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Interview with Dr. Kellyann Petrucci about Healthy Eating for Kids

Interview with Dr. Kellyann Petrucci about Healthy Eating for Kids

I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing naturopathic doctor and celebrity nutritionist, Dr. Kellyann Petrucci about healthy eating for kids. She is the author of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet and Paleo Cookbook for Dummies. Check her out at drkellyann.com!

She has amazing knowledge of nutrition and functional medicine. Plus, her and I share the same passion for healthy kids. It is the REASON and WHY that we both do what we do.

The Interview

In our interview, we chat about meal planning strategies, best foods for babies, and she was even so kind enough to say such sweet things about Mama Bear Naturals baby and toddler food products.

Check it out!

  1. Why do you think bone broth should be in the diet of babies and children?

Bone broth supplies young children with gelatin, which helps to build a healthy gut, and it loads them with anti-inflammatory nutrients like glycine, glucosamine, and chondroitin. It’s also a good source of minerals like magnesium, and it’s rich in the building blocks of collagen—the “glue” that helps build strong skin, bones, and connective tissue.

One caution, however: Home-made bone broth may contain levels of certain nutrients, such as iron and vitamin A, that are too high for infants. So if you’re going to feed broth to a baby or young toddler, I suggest buying a broth that’s especially designed for them.

2. What would be your top recommendations for foods for babies and children? Also, why are these foods best for children? What benefits would foods like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed butter, egg yolks, and grass-fed liver provide for children?

My biggest recommendation is to focus on quality pastured proteins, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats (which are so crucial for early development). I recommend pastured and wild-caught proteins because they come from healthy animals eating a natural diet—and that translates into greater nutritional value.

 

  1. What are the top nutrients for growing children?

I tend to think less in terms of individual nutrients and more in terms of nutrient-dense foods. For instance, pastured beef contains crucial nutrients like iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Fresh vegetables contain a host of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work hand-in-hand. Pastured eggs are loaded with choline, B vitamins, vitamin D, and minerals. Clarified butter is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K. Pastured liver, of course, is a powerhouse of nutrients. When children get foods like these, you’re supplying them with all of the nutrients they need in the correct proportions.

  1. Looking at www.mama-bear-naturals.com, do you see any benefits to these foods compared to the current baby foods on the market?

Absolutely. I love the emphasis on high-quality proteins, organic vegetables, and healthy fats like coconut. And I love that these foods are free from additives, artificial flavors, and artificial colors. This is the pure, beautiful food that children should be eating.

  1. In your practice, what impact have you seen in regards to gut health and childhood development?

Kids with sick guts are more likely to have illnesses, behavior problems, sleep issues, learning problems, and obesity. Healing their gut can dramatically improve their physical and their emotional health, as well as their academic performance.

  1. What are your top tips for cooking healthy meals for busy families?

I’m a huge fan of batch cooking. Once every week or two, I schedule an afternoon in the kitchen and cook like crazy. I’ll boil a dozen eggs, brown several pounds of hamburger, and maybe roast one or two chickens and freeze the meat. In addition, I’ll wash veggies for salads and freeze packets of veggies and fruits so I can grab them fast to make protein shakes.

And that’s another tip: Make shakes, not just for breakfast but sometimes for lunch or dinner. All you need is a high-quality pastured protein, a little bit of fat (I like to add some avocado or some coconut milk), some berries and greens, and maybe a little monk fruit or stevia. It’s quick, easy, and nutritious, and the cleanup is a breeze.

  1. Do you have any recommendations for how to get kids to eat liver?

One trick is to grind it up, mix it with ground beef and spices, and make burgers out of it. What kid doesn’t like a burger? Add a little bit of liver at first, and up it gradually to see how much you can get away with.

  1. For those that don’t want to drink bone broth, what are other ways that they can incorporate it into their diet, especially for picky eaters?

Simple! You can sneak it into soups, stews, and chili, or cook veggies in it.

