Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Autumn has so many wonderful traditions and one of my favourite is our annual visits to a local pumpkin farm. The boys love to pick out pumpkins for the front porch and a few for baking too. One of our favourite pumpkin recipes is pumpkin pudding which you can find here. Another is these pumpkin muffins…a true staple in our home during the fall months.

And if you don’t have a pumpkin farm near you where you can get fresh pumpkins to roast, not to worry, canned pure pumpkin works well too. Here is the recipe!

 

Ingredients:
1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 and ¼ cup steel cut oats
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup hemp hearts
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup coconut milk (or alternate milk of your choice)
¼ cup maple syrup or agave syrup
2 eggs
3 cups roasted pumpkin OR 1 can (796 mL) pure pumpkin puree
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (or 1 banana mashed)
¼ cup canola oil or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients:
½ cup crushed walnuts or pecans
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

Instructions:
1. Combine all dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
2. Combine all wet ingredients and pour into dry ingredients.
3. Add optional ingredients as you wish.
4. Mix together until moistened. Do not over mix.
5. Spoon batter into non-stick muffin pan.
6. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins.

Here are a few more pics from the two trips we made to gather pumpkins this year…

 

 

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

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Hello Fresh….Hello Dream Come True!

September hit me hard! After an overall relaxed paced summer, we hit the ground running with new school, work, and extra curricular activities. I have worked hard to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep as well as possible but some days we still end up with a rush around supper. Enter Hello Fresh! We had the opportunity to try a 3 meal package from Hello Fresh a few weeks ago and it was a total life changer for this mom!

At 4:45 pm on a Tuesday we came home from a family bike ride to find a box at our front door filled with fresh produce and amazing quality (aka antibiotic free, local, sustainably farmed, etc.) meat, fish, and poultry. I was very impressed with the food safety aspect too. All items were packed in a way that ensured appropriate temperatures were kept.

One of the boxes was labelled “Make Me First” and so I unpacked that one right away and within 30 minutes we were enjoying salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh veggies. Our whole family truly loved the flavor and I loved the ease of preparation. All the ingredients were perfectly prepped and portion and yet I still had the opportunity to do the cooking. A win-win for me!

Over the coming week I chose our two busiest days (one being piano lesson day) to cook the other two meals. They were equally easy to prepare, packed with nutrients and flavour, and enjoyed by the whole family.

If you have busy weeks, and a few partially prepared, high quality and incredibly tasty meals would be useful for you, please use my discount code MINIS50 for $25 OFF YOUR NEXT TWO BOXES!

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Tips for Dining Out with Kids

I don’t know about you but heading to a restaurant with young children can be a little anxiety provoking for me. When they were babies I used to bring everything but the kitchen sink with me to cope, but now that the boys are a little older I prefer to travel lighter. Over the summer I found that three strategies really helped me cope with creating a positive experience for eating out. If you are planning a little outing as a family after the first week back to school, I hope these are helpful for you!

1) Children tend to behave better once food arrives so the sooner you can get food in front of them, the better. There are two things that you can do in this area…

a) Look ahead at the children’s menu and order for your children as soon as you arrive at the restaurant.

b) Bring a small container of veggies and hummus with you for the children to enjoy before their meal comes. Some restaurants (like Tony Roma’s and Boston Pizza) provide veggies and dip but if they don’t, then this is a way to offer nutritious food while your kids wait.

2) Use the experience as a “teaching moment”. Talk to your children before going to the restaurant about your expectations for inside voices, manners at all times, and staying on their seat. Children like to know what is coming and what is expected…even if they need a few reminders along the way 😉.

Also, let your children use the napkins, utensils, and plates that are offered once they are old enough. This is great way for them to know that this is a unique and special experience which is a great reinforcement for those manners that we request on the way. Beyond the age of three a bib isn’t realistic, but messy hands and clothes are still very likely! My boys LOVE to use a napkin at restaurants, but I find they are hard to keep on them…leaving me with stained clothes and requesting way to many new napkins from our servers…anyone relate??? I was thrilled to find clips recently that can be used to hold a napkin in place around my boy’s necks or on their laps. The clips are meant for baby blankets but are perfect for this job too! They can be found here.

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3) Don’t worry if your child does not finish all their food  sometimes restaurant portions are enough for three toddler or preschooler meals! Allow for them to listen to their satiety cues and just take the rest home for another day. This is how we teach our children the art of not overeating….by never forcing them too. Also, you can order one meal per 2-3 children to save on money and food waste. If you do this and they are still hungry at the end of the meal, you can always offer fruit or an alternate healthy snack at home before bedtime.

I hope that these tips and ideas are helpful the next time that you head out with your crew. Eating out as a family is as much about the experience as it is about the food. And somehow with that perspective, it seems a little easier to handle !

