Baby Food 101 Part 2: Where to begin and pureeing in bulk

Click Here to read Part 1 _____________________________

It's that time again...

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Only this time instead of preparing a meal for one baby, I've added a toddler into the mix...oye.

Before I had kids, I figured I would be that good little wife that made everything homemade and make everyone happy. After Boo was born I realized it was harder to home-make everything, and my goals before hand were definitely harder to reach. Then came Sweet Pea and if I've even been able sit down and eat that day I consider myself accomplished and amazing...

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I'm going to throw this out there and say the thought of making homemade baby food sounds daunting, too much work, and even to some ridiculous. I agree that I've thought the same at one point, and if you told me in high school that in the future I would be writing a blog post all about homemade baby food I'd throw my half eaten chili dog at you and laugh in your face.

Today I'm going to share with you how I've made it work for me and my family, and the important and helpful things along with making your own baby food! I wrote a few posts about homemade Baby Food when Boo was a baby (sad...she's no longer one...), so if you want check it out you can HERE!

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Everything you need to know about Homemade Baby Food! From The Diva Dish
Everything you need to know about Homemade Baby Food! From The Diva Dish

Decide what and how much baby food you want to make-

Do you want to do a bunch at once or a little at a time?

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This was the method I chose because I'm a"let's get it over with so I don't have to think about this for a while" kind of person. :)

The idea here is to purchase a larger quantity of each food item that you want to puree, set aside a few hours at home, cook, puree, and have baby food ready for 1-2 months.

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With this method, the idea is to take it slow so you don't overwhelm yourself. It also works great if you are a working mother, or don't have time to set aside 2 or so hours to puree a bunch of food.

Each week, along with your normal grocery lists, buy 2-3 items in a larger quantity (like 3-4 large sweet potatoes.) During dinner, nap, cleaning the house time, etc., cook that food item, puree it, and store it. You can do one every other day, or twice a week, etc. This will allow your baby food stock to fill up slowly and at your pace!

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(Pic on Left: Boo @6 months, Pic of Right: Sweet Pea @ 6 months)

Before going crazy and buying out the produce section, make sure certain foods sit well with your little one. When you are first starting out feeding your baby, you have to introduce foods slowly to make sure there are no allergies, sensitivities, or reactions to certain food types. I would hate it if you pureed tons of sweet potatoes and your baby can't eat them!

With this, I always buy canned organic baby food! It's the most wholesome and pure, to me.

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Make a list, check it twice, and set aside the time/s that you need to puree the food. I usually do my grocery shopping on Monday, and then that Tuesday I set aside time to puree the food. If I did it all at once on Monday, well..I would have gone cray cray. (crazy...)

Make sure you have the appropriate cooking and storage items! For this you will need:

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-Small storage containers with air tight lids (I used the ones above, they were the cheapest I could find @ 3 dollars for 8 containers!)

-a good blender, food processor, or a Magic/Baby Bullet

-Pot with a steamer on top

-labeling stickers

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On the day of the food prep, wash and dry all your veggies/fruits. If you are doing it all at once, here is where the prep and planning will be important. If you are baking an item, put that in the oven first so it can cook while you are steaming and pureeing the other items.

Here is how it laid out for me:

As I steamed one item, I prepped the others (such as cutting, peeling, dicing, etc.) Then when one item was done steaming I would dump them in my food processor, turn it on and let it puree. While it was pureeing I would throw the next batch of veggies or whatever into the steamer to be steamed. While it was cooking I would finish pureeing, package it, and label it and set it aside and let it cool, with the lid off.

If you aren't doing items that involve cooking, like fruit purees, just do them one after another.

Some items may require soaking such as prunes, raisins, dates, or dried beans. Soak everything the night before, or maybe just need a few hours to soak. Remember that in your planning. If the beans need cooking, start their cooking process at the beginning of your plan.

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Here are the items that I pureed for my little one. It's not everything that I would like to have on hand,  andI know that one day I might try apple sauce and maybe next week I'll make some bean purees!

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Ingredients:

Dried, pitted, prunes-Make sure there are no other ingredients or additives, and if it's in your budget go organic

water

Directions:

1. add prunes to a large bowl and fill with water until all the prunes are covered. Soak for at least a couple hours or if you want overnight. Once done, dump the water out and add prunes to processor and blend until creamy and no chunks appear.

2. Place in individual air tight containers and store in the freezer. When needed thaw in the fridge the night before.

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I did a post already on how to puree butternut squash HERE! :)

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Ingredients:

Carrots

Directions:

1. Wash, Peel, and cut carrots and add to a steam basket. Steam until tender.

2. Once done, blend until creamy, and if needed at a little water.

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Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, cut sweet potatoes. Place in steam basket and steam until tender.

2. Once done puree until creamy, add water if needed.

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Ingredients:

Squash

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, cut squash and place in steam basket. Steam until tender, then puree until smooth. It will be a little watery.

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Ingredients:

Fresh or frozen peas

Directions:

1. If using fresh peas, scrape out the peas from their pods and place in a steamer basket. Cook until tender.

2. If using frozen peas, boil until peas are tender. Then puree until creamy.

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Ingredients:

Beets

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and cut beets. (Make sure to remove stems and leaves.) Place in steamer basket and steam until tender.

2. Puree until smooth, this may take a few times to get it the right consistency.

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Ingredients:

Fresh spinach

Directions:

1. If spinach needs to be washed then do so. Place spinach in a pot or stovetop pan over medium heat with a tiny bit of water. Toss spinach until it becomes wilted, this will only take  a few minutes.

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2. Place in blender and puree.

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Whether you decide to use individual containers, I always set aside some of my purees in ice cube trays for a fast pop out and go option. With ice cube purees, you can throw them into warm soups, grains, smoothies, etc. Something fast and easy.

As for the individual containers, freeze what you aren't using and place the ones you are using in the fridge. When you are running low, take some containers from the freezer and plop them in the fridge and let them thaw.

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I brought home the following items:

2 large sweet potatoes

2 large packages prunes

1 large bag peas

1 large box spinach

1 large bag carrots

1 large butternut squash

2 large squash

3 large beets

TOTAL COST: under $20.00

20 dollars would buy about 20-25 cans worth of baby food.

