10 Ways To Help Your Overweight Child  If your child is overweight, diet and exercise are key but taking a family approach, making small, realistic changes and watching what you say can set up your child for success.

10 Ways To Help Your Overweight Child

If your child is overweight, diet and exercise are key but taking a family approach, making small, realistic changes and watching what you say can set up your child for success.

If your child is overweight, it’s normal to worry about his diet, if he’s getting enough exercise and the number on the scale.

As kids grow, their weight can fluctuate all the time which is why your first stop should always be your child’s pediatrician. With growth charts, your child’s doctor can track his height and weight trends over time, talk about his diet and activity level and give you some ideas to help him safely lose weight.

Yet the truth is that pediatricians get less than 24 hours worth of nutrition education. So you may also want to consider consulting with a pediatric nutritionist who can address all of the factors affecting your child’s weight and design a plan that will help your child safely lose weight.

Luckily, there are things you can do as a parent and as a family to help your overweight child too.

1. Talk about health, not weight

As a child, chances are someone made a comment about your weight or your appearance, whether you were thin or overweight, and it’s something you’ll never forget.

Overweight children are bullied by other kids, but parents and other adults in the community can be a source of bullying too, according to a November 2017 statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Words can stick so whether your child has gained a few pounds in his belly or it’s clear he’s overweight, it’s never a good idea to call attention to your child’s weight, even if you think it’s benign or a joke.

Rather than talk about how your child looks or how his clothes fit, for example, talk about health—for him and your entire family. Talk about how healthy foods give you energy and make you feel good, for example. Focus on healthy eating, exercise and being active as a family.

2. Don’t single out your child

Imposing food rules or new habits only for your overweight child will only make her feel worse about his weight.

Adding more vegetables and eliminating processed foods needs to be a lifestyle change for the entire family—not only for the child with the weight problem.

3. Make small changes

Not only is it not realistic to overhaul your family’s diet in one week but it could backfire. Your child may feel like he’s being punished or he may push back on too many changes at once.

To have the highest chances for success, make small changes like offering a new vegetable each week, swap chips for veggies or bean dip at snack time or build in 10 more minutes of activity into your child’s day.

4. Don’t label foods “good” or ‘bad”

Sure, some foods are healthier than others but talking about foods as good and bad can make kids (and you!) feel that they’re good or bad for eating them. If the latter, they’ll feel deprived if they can’t have those foods which will make them want them even more.

When you talk about foods, talk about making healthy choices and never make any food completely off limits.

5. Move more together

Signing up your overweight child for a gymnastics class or after-school sports are great ideas but if you want to instill healthy habits, the entire family has to make the commitment to be an active family.

Find ways to be active together such as taking a walk after dinner, playing a game of catch or going for a family bike ride or hike on the weekends. Look into fitness centers or gym like the YMCA that have active programs for adults and kids.

6. Limit screen time

I admit that putting limits on how much time my kids watch TV or use the iPad is tough especially during the winter months when it’s cold out.

Studies show however, too much screen time increases the risk for obesity. According to a December 2016 study in The Journal of Pediatrics, kids who used electronic devices five hours a day increases the risk for obesity by 43 percent.

To cut down on screen time, put on music and dance around the house or set up a challenge like a scavenger hunt or a circuit of exercises.

7. Get the entire family on board

Whether it’s your spouse, another sibling or family member, have a conversation about why it’s important to watch what you say when it comes to your child’s weight and why being encouraging will boost your child’s confidence and self-esteem.

8. Tackle emotional eating

If your kid is overweight but eats healthy, it may not be because his portion sizes are too small. Kids—like adults—can eat because they’re anxious, stressed, angry, sad or bored.

Talk to your kid about her tough emotions and try to identify a healthy outlet to express her feelings such as a journal, art or music.

If you think the problem is beyond your parenting abilities, seek the help of a therapist who works with kids.

9. Prioritize sleep

According to a 2014 survey by The National Sleep Foundation, kids aren’t getting enough sleep and lack of sleep is directly related to weight.

Sleep deprivation messes with the hormones that affect appetite. Ghrelin, “the hunger hormone” which tells our bodies to eat ramps up while leptin, a hormone that decreases appetite, slows down. Not to mention that lack of sleep can cause your kids to reach for high carb, salty or sweet fare.

Stick with a routine each night to make sure kids are getting enough sleep.

10. Model healthy habits

You can’t expect your kid to eat healthy, exercise and get active if you don’t.

Have regular conversations with your kid about how you feel good when you eat certain healthy foods, go to your boot camp class or get a full night’s sleep, for example. Also, find ways to be healthy together like cook a new recipe or particapate in a race.

 

Is your child overweight? What types of struggles do you face? What are some ways you help your child be healthy? Leave me a comment below!

10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet  Kids who get too much salt in their diets are at risk for high blood pressure and other serious health conditions througout their lives.

10 Sneaky Sources of Sodium in Your Kid’s Diet

Kids who get too much salt in their diets are at risk for high blood pressure and other serious health conditions througout their lives.

You may not cook with a lot of salt or add salt to your kid’s meals but approximately 90 percent of kids are getting too much sodium in their diets each day and more than 40 percent of it comes from only 10 foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which about 3.5 percent of kids already have, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease and vision loss, among other health conditions. So even if your kids don’t have high blood pressure now, if they continue to eat too much sodium, there’s a good chance they will in the future.

What’s more, just as kids who eat fruits and vegetables crave healthy foods, kids who eat salt from an early age are more likely to prefer salty foods throughout their lives.

Like sugar, salt can show up in seemingly healthy foods. The sodium kids get in their diets is mainly from packaged foods from the grocery store and food from restaurants and the school lunch cafeteria.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend the following limits for daily sodium intake:

  • Children ages 1-3: 1,500 mg
  • Children ages 4-8: 1,900 mg
  • Children ages 9-13: 2,200mg
  • Children ages 14+: 2,300

Here are 10 sneaky sources of salt in your kid’s diet to cut back on or cut out altogether.