Until next time, stay healthy!

 

Five Tips for Travelling with Young Children

We have had the opportunity to travel with our children several times since they were born and each time there have been things that stood out to me as significant in our success. I have chosen to share the top five tips that seem to hold true in all vacations that we have taken, whether for 3 days or 3 weeks, by flight or by car.

 
1. Be as efficient with space and time as possible.

  • When packing, have 1-2 back up outfits that are for the actual travel days stored in Ziploc bags at the top of one of your bags so they are easy to locate. Make up a complete one for each child with a diaper/pull up/or underwear and socks. The reason for the Ziploc is to prevent you from rooting through your child’s main bag to find a diaper or underwear and new clothes if they have a diaper blow out, accidentally can’t wait for the next bathroom break, or get car sick along the way. You need a new option as fast as possible. Also if room permits, pack a towel that can be sued to clean up any bodily fluid that has come out of the child at a less than opportune time.
  • When packing your child’s main bag, pack in outfits so that you aren’t bringing clothes that you won’t use. Bring one outfit per day with 2-3 extra tops in case one gets dirty mid-day with a spit up for babies or at a meal for older children. I plan on sleepers or pajamas to last for 2-3 nights. If these get soiled, then they are easy to wash in a sink and hang to dry if needed. For bathing suits, it is nice to bring two so that you have a dry back up.
    Side note: Bring a small container of clothing detergent just in case there are laundry facilities or if you need to do a sink wash for anyone. If you do not bring detergent, you may be left without a good cleaning option OR using one that causes a reaction to your child’s skin. Children get used to the detergent we use and vacation is not the time to play with that.

2. Set yourself up for successful sleep.

  • Ideal beds: Determine ahead of time where and on what your child will sleep. There have not been enough beds for whole family in most places we have visited. For several years we travelled with three play yards which worked well. Then when our older two outgrew them, we started bringing air mattresses. They were time consuming to set up, took up a ton of space, and Clay slipped off of his several time each night making a huge THUD on the floor. I was determined there had to be another way. Recently I found the Regalo Tot Cots. I was thrilled when they sent me two cots earlier this summer and we have used them on several occasions over the summer including sleepovers at grandparents, “camp” nights at home, and most recently a two week vacation to a family cottage. The boys honestly LOVE them. They find them comfortable and very special to sleep on. They have slept over 12 hours each night that they have slept on them and truly no complaints going to bed. Wes has had a few mid-day naps on his as well. Each cot comes with its own sheet and we let the boys use their favourite blankets over them. I have washed the sheets and dried them on low heat and they came out really well. No change at all! My husband and I were also incredibly thrilled with the compact carrying case and the 3 minute set up and take-down. The cots accommodate up to 75 pounds so we will be using them for years to come yet and will be investing in one for Rhett soon too!
    If you have any questions about these cots, please feel free to comment below or email me. I would be happy to answer them.
  • White noise: Houses/cottages/hotels all have their own unique noises. Children are used to the ones in their own home, but may find foreign noises alarming. Using an app such as NoiseBox on your iphone or ipad works well to help drown these out. I actually use it when I am away at my bedside too!

3. Young children like “the familiar”. It is beneficial to bring along a few things that remind your child(ren) of home. For example, have them choose 1 stuffed animal, 3 small toys (and I mean small!), 1 book, 1 blanket, and 1 cup. When they are involved in this process, they can feel secure knowing they will have these things from home in less familiar or completely unfamiliar surroundings. Depending on the age of your child you may also consider bringing their usual bowls, plates, and/or cutlery. This is something that I always do.

4. Bring toys and books for the travel time and the “down times”.  This tip will not eliminate the “Are we there yet?”, but hopefully it will help reduce them. A few days before you leave, head to your local dollar store and purchase several small toys/activities that your child will enjoy. Wrap them up individually and offer a new one every 20-30 minutes. It takes them a few minutes to unwrap it, and then they enjoy playing for a while. It helps to occupy them and keeps you feeling sane. These are also great for down times on holidays between planned activities or when you are trying to keep children quiet in the morning before other people are awake. When we are visiting the boys grandparents I find the mornings to be on the long side and this is one activity that I use to keep them quiet. I usually take wrapping paper and just re-wrap some items from the car/plane ride. I also like to visit the library either before we leave or at our destination to offer the boys new and exciting stories.