If you child eats 1-2 cans a day then you could end up spending $20-$50 on canned baby food per month. (Sweet Pea tends to be a little piggy and has eaten 4 can's a day. So for us, it sometimes is more!)

I made about 2 months of baby food for $20.

SO..I saved money! (Trust me friends this doesn't happen often...)

I cut my cost in half...at least!

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I'm telling you friends...Initially making the food is a lot of work and takes time. Oh...and your house will be a complete mess.

But after it's done, the worry is over and you saved some money! And when the food runs out, your baby won't be eating strictly pureed foods so you won't have to do it ALL over again. :)

Hope this was helpful, and if you have any questions, please let me know!! :)

Happy pureeing!

Healthy On-the-Go Snacks: Kid & Baby Mama Friendly

Snack foods can be a mama's life saver.

Either because that mama is 7 months pregnant and every 30 minutes it's like she hasn't eaten in 13 years...

OR because, that mama is out at the park, taking a jog, running errands, or driving to a farther destination with a hungry child.

Hungry child=No fun.

A lot of times mom's always ask me what healthy food items I pack in my diaper bag when I am out for a day on the go. It's easy to throw in a bag of chips, packaged granola bars, cheese crackers, or fruit rollups, but obviously those aren't always the best options.

A lot of times when it comes to making choices for eating and children, parents love options that are fast, quick, and easy, and a lot of times we forget about those snacks being healthy and nutritious.

And no...I'm not talking about cheez-its made with whole grain.

Sorry hubby, that's not considered a health food.

Luckily with a little (yes just a little) planning, you can have hearty, natural, and healthy snacks ready for on the go runs whenever you need them!

Let's begin shall we!

1. No Bake Cookie Balls

I love love love raw cookie balls, or protein balls. It's basically a blend of nuts/nut butters, dates, coconut, cocoa powder, seeds, sweetener, oats, etc. Basically the combinations are endless and I consider them to be almost like a dessert.

When I make them I usually grind most of the ingredients really fine, (like the nuts), so Baby Boo can enjoy them with her little baby teeth! It's a treat any child will love! Imagine...Here baby, have a chocolate cookie ball!

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Basic No Bake Cookie Balls

Ingredients:

1/2 c. cashews

1/2 c. walnuts

1/2 c. scant raw cocoa powder

1/2 c. almond butter

1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 c. oats

1/4 c. cocoa nibs

1/2 c. dried apricots (Organic)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. honey (scant)

1/4 c. maple syrup (scant)

Directions:

1. Using a food processor, blend nuts until fine and crumbly. Add the rest of the ingredients until well combined and the mixture is fine and can be formed into balls. Roll into 1 inch balls and store in the fridge or freezer and grab one when hungry!

Other cookie ball recipes:

Fudge Balls

Peanut Butter Balls

Citrus Cookie Dough Balls (Optional on the citrus part)

S'mores Balls (Top recipe on the blog!)

Store Bough Options: Larabars

2. Mini Sandwiches

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If I have time in the morning I'll make a quick nut butter and jelly sandwich and cut it up for Boo to have as a snack later when we are out and about. Don't limit yourself to PB&J though, try hummus and cheese or hummus mixed with thinly cut veggies like cucumbers or tomatoes.

3. Raw Veggies

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Every mom in the world might be laughing at me right now thinking that a piece of broccoli would qualify as a 'snack' to their toddler.

I understand it's different, but start your kids young on loving raw veggies (with fun dips), and pretty soon they won't mind munching a carrot in the stroller. You can also try cucumber slices, baby tomatoes chopped, celery with nut butters and etc...If you are able to, you can also pack a side cup of dip like hummus!

4. Fruits

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When it comes to fruits the options are never ending.

Banana, apples, plums, pineapple, watermelon, berries, oranges, etc. Pack them pre-chopped, (and the skin off if necessary), in a to-go bag or container with an ice pack to keep them cool and refreshing!

5. Pre-made Baked Goods (Healthy/Natural/Homemade)

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Pictured above: Chocolate Protein Breakfast Cake Bars

Usually once a week I bake some sort of muffin/cookie/sweet bread etc. I usually put half in the freezer for a quick treat in the future, and save the rest for snack time and on-the-go. The baked goods I pack are usually whole grain and made with natural ingredients and sweeteners.

Other options for healthy on-the-go baked goods:

Date Muffins

Grain Free/Sugar Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Single Serving)

Cranberry Orange Loaf

Sugar Free Whole Wheat Banana Spice Muffins

Chocolate Chip Bean Cookies

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6. Store Bought Items:

As much as I love food and treats made at home, I'm also a realist and I know that sometimes I'm not By Golly Miss Molly whose been baking away in my kitchen all week. After all, I've got story books to read, tea parties to have, and forts to build!

My advice for purchased goods is this: shop natural, whole, and sometimes organic when it comes to buying snacks. Make sure you can read  and understand the ingredients and know what each one is.

Remember, organic Oreos are still...Oreos. :)

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Pictured above: Peanut Butter Green Bars.

Despite that the picture above looks like marijuana granola bars, they are these insanely delicious PB bars that are sold at our local farmers market. (My husband even loves them!) Every time I go by I stock up and buy a bunch because they go fast! I show these because I think it's great to take advantage of local markets and companies that sell natural and whole foods/snacks. They come in handy for those days where you don't have time to cook/cut/and prepare, and you just want something ready to go.

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Another snack we love are these applesauce packets. Baby Boo LOOOVES them! Sometimes you can buy them with veggies in them too, which is great! These can be a little pricey, so if I buy them I usually get them at Costco. Despite the price, I always buy them because they are such a yummy quick snack grab!

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As for crackers and things, I aim for products that are whole wheat and minimally processed. Here are a few of our salty favorites:

Pretzels

Kale Chips

Popcorn

Pita Chips

Crackers (Simple ingredients)

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Dried fruits are another favorite in our household. The freeze dried ones have a crispy/crunchy taste, which some kids love!

