Hulk Powers Pancakes (Kid-friendly, Gluten-free)

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Am I right that there’s nothing like pancakes on Saturday morning?

And when all your kiddos want is pancakes, you better believe I’ll be finding a way to add some greens into the situation.

The biggest qualm I have with pancakes is that they’re typically made from processed white flour, which translates into pure sugar in how its absorbed and assimilated into the bloodstream and digestive track.  In other words, it spells out major kid blood sugar spike followed by an inevitable crash of emotions.  Also, they’re pretty lacking in the nutritional department.

These Hulk Powers Pancakes, on the other hand, won’t leave you with a sugar crash 10 minutes later and they also won’t leave you hungry either.  They’ve got some true superpower ingredients including flax seed, spinach and even barley grass powder if you dare to be brave!

Barley grass is high in many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and it can help aid the liver in detoxifying.  It’s also been used to help reduce excess acidity in the body.  You can find it in powder form and add it to smoothies or whatever else you can think of!

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To be quite honest, pancakes have been quite a challenge to me lately.  Partially because I’m always trying to add some obscure ingredient (see above) and partially because I’m a tad challenged in the flipping department.

BUT I’m so happy and a smidge proud to say I finally found the right ingredients and the right method to make healthy breakfast pancakes.  Cue my inner mini-celebration.

I hope you all like them as much as we do! 

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Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gluten free oats (processed in a food processor)

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • large handful or two of spinach

  • 1 scoop of barley grass powder (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

  • 1 tsp agave

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 + 1/4 cup almond milk

    Coconut oil for cooking

     

Instructions:

  1. Process the oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground.  Add the almond flour and the other dry ingredients (cinnamon, baking soda, barley grass powder).

  2. Beat the eggs separately.

  3. Add all the ingredients (wet and dry) into a high-speed blender until pureed.

  4. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat with coconut oil.

  5. Add the pancake batter in batches of 4-5 at a time until the batter is finished.

    Note: They tend to be a smidge on the thin side so if you like them thicker; add your first batter to the pan and wait a second for it to cook a bit around the edges and form before adding a bit more batter for thickness.  Also if you don’t have barely grass powder, you can totally skip it (it’s optional) and the recipe works fine without it.




    -Ashley




Five Minute Guacamole

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As we walk into this month of gratitude and thanksgiving, I am trying to incorporate some new and fun ways to cultivate gratitude in our home and even though they’re young, my kids totally understand thanksgiving! Its so sweet to hear the things they’re thankful for that it makes me even more thankful!

Mostly, it’s the little things I thank God for, like happy kids and year round guacamole! But we have SO much to be thankful here in the United States, for safety and freedom and more than enough food and water (even if we may have to filter it thoroughly to remove all the nasty chemicals)

Did you know that verbally expressing gratitude and thanksgiving can cultivate physiological mental and physical health changes and essentially RE-WIRE your brain for wellness?! That blows me away! If you don’t believe me, watch some lectures on YouTube by neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf!

Dr Caroline Leaf: Bringing Toxic Thoughts Into Captivity

It just reminds me of how awesome God is and how he designed us for thanksgiving and wellness and our bodies are truly such a masterpiece of artwork

What little things are you thankful for walking into this month of Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below!

Anyway, here is mine and my kids FAVORITE Five Minute Guacamole that we use on the daily around here. It’s so tasty with a bag of tortilla chips, a great party dish or just for enticing kids to try new veggies with (as a dip!)

Ingredients:

2 ripe hass avocados
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/8 of a medium onion diced finely
a squeeze of lime juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tbsp dairy free sour cream

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Directions:

  1. Smash 2 ripe avocados with a fork

  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and combine with the fork until you reach your desired consistency. I like to leave some big chunks here and there!

    Enjoy!





-Ashley

Chia Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins (Gluten-free, Paleo)

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Well, its October, and even if that doesn’t necessarily mean cool weather here in Miami, it still means my husband will be watching endless hours of football on weekends and I will be baking Pumpkin flavored everything, obviously!

Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, you name it, I’m determined to try to make a healthier version of whatever it is.

My criteria for healthy in our household means cutting out the flour and fast acting sugars and carbohydrates and replacing them with blood sugar stabilizing proteins and fats.

I was searching Pinterest for a pumpkin muffin recipe that met those criteria but couldn’t find the right one, so I decided to make my own version. I was so excited about how wonderful they turned out that I just had to share them with you all.

These sweet Chia Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins are the perfect breakfast on-the-go or a healthy midday snack and they are super kid friendly. Not only are they moist and delicious, they are packed full of protein and blood-stabilizing healthy fats/omega-3’s from the almonds, chia seeds and eggs.

