Green Monster Fudgesicles 

My kids love to suck on spinach. 😜 ha ha ha…. Come on people, I put OTHER ingredients in too!! BUT, these homemade chocolate flavored popsicles are so yummy you would never know that there is spinach in them!


Ingredients

1 cup frozen spinach

1 banana

2 Tablespoons raw cacao (I love @navitasorganics )

1.5 Tablespoons raw honey 

1 cup chocolate coconut milk (or hemp, almond, etc)

Blend in high speed blender like a Vitamix for 30-60 seconds, pour into popsicle molds and freeze overnight.

Nutrition WOW facts:

  • NO added refined sugar
  • NO artificial dyes or colors
  • Gluten-free, dairy-free (if using coconut milk), and nut-free (if using coconut milk)
  • High in magnesium, fiber and antioxidants
  • Vegetarian
  • Totally delicious and amazingly satisfying 
  • Good for ages 12 months to 106

TIPS

  • You can use Greek yogurt and water instead of a dairy free milk to increase protein content.
  • If youre trying to wean your child off of some of the high sugar popsicles, try doubling the honey at first and then reducing the quantity each time as your child adjusts their tastes to less sugary treats. 
  • For popsicle molds, I love the smaller size of these for young kids. If you are looking for something disposable for on-the-go treats or to share with friends check out these.

Kids Will Drink Their Greens In This!

This smoothie is delish. If your child likes chocolate and banana…they will love this. Oh yeah, and it has kale and spinach in it too. Win-win!  

  
This is how I made it.

Ingredients (makes about 2 small child portions):

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup chocolate coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 large or 2 small kale leaves (not baby kale – the big kind!)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of raw honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of raw cacao (extra chocolate is always better!)

Blend in a high powered blender (we used a Vitamix) and enjoy immediately! Beware, your kids may ask for more.

As listed above this smoothie is dairy-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, nut-free, and vegetarian. 

This smoothie is rich in antioxidants, fiber, calcium and magnesium and even has some healthy fats from the coconut milk. If you are trying to get more healthy fats/calories in your child you could even throw in a teaspoon of coconut oil! If you want to add some protein you could always add some hemp seeds, or a nut butter if you don’t have any nut allergies. Since we had this smoothie as a side to gourmet grilled ham and cheese on sprouted whole grain bread we didn’t need any extra protein. Wow, that was a good lunch. My 3 year old ate and drank it all up! 

  

Enjoy! And don’t freak out when your kids ask why it’s a little green…tell them the truth – or not, it could always be a “monster” smoothie or green like “The Hulk”? 

If your child (or yourself?) is a little averse to drinking greens, start out with far less of the spinach and kale and slowly increase amounts as time goes on.  A little bit of veggies is better than nothing, and most parents tell me their kids eat close to nothing. Baby steps. Don’t try to conquer the veggie world with one smoothie!

A Healthy Alternative to Juice


Winter is coming. And in my opinion, and my kids agree, there is something so soothing and warming about having a cup of tea. Many adults already know this, but do you pour a cup for your kids? There are many options for caffeine-free herbal teas that kids will delight in (just see some examples above) and they are SUGAR-FREE! Kids already consume far above the recommended daily allowance of sugar, here is another way to reduce their intake of sugar. You can serve it without adding anything extra but if your child is used to sweeter tasting beverages you may want to add a teaspoon of raw honey to sweeten the tea a bit. You can wean them off the honey by slowly adding less and less as they adjust their taste buds, but raw honey is also beneficial. Another option would be to sweeten the tea with stevia if needed. In our house, we found the trick to the perfect cup of tea was to steep the tea bag in hot water and then after a few minutes add a few ice cubes so the kids don’t have to wait so long for the tea to cool down. 

Another benefit to drinking tea is that you imbibe extra minerals and antioxidants from the tea. Not in the mood for a hot cuppa? You can steep these herbal teas extra strong and chill them in the fridge to serve over ice on a warm day. For a bit of extra zip add some fresh squeezed lemon. And for the women and men wanting to boost the effects of fat burning hormones…drink some green tea with lemon (studies show you need to drink about 2.5 cups a day or more). 

