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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!).
Benefits of Bone Broth
- Gut health
- Packed with zinc and other vitamins and minerals
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).
- 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)
- Roughly chop celery, carrots, and onion. Cover the bottom of the crock pot with them.
- Place bones in crock pot on top of vegetables.
- Fill the crock pot with water to cover the bones.
- Add apple cider vinegar and seasonings.
- Set crock pot on low for 24-48 hours.
- Place portions of cooled bone broth into pouch bags/breastmilk bags.
- Freeze flat.
- Remove from freeze and defrost as needed.
Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet
- Mix in mashed potatoes
- Cook rice and cous cous with it
- Drink it
- Bone broth protein powders
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!
- Organic Rotisserie Chicken
- Steamer Bag of Carrots
- Natural Mashed Potato Packet
- Heat rotisserie chicken in the oven.
- Steam bag of carrots.
- Boil water, and stir in powdered mashed potatoes.
- Serve chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots.
- Clean Plate Chicken Burger (pre-cooked)
- Against the Grain Gluten-Free Bun (or Udi’s Gluten Free)
- Steamer Bag of Cauliflower
- Organic Unsweetened Applesauce
- Warm up the chicken burger.
- Steam bag of cauliflower.
- Pour applesauce into a small bowl.
- Place burger on bun.
- Serve chicken burger, applesauce, and cauliflower.
- Egg Omelette
Ingredients for Omelette:
- 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)
- Heat a pan to medium heat and put 1 TBSP of butter into it.
- Scramble two eggs in a bowl and add any additions you want.
- Cook the eggs.
- 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).
- Serve omelette and smoothie.
- Egg Salad
- Blue Diamond Hint of Sea Salt Crackers (Gluten-Free)
- Baby Carrots
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
- Dice the hard boiled eggs.
- Mix the eggs with mayo (or yogurt), salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Wash grapes, and remove from the vine.
- For smaller children cut the carrots for easy chewing.
- Serve egg salad, grapes, carrots, and crackers.
Looking for more recipe ideas, check out our E-book!
Shop natural, organic, nutrient dense baby and toddler food at www.mama-bear-naturals.com
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Why should I eat beans?
Our bodies need carbohydrates, and beans are one of the foods that healthy, traditional cultures have eaten for thousands of years. Beans are a great source of phosphorus, iron, and fiber. In today’s world where our bodies are bombarded with toxins and environmental pollutants, we need that fiber.
Honestly, when starting on a paleo, ancestral diet, I got a phobia of beans. However, I came across Dan Buettner, who wrote The Blue Zone about populations that lived the longest. Here is a talk with Dan and Chris from Chris Beat Cancer that I found really interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRUxo8FEyZo
Many of these cultures ate 1 cup of beans per day and 90% plant food diets (high carbohydrate diets) like sweet potatoes, sourdough bread, greens, and lentils. He doesn’t say sprouting is necessary, but I think sprouting is critical because this unlocks the nutrients and removes the phytic acid.
Some other characteristics of these long living populations that I think are important to reflect on are:
- Exercise – low impact, all day long
Those are not related to beans but are definitely lifestyle choices we should reflect on in trying to improve our health, quality of life, and longevity.
With fiber and carbohydrates in the diet, we aid our digestion and help our body remove toxins. I try to feed Noah sprouted beans once a week, and the next day, his body definitely cleans house! I think this is especially important on a diet that contains meats and dairy that can be constipating depending on the levels. He loves to pick up beans and eat them plain, but making a quesadilla is one of my favorite ways to feed them to him. I love that it is a quick family meal that also gets some healthy fats from the grass-fed cheese into him. I always sprout my beans the night before to unlock the nutrients and neutralize phytic acid. This aids in digestibility.
Nourishing Bean and Cheese Quesadilla Recipe
- 2 sprouted brown rice tortillas
- 1/4-1/2 cup grass-fed cheddar cheese (many kids like mild cheese)
- 1/4 cup black beans (preferably sprouted)
- 1 TBSP grass-fed butter
- The night before, place beans in a bowl of water to soak.
- Cook the beans according to package directions once sprouted, and drain them.
Note: Some kids may prefer the beans to be pureed up
- Shred your cheese.
- Heat your pan on medium heat.
- Add 1 TBSP of grass-fed butter to the pan.
- Put together your quesadilla: lay one tortilla flat, sprinkle with shredded cheese. add a layer of beans, sprinkle with another thin layer of cheese (this is important to hold it together), and top it with another tortilla.
Giving Your Children the Gift of Real Food
I wanted to share two big reasons that you should make feeding your kids real food a priority. I am so passionate about the importance of nutrient dense food fueling our bodies and brains. As good parents, we want the best for our children. Giving kids healthy food and teaching them how to cook are more than just nice ideas. They are truly GIFTS to help your child have a better life. Let me explain.
1. Real Food Builds Quality Kids
As a mom, I know we all want the best for our children. However, let’s talk about the story of the 3 Little Pigs quickly. In the story, each pig built something called a house, but we all know the houses were built of very different materials. Without question, we know that though the stick and straw houses are houses, they easily broke down.
So, what about our kids?
WHAT WE FEED OUR FAMILY MATTERS. We get to help determine the quality of life our children lead through their health and brain function.