They are quick and easy to whip up, coming together in only a few minutes! What are you waiting for?? Get your baking mitt on and get in the kitchen!

Here’s how to make them!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large banana, mashed

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

  • 2 tbsp honey or agave

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 2 cups almond flour

  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 3 tsp teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Line muffin tin and set oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Smash a ripe banana in a large mixing bowl with a fork.

  3. Add in the eggs and beat and combine well.

  4. Add all the other wet ingredients: vanilla, honey/agave, coconut oil and pumpkin purée. Mix and combine well.

  5. Toss in the remaining dry ingredients, making sure to distribute the baking powder evenly. Combine well.

  6. Pour mixture into muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full.

  7. Bake for 25-30 mins at 350 degrees or until the edges began to brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.

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-Ashley

Veggie-Loaded Meat Sauce (Gluten-free, Paleo, Kid-friendly)

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This Loaded Veggie Meat Sauce is the R E A L
D E A L, you guys!
I can’t even explain to you how it has changed my life. It is so delicious and so ridiculously loaded with nutrition that you will be wanting to keep it in the meal rotation for every week. The greatest part is your kids wont even think anything differently about it, they will just see noodles and sing a shout of praise.

No, I’m not saying you should necessarily hide whats in the sauce from them. Actually, I feel quite the opposite. Sneaking veggies into foods without your kids’ knowledge has been known to only further distrust and anxiety around the dinner table with picky eaters. I’m just saying that they won’t be able to really taste the difference and sooner or later this will just be what comes to mind when they think of spaghetti.

My kids sometimes like to help me throw the veggies into the food processor and watch them be ground up for going into the sauce. Cooking with kids prepares them for the smells and sights of the meal to come.

If only it was easy and mess free!

Okay, back to the awesome sauce. So I call this Loaded Veggie Meat Sauce because it is literally LOADED with veggies. S I X veggies and T W O powerful superfoods! It has onions, garlic, kale, celery, carrots and tomatoes. It also includes fresh basil and turmeric, both potent super foods packed with nutritional value. It is also packed with iron and tons of healthy fats.

You may be thinking, great for you, but my kids would NEVER EAT THAT! Here’s why I think you should at least try:

  • The veggies are all tender and ground up into tiny pieces which is usually a win for picky eaters

  • The noodles (and optional Parmesan cheese) is placed strategically on top to lure them into the plate (kids are typically very visual beings and if they spy their favorites on top, they’re more likely to try it)

  • Um, did I mention NOODLES?!

Ok enough yapping, here’s how to make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 4 carrots

  • 10 leafs of lacianato kale (stems removed)

  • 4-5 stems of celery

  • 1 root fresh turmeric (skin removed)

  • handful of fresh basil, chopped

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • a drizzle of EVOO

  • 1 24 oz jar of organic tomato sauce + 1/3 of another 24 oz jar

  • 3 tsp himalayan sea salt

  • 3 tsp onion powder

  • 1-2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp powdered turmeric (optional)

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse and dry all the veggies.

  2. Add the onion and garlic to the food processor and process until finely minced. Meanwhile, heat the ghee and coconut oil mixed in a large pot over medium heat.

  3. Add the minced onions and garlic to the oils and let cook for a minute or too until soft while you puree the other veggies.

  4. Add the carrots to the food processor and finely mince. Add to the pot and mix into the onion mix.

  5. Do the same with the kale, celery and turmeric root and add the minced veggies into the pot and stir.

  6. Drizzle a few drizzles of EVOO over the top of the veggies and cook on medium low heat for about 5-6 minutes until they begin to soften.

  7. Add the spices and salt and pepper.

  8. Add the ground beef and chop it with a spatula while it browns. Stir it in well and make sure to break up any large chunks. Cook the beef and veggies together for about 7 minutes or until meat is almost all browned.

  9. Add the tomato sauce. Turn the heat back to about medium heat or until it simmers and leave it this way for about 5 minutes.

  10. After 5 minutes of simmering, turn the heat down to low and cover to simmer for 30 minutes. When its finished, throw in the fresh basil while its still hot and stir in to combine.

  11. Serve this meat sauce over gluten-free quinoa spaghetti noodles or plain quinoa. Make sure to place a few noodles on top (and maybe even a little Parmesan cheese) for all those visual picky eaters.

Enjoy!


-Ashley







Lunchbox Chicken Nuggets (Paleo, Gluten-free)

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My kids absolutely love Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets.  But, since we try to avoid gluten like the plague in our household (my son and I both have difficulty digesting it) we don’t really frequent fast food joints very often.  Besides gluten, the list of additives in their chicken nuggets makes my head spin.

