Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

I’m sorry, did you say you love the chocolate-peanut butter combo and can’t imagine life without it???? Yeah, me too.

This recipe is going to throw you for a loop though. It’s a super awesome, omega-3 packed, fiber-rich, chocolately, peanut buttery, FROZEN snack bar. YEP! Frozen! You can’t even imagine the deliciousness…

I have a Pampered Chef problem. Their kitchen tools and gadgets are super high quality and are really thought out by people who spend TIME in the kitchen! I appreciate the thought they put into their products, knowwhati’msayin? ANYWAY they have a new snack bar maker and it’s pretty awesome. You can bake it, freeze it, and just store your homemade granola bars in it.

This recipe boasts crunchy peanut butter (you can substitute it for other nut butters or soy butter), quick oat, rice cereal, chia and flax seed, and of course to add texture/flavor/stick-togetherness -butter, and of course semi-sweet chocolate chips!

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER NO-BAKE BARS
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)…yes I know, just trust me (you can also use solid coconut oil and I would have had I not run out)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup quick oats
1 cup rice cereal
1 Tablespoon chia seed
1 Tablespoon ground flax seed

  1. In a medium pan over low-medium heat melt butter. Add in the semi-sweet chocolate chips and melt. Then add in the peanut butter to the mixture so that it is smooth (minus the chunks of peanuts). Remove from stove and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl mix oats, cereal, chia, and flax seeds. Pour slightly cooled chocolate mixture over the oat mixture and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Place mixture into a cookie sheet and press flat or if you have a granola bar pan use that!
  4. FREEZE and enjoy!!!!

NOTES: I cut them in small bite size pieces

Why are these better than original No-Bake Cookies????
1. half the butter
2. no added sugar (besides what is in the semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies)
3. chia and flax seed = omega 3 fatty acids = super heart health benefits
4. frozen…because ohhhmagoodness so good!

You can eat well, eat deliciously, and have fun doing it. You don’t need to count calories/fat/carbs in order to be healthy. Eat well, my friends!

Sometimes the Right Thing IS the Hard Thing

By now many of you have quit or forgotten about your New Years Resolutions. Were they too hard? Are you too busy to worry about it right now? Do you want a personal chef, a kick-your-butt trainer, and/or a cookie hand slapper? Were you expecting this time, this year to somehow be different? Did you expect that the new Weight Watchers program or those shakes you bought a few months ago would motivate you enough to stick with it?

Listen to me…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results. The soul-crushing rules of fad diets, the cycle of starving yourself only to find a few days later binging on anything that isn’t tied down, the all-or-nothing do-or-die diet mentality, and the guilt of eating food that isn’t on the “good” list will whittle away at your psyche and leave you back where you started.

Going on a diet isn’t the fix. I promise. I’ve been a dietitian for over a decade and I’ve been counseling people on their diets for just as long. Diet’s don’t work. Me, creating a meal plan for you doesn’t work. Me telling you what to do DOESN’T WORK!

So what does? What works? YOU. Deep down inside of you is a spark that just needs to be fueled in order to catch fire. What will fuel you? What is your motivation? Deep down, what do you WANT from nutrition, your health, your wellbeing? I can guarantee you that your deepest motivation really isn’t weight loss. Weight loss is a side effect of an even deeper motivation. Dig down. Keep digging.

Ask yourself these questions to help:

  • What are you wanting from a healthy diet?
  • When you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years, what do you see?
  • What about losing weight is important to you?
  • Picture yourself healthy. What does it feel like?

Once you have a picture of what you want out of your health THEN you can begin to make changes for yourself.

My motto is SMALL CHANGES LEAD TO POSITIVE RESULTS. I want you to change your eating habits to make you the healthiest individual you can be. This may be uncomfortable but sometimes the right thing is the hard thing. I also want these changes to be feasible, not soul-crushing 🙂 I want you to be mindful of what you eat and with that comes learning about what is nourishing for you! Stick with me and my blog for that information!

I don’t expect you to eat perfectly. There’s actually no such thing and those that do eat “perfectly” have what we in the healthcare biz call orthorexia. It’s a type of disordered eating and I don’t want you to be trapped by that. That’s not mindful. I want you to eat so that your body is nourished, I want you to eat so your taste buds are satisfied, and I want you to eat because you just simply like the food you are about to eat. In no particular mindful order 🙂

Look, sometimes the healthy choice isn’t always the easiest choice. BUT sometimes the right choices in life aren’t always the easiest. You get to make food choices every day. Sometimes you are going to make a nutrient-rich choice and sometimes you are going to make a choice simply because you like the food you are about to eat, regardless. All I ask is that you think about your food choices. If it is between eating carrot sticks and pretzel sticks I want you to take a step back and think about what your body needs and what will benefit your body most.

