My toddler is all about snacks! While she does sit down at the table for meals with us, some days I think she eats more in snacks than she does at meal times. Because we are giving her real, whole foods, I don’t limit her when she asks for food.
My go-to is just plain fruit and veggies.
For vegetables, right now she loves slices of bell pepper. She used to love cherry tomatoes cut in half (right now, she doesn’t), and cucumbers. She also loves gnawing on carrot and celery sticks, which I am comfortable giving her because she has so many teeth and has never choked (I think in part due to the way we introduced solid foods). We also went through a phase where she loved frozen peas! What is simpler than getting a bag out of the freezer and pouring some peas in a cup?
Have a kiddo who doesn’t want “plain” vegetables? Make it fun! What about the old classic… ants on a log! Spread some peanut butter on celery sticks and use raisins as the “ants.” If you have a child who wants to help you make them, even better! Our favorite around here is “red ants” on a log… almond butter + goji berries!
We also dip veggie sticks in guacamole or salsa. If you don’t want to make your own, there are a lot of very “clean” brands. With salsa, we check the ingredients to make sure there isn’t added sugar.
I don’t think there is a fruit that my daughter doesn’t like. What is great about fruit, is that it is the ultimate “fast food.” With the exception of some, like pineapple or pomegranates that take a little work to prepare, how easy is it to eat fruit? To just peel a banana? My daughter also loves peeling her own fruit, especially those little clementines. That is half the fun for her! She also sometimes enjoys biting into the whole fruit, like a pear or apple. If you are lucky, an apple can keep them entertained for quite some time! Another favorite is dates. If you are feeling fancy, you can stuff them with goat cheese and herbs, or perhaps slightly more kid-friendly, sunflower butter . Most of the time we eat them plain, or take 2 to-go in a little container.
Our whole family, including our toddler, loves snack balls. You can make them by combining dates and any kind of nuts you have on hand, and add whatever else you feel like, such as dried fruits, oats, chocolate chips in a food processor. Then roll into balls and stick in the fridge or freezer. Want a recipe to follow? Try these Spirulina Snack Balls.
In the mood to have some messy play and snack time combined, which of course is so much fun for little ones? Try making chia pudding! It is such a different texture, they may love squishing it in their hands, “painting” the table, or it might be good practice using a spoon! There are tons of chia seed pudding recipes out there, like this Banana Macaroon Chia Pudding.
Another fun texture is jello. I won’t buy the jello packets from the store, so I make these Healthy Gelatin Jigglers, which are just as easy to make as those packets. The first time I made them, I had to give them away to other kids at a play date because my daughter didn’t care for them. Now, she can’t get enough! I hardly ever add sweetener, as they already taste plenty sweet.
Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. I am okay with giving Caterina nuts, but this, again, will depend on your comfort level with how your child chews and swallows. If you are unsure, try seeds instead! Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are great, and my daughter requests them often. She also likes eating hemp seeds out of a little cup with a spoon, but I have to be prepared to sweep the floor afterward! Dried fruit is not something I like to give all the time because it sticks in the teeth, but she sure enjoys goji berries, raisins, mulberries, etc. Another fun activity for toddlers is “make your own” trail mix. My mom has a bunch of antique mason jars filled up with different nuts and fruit right at Caterina’s level (which to me, screams disaster… like the all the jars getting knocked over and jagged glass everywhere). So far, no disasters, and C loves taking a little of each and putting it in her own jar, cup, or baggie.
Have a kid who likes granola bars? What about making your own healthy granola bars!
Hummus. I never remember eating hummus growing up, but man, pretty much all the parents I know who give their child hummus say their kid can eat it by the bucketful!
Related: chickpeas. You can make your own crunchy chickpea snack by drizzling with olive oil, sprinkling with salt and/or spices, and roasting for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. No time for that? Simply open a can! My daughter will eat chickpeas right out of her snack cup, nothing on them. Feel free to mix it up and use other types of beans too (pictured below are homemade pinto beans).
Another easy snack is a smoothie. Since I make one nearly every day for myself, it is no more trouble to pour her some of mine, or make a little extra. When she was young and we were introducing foods slowly, I would start with just the ingredients I knew she could have, blend it up and pour it in one of her smoothie pouches and then add a bunch of other ingredients and blend it again for myself.