1. Bread

If your kids eat toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and grilled cheese for dinner, the amount of sodium in bread alone can add up quick.

In fact, according to a report by the CDC, breads and rolls are the number one source of sodium.

To cut down on your kids’ sodium intake from bread, read labels carefully, cut down on bread or find a replacement like a lettuce wrap instead of a sandwich.

2. Nuts

Nuts are an excellent source of protein and fiber to keep your kids satiated but nuts can be one of the sneaky sources of salt in your kids’ diet.

When purchasing nuts, read labels and choose those that state “unsalted” or “low sodium.”

3. Instant oatmeal

Packets of instant oatmeal make for a quick and easy breakfast—just add hot water and enjoy. Yet ever notice how they taste sort of salty? That’s because they’re high in sodium: about 165mg of sodium per packet.

To avoid the sodium, buy rolled oats—I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand—and add fresh berries and raw almonds for a healthy, satisfying meal.

4. Tomato sauce

Suffice to say most brands of canned or jarred tomato sauces are loaded with sodium so feed your kids pasta a few times a week and they’re probably getting way to much salt in their diets.

When shopping for tomato sauce, read labels and compare brands. Or use fresh tomatoes or no-salt canned tomatoes and make your own tomato sauce so you can control the sodium.

5. Soup

Vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup or pea soup all sound like healthy choices but many brands of soup, whether they’re canned, in the carton or prepared fresh by the store themselves, are filled with sodium.

The same goes for soups you’ll find in restaurants. For example, egg drop soup may be low in calories but at 892 mg of sodium per serving, it’s not a good take-out choice.

When purchasing soup from the grocery store, read labels and purchase those labeled “low sodium.” Or control what you’re eating by making your own soup at home with herbs and spices and a small amount of salt if needed.

6. Bagels

Bagels can be an easy, fast meal for busy mornings or for a run to the coffee shop on the weekends, but bagels are a major source of sodium.

One plain bagel contains 255mg, but add cream cheese and some lox and it’s a sodium bomb.

7. Deli meats

Processed, packaged slices of ham and turkey are convenient for lunches but they’re also high in sodium both as a preservative and for taste. In fact, 2 ounces of smoked, fat-free turkey breast has a whopping 569 mg of sodium.

Although turkey and chicken naturally contain sodium, a better option is to cook your choice of meat at home with herbs and spices and slice it yourself.

8. Cheese

Cheese is a good source of protein and calcium but cheese is also loaded with sodium. For example, one stick of Polly-O string cheese has 190mg.

Although it’s not a huge amount of sodium, if your kids are eating a few of them a day or also eating other foods high in sodium like chicken nuggets, pizza and packaged snacks, they can easily exceed their amount of daily sodium intake.

9. Condiments

Brands vary but ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard, salad dressings and soy sauce are all major sources of sodium. Not to mention the foods kids usually eat with them are high in sodium too: chicken nuggets, hot dogs, sausage and French fries.

Read labels and compare brands. Another way to get around the sodium is to re-think sauces. Consider making your own marinade for chicken, ask for sauce on the side when ordering out or dining in, or simply try to serve your kids’ meals without condiments.

10. Cereals

Cereals, even those that have whole grains and a decent amount of protein and fiber, are high in sodium. For example, one cup of Kellog’s Raisin Bran—a seemingly healthy choice—has 350mg of sodium.

Be choosy when it comes to cereal and always compare brands.

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy  Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

Folic Acid: Why Women Need It Before and During Pregnancy

Folic acid supplements are vital to prevent birth defects, but when is the best time to take it and how much do you need?

About three months before my husband and I started trying to get pregnant with our first child, I took prenatal vitamins with folic acid.

Like any new mom, I wanted to do everything perfectly so I researched the vitamins and minerals—and the recommended amounts of each—that I should take. Since I have a cousin who has spina bifida, I knew about the importance of taking folic acid, so I specifically chose a prenatal vitamin with 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid, the highest amount that’s safe to take.

If you’re trying to get pregnant, your gynecologist, midwife or provider should also make sure you know to take your prenatal vitamins with folic acid before you get pregnant, during your pregnancy and even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.

Read on to learn why folic acid is so important for all women, how much you should take and how to get folic acid in your diet.

Why do you need folic acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, or vitamin B9. Folate helps make red blood cells and is vital for the growth and function of healthy cells throughout your body.

Taking folic acid before you get pregnant is important to prevent neural tube defects—

birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects, which include spina bifida, anencephaly and Chiari malformation, occur in approximately 3,000 pregnancies each year in the U.S., according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What many women don’t know is during the first 4 to 6 weeks after the first day of your last menstrual period is when the neural tube forms and when defects occur. The neural tube ultimately becomes the spinal cord, spine, brain and skull.

Whether you’re trying to get pregnant, trying to avoid getting pregnant or don’t think you can get pregnant, you should take folic acid, since 45 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, according to a March 2016 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Studies suggest taking folic acid may also have more benefits for your baby. In fact, a recent study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found moms who were prescribed a multivitamin and folic acid supplement had a 73 percent lower risk for having a child with Autism.

Eating folic acid-fortified foods was associated with an 11 percent reduction in certain heart defects, an August 2016 study published in the journal Circulation found.

Adequate levels of folate during pregnancy may also reduce the risk that a child will become obese, especially those born to moms who are obese, an August 2016 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found.

How much folic acid should you take?

Although experts say all women of childbearing age should take folic acid, 22 percent aren’t getting enough. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, so it needs to be taken every day.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM)’s guidelines state before pregnancy, most women should take a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that has 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid or a separate supplement with the same amount. During pregnancy, you can increase folic acid to 500 mcg 600 mcg if you decide to breastfeed.

If you have a family history of neural tube defects or another medical condition, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not you should take a higher dose of folic acid.

What are the types of folic acid?

Some women who have an MTHFR genetic mutation can’t utilize folate as well so they may need to take the bioactive form of folate.

