Monday, August 30, 2010

Chicken noodle soup

My kids really love soup, even when the temperatures are in the 90s like today! There are many canned soups out there today that are pretty healthy, but there is nothing like a good homemade soup. Good thing soup is so easy to make!

Last night, I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup which should last for several days of lunch for the kids.

-Organic, low-sodium chicken broth
-Diced carrots, celery, and onions
-Cooked, diced chicken
-Whole wheat "egg" noodles (regular pasta, just shaped like egg noodles)
-Season to taste
(Adjust quantities for the amount you're making.)

Gently boil the vegetables and spices in the broth for about 15 minutes. Add noodles and follow directions for cooking time. Add chicken at very end of cooking process. That's it! Of course, you can add other vegetables if you like. Cheap, easy, delicious, and healthy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Popsicles for breakfast?!?

A very sad thing happened in our house last week...our smoothie maker died. It was given to us as a wedding gift and was heavily used for almost 8 years, so it served it's purpose.

Needless to say, I had to purchase another one with a quickness! I found a great deal on a Hamilton Beach smoothie maker/blender, so I decided to give it a try. Holy cow, I love it!! Yesterday, I made a smoothie using frozen strawberries, fresh pineapple, a banana, plain yogurt, a splash of OJ, and some ice. It blended everything up perfectly and quickly. It also poured out of the spout very nicely.

When I ordered the blender, I decided to go ahead and order something I'd had on my wish list for a while - new popsicle molds. I purposely made too much smoothie for us to drink yesterday morning, and I poured the extra into the mold to try it out.

This thing is super cool! I love that it uses "real" popsicle sticks and turns out looking like "real" popsicles! No more plastic pieces that we always seem to lose! They were very easy to pop out of the molds after running a little warm water over it. The kids thought it was a lot of fun to have popsicles for breakfast, and I felt good that they were having a yummy but very healthy breakfast.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Product review: My Square Meal

The lovely women at My Square Meal were kind enough to send me one of their lunch containers to try out. "The Lunch Ladies" are former teachers and now moms who have seen the challenges of packing delicious, healthy, and Earth-friendly lunches for their kids. In response, they designed this super cool container that hold small portions for small eaters. No more wasted food or plastic baggies!

I have to tell you, I was really excited to pack Harper's lunch for today! This is right up her alley. She is a great eater, but doesn't want a large quantity of any one thing. 

Today's lunch was:
-Ham & cheese on a whole wheat English muffin
-apple slices
-carrot sticks
-string cheese
-whole grain Goldfish

If I had done all of these foods separately, I would have had 6 different containers or plastic baggies. This hinged box kept it all together without a million things to wash or throw away. And because of the way the box is designed, every item stays put in its designated spot. It reminds me of a lunch tackle box! Pretty cool, indeed!

The Lunch Ladies also sell bags specific for this container that can even be personalized. Visit their Web site or "like" them on Facebook to learn more about this awesome product!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good start to the day

As I've said before, I believe in a good breakfast! It is the first shot you get at nutrition for the day, so I like to make it a good one. It is especially important now that school is back in session.

This morning, the kids had:
-Whole wheat English muffin with light cream cheese
-Fresh pineapple
-Plain organic light yogurt with a drizzle of chocolate syrup

Yummy, fast, and inexpensive!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How does this make sense?

I don't understand the marketing strategy behind the Pepsi Throwback products. So you're proudly selling a lesser quality now than you did back then, but you're going to offer us the better product again now, for a limited time? HUH? They are bragging about using real sugar for this promotion, but will quickly take it away again? I don't get it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Warm it up!

Not every packed lunch has to be a sandwich or some other "cold" item. I pack a lot of items that are warm as well. A child-size thermos is the perfect way to keep a delicious lunch hot until lunchtime. Today, I packed Grayson a thermos filled with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce. I cooked a box of noodles last night, so all I have to do in the mornings is heat it up. Quick and easy!

There are plenty of simple options for warm lunches such as healthy soups or dinner leftovers. Plus, there is something my kids really enjoy about using a thermos, so it ads a little excitement to lunch!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wanna know who won??

The lucky winner of a $40 CSN Stores gift certificate is #16, Elizabeth Carmen! Congrats!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Those sneaky veggies...