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Change stretches you. Change challenges you to be different. Remember that insanity definition…doing the same thing over and over and over again expecting different results????? Well, time to be sane again. Time to do something different and get RESULTS!

****I am available for online nutrition counseling. If you or someone you know is interested in an appointment please send me a message****

Salmon Cakes

Happy New Year!!!!! If you made a New Years Resolution about nutrition (or even if you didn’t) follow me. Follow this blog, my Facebook page, and Instagram! I’m here to provide great recommendations, information, recipes, and comic relief about nutrition in real life 🙂

These salmon cakes are easy, packed with flavor, and super nutrient rich. Salmon can be expensive so you may not buy it often if ever. If this is the case, canned salmon is your ticket! Wild caught Alaskan salmon (with bones and skin) is cost-effective and just as rich in nutrients (even more if you use the bones!)

Omega 3 fatty acids are the star of this show! With the salmon, which is SUPER rich in omega-3’s, and the chia seeds, that not only help to bind the patties together but also add more omega-3’s, this dish is very anti-inflammatory!!! Woohoo!!! Not to mention packed with veggies, these cakes are ROCKIN it and your body will thank you for them!

Let’s get down to it. Nothing worse than having to scroll through someone’s blog for an hour before you get the recipe!

Salmon Cakes:

Ingredients

  • 2, 14.5 oz cans wild caught salmon (with bones and skin, crushed)
  • 3/4 cup whole grain crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (I used 4 drops lemon essential oil)

Directions

  1. Drain salmon into large bowl to save. Add salmon to a large bowl and crush bones until all are dissolved.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until blended.
  3. Make into 3 oz patties (slightly larger than the palm of your hand)
  4. Pan fry in 1 tablespoon canola oil OR broil in the oven (5 minutes each side)
  5. Serve with a whole grain or starch and a vegetable for a complete meal!

NOTES:

  • Salmon cakes would go great on a salad or you can make them into a sandwich (like a crab cake sandwich but a salmon cake sandwich instead)
  • Adding lemon zest gives it a more bold lemon flavor
  • Make ahead and freeze some for a quick meal!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do as a family!

How Resolutions Can Be Helpful

You may be hearing negative comments on New Year’s Resolutions. I too, consider myself an anti-resolutioner for many reasons BUT I also like the refreshing nature of a resolution. I’ll be honest, my 2017 wasn’t the greatest year of my life. It was definitely full of blessings but it was also full of hardships, loss, and just plain surviving. I didn’t cook for my family enough, we didn’t meal plan, and we didn’t make the best meal decisions (there may or may not have been waaaay too much fast food in our diets). I  have resolved to make more nourishing meals at home. It seems simple but when you think about it, that means meal planning, better grocery shopping, and actually making the meal!

Resolutions, by definition, are firm decisions to do or not to do something.

What are you resolving?

What are you firmly going to do?

What are you firmly not going to do?

Don’t take this resolution lightly. It is a firm decision! Even if your resolution is not necessarily nutrition related (maybe it’s to quit smoking, reduce your stress, read your Bible, exercise, etc) this blog can help!

5 ways to stick with your resolutions:

  1. If you make one or two resolutions you CAN do it! Making more than three resolutions can be too challenging. One or two is much more manageable. Top priorities only, what are some things holding you back, what do you want for your health and wellbeing, what keeps you awake at night?
  2. Make your goals specific and realistic. Be specific about what you want and be realistic too! Specificity is key…what, where, when, why, how. Realistic…is it probable and possible?
  3. Know there will be bumps in the road. It’s inevitable so just anticipate them and make it a resolution to not let a little bump (or even a big bump) get in the way of your ultimate goals! You didn’t fail, you’re just human.
  4. You don’t have to jump in with both feet. Small steps can make the biggest difference! Even a little change can help your health (physically, mentally, and spiritually) in big ways.
  5. Tell people and get accountability. Gather a group of people who will support you and encourage your resolution. Ask them to check in on you once in a while and check in with them too!

So sure, resolutions can be cliche and many fail but some also stick. For those that actually make it through and change their lifestyle, it can be the difference between wellness and illness. I encourage you to firmly stick with your decision to improve your life, your health, your wellbeing.

Changing My Environment

When I began my career I was placed, as a young whippersnapper dietitian, at an outpatient radiation clinic. Surprisingly, I felt like a valuable part of the team helping patients who had cancer. These people needed help with their nutrition so that they could live as normally as possible through their treatment. That’s when I realized the impact nutrition could have on the lives of cancer patients.