  1. What are your top snack recommendations for kids on the go?

I’m big on coconut chips, dark chocolate, blueberries, high-quality beef jerky, and non-grain trail mixes like my Tropical Trail Mix.

  1. What are the top 3 switches families should make to get their kids onto a healthier diet?

First, start cooking again! Simply switching from processed foods to home-cooked foods will have a dramatic impact on your kids’ diets. And get your children involved in cooking, because kids who become confident cooks won’t be dependent on junk food for the rest of their lives.

Second, limit or completely eliminate sugar, grains, highly processed seed oils, foods with artificial colors and flavors, and soy “Frankenfoods.” All of these put your kids at risk for serious health problems including obesity and diabetes.

Third, make sure your kids get plenty of high-quality protein AND plenty of good fats like coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, avocados, avocado oil, fatty fish, olives, olive oil, ghee, and nuts. The worst thing “experts” ever did was to demonize healthy fats, which are absolutely crucial to staying slim and healthy.

  1. What are families biggest struggles in eating a real food diet, and what are your recommendations?

I know that one struggle is money. When that’s an issue, I tell people to look for the least expensive high-quality proteins—for instance, pastured eggs, pastured chicken legs (save the bones for broth!), and hamburger from pastured cows. Also, shopping at farmer’s markets or big-box stores is a great way to get organic fruits and vegetables at a lower price. You can also save money by buying less-polluted fruits and veggies in non-organic versions. The Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists can help you make the best choices.

Also, getting kids to like healthy foods can be a challenge if they’re used to junk food. The good news is that while they may kick and scream at first, most of them eventually learn to appreciate the taste of good food and stop craving the junk. Many parents find that the “two bites” rule works well—that is, requiring a child to eat two bites of a new healthy food at first. Of course, your best bet is to introduce children early on to healthy foods—like your Mama Bear Naturals meals—so they appreciate good food from the start!

Finger Foods and Toddler Meals

Finger Foods and Toddler Meals

In the toddler years, start trying foods in different forms and in different dishes, Some examples include veggie or meat patties, cubed proteins, veggies in sauces, and mashed side dishes. You may find introducing certain proteins in burger forms or different sauces made from veggies to be easier transitions to new foods. In this toddler stage, have some fun, help your child explore new foods, and feel comfortable treating your child to healthy

Indulgences. Below provides a general outline of how your child’s food should look throughout the day. As a toddler, they will continue to eat more due to growth, mobility, and less reliance on breast milk or milk for calories. This plan accounts for a breakfast, lunch, dinner, 2 snacks, and optional treats for special occasions.

Breakfast

  • Focus on fat and protein to fuel their brain.
  • Carbohydrates should not be the focus of breakfast
  • If you want to make healthy waffles, pancakes, or fruit options, I would suggest those for the weekends as special breakfasts

Morning Snack

  • Should contain protein and fat to keep their blood glucose stable and minds focused

Lunch

  • Finger foods in the forms of patties, nuggets, diced pieces of food, or tots
  • Focus on protein, fat, and include healthy carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit

Afternoon Snack

  • Carbohydrates with fat and protein to keep their energy up

Dinner

  • Healthy protein, vegetable, carbohydrate, and fat

Treat

If your child still feels hungry or you are celebrating a special day, have some quick, healthy treat options as well.

Try some banana ice cream or chocolate fudge.  

Read Labels

If you are going to buy prepackaged food, make sure to read the labels. For example, many nut butters (even natural and organic ones) contain sugar. Also, granola bars are loaded with sugar and processed ingredients, even the ones that have claims about “natural” or healthy. A great granola bar option for kids would be a Larabar.

Quick, Easy Recipes

Here is a great breakfast:

Banana Collagen Pancakes: These pancakes are packed with protein, and kids gobble them up! Check out the recipe, or watch how to make them!

One fun side option to get some veggies and fruits into your child is this Carri-be-green smoothie. It contains spinach, pineapple, mango, banana, and protein. Check out the recipe, here, or watch it get made!

Want more information or some one-on-one help?