Foods with folic acid

Folic acid supplements are actually better absorbed and utilized than food. In fact, folate-rich foods are absorbed and utilized at a rate of 80 percent than that of folic acid supplements, a 2007 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Nevertheless, foods rich in folate are still an excellent addition to your supplement. Foods highest in folate include:

  • Beef liver: 215 mcg
  • Spinach: 131 mcg
  • Black-eyed peas: 105 mcg
  • Asparagus: 89 mcg
  • Brussels sprouts: 78 mcg

Additionally, there are certain folic acid-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, pasta, rice and grains. Be sure to read labels carefully. Some of the highest sources of folic acid-fortified foods include:

  • Cereals: 100 mcg
    White rice: 90 mcg
    Spaghetti: 83 mcg
    Bread: 43 mcg

If you’re unsure about how much folic acid and folate you should be getting or if you think you could be deficient, be sure to speak to your doctor.

 

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy  You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

8 Reasons To Avoid Sugar During Pregnancy

You already know you should eat healthy, get plenty of protein, iron and folic acid, but should you also avoid sugar during pregnancy?

Between fluctuating pregnancy hormones, morning sickness and intense cravings, rummaging through your kitchen pantry for cookies, chocolate, candy or a sugary treat can become a habit. Or if you hit a 4pm slump, downing some sugar for a quick boost of energy might do the trick.

Of course, sugar isn’t only found in obvious foods like pastries and desserts, it’s also in refined grains like white bread, pasta and processed foods. It can also hide in seemingly healthy foods like yogurt, granola and cereal.

Although you may have been a very healthy eater before your pregnancy, now you might find yourself indulging in sugary foods you used to eat in moderation or avoid altogether.

I won’t lie. When I was pregnant with my first child, I ate whatever I wanted to: bagels for breakfast and a piece of chocolate every day. And if I was at someone else’s house or on vacation, there was nothing holding me back from eating crackers, chips and desserts.

The foods you eat during pregnancy are crucial for you and your baby’s health and although you don’t have to completely eliminate sweets from your diet, you should do your best to avoid sugar during pregnancy. Here are 10 reasons why.

1. Gestational diabetes and type-2 diabetes

One of the most compelling reasons to avoid sugar during pregnancy is gestational diabetes.

Although researchers don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, a condition that affects between 5 and 18 percent of pregnancies, weight is a risk factor. If you’re overweight or obese, your risk for developing gestational diabetes is 2 and 4 times higher than women who have a normal weight, according to an August 2007 meta-analysis in the journal Diabetes Care.

Moms with gestational diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure, preeclampsia and eclampsia. Although gestational diabetes usually resolves itself after pregnancy, women who have it are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes later on in life.

Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk for high blood sugar levels and being overweight, which can also lead to pregnancy complications.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, experts recommend you follow a healthy diet. Avoid processed, packaged foods and sugary treats and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (ideally low glycemic fruit such as berries), lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Instead of refined grains which spike your blood sugar, stick to whole grains.

2. Pregnancy weight gain

For some women, gaining more weight than they should during pregnancy is inevitable no matter how healthy they eat and how much they exercise.

Yet studies show women are already overweight before they become pregnant and they gain too much weight during pregnancy. In fact, a November 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 50 percent of women gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy.

If you eat a healthy diet and avoid sugar during pregnancy, you’re less likely to gain too much.

3. Fatigue

With all the work your body is doing to help your baby grow and develop, on top of all you have to do each day, chances are you’re exhausted or have some level of fatigue. Yet overindulge in something sweet and you’re bound to crash.

If you’re craving something sweet, opt for low glycemic fruits like raspberries, indulge in treats occasionally and eat foods that boost your energy.

4. Pregnancy complications

If you are overweight, you have an increased risk for pregnancy complications such as obstructive sleep apnea, miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery and cesarean section. You also have a higher risk for blood clots to develop during labor and delivery, infection and problems with the administration of pain medications.

Your baby also has an increased risk for neural tube defects like spina bifida, which can also be hard to diagnose on an ultrasound if you’re overweight. In fact, a June 2017 study published in the journal The BMJ found that the risk of birth defects during baby’s first year of life increases with a mother’s weight.

He could be born prematurely or be born with “macrosomia,” a term to describe babies who weigh more than 9 pounds, 15 ounces. Having a large baby can cause problems during labor and delivery and surprisingly, with breastfeeding.

5. Overweight kids

Studies show babies who are born to overweight moms are more likely to be overweight too. Although poor diet and lack of exercise could be to blame in these families, research suggests it starts in utero.

In fact, an August 2016 study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal found children whose moms gain excess weight or who have elevated blood sugar levels during their pregnancies are more likely to be overweight or obese during their first 10 years of life.

6. Losing the baby weight

According to a December 2013 survey by BabyCenter.com, nearly 60 percent of moms who have 1 and 2-year-olds were still carrying a small amount of baby weight.

Your life is much different after the birth of a baby and finding time to exercise can be tough, but if you avoid sugar during pregnancy, you may be less likely to hang on to those lbs.

7. Bad habits

Whether you started to have a sweet tooth during pregnancy or not, it’s a good idea to curb the habit now before it becomes a long-term problem. After you have your baby, you’ll be sleep deprived—and maybe stressed.

When cortisol, the “stress hormone” rises, you might be more likely to turn to food for comfort. Sleep deprivation also causes your body to ramp up production of ghrelin, the “hunger hormone” which tells your body to eat and slow down leptin, the hormone that decreases appetite. Also, the more sugar you eat, the more you crave.

8. A healthy family

If you avoid sugar during pregnancy and have healthy habits, you’re setting the foundation for both you and your children to have a healthy life. When your kids see you eating healthy, purchasing healthy foods and preparing healthy meals, they’ll be motivated to follow suit.

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Pantry At All Times

10 Foods You Should Keep In Your Pantry At All Times

This post contains affiliate links.

If your goal in 2018 is for your family to eat healthy, meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking meals must be your New Year’s resolution. Of course, having fresh fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator is a good first step but having a well-stocked pantry with a handful of healthy foods will ensure you’ll always be able to quickly whip up a healthy meal. Here, 10 healthy foods you should keep in your pantry at all times.