Crackers are great too, but Kevin and I are particular about what type of crackers we give. We want them to actually have some good nutrition. The Endurance Crackers by Oh She Glows fit that bill, plus they are easy to make and delicious. If we want store bought, we go for Mary’s Gone Crackers or Go Raw Sprouted Cookies (pictured on smoothie bowl, above).
Summer is almost here! As it gets warmer, I’m sure we’ll be making more popsicles! Popsicle molds are relatively easy to come by, I’ve seen them in Wegmans and Marshall’s lately, but of course they are available online, too. It is so easy to just blend up some fruit and water or coconut water, pour into the molds and freeze! Recipe coming soon. 😉 Or, BANANA ICE CREAM! Click here for classic banana ice cream (with optional chocolate shell topping), or go wild with adding your favorite mix-ins!
Air popped popcorn is great for munching on. To make it more exciting, I like putting salt and spices on it, or this recipe for more of a treat. My daughter likes it plain jane, though! She likes pressing the button and watching it pop, too.
Mix up your serving dishes! Do you have different colored and sized bowls and plates to up the fun factor? (Did you notice that the frozen peas, above, were in a reused scoop from a protein powder?)
What about a muffin tin? This was fantastic for my daughter when she was younger. It probably would be at this age too… note to self to try it again! The more colors and textures the better!
Bring your kids with you when you buy food, whether at the market or the store. Let them pick out what they want! If they pick it out, you bet they are going to try it when they get home!
Picking out tomatoes at the farmer’s market:
Picking out a new fruit from the store (pitaya):
Better yet, pick your own or grow your own food! Right now, we only have herbs, but Caterina loves to pick and eat a piece of mint, basil, or chives. Looking forward to this summer when we (hopefully) have a prosperous garden!
Now, I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite toddler/kid snacks? Leave me a comment!
How was your Mother’s Day?! I feel like I truly have the best of both worlds, having my mom around, and being a mom, myself. At the same time, I am painfully aware of how hard this is for some of my friends, who have lost their mom, a child, or miscarried. It makes me even more grateful for what I have and makes it easier to try to enjoy every moment, even when things don’t go as perfectly as you expect them to.
My awesome husband made us a huge delicious brunch, and then Mom, Caterina, and I went off to the play gym for some fun with Caterina, while he cleaned up. Thanks Kevin, you’re the best!
At brunch, I tried out a second version of a recipe I’m testing, a healthy and vegan version of crème brulee. It was a hit (how could something with caramelized sugar not be), but I think it could use some additional tweaking still! Stay tuned. 😉
In the meantime, this smoothie recipe is incredible! It is my absolute favorite, right now. I think it would be perfect for a “beginner” green smoothie, as it doesn’t taste “green,” at all, despite the addition of spinach, and the smoothie’s vibrant green color. The mango, banana, and cashews make it super creamy, while the limes add an amazing freshness. The addition of vanilla and almond extracts reminds me a little of an “Orange Julius” that I used to get at the mall when I was a kid. The dates add that extra sweetness, to compensate for the sour of the lime, but if you don’t have dates, I think you will still find it sweet enough if you have to omit them!
Toddlers love this smoothie too, if you can’t tell by the green face 😉 Which is why I usually give her smoothies in these reusable pouches… really helps with the mess!
This almost doesn’t seem like it should be a recipe, it is so easy to make. I’ve been having this with an apple for dessert almost every night for the past couple weeks though, so why wouldn’t I post about it?
Usually, I just throw the four ingredients (raw almond butter,pure maple syrup, vanilla extract , salt ) in a small bowl and stir. This time, I measured (I know how most people like exact quantities when following a recipe) and for whatever reason, it tasted better than ever before! My husband said, “why would anyone need to buy caramel from the store if you can have this!”
The name of it was almost a doozy too, I was so excited about it once I decided to put it on the blog. It comes together in ONE minute. It has FOUR ingredients. It’s VEGAN. It’s SALTY and sweet! Also, it’s SINGLE SERVE so you don’t have to worry about eating too much, or the remainder going bad in the back of your fridge.
So how about, for a name… Easy One Minute Single Serve Vegan Almond Maple Salted Caramel?
Buying in bulk is one of my new favorite things! I joined a lovely local group that does bulk buys and saves our family a little money. Note to self: Don’t get carried away and order bulk spirulina.