Every time I look, there seems to be more and more food products in the grocery store that have vegetables "hidden" in them. It started with juice (it seems every brand has a vegetable/fruit blend available now), but now it is carrying out into many other foods.

For example, I noticed Ronzoni has a new Garden Delight pasta out that contains a "full serving of vegetables in every bowl." I don't see much wrong with adding dried vegetables to the pasta, but in this case it is at the expense of whole wheat/grain. I wish they had added this to their whole wheat pasta instead of white for a more complete product.

I also noticed a pasta sauce with vegetable juice added to it, but I can't remember the brand and I can't find it online. I'll post when I go back to the store and look at it again.

Again, I don't have a problem with slipping veggies in to a product here and there, but please don't be fooled into thinking you or your kids are getting all the benefits of real vegetables this way, the way they are marketed. Prepare vegetables the right way, and your children will grown up knowing their importance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lunch in pictures

I figured we could all use a little inspriation this time of year!

Harper's whole grain tuna salad wrap 
Harper's fruit of the day - red grapes

She also wanted an egg!
Grayson wanted his tuna salad straight up with a side of apples and whole grain Goldfish.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: McDonald's Smoothie

We were in a huge hurry yesterday evening. We had to attend an orientation for the gifted and talented program at Grayson's school at 5:30, then football practice began at 6:00. We were already going to be late, so I made the decision to run by McDonald's and grab one of their new smoothies so Grayson could have a substantial snack before practice (I worked until 5:00, so no time to grab anything from home either). Beyond my better judgement, I did this without checking the Web site for nutritional information first.

I did check it out after we go home, and I was pleasantly surprised. Here are the ingredients to the Strawberry Banana variety that Grayson had.

Strawberry Banana Fruit Blend
Strawberry Banana Fruit Blend: Strawberry puree, banana puree, water, sugar, concentrated apple juice, contains less than 1% of the following: cellulose powder, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, xanthan gum, citric acid, colored with fruit and vegetable juice, pectin, ascorbic acid (preservative).
Low Fat Yogurt
Cultured Grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, whey protein concentrate, fructose, corn starch, kosher gelatin. Contains active yogurt cultures.

Sure, there are some things that can be improved upon (less sugar, no artifical flavors, etc.), but I have to give credit that they used fruit and veggie juices for coloring and real fruit purees. I believe it takes small steps like these to get our society where it should be regarding nutrition, and this is the right path.

We won't make this a habit though. I can still make smoothies much healthier and cheaper at home!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Second day of school lunches

Since I forgot to take picture of the first day of school lunches, I figured I could make up for it today. This is my daughter's first year of school, so now I'm packing two lunches instead of one. It is going to take me a few days to figure out how much to pack for her, and the best types of food to send (she is a much slower eater than her brother, and she's not used to having a time limit to eat). Trial and error!

Harper's lunch:
-Egg salad on whole wheat bread (2 hard boiled eggs, light mayo, mustard, relish)
-Carrots & apple slices
-100% juice box
Not pictured:
-Wheat crackers & cheese
-Annie's fruit snacks (for snack time)

Grayson's lunch:
-Turkey w/ light colby jack cheese on whole wheat
-Apple slices
-2 dill pickles
Not pictured:
-Light string cheese 
-Water bottle with a splash of 100% juice
-Wheat crackers & cheese
-Annie's fruit snacks

In other exciting news, the containers from the EasyLunchboxes system fit perfectly in Grayson's lunch box, which came from Target. There is enough room for an ice pack, and there is a front pocket big enough to put the other lunch items. Cool!

Monday, August 16, 2010

First day of school!

My kids started their first day back at school today. For Harper, it was her first day ever! Oh boy, was I a mess this morning! Thankfully, she was all smiles. :) I completely forgot to take pictures of first day lunches! They both had turkey and low-fat cheese on whole wheat bread, apple slices, baby carrots, pretzels, and a 100% fruit roll up. I'll definitely take pictures tomorrow!

I know we started back earlier than most, but I hope everyone has a happy and healthy school year!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Healthy on the cheap

I know some people aren't down with shopping at Walmart, and I understand that. But, if you are a super bargain shopper and don't mind corporate evil (lol), then take notice that Walmart has whole wheat pasta for $1.00 a box! That's pretty tough to beat!

