Keeping The Family Well-Fed & Healthy During the Holiday Season

Don’t let the holiday treats & special gatherings break your cycle of healthy living. Here are some tips to stay merry as you celebrate, shop & travel this holiday season!

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Eat Wisely

It’s important to aim for real whole foods. Reach for a variety of colorful veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, & organic/ grass fed meat. Avoid GMO’s, food dyes, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and other ingredients you don’t recognize. Eat small portions, frequently. This will keep your blood sugar from dropping & keep you from indulging,

Crock Pot

If you don’t usually use a crock pot throughout the year, now is the time to break it out! With the hustle & bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to nix making dinner and order out. However, this usually means less healthy food for you family! Even if all you do is make plain chicken in your crock pot (chicken + 1/2 cup of water & S+P), you can do so many things with shredded chicken! You can make chicken wraps, tacos, chicken salad, enchiladas, topped on baked potatoes & more! So easy, simple & versatile! Sundays are for family time so we usually make a “Pot Roast”. Place Heinens ‘Beef Chuck’ in a crock pot & add lots of salt, pepper, garlic, & carrots, 1 cup of beef broth, 1/8 cup red wine vinegar and cook on low for 8 hours. Add 5 TBSP of organic ketchup at the end. This is a great Sunday comfort meal that saves you time since you make it in the morning! Easy peasy.

Limit Sugar

The recommended amount of added sugar per day for women is 6 teaspoons (24 grams) & 9 for men (36 grams). Kids are supposed to eat less than 6 teaspoons/day. Eating sugar releases the feel good hormone, dopamine, from your brain. However, having a high sugar intake increases your risk for many diseases & also keeps you craving more unhealthy food. Sugar weakens your immune system for a few hours after you consume it. Try to get in the habit of reading food labels. Kids juice boxes usually contain a lot of sugar and is an easy swap- just switch to water. If you are using sugar in a recipe, try swapping it for coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic index, is a 1 : 1 replacement to white sugar, and offers more vitamins & minerals than white sugar.

Fat + Protein

This is super important! Eating enough healthy fats & protein help you stay full longer, and also help regulate your blood sugar so it doesn’t spike and drop leading to eating more (and also mood swings). The holidays are a happy time :) 3 pm is usually a time where you feel you need to reach for a snack with protein & fat to keep you satiated until dinner. This applies to your kids too!

Snacks: 1. Homemade trail mix (pumpkin seeds, cashews, Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips, almonds, sunflower seeds). 2. Boiled eggs + carrots. 3. Hummus, Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers + veggies. See “Grab-N-Go Snacks” for more ideas!

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Bring a Healthy Dish to the Party

Be the person who brings a healthy side dish to share at holiday parties. This way you can dig in too! Pomegranate Avocado salsa is a perfect, festive and healthy dish that is a crowd pleaser. If you want to skip the hassle of making a dish- Heinen’s has a prepared broccoli slaw that is delicious. Serve in a white bowl to make it Martha Stewart style & festive :)

Hot Lemon Water

Simple changes lead to more simple changes that make a big impact in the long run. Drink warm water with ½ lemon squeezed into your water when you first wake up in the morning.  We wake up dehydrated since we’ve been sleeping for 7 + hours. Lemon contains vitamin C, and also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties which helps your immune system immensely! Lemon also acts as a digestive and a detoxifying agents in cleaning the liver which helps your digestive health. This is a small, but powerful change you can make for your health

Alcohol.

Have a drink, but not too many! When you’re at a gathering, try to limit yourself to two drinks and have a glass of water in between. Avoid artificial syrups or flavors that have added sugar. If you like beer, dark beer has more antioxidants that light beer. Try gluten free beer. Whatever you do, alternate alcoholic drinks with water; for every cocktail you drink, hydrate with a glass of water. This will help prevent a hangover. 

Better for you beverages:

1.   Cocktail. Vodka + soda water + colorful berries to garnish.

2.   Wine Spritzer. Fill 2/3 of your glass with seltzer or mineral water. Fill the last third with your favorite wine! 

 

Exercise.

Exercise to lift your mood, increase your energy levels, strengthen your muscle & bones, and help with relaxation and quality of sleep (which is much needed around the holidays!) Get your kids involved with a family workout or even make a fun obstacle course to do together. Our kids are watching us everyday. If they see us moving, they are likely to move as well!