1. Nuts

Whether it’s almonds, walnuts or pistachios, nuts are a healthy food to keep in your pantry. An excellent source of fiber and protein to keep you satiated and omega-3 fatty acids which are known to lower inflammation, prevent heart disease and stroke, nuts may also ward of cancer. You can serve nuts for an after-school snack, pack them for a road trip, or add them to salads. Watch portion sizes however, because the calories can add up fast.

2. Beans

Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan or are trying to eat a more plant-based diet, beans are one of the healthy foods you should keep in your pantry. An excellent source of both protein and fiber to stave off hunger, beans keep blood sugar levels steady and lower cholesterol. Beans are so versatile—add them soups, salads and stews, make bean burgers or a bean dip, or substitute them in baking recipes that call for oil and eggs. Dried beans are more economical but if you don’t have time to soak and cook them, stock up on canned beans but rinse them beforehand since they are high in sodium.

3. Old-fashioned rolled oats

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating grains, at least 50 percent of which are whole grains and old-fashioned rolled oats are one of the best ways to get them in your family’s diet. A 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats contains 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein to keep you feeling full. They’re also an excellent source of iron and a good source of phosphorus and selenium. Although old-fashioned rolled oats read labels carefully and purchase those that state “gluten-free” on the package since there is a risk for cross contamination with other gluten-containing grains. Not only can you use rolled oats for breakfast, but they work well if you make homemade granola, added to smoothies and as a substitute for all purpose or whole wheat flour in baking recipes.

4. Quinoa

Classified as a grain but technically a seed, quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your family and should keep in your pantry. The great thing about quinoa is that unlike other grains, it’s a good source of both fiber and protein: a 1/2 cup has 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is also an excellent source of phosphorus and magnesium, which is known as the calming mineral. Quinoa is also as versatile as rice and couscous but it has a heartier, nuttier taste. Serve quinoa as a side, mixed in with sautéed vegetables or in place of oatmeal for breakfast.

5. Seeds

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are all healthy foods to stock up on. Like nuts, seeds are a great source protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals including zinc, copper and magnesium. Add chia seeds or flaxseeds to smoothies and sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds to oatmeal, salads or vegetarian dishes. If your child is allergic to nuts or your school has a nut-free policy, seeds are also a healthy alternative.

6. Dried fruit

Although fresh fruit should always be your first choice, dried fruit has its own health benefits. Raisins for example, are a good source of iron and potassium. Other types of dried fruit like apricots and dates can be a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Dried fruit can be a quick and easy snack but the best way to use dried fruit is as a replacement in certain baked goods or desserts. Since dried fruit is high in calories and sugar, eat them in moderation.

7. Canned salmon

When you don’t have time to cook but you don’t want to order take-out, having canned salmon in your pantry can make dinner quick, easy and healthy. Salmon is an excellent source of protein and it’s high in B vitamins, potassium, selenium and the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Serve salmon in place of meat, or add it to a salad or sandwich.

8. Broth

Making large batches of healthy soups and stews is a great way to ensure you always have healthy meals on hand and keeping your pantry stocked with low sodium vegetable, chicken or beef broth will help you save time and energy.

9. Anchovies

Love them or hate them, anchovies are a healthy staple to keep on hand. Anchovies are an excellent source of protein—one can has 13 grams—and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also good source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, niacin and selenium. Add anchovies to whole-wheat pasta with veggies, your favorite tomato sauce, bruschetta or paired with a vegetable like artichoke hearts.

10. Brown rice

Brown rice is an excellent source of both fiber and protein: one cup has 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Brown rice is also a versatile food you can eat as a side or add to soups and stews. To save time, cook a batch of rice ahead of time or use the Instant Pot. Brown rice isn’t a refined carbohydrate like white rice so it has more nutrients, but it has been found to have high levels of arsenic. Be sure to rinse raw rice before you cook it, use 6 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice and drain the water after it’s ready.

Busy Mom? 10 Ways to Eat Healthy When You Have No Time To Cook

Busy Mom? 10 Ways to Eat Healthy When You Have No Time To Cook

After a long day at work, with your kids, after-school activities and errands, getting dinner on the table is probably the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to go through the fast food drive-through or order a pizza, but how can you and your family eat healthy when you have no time to cook?

I totally get it. With a full-time job and this blog, two young kids, a husband who works long hours including weekends, and a household to run, I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Although I’m not pulling off gourmet dinners every night, my family still eats dinner together every night and we still eat healthy. Here are 8 of my secrets.

1. Stock your kitchen with healthy options

When your refrigerator and pantry are filled with healthy food staples, you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking. Keep salad, cut-up raw vegetables, beans, tuna or canned salmon and nuts and seeds on hand to assemble quick and healthy dinners.

2. Cook ahead of time

Take an hour on the weekends to cut up fruits and vegetables including onions and garlic and put them in glass containers or bags to save time during the week. Cook vegetables, rice, quinoa and other healthy grains and hard-boiled eggs ahead of time or double a recipe put half of it in the freezer for a quick meal when time is tight.

 

3. Buy food that’s already prepped

Instead of wasting time slicing, dicing and chopping, pick up chopped mirepoix, pre-cut or spiralized vegetables, shredded Brussels sprouts or cauliflower “rice.” Sure, it might cost more, but it will save you time in the kitchen.

 

4. Make breakfast for dinner

Who says a healthy dinner has to include traditional dinner foods? One way to eat healthy when you have no time to cook is to make breakfast foods instead. Scramble eggs, make a quick frittata with leftover veggies and add a side of fruit or make a yogurt parfait and dinner is done.

5. Use your appliances

Use a food processor to quickly chop vegetables and herbs, blend ingredients in the Magic Bullet, and throw all of your ingredients into the slow cooker or Instant Pot for quick and easy dinners.