Contact me at chelsea@mama-bear-naturals.com or check me out on my blog, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Want natural, organic, nutrient dense baby and toddler food, shop at Mama Bear Naturals, or check out my E-book!

Want the recipes to the foods you have seen in these blogs? Subscribe to my mailing list!

Best, Most Nutrient Dense Foods for Babies

Best, Most Nutrient Dense Foods for Babies

It’s confusing to know what foods to start your baby on! It’s always important to check with your doctor, but the latest research shows that starting allergenic foods before age one actually prevents allergies. Ultimately, the best foods for babies should be the same as the foods that are best for us. Babies grow rapidly, and so, even though they are small, their need for nutritious food is very high. The most nutrient dense foods will help them grow into strong, smart, healthy, happy babies.

Well, here are my top recommendations for baby food and reasons why they are. Hint: It all comes down to nutrient density.

Vegetables are always a great start! Carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, and cauliflower are great starts. These can be mixed with some healthy fats to make them delicious! These vegetables are also nutrient dense. The sweet root vegetables (carrots, sweet potato) contain beta-carotenes, and the cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli) contain magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

Egg Yolks have been a common weaning food from many traditional cultures. They are rich in vitamins A and D that support the nervous system, eyes, and bone health. Plus, eggs contain choline and healthy fats that boost brain development. Check out this avocado and egg yolk puree to try with your baby!

Grass-fed Butter or ghee is a common weaning food in ancestral cultures and in India. In India, traditional wisdom tells them that babies need these healthy fats to develop large brains. So, until age 2, they mix lots of butter or ghee into their baby’s food to promote smart children. Our brains contain 60% saturated fat. So, we do need healthy sources of these fats, especially when growing. Finally, grass-fed butter contains vitamins A, D, and K2 for strong bones, proper growth, and nervous system function.

Grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood offer critical nutrients to your baby aside from protein. Specifically, wild-caught salmon contains omega 3s that promote brain development.

To Help Prevent Picky Eaters

To help develop your child’s palate, wait to do sweet foods even fruits until after their first birthday. This is a common practice in France to help their children grow accustomed to a wide variety of foods and not have a strong preference for sweet foods. These tastes need to be developed early, or it becomes a serious STRUGGLE later on. Trust me.

However, this is not to say that your child will like everything you serve on the first try. Do not give up though! It can take seven tries to develop a taste for something. So, try to introduce a food at least that many times. You can retry it every few days, or see if mixing it with other foods helps them get accustomed to it. For example, when I fed my son salmon, I mixed it with sweet potatoes to lessen the strong fishy taste. Overtime, he developed a taste for fish, and now, it is his favorite food!

Want more information or some one-on-one help? Contact me at chelsea@mama-bear-naturals.com or check me out on my blog, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Want natural, organic, nutrient dense baby and toddler food, shop at Mama Bear Naturals, or check out my E-book!

Want the recipes to the foods you have seen in these blogs? Subscribe to my mailing list!

Buttered Vegetables with Collagen Puree (Paleo/Weston A Price First Baby Foods)

Buttered Vegetables with Collagen Puree (Paleo/Weston A Price First Baby Foods)

Butter makes everything better! Especially for a baby’s first tastes, butter helps them find vegetables much more acceptable. My son loved cauliflower pureed with butter, and now, plain cauliflower is one of his favorite finger foods. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, and butter provides healthy saturated fats for their growing brains along with vitamin D. The collagen in this recipe is key. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, helping to grow our bone, skin, teeth, hair and nails. Children need high quantities of collagen to ensure proper growth. Plus, it is the easiest form of protein to digest. A study also showed that glycine in the evening can improve sleep quality. So, this meal would be a great dinner because a good night’s sleep for baby is a good night’s sleep for the parents too!