Other options include, but aren't limited too:

Dates

Appricots

Raisins

Craisins

Banana chips (Roasted)

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Last but not least, drinks.

I usually always have a water bottle, but sometimes Baby Boo loves other options. Who am I kidding, if I pulled out a cup of chocolate milk she'd be in heaven!

Here are out favorite drink options:

Coconut Water

Flavored Coconut Water

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So remember, whether your headed to Target to spend $100 or a fun day at the beach, there are always healthy options to have ready and on-the-go when you need them.

And when in doubt, chocolate is ALWAYS an acceptable snack :)!

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Toddler Food and Picky Eaters

Whew!! This post has been a long time coming due to all the info I want to share! I was this close to posting this post as a Christmas special... :-)

I've been working hard these past few weeks documenting the things my daughter eats, tracker her eating habits, and really focusing on dealing with her picky-ness.

First things first...I am a new mama, and I'm pretty sure things will change with the next baby. Of coarse, I also believe some things will stay the same, but every child is different. So what works for one child, may not work for another. Also, the more kids you have, the less time available. Things will need to be quicker, faster, and easier than they are now...

I don't really know how that's going to happen, but let's pretend for a second I've got this all under control.

Ok, so if you have missed the previous entries of Kid's Food Week/Month/Decade then here are the posts so you can catch up:

Why and Where To Begin With Kids Eating Healthy

Stocking a Healthy Pantry for your Kids

Baby Food 101: 6-12 Months

And today we will be talking about Toddler Food and Picky Eaters! 

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So, I obviously can't discuss Every.Single.Type of food that your toddler/child can eat because there are truly so many options and creative ways. But I am excited to share with you a handful of recipes and tips that I have gathered over the past few weeks, along with the trial and errors of those foods!

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I'm not going to get into statistics because I'm not a doctor and I don't want to lead you astray, but I will touch base on a few things.

This is a crucial time in your child's life, in where they are needing the right components to grow strong and healthy bodies, and they are able and willing to learn and soak up healthy eating habits. If there is one thing that I have noticed, it's that my daughter notices and copies a lot of what I do. Now is the time to truly be an example and teach your children how to treat and respect their bodies, and help them love and understand healthy eating habits.

In general you want to make sure your kids are getting enough:

-Fruits and veggies

-Calcium

-Protein

-Healthy Fats

You want them to also eat a variety of foods so they can get a variety of nutrition from different sources.

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(Want to know what NOT to do....Keep reading).

 A few months back Baby Boo would barely eat anything...I'm talking maybe a handful of foods and that was it! I tried every type of food, dance, distraction, and creative measure I could to make food seem appealing to her...But no way, she just wasn't interested.

It wasn't till a visit with Baby Boo's NEW doctor that everything changed.

When Baby Boo went in for her 12 month checkup, her old doctor told me she needed to drink more sippy's (or bottles) of milk. He told me I needed to give her lots of glasses through out the day because she wasn't eating a lot. So I did just that, even though I wasn't sure. (If you read THIS post, I want you to know that by NOW I have learned to really listen to my motherly intuition...) But, being a new mom and trying to do what the doctor said, I started increasing her liquids. She drank soy milk, and sometimes whole milk. Pretty soon, if she didn't eat a big breakfast, I would give her a bottle with milk so she would have something in her stomach. Then following lunch and dinner, I would give her a bottle again...Mainly because I was worried she didn't have any thing in her stomach.

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At this point I was a wreck. Foods to Baby Boo were on the back burner, besides a few unhealthy snacks that outside family members had introduced to her, and she loved her Ba-Ba's...I knew I was doing things wrong, and I didn't know how to break the habit. I was supposed to be someone who enforced healthy eating, yet I resorting to giving Baby Boo the foods she would eat JUST so she would have food in her belly.

But I was soo soo wrong.

Finally after switching doctors, we went to Baby Boo's 18 month checkup. The doctor kindly shared with me a lot of information, and let me know that I am like a lot of mom's out there. That was really nice to hear, especially since I felt like the worst mom in the world.

First she told me to take away the bottles...So I did.

Then she told me to stop placing so many foods on Baby Boo's plate...So I stopped.

Next she told me to introduce foods slowly, and put 1-2 foods on her plate she likes, and one new food. If she doesn't touch the new food, keep introducing it often, and eventually she will try it...So we did just that.

What happened next?

Things changed dramatically.

Within days Baby Boo started eating all the food off her plate and asking for more.  And I felt a lot better that I wasn't pumping her stomach full of 'dairy' and that she was getting SO much more essential nutrients.

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-That being a first time mom isn't easy, but it's normal to make mistakes.

-I should always trust my motherly intuition.

- Not everybody is perfect, even for people who profess a healthy lifestyle..aka me! :-)

-Don't introduce unhealthy foods to your kids, because in the end, it's all they are going to want.

- Put your foot down when it comes to your children. I know how much grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren, and that's fine...But limit the spoilage. Make sure they get a variety of foods, not just the junky ones.

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First thing I did was make a list of all the foods Baby Boo liked to eat, and then incorporated those into her meals on a daily basis.

Here are the things Baby Boo didn't have a problem eating: (P.S. I am slightly embarrassed)

-Hummus

-Berries/fruit in general

-Yogurt

-Cheese

-Crackers

-Smoothies

-Avocado

-Rice

-Macaroni and Cheese

-Spaghetti

-Rice

-Pudding

-Muffins/Baked goods

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As you can see maybe a few items are healthy, and the rest are quick snack foods that she was introduced to and fell in love with. Next, I took the foods she loved, and incorporated them with new foods too. (I also said goodbye to those bad snacks, because to me there was no need for them.)

Baby Boo LOVES avocado! I truly believe that she fell in love because my husband and I eat avocados with practically every dinner during the week. She saw that we loved it, and wanted to try it too and fell in love!

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Veggie Guacamole

1-2 small avocado mashed with shredded cucumber, zucchini puree, or pea puree. Dash of cumin and tad or salt (optional).

I love mixing greens into her guacamole. Obviously I don't want to get in the habit of hiding everything, but adding veggies or other wholesome goodies to foods that children already love is a great way to give them extra nutrition that they need.