After that, I worked at a large medical center seeing some of the worst cancers. I was working to help people through the terrible symptoms caused by both radiation and chemo as well as bone marrow transplants. The more I read about cancer treatment, cancer survivorship, and cancer prevention, the more I realized nutrition had a bigger piece of the pie than most give it credit for. This fueled the fire for understanding how nutrition impacts the prevention of cancer.

Later in my career, I worked for an insurance company in their Health Education and Wellness department. We taught an Anti-Cancer Lifestyle Program and I’m pretty sure it was the greatest thing I’ve ever taught…and I’ve taught a lot of programs (some I even wrote!). In the class, we talked about how nutrition, physical activity, social, and environmental factors impacted cancer risk and prevention. I learned so much and that’s when my environmental lifestyle changed forever.

I wasn’t super aware of all of the environmental toxins that I used or were around every day. After this class, I had a heightened awareness of just about everything I used every day and how that impacted me and my family. Admittedly, I was a little neurotic at first…thinking I had to throw out everything and start fresh with new natural stuff. As I went on I made a mental list of what was important to me and what was feasible for me to do.

I’m sharing this list because if you’ve been reading up on environmental toxins and are overwhelmed believe me…I was there!!!!! Hope this helps 🙂

Here are some changes I’ve made to lower environmental toxins in my everyday life.

  1. I only microwave in glass. This was the first and easiest to adjust to. No more microwaving in plastic because that plastic breaks down and leaches into your food. Just throw it in a glass bowl/plate and microwave it like that. Easy peasy!
  2. Hand soap swap. I use handsoap all day every day (two super-pooper boys). I’m a huge fan of foaming hand soap which is awesome because making it is SOOO EASY! I use about 1/4-1/3 cup Castile soap (all natural plant based), witch hazel (to help with any cuts or abrasions on my skin), grape seed oil (to moisturize), essential oils (usually lemon, lavender, or whatever I want it to smell like), and water. Boom, done.
  3. Laundry detergent. This was another easy swap. We had already used the free-and-clear versions of commercial soaps and honestly sometimes still do when I get lazy BUT DIY laundry detergent is super easy to make. Castile soap, baking soda, laundry soda, essential oils, water, done. There are really good recipes online but honestly, I’m so used to making it I just dump dump pour drip drop boom. I also use wool dryer balls with essential oils to keep the laundry smelling so-fresh-and-so-clean.
  4. Cleaning spray/products. My boys eat off of everything. The floor, the table, themselves, whatever. So I really don’t like the thought of them possibly picking up toxins from cleaning supplies. My everyday cleaning spray is simply distilled vinegar, castile soap, essential oils, and water. I mostly clean off highchairs, table, and countertops with it. I’ve also started using Norwex (I’ll put a plug in for my friends Heather and Lysandra who sell these wonderful clothes and cleaning supplies)!!!!!!
  5. Beauty products. This is one that I’m slowest on and honestly, my make up isn’t natural. Makeup really isn’t a priority because I don’t wear it every day. Soaps, scrubs, face masks, lotions, lip glosses, and other things are all in check. I’m a big fan of POSH, especially their lotions, and soaps. YUM! I also use essential oils to make my own.
  6. Essential oiler. I started being a serious oiler a year ago. I knew about essential oils but I didn’t make the plunge to start using them regularly until this past year and I’m so glad I did! I use two major brands, Young Living and Plant Therapy. Honestly, I use them every.single.day for one thing or another. It makes reducing your environmental toxins so easy!
  7. Using stainless steel or glass to eat/drink off/out of. More and more I’m reducing plastic in my life to the point that in a few years I hope to have little to none. The twins drank out of glass or stainless steel bottles when they were babies but I’m still working on sippy cups! Not only is this for cancer prevention but also think about the positive impact on the environment!
  8. Threw out my candles. Remember that essential oil bit? Yeah, I use those scents instead of burning candles…and believe me, I had a candle problem years ago! Instead, I just use essential oils with my diffusers (I bought 2 of them on Amazon for $15 each…seriously, cheap! I also have a Young Living one as well). Essential oils smell good AND many have an aromatherapeutic effect!
  9. Keeping the cell phone away from my body as much as possible. Cell phones next to your body could increase your risk for cancer (research is still inconclusive but RF waves aren’t awesome) Ladies, stop putting your cell phone in your bra next to your breasts!
  10. ***Using beeswax covers instead of plastic wrap or my beloved press ‘n seal. I love press ‘n seal. Hahaha I do though. BUT I’ve wanted to switch more for environmental reasons than toxin reasons (because I don’t microwave with press ‘n seal). I was given a sample of the beeswax covers by a local company Dreaming Tree Designs. The designs are cute AND all you need to do is wash it off and reuse over and over and over again!