[ A few basics you don’t want to forget: wash your hands & teach your kids to do the same, stay hydrated and most importantly, don’t feel guilty about indulging here and there. There’s no need to feel guilty about Grandma’s famous apple pie. STRESS LESS! When we are stressed, we are more likely to fall in to bad habits and reach for unhealthy food. Keep in mind the reason we celebrate the holidays & what is important :) Happy Holidays everyone! ]

**This blog was sponsored by Heinen’s

Healthy Alternatives to the Classic Holiday Treats

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The holidays are here! And so is the temptation of eating all the junk filled cookies, cakes, bars and more. Here are some classic holiday treats with a healthy spin. Give them as gifts, bring them to parties, or leave them out for Santa! Everyone will enjoy something on this 'nice' list.


Candied Pecans

These are definitely my all-time favorite! These are a guilt free holiday treat and HEALTHY. Candied pecans make the easiest and BEST gift for teachers, secretaries, parents, friends or whoever you'd like to gift something to.

  • 2 TBSP Unrefined coconut oil

  • 3 TBSP Organic maple syrup

  • 1/2 TSP vanilla extract

  • 1/4 TSP sea salt

  • 2 Cups raw pecans

Melt coconut oil over medium/low heat. Add maple syrup, vanilla, & salt and stir well. When mixture is bubbling add pecans. Stir pecans well, so they're completely coated. Cook & stir constantly about 5 minutes. Being careful they don't burn, take the pan off the heat and transfer pecans onto a piece of wax paper or parchment paper to cool.


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Snowball Cookies 

  • 2 Cups All-purpose gluten-free flour

  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped walnuts

  • 1 Cup of buttery spread (such as EarthBalance)

  • 1/2 Cup of powder Sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the buttery spread with the powder sugar, and beat in a medium bowl or stand mixer. Stir together flour and nuts in separate bowl. Then mix all ingredients to form a dough. Shape into balls, place on a cookie sheet & bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown. Ready an extra bowl of powder sugar and roll the warm cookies in the bowl to coat


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Hot Chocolate 

  • 1 Can coconut milk

  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder

  • 1 TBSP honey or sugar

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • 1/4 TSP vanilla

Combine coconut milk, vanilla, cocoa & salt in sauce pan and whisk together until combined. Over low-medium heat warm the milk, whisking continuously until it starts to bubble gently. Remove from heat and stir in sugar or honey. Top with coconut flakes or whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

  • 1 Can organic coconut milk

  • 1 TBSP maple syrup

  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

Chill the can of coconut milk over night (or even 24 hours). The fatty coconut cream will separate from the water in coconut milk, It will accumulate at the top and harden. Scoop out ONLY the hard coconut cream that settled on the top. Using a hand mixer, whip the coconut cream with maple syrup and vanilla extract until fluffy. If not serving right away, store in fridge. Thai Kitchen seems to be the best brand to deliver great results. 

You can always keep it simple and buy organic hot chocolate that are free of the junk-filled ingredients. The famous Swiss Hot Chocolate contains GMO's and the ingredients are disturbing; sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa(processed with alkali), hydrogenated cocnut oil, nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than 2% of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglyderides, artificial flavor.

Check out Trader Joe's Organic Hot Chocolate to keep life simple & healthy.


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Grinch Kabobs

These adorable little snacks are so easy to assemble and kids get a kick out of it! Instead of bringing treats to school parties that are filled with artificial coloring or overly sugar-filled cookies and cupcakes, just serve these cute little kabobs!

  • Green Grapes

  • Strawberries

  • Bananas

  • Mini Marshmallows

  • Toothpicks


Gingerbread Houses Made in Cleveland

It’s so nice to know that you can buy local gingerbread houses without dyes, artificial flavors, and other junk I don't want my kids consuming. This local business right here in Cleveland, Ohio offers gingerbread houses (un)decorated or decorated. The houses & decorations are just simple real food ingredients! Order yours here.


**Another cute treat to do at home is make ‘candy cane shapes’ with strawberries and bananas. Just slice the bananas and strawberries and alternate 1 strawberry slice & 1 banana slice and make into a candy cane. 

**Remember to buy candy canes that are not loaded with corn syrup & artificial dyes. Earthfare, Whole Foods, Mustard Seed & Amazon carry organic candy canes.


Other healthy holiday treats

  1. Strawberry Santas are super cute & taste delicious!

      2. Snowman Popcorn Cups makes for a fun family movie night at home!

      3. Watermelon Christmas Trees is the perfect raw, healthy treat to bring to any function.

      4. 2 Ingredient Almond Cookies are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, soft and yummy!

      5. String Cheese Snowmen are a fun snack for school parties that your kids can help with.

      

 

 

Natural Remedies For Colds/ Flu

There are safe & natural remedies that can be very helpful if you come down with the flu. Prevention is always best, but anyone can come down with the flu and it’s comforting to know there are options other than Tylenol, Motrin, Sudafed & Benadryl. It’s best to start natural remedies at the first sign of the flu to shorten the duration & severity of the illness.

