Setting Limits at Halloween and Other “Candy Intense” Holidays

Whether it is Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, or Easter, our children are bombarded with sugar on holidays. Truth is…we all are. And although it may be tempting to “let it go” and allow them to have as much candy as they want on the actual day and then pace things from there, the reality is that we are missing a HUGE teaching moment as parents when we do this. Candy laden holidays are the perfect time to sit and chat with our children about moderation and limits. We can discuss how extra sugar and salt are not things that help our body grow and stay healthy. We can teach our children about making choices by walking them through a series of easy steps. A great strategy is to choose one thing that we think we will enjoy the most and focusing on that “one thing” rather than rushing through several just to find out that we didn’t truly experience any of them. (and yes, we can learn from the things we are teaching our children too!!!)

So today and tonight as your children are bombarded with candy, chocolate, and chips, I want to encourage you to try one or all of the following three things…

  1. Talk to you child(ren) in an age appropriate way about the fact that even though we have candy and other treats, it does not mean we need to eat it all. We know that it tastes yummy and that is all the more reason to choose one thing and sit and eat it slowly and truly enjoy it. Maybe you want to do this with them!
  2. Decide on a certain number of treats that you will keep for your family and then allow for your children to enjoy one of these every so often over the coming days and week. When they consume them it is not a reward for anything, but rather a planned treat as part of the concept of moderation. I have decided on 4 for each of the twins as they are 4 and they will be offered one per week for the month of November. Tip for choosing…if your child tends to be very affected by sugar, choose treats like small bags of chips so that you are avoiding sugar highs and lows that will be hard on you and your child.
  3. Throw out the remainder of the candy or donate in to a local workplace. You may plan to keep it to eat it, but I assure you that you will feel much better and more energized for the month of November if you do not have this extra sugar and salt in your diet!

Halloween and other holidays can be incredibly fun without an overload of sugar and it is wonderful to teach our children that experiences in life can bring incredible joy as opposed to looking to food for happiness. Just some food for thought…

Until next time….stay healthy!

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Oatmeal Banana Muffins

I have been working on recipe development over the past week while home with sick kids as they love to help me bake even when they aren’t feeling 100%. This one turned out to be a winner in the taste and nutrition category…yes it is true…there is no added sugar!

I hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients

1 cup oats (ideally steel cut quick cooking oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup bananas (about 3 large or 4 small)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas and beat eggs then add these together along with applesauce, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry and wet mixture together and stir until moistened, but do not over-stir.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 14-17 minutes for mini muffins and 22-28 minutes for “regular” size muffins.

Makes 18 regular size muffins or 36 mini muffins.

These are great on their own or topped with any nut or seed butter and served with cheese, yogurt, or a glass of milk. Because they do not have added sugar, they will spoil faster than most muffins so best to put them into the fridge or freezer for storage beyond 24 hours.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Supper Meal Plan (October 24-28)

It feels like Thanksgiving lasted a long time in our home as we worked through leftover turkey in soups, stews, sandwiches, wraps, and more. Pretty sure we are good to wait until Christmas for our next turkey! This week will be turkey-free and has some of my kids favourites in the mix! In case you are looking for some new ideas for the week, I thought I would share what I have put together.

Monday (aka Meatless Monday): Salmon with brown rice, roasted beets, and roasted cauliflower.

Tuesday (aka Taco Tuesday): Taco salads with spinach; diced tomatoes; sautéed peppers, onion, and mushrooms (cooked with water and avocado oil); ground chicken cooked stovetop in water and then tossed in taco seasoning once cooked; shredded cheese (Daiya for the twins and cheddar for the rest of us); diced avocado/homemade guacamole; and red pepper hummus and salsa for dips.

Wednesday: Crock pot chicken thighs with kale salad and naan bread

Thursday: Omega 3 Pork loin Sirloin Cutlets with roasted sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, corn, and spinach salad.

Friday: Butternut Squash Ravioli with tomato sauce and steamed broccoli

Hope you have a wonderful week ahead!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

Egg White and Banana Scramble

Well the weekend is coming to an end and I am feeling ready for the week ahead. It is going to be a busy one so I have planned ahead as best possible. Meal plan is set for lunches and suppers, groceries have been purchased and put away, school bags are packed, lunches are made for tomorrow, and the kids clothes are laid out for the next two days. No matter how organized I am, there is always a chance of a curve ball…but I will hope for the best 😉

Before I head to bed, I wanted to share one of my favourite breakfasts. Perhaps you want to try it to kick off the week!