I paired this with barley (which is similar to rice, just a little fatter and chewier) that had cut of chickpeas mixed in.

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Veggie Avocado served with Barley mixed w/ Chickpeas

With this plate, I knew I had given her two options which she was familiar with and liked. Then I threw in some diced chickpeas just to get her familiar with them.

After I introduced chickpeas, I would roast them with a little seasoning and we would snack on them during the day and she loved this!

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As the weeks went on I started to slowly introduce more beans and legumes to Baby Boo.

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Her favorites so far are chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and lentils.

Another favorite food of Baby Boo's was yogurt. Depending on what I had on hand, which was either an organic milk yogurt that was flavored or a non dairy soy yogurt, she wouldn't have a problem eating either. I decided that I wanted to stop buying the flavored yogurt because I knew it only came with extra additives and sugars, so I stuck with simple and plain, and our favorite happens to be greek yogurt.

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Yogurt Parfait

Bottom Layer: Plain greek yogurt, non dairy yogurt, or plain yogurt

Blueberry Fruit Sauce: 2 TB. blueberries pureed with 1 TB. Maple Syrup

Next top with banana chunks and chia seeds,wheat germ, or ground flax seeds

I quickly learned that Baby Boo loved cold and easy to eat foods on weeks when she was teething, because her mouth was in so much pain that it often took away her appetite. (We will talk more about this latter.)

Another thing I tried was incorporating flavors she loved into certain foods.

I knew she loved spaghetti and avocado, so I tried combining the two.

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Creamy Avocado Spaghetti Squash

For the sauce recipe, I used THIS amazing one from Ohsheglows and added 1/3 c. of Northern Beans to it and a little more olive oil. To bake the spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wipe down outside of spaghetti squash and place the whole squash on a covered cookie sheet. Place in oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until outside of squash has browned and become soft and squishy. This is a great meal the WHOLE family can enjoy!

Obviously this was completely new to Baby Boo, so I was expecting a little bit of hesitation, but once she took her first bite she was sold.

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Whether she wanted to eat with her hands or a straw I didn't care...Just as long as she was happy and eating!

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A lot of times I became so frustrated that it would completely ruin my mood, and I know that Baby Boo could tell. Eating time had become a stressful event and a lot of times it turned Baby Boo off from eating to the point where she would cry the second I placed her in her high chair.

Since then I have learned to not worry, and that if Baby Boo doesn't eat something, then I should't freak out. Simply move on and try again the next time.

I've also really focused on talking with Baby Boo about the foods she eats on a regular basis, asking her questions about what eat one is and their color. Taking interest in the food has in turn made her interested in it as well.

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When I first introduced broccoli to Baby Boo, she was not interested in it at all. After a few minutes of talking about it 's name and color (all the while remaining happy), she tried it. After her first few bites I told her how happy I was, clapped with joy, and gave her a high five.

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This may sound ridiculous but...

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Eating that broccoli become a not so scary thing!

Here is another example:

Baby Boo likes chicken, and she is familiar with it enough that she isn't scared to try it. So during dinner one night I paired chicken with broccoli, which she was becoming comfortable with, and some seasoned and baked polenta cubes.

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I allowed her to eat at her own pace, checking to see if she would try the polenta. Then after a few minutes she picked a piece up and said, "what's this?"

:-)

So we named it, talked about the color, and told her it was made of corn and then she tried it. She only took a few bites, but it didn't bother me. Now she knew what it was, and each time I give her polenta, she will become more comfortable with it.

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A lot of things can put a damper on the child's appetite, and you have to take that into account on certain occasions. Here are just a few things that can change a child's eating habits:

-Teething

-Sickness

-Grumpy/Overtired

-Unknown? :-)

I threw the last one in there because sometimes for whatever reason your child may not want to eat a lot, or anything really. Unfortunately when they are so young they can't tell you what is wrong and what they want. Just do your best to help ease whatever the baby is going through.

When Baby Boo is teething she loves smoothies. They are cold and require no eating or using her gums. We don't have one smoothie that she drinks every time, we just kind of make it to include what I have on time. I always try to incorporate some sort of protein, grain, fruits, and veggies. Here is an example of a smoothie she loves:

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Toddler Breakfast Smoothie

I posted this recipe on my Facebook page. For the recipe click HERE. For other green drink ideas check out my recipe page HERE.

Another favorite for Boo is pudding. It's another sweet and cold food that easily requires no use of teeth or gums when she is in pain.

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Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Recipe HERE.

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Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Blend the following in a blender or food processor: 1 c. silken tofu, 1/3 c chopped banana(i used frozen), 4 tsp. cocoa powder, 2 TB. maple syrup, 2 tsp. coconut flour.

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One of the biggest things that has worked for me with Baby Boo is letting her cook with me.

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It's a great learning lesson for her because she sees me cutting, stiring, pouring, mixing, cooking, and baking. On top of that, we talk about each of the ingredients and a lot of times she will see me taste them, and in return she wants to try them.

I'm not sure if your child is a fan of PB/nut butter sand whiches, but Baby Boo wasn't. That was until one day we were making nut butter cookies and she wanted to try the peanut butter, so I let her.

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She made me repeatedly dip that little spatula into the jar asking for "more" each time. Now, if I tell her there is Peanut butter (or any other nut butter) in her sand which (her favorite is Almond/sunflower butter with bananas and chia seeds) she eats it right up, and sometimes licks the bread! Whatever works right?

:-)

Actually now she prefers pancakes topped with a nut butter rather than Maple Syrup!

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Chunky Monkey Pancakes

I usually always use pre-made pancake mixes because it's a lot easier and time saving. I always buy a 100% whole wheat, buckwheat, spelt or gluten free mix. Then, depending on the amount of servings you are making, add some non dairy milk, an egg (or chia/flax egg) a little bit of cinnamon and banana chunks. Cook on stove, then top with creamy nut butter and serve.

Another benefit to cooking with your children is that they are more likely to want to try the finished product since they helped bring it together. A favorite of Baby Boo's to make is muffins, which she is constantly cooking in her own mini kitchen.