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Natural Remedy for Ear Infections

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines on how to treat ear infections in 2013. Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, who helped write the new guidelines, says that 70% of ear infections go away within 2-3 days and 80% get better within a week. “And he says there are some real downsides to using antibiotics when they're not necessary: They can cause upset stomachs, allergic reactions and other problems. And they can contribute to the development of superbugs — infections that are getting harder and harder to cure.

The bacteria that do survive the antibiotic get tough, and next time you get an ear infection or any other type of infection, they're harder to manage," Rosenfeld says.

I am so happy to feature guest blogger, Amy Hafner’s blog on ear infections. We have used garlic oil many, many times in our house for ear infections & I know how common ear infections are with little ones! I wish I knew about it with our first child, and hope you don’t have to say the same thing after finding out there is something natural we can do to help our little one's if they come down with an ear infection.

Guest Blogger: Organic Amy

Vampires and Ear Infections Don't like Garlic

Ear infections, they seem to be as common as apps for your phones these days. According to the CDC, many ear infections can clear up on there own without antibiotics.  CDC

Personally, I have three boys and not one ear infection.  Now have they probably had fluid on their ear?  Of course, but this product is a must have in your Holistic medicine cabinet. 

-Mullein Garlic Oil is excellent for treating ear aches and ear infections.-

Mullein Garlic Oil is an herbal oil, created by infusing mullein flowers and garlic in a base oil. Both garlic and mullein are antimicrobial and mullein is particularly soothing to the ears.

These drops are not safe if your child has tubes in their ears, or has any fluid discharge. You can absolutely make your own drops, but I'm a "lazy organic" so Amazon Prime is my best friend, although, Whole Food's, or your local natural food market will probably have them.

MULLEIN OIL ( PURE EAR OIL )

Directions for use:

• Warm the bottle by rolling back and forth in your hands or running under warm water (cold drops may make your child feel dizzy)
• Put 3-4 drops in the painful ear(s) 3-4x/day
• You can have your child lay down with that ear up for a minute or so, or put a little piece of cotton in that ear to keep the drops in
• Repeat 3-4x/day and as needed for pain

 

Baby's First Foods

Making homemade baby food is simple, saves money & nutritious! It also means you know exactly what is going into their little bodies. Give these homemade baby foods a try! You’ll be happy you did :)

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Make Ahead Breakfasts for Kids

I'm not the best at planning and preparing. Making things ahead of time isn't my strength, by any means. But when I do make the effort to plan ahead, it simplifies my life! Honestly, I have the best mornings if I start the morning for our kids the night before. And waking up before them to have a cup of coffee before I greet them, make for the BEST start of the day. Quiet time for Moms is a must ! When our littles wake up, it seems to be nonstop all day. Organized chaos is what I like to call it :) 

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Hydration Sensation

WITH THE INCREASED TEMPERATURE IN SUMMER & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES COMES INCREASED WATER LOSS-THRU SWEATING AND EVAPORATION- AS YOUR BODY TRIES TO STAY COOL. HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO STAY HYDRATED THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.

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Mom Fuel for Summer

"If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" Self-care is essential if you want to be able to tackle the busyness of motherhood! Fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods. You won't regret it!

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Simple Guide for a Chemical Free Pregnancy & Baby

I'll always remember a conversation I had with my Pediatric Gastroenterologist after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. She told me infertility was very common in women with Celiac Disease. She unfortunately just had her 4th miscarriage & she also had Celiac. I had been dreaming of being a mom since I was THREE years old!! Our convo did not sit well with me. 

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The Safest & Worst Sunscreens for Kids

We want the best for our kiddos! Which is why I know you're reading this right now. This is a SUPER important topic. Our skin is our largest organ. We absorb EVERYTHING we put on our bodies. It is truly just as important, if not, more important than what we eat because it goes directly into our bloodstream. We have been misled on sunscreens and I'd like to break it down & make it simple for you.

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Easy Summer Kid Lunches

I always look forward to the end of school year when summer is near. No more rushing out the door in the morning to drop the kids off at school & jam-packed after school activities.Even though we have less scheduled activities in the summer, it can still be a challenge making food for the kids since we seem to be outside alllll the time! By the time we get inside ready to eat lunch, the kids are starving. Our youngest is now 15 months old & keeps me hopping. Literally. She's the busiest child we've had (loves to climb on everything and anything!) Truly, I only get a break from running after her when she naps. My routine with the kids is evolving & I don't know if I'd even call it a routine anymore. While it may be hectic, my #1 priority is to (try) serve them nutrient dense meals. I am not perfect by any means, but this is the goal everyday. Don't worry, we have plenty of times in the summer where the kids eat from the concession stands at various activities & the pool. It's definitely a part of summer you can't get away from. I always tell myself "the habits that stick are the ones formed at home". 