5. Be prepared for adequate nourishment. The tips for this point vary based on your vacation. Here are a few ideas:

  • For a road trip, pack plenty of bulk snacks with small containers on hand to distribute little bits at a time. These small containers can then be used on the remainder of the holiday. I also always take our PlanetBoxes with us. I can use them in the car if we travel over a meal time or as a picnic option as part of the holiday. For a plane trip, space is a little more limited, so packing each child with a small multi-section container works well or a trail mix in one container. KIND snacks are a great compact option for travel as they are lower in sugar than most other packaged snacks, shelf stable, and offer satiety for children and adults alike!
  • When you are arrive at your destination, head to a grocery store to pick up healthy snacks that are ready to eat such as whole grain crackers, almonds, yogurt, Babybel cheese, apples, grapes, baby carrots, baby tomatoes, snap peas, etc. If you do not have access to a fridge, then investing in a “plug in” cooler is a great idea. We have one that we use in the car and in most places we stay that are part of a road trip. If you do invest in one of these, you can also do more grocery shopping at home which saves money if you are heading to a cottage/tourist town which can save a significant amount of money and also ensure you have any specialty items that you need. For our most recent trip, I made up a two week meal plan and purchased most of the groceries from Costco before leaving. We transported them using a plug in cooler and one additional cooler bag. I will be sharing this meal plan and the grocery list that goes with it in my next post.
  • If you need to eat out as part of your vacation, seek out any Groupon deals or “kids eat free” nights at local restaurants. There are several sites for this information. Here are two that we have used:
  • If you are at an all-inclusive, then that part is a little more straight-forward.

As I said at the start, there are many other tips that have worked on various vacations we have taken, but these are ones that really stand out to me. I hope that they are helpful for you on your next trip with your children. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below. We are all in this together and I love learning from you too!

 

 

 

 

 
Until next time…stay healthy!

Banana Chia Muffins

The boys and I were in the kitchen today coming up with a yummy new muffin recipe. It’s a twist on their favourite banana muffins with added protein and omega 3.

Ingredients

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup chia seeds

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

3 large bananas, mashed

1 cup coconut milk (or your milk of choice)

2 eggs

2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Blend together dry ingredients in one bowl.

2. Blend together wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then add them to dry ingredinets and stir until blended but be careful to not over stir.

3. Spoon into muffin tin and bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes for mini muffins and 22-25 minutes for standard muffins.

Serve with a smoothie or glass of refreshing milk of your choice.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

Strawberry Banana Muffin Cake

I have many wonderful memories strawberry picking with my mom for as long back as I can remember. Yesterday we continued the tradition and took my three boys. On the way home one of my sons asked to make strawberry banana muffins and another one wanted to make strawberry cake…so today we did both in one. This recipe could be used for muffins or in the way we baked it as a cake. However you choose to make it, it will be a guaranteed hit!

Ingredients

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup coconut milk (or buttermilk)

2 eggs, beaten (or 4 egg whites)

2 Tbsp. agave syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large (or 3 small) bananas, mashed

2 cups of diced or sliced strawberries

Instructions

  1. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, flours, sugar, hemp hearts, baking powder, and cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas, then add milk, eggs, agave, and vanilla to it.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened. Try to not over stir.

If making the cake version…spoon batter into a round or square pyrex and then add strawberries on top. Bake at 375 F for 50-60 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean of wet batter). You could also bake the cake without the strawberries on top and add them afterwards as a topping. The cooking time would need to be reduced if this was done to about 40-45 minutes.

If making muffins…spoon into muffin tin and add a few strawberry pieces on top or just inside of each muffin. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes for mini muffins OR 22-25 minutes for medium size muffins.

This is a wonderful recipe to have children help you with. You can measure the ingredients out ahead of time and then have them mash the bananas, dice the strawberries, mix all the ingredients together, and place the strawberries on top.

Hope you enjoy!

Until next time…stay healthy!

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The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 (aka our new favourite toothbrush)

Oral care is a high priority in our family. I started brushing the boy’s gums at least twice a day with a soft facecloth after breastfeeding at an early age, and as soon as we saw that first tooth, we started brushing it gently right away. When they had several teeth we started flossing and have been very conscientious about brushing their teeth for 90-120 as least once each day. We try for twice but I will admit it does not always happen. One thing that has always bothered me about brushing their teeth is that we don’t know how the pressure feels. We can’t 100% know if we are brushing hard enough or too hard. I had been on the lookout for an electric toothbrush that would work well for them and was thrilled when I came across the Baby Buddy Sonic 360 ! Baby Buddy was generous to send me one to try and I can honestly say this is exactly what I have been looking for!

The Baby Buddy Sonic 360 lights up and is very soft. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it is. Despite our efforts to make teeth-brushing an enjoyable time, the boys have always been reluctant. To be honest I cannot blame them. I wouldn’t love someone else shoving a toothbrush into my mouth every day either. Cue the fun lights and soft bristles of the Sonic 360. They love watching the colours in their mouth as we brush and there is not pressure on their gums to push back on.