Egg White and Banana Scramble

Ingredients:

½ cup Simply Egg White (or 4 egg whites)

1 banana, sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon

1-2 Tbsp. natural almond or peanut butter and/or ground walnuts or almonds

2 Tbsp. oats

Instructions:

  1. Whisk egg whites, cinnamon, and oats in a bowl and then pour it into a fry pan.
  2. Cook over medium heat until egg whites are cooked through.
  3. Slice a banana and add this to the pan and stir until the banana is warmed through.
  4. Add nuts or nut butter on top if desired. If using nut butter, let it sit and melt for a few minutes. If using nuts, then you can serve immediately.

OR

Mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and cook for 2-3 minutes until egg whites are cooked through.

Serving Ideas:

  1. Eat as is…yum!
  2. Serve in a whole grain wrap or on whole grain toast…adding long acting carbohydrates.

Whether you are feeling prepared for the week ahead or just treading water day to day (I totally have those Sunday nights too!!!), I hope you have a blessed week!

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

Apple Crisp

image.jpgWell the apple theme continues and this is one that is a classic! I cannot go through fall without making several of these. A lot of apple crisps are laden with sugar but the reality is that apples are so tasty on their own that they don’t need all that extra sugar on top. I have a recipe that I make that is kid approved and dietitian approved! I even let them have it for breakfast sometimes!!! f you still have some apples left to use up, this is one to try!

Ingredients

6 medium to large apples (Empire or Spartan are great choices)

1 cup oats

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup unbleached white flour plus 1 Tbsp. unbleached white flour

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2Tbsp. Maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil or non-hydrogenated margarine

1 Tbsp. cinnamon (split into 2 tsp and 1 tsp.)

Instructions

  1. Chop and core apples, leaving the peel on (for more nutrition, colour, and flavor).
  2. Toss the apples in 1 Tbsp. flour and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
  3. Put apples into an oven safe dish or pie plate.
  4. In a separate bowl mix together oats, flours, brown sugar and the remainder of the cinnamon. Once blended add in the maple syrup and canola oil, blending with a fork until clumps form….this may take a few minutes.
  5. Shake the mixture over the apples and bake at 350 for about 45-60 minutes.

That’s it! I like to serve this in small portions for a snack or larger portions for breakfast with yogurt, cheese, or almonds on the side.

For another twist on another fall classic, check out my recipe for Pumpkin Pudding…the dietitian version of pumpkin pie!

Hope you and your family enjoy it too!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

I love soup SO much in the fall. I make a new kind all the time based on what I have in the house. Last weekend I put this combo together and it was a hit with everyone so I thought I would share it.

Ingredients

2 large (or 3 small) sweet potatoes

2 apples

2 cups soy or coconut milk

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Optional: 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed well

Instructions

  1. Peel and dice sweet potato and place in an oven safe dish. Core apples and cut them into quarters and place in the baking dish as well. Leave the apples skins on for added colour, flavour, and nutrition!
  2. Drizzle sweet potatoes and apples with avocado or grapeseed oil, sprinkle the cinnamon on tops, and roast them at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes.
  3. Once done, place the apples and sweet potatoes in a blender (I use a vitamix) and add the milk and maple syrup. I recommend soy or coconut milk as I like the flavor compliment of these with the sweet potato and apple, but you can use any milk that you prefer.
  4. Blend until smooth…adding more milk if you prefer a thinner soup. Once blended, you can eat the soup cold or hot as it is, or with added white beans left whole or blended in. My preference is with white beans added whole as I like the added texture.

This soup makes a great nutrition packed lunch or supper for anyone in the family and will keep in the fridge or freezer quite nicely.

Hope you enjoy! Until next time….stay healthy!

Thanksgiving Recap 2016

Wow! What an incredibly weekend. Long weekends are such a lovely time to connect with family and friends beyond the usual “two day weekend”. I hope that yours was lovely too. I have decided to write a little recap of the weekend as there were a lot of special moments.

Our weekend actually started on Friday and extended to today. I decided to keep the twins home from school on Friday morning and they are always home on Tuesdays. So that means Wednesday is going to feel like Monday, leaving us with a three day school week!

On Friday we kicked off the weekend with baking an apple cake and then we headed to one of my kids favourite places…”the castle”. My mom joined us as she had not been there with the kids this year yet and we had a lovely time. They played in the mini village, rode the pedal cars, explored in the park area, and had a blast in the sand. We ended the morning with a picnic lunch and I took them to school for the afternoon.

