Our New “Main Squeeze”!

Did you know that we are all recommended to eat one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable every single day? I don’t know about you but some days that is a hard goal for my kids to meet. Some days they gobble up their meal and other days they aren’t fussy on it. Smoothies and purees are a great ways to fill that gap. A handful of spinach or the addition of a little roasted sweet potato is easy when blended with other tasty foods. I love to offer them with a whole grain muffin at breakfast or for a refreshing after school snack. I have wanted to send them to school with my twins but up until recently I haven’t had a means to do so.

Over the past few weeks I have been making smoothies and purées in the evening, then filling our Original Squeezes and freezing them overnight. I add them to the twins lunches and according to my son Wes (who would live off smoothies if I let him) “they melt just enough to eat but not enough to be messy”. Yay! That is exactly what I was hoping for. I have included Wes’ favourite smoothie recipe near the end of this post.

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Other days I have been sending various combinations of applesauce/fruit purees including the most amazing apple/sweet potato/date blend which is Clay’s favourite. More on that soon. But first, if you haven’t heard of the Original Squeeze before let me tell you a little more about it. Then I have a few yummy recipes to share with you! 

The Original Squeeze was the first portable Squeeze container on the market. It’s sleek design allows you to pour your choice of smoothie, yogurt, or purée inside for your child to enjoy. I am fascinated by the fact that they stand up straight!!! This was huge for me…no spills! They are freezer and dishwasher safe and free of toxins, BPA, pthalatea, PVC, and lead and are dishwasher safe. Not only are these incredibly useful, they also have a cute design and helped us cut down on the environmentally unfriendly applesauce pouches we had been purchasing. 

I have been looking for something like this for a long time and am thrilled to share it with you. If you have been on the hunt for a way to take veggie and fruit packed purees and smoothies to the park or school, look no further! The Original Squeeze is perfect for the task. The Original Squeeze is available on well.ca and Walmart.ca .

Now, as promised, here are a few of my kids favourite smoothie and fruit/veggie purees that help them meet those goals for green and orange vegetables. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for a giveaway coming soon and over the coming weeks for more smoothie and puree blends my boys love to enjoy from their Original Squeezes.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY COCONUT (aka Black Forest Cake Smoothie when I serve it to adults)

2 cups coconut milk (or less if you want a thicker smoothie)

1 cup chocolate coconut milk yogurt (I use the Yoso Brand)

1 banana

2 cups frozen cherries

1 large handful baby spinach

Blend and enjoy!

APPLE/SWEET POTATO/DATE PUREE

  1. Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes (about 1/4″ thick) and place on baking stone or pan.
  2. Dice or thinly slice 2 apples and place on same stone or pan.
  3. Sprinkle with tumeric and cinnamon.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes and apples are softened.
  5. Place in food processor and blend with 1/4 cup pitted dates.

Note: If you have a Baby Brezza or another kitchen appliance that steams and blends, you can steam and blend all at once and skip with roasting process.

The addition of turmeric and cinnamon to this recipe are optional. They add antioxidant and blood sugar balancing benefits in addition to flavor; however, the puree is great without them too if you do not have them on hand.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment here or send me a message through my Instagram feed. You can find out more about these squeezes and other amazing products from Elfe Juvenile Products on their website (www.elfe.com), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/elfejuvenileproducts/), and Instagram feed (https://www.instagram.com/elfejuvenileproducts/).

Until next time, stay healthy!

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Go Green!

Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day and to an RD, that means all great green foods come to mind. Move over green beer! We have SO much more to offer the body. And not just on March 17th….EVERY DAY!!!!

Here are 10 green foods that I would encourage you to have on your weekly grocery list and some fun suggestions on how to incorporate them into your intake.

Spinach, Kale, and other dark leafy greens are great as a salad base, wrap filler, and smoothie booster. These power foods are packed with nutrients including iron and fibre. While they are incredibly high in nutrient density, they are low in caloric density. Try to have at least two handfuls each day!

 

Broccoli is amazing steamed, stir fried, roasted, or chopped on a salad. Don’t really like the flavour? Try topping with  squeezed lemon, olive oil, or a little grated cheese. Broccoli is a great source of calcium and fibre among other nutrients and is an easy one for kids to dip so a welcome addition to everyone’s snack or meal plate!

