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Posts Tagged ‘healthy snacks’

My son Griffyn just turned a year old last month. He has been a terrific little eater from the time we introduced him to pureed foods six months ago. He appeared to be curious about the idea of eating what my wife and I were eating right from the go. Although he gobbled down the purees he was far more intrigued by what we had on our plates and soon started enjoying just about everything: coconut curry, rice salad with finely shredded kale, salmon, tuna and even refried beans with chilies!

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Getting proper nutrition and a wide variety of foods into his diet continues to be my mission. Although he loves many strong flavours I didn’t think he would go for, getting adequate vegetables into his diet remains our biggest challenge. The good news is that an infant’s nutritional requirements are not a daily value, but weekly. This explains why certain days children eat a lot and the next day they appear disinterested altogether. Their bodies can make up for a loss the very next day or two so it’s not something parents need to stress over.

A good rule of thumb for infants and toddlers is don’t push food on them but rather introduce it and allow them to decide if they like it and how much they want to eat. Always follow their cues. When children are forced to eat everything that’s on their plate they grow up with this mentality which can lead to overeating and bad food associations as adults. Below are a few ideas on how to increase your child’s veggies while still making eating a fun and enjoyable daily adventure!

* everything and anything mashed on toast
My son loves toast. If he won’t eat his steamed carrots, yam or zucchini, I mash them and put them on toast. A bit of coconut oil and steamed veggie really hits the spot.
* pancakes made with shredded vegetables
Another great way to sneak vegetables into their day while making it fun too.
* veggies mashed in yogurt
No matter what mashed vegetable you have if you add a bit of fruit and mix it with yogourt they just might eat it!
* finely mincing vegetables into canned salmon or tuna
I mix celery, apple, green onion, and raisins with a little Dijon mustard and fish.
* smoothies are another terrific option
A few kale or spinach leaves blended with some fruit and milk are a great snack. Pea protein powder is another great addition as it provides up to 35% of their daily iron intake and is easy to digest.
* fresh pressed juice
If you have a juicer or access to one, make fresh juice. My little guy loves carrots, apples, cucumber, ginger and a touch of spirulina (a blue-green algae loaded with nutrients found in health food stores).
* veggies dipped in hummus
Steamed carrots or cucumber slices work great for dipping.

Lastly, make meal time about socializing, enjoying food, giving thanks and never use food as a reward. If you’re able to create an environment that is relaxed and engaging your child will grow up with these ideals and hopefully meal time will not be as much of a battle.

What types of foods do you offer your toddler? What kinds of veggies do they like most?

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I had a question in my inbox about a month ago regarding how to eat healthy on a budget. I know this reader and I are not the only people trying to live a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Eating healthy can easily be done with a bit of preparation and knowledge. My wife and I plan our meals and make a grocery list before heading to the supermarket. This saves us a lot of time while shopping and ensures we have all the necessary ingredients to make nutritious home cooked meals.

The following tips should help you save money and stay on track with your eating.

1 – Buy in bulk – Shop from the bulk section whenever possible. Things like rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, flour and dried fruit are all great items to have on hand and buying in bulk is cheaper and eliminates all that extra packaging.

2 – Eat vegetarian as often as you can – Vegetables, organic wherever possible, are far less expensive than meat and go a long way. Staples in our house are broccoli, green beans, carrots, kale, cucumber, onions, yams, potatoes, peppers and garlic. You would be amazed at how many meals you can make with all those veggies and they offer great nutritional value! Be sure to use the “dirty dozen” list to ensure you’re getting the most highly sprayed fruits and veggies organically.
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3 – Avoid highly processed or pre-packaged foods – Making things from scratch at home not only allows you to control every ingredient but it also saves you money. Homemade granola bars (see previous blog), healthy muffins, soups and casseroles are great to make at home and leave you with enough leftovers for a few days to a week.

4 – Buy produce in season – Purchasing seasonal produce is a great way to keep costs low. Don’t buy fruits and veggies that are shipped from miles away; when you purchase locally grown produce that’s in season they’re generally cheaper and you are supporting your local farmers. It wasn’t too long ago that people accepted seasonal scarcity as a fact of life, so the only way you had berries and fruit in the winter was to preserve them or make jams and jellies. I personally think that we need to go back to this way of living.

5 – Buy items that are on special
– Most grocers have monthly or weekly deals. Check out what they have to offer before grabbing your groceries. Although making a list and meal plan is important, so is being flexible once you see what’s on sale.

Heading out to the local farmer’s market is another way to save money, eat locally, organically and seasonally!

What does your family do to stay on track, eat healthy and keep costs low?

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The next time you go to purchase a box of granola or snack bars take a good look at the ingredient list. They are generally loaded with sugar, soy, dairy and wheat; all of which are allergens that most of us could use a lot less of!

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A close friend of mine gave me this recipe that she discovered on the “Winnipeg Hippy Chick” website. I finally have a really amazing recipe for homemade granola bars. More often than not, I opt to make things from scratch rather than purchase pre-packaged. This way I have total control over the quality of the ingredients and can modify things to suit my family’s taste and dietary restrictions.