Kale Chips You Will Want to Eat!

 
Ah…beautiful kale. I know you are so healthy for my kids but aside from hiding you in smoothies, I can’t figure out how to get my kids to eat you!

(Spend 2 minutes on Pinterest for ideas). Then 20 minutes later…

O.M.G.  Today I made kale chips that were a massive success. Up until now I’ve been too lazy to try and make kale chips and now I’m shaking my head, why did I wait so long? Why was I so afraid? They are so easy! How is it that I haven’t done this yet?!? (I think again to myself.)

  

Here’s how easy it is…

Preheat oven to 350F. While waiting for oven to heat up, wash and dry kale (I used a salad spinner). Break up kale into “chip size” pieces or slightly bigger (I think the bigger the better for the way they bake) and spread over parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Don’t overcrowd. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and perhaps a few seasonings like garlic salt or paprika or chili powder or cumin? Bake for 10-15 min and enjoy. Warning: this may become an addictive habit. 

I think I may have eaten half of a bunch of kale without even realizing it. This may actually prove to be quite an expensive, albeit healthy, habit! 

Note: I’m still trying to figure out how I would store these if we didn’t eat a whole batch at once, if you put them in a ziplock they seem to get soggy. Any ideas?

Sprouted and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin Seeds  – also known as pepitas – are one of those things that I always forget about, suddenly remember how healthy they are and “why don’t I have any on hand?”, prepare them, and then can’t believe I forgot how amazing they taste! 

Pumpkins seeds are touted for containing high amounts of zinc and magnesium as well as vitamin E and protein. What does this mean for you and your kids? Zinc is great for many things, but heading into the school year I’m singing its praises as an immune booster. Magnesium is well known for its calming effects…your child’s teacher will praise you for this, and protein keeps bellies full longer so it makes a great snack.

How do you make them so scrumptious that your kids will not be able to say no to this nutritious snack? The key to unlocking the taste and health benefits is in the soaking so don’t skip this step…

Step 1: Soak seeds overnight (but no more than 24 hours) in room temperature water with a teaspoon of salt.

Step 2: Rins and pat dry. Combine with choice of oil and seasoning in a bowl. (See below for some suggestions). Coat seeds in mixture.

Step 3: Spread seeds one layer deep on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Step 4: Bake at 250-275 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes or until seeds start to turn a golden brown. Stir seeds every 10-15 minutes.*

Enjoy as a snack, over salads or cereal, or throw them in a lunchbox!


A Few Seasoning Combination Ideas (based on 1 cup of seeds used):

1) Cinnamon and Brown Sugar: 1 Tbsp butter (melted) + 1 tsp brown sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon + dash of sea salt

2) Sea Salt and Pepper: 1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted) + 1 tsp sea salt + 1/2 tsp pepper

3) Chili & Lime: zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 a lime + up to 1 Tbsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it) + 1/4 tsp sea salt

* This step is even better when done at a lower heat to preserve the nutrients – at 165/170 degrees – but many ovens don’t go this low anymore. Some studies say roasting above 200 degrees and more than 20min will damage some of the delicate oils in pumpkin seeds but on the other hand you won’t get the amazing nutty flavor. I find it hard to get the seeds to dry up and taste good in my (less than ideal) oven at temps lower than 200 degrees and less than 20 minutes.  

Mango Coconut “Ice Cream”

I recently tasted a super scrumptious mango-coconut pudding or dip at a gathering and was turned on by the yum-factor and the simplicity of it. My friend told me it was just frozen mango and coconut milk blended together. She served it at room temperature and it was delicious. But today I wanted to give my boys (age 1.5 and 5) a special treat and decided to whip this mixture up but as more of an ice cream. I mixed about half of a 1lb bag of frozen mango pieces with about one half of a can of full fat coconut milk in my Vitamix and voila- a healthy yummy treat. You might have to add a tiny splash of water if you have the really thick kind of coconut milk.