6. Make a list of healthy take-out options

Instead of hitting the fast-food drive-through or ordering curbside take-out from your favorite restaurant, have a list of restaurants that have healthy take-out options. Ordering Chinese? Opt for egg drop soup and steamed chicken and broccoli with the sauce on the side.

 

7. Score at the supermarket

Most grocery stores have plenty of healthy, grab-and-go options or buffets with like broth-based soups, cooked vegetables, sushi, ready-made salads, grilled chicken and quiche.

 

8. Use your freezer

When it comes to eating healthy and getting dinner on the table fast, your freezer is your best friend. Instead of buying frozen meals which are usually high in calories, fat and sodium, make meals ahead of time that can be defrosted and re-heated in a pinch. I make large batches of bean burgers that I re-heat for lunches and dinners.

9. Have a buffet night

If you have a mishmash of various leftovers, put out a buffet and let everyone make up a plate. Fill out the meal by making a large salad or a side of quinoa, for example.

10. Get help

I recognize that cooking doesn’t interest some men, but if your partner is willing and home in time, ask him to cook some of the meals or at least help out. Getting your kids to help out in the kitchen may even prevent picky eating and motivate them to try new foods. Kids as young as 4 can help pour, stir, mix or press the on switch to a blender.

50 Easy New Year’s Resolutions For Moms

50 Easy New Year’s Resolutions For Moms

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Will you make New Year’s resolutions this year? Whether it’s to eat healthy, exercise, get more sleep or stress less, resolutions can help you make improvements to—and take control of—your family’s health.

There’s nothing wrong with setting goals for 2018 of course, but the New Year’s resolutions most of us make are often lofty, vague, broad, or unrealistic so we fail to achieve them. In fact, 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.

As a mom, it only takes a kid to get sick, a busy week of after-school activities or back-to-back snow days to derail your best efforts.

The good news is that you don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions to make meaningful changes that will significantly impact your family’s health. You can set small, realistic and achievable goals that work for your family.

These 50 are easy, small tweaks any mom can do. Pick one or two you can tackle now and once they become more of a habit, chances are you’ll be motivated to try the others.

1. Replace one processed/packaged kid’s snack with a fruit or vegetable.

2. Commit to cook dinner one more night each week.

3. Swap refined grains for whole grains.

4. Eat vegetables for breakfast.

5. Try a new, healthy recipe.

6. Stop drinking soda, sports drinks and juice.

7. Bring your kids food shopping and let them pick a new fruit or vegetable to try.

8. Drink more water.

9. Pack lunch one more day instead of buying school lunch.

10. Purge your pantry of chips, cookies, high-sugar granola, etc.

11. Read nutrition labels.

12. Sign up for an endurance event with your kids. Try active.com

13. Cut sugar.

14. Limit salt.

15. Take a walk after dinner.

16. Snow day? Have an indoor dance party.

17. Teach your kids how to eat mindfully.

18. Swap regular potatoes for sweet potatoes.

19. Put fruit out on the countertop for after-school snacks.

20. Cut up produce and store in glass containers so you can see what you have.

21. Swap butter for avocado when baking.

22. Eat nuts and seeds.

23. Don’t use food as a reward.

24. Have one more family meal together (it doesn’t have to be dinner!).

25. Eat beans and legumes.

26. Teach kids how to recognize their hunger signals.

27. Take probiotics.

28. Eat fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh.

29. Stop eating fast food.

30. Make green smoothies or green juices.

31. Don’t be a short order cook.

32. Eat less meat.

33. Try a new type of fish.

34. Nix food negotiations.

35. Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

36. Don’t stress about picky eating.

37. Order your kids’ meals from the main menu.

38. Eat low-glycemic fruit like berries.

39. Batch cook homemade baby food; rely less on store-bought.

40. Avoid sugary cereals.

41. Don’t let kids eat in the car.

42. Make breakfast a priority.

43. Make a grocery shopping list.

44. Plan meals.

45. Offer two vegetables at dinner.

46. Use your Crock-Pot or Instant Pot.

47. Don’t persuade kids to “take another bite.”

48. Avoid sugary yogurts.

49. Serve smaller portions.

50. Teach kids food is fuel and delicious!

 

 

5 Ways To Survive the Holidays With Picky Eaters

5 Ways To Survive the Holidays With Picky Eaters

If you have kids who are picky eaters, you already know which foods you can get them to eat at home—and which ones they’ll refuse to eat. Sure, it’s frustrating to have picky eaters but at least you know what to expect.

During Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s however, all bets are off.

The holidays are already stressful but the holidays with picky eaters is an entirely different ball game.

Having kids who snub vegetables and refuse to eat anything other than pasta with butter can kick your stress into high gear especially when other family members are watching you and your parenting skills.

Thoughts start rushing through your mind:

  • What will they eat?
  • Will they eat something other than dessert?
  • Should I bring a separate meal for them?

Your biggest fear is that your kids will embarrass you, spit out the food in their mouths and say, “ew, gross!” right as they taste your mother-in-law’s famous casserole.

Although there’s not much you can do to control your kids’ unpredictable behaviors, or your mother-in-law’s eye rolls, there are some ways to handle your picky eaters this holiday season.

1. Talk about table manners

When my kids eat something they don’t like such as onions in a salad, they’ll put it on my plate even though I constantly urge them to leave it on their own. Despite your best intentions, your kids’ table manners probably aren’t perfect so during the holidays you’ll definitely want to help them brush up.

In addition to reminding them to say “please,” and “thank you,” and chew with their mouths closed, make sure they also know never to spit out food or express their dislike for a food out loud. If they take a small bite and they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat more.

2. Have a snack


To ensure your picky eaters eat something and don’t arrive to your celebration cranky, consider serving them a small, healthy snack made up of protein and fiber. If they refuse to eat, or only want a piece of bread when you get there, it’s not a big deal.

3. Bring a dish

I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to prepare a separate meal for a child unless of course they’re gluten-free or have food allergies.

Having a separate meal on hand teaches your kids that you’ll accommodate them and cater to their preferences. But what happens when your picky eaters become adults and won’t eat anything that’s served? It’s not cute anymore.