In today’s culture, there are more instances of the following:
- birth defects
- mental issues (ADHD, autism)
We have to take an honest look at why this is happening. In a world, where we are eating boxed mac and cheese, graham crackers, fast food, and cereal instead of nutrient dense foods, we are not providing the proper building blocks for our children to thrive. We are getting calories without nutrition.
But kids just burn it off, right?
It drives me insane when I hear someone say something about a child getting to “eat whatever because they just burn it off’ because they have a better metabolism. No. Just no. Kids don’t get to eat whatever without consequences. Kids are growing rapidly MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY, AND EMOTIONALLY. They need to be supercharged with nutrition, or they will be built on a poor foundation even if they somehow stay thin.
We all want our kids to have the tools to achieve their dreams – whether it is a far off dream like going to the Olympics or doing well in math class. As good parents, we want to give our kids the best. We buy them swim lessons, books, and toys to teach them skills. Why not also feed their bodies the right things to let them perform their best?
For me, I look at the kids in my house and want everything for them. My son, Noah, loves drums. I want to give his brain and body the healthy fats, slow releasing carbohydrates, and nutrients to rock out in whatever band he wants to someday. My step-daughter, Brynn loves to run. If she wants to run whether its in local races or in national competitions, I want her bones to be strong and muscles to recover well.
I want to give them every chance to succeed in life and that starts with giving them the right tools, including food. There are many times I have dealt with complaints about new foods or why we can’t have junk food, and yes, I get annoyed, frustrated, and hurt feelings. Ultimately, I care more about their health than my feelings. I am the parent. I can make the choices, and someday, they will look back and be glad I made the harder choices for their well being.
2. Eating and Cooking Real Food Teaches Healthy Habits
When we model and teach healthy choices, we give children a gift by teaching them how to cook and make good eating choices.
If you went through life struggling with weight issues, body image issues, knowing how to make healthy choices, learning how to cook – don’t you want to prevent your children from suffering in the same way? I want to lower my children’s risk of disease and teach them that putting good food in your body makes you strong and feel good.
This gift is personal for me.
Growing up, my snacks after school were junk – chips, cookies, etc. Treats were always in the house. I remember having bagels, cereal, and Eggos for breakfast. Sure, at the time, it was great, but I didn’t understand what eating healthy was. I thought having 10 extra lbs meant their was something wrong with me. I thought I was eating healthy because dinner included a protein, vegetable, and starch, but my lunches always included a juice, treat, and probably chips.
How was I supposed to learn how to eat well, when I was taught this was normal? I struggled through various eating disorders because I thought it was about controlling my body and not the food. I even thought I had to run a ton of miles to be thin since I didn’t know how to change my eating at home or when eating out. I had to teach myself what real eating was, and any child I raise, I plan to teach them this so they never have to struggle.
Here are my final thoughts on why making the extra effort is important. As a parent, these are things to think about to set an example for your family.
Change your why – Why do you want to eat healthy?
These are my WHYS (feel free to steal any that resonate with you):
- I DO NOT eat healthy just to be thin. However, now that I eat real food, I am the best combination of thin and healthy I have ever been.
- I eat healthy to fulfill my passions and my mission on this world.
- I eat healthy to have energy for the kids and husband.
- I eat healthy to be able to keep up with grand kids someday.
- I eat healthy because I want my kids to see that I respect myself enough to do so and to teach them to do the same.
Carrot Cake with Creamy Frosting
One great thing about using a carrot cake recipe is that the cake will be similar to many of the foods they have already eaten in purees or chunks. Also, the carrots help provide structure to a cake without gluten and does not need as much sweetness. This cake is make with all natural, organic ingredients that make first birthday smash cake healthy, nutritious, and delicious.
- 3 mini Springform cake pans
- 4 carrots (roughly chopped)
- 2 TBSP grass-fed butter or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup pitted dates
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- frosting spatula
- 1/4 cup grass fed butter (or ghee or you could double the coconut oil to make it all the way dairy free)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2-3 pitted dates or
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 Tablespoons cashew butter
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 350◦F.
2. Blend ingredients of the cake in the blender until the dates and carrots are completely broken up.
3. Grease round cake pans using coconut oil or grass-fed butter. Pour the batter evenly among the 3 pans. My pans were 4 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Make sure to level the tops using a spatula.
4. Bake for 40 minutes. The tops should have gained a golden brown color.
5. Remove from the oven. Release the cakes from the springform pan, and set on a rack to cool.
6. For the icing, slightly melt the coconut oil and butter.
7. Put the dates, butter, and coconut oil in the blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes until the dates are completely broken up.
8. Put other icing ingredients in a blender, and blend all together. Mix and store in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before the cake will be iced.
9. When the cakes are cool, you need to level the top of each cake.
Tip: If you do not have a cake leveler, try kneeling down on the floor so you are eye level with the cake and using a serrated knife, cut off the excess cake to level it. Start with the least amount to cut off that you can in case you need to continue to level it out.
12. Place some icing on the plate that the cake with go on so that it acts as glue for the cake. It should be very easy to spread. If not, let it come to room temperature for a little longer.
13. Ice the top of bottom layer thinly. Set second layer on top. Ice it thinly. Do the same with the third layer.
14.Proceed in icing down the sides of the cake until it is covered.
15. Smooth the icing and decorate.