I prefer (& try) to pack the kids lunches before we leave the house if we are going to do a fun summer activity. They expend so much energy and their tiny little bellies need lots of nutriton! Here are some easy, yet nutrient-dense lunch ideas for the summer.

PB&J |  Celery & Peanut Butter with Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips | Sliced Kiwi | Popcorn & Cereal

PB & J's are our jam. I like to use Rudi's Organic Spelt or Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Bread. We use Heinen's Organic Peanut Butter & Crofter's Organic Strawberry jelly. We also buy a lot of cashew butter and use in replacement to peanut butter. Cashew butter is a great source of iron, which can sometimes be hard to get enough iron-rich foods in your kids diet. Peel & slice kiwi OR cut in half and allow your kid to scoop it out. We like Skinny Pop Popcorn & add a cereal like Kashi Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal to make it more fun & tasty.  

 

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DIY Pizza Lunchable | Turkey Roll-Ups | Cucumbers & carrots | Strawberries & Blueberries

I learned how to pack a DIY Pizza Lunchable for my oldest since he was requesting these for school. When I first started buying gluten-free bread over a decade ago, they tasted like cardboard & my mom quickly found an alternative which was rice cakes! These organic thin sliced rice cakes are at Heinens in the nut & candy aisle. Pack Heinen's Organic Marinara sauce and Organic Valley Mozzerella cheese on the side in containers. If you pre-make them, it will be too soggy by the time they go to eat it.  You can also roll out regular bread (like Rudi's Spelt Bread) with a rolling pin so it's thin & easy to hold, & then cut out a circle or square.  I buy Applegate Oven-Roasted Turkey slices which is by the deli. Cut up cucumbers, carrots, & strawberries however the kids like to eat them!

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Simple Mills Crackers & Hummus | Grapes & Watermelon | Nuts & Chocolate | Cucumbers

We looove Simple Mills crackers!  They are naturally gluten-free & contain whole food ingredients. They are made form a nut & seed blend, tapioca, cassava, sunflower oil, sea salt, onion, garlic, & rosemary extract. They contain protein, healthy fats & are kid-approved. Serving hummus to your kids is a great way to get them to eat chickpeas! They won't even know they're eating them since hummus is so delicious. It's a refridgerator staple over here. Try having your kids help you scoop out watermelon balls when you bring a watermelon home (not while you're trying to hurry and make lunches :) Frozen grapes are a fun treat in the summer. Cut cucumbers in sticks to switch it up. Cashews & pistachios are usually the nuts our kids will eat. I like to throw in some Enjoy Life chocolate, which is also a great source of iron!

 

Other ideas:

  1. Green Lentil Pasta + Marinara. If you haven't tried these one ingredient (green lentil flour) pasta, you're missing out!! They are full of protein, iron & fiber. Toss them with grass-fed butter & sea salt is another kid-approved meal.
  2. Applegate Chicken Nuggets + Sweet Potato Fries. This is a one sheet lunch. Line chicken-nuggets & fries on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven. 
  3. Two Ingredient Quesodillas. Smash up an avocado, 1 garlic clove and sea salt. Spread on one side of a tortilla. Spread Amy's Traditional Refried Beans on the other tortilla. Place them together & fry in avocado oil or grass-fed butter for 2 minutes on each side. Top with salsa, sour cream, olives or any other good fixings your kids like!
  4. Leftover Chicken & Rice, Hummus Wrap. Place chicken, rice & hummus in a tortilla wrap. Serve with a side of fruit, veggies & pretzels. 
  5. Applegate 100% Grass-fed Hotdogs + Tortilla Chips & Salsa + Sliced Apples.

*** For those times you make last minute plans and need to run out the door; grab a loaf of bread, jar of nut butter & jelly, fruit ( bananas are easiest to grab!), healthy potato chip or popcorn, bag of carrots, water & throw it all in a cooler ! Don't forget butter knives & plates :) 

***I usually don't buy fruit snacks to pack in their lunches. Instead I pack concentrated fruit & veggie chewables that I am forever grateful to find! I give our kids these chewables at lunch everyday (it's a routine so I don't forget!). They are nonGMO, contain 20 concentrated fruit and vegetable powder, vegetarian & no artificial colors or flavors! :)