If you’re already bringing something to dinner however, you can make a dish that everyone including your kids will eat. Although it’s not going to be French fries, perhaps it can be bruschetta for an appetizer, soup or a vegetable side your kids like, for example.

4. Cook together


When my kids cook with me, they always want to taste what we’re making. Whether you’re preparing the entire holiday dinner or bringing a dish, let your kids help you cook. When kids feel like they’ve had a hand in what you’ve made, they feel empowered and excited to show off—and enjoy the dish.

5. Let it go

If you’re stressed out your kids will definitely sense it. Do your best to relax and loosen up about what they choose to and refuse to eat during the holidays.

I’m not suggesting you let them load up on sugar and neglect to eat anything else but it’s a losing battle to expect them to eat the vegetables or try the new foods you put on their plates.

Your kids may actually surprise you however, and be willing to try new foods that grandma offers or they see the other kids eating.

Either way, go with the flow and pick up your normal healthy eating menu the next day.

I want to hear from you!

Was this post helpful for you? How do you handle picky eaters during the holidays and on special occassions? Leave me a comment below. 

Do you have friends with picky eaters? I bet you do. Please share this post with them–share buttons are at the end of the post!

8 Holiday Stress-Busting Foods for Moms           Between holiday parties, kid’s school events, cookie swaps and family get-togethers, food is everywhere this time of year. Although there’s no getting around all that carb-heavy, fat-laden, fried and sugar-filled fare, you can also stock up on foods that combat holiday stress, easy anxiety and leave you feeling refreshed by the new year.

8 Holiday Stress-Busting Foods for Moms

Between holiday parties, kid’s school events, cookie swaps and family get-togethers, food is everywhere this time of year. Although there’s no getting around all that carb-heavy, fat-laden, fried and sugar-filled fare, you can also stock up on foods that combat holiday stress, easy anxiety and leave you feeling refreshed by the new year.

Christmas is less than a week away and I’m seriously stressed out. Yet what’s surprising is that I’m not one of those mom who aim for the “perfect Christmas.” I don’t bake batches of cookies, search the mall for the perfect gifts, or set up a family photo shoot so we can have the most memorable, Instagram-worthy Christmas cards. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This year:

  • My husband purchased the Christmas cards and most of the kids’ gifts.
  • I did most of my shopping on Amazon.
  • I already baked and gave the teachers and bus drivers yummy macaroons (Thanks Jenn Segal at Once Upon a Chef for the easy, delicious recipe!).
  • Most of the gift wrapping is already done. I refuse to stay up late on Christmas eve!

Yet as a mom, our jobs are never done. I still have to finish up multiple work deadlines, shop for stocking stuffers, bake two cakes and decide on the Christmas Eve menu and clean my house before the guests arrive. I’m trying not to lose sight of what Christmas is really about—Jesus!—but all of these things still cause me loads of stress.

If you’re feeling the stress of the holidays despite everything you may have done to make things a bit easier, you’re not alone. In fact, a survey by the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of women said their stress levels increase during the holidays versus 31 percent of men. Financial stress is perhaps one of the most significant factors. According to a November 2017 survey by Affirm, a company that offers financing, 61 percent of people say holiday shopping causes marital and family strife.

Although this time of year can make it challenging to prepare healthy meals. grabbing fast food, take-out and snacking on sugary snacks will leave you feeling depleted, anxious and even more stressed out. Instead, focus on whole foods including plenty of vegetables and these 8 holiday stress-busting foods.

1. Pistachios

Not only are pistachios an excellent source of protein that will balance your blood sugar and prevent you from overindulging in sugary treats, but eating them may help you better cope with stress. In fact, a 2014 study out of Penn State found eating pistachios may reduce the body’s response to everyday stress in people who have type-2 diabetes.

2. Eggs

The sun sets early this time of year and with the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year—on December 21, your vitamin D levels may be low especially if you’re indoors most of the day. It’s important to get adequate levels of vitamin D  since studies show vitamin D deficiency is linked to anxiety. With 21 percent of the daily value for vitamin D, eggs are a great source of vitamin D and make for a quick and easy meal any time of the day.

3. Oranges

Instead of reaching for a cookie or a piece of chocolate for a quick energy fix and to satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for an orange instead. Not only are oranges delicious but since they’re high in vitamin C they may also help to combat stress. In fact, according to a 2015 study in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, high school students who were given a vitamin C supplement experienced less anxiety and a reduction in heart rate.

4. Quinoa

Refined carbohydrates like those in holiday cakes, cookies and breads can spike blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. To keep your blood sugar stable and your stress at bay, quinoa is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and can be made in large batches for all meals including breakfast.

5. Black tea

There’s nothing better than relaxing with a hot cup of tea after a long stressful day and black tea in particular, may have a positive effect on stress. In fact, a January 2007 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology found people who drank black tea for 6 weeks had lower levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—than the placebo group.

6. Kidney beans

Nearly half of Americans do not get the recommended amount of magnesium—an essential mineral—in their diets according to a March 2012 study in the journal Nutrition Reviews. Yet magnesium is well-known for its calming properties and getting adequate amounts of it has been shown to curb stress, a May 2017 review in the journal Nutrients found. Kidney beans are an excellent source of magnesium:  a 1/2 cup has 85 milligrams. Other foods high in magnesium include avocado, brown rice, cashews, edamame and oatmeal.

7. Kefir

Experts say approximately 90 percent of serotonin is actually made in the gut so by giving your gut health a boost, you can also help your brain. Eating probiotic-rich foods like kefir can help boost the healthy bacteria in the gut and in turn keep stress at bay. In fact, a May 2013 study out of UCLA found women who ate yogurt with probiotics had less activity in the area of the brain associated with emotion.

8. Lentils

Not only are lentils a good source of protein and fiber to keep blood sugar levels stable and promote satiety, but they also contain 90 percent of the daily value for folate, a B vitamin which helps make serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Other folate-rich foods include chickpeas, spinach, asparagus and broccoli.

