Top 5 unprocessed kid’s snack ideas

20151124_063714 (excuse the bed head, but yummy parfait, eh? )

1. Plain Yogurt parfaits, plain yogurt, frozen fruit (blueberries and raspberries are our favs), if you have homemade granola add it, if not whatever nuts or seeds you have, and a smiley face of honey on the top… a dash of vanilla if you’re fancy.

2. Veggie sticks, (carrots, celery, cucumber, grape tomatoes) with either hummus, or chickpeas (toddlers love them straight out of the organic, bpa-free can).  Or, for an even easier treat, try frozen corn (please please please make sure it’s organic) … little kids LOVE it!

3. Homemade popsicles!  We normally make green smoothies once a week, and I try to double what we drink, and freeze the rest as popsicles.

4. Banana bread, I do my best to do at least 2 breads at a time, quadrupling the recipe is best.  Slice it when cool, and freeze in a freezer bag.

5. This granola bar recipe is another family favourite.  I also make at least a double batch of these gems.  I let them cool, slice them, and freeze them on the cookie sheet.  Once the bars are solidly frozen, I toss them into freezer bags, and have easy, healthy, fantastic treats.

With all the time you just saved making snacks, enjoy a fun show.  My new favourite is UnReal, a lifetime network show, now available on Shomi.

Third week of no processed foods or sugar

Amazing things are happening around here!  We are on week 3 of eating no processed foods or sugar.  Finally, things are starting to change for the better.  Withdrawal from some of our favourite foods really took a toll on everyone.  Those cravings were really getting crazy, I even started getting horrible headaches.  Was I that addicted to sugar??

My most exciting update is that I am about 5lbs away from my pre baby weight…. not the first baby, mind you, but the last one.  But, after failing to lose all the baby weight after each of the first two, with lots of effort, I felt this was hopeless for me.   I was even able to pull out 3 pairs of pre baby jeans this morning, and actually fit and look reasonable in them!!!  I never thought this would happen 5 months after I had my third baby!

The second thing I have noticed, is that I have been able to cut down my coffee consumption a little!  Even with the lack of sleep and general craziness around here, I definitely feel I have more energy to finish the things I want to do by the end of the day.  I’m not quite ready to run a marathon tomorrow (har dee har har) … but I also don’t feel like doing a face plant into the carpet due to 4pm sleepiness.

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The third big change is the kids moods and eating patterns.  My kids are hardly perfect angels.  But I am noticing that they are having way less complete meltdowns.  They seem much happier to do activities, and can entertain themselves for longer periods.  Also, they are regularly requesting fruit for snacks, and eating lots of it!!  Caleb ate 4 apples today.  During meals, they are also eating much more of what is served.

Last night, I served bean chili… and Elise dove right in.  She LOVES beans.  Caleb, is not so crazy about beans …so…. Brian told him if he ate up all the beans it would fill up his fart tank… and the next day, if his tank was full, he’d be able to fart as much as he wanted. ….so…. of course he ate two helpings.  …we should teach parenting 101.

Survival mode is ok

We all have periods where things out of our control make daily existence overwhelming.  Has it been two days since you’ve showered?  Laundry piled as high as your ears?  Kitchen look like a bomb went off?

Welcome to being in survival mode!  We have all been there.  Whether you are on bedrest, just brought home your first baby, or are sleep training your third baby by night, and with a whole bunch of hyper toddlers by day (me, right now)…

Here are a few ideas to make your survival mode a little more survivable (I hope).

First, I think, attitude really helps.  Don’t let “judge-y” people make you feel bad, NO ONE always has it all together… and if they did, they’d be pretty boring people to know, right??!  Although sometimes you must lower your expectations, there are also days when you need to just put your big girl panties on and get it done.

Try to remember this is temporary.  Be thankful for the good stuff, there’s always a silver lining.  Celebrate every success.  Finally doing that load of towels, is totally worthy of a kitchen dance party!

Secondly, as a mom there’s a few key areas that are musts (unless you’re on bedrest, in that case, they’re still musts, but get other people to do these things)

Food, Floors, Kitchen, Laundry, and Bathrooms.

Food, move to a very simple food rotation, plan every meal and snack for a week and repeat.  (I have one, if you e mail me, I can send it to you).  Also, no one ever died having pb and jelly, carrot sticks and a banana for dessert for lunch for 2 months straight….. just saying….  2nd tip, if you have some available time to cook, cook double or triple batches – you have already pulled out the ingredients and the dishes are already dirty.  When doing this, focus on making healthy meals that freeze well (chili, shepherd’s pie, or whole wheat pasta dishes).  Drink loads of water.  Don’t overdo coffee, avoid sugar all together, you don’t need that afternoon slump.

To keep floors reasonable, plan to pick up everything off the floor twice a day.  Put things in baskets, things always seem neater when they’re in baskets.  If it takes more than 10 minutes… you have too much stuff.  Box some stuff, and get rid of it!!  (or save it for less stressful times)  Then, give the toddlers some cloths and play “wipe the floors”… drag out the vacuum and leave the vacuum in an accessible place.  Trying to sweep after each meal is a good goal to keep the kitchen reasonable.  If you’ve got a larger sized home, block off areas if they’re hard to keep clean from little people.