I hope this helps. If you want to learn more about environmental toxins check out The Anti Cancer Lifestyle Program’s free environmental assessment! It’s an eye-opener!

Butternut Squash Soup

Guys seriously, this recipe is one of my favorites. This is actually the first time making it but every.single.time I’ve had it my tastebuds were quite happy so I figured I needed to get a good recipe in my arsenal.

I’m making this yummy fall treat for my church’s Women’s Fellowship group. We are having a women’s pampering day focusing on taking care of ourselves, wellness, and simply enjoying each others company. I’m pretty stoked! It’s so important for Christians to surround ourselves with other Christians in order to be built up. Absolutely having friends who aren’t Christians is important…what a better way to have them see Jesus Christ in our own lives BUT surrounding yourself with other Christians is critical to growth.

ANYWAY…

This recipe was SO EASY! Seriously, the hardest part is cutting the stinkin’ butternut squash (and if you buy the frozen or fresh already cubed up, it’s even easier). My slow cooker did all the hard work. For real.

I’m going to annoy a lot of people. I didn’t measure the spices. Because this was the first time making it I was unsure of the amount until I sprinkled and tasted, sprinkled and tasted. Rest assured I estimated and then double checked it with other recipes and I believe this is it.

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 medium onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leafs
2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon nutmeg
salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1, 14 oz can coconut milk

Directions:
1. Preheat the slow cooker. I put mine on high for 6 hours poured in the chicken broth and then started prepping the vegetables.
2. Toss the butternut squash into the slow cooker along with the onions, celery, and garlic and mix.
3. Add bay leafs, ginger, cumin, turmeric, nutmeg, and pepper over veggies and mix well.
4. Allow the soup to cook until the butternut squash is tender.
5. Once it is tender puree the mixture along with the coconut milk (I used a blender but you can also use an emersion blender which would have been so much easier).
6. Serve with cilantro for a pop of freshness!

If you love savory and slightly sweet, you’ll LOVE this soup. It would make a wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving or any fall dinner! Again, it’s a fan favorite and the twins loved it too!

Check out my Facebook page to see how to cut a butternut squash…simple steps! All you need is a butternut squash and a sharp knife!

What I Learned From Grandma

This post is a little different because it’s not really about food and nutrition (but it is a little bit). I promised when I started this blog that I would be as transparent in my real life (nutrition journey and education) as possible. So as I type this with tears streaming down my face I am thankful that I have this opportunity to share about Grandma Mae.

My gorgeous, wonderful, hard-working, tough-loving, courageous Grandma went to be with Jesus just a few short weeks ago on September 9, 2017, relatively unexpectedly. Although she was 92 and her heart was failing, her mind and the rest of her body were in pretty good shape considering her 92 years of life. Our family, myself included are deeply saddened…but hopeful that we will see her again in heaven someday.

I learned so much from her. I learned from her life, her example, her stories, and her convictions. She was a family woman but not the lovey-dovey type grandma that gave you hugs, kisses, and “I love yous”. But she’d drop anything to help you, cook you your favorite dish for Sunday dinner, and tell you when she thought you were doing something wrong…because she loved us. I learned about true strength and courage from her. I learned a lot about Biblical/moral right from wrong from her. I learned that love comes in all shapes and sizes, not just through words. I also learned, through her passing, that even though she didn’t say “I love you” she appreciated when we did. I found notes that I had written her telling of how much I appreciated her and loved her. I got my Grandma for 34 years and my children got a Great-Grandma for 5 and almost 2 years and not too many kiddos have that blessing. So we are blessed and we are so much better off for having Grandma.

She loved these little boys

Earlier in the week before she passed, I sat and looked through her Bible sitting beside her chair in the living room. Note after note she had carfully written verses about courage, bravery, and strength. I spent the day before she passed with her in the afternoon talking about her old nursing school friends, her nursing career, and praying over her as she slept. I wrote in my prayer journal a scripture that she had marked down in her own Bible. It says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or tremble for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” -Deuteronomy 30:14. My Grandmother was the strongest person I have ever met. Seriously…I’m not just saying it…she reeeeeally was.

