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Thanksgiving Dishes

Thanksgiving Dishes

Happy, Healthy Holidays!

The holidays are already stressful enough. So, if you are trying to eat healthy or cater to food sensitivities that can only add to the work. For our Thanksgiving meal I wanted to cook a meal that was gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and egg-free for my family.

I loved the recipes I found to make our Thanksgiving a little healthier. The sweet potato casserole, gravy, biscuits, stuffing, and biscuits added elements to the meal that are traditional favorites. My family didn’t notice any lack of flavor with these better for you versions, and some of them they liked better!

I loved that the cranberry sauce was SO EASY to make, and I was able to put it together while I was cleaning dishes one night. Many dishes I could make ahead and save time on the day of. It made the holidays so much less stressful.

My Favorite Part of Thanksgiving

©TimeFramePhoto.com

My favorite way to start the day is by doing our local Turkey Trot in Lansing. We love to dress up and run together. This year, I let Noah out of the jogger right before the finish, and we were able to jog in together. It was so fun!

Plus, we get to see all of our friends from our running group. It is such a fun, happy atmosphere along with the exercise.

Watch Noah and I make the recipes here!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Check out the original recipe here. For our version, we used a banana instead of the egg. It worked great, and the banana added some nice sweetness to the taste. I even made this a week ahead and froze it to save time on the actual day (and space in my refrigerator).

Caramel Cheesecake Bites

Check out the original recipe here.

Other Recipes I Made

 

Baked Burrito Casserole

Baked Burrito Casserole

Crowd Pleaser

I found a recipe I figured my family would like and one that I could make several batches of and freeze. This recipe will please even the pickiest eater with the creamy, cheesy taste mixed with the taco flavors! It is gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and egg-free.

I found the original recipe on the Written Reality blog, but I swapped some of the ingredients for better options to use cassava tortillas, preservative free ingredients, and pasture-raised meat and dairy.

Noah and I had such a fun time making this one together, and there was SO much clean up to do after! However, the adventure and the meal were worth it!

Watch Noah and I make it here!

Ingredients

Find the original recipe here.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Dice the onion.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the onion in some butter or oil until golden brown. With kids, it is important to really caramelize the onions so they have a sweet flavor.
  4. Add the beef to the onion, and cook until the beef is no longer pink.
  5. Add the packet of taco seasoning and can of refried beans to the pan. Stir, and heat through.
  6. In a separate bowl, blend the cream of chicken soup with the sour cream. Add half of this mixture to the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  7. Add a layer of cassava tortillas on top of the soup mixture. Cut some of the tortillas in half so you can cover the whole casserole.
  8. Spread on half of the ground beef mixture.
  9. Top with a cup of cheese.
  10. Repeat all of these layers, and top with the remaining cheese.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes, and serve. If you are storing in the freezer, let it cool, cover, and then store. Make sure to label it with the date and recipe name.
Halloween Treats

Halloween Treats

Trick-o-Treat!

Kids get so excited for Halloween, don’t they?!?! The costumes. The decorations. THE CANDY. It is a ton of fun, but the amount of sugar can give a parent anxiety. Plus, when you have a child that has a food sensitivity dealing with school parties can be a challenge since they can’t have what’s provided, but you don’t want them to feel left out.

Noah and I had a blast making chocolate covered popcorn and chocolate pudding graveyard cups. These are easy, healthy, and delicious treats that are great for kids parties and replace some of the more typical sugary options.

Watch Noah and I make the recipes!

Chocolate Popcorn

Ingredients

  • Popcorn cooked in coconut oil and sea salt
  • Stevia sweetened chocolate (i.e. Lily’s chocolate chips)
  • Halloween themed treat bags

Directions

  1. Spread popcorn on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Boil water in a pot on the stove. Place a heat safe bowl over the water.
  3. Dump the chocolate chips in the bowl, and stir until melted.
  4. Take the chocolate chips off the heat.
  5. Drizzle using a spoon or form over the popcorn.
  6. Set the baking sheet in the refrigerator so the chocolate can harden.
  7. Fill the treat bags with popcorn, and close with twist ties.