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Chocolate Chip Blueberry Banana Muffins

I originally posted this recipe on my Facebook page. For the recipe, click HERE.

And lastly, don't be afraid to give them a bite of food that you make for yourself. A lot of times Baby Boo is so curious as to what the adults are eating and would rather try our food, which has resorted in her obsession with avocados and hummus.

Recently I let her try a cereal I was making for myself quite often, and now she is addicted just like her mama!

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Popped Amaranth Cereal

Sweetened with a drizzle of Maple Syrup and Fresh Blueberries

In a medium/high heated saucepan add 1-2 TB. amaranth. Put a lid on the pan and shake the pan around on top of the heat. Soon after, you will hear a popping noise like popcorn. After 15-30 seconds, the amaranth will have been all the way popped, it will look puffed and white, and then pour it into a bowl. Continue to pop more amaranth until you have reached the amount you wish. For better instructions on popped amaranth cereal check it out HERE from edible perspective!

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Screen shot 2012-02-15 at 7.42.59 AM

Everything on this page is nearly a suggestion, not something that works for every child. I've known mom's with kids who could place anything and everything in front of their children and they would have no problem eating it, and to those mom's I say, "You are so freakin' lucky!" :-)

Whether or not your child is a picky eater or not, the main thing I want you to take from this post are these few things:

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And more importantly....

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I hope this post what somewhat helpful to new mom's out there. I tried to touch base on lot's of information, but I couldn't hit everything. So these are the topics I feel have stood out the most to be and worked best for Baby Boo. Talk with your doctors first before anything, and take into account your own motherly instincts and your child's needs. You can't go wrong when your trying to do what is best for your child! :-)

Now..I'm semi glad this whole post is done because I am so ready to get back to regular posting and normal food....

:-)

Baby Food 101: 6-12 Months

I promise that I'm going to stop making promises...

I mean, I can barely keep the simple ones. Things like, calling someone back, returning an email, or even promising my husband I'm going to shave my legs WAY more often than I do.

Unfortunately I made a promise that everyday last week would be Kids Week. Meaning...7 days...one week...

I guess it's not surprising that last week I posted 2 times out of seven, and that Kids Week is turning into Kids two Weeks...

But seriously, if I come back next week and say, screw it, let's do this all month...Please email me and tell me I'm cooky loco...

I PROMISE i'll email you back!

Ok, let's get back to business shall we!

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I've been trying to decide the best way to split up these posts because there is SO much information! I could do a whole post on foods for 9-12 month olds and so on for each age....But we've got things to see and places to go...

And I made a promise that this wouldn't take forever.

So today we are going to focus on the little tykes...And tomorrow (or the next day...don't hate) we will get into toddler food. Sound good?! Ok!!

**Before I begin, please know this...I am not a doctor. The advice I give on the blog is given and learned from my own personal experiences and knowledge. ALWAYS consult a doctor first when it comes to the appropriate time, age, and what it is that your baby needs to eat.**

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I remember when it came time to get Baby Boo ready for solid foods, I couldn't help but feel nervous. I know, sounds crazy, but I was just so happy nursing her that I didn't want to really add any thing else that might make things more difficult. It was a little after Baby Boo had turned 4 months that a lot of people told me I should start feeding her rice cereal. I was indifferent because my doctor, as well as many books I had read, had said to wait till 6 months.

But of coarse I gave into peer pressure and tried introducing rice cereal to her early on, and it was hell. Not only did I soon learn she wasn't ready, but it stressed me out because I was constantly worried and trying to force her to eat. Every meal time was a struggle, and she would cry every time we would sit her in her high chair. Soon after, she stopped breastfeeding (also because people told me I should introduce a bottle) and she was refusing any type of solids.

Time after time I was listening to other people's advice and comments, and not my own (and my doctor's) instincts and recommendations...In the end, it didn't work out the way I had hoped.

How has this had an impact on Baby Boo's eating habits now?

Call me crazy, but I truly believe that I kind of messed things up in the beginning. If there has one thing I have learned about being Baby Boo's mom, it's that when she is ready to do something she will do it...And when she isn't, she won't. In my heart, I truly felt that it was too early to start feeding Baby Boo solids, and that she wasn't ready. Sometimes I think if I would have waited a little longer and took a slower approach that it would have been easier, and not as stressful, for her to eat.

So, when is the best time to start?

Every child is different. Some children may do well trying solids earlier than other babies, but do what you feel is best. Listen to your doctors advice first and foremost. Next, listen to your motherly instinct. If you feel your baby isn't ready, don't force it. Take it slow and don't stress it. Even if you only introduce foods every so often, eventually in time it will increase.

Typically though, most babies are introduced solids around 6 months.

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Making homemade baby food can seem hard to do at first, but with the right tools and knowledge it's really easy!

First off you need a good food processor. It doesn't have to be expensive, because there are great cheap blenders out there. When Baby Boo was first born I used a Magic Bullet all the time. It was only $40, which is a great price!

For homemade cereals:

1. Whether it be brown rice, spelt, barley, etc., simply ground it into a flour using your blender.

2. Store in fridge in air tight container. When ready to use, bring a pot of water to a boil (roughly 1/4-1/2 c. cereal to 1 c. water) then add cereal and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Mix in formula, breast milk, etc..then serve when cooled.

For homemade veggie puree:

2. Steam veggies in a vegetable steamer. (Always steam veggies separately) Once veggie are soft, transfer to a blender or fod processor and puree until smooth. Once cooled serve to baby.

3. You can store extra puree's in the fridge or freezer in an air tight container.

Store bought baby food:

I love making baby food, but you don't always have time when your on the go and busy. That's why it's great to puree lots of food and store in the fridge or freezer for those busy days. When in doubt, don't fret because you can use store bought food too.

1. Buy organic and nothing with additives.

2. Use whole grain organic cereals with simple ingredients.

Babies are brand new to food, and the last thing you want to do is start giving them preservatives and un-wholesome ingredients. So always try homemade baby food, but when needed buy natural and organic brands. (This includes formula!) :-)

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The first time a baby taste solid foods, it's definitely an experience. You have to remember that every food you put in front of them is something that have never taste, seen, or experienced. Take it slow with each new food, introducing each one at a time. Introducing foods slowly and one at a time also helps you learn if the baby is sensitive or allergic to certain types of food.