 

On Friday evening we enjoyed a family play at our neighborhood park and then after getting the kids to bed my husband and I headed out for a sushi date. My mom had offered to babysit and we never turn her down on that offer! It was really nice to connect after a busy week and heading into an unusually social weekend.

Saturday we woke up and hit the ground running! My husbands family was arriving around 9:30 and I had quite a bit of food prep and tidying to do. When our extended family arrived we headed outside for fresh air and activity including bike riding, soccer, and baseball. The kids cousins are quite a bit older than they are, but they are amazing at playing with them. For brunch we had overnight egg bake, whole wheat apple cake, smoothies, breakfast pizza, cut up fruit, and more!

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After lunch our family left and I took the kids for a walk around the block. Towards the end Rhett expressed that he was tired so we headed home and I put him down for nap and the twins and I headed back outside. They asked me for a cozy walk to a new park, and that is exactly what we did. The air had turned cooler, so we bundled up and headed out.

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When we got to the park we played freeze tag, hide and go seek, soccer, and “school”. We had a blast! Around 4 pm we headed for home. This time they wanted to walk with me rather than ride which I thought was wonderful! Once home, my husband took over with the twins while I got Rhett up from nap and worked on supper prep. We had a lovely meal with my mom that evening.

Sunday we went to church and then Starbucks afterwards upon Clay’s request. The kids had a bagel while the adults had a latte and the boys then enjoyed playing at the train table and on the plasma cars at Indigo.

 

Once home, I put Rhett down for nap and my husband took the kids skating. Sunday evening we gave the kids a simple supper of leftovers and enjoyed some veggies and hummus with them while they ate. Then once they were in bed, my husband and I made chicken nachos and watched the Blue Jays game. What a game!!!! Go Jays Go!

Monday we spent some time playing with the kids after breakfast and then headed to my dads for a family Thanksgiving meal. My dad lives in the country and the weather was perfect so we spent almost 5 hours playing outside with the kids. They rode toy tractors, played with dump trucks and diggers, played baseball and road hockey, and just loved running around. It was one of those days that I wish we could do over and over. Just being “in the moment” with the kids for such a long period of time was so amazing. It is in these moments that I feel I really get to know my kids…understand better how their brains work….and get to teach them new and exciting things. Gosh I LOVE being a mom!!!!

We finished off the day with an turkey dinner. As you can see below, I gave the kids a small amount of each item. Children can easily become overwhelmed from the amount of food at festive gatherings. I was concerned their plates were too full but after all that activity and fresh air they  gobbled it up and asked for more. Lol.  To keep myself form overeating, I filled my plate with salad first, then added small amounts of the “main course” around the edges. This is a great tip for any “buffet” situation. If there isn’t a salad, then you can turn to cooked veggies first for filling your plate, followed by lean protein, then healthy starches.

After supper, we put the kids into their pajamas and headed for home. They all fell asleep within 3 minutes of driving after so much fresh air and wonderful food.

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Feeling incredibly thankful and blessed for all of God’s blessings. For my Canadian readers….I hope you and your family had a lovely Thanksgiving as well.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

Over the Moon for the OVer

If you are walking through the mall, playing at the park, picking up your weekly groceries, or even looking out the window at a stop light in your car, you will see them…at least I do. ALL.THE.TIME! What am I talking about??? The OVer!

The Over is an innovative product that has entered into the “mama must have” market by storm. This past summer I contact Sabrina, the genius lady boss behind the OVer, and expressed my sadness with missing out on this product with my newborns (since it only hit the market in late 2015).  I then  asked her if it was something I could use with my toddler for nursing in public. She assured me that it would definitely be great for times when I wanted a cover for him while nursing and gave me one to try out. I was pumped!

Now, I need to tell  you that little man generally nurses without anything over him. Why? Well two reasons…one is that he HATES being covered up and secondly, I am not ashamed of nursing in public. The thing is that there are certain public places where I do prefer to cover up (ie. a restaurants or church or times when men are close by) and also there are times when it is really sunny or windy when I am watching my older two boys at the park and protection over Rhett would be ideal. I wasn’t sure if this new cover would be any different for him, but I wanted to try.