Graveyard Cups

Original pudding recipe found here.

Original brownie recipe found here.

Ingredients

Pudding

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp maple syrup
  • tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt

Brownie

  • ¼ cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
  • ½ cup  coconut sugar
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 gelatin eggs (2 TBSP gelatin + 2 TBSP room temperature water + 4 TBSP boiling water)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cassava flour
  • ½ cup stevia sweetened chocolate chips

Other Supplies

  • clear plastic cups
  • Halloween toppers

Directions

Makes 4 servings.

  1. Cook brownie and pudding. **Refer to above links for the original recipes for cooking directions for the pudding and brownie. The only difference is that I used a gelatin egg instead of a flax egg for the brownies.
  2. Once the pudding has set and the brownie has cooled, start layering each into the plastic cups.
  3. Place a thick layer of pudding into the cup. Then, crumble some brownie, and add a thick layer of brownie over the pudding.
  4. Repeat the pudding and brownie layers one more time.
  5. Top the cup with a cute or scary Halloween topper.
  6. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Chocolate Pumpkins

Chocolate Pumpkins

Halloween Treats!

Kids get so excited for Halloween, don’t they?!?! The costumes. The decorations. THE CANDY. It is a ton of fun, but the amount of sugar can give a parent anxiety. Plus, when you have a child that has a food sensitivity dealing with school parties can be a challenge since they can’t have what’s provided, but you don’t want them to feel left out.

So, Brynn and I created these fun AND EASY pumpkin chocolates that would be great as a Halloween treat, especially for school parties. They are refined sugar-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free. Woohoo!! Plus, they are super cute and delicious.

Watch Brynn and I make the recipe!

Ingredients

  • Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate

Directions

  1. Get a silicon baking mold that has pumpkin shapes. This is the one I used.
  2. Get a pot of water boiling on the stove, and place a heat safe bowl over top to create a double boiler.
  3. Pour your chocolate chips into the top bowl. Stir until melted.
  4. Pull the chocolate off the stove once it is melted.
  5. Take a spoon, and spoon the chocolate into the pumpkin molds.
  6. Once complete, lightly tap or shake the molds to flatten the chocolate.
  7. Place the mold sheet onto a baking sheet and set in the refrigerator or freezer to harden. It will take about 30 minutes.
  8. Once hardened, enjoy your chocolates, or place in cute bags to take to your party.
My Guest Post on Real Food RN: Foods for Babies and Young Children That Are Critical for Their Development

My Guest Post on Real Food RN: Foods for Babies and Young Children That Are Critical for Their Development

Most Nutrient Dense Foods for Babies and Children

Check out my guest blog on Real Food RN’s blog about the top foods for babies & young children that are critical for their development. It was so fun to work with Kate on this!

 

Getting kids real, NUTRIENT DENSE food is my absolute passion, and I wake up every day looking for more ideas to share with others to make it so our little ones can thrive AND enjoy delicious food!

Enjoy!

Why You Should Never Use A Kids Menu

Why You Should Never Use A Kids Menu

More, More!?!?!

That’s what Noah said directly to our waiter one evening as Brendon and I were out to dinner. We had gotten him a side of goat cheese polenta, and he scarfed it down. We laughed so hard when he knew to look right at the waiter and ask for more.

I love that through exposing him to a variety of foods, he always tries food and is a great eater. There are of course foods he has tried and not liked, but he eats so many foods and flavors. He even likes a little spice, just like his daddy! It is all about getting them to try a variety of foods AND foods in different combinations EARLY. it’s easier to deal with a little frustration early on in finding out what they like rather than getting frustrated when they only eat 5 things when they are older because those are the only foods they developed tastes for.

So, should we be giving kids a separate menu or should we just be having them eat like we do whether it is at home or at a restaurant?