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  • 1 lb vegetables (cauliflower, daikon radish, parsnips, broccoli, green beans, peas, etc.)
  • 8 scoops grass-fed collagen powder
  • 8 TBSP grass-fed butter

Directions:

1. Cut the vegetable of choice off the stalk (if applicable). Cube your vegetable into 1/2 inch pieces.

2. In boiling water, steam or boil the vegetables for 7 minutes.

3. Add the vegetables to the blender, and blend for 30 seconds.

4. Then, add the butter and collagen, and blend again until smooth.

5. Spoon about a 1/2 cup or 4 oz of the food into a breast milk bag. Flatten the bag, label with the date and description, and freeze. Repeat this process until all of the batch is stored.

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Avocado and Egg Yolks (Paleo/Weston A Price First Baby Foods)

Avocado and Egg Yolks (Paleo/Weston A Price First Baby Foods)

One common guideline when starting solid foods is to start with one for a few days and then introduce another food a few days later. With this strategy, in the case of an allergic reaction, parents can pinpoint the source directly. I deviated from this recommendation to provide nutrient density at the same time as acceptability of the food. I really wanted to start with egg yolks as a first food because of the healthy fats, cholesterol, and choline that it provided. However, in my research, The Weston A. Price Foundation noted that some children struggle with the egg yolk by itself. Plus, the yolk is very runny and harder to keep on a spoon than other solids. So, I decided to combine it with a widely accepted first food, avocado, that contains healthy monounsaturated fats, along with vitamins like Vitamin E, minerals like magnesium and potassium, and fiber. I felt that even by introducing two foods at first instead of one, it would be easy to determine which one caused a reaction in the case that it happened.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 pasture-raised egg yolk
  • Suggested additions: pinch of Himalayan sea salt, kelp flakes, infant probiotic, and cod liver oil (note: if you add some coconut oil as well it masks the taste of the cod liver oil)

Directions:

1. Boil 1-2 cups of water.

2. Crack the egg, and separate the egg white from yolk. Store the egg white in the refrigerator for later.

3. Gently drop the egg yolk into the water. You can get your hand close to the water with the egg yolk, or you can place the yolk on a spoon and drop the spoon with the egg yolk on it into the water.

4. Boil the yolk for about 1 minute. It should still be runny but cooked.

5. Mash up the avocado in a bowl.

6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the yolk from the water.

7. Place the yolk in the bowl along with the avocado. Mix the ingredients together with a fork, and add any of the suggested additions that you would like.

Need more healthy kid ideas, check out my E-book: https://functional-foodie-nutrition.com/products/

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Autumn Vegetable and Chicken Dinner Puree (Stage III Paleo/Weston A Price Baby Food)

Autumn Vegetable and Chicken Dinner Puree (Stage III Paleo/Weston A Price Baby Food)

Starting Stage III Baby Foods

Once you start the third stage of baby foods, the food will change to even chunkier baby food purees. To start this stage, you may want your baby to have a few teeth, and they may have started crawling as well.

For this stage, you can make many of the homemade baby food recipes you have been without blending them as much. You may also want to start to put a few pieces of veggies on your baby’s highchair tray to allow them to practice their pincer grasp and self feeding.

Tip: Choose the foods that they practice picking-up as the least expensive foods on the plate. I didn’t want my son dumping pricier pieces of grass-fed, organic meat or wild-caught fish onto the floor or into his lap if I could help it!

Autumn Vegetable and Chicken Dinner Recipe

When creating my baby food recipes, I looked at what the market was selling, and therefore, what modern babies were eating. So, I created a few homemade copycat versions of popular stage III baby foods from a certain big name baby food company. This version of the Stage III baby food puree is easy to make at home and allows you to choose the quality of your ingredients. Plus, it will have retained more of the nutrients since it didn’t go through any high heat processing.

Your child will get great protein from the chicken, and magnesium from the cauliflower. The sweet potatoes and carrots are rich in the precursor to vitamin A. Parsnips are a slightly sweet root vegetable that are somewhere between a carrot and a potato in taste and are rich in vitamin C. Finally, the butter contains healthy fats that aid in the absorption of vitamin A and contains vitamin D.

autumnvegetablechickendinner

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb pasture-raised chicken thighs
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup parsnips
  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1 cup sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 2 TBSP grass-fed butter or ghee (for cooking)
Note: Try to get all natural, organic ingredients if you can.

