I’m often asked how I make my kids’ food healthy. First and foremost, we include a big range of fruits and vegetables in our diets. I make a point of introducing new foods weekly to my kids so that we never get bored. We call it our Mystery food challenge and it’s done wonders for their eating habits.
That being said, my kids are still drawn to the usual suspects – white carbs including white rice and pasta, and the occasional chicken nugget, healthy brands of course!
I’m not a huge fan of disguising foods – putting spinach in my brownies, and generally keeping them in the dark about what they’re eating. But from time to time, in addition to consistently introducing new fruits and vegetables, I do make substitutions (e.g. whole wheat flour for white flour), and what I call additions – bumping up the nutritional value of their food by adding another healthy ingredient.
I wanted to do a roundup of my four favorite healthy products/kitchen hacks, so here they are below. Let us know in the comments if you have questions. And if you have other brands that you’d love to share, please keep us informed. The more strategies we can share about healthy eating, the healthier our kids will be.
1. Baby Brain Organics
I’ve been a huge fan of Baby Brain Organics since I first tried it the Fall. It’s a mix of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber and iron to nourish little minds and bodies. Just mix a few Tablespoons into your standard recipe rotation. My kids loved it in pumpkin spice cupcakes, as well as these ginger chocolate cookies; both contained Baby’ Brain’s Yummy Tummy blend.
Fun note: Founder Amy Brown is great to follow on Instagram and Facebook, which are both updated frequently with smoothie and baking inspiration. If you need more ideas, be sure to check out her website which catalogs a number of her recipes (think banana chocolate chip, and pumpkin pancakes).
2. LouAna Coconut Oil
You’d be hard-pressed these days to read anything health-related that doesn’t tout the benefits of coconut oil – used both in cooking – and topically as a remedy for everything from dry skin to diaper rash. I became more familiar with coconut oil for cooking this year when I went on a month-long vegan cleanse in January. I tend to use a lot of butter and olive oil in my cooking, and wherever there was butter, it was an easy swap to use coconut oil instead. Take one of the more popular recipes on my blog – salted butter pecan granola – use coconut oil in place of the butter, and you’re all set with a healthier (and vegan) alternative that tastes great.
I love the LouAna brand because it’s a quality oil – non-hydrogenated, and non-GMO, but it’s affordably priced, so you can use as much as you want without the guilt.
Find out more about LouAna’s coconut oil at: http://www.louana.com
3. Ella’s Kitchen
My kids all grew up eating fruit purees from Ella’s Kitchen. It was always one of their first foods after they’d started to eat solids; the convenience of the packets and flavor are unmatched. But those little packets have use well beyond your kids’ baby/toddler years. Our family still uses Ella’s packets today to boost the nutritional value of their foods. They love to squeeze Ella’s red smoothie fruit packet into yogurt, and we’ve even tried it on top of ice cream. My six-year old is starting to become more involved in meal prep – chopping fruits, and sprinkling our food with herbs. Having her top her yogurt or ice cream with a packet of Ella’s is another way to get her- and the younger kids – involved in the kitchen.
Find out more about Ella’s Kitchen and Ella’s Dad (he really exists), and more about their fabulous range of tasty and healthy products on their website.
The most popular recipe on my blog is for a vegan chili. Why? Because I had such a great experience with Tofurky’s soy chorizo crumbles that I sang it from the rooftops. Readers tried it, reported back, and the word got out that vegetarian chili has never tasted better. The chorizo might be spicy for little palates, so if you don’t have adventurous eaters at home, you can make this chili – or any recipe that calls for ground beef, poultry or sausage – with their milder ground beef crumbles instead. We still use ground beef and other well-sourced animal products, but on occasion, it’s great to mix it up with something vegetarian.
Find out more about Tofurky’s line of products, and get some inspiration from the recipes they’ve posted on their website: http://www.tofurky.com