Sorry Chick-fil-A lovers, its a hard pill to swallow

These nuggets, on the other hand, are made with 100% organic ground chicken and almond flour and some yummy spices, nothing to make my head spin here.  

Just yummy, whole food goodness!

So yeah, I gave my best effort to re-create a healthier version for the kiddos and I think I hit the spot.

The kids loved them SO much that the next time I made them, I doubled the recipe so that I could have nuggets for school lunches throughout the week.

What I’m getting at is, these little nugs are great for anytime, really.  School lunches, snack time or a fun and easy toddler-friendly dinner.

Other than the time it takes to fry these bad boys up, how easy would it make your school week to throw these in for the protein of the day??  If your school is nut-free, you can substitute with coconut flour instead.

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I honestly would love to make ahead an enormous batch of these nugs to save in the freezer for those days when I’m in a pinch for time and the kids are hungry.  Putting it on my to-do list now.  Just kidding, there’s no way I will likely have time for that.

Back to the nuggets.

They are crunchy on the outside and soft and delicious on the inside, just like the real deal. I’ve seen many gluten free nugget recipes out there that use sliced chicken breast but the ground chicken really makes the inside texture so soft and moist, your kids will think you just went through the chick-a-filet drive through!

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Ingredients:

•1 lb ground chicken, rolled into 3/4 inch balls

•2 eggs, beaten

•1 + 1/3 cup almond flour

•1 tablespoon onion powder

•2 teaspoons garlic powder

•2 teaspoon paprika

•1/4 teaspoon pepper

•1 teaspoon salt

•coconut oil for frying

 

Instructions: 

  1. In shallow bowl, beat the two eggs.
  2. In another shallow bowl, mix the dry ingredients. 
  3. Set out a large plate with paper towels for drying the finished nuggets.  Put all the dishes in an assembly line for quicker cooking and less mess.
  4. Heat coconut oil in cast iron skillet over medium or medium-low heat. 
  5. Form balls into small balls (about 1 inch diameter)
  6. Dip about 5-6 balls at a time into the egg mixture, gently squeeze out excess egg, then roll the balls in the dry ingredients until coated.
  7. Use the back side of a fork to gently press each nugget into the oil and cook the nuggets about 3 minutes each side (be careful not to burn) and then transfer onto paper towel lined plate.
  8. Work in batches of 5-6 until all the nuggets are cooked.

 

 

-Ashley

10 Nutrient Dense First Foods for Baby (BLW Style) Plus Tips on How to Introduce Them

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If you read my post last week, you'll know I'm not too keen on purees and baby cereal as the first foods for baby.  You can read more about why here if you missed it: First Foods For Baby: What Your Pediatrician Won't Tell You
 
The reason that this topic is so near and dear to my heart is that, in this country, 1 in 4 children suffer from a diagnosed feeding disorder.  What this translates to in the developmentally delayed population, is that 80% of children with developmental delays (or 8 out of 10 on a typical occupational therapist or speech therapists caseload) have an eating disorder. 

Many 1 year-olds I treat in the clinic don't display age-appropriate oral motor skills and lack the ability to chew.  Babies should have the ability to chew a variety of different foods by the time they reach 11-15 months old. 

The truth is that babies brains and bodies are growing by the minute in the first year of life and they need to be introduced to nutrient-dense, whole foods that are going to nourish their brains and set them up for healthy growth and development.  They also need to be set up for a healthy relationship with food by having parents and family members act as positive role models surrounding the mealtime environment.

I truly feel there is a dissconect happening with the introduction foods in our country.  I believe mothers need more guidance and support on what is nutritious to feed their infants and toddlers and how to do it.

That is why I have put together a list of 10 nutrient-dense foods that are a great starting point for your babies introduction to the food world.  I am going to talk about the nourishing benefits of each food and also discuss how to introduce them baby led weaning style.

First, though, lets review a few talking points and terminology.

When To Start:

Most experts in feeding agree that food introduction should occur around 6 months of age.  We now know through research that 4 months is too early for their developing digestive systems.

I recommend slowly introducing solids anywhere from 6-8 months of age while carefully watching for food reactions and sensitivities.  From a developmental standpoint, it makes sense to begin introducing solids around 6 months, since this is when your child begins to sit unassisted, can maintain balance in a highchair and begins to develop their grasp.