I have made three different variations of this recipe over the past month and these bars are truly amazing! When you’re trying to care for a newborn and need a quick but healthy snack, these really hit the spot.
**Side note: rolled oats help with milk production so not only is this recipe great for exercise enthusiasts but also for nursing moms!**

The best part about these bars is that there is no cooking required!

Ingredients:
2 cups of your choice of sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, molasses, agave)
I use half honey and half brown rice syrup

1.5 cups of nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower)
I like to use half almond and half peanut butter

4 cups of large flake oats

4 cups of dry cereal of your choice
I use half puffed millet and half Gluten-Free Nature’s Path Heritage O’s

3-5 cups of the following fillers (pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, chia, flax seeds etc…)

Optional: 3-5 Scoops of vanilla or chocolate protein powder
I found the bars pretty dense and filling so I never added any!

Salt to taste – 1-2 tsp.

Directions:
1 – Put your choice of sweeteners and nut butter into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2 – Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3 – Pour the hot sticky stuff (in the large bowl) over the dry mixture. I do this in phases to ensure the dry ingredients are well coated. Be sure your hands are clean as you will need to mush it all together to fit in into your pan.
4 – Press the mixture firmly (using a spoon dipped in a glass of warm water) into a 9X12 glass or aluminum pan coated with butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking. Get the top as smooth as possible; it takes some work!
5 – Chill in the refridgerator for 2 hours or overnight.
6 – Cut into 2″ squares. Wrap individual squares in wax paper or snack sized Zip-loc baggies and store in a container in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.
7 – Enjoy!

What yummy snacks do you enjoy making from scratch?

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When it comes to food I’ll admit it, I am the Queen of Snacking. I generally eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones. I almost never leave home without a snack. Grazing is a great way to keep the metabolism running on high speed as well as limiting the caloric load on the digestive system.

One of the most common questions I am asked by clients when it comes to nutrition is, what are the best snacks to consume that will leaving me feeling satisfied without blowing my caloric input for the day?

Here are my six favourite quick, easy and healthy options:

hummos

1 – Hummus & Veggies
Hummus is low in calories and fat and comes in many different flavours. I like olive hummus or basil garlic hummus with carrots, celery, cucumber and cherry tomatoes for dipping. This is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake for the day and is very inexpensive.

2 – Crackers & Cheese
Although cheese is higher in fat it’s a good source of calcium and protein. Many low fat cheese options exist such as mozzarella or marble. If you read the label and consume the recommended portion, cheese is a healthy snack. “Hot Kids – Rice Crackers” or “Ryvita” are both great wheat-free and tasty crackers to pair with a few slices of cheese! Again, add a few veggies sticks and you have a well rounded lower calorie option.

3 – Apples & Nut Butter
Apples are a great source of fiber, help to detoxify the liver and can help alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel. Sliced into pieces and dipped in nut butter, you will have a whole new appreciation for apples. I enjoy Gala and Ambrosia apples dipped in peanut or almond butter. Many people have the idea that because nut butters are higher in fat they should avoid them when in fact, if eaten in moderation they are just fine and provide you with a source of good fat and energy.

4 – Yogourt or Cottage Cheese & Berries
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, low in fat and supplies the body with calcium. When enjoyed with frozen or fresh berries you also get added fiber and naturally occurring antioxidants. Although the protein content in yogourt is not as high as cottage cheese, it’s a great alternative to cottage cheese if you don’t like the texture (a texture I myself have never been able to get used to).

5 – Organic Nacho Chips & Salsa
Nacho chips are a good source of fiber, carbohydrates and go well with salsa and/or guacamole. I like my chips with “Que Pasa” or “Fresh is Best” homemade salsa. Salsa is a great source of lycopene (found in the tomatoes), low in calories and can contribute 1-2 servings to your vegetable intake for the day. Homemade guacamole is also a great addition to this snack. Guacamole is a great source of omega 6 fat and is best if eaten in moderation.

6 – Homemade Organic Popcorn
I say homemade because making popcorn from the kernel allows you to add any seasonings you like and control the amount of butter or oil. Organic Popcorn that is air popped is also the cheapest route to go! Pre-packaged non-organic popcorn is genetically modified, loaded with salt and often contains added chemicals that you just do not need. I make popcorn a few nights a week. It’s a great alternative to chips when settling in to watch a movie as it’s higher in fiber and lower in fat.

popcorn
Depending on how we’re feeling, I either make a savoury or sweet rendition:
Sweet:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
1 TBSP Honey (or if you prefer a sugar-free version you can use a few drops of stevia and powdered cinnamon)
Sprinkled with sea salt
*all melted together in the microwave or sauce pot

Savoury:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
*melt in microwave or sauce pot
Sprinkled with basil, oregano, nutritional yeast & sea salt!

I hope you enjoy these simple snack options and remember, eating smaller meals throughout the day will keep your energy level high and your metabolism humming away!

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