Grandma was a disciplinarian and set the rules pretty clearly. You know, a black and white kind of lady. She never minced words and you always knew where she stood on things. Grandma wasn’t afraid of her opinion. Just ask my mom about the hot slaw incident or my sister about the burrito bowl dinner :). She liked what she liked and you knew it! She also had standards that should be met or she would tell you about it…unapologetically. But you never had to guess with her and you always knew where you stood. She had the courage enough to speak her mind without fear of what people may think. Her courage came in other forms too. My Grandpa passed when Grandma was in her early 60’s and she stepped up and cared for their home, the acres of land, and her family. She was the picture of courage. As a woman in her 60’s she could have easily said: “woe is me” (and who would blame her) but she didn’t. She was strong and courageous. She wasn’t afraid because she knew that God was with her. She poured her heart and soul into taking care of our family, her home, and those she loved. Even in her last days when the chest pain was strong, she powered through better than most people would have

Grandma was also a super hard-worker. Anyone who knew her will tell you she never stopped cleaning, cooking, caring, mending, ironing, hemming, gardening, weed-pulling, shoveling snow, or planning her next “job”. Even though “courage” was a theme I saw running through her Bible, I’m pretty sure she lived by the Proverb 16:27 verse that says “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” So she kept her hands busy! I’m not kidding, a few months ago (after she was told not to get on ladders anymore) she was washing her windows while standing on a step stool. My father caught her and told her she shouldn’t be up on the step stool. Without missing a beat she said, “they said no ladders, this is a step stool.” I mean, how can you argue that?!? She even had a garden this year, albeit small, it was something she would talk about. Although she never thought her green beans would amount to anything this year, my Aunt just picked a good helping from her garden…she would have had a good laugh about that! Just in the week of her passing she cleaned and cut green beans for my Mom and ironed two shirts for my Dad. This woman was no joke.

I know my blog is about nutrition so here’s the food/nutrition part of the story: Grandma was an old farm girl. She could cook anything from scratch. The tales of her growing up on the farm were my absolute favorite stories Grandma told. No refrigerator, no electricity, no fancy kitchen equipment but everything was scratch made. Incredible! One day I’ll get into those stories more because I think we can learn a thing or two about food and nutrition from the way they cook/ate back then but for now, this isn’t my point. My Grandma could cook and bake well but if you asked her, she’d tell you she wasn’t a good cook because she needed a recipe. This always made me laugh because I don’t know of any dish she made that I didn’t like. My brother will tell you her pumpkin pies were out-of-this-world and my sister would say that her Texas sheet cake was good enough to eat the entire sheet. Every single one of her 12 grandchildren had a favorite Grandma dessert or food that we are all going to miss so dearly. She poured out her heart and soul and love into everything she made for us. My brother wrote a wonderful eulogy for her funeral that talked about Grandma’s love and boy did he hit the nail on the head especially when it came to her loving us through the food she prepared.

Last summer I had the honor and privilege to go over to Grandma’s house and make her infamous potato salad by her side. She taught me the ropes. She showed me what made it so good and I’m pretty sure it was the amount of times she licked her finger to clean the rim of the bowl so it was presentable for the picnic, just saying. We cooked together, chatted about life, she showed me her techniques, and we just enjoyed each other. Grandma taught me that making food for your family was much more than just the food prepared. It’s about the process, the journey, the love, and the memories. I wrote her a letter after that day…because that day meant so much to me. I put it in her car (yes she was still driving last summer). Grandma never mentioned anything about that letter but I just found it this week. She saved it and dated it. That day meant just as much to her as it did to me.

Grandma made Sunday dinner every.single.Sunday for the entire family for years. My parents took over a while back when they built a big garage to house the growing number of our family but Grandma was the center of these after-church meetings. It was critically important that we all gathered as often as possible to share in our week and eat the potluck food that was prepared with love. She built our family (4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 12+ great-grandchildren) with these Sunday dinners. All of us cousins are more like siblings and even the second-cousins are becoming so very close all because of Grandma. Some have moved away but there’s a bond and a love that goes deeper than distance and time.

This is what love looks like

Food and fellowship, love and discipline, hard work and courage…that was my Grandma. I will miss her so dearly and my heart aches thinking of all the voids that will be left because of her absence on this earth but I am so grateful for her life. I’m so blessed to have had her for 34 years of mine. I’m beyond blessed that we moved back hometown and we were able to spend this last year visiting with her. I cannot begin to tell you how valuable her life was to me and how much I have learned from that old farm girl turned nurse, turned mother, turned grandmother, turned great-grandmother, turned hero.

She never told me she loved me…ever. Over the past couple months, it became a joke! “Just say it!” I thought. But she never vocalized it. What I realize now is that she said it in more ways than just those simple words “I love you.” She said it through showing her courage. She said it by spending countless hours working on one thing or another for us. She said it by cooking potato or macaroni salad for me. She said it by letting me into her kitchen on that beautiful day to watch as she made potato salad. She said it by telling me the stories of the farm or nursing school or her nursing days. She said it by inviting my children into her house and letting my daughter drink chocolate milk or hot chocolate and letting the twins run amuck through her living room. She told me she loved me by giving me advice and lately she would say to me “Amanda, life may seem hard now but raising my children was the best time of my life.” She said it by letting me tell her I loved her because she knew I needed to say it.