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Screen shot 2012-02-05 at 11.04.38 PM

(6 Months)

- Rice Cereals

-Pureed Avocado

-Pureed Apple

-Pureed Pear

-Pureed Banana

-Pureed Sweet Potato

-Pureed Butternut Squash

-Pureed Zucchini

-Pureed Green Peas

( 7-9 Months)

Your baby still won't be eating a lot of solid foods, but these next months will be a time when you can introduce different flavors an food combinations. Always try the foods first on their own to make sure baby isn't allergic, and then go ahead and combine them with other foods.  During this stage some babies might be getting teeth as well, so some chunkier foods mixed with pureed foods is great to introduce during this stage. Here are a few examples:

-Make your own homemade veggie stock, which can be added to vegetables being pureed. Great way to add extra vitamins and minerals.

-Sweet potato and banana

-Fruit puree combo such as peach and plum, or blueberries and prunes.

-Pureed potatoes mixed with beets, zucchini, etc...

-Cereal with plum puree

-Avocado with cucumber puree

-Lentils and veggie broth (This would be along the lines of a chunky food.)

-Pumpkin and rice

-Potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, and carrot puree mixed with a little veggie stock.

-Quinoa with veggie or fruit purees mixed in

-Rice pudding, made with a coconut milk

-Meats pureed w/ veggies and broth

-Egg yolks

Examples:

Pumpkin Carrot Quinoa

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Ok, on to the next stage!

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This is the stage where you don't have to puree every single food item, and you can switch to more bite size and chunky foods. Instead of pureed bananas, give your child small cut up bananas.

At the beginning of each week I like to cut, wash, and cook a bunch of foods to have on hand through out the week. Having cooked beans in the fridge for easy snacking for your little ones,  pre-cut fruits, and pre cut veggies that can be steamed and easily eaten makes your day so much easier. Having these items on hand can also make meal time easier for the adults. When you have cooked beans, rice, and fresh veggies etc. prepared in the fridge it's easier to make a meal.

Here are some examples of easy finger foods and bites for this age:

-chopped fruits such as bananas, raspberries, blueberries etc..

-Cooked rice mixed with chopped avocado, steamed carrots

-Tofu cut into small cubes served plain or tossed in ground flax seeds or wheat germ

-Cubed soft cheeses or yogurt (plain, nondairy, sweetened with natural fruit)

-Lean meats, organic, finely diced 

-Soft crackers that are easily dissolved when sucked on. I like to make my own from THIS website.

-Bite sized homemade muffins (with pureed veggies inside, no processed sugars or refined flours)

-Cut up soft pancakes (can add lots of veggie purees to pancakes too!)

-Green smoothies

-Oatmeal

The important thing is not to stress when making meals for your baby, and more importantly don't make separate meals. Take apart the main meal that the family is eating and feed it to your baby. So if your meal is a stir fry, set aside some rice/quinoa steamed veggies and a protein without all the sauces for your baby to have. Make it simple! :-)

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There are so many food options when it comes to feeding the babies, and I could have writen a really super long post...But then it would take me longer than a few days to write. :-) These tips are just the basics to get you thinking. Consult your doctor first before giving your baby any types of food, and do your research. I have read tons of baby food books which have truly helped me out early on, and have given me the ideas I have needed!

If you think I missed anything, or there is something you think should go on this list and that has helped you please leave a comment below and share! :-)

My next post will be toddler food!! I have tons of recipes for that, pictures of food ideas, and well...lot's of messy face pictures! Thanks for your patience during these next few days!

Stocking a Healthy Pantry for your Kids!

Sometimes the grocery store can be a scary place, especially for my husband.

It's not because he has a hard time finding fairly easy food items which are always located in the back of the store such as MiLk..But more so because he has a minor panic attack every time I come home with groceries and hand him the bill...

He usually cries.

And no, it's not because I finally broke down and bought him that stupid box of strawberry poop tarts he's been asking me for, but the real reason being I spent $$$$$ to get back at him more making me buy them.

Poop Tarts=Mucho Dinero Hombre.

 But besides wondering if you should really break down and buy a bag of juicy grapes for 2.99 a pound, stocking up your pantry and fridge can be a nightmare, especially when you are trying to stock up on healthy AND tasty ingredients...

That everyone will eat...

And that everyone will like.

I'm sure many of you have come home with a bag of vegetables, only for it to go to waste in a matter of a few days because no one touched them, and the animal crackers taste so much better than carrot sticks, and gosh darn by golly if there was a tub of ranch dressing maybe eating those carrot sticks would go down a lot easier .

Well my friends, today your in luck. I've made a few lists of  foods to stock your fridge and pantry that every family should have on hand for healthy, natural, and hearty meals for the children. You don't have to have everything, this is just a basic guide line of different varieties of food to have.

My next post we will be talking about what ages will be eating what foods, as well as some recipes so don't worry if you don't know what some of these foods are and how to prepare them. Through out the week be sure to try and talk about everything I can!

Okay, let's begin shall we!

*Side note: Whether you are a meat and dairy eater, vegetarian, vegan, or have certain allergies, you can modify the list according to your families lifestyle and diet.*

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There are so many vegetables out there with a wide variety of benefits for kids and thier growing bodies. A lot of kids, and even adults, have strong dislikes for these bad boys, so they can be somewhat of a struggle to get your kiddos to eat. I'll go further into picky eating on another day and ways to get kids to eat their veggies, but for now focus on picking out, or even growing veggies as a family. It's best to shop at farmers markets where produce can be somewhat cheaper, your supporting local farmers, it's not sprayed with pesticides, and it's a fun family outing! Always buy what is in season, and if possible organic or not sprayed with chemicals.

-Greens: This can be spinach, kale, swiss chard, lettuce greens, etc...

-Potatoes: Sweet, red, white etc. Potatoes last forever, and are great for pureeing.

- Squash(yellow, acorn,butternut, spaghetti) and Zucchini : Easily shredded and pureed, great for adding into baked goods

-Carrots and parsnips: Great dippers for yummy sauces

-Tomatoes and Cucumbers: for mini sandwhiches, dippers, etc.