All babies are different.  Some may be ready just before 6 months, while others aren't ready until the end of their 8th month.  Instead of age, I recommend looking for these signs to determine if your baby is ready for self-feeding: (1)

  • Baby can sit unassisted in high chair (doesn't lean to one side)
  • Baby displays adequate head control in sitting
  • Baby has begun to grasp smaller items
  • Baby is reaching for food from your plate or shows interest in participating in mealtime
  • Baby aware of connection between mouth
  • Baby enjoys exploring hands, fingers, toys and nonfood objects with mouth
  • Adequate bowel/intestinal mobility
  • Efficient coordination of lips, tongue, soft palate
  • Can form and propel bolus safely (no choking/aspiration)
  • Slow, deep regular breathing
  • Normal tone of tongue, cheeks, lips

What is Baby Led Weaning:

First coined by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods, Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid food where baby is allowed and encouraged to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon.  The term weaning is confusing, so let me clarify.  Baby led weaning is not really weaning babies off of breastmilk or formula, but rather weaning them (slowly exposing them to) onto solids.  The idea is that, during this phase of food introduction, babies will naturally begin to decrease their milk consumption (in correlation to the amount of calories that are taken in via food).

Baby Led Weaning Babies:

  • Are in control of their eating experiences.  (Meaning they pick what, how much, and how quickly to eat, under the supervision of an adult)
  • Are given the freedom to explore new tastes and textures with their hands and mouth.
  • Are never pressured to finish or eat a certain amount of food.
  • Are encouraged to join the family at mealtime and typically eat the same foods the family eats.
  • Continue to nurse (or receive a bottle) just as often. Solids are to compliment milk, and baby is trusted to know when to increase solid feedings and decrease milk (usually later in the first year).
  • "Solids" offered are not necessarily completely solid foods.  Soft veggies and meats are good starter introductory foods.
  • As the babies oral motor skills develop, a wider array of solids are offered.
  • Are allowed to make a mess during mealtime.

I feel strongly that, if done safely and correctly, baby-led weaning is the best choice.  Spoon feeding and long-term purees can cause delays in oral motor skill development and it takes away the babies innate desire for autonomy during mealtime.  It has been my clinical experience that babies whose parents used more of a BLW approach develop more healthy relationships with mealtime and display less picky eating habits overall.

A Note on Food Allergies + Intolerance

Exclusively breastfeeding for atleast 6 months has been known to decrease incidence of food allergies. (See studies here or here)  Even if the child is breastfed exclusively, it is important to monitor for symptoms of food allergies and intolerances very carefully and talk to your pediatrician about any concerns.  

There is a big difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance.  A food allergy is a total immune system reaction to a food that can be tested for via markers in the blood or stool.  A food intolerance is an inflammatory response in the digestive system that occurs in a response to a food.  Food allergies can be tested for, whereas food intolerances are only able to to be monitored via the observation of symptoms.  Many children have food intolerances to wheat and dairy proteins but not a diagnosed food allergy that can be tested for.  

Most Common Food Allergies:

  • Milk 
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Peanut
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Tree nuts

Introducing these foods earlier rather than later, while carefully monitoring for immune or digestive responses, is best.  Delaying the introduction of certain foods for longer actually increase the chance of food allergies (the early introduction, the better)

Common Symptoms of Food Intolerance or Allergy (1)

  • Vomiting/Spitting up
  • Diarrhea/Constipation/Bloating/Cramping
  • Colic
  • Bloody stools/mucous in stools
  • URI
  • Reactive Airway problems
  • Skin rashes; eczema
  • Facial Skin (puffiness, dark circles under eyes, red ears, red cheeks)
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Headaches
  • Chronic sinus or ear infections
  • Neurological symptoms (distractability, poor attention, hyperactivity, sleep disturbances)

Gagging vs. Aspiration

As a mother of two young children who was once terrified of choking,  I can relate to the intense fear that surrounds food introduction and choking.  I can now say I have mostly recovered from this fear through my own BLW experience.

The most important thing I want to point out is that there is a big difference between gagging and aspiration.  Gagging or eliciting the gag-reflex is a normal, necessary component of learning how to chew.  The gag-reflex is a wonderful protective mechanism by which the body (at the brainstem level) protects itself from true danger (aspiration)  Believe it or not, babies are designed to gag on objects entering their mouth from the moment they exit the womb.  The gag reflex is more sensitive in the first few months of life and slowly desensitizes and moves further to the back of their mouth as the baby enters into the first year of life.   

Aspiration, on the other hand, is when food enters the airway.  It isn't always a life-threatening situation but it certainly can be.  If you want to learn more about aspiration and gagging in babies I have linked two articles below that are very informative.
What You Need to Know About Your Baby Gagging By Your Kids Table
Aspiration in Babies and Children by Cedars Sinai


So here you go Mamas!  I selected all my favorite toddler and infant whole foods that are high in calories, vitamins/minerals, protein and healthy fats, which growing brains and bodies thrive off of.  Do your best to stay clear of pre-packaged foods and anything labeled fat-free or low fat for babies.  My hope is that you and your little one can enjoy learning the joys of healthy eating together!