Food for Thought

Unhealthy, Unbalanced Options

As adults, we know our plates should be filled with a protein, starch, and vegetable or maybe a fruit. Why shouldn’t kids be the same? And, I am not talking about deep fried french fries as a proper starch or vegetable to eat regularly.

The kid’s menu is so heavy on unhealthy starches and fats. They are also loaded with sodium and sugar, and they do not contain a proper amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they usually come with the option of a drink, and kids typically pick fruit punch or chocolate milk when given the option.

Kids are growing and need a high quantity of nutrients. It frustrates me to hear parents say that the kids will just burn off the calories from their food. And, maybe that is true. But, what is their body getting to fuel them? That’s the most important part. Kids need food to serve their bodies so they can get the proper building blocks.

Teach Kids to Try New Flavors

When kids are young, this is the time to set their palate. If we offer them pasta, mac and cheese, and Nutella or whatever on a regular basis this is what they crave. Then, we get frustrated when they won’t eat anything else. However, for the most part, their options are in our control. So, again, we need to start going through a little frustration in the beginning getting them to find combinations of real food that they like rather than suffering large amounts of frustration later on when they won’t eat many things.

I love that Noah was exposed to everything we ate early. So, he got used to savory, bitter, sour, and even a little spicy. He would try red pepper hummus, goat cheese, seasonings, vegetables, and seafood. He has no anxiety about seeing new foods. However, my step-daughter that lived on mac and cheese was a struggle to get to try new foods. Seeing foods combined in new ways made her instantly assume she wasn’t going to like it because it wasn’t familiar. She didn’t grow up in her early years in the habit of trying new foods, and now, she resists new foods like many other kids that eat pasta and chicken nuggets on a regular basis.

I made a conscious effort to hold off on sweet things (even fruit) for over a year with Noah to build the palate for other foods. I even asked daycare and family to not give him sweets for almost two years because he is so young that he won’t know what he is missing. So, the benefits of him not being exposed to those flavors yet is a bigger benefit than the inconvenience.

Teach Kids to Eat Real Food

“Kid” food is made to be hyper-palatable based on the taste and appearance. To get this way, it is so over processed, it doesn’t even look like the food sources it came from anymore.

When you look at adult options at a restaurant, it is so much easier to identify what you are eating. As I have heard Alton Brown say, “Chickens don’t have fingers.” So, why is there a food product called chicken fingers? Foods like this makes it such a struggle to get kids to eat healthy proteins and real foods. They develop the taste buds to only want fried, salty, and foods covered in cheese.

Kids Menu Options are Filled with Gluten, Conventional Dairy, and Poor Nutrient Density

Making gluten, conventional dairy, and low nutrient foods the main portion of a kid’s meal is not a great option. Now, this isn’t to say that my family doesn’t indulge in dishes when eating out that have these elements. However, overall we chose a mix of options and going out to eat is not a regular habit.

I think it is a better option when eating out to share an indulgent appetizer as a family or a dessert, but you should keep the main entrees quality food options like a steak or seafood dish. This keeps their mindset of healthier eating even if you are still getting more sodium or fat than you would be when eating at home. Plus, they are still getting some nutrition as opposed to an extremely low amount (along with many inflammatory foods) with the kid options.).

If your kid is small, they may only eat a portion of a meal you order, or you can take the leftovers home if you order them a separate entree. My husband and I let my son try some of each of our dishes. Then, it is fun to see what he likes best.

 

 

1st Trimester Must Haves for a Natural Pregnancy

1st Trimester Must Haves for a Natural Pregnancy

My Second Pregnancy

This is my second pregnancy, and thankfully, I have felt less fatigued and barely sick! I think having a very nutrient dense diet before pregnancy was very important. I have been so thankful to be able to keep up with two kids (7 and almost 2) and train for a half marathon.

Not everything has been easy, but it has definitely been physically incredibly easier than last time. My husband definitely picked up the slack taking care of the house in the evenings though when I would crash on the couch after the kids were in bed.