Death is sad for the living but as a Christian, it is bitter-sweet. You see, she is with Jesus and some sweet day I will be too. Until then Grandma has given a great example of how to be courageous, how to work hard, how to cook with love, and that family is so deeply important. I think we can all learn a thing or two from Grandma Mae. She will be deeply missed by those who love her but we will continue her legacy the best we can.

Grandma enjoyed visits from her namesake (my daughter) Emma Mae

“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is GOD! He is a faithful God, keeping His promises of love to a thousand generations of those who love and keep His commandments.” – Deuteronomy 7:9

Give them Breakfast!

Look…kids (and everyone else) need breakfast. Research shows that kiddos who eat breakfast do better in school, behave better, and have more energy for play/sports later in the day.

I’m a huge advocate of the school breakfast program. Use this resource!!!! But if you are feeding breakfast to your child at home, here are some tips for a smooth morning and some ideas to feed your kiddo!

Breakfast Tips:

  1. Wake up earlier. Mom’s, I know you are already strapped for time and tired. I’m there, in the trenches with you but waking up just 15 minutes earlier to get your kiddos breakfast can keep your kiddos healthy and doing well in school.
  2. Get things ready the night before. Have lunches packed, school bags ready to go, and clothes picked out. This reduces stress in the morning and allows more time to eat a nice calm breakfast.
  3. Let your children help pick out breakfast. If they are involved and invested in what they are eating they’ll be willing to eat a more balanced breakfast.
  4. Have a few grab-and-go breakfasts available. Come on, we all know that some mornings are just hot messes. Even if we don’t plan on these types of mornings, they happen and it’s so important to have a plan B.

Before getting breakfast ideas here are a few breakfast guidelines:

  1. Stay full with PROTEIN (pick one)
    • Animal: eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Greek yogurt, string cheese, turkey sausage
    • Plant: peanut butter, other nut butter, nuts, soy sausage
  2. Get some ENERGY with Carbohydrates (pick one and/or a fruit)
    • Whole grains: cereal (Cheerios, Mini Wheats, look for at least 3 grams of fiber and 10 grams or less of sugar), oat meal, hot quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain crackers, buckwheat pancakes
    • Fruits: fresh, frozen, canned in light syrup
  3. Extras for FLAVOR (pick one and/or a veggie)
    • Heart healthy fats: nuts, avocado, oils, peanut butter, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds
    • Vegetables: onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, salsa, tomatoes, fresh, frozen, canned
Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

20 Super Awesome Balanced Breakfasts Before School

  1. Cheerios with milk, banana, and peanut butter
  2. Whole grain English muffin, with an egg, slice of cheese, and a tomato
  3. Scrambled eggs with whole wheat bread and salsa
  4. Super Awesome Smoothie (frozen fruit, handful of spinach, chia seeds, milk, Greek yogurt)
  5. Banana burrito (whole grain tortilla, peanut butter, banana)
  6. Yogurt parfait (Greek yogurt, fruit, chia seeds, sprinkle of granola)
  7. Breakfast burrito (whole grain tortilla, egg, peppers/onion/black olives)
  8. Fruit salad wrap (whole grain tortilla, ricotta cheese, fresh berries, slivered almonds, drizzle of honey)
  9. Oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries
  10. Overnight oats with apples, cinnamon, and almonds (oatmeal, Greek yogurt, milk, chopped apples, cinnamon, and almond in a glass jar overnight in the refrigerator and microwaved in the morning)
  11. Whole grain waffles with peanut butter and jelly
  12. Buckwheat pancakes with turkey sausage
  13. English muffin with Canadian bacon, tomatoes, and green peppers
  14. Hard-boiled egg with whole grain toast
  15. Cottage cheese and fruit
  16. Breakfast sweet potato with vanilla Greek yogurt and cinnamon
  17. Breakfast pizza (whole grain English muffin, tomato, and shredded mozzarella cheese)
  18. Whole grain mini bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and veggies
  19. Mini quiches (scrambled eggs, veggies, Canadian bacon or turkey sausage, shredded cheese – make ahead and freeze)
  20. Apple sandwiches (core apples, slice so they are in circles, put peanut butter inside, and eat!)

You don’t have to make them hard. These are relatively easy with little prep work.

What are your favorite go-to breakfasts?

