep playing and the parents energy to keep up! Another reason I am so fond of them is the ability use different ingredients to match specific tastes. Darn picky eaters!! I swear mushrooms are delicious. But I digress. All you need is a protein, some veggies and a marinade. Grab some sticks, fire up the grill and Kabob-on!
For this recipe I used chicken and beef. The kids seem to like chicken more and my husband and I are red meat eaters. For the veggies I used mushrooms, onions and green peppers. The marinade was a simple pineapple teriyaki sauce.
Make sure you soak the sticks in a bowl of water for about an hour so that they do not burn on the grill or splinter when you start to assemble your kabobs.

Ingredients:

Half pound chicken breast cut into one inch pieces
One pound stew beef cut into one inch pieces
(can use any cut of meat, stew beef has worked really well for me and is sold already cut into pieces)
One green bell pepper cut into one inch pieces
One onion cut into one inch pieces
16oz mushrooms sliced
One bottle of teriyaki marinade
*Kabob Sticks

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Cut beef..the chicken was also cut into pieces this isze

Cut beef..the chicken was also cut into pieces this size

Onions
Onions

Bell peppers

Bell peppers

Yummy!

Yummy!

Don’t forget to soak your kabob sticks!

Don’t forget to soak your kabob sticks!

Marinade the chicken in the fridge for about half an hour. I chose not to marinade my beef this time. i just drizzled on the teriyaki once it was on the grill.

Marinade the chicken in the fridge for about half an hour.
I chose not to marinade my beef this time. i just drizzled on the teriyaki once it was on the grill.

Begin assembly! I start in a pretty pattern but then after a few, I just start throwing them together.

Begin assembly! I start in a pretty pattern but then after a few, I just start throwing them together.

They’re ready!

They’re ready!

Add your glorious creations to the grill

Add your glorious creations to the grill

Know your grill, learn where it cooks hotter so you don’t burn pieces or under cook the chicken

Know your grill, learn where it cooks hotter so you don’t burn pieces or under cook the chicken

The steak will be done before the chicken so keep and eye on them to not over cook

The steak will be done before the chicken so keep and eye on them to not over cook

Set out on a dish and watch them disappear

Set out on a dish and watch them disappear

Don’t you just love food that looks like art?

Don’t you just love food that looks like art?

This is a recipe that is tried and true in my house. Every family has different tastes. Shrimp would be great with these veggies. Or add some pineapple with the chicken for a sweet and savory kabob. Get creative with your food! Get your kids involved, ask them to come up with kabob recipes and see who’s is better. Remember not to let them handle raw meat

If you have a great kabob recipe enter it in the comments below!

 

 

Fun With Eggs

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Easter is approaching. When I think of this fun holiday I don’t think of Easter Bunnies, I think of eggs. What a great thing an egg can be. There are Chocolate eggs, Caramel eggs and Plastic candy filled eggs. My favorite one though is a healthier kind. Hard boiled and Deviled eggs.
Eggs are a staple that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. There are so many different variations and recipes that include eggs. It doesn’t have to stop with scrambled eggs smothered in ketchup (what my 2 year old would live off of if he could). But with the nutritional values an egg supplies there is no way to go wrong.
The list of viatmins that an egg has can help keep any growing kid healthy and full of energy all day long. Iron, Vitamin E and B12, Protein and more.

Calories 70 Cal / 292.88.kJ
Fat 5 g
Cholesterol 195 mg
Sodium 65 mg
Carbohydrate 1 g
Protein 6 g

My oldest son Travis has a love for Deviled eggs. He helps me make them, and we enjoy finding new variations and fun ways to present them. I substitute mayonnaise for low fat ranch giving the filling a creamier and more flavorful texture. We just made an Avocado Deviled egg that was the spotlight dish at a recent party. The avocado also was the substitute for the mayonnaise. Not only was the flavor incredible, the beautiful green color made it fun.
Avocado Deviled Eggs
12 hard boiled eggs
1 ripe avocado
1/2 finely diced red onion
1/2 of a lemon juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Boil eggs for 10 minutes
Let cool
Peel shells off, rinse to make sure there are no small pieces left.
Slice long ways
Scoop out yolks
Mix together yolks, avocado, onion, lemon juice.
Season with salt and pepper
Scoop mixture into Egg whites
*Optional-Fry some Turkey bacon, break and place a piece on each egg as a garnish. Avocado and Bacon? Yes please

avacado-eggs

To make things fun for my boys this year I have found some pretty amazing looking deviled eggs. I’m just not sure which one I am going to pick. The whole point is the food fun. If the kids enjoy eating it then it doesn’t matter how healthy you made it. Get them involved in the cooking process. Make it a race to see who can peel the eggs the fastest. When they become involved in what they’re eating, they are proud and want to make sure it is the best it can be. Teaching kids at an early age what is tasty and healthy it will stick with them as they grow. Good habits do stick.