To get the kitchen back into reasonable shape, set a timer for 5 mins, and do as much as you can in that time.  Do this as many times as it takes.  You’d be surprised how fast it goes.  This also counts as your workout for the day!  It also really helps to get everything off the kitchen table after each meal, and be diligent with filling and emptying the dishwasher… this machine is truly a blessing.

Laundry can pile up fast with kids… especially if you’re in the zone of potty training and spit up.  If you’re really behind, get all your little helpers to help you collect it all early early early in the morning.  Set LOUD timers to stay on top of switching loads immediately when they’re done.  Take each basket into the playroom, sit down and teach your 2 year olds (and older) to fold, while you fold the load.  Put your last load in by 3pm and aim to put it away by 4pm.  To stay on top of it, put a load in first thing every morning, or a few more, depending on your family size.  If you’re on bedrest, or just beyond overwhelmed, don’t fold.  Sort the clean clothes into baskets for each member of your family, and they can rummage.  If you’re struggling in this area, I would put away any excess clothing… the more you have, the more you have to manage.

Bathrooms can be done in little bits.  Every time you “go”, clean something (mirror, sink, top of tub, inside of tub, floor, toilet tank, empty trash, etc).  It will take you 1 minute, and it will at least remain a dull roar of a mess.  I also teach my littles to wipe the sink after they wash their hands, this is a huge help.

My last tip is to practice a morning routine, I get up, do contacts, floss, brush teeth, deodorant, get dressed and extras as time allows.  But I at least do the basics, so that if I have to leave or if someone comes over I am not freaking out.  I have at times also picked out 3 outfits that work for me.  I made the outfits my uniform, rotate and repeat.

FYI These tips are not coming from someone who knows it all, they’re coming from someone who’s learning what as she goes…. and making lots of mistakes too.

: )

And a bunch of these ideas have come from one the most useful books ever, Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman, unfortunately the book is out of print though.

Day 3 of 100, no processed foods

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Day 3 went spectacularly well.  My normally picky kid, ate all his lunch, and his sister’s… and a few extra handfuls of greens that I had put out for a side salad for myself…

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was I hallucinating??

20150107_091035 …It’s possible … this little bundle of cuteness woke me up every hour last night… but with those cheeks… she’s forgiven!

Some highlights of what we ate: re-heated baked oatmeal, with steel cut oats and raisins, with a side of fantastic local strawberries.  Lunch was pitas with hummus, shredded greens sprinkled on top.  Dinner was a quick veggie stir fry with shrimp and brown rice.

Are we feeling any different yet?  Yes, I think so.  The kids helped clean all the bathrooms without any big meltdowns… and they seemed quite mellow this morning.  Could replacing their sugar-coated convenience cereal with more natural foods be the reason??  We have  97 more days to find out.

Day 1 of 100 days with no sugar or processed foods

Our first day of no sugar or processed food is coming to a close, and it went well!  I really think we’re going to be able to make it 100 days.

What we ate today:

Breakfast was these whole wheat pancakes  reheated from yesterday (with a slight variation, honey instead of sugar).  They were served with warmed frozen organic raspberries and strawberries and chunks of pear.  These are always a huge hit, so we made a triple batch yesterday, and they kids fought over the last one.

Lunch was whole wheat bread with hummus with a side of rainbow carrots and green peppers.  This was a flop, and the kids ate only a few bites… but I’ll chalk that up to having soooo many pancakes for breakfast.

For dinner, I made chicken, bacon, bean, cheese and veggie quesadillas.  I threw these together with things I had around the kitchen.  On the side, I served some avocado.  The kids had a few bites, but weren’t wild about them.

The snacks they got today were popcorn with salt and plain yogurt with leftover raspberry and strawberry sauce from breakfast with a touch of honey.

So far, I have found planning and prepping in advance are making the biggest difference to feeding the crew.

The prep I did: Yesterday, when I had a few minutes, I threw a pack of organic bacon into the oven at 350 (all spread out) for about 20 minutes.  I used some bacon for quesadillas, I’ll use a little tomorrow for macaroni and cheese, and the rest is frozen to use as a topping for pizza this weekend.  First thing this morning, I threw 3 chicken breasts in the slow cooker with a little salt and pepper, and shredded it around 4pm.  Half of that went into quesadillas, half will be a pizza topping, along with some veggies I chopped.

The planning: during the month of december, between all the craziness of the holidays, I put together a 7 day meal rotation that suits my time constraints (three itty bitty kids), our preferences, budget and fits the rules of the 100 day challenge.  The meal plan is posted in my kitchen, and although I love to cook on the fly… these days, if I don’t prep and plan… we don’t have dinner!  So I’m hoping the convenience of sticking to the meal rotation will overcome my desire to be spontaneous.