Our body is doing some major work though! So, some changes and fatigue are expected. We can definitely take some steps during pregnancy however to feel the best and have the easiest pregnancy possible.

Important Nutrients

Probiotics – from foods!

Probiotic and fiber-rich foods are so important in keeping things moving, especially when digestion is slowed down due to progesterone. Your body is putting a tremendous effort into growing a baby, building a placenta, and maintaining a pregnancy. You will absorb more nutrients with these as well.

So, incorporating these foods really helps out. You can even add a probiotic supplement, but I personally find that probiotic foods work so much better. Plus, they are less expensive.

Some of my favorite probiotic foods are raw apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized saurkraut, kombucha, raw honey, and kefir. If you can tolerate dairy you can do a raw cheese or a yogurt with live cultures.

For fiber, fruits and vegetables are important. At this stage, your body is going to do better with cooked vegetables because it is a lot more work to break down raw vegetables. You can also incorporate chia seeds or flax.

Ideally, you should be having a bowel movement within 20 minutes of getting up in the morning and possibly one in the afternoon. If this is not the case, even when pregnant, you are having a form of constipation and are not properly detoxing and eliminating waste.

Magnesium

Magnesium is important for progesterone production. It also aids in sleep quality and digestion. Many pregnant women experience constipation or leg cramps. Magnesium can help with both of those.

Food Based Prenatal

Prenatals are not just about what we ingest, but more important, it is what we digest and absorb. For about half of my pregnancy, I took generic prenatals and didn’t feel great. Once I found food based prenatals, such as Vitamin Code’s RAW prenatal, my stomach felt better and overall I felt better because I was getting more nutrients.

Ultimately, a nutrient dense diet is the most important, but I think prenatals are important as a catch-all to make sure your baby is getting everything it needs. With two kids in the house and many responsibilities, I have noticed that this pregnancy that I have been forgetful in taking them because I am running around and stuff my breakfast in my mouth rather quickly. So, now I have set reminders every morning at 7 am so I make sure to grab them.

Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is a great source of vitamins A, D, K2. These are essential growing nutrients for every system of the body. These our also nutrients we struggle to get in the modern diet with low fat foods, less consumption of liver, pasteurized dairy, and spending more time indoors.

Iodine from Kelp Extract

Big factors in our pregnancy and the development of our baby is detoxification. I found that because I had detoxed before this pregnancy and incorporated iodine in food form and a kelp supplement. I had way less fatigue. When we sleep, our body uses that time to process out toxins. Last pregnancy, I was sleeping during the day and crashed at 8:30 pm that first trimester. This time, I didn’t need naps (not that I had an option with a toddler), but I also didn’t go to bed quite as early. It was probably more like 9-9:30 pm this time.

Iodine supports our thyroid health, which supports our metabolism and energy. It is also important in the development of breast tissue for breastfeeding. We use a ton of iodine in the production of breast milk, and if our iodine levels are not monitored some women find they have hypothyroid after breastfeeding.

This could also play a role in why many women with autoimmune issues see a flare up after pregnancy. Without the resources to properly detoxify, these women’s immune systems struggle.

Listen to Your Cravings and Aversions

Want to dig into that ice cream and cheese? Downing that jar of pickles? Can’t stand the smell of chicken? I hear ya. Between my two pregnancies, I have been through all of that.

In my first pregnancy, I craved french dip sandwiches, blue cheese, and Frank’s hot sauce. I think the important take aways from that were:

  • salt – your body is increasing its fluids rapidly and electrolytes are really important
  • beef – with the increased blood volume your body needs a ton of iron
  • blue cheese – (Yes, I know soft cheese is frowned upon in pregnancy but I am a rebel sometimes. It is a personal choice.) I think cheese and ice cream are important for K2 sources, calcium and fats needed for the growing bones and the brain.