Let Them Play

I am an adult dietitian. I’m not an expert in child nutrition…at all. So far I have one semi-picky child and two boys who eat just about anything you set in front of them. Like these dudes genuinely enjoy eating. I have pictures to prove the joy they get out of eating/playing. Is it a fluke? Maybe. Maybe not. Just last month I went to a conference and heard a speaker talk about eating behaviors in children. Letting children play with food can actually make them less picky. Seriously, no one wants a picky eater. So maybe letting them play can actually encourage them to eat better, healthier.

Because I have 2 kids who eat just about everything and one who eats fair (there are many frustrating meals and also some good ones thrown in there), I’ve learned that the oldest child is definitely the experimental one (I was the oldest too). Kids following the first may have a significant advantage! HAH! All kidding aside here’s what I see between my kiddos in how I fed them/allow them to eat. This may be the key to lessen picky eating…or it could just be a coincidence? Eh either way it’s worth a shot to try!

With my daughter I was going to do everything “perfect”. First-time parent syndrome. I was going to be the perfect dietitian-mom. All organic, low sugar, homemade everything, no fast food, etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah. Yep I was one of those. I made all of her food for the first 2 years of her life. Seriously. Day care provided lunch but I packed hers. I spoon fed her (obviously) when she was a baby. She never got very messy when she ate…at all. Despite my best efforts I made the same few foods over and over and over and over again because, as a working mom, I could only do so much.

The boys are a different story all together. They are rainbow babies and after a high risk pregnancy my outlook on raising children changed a little…and they aren’t my first AND there are 2 of them. I ain’t got time to be perfect! 😉 Besides watching their dairy intake, (they have an allergy) those dudes eat whatever.  I let them eat with their hands mainly because I can’t feed them fast enough before they go ballistic so I let them have-at-it. They are 17 months old and have eaten everything from sauerkraut to Thai food to salads and even spicy chili.

This is a Thai cabbage salad the boys devoured!

Meals are messy and, although clean up isn’t awesome, they enjoy eating. Surprisingly more goes into their belly than their highchairs or the floor. They feel their food, squish it, pick it up, pinch it, scoop it, lick it, taste it, and enjoy it. Would I have let my daughter do this? No. Should I have? Maybe.

 
Recently I started inviting my daughter to help me cook and it has worked wonders! She has tried everything she makes and is excited about new recipes, baking, and helping me prepare the food. It’s awesome! She’s playing, learning, trying, tasting, and expanding her palate!

So my conclusion is: let kids play with their food. No matter the age! There are researched benefits to allowing babies, children, and teens play and cook with food…it’s not just me 🙂

  1. Let babies explore food. Feel it, squish, mold, pinch, pick up, lick it, and smear it all up.
  2. Give toddlers a spoon and even if they have a difficult time, let them try to hit their mouth!
  3. Let pre-schoolers start to help in the kitchen.
  4. Kids can begin to help meal planning (and continue to help cook).
  5. Older kids can meal plan and cook simple meals.
  6. Teens can take over in the kitchen! Let them plan, try new cooking techniques, and find recipes.

Check out this great website for kids cooking by ages.

Other great tips:

  1. There is no such thing as “kid foods”. They can eat whatever adults eat…seriously.
  2. You are not a short order cook. What you make for dinner, the family should eat (outside of a food allergy).
  3. Kids do not need to clean their plates but they should taste everything on their plate.
  4. Even if they don’t want to eat everything, taking a “thank you bite” gives your child the opportunity to try the food without the pressure of eating it all. Thank you bites are shown as gratitude for the cook.
  5. Let your kids have foods they like too! Make your kids a meal they truly enjoy once in a while shows them you do know what they like. For instance, macaroni and cheese as their starch or having pizza night (with a veggie of course)!

 

Parenting isn’t about being perfect, it’s about doing your best and knowing what’s best for your children. My daughter probably won’t be picky for the rest of her life (many times it is a power struggle not necessarily the food itself). There are many picky eating “fixes” out there. Try them but don’t make yourself crazy. I hope this helps for some of you out there.

Month of Me

Boy as I typed that it sounded so selfish. I love life. Truly I do. I’m soooo blessed all around and if you asked me on a scale from 1-10 how happy I am, I’d tell you least an 11…because I’ve got joy, ya know?

Me and my gorgeous husband cheering on the Pens

At any rate, I’m a mom of 3 kids 5 and under…2 of those are twin-toddler boys and one is a spunky 5 year old. My job is a nutrition blogger, consultant, stay-at-home mom, and wife. I’m never bored and time for my self is limited. That’s just where I’m at in life…and I’m sure a lot of you out there are right with me. I love being a mom. For real, these kids bring so much sweetness to life I never would have imagined it. I also know that time flies too fast and to enjoy the moment. Most of the time I do…I can do without the whole wiping butts, boogers, and caked on spaghetti sauce from ears and hair buuuuut I do enjoy this stage in life. But sometimes mamma is tired, ya know? Sometimes I just want to run and hide and change my name and sleep until noon and not wipe butts/noses/caked on sauce and never watch PJ Masks again…ever. It’s just how I feel sometimes (and I know other moms do too)…but we wouldn’t give up our mom status for ANYTHING because they bring soooo much joy to our lives.