10 Nutrient-Dense First Foods for Baby (BLW Style)

1. Wild Salmon: 
Wild salmon is one of the most healthy foods to offer a baby, considering its abundant nutrient profile.  A rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, Bs, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron.  Health benefits include heart health, cancer prevention,brain health and cognitive function, bone and joint protection, healthy skin and eyes. (2)

  • BLW idea: Prepare baked salmon and gently fork smash a portion; place it on babies food tray for baby to self-feed with fingers (or a fork if they're skilled enough)

2. Avocado:
Avocados are a rich source of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin C, B6, B12, A, D K E, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium and niacin.  (3) They are also a great source of healthy fats (a whopping 22.5 grams per medium hass) and nutritional fiber.  They have been known to aide in digestion, support healthy skin and hair, support healthy liver functioning, are good for the kidneys, eyes and heart and have anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties. (3)

  • BLW idea: Cut avocado in half and remove the seed.  Then cut the avocado in half one more time lengthwise.  Offer to baby this way; they should be able to maintain gasp of it while self-feeding.

3. Egg Yolk:
Eggs are rich in protein and contain significant levels of vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, E and K as well as phosphorous, selenium, calcium and zinc.  (4) Furthermore, eggs also have various key organic compounds, such as omega-3s, antioxidants and protein. (4)  I like to offer the more caloric and nutrient dense portion of the egg, the yolk to babies due to their higher fat content.

  • BLW idea: Prepare yolk by pan frying or boiling for a minute or so in water so that it is par-cooked.  If it is formed, you can offer the yolk to baby whole (gently fork smashed).  If it is less-formed or runny, you can offer it on a spoon with assistance or by dipping it in for them and offering the baby the spoon. Two to three yolks with some veggies or fruit is a great way to start the day for breakfast.

4. Cooked Spinach:
The various health benefits of spinach are due to the presence of minerals, vitamins, pigments, and phytonutrients, including folate, vitamin A, niacin, Vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, manganese, zinc, magnesium, iron and calcium. (5) Spinach is high in insoluble fiber, which can aid in healthy digestion.  Spinach is known for its benefits to the eyes and the heart and has anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties as well.

  • BLW idea: Cooked spinach is easy to offer as a side to any meal; breakfast lunch or dinner. Cook it with butter or ghee in a pan until soft and flavor it as you wish (onion powder, garlic powder or a pinch of sea salt)

5. Bone Broth:
Bone broth is great for the digestive system, the hair and skin and is a powerful defense against colds/flu to bulk up the babies immune system.  It is an abundance source of essential amino acids and other nutrients like calcium and magnesium.  You can click here to learn about the healing power of bone broth

  • BLW idea: You can offer home-made bone or store bought warmed in an open cup (baby will need assistance at first) or you can offer home-made chicken soup with all soft veggies. Babies need assistance from the parent for soups.  Here is an easy recipe to follow for DIY bone broth/chicken soup. 

6. Wild Blueberries:
Blueberries are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants.  In fact, wild blueberries have a higher antioxidant content than almost any other food!  They have been known to protect neurons in the brain and even help repair any tissue damage to the brain and CNS.  Their other health benefits include the ability to strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, prevent cancer, decrease inflammation, control diabetes and improve heart health. (6) Blueberries are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, copper and manganese. (6)

  • BLW idea:  My favorite way to offer blueberries is to wash them first and then smash them onto babies tray (you can use your finger).  After several weeks of eating them this way, baby should be able to manage a whole blueberry without choking.  Blackberries and raspberries are also good choices that you can offer in the same way. 

7. Banana:
Believe it or not, the tried and true kid favorite, the banana is actually very nutrient dense!  One serving or 126 grams of banana contains 110 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates.  (7) They are a rich source of potassium and dietary fiber. (7) Their impressive nutritional content includes vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, folate, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, magnesium and copper (7)

  • BLW idea: Simply cut the banana in half and offer it to them whole.  The introduction of the whole food to the front of their mouth is natural.  Once baby takes a small bite, they will begin to move it from the front of their mouth into the side gums (or molars) to smush it before swallowing.

8. Broccoli:
Broccoli has a wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to prevent cancer, improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels detoxify the body, boost the immune system, protect the skin, eliminates inflammation, improve vision and maximize vitamin and mineral uptake (8)  Broccoli is highly rich in dietary fiber, contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, sodium, potassium, selenium, chromium, choline, manganese and phosphorus.  (8)

  • BLW idea: Steam broccoli until soft (or fork tender if you prefer softer).  Cover with a topping of grass-fed ghee, butter or olive oil.  If offering florets whole, offer the larger ones (smaller florets can be a choking hazard if the baby places the whole floret in their mouth).  If fork tender, you can mash with some butter and a pinch of salt on babies high chair tray.  