In my second pregnancy, I had more aversions. I could not stand meat, seafood, and vegetables for awhile. I felt crazy since that makes up my normal diet. I think my body wanted the most easily digestible foods.

Now, for my cravings:

  • sushi – (I know, I am a rebel again. My rule of thumb was get the best quality.) The rice and raw fish digested really well and gave me omega 3s, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates.
  • raw honey – contains enzymes that help with digestion, vitamins, minerals, B vitamins, and carbohydrates
  • paleo sweet treats – I was all about that carbohydrates for easy digestion and energy to run and make a baby.
  • yogurt – great source of calcium
  • fruit – I felt so great when I would get a good amount of vitamin C

I list these cravings just to give you my personal experience and what worked for me. I was able to make healthy choices with the cravings and aversions to give my babies what they needed, which is the most important. You have to do what is right for your body and choose the foods you like.

I mainly tell my stories because it is so important to be aware of what our bodies are telling us. They are so smart and can help guide us.

Acupuncture

I will be writing a whole separate post on my experience with acupuncture, but with this pregnancy I found myself needing some emotional help. Unlike last time, I have deal some extreme mood swings and little ability to emotional cope with some stresses I have had.

So, together Brendon and I decided to send me to acupuncture. Within one session, I felt more balanced and able to cope with every day things. As I have continued to go, it has really help balance me hormonally and deal with emotional issues. I think reducing stress and being happy is extremely important for you and the baby.

 

Making and Freezing Bone Broth

Making and Freezing Bone Broth

Bone Broth Does the Body Good

Bone broth has come back to the forefront of nutritional news lately with all its health benefits. I make it on and off, but I recently got motivated to start making it again. Being 14 weeks pregnant, I have noticed some aches in my legs and feet, especially when running. I have a standing desk this time, but I have also noticed that I needed to start using my compression socks earlier in pregnancy while running because of the soreness. I have also noticed just more inflammation per say this time when I eat certain foods or stress.

Maybe I am just more aware of my body this time, I don’t know. I am probably just more sensitive to small shifts in how I feel and my health. Overall, I have felt way better this pregnancy physically, so I can’t really complain. Brendon has also had some joint pain because we are both training for a half marathon in September.

Plus, looking ahead, I am due in January. That is PRIME sickness season in our house. Without fail, Brynn seems to get a major cold in early to mid-January, and I really don’t want to deal with that for several reasons. I don’t want anyone getting sick in general, but I don’t want it to spread to me or the baby. Plus, dealing with her (or any kid) while sick is super stressful, and I want to try and reduce my stress as much as possible during that time. I don’t want any stress to delay my labor (any pregnant woman knows at that point you want that baby OUT!).

Watch how to make bone broth and why you should!

Benefits of Bone Broth

  • Immunity
  • Gut health
  • Packed with zinc and other vitamins and minerals
  • Collagen

My Predicament with Bone Broth

Previously, I have made batches of bone broth and not used the whole thing. To be honest, I don’t really enjoy drinking a cup of bone broth every day, and it is extremely filling. Plus, being on the go, sometimes it is hard to remember. So, sometimes half the batch gets wasted.

This time though, I have a plan. I am going to make batches to store and freeze it in small portions. Then, I can cook with it or drink it whenever I want. I figure as long as I am getting some into my families diet at regular intervals that is doing pretty well. Hopefully, by boosting our consumption even a little bit, it can help our bodies and immunity for the next 6 months (and beyond).

Ingredients

  • 3 lb grass-fed bones
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 TBSP raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)

Directions

  1. Roughly chop celery, carrots, and onion. Cover the bottom of the crock pot with them.
  2. Place bones in crock pot on top of vegetables.
  3. Fill the crock pot with water to cover the bones.
  4. Add apple cider vinegar and seasonings.
  5. Set crock pot on low for 24-48 hours.

Storing

  1. Place portions of cooled bone broth into pouch bags/breastmilk bags.
  2. Freeze flat.
  3. Remove from freeze and defrost as needed.

Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

  • Soups
  • Mix in mashed potatoes
  • Cook rice and cous cous with it
  • Drink it
  • Bone broth protein powders
4 Easy Meals for Busy Parents Who Don’t Have Time to Cook

4 Easy Meals for Busy Parents Who Don’t Have Time to Cook

Do you ever feel like you don’t have time to cook? Do you just not want to cook?

Me too. As parents, we would love to have time to cook meals from scratch that are perfectly balanced and nutritious every single day, but that isn’t reality.

This past weekend, I was talking to a mom of 5 who works full-time and volunteers frequently with the Willow Tree Family Center, which is a local center for moms and babies. She talked with me about how she has no time to cook and is so tired at the end of the day that she doesn’t want to cook. She desperately wanted to have her family eat healthier. She said her family ends up eating take-out most days and doesn’t know if anyone in her family even eats a vegetable.

So, I started to think, what if I was someone who REALLY had no time to cook or didn’t want to cook? What would I feed my family? I thought of some of my go to meals when the meal plan doesn’t go as planned (we all have those days), and then, Noah and I went to the store to look for some healthy options.

These 4 options that I have laid out take less than 10 minutes each to put together and would cost LESS than take out. Most of these options cost less than $10 for a family of 4. To order pizzas, would cost at least $20.

All these meals have healthy protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and some source of produce (fruits and veggies).

Keep Reading or Watch Me Demo All for Easy Meal Ideas!

Meal #1

Meal Components
  • Organic Rotisserie Chicken
  • Steamer Bag of Carrots
  • Natural Mashed Potato Packet
Instructions:
  1. Heat rotisserie chicken in the oven.
  2. Steam bag of carrots.
  3. Boil water, and stir in powdered mashed potatoes.
  4. Serve chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots.

Meal #2

Meal Components
  • Clean Plate Chicken Burger (pre-cooked)
  • Against the Grain Gluten-Free Bun (or Udi’s Gluten Free)
  • Steamer Bag of Cauliflower
  • Organic Unsweetened Applesauce
Instructions:
  1. Warm up the chicken burger.
  2. Steam bag of cauliflower.
  3. Pour applesauce into a small bowl.
  4. Place burger on bun.
  5. Serve chicken burger, applesauce, and cauliflower.

Meal #3

Meal Components
  • Egg Omelette
  • Smoothie
Ingredients for Omelette:
  • Egg
  • Butter
  • Omelette additions: ham, bacon, cheese, spinach, tomato, broccoli
Ingredients for Smoothie:
  • Fruit of choice: strawberries, banana, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries
  • Nut butter (optional)
  • Milk of choice
  • Protein powder (I like collagen or bone broth protein)
Instructions:
  1. Heat a pan to medium heat and put 1 TBSP of butter into it.
  2. Scramble two eggs in a bowl and add any additions you want.
  3. Cook the eggs.
  4. In a blender, combine fruit, milk of choice, protein powder, and nut butter, and blend. Pour into a glass. (My favorite smoothie is 1 scoop chocolate bone broth protein, 1 banana, 1 cup almond milk, and 2 TBSP organic peanut butter).
  5. Serve omelette and smoothie.

Meal #4

Meal Components
  • Egg Salad
  • Blue Diamond Hint of Sea Salt Crackers (Gluten-Free)
  • Baby Carrots
  • Grapes
Ingredients for Egg Salad:
  • 6 store-bought hard boiled eggs (found in deli section)
  • 1/2 cup Primal Kitchen Mayo OR Full-fat organic, grass-fed plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
Instructions:
  1. Dice the hard boiled eggs.
  2. Mix the eggs with mayo (or yogurt), salt, pepper, and paprika.
  3. Wash grapes, and remove from the vine.
  4. For smaller children cut the carrots for easy chewing.
  5. Serve egg salad, grapes, carrots, and crackers.

Looking for more recipe ideas, check out our E-book!

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