-Peas, corn

-Bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower

-Beets

-Vegetable stock

*There are definitely a lot of vegetables out there, and you don't have to have every single one in your fridge. Although, it's always best to have a wide variety to have on hand when you need them. Some of these make great purees that can be frozen and used at a different time in the future.

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From natural sweeteners, to perfect snacks and sweet cravings, and perfect puree for little ones, fruits are all around amazing. A long with veggies, they are best to be purchased at a famers market, or at least buy them organic when they are in season. 

-Apples

-Pears, nectarines

-Berries

-Avocados

-Bananas

-Apricots, plums, prunes

-Peaches

-Dates

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With the right kind, grains can be a hearty wholesome carb that keep you full and give you energy, protein, and good amount of fiber. Make sure you switch up your grains, and just don't stick with brown rice. There are a lot of tasty grains out there that want to be loved too! :-) (Most of these grains and be ground into fine cereals for your little baby too!)

-Brown Rice

-Quinoa

-Amaranth

-Millet

-Barley

-Spelt

-Whole wheat pastas

-Whole wheat, grain breads. (Ezekial is my favorite)

-Flours: Whole wheat pastry, spelt, almond, coconut flour, garbanzo flour, etc..*You don't have to stock up on every type of flour. Buy one to try, and when that one is done, try another flour. Start with whole wheat pastry since it's pretty similar to AP flour when cooking, then later on experiment with other grains.*

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Holy Canoli! I love beans!! :-) Amazing source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, etc.!! Great for adding into foods, pureeing for little ones, and quick snacks for toddlers when seasoned deliciously! Have a variety in your pantry to throw into any meal! Also, if you buy dried beans, they are WAY cheaper than buying canned!

-Lentils

-Black

-Pinto

-Navy

-Garbanzo

- Split peas

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If you can't have dairy, there are some great alternatives to use. Even though some of us in out household aren't allergic to dairy, we still mainly eat/drink non dairy foods. Everything in balance. Also, always buy animal dairy products organic, due to less added preservatives. 

-Greek Yogurt

-Full Fat cottage cheese

-Full fat milk (for young babies)

-Tofu-hard and silken  (Not dairy, but a great substitute)

-Non dairy milks: soy, almond, coconut, hemp, rice, etc. *We buy a variety of non dairy milks and switch it up each week, that we get a nice balance of different essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins that each milk offers.

-Non dairy yogurts or plain yogurts

-Full fat cheese or non dairy cheese

-Eggs

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If you don't eat meat than you can skip this section. If you do, then make sure to buy meat organic, local, and eat it sparingly. 

-Lean meats, fresh from the deli

-Salmon

-Avoid bacon, sausages, packaged deli meats, etc..Get lunch meats from the deli where it's freshly cut.

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-Chia Seeds

-Cocoa powder

-Nuts and nut butters

-Flax Seeds

-Mild seasonings like cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin etc...

-Flax oils

-Wheat Germ

-Coconut oil

-Hummus

-Fresh herbs

-Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave

-Onion, lemons, limes, and garlic to taste

-Salt and pepper for taste

Wait! What about packaged/boxed/frozen foods?

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I'm a mom...and I'm not crazy. (Despite popular belief..)

If I could make every single meal every day by hand, well then by golly miss Molly I'm freaking amazing! But then, sometimes dishes wouldn't get done, I wouldn't get to snuggle with my hubby for a movie, and well, I wouldn't always be able to shower. I understand life is crazy, and with kids it get's crazier. Some days you don't have time to make something homemade, and that is understandable. If needed, buy organic, natural products. Make sure you know what each of the ingredients are listed on the box. And when in doubt, add pureed veggies to things like mac n' cheese!

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I hope this post helped somewhat! If I forgot anything, please feel free to add it into the comment section below! Stay tuned for the next post where we will finally get into some recipes!! :-)

All about Green Drinks 101

**Update:  I have had a lot of questions regarding the type of blender I use to make green smoothies. I've always used a Vitamix. Click HERE to see the Vitamix. If that one is too pricey, I've also successfully used my Magic Bullet Blender for years, link HERE ."** (affiliate links)

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The thought of eating vegetables can be gag-worthy to some...

But the idea of DRINKING your vegetables can sound just down right repulsive.

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If you would have asked me 5 years ago to drink a green smoothie I would have laughed in your face than had nightmares for 6 months after that. They are down right scary.

Oddly enough, not only do I now eat my veggies, but I drink tons of them too. Trust me. I gots me lots a friends....(And good Engrish too...)

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And if somebody asked me what is ONE thing they could do differently to adapt a healthier eating lifestyle, I would beg them to drink a green smoothie everyday. It's the one thing that I believe can have a major impact on your diet and change the way you feel.

But what exactly are the benefits of drinking green?

Improved digestive system

Better energy

Opportunity to give your body nutrients it most likely wouldn't receive on a regular basis

Being able to eat raw veggies(w/o a cup of ranch dressing on the side.)

-Weight loss

-Fight off sickness

-Sleep improvement

-Rid your body of toxins

-Essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals

-Helps your kids (and hubby's!) get their veggies

-Fast to make AND healthy!

The list goes on and on....

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But sometimes the benefits are not enough to convince somebody to drink green. Sure it's good for you, but is it really worth stomaching something that can taste so freak nastay?

That's where your wrong my friends...Because I am here to tell you I have never tried a green drink I didn't like.(And trust me...I've had my fair share of green drink varieties.) With the right ingredients, knowledge, and helpful perks, green drinks can taste more like a regular smoothie(even a dessert one) without even noticing the hint of any vegetables!

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First, let's start with the veggies:

Spinach is an obvious choice when it comes to drinking greens. It's a very mild tasting green, so a lot of people love to use it. On top of that, it's a familiar ingredient. People are scared of it, but not too scared since they know a little bit about it. I think spinach is a GREAT green to add in smoothies, but I think sometimes we get stuck in a rut of ONLY using spinach. There are SO many other veggies out there that have different types of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need.