5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

5 Ways to Satisfy Your Kid’s Sweet Tooth Without Sugar

Is your kid’s sweet tooth out of control?

Sure, most kids love cookies, cupcakes and candy but if yours frequently ask for sugary treats or want more after a few bites, it can become a bad habit.

If your kids are like mine, having pudding, chocolate or pie in the house becomes a near obsession. Since they eat a mostly whole-foods diet, when there is sugar in the house—especially around the holidays—they ask for it every single day without fail.

Is Sugar Actually Toxic?

It’s no surprise that kids eat too much sugar. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of children and teens’ total calories come from added sugars.

Sugar can be addictive for some people and researchers say it’s actually toxic and can lead to weight gain regardless of the amount of calories.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Obesity kids between the ages of 8 and 18 who reduced the amount of sugar in their diets but replaced the calories with starch, still showed improvement in blood glucose, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, and less fat in their liver.

Sugar is empty calories and has no nutritional value whatsoever. Eating too much sugar can take the place of more nutritious foods your kids need to grow and develop, weaken their immune system and lead to cavities. Diets high in sugar can cause weight gain, type-2 diabetes and increase the risk of dying from heart disease, an April 2014 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Sugar may not make your kid hyper—I beg to differ—but eating sugar can make them feel sluggish and cranky.

The American Heart Association recommends children under 2 shouldn’t eat any sugar and those older than 2 shouldn’t consume more than 25 grams—or 6 teaspoons—of added sugars a day.

By July 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will roll out the Nutrition Facts label which will include a separate line for “added sugars” both in grams and as percent Daily Value. It’s a good start, but it can still be tough to decipher ingredients since sugar can hide in more than 60 names.

Not only is it challenging to eliminate sugar altogether, but kids—like adults—should be able to have a treat now and then. With these 5 tips, you can satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth without going overboard with sugar

1. Choose low-glycemic fruit

Surprisingly, the body can’t tell the difference between nutritive, sugars that provide calories like fructose in fruit and non-nutritive (artificial) sugars like those in processed foods and candy, for example. It’s possible therefore, that eating fruit, especially types that are high in sugar may very well cause your kids to crave more sugar.

Although fruit is natural and nutritious and you should aim to get a variety of fruits in your child’s diet, focusing on low-glycemic fruits like blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are always good choices because they’re fiber-rich and won’t spike their blood sugar.

2. Re-think dessert

Instead of cake, cookies and candy, re-think what dessert can be. Muffins, yogurt, trail mix, pudding and cereal may be better options, but pay attention to the sugar content because many “healthy” foods can have just as much sugar as traditional desserts.

3. Make frozen treats

Instead of ice cream, sorbet or frozen pies, freeze fruit or buy frozen fruit for a healthy, delicious treat. Frozen blueberries for example, are sweet and nutritious eaten alone or added to Greek yogurt for dessert. Or put frozen bananas in the food processor for a healthy, sweet treat.

4. Use baking substitutions

Find healthy alternative recipes for your kids’ favorite treats or try to use substitutions for sugar. Ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, applesauce, dates, figs, dried fruit, cacao nibs, vanilla and almond extracts, and cinnamon and nutmeg can cut down on the sugar without losing the sweetness and taste.

5. Use sugar substitutes—sparingly

Sweeteners like stevia, maple syrup and honey may be better than pure sugar or artificial sweeteners, but they still have sugar and they’re still sweet so be mindful about how much you’re using.

 

 

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

7 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy During the Holidays

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Keeping your family healthy during the holidays is always top of mind. Of course, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s celebrations bring plenty of delicious food, sweets and holiday drinks. Not only can the calories add up fast, but with all the running around you and your kids are doing, everyone can feel stressed out, run down and be more susceptible to getting colds, infections and the flu.

Luckily, there are several ways to prevent you and your kids from getting sick and help you stay healthy during the holidays. Here are 7.

1. Get a flu shot

Last week, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  reported that the incidence of flu is higher than it was this time last year and seven children have already died.

There’s no way to tell how effective this year’s flu vaccine is until the end of the flu season, but since the flu is serious and can be deadly, any amount of efficacy is better than none, in my opinion. In fact, an October 2017 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found the flu vaccine reduced admissions in the ICU, the duration of hospitalization and deaths.

To find a place that offers flu shots, check the CDC’s flu vaccine finder tool.

If your kid shows symptoms of the flu or you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with his doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe Tamiflu, which may reduce the duration of the flu.

2. Take probiotics

The gastrointestinal tract—the gut—is responsible for 70 percent of the body’s immunity so it’s important to make sure it’s as healthy as it can be.

One way to boost your kid’s immune system and fend off illness is to take probiotics. I like Culturelle Probiotics because they contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), a type of probiotic strain that is backed by years of research. Yogurt and fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and tempeh are good sources of probiotics too.

3. Stock up on healthy meals

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave little time to cook healthy meals and force you to order take-out, go out to dinner or hit the fast food drive through. Rely on convenience food several days a week and watch as everyone in the family packs on the pounds, feels sluggish and becomes constipated.

To make sure your family eats healthy, use your Crock-Pot to make soups, stews and healthy meals that can be made ahead of time. Or carve out some time on the weekends to make double batches of meals to stock your freezer with and dinners will be a breeze.

4. Curb sweets

Christmas is a few weeks away but eggnog (my purchase) and chocolate (a gift) have already made their way into my house. Kids should be able to have treats but eating sugar day after day spikes their blood glucose levels, can lead to weight gain and make them feel sluggish, cranky and want more sugar.

We let our kids have a small bite of chocolate after dinner and the rest of it was stored out of sight until Christmas day or until we can re-gift it to someone else.

5. Fill up on fruits and vegetables

To make sure your kids are the healthiest they can be, do your best to encourage them to eat plenty of vegetables which will give the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they need. Some good choices include green leafy vegetables, grapefruit, carrots, strawberries and pumpkin.

You can easily get several fruits and vegetables in smoothies or homemade juices or simply make it a point to add them to every meal and snack.