9. Grass-fed beef and liver:
Beginning around the age of 6 months, breast milk iron supplies begin to decline in the breastfeeding mother. Your pediatrician may start checking for iron deficiencies and asking about iron supplementation around 12 months.  The idea that meat shouldn’t be introduced until later is an outdated way of thinking.  Babies bodies and brains are craving the nutritional value of iron.  Yes, you can get iron from non-animal protein sources like through raisins, spinach and cereals that have added iron.  However, heme-iron is much more easily assembled and absorbed than non-heme (plant based) iron sources.

Believe it or not, liver (that is locally sourced and grass-fed) is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can offer your baby.  If you don't believe me, check out this nutritional chart from Chris Kresser's website that compares the nutritional value of liver to other foods.

So what makes liver so incredibly nutrient dense? Quite simply, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. In summary, liver provides: (9)

  • An excellent source of high-quality protein
  • Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
  • One of our best sources of folic acid
  • A highly usable form of iron
  • Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
  • An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
  • CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
  • A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.

(9)

  • BLW idea:  For beef, I usually only offer pot-roast style (slow cooker tender) at first. Fork smash and offer dime size pieces at first on babies food tray. For liver, I usually cut it into small pieces and pan fry it in ghee with a sprinkle of sea salt or onion powder.  You would be surprised to find out that babies love liver!  Find out more information on liver and other ways to prepare it here

10: Sweet Potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are great for digestion and very easily digested due to their high magnesium content and starchy nature.  They are known to assist in weight gain (a big plus for babies), are anti-inflammatory, can relieve symptoms of asthma/bronchitis and have known anti-cancer properties. (10)  They are a great source of fiber and have high amounts of vitamin A, C, B6, and minerals like manganese and copper. (10)

  • BLW idea: Bake sweet potatoes in the oven and offer it fork smashed with grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil.  If you wan to make more of a puree, you can puree it (manually or with a hand blender) and offer the baby a small dish with a spoon for self-feeding.  As an option, you can add some black-strap molasses (to increase the iron content) or maple syrup to sweeten it a bit.  

 


-Ashley



Resources:

  1. Johanson, Nina. (MS, CCC-SLP). "The AEIOU Systematic Approach to Pediatric Feeding." October 2016.  Education Resources, Inc.  PowerPoint Presentation.
  2. Organic facts.  12 Wonderful Benefits of Salmon.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/salmon.html
  3. Organic Facts.  19 Best Benefits of Avocados.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-avocado.html
  4. Organic Facts.  6 Impressive Benefits of Eggs.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/eggs.html
  5. Organic Facts.  15 Impressive Benefits of Spinach.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-spinach.html
  6. Organic Facts.  Top 20 Health Benefits of Blueberries.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-blueberries.html
  7. Organic Facts.  16 Surprising Benefits of Banana.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/banana.html
  8. Organic Facts.  24 Incredible Benefits of Broccoli.  Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-broccoli.html
  9. The Liver Files.  Lynn Razaitis.  July 29, 2005.  The Weston A. Price Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/the-liver-files/
  10. Organic Facts.  11 Impressive Benefits of Sweet Potatoes.  Retreived from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-sweet-potatoes.html

Good Fats Chewey Granola Bars (kid-approved, gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

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Getting good brain foods into kids diets (Hello, Omega-3;s) does not have to be complicated! I made these delicious chewey granola bars on a whim and they took less than 10 minutes to throw together.

These bad boys are packed with protein and healthy fats and contain a ton of essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc  and iron.  As a benefit to mom, these ingredients are all supportive of healthy hormonal balancing and adrenal gland health (coconuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds).

They are delicious by themselves to throw in your bag for soccer practice.  They are even better for a quick no-fuss toddler breakfast!  You can crunch them up to make your own cereal or throw them atop of some yogurt for a parfait.  

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**affiliate links contained below

Ingredients:

5-6 dates (pre-soaked overnight)
1/2 cup coconut shreds
3/4 cup almond butter (I use this brand by MaraNatha)
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup sliced almonds (pre-soaked overnight)
1/4 cup agave or honey

Instructions:

  1. Set oven for 350 degrees.

  2. Place soaked dates in a blender or emulsifier (alternatively, you can hand smash them with a fork)

  3. In a large bowl, combine almond butter, honey and dates well.

  4. Add all the other ingredients and combine well.

  5. Place the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and smash it flat using your hands (warning, you are going to get very sticky!) Flatten until it’s abkut 1/2 inch thick or less if you want it to be more crispy.