So here are the two contenders for this years specialty Easter egg. Let us know which is your favorite and we’ll post which we made.

Bunny Eggs These I like because of the veggies that are added (carrots and celery)

Bunny Eggs

These I like because of the veggies that are added (carrots and celery)

Chick Eggs These I liked because they are so darn cute. I would use a carrot for the beak and raisins for the eyes.

Chick Eggs

These I liked because they are so darn cute. I would use a carrot for the beak and raisins for the eyes.

Easter

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There seems to be a different holiday every month that revolves around giving candy. Valentine chocolate hearts, Christmas stockings filled with chocolate Santas, and don’t get me started on Halloween. Easter is yet another wonderful holiday that has been sucked up into the commercial candy giving dark hole. Regardless, I personally cannot deny my boys brightly colored plastic eggs filled with candy. What I can do though is fill them with fun and healthier treats.

easter-egg

Instead of filling with chocolates and peeps I am going to fill them with treats like fruit snacks and nuts. Pretzels are a good snack that would fit into the eggs. Little crackers, yogurt bites, raisins and other dried fruits would be a great alternative. It is all based on your and your kids tastes. If you nostalgic like I am, and you like more traditional routes that’s fine too. There are sugar and fat free jelly beans. Or just skip the plastic eggs all together. Hard boiled eggs are the original Easter egg and I personally feel like that should have never changed. Finding the eggs they took so much time to decorate is something that cannot be replaced.

egg-healthy

I am also going to place numbers in the eggs. Each number will give the kids an opportunity to pick a fun treat for after dinner like frozen yogurt. At the end of the day, kids just want to run and play and will be happy finding eggs regardless of what is in them.  Even though kids love candy, months after the holiday is over, there is a full bowl on the counter that no longer gets touched. There really are so many little chocolate eggs that someone can eat without getting sick of them. If you fill the eggs with healthy treats,

Making a game out of an Easter egg hunt is also a way to get kids moving. I’m thinking about setting up a treasure hunt. Making a map of the yard will get the kids to different check points. Making them jump rope, hula hoop, do jumping jacks or dance before they can continue on to the next part of the yard where more eggs will be hidden. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Little treats like a puzzle is also something that can be put into eggs. Separate them and add one piece to each egg. They’ll have fun putting them together after the hunt is over.

I hope that you have a fantastic Easter. Let us know what you did to make your celebration healthier. Be proud of old traditions and add your own spin to them to create new ones.

Banana Muffins

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My kids love cupcakes. I am not such a big fan. Something about the frosting maybe? Or flashbacks to hundreds of cheesy birthday parties. Anyway, regardless of my taste I still need to ensure my kids don’t over indulge. That doesn’t mean we don’t still get yummy treats. My family personally loves muffins. It is actually a Sunday morning tradition for us. These are great for lunch, dinner and dessert. One of our favorite flavors is banana. The natural sweetness that is in an over ripe banana cannot be beat. This is my favorite banana bread recipe. You can cook it in a bread pan but shouldn’t more things be cooked in cupcake tins? They make everything more fun and the kids feel like they’re indulging in something special.

Honestly the hardest part of this recipe is buying the bananas and keeping them around long enough in order to actually cook with them. One big bunch lasts us only a couple days.

My son Travis loves helping me make these. His favorite part is smashing the bananas. We use a potato masher. Hope you and your family loves these delicious muffins as much as we do.

Whats your favorite kind of muffin?

Whats your favorite kind of muffin?

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter melted
1 tbs vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Mash bananas, mix dry ingredients and add to wet with bananas.
Pour into cupcake tins.
Bake for 20-23 minutes
Let us know what kind of muffins your kids love. And let us know what kind of treats you substitute for not so healthy desserts.
This recipe can also be used with blueberries, raisins..etc.