Edited to add ingredients: Durum Whole Wheat Flour. Doesn't get much simpler than that!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thinking about school lunch (again)

Since my son entered the school system in 2008, I have felt very led to encourage positive changes in our schools' lunch menu. But to tell you the truth, I feel extremely overwhelmed. I don't know how to begin or even how to communicate.

School starts back on Monday, and looking at the lunch menu makes me want to start trying again. I pack my kids' lunches daily, but I feel for those kids who don't have that option.

I started on my mission last spring, and I blogged about my nutritional findings (check out the month of April). But now I'm stuck. I don't know what else to do, and I want some advice!

Here's the menu for Monday:
Stuffed Crust Pizza
Fresh Veggies w/Low Cal. Dressing
Chilled Applesauce
Cookie (Low Fat)

I appreciate the low cal/fat offerings and the fresh veggies, so this day isn't too bad although I'm sure the pizza is processed junk and most kids will pick the chocolate milk filled with HFCS to drink.

I'd love your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Looking back...

Last night, my husband and I were looking back on pictures and videos of Harper when she was a baby, and we came across this video of her eating. Obviously, I believe in letting little ones get down and dirty with their food! I do think it helps them to become good eaters if you don't sweat the mess they are going to make while trying it all out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Would you like to be a guest blogger?

I would love to incorporate a few guest bloggers from time to time to add to the content of this site. I can only give a fresh perspective on the stage my kids are at right now. I can tell you what I used to do, but it isn't the same as what is currently happening. I'd love to hear from moms who are making their own baby food, starting finger foods, or coping with choosey toddlers. I'd also like to hear from moms of teenagers and how their eating habits have changed since childhood. I also think a dad's perspective would be pretty cool, if I have any male readers out there that would be interested. I'm open to most any idea, and I'd love to include pictures!

If you're interested, please leave me a comment with what type of guest blog you'd like to do and a way for me to get in touch with you. Thanks!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's that you say? Another giveaway?

Man, I love giving away stuff to my readers! And I've got a really cool one this time around! Whether you need items for your dining room, kitchen, or anywhere in your home a $40 gift certificate from CSN Stores should help you out (does not cover shipping costs)! CSN Stores cover a wide range of web sites that can provide you with something awesome for almost any room in your home! They have some pretty neat kitchen gadgets that I'd like to try out!

To enter, here are the rules:
1. Become a fan of my blog on Facebook.
2. Leave me a comment saying you did so, or that you already were.
3. Make sure I have a way to get in touch with you if you are the winner.
4. If you have won another prize within the last 60 days, you are not eligible for this prize.

Contest will end Friday, August 20 at 11:59 pm. Good luck!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A magazine I love!

I recently started receiving Kiwi magazine, and I love it! It is a parenting magazine that focuses on healthy and green living. It is full of helpful articles and recipes for the more "crunchy" family, without being over the top. Plus, it doesn't have any advertisements or plugs for products that go against our family's way of life. I appreciate that! I highly recommend this magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Plenty of good reasons...

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I thought this video was appropriate and informative.

P.S. No worries - I won't be turning this into a breastfeeding blog!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A smoothie kind of morning

Remember that Crenshaw melon I posted about earlier this week? Well that thing was HUGE! And it was very ripe when we cut it, so we didn't get around to eating it all before it started getting a little soft. Guess what that means? Smoothies for breakfast!

This morning's ingredients included Crenshaw melon, a peach (skin on), a little OJ, plain yogurt, and ice. The kids drank every last drop. What a healthy way to start the morning!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

The first week in August is recognized as World Breastfeeding Week. Since my blog is focused on what I feed my kids, I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss the most important thing I ever fed my children - my own milk! Here's is my breastfeeding story.

When I got pregnant with my son in 2003, I had no doubt that I would breastfeed him. I was not breastfed, but not many kids were in the 1970s. My sister breastfed both of her children, and I've always looked to her for parenting guidance. It seemed like the natural thing to do, why I have breasts in the first place. I couldn't deny that God designed my body to nurse my children! I took the breastfeeding class offered by my ob/gyn office and I read books on breastfeeding. I'm thankful I did both of those because it truly helped to be prepared.