  6. Drizzle with honey (optional)

  7. Bake for about 7-8 minutes (you don't want them to get too crispy at the bottom so keep an eye so they don't burn!)

  8. Let them cool for 10 minutes and then cut them into squares.


 

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Enjoy!

-Ashley

Best Steak Marinade + DIY Buddha Bowls

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You guys, I have been SO excited to share my household favorite, DIY Buddha Bowls + my favorite recipe for marinating steak. It is so so good!

I can’t even describe the level of deliciousness going on here.  To give you an idea as to how delicious, I will say, I would rather eat these steak bowls at home while my kids fling food all over the walls than go out to eat at a fancy restaurant. That’s how good!! 

So marinating does takes a little prep work,  but it is worth it in the end.  You can do it on a Sunday afternoon or if you have a few minutes during nap time and it makes cooking dinner a breeze! 

Honestly, I don’t know how anyone eats healthy without a little meal prepping.  Whether it’s marinating steaks, putting foil over some sweet potatoes and popping them in the oven or pre- chopping some veggies, on any given day it’s the only way I get a healthy, quick family dinner on the table.

Anyways, I digress. 

The awesome thing about buddah bowls is you can add any combination of veggies you like.  I almost always use broccoli, steak and avocado but this time I decided to try sweet potatoes crisps instead.  My husband and I love mushrooms but my son hates them so I let him pick what veggie combination he wants in his own bowl. 

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So here’s the deal.  

  1. Buy some grass fed skirt steak (I buy about 1 lb to 1 + 1/2 lbs)
  2. Cut the strips into four.  
  3. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  4. Use a knife to make some small inscisions down each side (to help Marinade penetrate more deeply) Run along with the striations in the Steak.
  5. Marinate these in a zip-lock bag overnight or for a full day or two.

 For marinade:

3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp something acidic (vinegar or a red wine)
1 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 + 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt & pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp honey or agave
salt + pepper   

 

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 For the Buddha Bowls 

  • 1 to 1 + 1/2 lb grass-fed skirt steak
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 bunch organic broccoli
  • avocados, mushrooms, sweet potatoes (depending on preference of veggies)
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp organic butter (optional)
  • organic mayo + sriracha (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Prepare rice.  (Boil 2 cups water.  Add 1 cup rice.  Cover on low heat for 20 minutes.)
  2. Boil some water in another pot and add broccoli.  Lower heat to a medium high setting and  cook for about 5-6 minutes.  
  3. Prepare and cut any other veggies you would like.  Slice avocados, brown some mushrooms, boil some eggs, etc. I put sliced sweet potatoes in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes each side to make these sweet potato crisps. 
  4. While rice is still cooking on low, make the steak.
  5. Add EVOO to pan over medium high heat.  Add strips of steak and lower heat down to a 3 and cook on each side for about 7-8 minutes.  You'll know its ready when it is just a tiny bit pink inside.
  6. Cut steak into strips or cubes (matter of preference)
  7. Place them in individual bowls over rice.  
  8. When broccoli is finished, you can add a little butter and salt for seasoning.
  9. Assemble all your veggies
  10. Sprinkle sesame seeds + sriracha mayo if you like it spicy!** I mix organic mayo + sriracha to make it.
  11. Enjoy!

-Ashley

 

Breakfast Sweet Potato Hash Browns - (Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole 30, Kid Friendly)

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With the New Year excitement lingering in the air, I decided I am joining the bandwagon and trying to eat more Whole-30 friendly meals and offering more veggies at every meal for my kids.

The only thing holding me back is, well, carbs.  Darn you bread.  Luckily, tomorrow is a new day!

And thankfully, this healthy little number is New Years diet + Whole-30 + Kid-approved, so I still have that going for me!

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Sweet potatoes are my go-to when I am attempting to cut out the junk.  They can be sweetened up with butter + agave for a sweet tooth craving (try this NOW) or baked into fries, so many options!  All these options got me thinking of hash browns and so I got to cookin’. 

These turned out SO good with only a few simple ingredients and everyone enjoyed them!  I would not make these on a busy weekday morning as it takes a while (like pancakes) to wait and flip them all but on a lazy Saturday, yes! 

Next time I make these, I am planning on doubling the recipe for week time meal prep.  They would be a great addition to toddler lunches.