Kevin and I love trying new foods, especially “superfoods,” after we read about the benefits! Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, was no exception. It contains many beneficial nutrients, and is rich in protein, even higher protein content per weight than red meat! In fact, it is so nutritionally dense that NASA is researching the benefits of incorporating spirulina into the diets of the astronauts! Read more about the spirulina’s history and benefits by reading this article by Dr. Mercola.
Then, why the heck haven’t I used up our spirulina as the expiration date is growing ever closer? Um, well, because…. it tastes like pond scum. 😉 To be fair, I did say it was a blue-green algae. My husband actually really likes the taste in smoothies, and can enjoy a smoothie with a couple teaspoons of spirulina in it, while I can get it down, but not love it. 🙂 Oddly enough, I will eat (and even like) the SeaSnax I buy for my daughter, and Kevin can’t stand even the smell of those. Go figure!
I’ve been trying to incorporate spirulina into our diet more creatively (and deliciously), and with these snack balls, I did it!!
They are so simple to make, too.
Just combine cashews, dates, coconut, spirulina, vanilla extract, and salt in a food processor.
Process past the “crumbly phase,” like this…
…Until it forms a large mass, like this:
Then, you just roll into balls, and set them in the freezer to chill.
Store in the freezer or fridge, and enjoy!
Note: Since I am so sensitive to the taste of spirulina, I made these several times, starting with just 1/4 tsp in a whole batch of balls. I think the 1 tsp is quite nice, without really tasting it, but if you don’t mind the flavor, feel free to increase the quantity!
“Busy” is an understatement lately! I think mostly because of my husband’s long hours with a long drive most days of the week. Trying to stay positive, although I sometimes get bitter that we moved here for this new job, and he is commuting at least three days a week back to where we came from. It is supposed to just be short term, but so far we don’t have an end-date for the commuting. Seriously, I applaud the single parents out there, as I am getting a taste of it. Many days I am the sole caregiver, from the time Caterina wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed at night. Shout-out single parents, you rock!!
Food quality is extremely important to me though, so despite these challenges recently, you won’t see me at any fast-food drive-thrus! One way to make breakfast really easy, is “overnight oats!” They are exactly like they sound. 😉 Just mix everything together the night before, and eat in the morning. For the sake of simplicity, I eat it cold, as does my husband, when I send him on the road with a jar. If you prefer a hot breakfast, feel free to gently heat it on the stovetop though. The possibilities are endless too, as you play around with different fruit, spices, and sweeteners.
This pear spice flavor is so delicious! Another tip to make breakfast on-the-go a breeze, pack your overnight oats in an almost-empty nut butter jar!
You NEED to try overnight oats if you have busy mornings or just want to make life a little easier! Faster and cheaper and WAY healthier than the drive-thru!
Mix all ingredients in jar. Refrigerate overnight. Boom, done. Enjoy in the morning with nuts or extra fruit if desired.
*I recommend doubling or quadrupling the recipe so you have breakfast for a couple of days.*
This family has been loving oatmeal lately. We’ve had it on the stovetop, baked like a casserole, as overnight oats in jars, and just boiling some hot water and adding oats along with a bunch of toppings. I was surprised (although shouldn’t have been) when we were all out, because we bought in bulk, and had more than I thought we would use for a long time. Nope, all gone! No hidden jars in the back of the pantry with extra oats.
Enter: Coconut oatmeal. But there aren’t any oats… so coco-no-oat-meal. Coconoatmeal! I crack myself up.
The result is a delicious hot breakfast porridge, getting a bit of a natural sweetness from the coconut, coconut milk, and vanilla extract. Paleo-friendly because the base isn’t a grain, and vegan friends, you can just leave out the gelatin. It doesn’t have any sweetener, so we topped ours with a good amount of really ripe, juicy, sweet pineapple. Feel free to top with any fresh, frozen, or dried fruit you have on hand, or mix in a little maple syrup if you desire something sweet.
Do you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a sweet homemade breakfast treat for your sweetie or your kiddos? These pink heart pancakes are perfect!
I used the recipe for my allergy-friendly blueberry pancakes, except subbed in raspberries to make them pink/red in color, and I added an extra mashed banana to the batter to sweeten them just a little more and thicken them up a bit.
We made it easy on ourselves by using these heart molds but you could certainly try to shape the hearts free-hand, or round pink pancakes are still festive!
I love this recipe. It takes a little time to make them all, especially if you have to grind up the oats (we keep some oat flour pre-made now), but they are totally worth it. Gluten free, dairy free (except for the pat of butter on our stack for the picture), egg free, nut free. NOT free from flavor! These are so delicious!
