Clean Eating, Mom Life

Healthy Eating + Kids

I’m often asked if our boys eat like we do. Short answer: yes and no. When we are home, we eat the same meals with small modifications, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Rewind to 2012, I was pregnant with our youngest son Jett, and Rush, our oldest, was in Kindergarten. What seemed like out of nowhere, Rush started constantly itching all over. He couldn’t run down the soccer field without stopping to scratch his arms and legs and his teacher reached out to let me know the itching was impacting him in school.

I took him to our pediatrician after trying everything I could think of – including changing laundry detergents and bath soaps – and her recommendation was to put him on steroids.

In my gut, I knew putting my 35 pound, 5 year old son on steroids was not the right call.

Mike and I had completed our first Whole 30 about a year before and decided we should try one with Rush. Let me tell you, this was no walk in the park. Five-year-old Rush was a mac and cheese – pizza – hot dog – eating kind of kid who wouldn’t dare come near a vegetable, so a nutritional reset rocked his little world!

We eased into it and once we got half way into the reset, the itching had not only lessened, it was completely gone. We knew something he was eating had caused the skin irritation.

During reintroduction we were able to pinpoint certain gluten-containing grains as the culprit. Had we followed the doctor’s recommendation to put him on steroids to mask the symptoms, and not addressed the root cause, he would still be struggling! Now, thanks to this nutritional reset, Rush clearly understands how the foods he eats impact how he feels.

Fast-forward to today: Do my kids eat the way we eat? Yes and no. They eat what I make with small modifications. For example, neither have a dairy intolerance, so they both drink grass-fed whole milk and eat cheese. (See the bottom of this post for sample meals.)

I’m not a food Nazi kind of parent, but my kids both know that the foods they eat will either make them more healthy or less healthy. Rush can read labels to determine added sugar content and knows the foods that will make him stronger, healthier and faster and the ones that will not. (Jett is still learning to read but knows the difference between healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods.) They eat what I make at home and (for the most part) are able to make good choices about food when they are out. Now, they are typical kids – so when offered a choice, they will absolutely go for the ice cream over an apple 😉

Rush knows if he goes to a birthday party and chooses to eat a commercially prepared cupcake, his skin will likely be impacted and he will deal with the consequences later. He is able to decide for himself when foods are worth it and when they aren’t. The fact that he is 11 years old and armed with that knowledge is powerful!

My best advice, when addressing your children’s nutrition, is to make changes, one at a time. A complete overhaul will likely end in a struggle of wills and potentially create an unhealthy relationship with food.

I highly recommend that as a parent, you model good nutrition for your children starting with breakfast. If you are having a cup of coffee and skipping food altogether in the mornings, I can promise they notice.

Protein and healthy fats for breakfast will set you and your child up for a successful day. Most mornings, my boys eat chicken nuggets, apples and a spoonful of peanut butter. Thinking out of the box and not limiting yourself or your kids to typical breakfast foods is a great place to start!

I have many friends who tell me they regularly prepare two different meals for dinner – one for their kids and one for themselves. Now, I know there are special situations with some children, however I encourage you to cook one meal for your family with small modifications. This not only saves time and money, but also teaches children to eat a variety of foods.

Here are a few dinners that are in my regular rotation with examples of how I slightly modify for my boys:

1. Roasted Salmon (The best recipe from the Pioneer Woman!) with Cauliflower Rice (Jasmine or white rice for the boys) + Roasted Broccoli topped with Tessemae’s Creamy Ranch.

2. Burgers on Sweet Potato Toast (on an Udi’s brand bun with cheddar cheese for the boys) + Sweet Potato Fries (made in the air fryer.

3. Sweet Potato Chili topped with avocado + scallions (topped with shredded cheese for the boys)

4. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs (Meatballs with whole wheat pasta for the boys)

5. Shrimp Fried Cauliflower Rice (Shrimp, broccoli + white rice w/coconut aminos for boys)

6. Taco Bowls with taco seasoned ground beef (or any meat!) salsa, lettuce, guacamole and cauliflower rice (Siete brand tortillas with taco seasoned ground beef + shredded cheese for the boys)

Photo from Wholesomelicious

7. Sweet Potato Stuffed Sloppy Joes (Sloppy Joes on Udi’s gluten-free bread for the boys)

What foods or healthy eating strategies have you found to work with your children?

Mom Life

A New Way to Count Down the Days of Christmas

My boys will be 11 and 5 this Christmas, and every year I revel in watching their awe and wonder at the holiday season.  I know these “magical” years are numbered, so I’m trying my best to slow down and take it all in.  I’m excited to share a new Christmas tradition with you that I think will do just that: A Book-a-Day Advent Calendar.  

I can’t take credit for this amazing idea –  I remember seeing it on Pinterest when Rush, my oldest son, was a baby and then was reminded of it’s brilliance again when my friend, Melissa, did it with her children last year.  

The idea is to open one wrapped book every night from December 1st through Christmas Eve and read it together in front of the tree as a meaningful way to count down the days until Christmas.  

Twenty-four Christmas books seemed like a lot, but I searched my house for every Christmas/Holiday/Winter-y book I could find; and it turns out, we already had a fairly good collection!  I think I ended up buying about seven new ones.  My youngest son is learning to read right now so I chose a few that he will be able to read to us.  

I wrapped each book individually and then gave it a number to represent the day it will be opened.  On December 1st all of the books will appear under our tree so the magic can begin. I’ll let the boys take turns opening the book each night.  We’ll start with The Christmas Wish and end with The Night Before Christmas.  

To make your own book-a-day advent calendar, you’ll need 24 Christmas, holiday, or winter-y books. If you are building your book collection you could even start by doing the 12 days leading up to Christmas. There is no need to buy all new books. You can find great books at thrift stores or borrow them from your local library.  Once you have collected your books, you will need to wrap them up and number them 1-24. 

Here are the books included in our Book-a-Day Advent Calendar:

The Little Christmas Elf by Nikki Shannon Smith

The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig

Charlie and the Christmas Kitty by Ree Drummond

The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Britta Teckentrup

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

Olive, the other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

A Very Merry Christmas Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A Birthday Party for Jesus by Susan Jones

The Night Before Christmas by Charles Santore

Song of the Stars by Sally-Lloyd Jones

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry

Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell

The Spirit of Christmas by Nancy Tillman

Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas by Alice Schertle

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan Ahlberg

The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

Jesus Calling: The Story of Christmas by Sarah Young

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Tractor Mac Saves Christmas by Billy Steers

Am I missing any must-read Christmas stories?  Please share your favorites as I hope to mix in a few new ones each year.  

Here’s to a slow and magical Christmas season ❤️.