     

  

Ingredients:  (serves 4) 

  1. 1 Large organic sweet potato (or two small)
  2. 1 Egg
  3. Organic extra virgin coconut oil
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. Crispy bacon bits + scallion toppings (optional) 

Method: 

  1. Peel and then shred sweet potato. 
  2. Beat egg.
  3. In large bowl, mix sweet potato, egg, and salt and pepper.  Massage mixture well with hands.
  4. Head pan on stovetop to medium high heat, add 1 tbsp coconut oil. 
  5. While pan is heating, form 1 inch ball of mixture with your hands.  Place and flatten into the oil with spatula.  Don’t move until that side is crispy then flip.
  6. Continue this process, cooking three or four at a time until finished.  
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Superhero Strength Green Smoothie (Kid-friendly)

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This smoothie is so packed full of delicious nourishing ingredients, that you and your kids will both feel like you have super-hero powers after drinking it down! Or if you’re like me, and have been eating junk while traveling for the past week or so, it will give you a quick jump start to detox your body of all the toxins.

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It has all you need, really! Lots of fresh greens, healthy fruits + healthy fats from the avocado, what more could you need to start your day?

Did you know mangos are packed FULL of antioxidants and are known for promoting healthy skin and digestion?? Their high antioxidant content has been known to prevent cancer and they also contain many trace minerals that are lacking in the average American diet like potassium, magnesium and copper.  

Who knew something so deliciously sweet could be so healthy?

Ingredents: 

3/4 or 1 whole mango
2-3 stalks kale (stems removed)
handful spinach
1/2 avocado
1 + 1/2 banana
juice of 1 lemon
4 square inch pineapple cubes
3/4 cup coconut water
lots of ice 

Method:

  1. Blend all ingredients in high power blender until smoothe, add ice at the end until desired consistency is reached. 
  2. Tell your kids they aren’t allowed to have any! 

   

No-Bake Almond Butter Chocolate-chip Granola Bars (Kid friendly, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten free)

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I have been on the hunt for a healthier version of the store bought peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars without all the gluten and yucky food additives.  I really wanted something healthy and sweet and also was looking for an pack-able kid-snack for when I’m out in public and my kids are getting H A N G R Y. 

After leaving the grocery store empty handed, and not wanting to venture out to Whole Foods, I decided I would give it a go on my own.  

I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing these turned out on my first try.  They were a hit with my kids and the husband too, who sometimes thinks my healthy sweets are not as good as the real thing.   My kids called them "cookies" and I just went with it.

I love having healthy snacks around the house for the kids obviously but also for myself when I am having sugar cravings and feel like I just might smash down an entire bag of my sons animal crackers. 

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These are absurdly simple, no bake required and have only 5 ingredients you probably have in your cupboard. 

Sunflower seeds and dark chocolate boost the nutritional value of these little granola bars and give them a deliciously chewy texture with just the right amount of crunch. They are packed with a little sweetness, fiber and some great sources of protein and fats.

So what are you waiting for? Go make these bars ASAP.

(**Affiliate links below) 

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic gluten free oats, I use these

  • 1/3 + 1 tsp cup organic agave (can substitute with maple syrup)

  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

  • 3 tablespoons almond butter/peanut butter, this is my favorite brand

  • 1/3 cup organic sunflower seeds

  • pinch of sea salt

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Place all ingredients into a food processor, pulse until semi-smooth texture but don’t mash it completely, still leave some seeds and chips intact.

  3. Place the ingredients into parchment paper, mash it down with your fingers until you form an even layer.

  4. Cover & freeze for 4-5 hours.

    5. Cut and serve. 

Citrus Mint Green Smoothie - Kid Friendly, Paleo, Vegan

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I am always on a mission to find ways of getting more greens into my own diet and my children’s.  So when I find a green smoothie that both kids and I LOVE and keep asking for more of, I take it as a indication that I should write this one down.

This smoothie is so refreshing, what a wonderful way to start your morning!  Not only is is packed with lots of Vitamin C and healthy greens, but it also has some healthy fats from the coconut milk to keep your tummy full and give your brain a little boost.

If you're kids are distrustful of green smoothies, this one should bring them over to the dark side (or should I say "green" side?)

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Here are a few green smoothie pointers for kids:

  • Make sure you add a lot of ice to make your green smoothie super cold
  • Make sure to blend the consistency very fine, no one likes a chunky feeling in their mouth when drinking a smoothie
  • Drink it in front of them and wait for them to ask you for some
  • NEVER tell them to drink it! Toddlers are tricky - if you tell them to do something, they think they should do the opposite
  • If all else fails, use the better eater to encourage the other smoothie skeptic ("Oh, look how strong S is getting drinking his smoothie!)
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**Contains affiliate links

 

Ingredients:
3 stalks kale stems removed
1 handful spinach
1/2 large orange (or one whole small) peel removed
2 dates soaked overnight
1 banana
juice of 1 large lemon + add generous portion of pulp too
1/2 inch cube ginger
2/3 can organic coconut milk - I use this brand
4-5 mint leaves
splash of OJ (optional)
lots of ice

Method:
Blend all ingredients in high power blender until smooth.