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Here are my favorite veggies to use as of right now:

Spinach

Kale (no stems, just leaves. Stems are stanky!)

Rainbow and Green Chard

Collard Greens

Dandelion Greens (Just a little, it can tend to me strong)

Mustard Greens (just a little, it kind of has a kick.)

Cucumbers

Carrots

Beets

Avocados

Pumpkin Puree

*Remember to wash your greens to get rid of dirt and yucky stuff! (Yes, I said yucky. So professional.)

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And to store greens properly, I just wash them, dry, and then put them in labeled zip lock bags with a paper towel.

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Perfect for portioning sizes for smoothies and what not!

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Next Step: Add your fruit!

Veggies aren't the only thing that you can add to your green drink. I especially love adding fruit!

Fruit is a great way to add a natural sweetness to your drink, giving it a 'smoothie' like taste, and hiding the taste of some of those veggies. Not too mention fruit is another great way to get in some extra goodness like antioxidants and fiber!

Here is some of my top fruits to add in smoothies. And fruit will do, it just depends on your liking. For more tropical flavors choose things like mangos, oranges, pineapples, etc...

Bananas (GREAT sweetener! Also does well hiding those veggies!)

Cherries

Strawberries

Blueberries

Blackberries

Raspberries

Mangos

Pears

Pineapples

Peaches

Orange Juice (Fresh squeezed)

Pomegranates

Grapes

Apples

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Next, give that smoothie some VA VA- VOOM!

Here is where you can go above and beyond a strawberry banana smoothie, and move onto a sweet almond cherry coconut bliss smoothie. The world is your...green drink? That made no sense, but are you catching my drift? There are many little things we can add to our green drinks to give them that extra flair that will make them more desirable to drink. No one ever said no to a chocolate PB drink! And if they did, well then...I'm speechless. :-)

Here are some things to add to those green drinks to give them some extra OOMPH!

Nut Butters (Almond Butter, Peanut Butter, Walnut Butter, Sunflower Butter...etc. Great source of protein and healthy fats!)

Nuts (Don't have the butta', then just throw in a few nuts!)

Cocoa Powder (Chocolate...Heck yes!)

Carob Powder

Oatmeal (Bring on the hearty breakfast grains!)

Almond Extract

Vanilla Extract

Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)

Mint Leaves

Basil Leaves

Coconut Milk

Orange Juice (If you combine coconut milk and Oj, you get a creamsicle taste!)

Cocoa nibs

Dark chocolate chips

PB pong balls or Fudge Balls or S'more Balls

Apple Butter

Pumpkin Butter

Lemon, Lime

Ginger

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Don't forget those added bonus:

Every green drink needs those few added bonuses that will boost their nutrient value even more!

Here are my favorite little added bonuses:

Chia Seeds

Ground Flax seeds

Protein Powder (I love to use a plant based protein powder. My favorite brand is Sun Warrior!)

Choice of Liquid (whether it be non dairy milk, reg. milk, water, etc.)

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Lastly if needed, add a sweetener.

I've gotten to the point where I don't usually need a sweetener, especially if I have loaded it with fruit. But the more stronger tasting veggies like beets, I tend to add a little bit to sweeten the drink to my liking.

Here are my favorite go-to natural sweeteners:

100% Pure Maple Syrup

Agave Nectar

Raw Honey

Dates

Stevia

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So where to begin?

Start simple. Add ingredients you are familiar with, and slowly each time add in different things to get used to. You will adjust smoothies to your taste buds preferences, and in time find what is right for you!

Here are a few recipes to get you started!

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 Beginners Green Drink

1 C. non diary milk

2 C. spinach

1 frozen banana

1 TB. Chia Seeds

1 tsp. Sweetener of choice

1tsp. vanilla

Ice

Optional: Peanut Butter

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6287692589_9139a917b3_z

 Tropical Cream Green Drink

1/2 C. fresh OJ

1/2 C.-1 C. coconut milk

1 C. spinach

1 C. kale

1 frozen banana

1/2 c. frozen pineapple, mango, or peaches

1 tsp. vanilla

2 TB. coconut flakes

ice

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6287694411_e994e7cae2_z

Red Velvet Smoothie

1 C. non dairy milk

1 medium beet peeled, steamed, and chopped

1/3 c. frozen raspberries, cherries, or strawberries

1 frozen banana

4 TB. cocoa powder

4 pitted dates

1 TB. chia seeds

2 tsp. sweetener of choice

1 tsp. vanilla

ice

PICTURE

Green Smoothies are great for breakfast! Baby Boo has one pretty much every morning, it's her favorite thing to have!

Here is a typical smoothie for Boo. It's loaded with healthy fats, protein, greens, and tons of vitamins and minerals!!

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6347941172_3362717833_z

Princess Bliss Avocado Green Smoothie

1 C. milk of choice (I used coconut-from a carton, not a can.)

1 frozen banana

1/2 frozen avocado

1/2 c. kale

1/4 c. oats

1/4 c. vanilla yogurt (soy or reg.)

1 TB. Chia seeds

1 TB. almond butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 TB. maple syrup (Boo really doesn't need a sweetener because she can't tell the difference, but for older kids you could add a little more than 1 TB.)

ice

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Then this morning for breakfast the three of us split this smoothie:

My husband said it was the BEST smoothie he has ever had...And trust me, those words don't always come out of his mouth...

SHOCKER! :-)

Chocolatey Chocolate Green Smoothie

1 c. milk of choice

handful spinach

handful kale

handful chard

1/4 c. dandelion greens (just the leaves)

1 frozen banana

handful frozen cherries

4 spoonfuls cocoa powder

2 TB. almond butter

1 TB. chia seeds

2 TB. agave nectar

2 c. ice

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A lot of times I make more than enough smoothie, so I just freeze the extra in an ice cube tray and use them for another day! That way, when I am in a hurry I just throw some in a blender with some milk and voila!

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Whew! That was a LONG post! Don't be afraid to try a green drink! If anything, you won't regret the way it will make you feel on a regular basis. :-)

For additional recipes, just go to my recipes tab underneath the header and click on green drinks!

Have a great day!! :-)