Directions:

1. Dice up the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, and sweet potato. Try to make each piece about a 1/2 inch.

2. Melt 2 TBSP of butter in a pan on medium heat. Dice the onion, and add to the pan.

3. Cube the chicken (1/2 inch – 1 inch pieces), and cook chicken with the onion in a pan on medium heat. Add the parsley, salt, rosemary, and thyme. Pull off the heat once the meat is cooked through and the onions are golden.

4. While the meat is cooking, steam the carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, and sweet potato for 10 minutes. Remove from the steamer once softened.

4. Once everything is cooked, add the meat, veggies, and fat to the blender. Chop in the food processor until the mixture is a chunky puree.

 

For more ideas for healthy, easy family meals, subscribe for my FREE two week meal plan!
For ideas of how to feed your child nutrient dense food, check out my E-Book, A Recipe for a Healthy Baby.

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Breakfast Pumpkin Custard (Paleo/Weston A Price Baby Food)

Breakfast Pumpkin Custard (Paleo/Weston A Price Baby Food)

It’s pumpkin season, and my husband is a huge pumpkin fan! So, I had to see if Noah loved pumpkin as much as him, and he definitely loves it. Pumpkin is a healthy carbohydrate that contains high amounts of the precursor form of vitamin A. This custard also contains coconut milk and butter that provide healthy fats that aid in the absorption of the vitamin A. The eggs yolks also contain healthy fats, vitamin A, vitamin D, cholesterol, and choline.

pumpkinbreakfastcustard

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 TBSP grass-fed butter (plus butter for ramekins)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Crack the eggs, and separate the yolks from the whites. You can save the whites in the refrigerator for another dish.

2. Melt the butter. I microwave it for 30 seconds.

3. Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Blend until the batter is smooth.

4. Butter ramekins, and pour batter into them.

5. Bake at 310°F for 1 hour.

 

 

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Chicken and Plantain Mash (Paleo/Weston A Price Stage II Baby Food)

Chicken and Plantain Mash (Paleo/Weston A Price Stage II Baby Food)

Starting Stage II Baby Foods

You should start the second stage of baby foods once your baby has gotten adjusted to solid foods. There is no perfect time because it is really just about feeling when your baby is ready for more diverse and complex foods in terms of flavor and texture. They may enjoy chunkier purees as teeth come in. Some note this stage as when your baby can sit on their own, but there may be some other signs as well. With my son, I noticed he would get bored with certain foods that I had given him from the start, and he started fussing or grabbing for the spoon. Giving him new combinations helped renew his interest, and putting some food in a mesh teething bag for him to hold sometimes, helped him feel in control. Personally, I did not choose to do much baby led weaning because my priority was to increase his calorie and nutrient intake. So, for you, it may make sense to incorporate baby led weaning much sooner.

chickenplantain

 

Chicken and Plantain Puree Recipe

This chicken and plantain recipe resembles a simple comfort meal but a healthy baby one. I was inspired by meals such as fried chicken with mashed potatoes or chicken and waffles. Plantains have a slight sweetness and offer a great source of healthy carbohydrates. This makes it a great lunch or dinner meal. Plantains contain vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and the precursor form of Vitamin A. Chicken provides a great source of protein, and the butter aids in the utilization of the vitamin A and contains vitamin D. It is important to vary your child’s sources of starches, proteins, and fats to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken boneless thighs
  • 2 plantains
  • 2 TBSP fat (butter, coconut oil, lard)
  • coconut milk for blending

Directions:

1. Bake chicken at 350°F for 30 minutes.

2. Cool chicken once baked, and cut into large chunks. Aim for 1/2 inch to inch chunks depending on the efficiency of your blender.

3. Peel and slice the plantain.  Cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Over 2 cups of boiling water, steam the plantains for 8 minutes. Remove from the steamer once they are softened.