Of course, I didn’t tell them it was healthy, I just told them they were getting ice cream. The 1year old ate it up like it was the best thing in the whole world. The 5 year old has had real ice cream, so while he ate it, there was no fooling him as to what “real” ice cream was. It wasn’t quite as hard as ice cream but it didn’t much matter. To make it more of a “treat” next time I might try adding some honey and vanilla or maple syrup.

I also put some of the leftovers back in the freezer to enjoy later. Since I’m not eating dairy right now, this will be perfect for my after dinner treat!

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Lego Snack Time

For my son’s 5th birthday celebration at school he wanted to bring something “cool” for his friends and I wanted to get away from the usual cupcakes or cake that is brought in for birthdays. Let’s be clear- I LOVE cake, and I let my son have cake for special occasions- I am not anti-cake by any means. But with 30 kids in the classroom and 3 teachers over the course of a 9 month school year that’s roughly cake or cupcakes on average EVERY WEEK! Yikes. So here was our alternative idea (stolen from none other than Pinterest 😜)

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The red ninja from Ninjago made out Babybel cheese. Simply remove one side of the wax strip on the cheese and draw two eyes (I used black cake decorating gel)

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PB&J Lego brick sandwiches. Cut of the crust then cut in half. I made the circles using an open baby bottle to press into a slice of bread. Then dab some peanut butter on one side of the circle to stick it to the bread.

The kids (and teachers) loved it and my son was thrilled. I wish I had some better picks but I was juggling a one year old in a chaotic preschool while trying to arrange the snack. I would have loved to have a bit more time to arrange the snacks in a more “Lego-y” way but hey- that’s what having kids is like, right?

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Lactation Cookies – Healthy and Yummy Way To Maintain or Boost Your Milk Supply

Based on my conversations with other moms, my pumping output and having two boys who have in the past and currently are thriving on breastmilk, I’m going to go ahead and say I have a healthy milk supply. However, around 3-4 months post-partum with my second baby, I noticed a slight drop in milk supply. I made sure I was doing all the right things to maintain/increase milk supply (staying very well hydrated, eating enough calories, drinking fennel/fenugreek teas) but reducing stress was not something I could address since my main stressor was serious sleep deprivation (this will likely be a whole different post!). Still, my supply bounced back enough to continue breastfeeding. Then we had a nursing strike, then teething, then illness…..the list goes on. My little guy also wasn’t the type of baby who goes on a nursing marathon to naturally boost moms supply, he just gives up at the breast. Now we are 6 months post-partum and going strong with breastfeeding BUT like many moms I constantly worry about my supply.

Now I need a drum roll because I’m about to talk about the EASIEST, most delicious and effective way to build or maintain your milk supply. I have no idea how I did not know about these un-named miracles while breastfeeding my first baby. They are less costly than buying herbal lactation support, you can make a ton and they freeze well, and they can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a healthy but yummy snack (and your kids and husband won’t start lactating!) What are these amazing things? LACTATION COOKIES! If you already knew about them and are shaking your head at me then WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THEM?? I thought I knew so much about breastfeeding, it confounds me that I had never heard of these.

OK I will stop rambling and share the recipe. I felt no need to reinvent the wheel so I did a Google search and found this recipe from DrMomma.org. There is also a great explanation to the ingredients and why they help support milk production.

Major Milk Makin’ Cookies
Recipe by Kathleen Major


1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. flax (milled)
3 T brewer’s yeast
1/3 c. water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy.
Mix in eggs.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.
Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.

Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets or baking stones.

Press down each ball lightly with a fork.
Bake 12 minutes.

 

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They turned out really well and are very tasty – not too sweet but still feels like you are indulging a little bit 🙂  Both hubby and my 4 year old really liked them as well. They are pretty darn healthy in my opinion so I don’t mind giving my son one of these cookies as a special treat sometimes. Also, like I said before, they freeze well so why not make a double batch?

BIGGEST QUESTION: DO THEY WORK?!?!?