6. Remind kids to wash their hands

Kids are constantly swapping germs: they sneeze and cough on each other, rub their noses, put their hands in their mouths and touch the same germ-infested books, toys and surfaces all day long. When they’re in school, research shows they’re not washing their hands frequently. According to a 2011 survey by The American Cleaning Institute, 43 percent of kids said they don’t wash their hands as much as they should in school because they don’t have the time.

The last thing you want is to have to make your way to the doctor or have a sick kid on the holidays. When they’re on your watch, make sure they’re washing their hands regularly especially if they’re sick, before they eat and always after using the bathroom. Encourage them to wash their hands when they’re at daycare, school and activities too.

It’s also important to teach them proper hand washing practices. Show them how to scrub all surfaces of their hands including their fingernails with plenty of soap and water for 20 seconds—the amount of time it takes  to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Then rinse and dry well. When soap and water aren’t available, encourage your kids to use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

7. Stay active

Exercise is a great way to boost the immune system but when it’s cold out, kids are usually stuck at home on their iPads.

If your kid isn’t already in some form of sport or after-school activity, consider signing him up. Make exercise a family affair too by taking a hike before dusk, a walk to see your neighbor’s Christmas lights, going to an indoor trampoline park or ice skating rink or simply putting on holiday music and having your own dance party.

 

10 Kids’ Snacks You Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About

10 Kids’ Snacks You Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About

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Instead of packing the same-old kids snacks that are high in calories, fat and sugar, these 10 pack tons of nutrition.

Kids love their snacks. Especially when kids are young, they eat snacks at daycare, school, on the playground, on play dates and after sports. But when you consider what your kids are eating at snack time, most of it’s not really healthy:

  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Baked rice and corn snacks
  • Fake fruit snacks
  • Fake veggie snack
  • and more.

Most kids snacks are filled with white flour, refined sugars, sodium, artificial ingredients, additives and preservatives. They lack the fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals kids need. Snacks like these raise kids’ blood sugar and don’t give them the nutrition they need to play, learn and grow.

Continue to let your kids eat this way year after year and they won’t have the same appetite for healthy, delicious, real food. Not to mention they’ll have an increased risk for high blood pressure, obesity and type-2 diabetes.

Serving fruits and vegetables for snacks is always a good choice but that’s not always realistic. Kids should have a variety of foods in their diets and have treats once in awhile too.

Here are 10 healthy snacks to feed your kids, sans the guilt.

1. Popcorn

Surprisingly, popcorn can be a nutritious food to feed your kids. Popcorn is low in calories—a cup of air-popped popcorn has only 30. It’s a whole grain, a good source of fiber, contains several essential vitamins like vitamins A, B6, E, and K and folate.

The hull of popcorn, where the nutrition lies, contains beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, 3 nutrients that are beneficial for eye health. With a glycemic load of 3, it’s also a better option than chips or crackers. Popcorn doesn’t have artificial additives, preservatives and is sugar-free.

Of course, add some butter, salt or parmesan cheese and you’ve diminished the health benefits so stick to plain or add a sprinkle of cinnamon.

2. Bars

Granola, protein, cereal and energy bars are touted as healthy, on-the-go snacks, but most are high in calories and sugar. Unless your kid is torching some serious calories on the field, bars are usually too much for a snack.

Read labels carefully and choose bars made with real ingredients like fruit, nuts, and whole grains and those that don’t contain anything artificial and consider splitting a bar in half. My favorites include That’s It, Pressed by Kind and RXBAR.

3. Nuts

Nuts are a healthy and delicious snack for kids. Most are good sources of fiber and protein to keep your kid feeling satiated, as well as magnesium, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. Nuts are high in calories and fat so watch portion sizes.

4. Seeds

Like nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are a good source of fiber and protein as well as B vitamins, folate, vitamin E, magnesium, selenium and essential fatty acids.

5. Sweet potato fries

Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. They’re a good source of fiber, vitamins A, B6 and C and potassium and are low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.

Instead of frying them, wash and chop them up, toss with a bit of olive oil or coconut oil and bake until they’re cooked and crispy.

6. Cereal and granola

Kids love crunchy foods and cereal or granola can be a healthy substitute for packaged snacks. Be sure to read labels  however, because many cereal (even those not marketed to kids) and granola brands have a high amount of fat, calories and sugar.

Look for cereals with a good amount of fiber (at least 3 grams), protein and less than 10 grams of sugar. Select those that have whole grains, avoid varieties that have ingredients you don’t recognize and be mindful of portion sizes.

7. Bean snacks

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend beans should be part of a healthy diet. A plant-based diet can help prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and weight gain and is beneficial for gut health. Beans are low glycemic and a great source of fiber and protein to fill up your kids, and vitamins and minerals including iron, potassium, B6 and folic acid.

Beans are delicious right out of the can or boiled, or add your favorite spices and roast them for a crunchy snack.

8. Ice cream

A small serving of ice cream without toppings isn’t the worst food you can feed your kid on occasion, but you can make your own dairy-free, no sugar added ice cream that you can feel better about. Add frozen fruit—bananas work well—to your blender or Magic Bullet and you have a healthy, delicious treat that’s just as good as ice cream.

9. Cookies

Most cookies you’ll find on store shelves lack whole grains, fiber and protein and are made with white flour, sugar and preservativesyour kids don’t need.

With the right ingredients, you can make lightened-up versions of your kid’s favorite cookies that are delicious and packed with nutrition. Look for cookie recipes that call for healthy ingredients like oat flour or rolled oats, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, beans, apple sauce or fruit puree and avocado, which can be a substitute for butter.

10. Frozen fruit bars

Most store-bought frozen fruit bars are filled with added sugar, artificial ingredients and are made with fruit juice concentrate.

Making your own fresh fruit popsicle with pureed or whole fruit is healthier and just as tasty. You can also add some coconut milk or yogurt for a creamy popsicle. I like these fruit and veggie popsicles from SuperHealthyKids.com.