Green peas are not only packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre…they are also a source of protein. Add these to pasta sauce, rice, soup, a salad, or as a side to any meal. The frozen version of these is an easy vegetable to have on hand and favourite of many children.

Honeydew is a delicious green melon that provides a refreshing vitamin packed snack for all ages and can be added as a juicy topper to salads, cereal, and/or yogurt.

Matcha powder is a green tea powder that is packed with antioxidants. It can be added to water or your choice of milk and served hot or cold. As part of a smoothie it can be paired with milk, yogurt, veggies, fruit, and more. My favourite combinations are:

1) coconut milk, banana, key lime, and matcha

2)coconut milk, spinach, pineapple, agave, and matcha

Green peppers are packed with vitamin C among other nutrients and make a quick and easy snack, wrap addition, salad topper, or side to any meal when roasted alone or with other veggies.

Green beans and snap peas are examples of other high fibre and nutrient packed vegetables that can be served fresh, steamed, pan fried, or roasted. These are most commonly served as a side….but these also make an amazing crunchy snack. If your kids aren’t big on vegetables with their meal…try putting a few green beans or snack peas out ahead of the meal and they may just disappear in no time!

Green grapes…serve them fresh with cheese or almonds for a refreshing and satisfying snack. Or cut them in half and freeze to serve frozen in the summer for a refreshing snack that doesn’t have the sugar of a Popsicle!!!

Green apples have that sour crunch that leaves your mouth watering for more. I love mine dipped in vanilla green yogurt or paired with Swiss cheese. My kids prefer them spread with peanut butter. They are also an amazing option for adding crunch to salad. What is your favourite way to eat them???

Last but not least…AVOCADO. You knew this one was coming! If you follow me on Instagram you know we go through several of these every day! My kids will eat diced avocado with any meal and I to be honest I do too. Whether it is mashed, mixed with a little lime, and spread into a wrap or toast. Or diced to finish off a soup or salad or just as a side. This omega 3 packed fruit is one of the most important foods you can eat in a day!

So…are all of these on your grocery list each week? If several are missing…what is one you can add for the next time you go shopping?

Until next time…stay healthy!

Does my child need a multivitamin supplement???

I have been asked several times since starting this blog to write on the topic of vitamin and mineral supplements for children. I have been hesitant to do so because it is really one that requires an individualized approach. Having said that, I have decided to write about it in general terms. If you have specific questions about yourself or your child, then I would recommend you see your family doctor or registered dietitian or contact me directly.

It it is a common question to wonder if we or our loved ones need a vitamin/mineral multivitamin or single nutrient supplements. Here are a few questions to ask yourself…

  1. Do they have allergies or intolerances that causes elimination of a portion or all of a food group? Are they vegan or vegetarian?
  2. Do they have intense aversions to certain foods that are not easily overcome?
  3. Has the child had nutrient deficiencies in the past?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, then a supplement MAY be in order. For example, if milk and milk alternative intake is limited, then calcium and vitamin D are nutrients of interest. If meat, fish, poultry, and eggs are eliminated, then iron and vitamin B12 are nutrients of interest. The next step in each of these examples is to see if the child is consuming foods in place of the eliminated foods that provide similar micronutrients. For example, the child may be drinking fortified coconut milk which provides calcium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients. (As an aside…we know that protein is missing in this option, but that is off of this topic. More info on that topic can be found here.)

If the child has low overall food intake or is considered a “picky eater”, a parent may be concerned; however, this alone is not reason to start a supplement. Children have important nutrient needs; however, they do not need an overabundance of food. They need high quality and nutritious food. If presented with a small eater, my first approach would be offer nutrient dense foods at all times and be cautious to not allow the child to fill up on foods that do not contribute to their health such as gold fish crackers and puffs. In addition, I would ask the parents how much milk is being consumed. Children who drink more than 16 ounces of milk per day are at greater risk of iron deficiency. This is for two reasons….

  1. Calcium in milk can interfere with iron absorption, and
  2. If milk is filling their small tummy, then there may not be enough room for adequate amounts of other foods.

Having said this, if you feel your child may have low levels of important nutrients, they may truly benefit from a supplement. Calcium and vitamin D are vital for bone health. Iron plays a critical role in brain develop, energy levels, and more. The list goes on and on for why we need all nutrients in adequate quantities. As I said at the start, you may want to check in with your family physician of local RD if you are concerned. They can assess your child and even request blood work if deemed necessary. (We had this done with Clay and he was in fact iron deficient.)