Well, I have to admit I over indulged on a Tuesday (I had like 3-4 cookies and they are not small! yikes!) I had 1 on Wednesday and was starting to think they were just an excuse for lactating mothers to have cookies whenever they wanted. Well, I was wrong. THEY TOTALLY WORK!!! I woke up Thursday morning engorged. I guess it takes my body about 36-48 hours for all the good stuff to kick in. Since then I’ve toned it down to about 1 cookie a day, sometimes 2 and my supply is very robust now. I’m still not sleeping, just got over a virus, I can work out hard at the gym (these are all stressors to my body) and as long as I still hydrate and have my cookie, I’m all good and baby is happy.

 

Friday Fun with Food

This will be a quickie 😉 So moms or dads with hardly anytime (uh yeah, that’s all of us, right?) I put this one together in about 3 minutes. Don’t believe me? Just ask my mom, she was standing right there bouncing a fussy baby!

It was meant to be a traveller coming home from Australia in honor of my parent’s return from Australia today. But then my plane started to look like a rocket ship so we have…

“Return From Outer Space Travels”

ReturnFromOuterSpaceTravels

Ingredients: rice cake with hummus and turkey, tomato nose, mozzarella ball eyes with seaweed eyeballs, celery arms, seaweed legs, grated cheese hair, turkey rocket with carrot fire, carrot moon, strawberry fields (lol), cracker suitcase with pea shell handle and pea wheels, pea shell mouth.

KITK: Apricot Banana Muffins

KITK_ApricotBananaMuffins

Seriously, it CAN happen. If you want your kids to eat healthy and appreciate good food, one way to help is to incorporate them into what goes on in the kitchen. It doesn’t have to be everyday or every meal. Start with once a week. The secret to a successful experience is preparation. Make sure the kitchen is clean and dishes aren’t piled up across the counters (wait – is this only at my house maybe?), prepare some or all of the ingredients (like if you know it’s something that requires chopping that you don’t want a 3 year old doing) and use a recipe that you have made before and feel comfortable with. I also wouldn’t advise trying to make a 5 course elaborate meal with your preschooler. Save that for when they are in grade school.

I wish I could take credit for this recipe because it is SO delish, but I found it on wholefoods.com. It’s super easy to make, pretty darn healthy, it can easily be gluten and dairy free for those with food sensitivities and it is packed with protein – which is one of the leading concerns for parents of toddlers and preschoolers, “how can I get more protein in my child?!?”. Well, this is one way…there is a whopping 9 grams of protein in each muffin!!! 

ApricotBananaMuffins

Banana Apricot Muffins

from WholeFoods.com
 
–Annotations in bold are adaptations I’ve made to this recipe–
 
Makes 12 muffins
Thanks to a reader for these delicious gluten-free muffins sweetened with honey. Even those not used to alternative flours will love the extremely moist and tender crumb, thanks to the bananas and dried apricots, which almost melt into the background. Almond flour and honey add richness of flavor. A darker honey, such as buckwheat or chestnut, works nicely in this recipe.
 
**I double all ingredients to make 2 dozen muffins**
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed with a fork (I use 3 bananas for 1 dozen, or 6 bananas for 2 dozen)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups almond flour (When I double the recipe I use 4 Cups almond flour, which is one bag of Bob’s Red Mill almond meal, and 1.5-2 Cups whole wheat flour)
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
 
NOTE: the reason I use whole wheat flour is because our family doesn’t have any gluten sensitivities and almond flour is very expensive so this offsets the cost a bit.
 
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Method:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or butter the muffin tin thoroughly. Mix butter, honey, eggs and bananas together in a large bowl. Stir in baking soda and salt. Stir in almond flour, walnuts and apricots (and flaxseed, cinnamon, and nutmeg) until just combined. Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
 
Source URL: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/banana-apricot-muffins?css=recipe_no_image
 
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To make this recipe dairy free, substitute coconut oil for butter.

To make this recipe gluten free, do not add any whole wheat flour. Only use almond meal.

“Everybody likes these muffins” says my 3 year old.