May is when we celebrate Mother’s Day. I’m taking this month for self care. Throwing caution to the wind and at the risk of sounding selfish, yep I’m taking May to do things for myself. I have a list of things on my “to-do” list that I’m going to check off this month. For me.

  1. Find new doctors – since moving I don’t have a Primary Care Physician (and others) so I’m going to find ones that fit me. I want a doctor that will listen to me, be a straight shooter, practice (or be open to) complementary medicine (both alternative and mainstream medicine), and down to earth. It’s important to understand your overall health and what you can do to improve it!
  2. Exercise regularly – I don’t (regularly)…I know. As a dietitian a healthy diet
    This is legit, raw, un-makeuped Amanda right there…with coffee, on the elliptical, early in the morning

    and exercise go hand in hand but I haven’t exercised regularly since my boys were born. I enjoy being active and exercising but I use #momlife as an excuse, ya know? My sister is a great workout motivator and we signed up for an 8 week exercise plan that I can do at home. I’m not here to advertise anything (it’s free) but I’m hoping it will be a good start to a lifelong change. I need to make time for myself to exercise. And I will.

  3. Read my Bible daily – sure I read my Bible but it’s not every day. It’s a few times a week and those times are incredible. I love my Jesus and in order to be a better me I need Him and I need His word. This is a huge part of my self care. I want to start with Jesus every day when it is quiet. I need to go to bed earlier so I can be sure to get up for some kid-free time!
  4. Connect – When I resigned from my job I gained precious time with my
    These ladies are some of the most amazing co-workers a girl could have ever asked for!

    children (and I don’t regret it for a second) but I also lost a lot (just being real). I lost my career, I lost my professional identity, I lost some of my dearest friends (I didn’t lose them but I don’t get to see/talk to them as much as I want), I lost affirmations that I was good at my job, and I lost the ability to talk to tons of people on a weekly basis. I LOVE people. Seriously. I miss having adult connection and it’s up to me to get out there, make friends, and connect with people.

  5. Say “yes” more – I’m pretty good about saying no if I feel like I can’t take something on. What I haven’t been good at is saying “yes” to different opportunities and sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. I use the kids as an excuse because if you’ve had twins you know it’s really not an excuse! haha but I don’t want to have regrets and I want to show my children it’s OK to be adventurous, try different things, be involved, say yes (all relatively safe and within the will of God…amIright!?). More to come on this one…I may have a surprise for you all! 🙂
  6. Cook different foods – I tend to cook “safe” foods for me and my family. Familiar, trusted, quick, easy recipes. Well…when I made the Thai chicken salad with peanut dressing a while back I was blown away at the flavor and that I COULD cook with an Asian flair and it WAS delicious! I’m going to make a list of recipes or ideas that look delicious and try them. I just may surprise myself…and my family.
  7. Date my husband – this is as much for me as it is for him, and as much for
    My buddy and me!

    us as it is for our children. We are best friends. When I say that I mean it. He’s my buddy, my pal. A happy marriage takes work and isn’t easy but it’s so worth it. My parents are fantastic and have given us so many more opportunities to have date nights since we moved closer to them. We aren’t super intentional about date nights and we need to be. I need us to be.

  8. Enjoy each day – Listen, being a stay at home mom is no walk in the park (neither is being a working mom but that’s a blog for another time). I’m at 3 kids beacon calls all day every day. I don’t get a vacation. But let me tell you something. I’ve gained what most working moms dream – I get the priceless opportunity to watch these babies grow up, meet milestones, take their first steps, say their first words, do all of the funny and wonderful things that kids do. I missed a lot of that when I worked while my daughter was little. I have a blessed life with a beautiful home, a loving husband, 3 amazing and healthy kids, wonderful parents, an amazing family, some of the best friends a girl could ever ask for, 2 encouraging church families, and little to no stress. So I need to enjoy/count my blessings.

This is going to be raw sometimes I’m sure. I’m going to feel uncomfortable writing some things because if you’re a mom, you know that it’s taboo to be “selfish”. It’s hard to be vulnerable but that’s all part of this journey for me…to say yes, to put myself out there, to connect, to be healthier, to be a better wife/mom/me.

Stay tuned as I walk this journey. I may have more things I want to do…or want to start to do! I sincerely hope you gain something from this and you take your own self-care journey. For you.