As the name suggests, it has bristles all the way around so we do not have to make sure the toothbrush is a certain way in my boy’s mouths. No matter how we hold it, it will hit their teeth. Also, this allows for more independent brushing. We have been doing the evening brushing with toothpaste and allowing the twins to do their own morning brushing with just water. It is good practice for them and I feel secure that the toothbrush is doing the work without the twins needing to apply any pressure. Also, unlike adult electronic toothbrushes, it is very quiet which has been important for our youngest who was frightened by others that we tried and it does not spray water everywhere which prevents a big mess if they pull it out of their mouth without turning it off first.

Another thing that drew me to this toothbrush is the design of one holder and several heads. We have labelled the heads for our kids but only have to store one base. This is a wonderful improvement to having several toothbrushes in one drawer!

Baby Buddy is a wonderful family run business with a heart for helping parents by providing the quality products we are looking for! For more information on this and other Baby Buddy products, you can visit their website: www.babybuddy.com or find them on Instagram (@babybuddyig), Facebook (@babybuddybear), or Twitter (@babybuddybear).

Heart Healthy Pasta

My boys LOVE pasta but I often worry that the meal will not offer enough protein and vegetables so I have come up with several blender pasta sauces so all their nutrition needs are met in one simple bowl. Here is one I developed last weekend that was a huge hit so I wanted to share.

The tomato base offers lycopene which is a cancer fighting antioxidant.

The hemp hearts offer a source of complete protein which means all essential amino acids are present and a source of omega 3 fatty acids which are wonderful for growing brains in children and promoting heart and mental health in adults. They also act as an anti-inflammatory.

The feta cheese is a lower fat cheese that offers a creamy texture and taste and a source of complete protein.

Nutritional yeast offers a cheesy flavour as well and a great source of vitamin B12.

Spinach and kale are packed with nutrition!!!

Ingredients

1 jar low sodium pasta sauce (any flavor is fine)

1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1-2 large handfuls of spinach or kale

Instructions

Blend in a blender and pour over pasta. I have a vitamix and blend my sauces on the soup setting to warm them up but this is not necessary if you don’t have a blender that heats.

Hope you and your family enjoy this as an easy meal sometime soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Mother’s Day Pancakes

I absolutely love pink…it just makes me smile. And my kids love pancakes. So for Mother’s Day brunch I decided to create a pink pancake recipe that everyone would enjoy. The best part…they helped me make it and kids in the kitchen is the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it too.

Ingredients

1 and ¼ cup milk (any milk is fine…buttermilk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk….etc.)

1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts

¼ cup chia seeds

¾ cup unbleached white flour

1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

Instructions:

  • 1) In a mixer of your choice (Vitamix, Blentec, Ninja, etc.) blend together 1.25 cups milk of your choice (I like to use coconut milk), 1 cup frozen berries, ¼ cup hemp hearts, ¼ cup oil, and 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites). Set this aside
  • 2) In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, and chia seeds) together.
  • 3) Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together…but don’t overmix.
  • 4) Cook pancakes on a frying pan of your choice. I prefer an electric one as I find they are less likely to stick or burn.
  • 5) Serve with your choice of yogurt and fruit for a delicious and nutritious meal for mom!

Until next time….stay healthy!

Red Curry Bean, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew

May has started out wet and chilly where we live which is keeping me interested in making warm soups and stews. I developed this recipes recently and it is not only packed with nutrition but also a ton of flavor and a bit of heat to warm you right through on a cold wet day. If you like curry…this is a must try!

Ingredients

2 cups dry mixed beans

1 cup red lentils

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups coconut milk

½ red cabbage

1 sweet or red onion

3-4 large celery stalks

2 yellow zucchinis

2 green zucchinis

1 Chinese eggplant

3 Tbsp. Avocado oil (split into 2 portions)

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. red curry powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain beans and lentils and then soak in warm water for 2-3 hours. Once beans are ready, you can move forward with the rest of your recipe.
  2. Dice onion and place at the bottom of a large pot. Sautee the onion on medium heat in 2 Tbsp. of the avocado oil. Add diced cabbage and celery as you have it ready. Once they are softened add diced zucchinis and eggplant and stir together.
  3. In a separate dish mix together red curry powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, and stir together. Then add this into the pot. Once all vegetables are coated well, add the beans and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and stir and then let simmer on low for 1 hour stirring every 15-20 minutes. Add coconut milk and let simmer for an additional hour (or more) until it reaches desired thickness and beans are to desired softness.

My favourite way to enjoy this stew is heated and topped with dollup of coconut or vanilla yogurt. It would also be great warm or cold in a whole grain wrap!

Until next time…stay healthy!