Last, but not least, if you are choosing to go ahead with a supplement, please try to keep it as “low sugar” as possible. Giving children gummies and sugar coated tablets is not great for dental health and can be confusing for them. If a child thinks it is candy and accidentally ingests too many multivitamins they are at great risk for toxicity. In fact, iron poisoning is one of the top concerns for toxicity in children and can be fatal.

I hope that his provides you with some food for thought on this topic. As always, if you have any questions you can comment below, email me, or DM on Instagram @mealsformeandmyminis.

Until next time….stay healthy!

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Spinach

Spinach is an amazing food. It is one I try to include in my diet every day.

It is low in calories and fat and yet packed with nutrients such as:

  • beta carotene: an antioxidant and precursor for vitamin A in the body
  • vitamin K: important factor in blood clotting
  • folic acid: important for heart health and the prevention of neural tube defects
  • vitamin C: an antioxidant, important for wound healing, and helps with the absorption of iron
  • iron: part of hemoglobin (which carries O2 in the body) and myoglobin (with carries O2 for muscles)
  • and many more!

Are you looking for ways to add this amazing food to your diet?

Let’s start with salads. You can start any salad with a spinach base (and kale too!), then add veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, cheese, lean proteins, and more. You could make a different salad every day for months just by adding different combinations of toppings. Here are some ideas of things you can add:

  1. veggies: peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, cucumber, mushrooms, onions, etc.
  2. fruit: apple, pear, mango, grapes, pomegranate seeds, avocado, blueberries, etc.
  3. nuts: almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  4. seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or chia
  5. beans: dried or fresh soybeans/edamame, white beans, red beans, black beans
  6. other proteins: hard boiled egg, diced chicken, salmon, tuna, shrimp
  7. cheese: feta, goat, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella, etc.

The toppings and combinations are truly endless!

While salads are a great (and easy) place to start, but there are so many more options as well.

  1. Shakes: add in fresh or frozen spinach (or kale) to your next shake/smoothie.
  2. Scrambled eggs: add a large handful of spinach and diced feta in just as the eggs are done cooking.
  3. Soups/Stews/Sauces: add in a handful at the end or as a topping if you want it to stay fresh; or add it in and blend everything together if you want the nutrients but not the texture.
  4. Lasagna: replace the meat layers in lasagna with layers of frozen spinach
  5. With sauteed veggies: I love to saute peppers, onion, mushrooms, and spinach together and then add a Tbsp of pesto and a sprinkle of goat cheese and pine nuts.  SO DELISH!!!!

Hope these give you some fun ideas to incorporate this “superfood” into your diet in the coming weeks.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Tip #7: Calcium and Vitamin D

Okay ladies, this tip is a bit more “nutrient” specific than the others. Are you getting enough calcium and vitamin D?

Did you know that we can only increase our bone density until we are 30? Beyond that we can keep it or lose it, but we cannot increase it.

Did you know that there is promising research that vitamin D could help to prevent and treat certain types of cancer including (but not limited to) breast cancer?

Did you know that calcium can aid in getting a good night sleep?

These are incredibly important nutrients!

So how can we get enough of them?

Calcium and Vitamin D can be found in Milk and Milk Products (milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese) and Fortified milk alternatives (Fortified soy/coconut/almond/cashew milk) as well as some other fortified products such as soy and coconut yogurt and tofu.

Calcium can also be found in broccoli, almonds, and through consumption of tiny soft bones of fish.

Small amount of vitamin D can be found in fatty fish. And of course, sunlight on our skin is one of the best sources of vitamin D, but not the safest due to the UV exposure.

So how much do we need? Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should aim for 1000 mg per day of calcium and everyone age 1-70 should aim for 600 IU of vitamin D. So can we do this with food alone? For calcium, it is quite possible if you have sufficient of the foods I listed above in your diet. For vitamin D, Health Canada recommends a supplement for all breastfed babies and those over 50 years of age. For everyone in between these stages it depends on dietary intake, but a supplement is often warranted.

How can you know if you are getting enough? You can read labels and/or talk to a local RD about a dietary analysis. Also you can ask your physician for blood work to be completed and/or a bone density test.

If you want to read more about this topic and recommendations, here is a great link: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php#a10

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at mealsformeandmyminis@gmail.com.

Until next time….stay healthy!