When Grayson was born, I had a lactation consultant with me every step of the way. She checked on me the entire time I was in the hospital to make sure our breastfeeding relationship was going well. I had some pain for the first couple of weeks, but nothing too extreme. Grayson was a good eater from the very beginning, and I had good help going into it. I didn't appreciate it enough at the time!

When Grayson was three months old, we moved back to my hometown to be closer to my family. When I began working for my dad, I also began pumping twice a day. I was too cheap to buy the nice electric pump, so I used a hand pump until Grayson was a year old! At one point, I got worried that he would need formula if an emergency came up and I didn't have enough pumped milk, so I used one of those sample cans of formula to make a bottle. He wouldn't even taste it.

I didn't realize how few women in my area breastfed until the questions started rolling in about how long I planned to nurse, how could I do it when he had teeth, etc. I joined our local Junior Woman's Club, and ended up meeting a few other women that nursed their children. We discussed the need for breastfeeding education and support in our town, since there is no lactation consultant at the hospital. We began a breastfeeding support group for women who were pregnant or had nursing children. We also put together goody bags to be given to new moms at the hospital filled with information on breastfeeding and samples of breastfeeding products. We hoped these bags would compete and win against the formula bags!

Grayson breastfed until he was about 18 months old. At that point, he was only nursing once or twice a day, so I slowly weaned him. It was a great experience for both of us, and I cherished every minute of it. I can't say what my bond with him would have been like without nursing, but I know it was a very special time between us that I would never change.

When my daughter was born, I thought I was a breastfeeding expert. I had already nursed one child successfully and helped others nurse their kids. What more could I know? Wrong! Harper started off as a champion nurser, but she tore my nipples apart! I cried every time I nursed her for a solid two weeks. I bled, I screamed, I was being tortured...but there was no way I was giving up. After a lot of reading and talking to others, I figured out her latch was not deep enough and we worked to resolve it. After that hump, it was smooth sailing...until I got mastitis. Imagine the flu, plus sore boobs, plus a hungry baby. NOT fun. Oh, and this time around I got an electric pump. Why was I so stubborn the first time around? It was so much easier to pump with the!

From there on out, we had a beautiful nursing relationship until she was around 17 months old and seemed to be losing interest. She was still nursing here and there, but her interest had dwindled quite a bit so I weaned her off that final bedtime feed.

I can't tell you how much breastfeeding meant to me and how strongly I feel about it. It comforted crying, soothed many boo boos, lulled into peaceful sleep, and created an everlasting bond between me and my children that can never be taken away. These were just the exterior benefits! I can't even begin to tell you about all the physical benefits we both received, but I love this article on the 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child. Neither of my children ever had one drop of formula, and I work a full time job!

This is getting long, but I could talk about breastfeeding all day! It is the reason why I care so much about what goes into my kids' bodies today. I started them off with the best, and I couldn't see letting go of that standard. I encourage every new mother to start her kids off the way nature intended, and GET HELP if the going gets tough! Nurse in public, share your story, and help any mom you can give her babies the best start!

P.S. I just thought of two more really selfish benefits of breastfeeding. It was free! I can't imagine spending money on formula when you can literally get the "cow" for free! And I lost my baby weight so fast without any diet or exercise. Score!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Trying something new

My husband took the kids to a family night at our local farmer's market over the weekend (I was enjoying a girl's weekend at the beach...yay me!), and found a new melon to try while he was there - the Crenshaw melon. Now this may be completely familiar to many of you, but it was a first for us. I think I've seen one before, but never tried it.

In case you've never had one, it tastes like a super sweet cantaloupe. The kids loved it, and Grayson says it is his new favorite fruit! You can't argue with a fruit that has 100% of Vitamin A and 80% of Vitamin C in 3.5 ounces!

Cut up melon is also a great fruit to include in a healthy lunch, as shown here with a turkey, reduced-fat provolone, and spinach sandwich and cucumber slices with vinegar. Don't be afraid to try new things!

Monday, August 2, 2010

We have a winner!

Congrats to calikim17 for being the big winner in the EasyLunchboxes giveaway! I hope you enjoy the product as much as I have!

Thank you to all that entered, and check back soon for another great giveaway! If you're interested in purchasing an EasyLunchbox, click below. You'll be glad you did!