3. Place the chicken, plantains, and fat into blender.

4. Pulse the mixture until it is blended but still chunky. If needed, add coconut milk in 1/4 cup increments so the mixture blends easier.

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Turkey and Garlic Marinara (Paleo/Weston A Price Stage II Baby Puree)

Turkey and Garlic Marinara (Paleo/Weston A Price Stage II Baby Puree)

Starting Stage II Baby Foods

As your baby grows, this is a great time to experiment with sneaking in new and different flavors as well as ingredients (like other veggies)! You should start the second stage of baby foods once your baby has gotten adjusted to solid foods. There is no perfect time because it is really just about feeling when your baby is ready for more diverse and complex foods in terms of flavor and texture. They may enjoy chunkier purees as teeth come in. Some note this stage as when your baby can sit on their own, but there may be some other signs as well. With my son, I noticed he would get bored with certain foods that I had given him from the start, and he started fussing or grabbing for the spoon. Giving him new combinations helped renew his interest, and putting some food in a mesh teething bag for him to hold sometimes, helped him feel in control. Personally, I did not choose to do much baby led weaning because my priority was to increase his calorie and nutrient intake. So, for you, it may make sense to incorporate baby led weaning much sooner.

Turkey Marinara Puree Recipe

With this recipe, babies can enjoy Italian night too!! This turkey marinara is packed with healthy fats, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Spinach adds folate, while the cauliflower gives a boost of magnesium. Plus, the tomato from the marinara offers potassium and Vitamin C.

turkeymarinarapuree

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP coconut oil or butter (for cooking)
  • 1 lb ground pasture-raised turkey
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 jar sugar-free and preservative-free marinara sauce (homemade or jar)
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower

Directions:

1. Heat a pan on medium heat and add 1 TBSP fat to pan.

2. Cook ground meat and garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

3. Cut spinach into ribbons, and add to the pan once the meat is cooked to quickly wilt it.

4. While the meat is cooking, chop your cauliflower off the stalk into 1/2 inch pieces. Steam over 2 cups of boiling water for 7 minutes.

5. Removed the cauliflower from the steamer and add to the pan with the cooked turkey. Pour the sauce over the meat to heat it through.

6. Once you pull the turkey marinara off the heat, add the olive oil.

7. Add the turkey marinara to a blender and pulse until it reaches a chunky pureed consistency.

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Buttered Vegetables with Collagen Puree (Weston A Price/Paleo First Baby Foods)

Buttered Vegetables with Collagen Puree (Weston A Price/Paleo First Baby Foods)

Pureed vegetables is a classic first baby food, and vegetables are nutritious foods with several vitamins and minerals. The nutrients vary depending on the vegetable so rotating a variety of them is key. However, they are not the most nutrient dense foods and are not calorie dense. When I think of optimal nutrient density, I think about the building blocks for the ideal human form. The most abundant protein in our body is collagen, and babies need a ton as they are growing their bones, teeth, skin, hair, and nails. Collagen is an easy form of protein to digest and absorb. It is even termed “animal starch” because it is so quickly digested. So, this is a great option for a baby’s digestion, especially in the evening.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb vegetables (cauliflower, daikon radish, parsnips, broccoli, green beans, peas, etc.)
  • 8 scoops grass-fed collagen powder
  • 2-4 TBSP grass-fed butter

Directions:

1. Cut the vegetable of choice off the stalk and cube (if applicable).

2. In boiling water, steam or boil the veggie for 10 minutes.

3. Add the veggie to the blender, and blend for 30 seconds.

4. Then, add the butter and collagen, and blend again until smooth.

5. Spoon about a 1/2 cup or 4 oz of the food into a breastmilk bag. Flatten the bag, label with the date and description, and freeze.

 

For more ideas for healthy, easy family meals, subscribe for my FREE two week meal plan!
For ideas of how to feed your child nutrient dense food, check out my E-Book, A Recipe for a Healthy Baby.

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