Well, I can honestly say that I was blown away by the OVer!!!!! It is SO soft and the material is perfect for moving around in while you get settled to feed your baby or toddler. Rhett is totally willing to be under it while nursing! He likes that he can see me as the head hole is quite large, there is tons of room inside so it is not constantly falling on his face, and he likes the feel of the material as much as I do. He plays with it while nursing…it seems to be calming for him. It washes up beautifully and shows no signs of pilling or change in softness after several washes. I also love that it provides a full cover while nursing as opposed to others that leave your back and sides exposed. I feel very confident and comfortable while using the OVer.

There are different weights of the OVer. I have the lightweight which was nice in the summer heat. Rhett was protected by the sun, but never super sweaty after nursing and now that fall is here it is nice to protect him from the cooler breeze. Also, now that fall is here I have been wearing mine as a scarf. That way I have it with me hands free whenever Rhett wants a drink.

I still wish that I could have used it from the start over a car seat and when nursing a newborn, but thankful that I have finally found something that I can use for my toddler! Whether you plan to nurse for 3 months or 3 years, this is definitely a “mama must have” and I can see why moms across Canada are getting their OVer on!

If you have other questions about this product, feel free to email me at mealsformeandmyminis@gmail.com or head on over to theover.co.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

This morning my boys were super excited to try a new apple cake recipe I had put together. When baking with children, it is nice to organized first. I like to measure out all of the ingredients and then call them into the kitchen. I take things down to their level (on a clean floor or mat) and they all love to add ingredients and mix them together.

The recipe worked out really well to make a moist cake that kids will love the taste of and parents will love the nutrition of (relative to other cakes of course). We are hosting a Thanksgiving Brunch tomorrow and I will be serving the apple cake we made today along with an Egg Bake, Sweet Potato Soup, and a platter of fruit and veggies. A nice variation from the traditional turkey dinner…which we will get our fair share of this weekend too.

So, if you have apples in your home or you plan to pick some up soon, I hope you will try this recipe too! Here it is…

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup brown sugar

60 mL canola oil

1 cup milk

100 mL Greek yogurt

2.5 cups diced apples, with the peel left on (Spartan or Empire are the best varieties to use for baking, but any apple will work)

Instructions

  1. Mix together both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  2. Beat brown sugar and canola oil together until smooth, then add in the dry ingredient mixture and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the milk and yogurt in gradually as you continue to mix.
  4. Then add the diced apples, stir only until the apples are evenly divided.
  5. Pour into lightly greased baking pan (can be deep dish pie plate or 8X8 square pan).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 42-48 minutes, or until a knife comes back out of the cake clean.

Serving Suggestions

  1. As part of a snack paired with almonds and/or cheese and/or milk.
  2. As part of breakfast with Greek yogurt and fruit.
  3. As part of lunch with a spinach salad topped with colourful veggies and Swiss cheese.
  4. For dessert with a small serving of frozen yogurt.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

Apple Cinnamon Chicken Burgers

This afternoon we enjoyed the most amazing family bike ride. The leaves are starting to change and yet there are still purple, yellow, and white flowers along the pathway that give a small glimmer of summer left yet. It was an incredible opportunity to chat with the twins about the change in season and the beauty of God’s creation. They are learning about the story of creation in school and they were very engaged with the conversation as we rode along.

We have an 8 km route that we like to do with them. We always stop at the 4 km mark for the twins to eat a snack…it is a highlight of the experience for them. Yes, my kids LOVE food. lol

Once home, we continued the “summer evening vibe” with burgers on the BBQ. I wanted to give supper a “fall feel” though and we have a gazillion apples so I incorporated apples into the burgers and salad. For the burger patty, I took 2 pounds of ground chicken/turkey combo (but only one or the other would work as well) and added 1/2 cup finely shredded apple with as little of the juice as possible (creates too much moisture), 1/2 cup red pepper jelly, 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, and 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Side note…did you know that cinnamon helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced? Ok…on with the supper…I mixed everything together and made patties. We like to put our chicken burger patties onto foil so that they don’t fall apart and also less acrylamide (a carcinogenic agent) forms during cooking.

Well, my experiment was a huge hit! The kids each ate about 3/4 of a burger…as well as steamed broccoli, cucumber, edamame beans and a sliced apple! They had really large appetites after that bike ride!!! I chose to pair my burger patty with a side of steamed broccoli as well as a cabbage and spinach salad topped with edamame seeds, cucumber, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and apples.

If you get a chance to try these this fall, I hope you and your family enjoys them!

Until next time….stay healthy!