You actually don’t even need maple syrup for these, my daughter just had a leftover plain one as a snack.
Talk to my college roommates, and they will tell you it’s not an exaggeration when I say I used to eat microwave popcorn every single day. After dinner we’d all settle in to study and they’d hear the popping of my “extra butter” bag of popcorn.
When I made a drastic change in the foods I was eating, I switched to eating fresh, natural and unprocessed foods, which automatically cut out most corn. Cornstarch, corn syrup, and corn oil, are in just about every processed food product, and corn is one of the most genetically modified foods, which has its own issues. Not to mention the ingredients besides the corn… some companies (cough, PopSecret, cough) are still using trans fats, and others hide ingredients by writing “natural and artificial flavors.” I mean, what is that??
Many moms fall short of meeting their breastfeeding goals. More than 85% of moms wanted to breastfeed for at least three months, and only 32.4% actually met that mark according to a 2012 publication in the journal Pediatrics. Study author, Cria Perrine, said, “What this says to me is that our low breastfeeding rates are not because women don’t know about the benefits of breastfeeding, or because they don’t want to breastfeed. It’s because they’re not getting support.”
Unfortunately, in this society, you are not going to get support from everyone. If you do, I think it is rare and you are lucky! I did NOT have support from the hospital (they were about to give formula… pretty much for no reason), and I did not have support from family and friends who I remember saying, “Just give her formula,” and “Just give her a bottle.” However, I had amazing support from my husband, and our doctor. Also, I later connected with a lactation consultant for support and guidance and found support from other moms at Breastfeeding USA meetings.
For first time moms, you tend to turn to the doctor with all your questions, including breastfeeding, even though many doctors haven’t had additional training. That is why I think it is so important to find a breastfeeding friendly doctor. To be honest, when I was pregnant and my husband and I interviewed the baby’s potential doctor, I’m not even sure we talked about breastfeeding. I truly thought it was going to be easy, especially when mentally comparing it to giving birth!
This is where open-ended questions come into play, if you are interested in finding a doctor who will truly support you with breastfeeding. If you ask a closed-ended question, like, “Do you support breastfeeding?” I doubt many (if any) doctors would answer with a “no.” After all, we know so much about the benefits.
Consider these three questions:
1. What Breastfeeding guidelines/standards do you subscribe to?
Here I would be looking for the doctor to talk about the different recommendations from organizations, like WHO, UNICEF, AAP, etc. The minimum recommendation is one year, so if they said anything less than that, it would raise a red flag. I would also hope they mention the introduction of solid foods, and that it should happen “not until 6 months.”
2. What type of training have you had regarding breastfeeding?
I would like the doctor to have some sort of experience with breastfeeding, either in coursework, or their own positive breastfeeding journey, if applicable. If they did not have additional training or experience themselves, it wouldn’t necessarily deter me from them. Maybe someone in the office is a lactation consultant, or maybe they know where to refer you if you are having difficulty. As long as they are educated in the basics, seem interested in breastfeeding and positively react to breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, etc, I think it would be ok for confident parents.
3. What percentage of babies in your practice are breastfed?
I like this question even though the doctor may not know the exact percentage. It would further show how your doctor feels about breastfeeding by the way they answer. I would be looking for a high number of at least the national average of 75% according to the healthychildren.org site. If the numbers were lower, I would be looking for the doctor to show interest in raising the rates or at least an enthusiasm to help you meet your breastfeeding goals.
I hope this helps, and I’d love to hear from you! Did you ask your baby’s future doctor about breastfeeding while you were still pregnant? What areas did you feel supported in breastfeeding, or where did you feel you LACKED support? Leave me a comment!
This morning we are snowed in, and all the schools are closed! We actually didn’t get as much as expected, but it is definitely a winter wonderland out there! This calls for making your own sunshine, don’t you think?
My juicing slows down in the winter, because there just isn’t the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit like there is in the warmer months. However, it is the season for sweet potatoes and citrus, which combine beautifully in this juice. Did you know you can juice sweet potatoes? Yes, they add a sweet and almost creamy, or thicker quality to your juice. And, of course, it is delicious! You can enjoy this as is, or for a spicy kick, stir in some ground cinnamon. It’s almost like drinking sweet potato pie when you do that!!
Juice ingredients. Not pictured: ginger root and ground cinnamon