easy popsicles

My kiddos love their desserts as much as anyone else but in trying to make sure they eat minimal sugar I don’t want to deprive them of all the things their friends eat a lot of.  So we try to make something equally delicious, just more wholesome.

One of our favorites have become watermelon popsicles!  Usually when we buy a whole watermelon I can barely find enough space in the fridge to store it, so this also helps me reduce waste, double win!

You’ll need:

  • Watermelon
  • Lime(s)

Cut up your watermelon and put it in the blender.  Depending on your love of lime add the juice of 1 or 2 limes and blend.  Put in popsicle molds.  THAT IS IT!

We love these Zoku molds and ended up with two sets because one is ADORABLE and the other is perfectly sized for really little ones.  The kiddo doesn’t end up covered in melted popsicle because it is just a great size for him.  These molds are SO easy to get the frozen popsicle out of too.  I’m a huge fan and happy I got them.  We also will put leftover smoothies in there for a quick easy “dessert”.  Its a win for me and a win for the kids!

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homemade granola

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I love making homemade Instant Pot yogurt (I use this recipe from This Old Gal but don’t strain it because I’m lazy.  She also has a great cold start option but I prefer to use my grassfed milk so heating is required).  But don’t love having yogurt for breakfast with just honey and fruit.  Seems like too much sugar and not quite filling enough.  So I decided I’d add some granola but the store bought stuff has a lot of sugar and is pricey – we like it heavy on the granola, not just a dash.  I found a good recipe by Alton Brown but made a few changes, mainly the sugar.

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We are now obsessed with our granola and I love that I can add more protein or change stuff up as I need to.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut chips or flakes
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 Tbs maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour oats, almonds, pecans, coconut flakes, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.  Mix it up and then pour melted coconut oil and maple syrup and mix some more. (Raisins get added after the baking).

Place silpat or parchment paper on a baking sheet and spread out oat mixture.  Place in oven.  It will need about an hour in the oven, but needs to be mixed every 15 minutes.  After an hour (or when it reaches color of choice), remove and mix in raisins.

I’m not sure how long it’ll store for as it doesn’t make it long here.  I know it has a week, but it will likely last longer.

If you want to skip raisins, you’ll probably need to up the sugar/maple a little. And change it up to your needs.

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How cute is my granola jar??  It was gifted to me in my local Buy Nothing group on Facebook.  It’s an amazing group aimed at reducing landfill waste and getting to know your own community.  I highly recommend finding one in your area!

little lunches – quesadillas

Quesadillas are delicious. Cheesy, carby goodness. That’s not totally how we roll though. I try to maximize the nutrients and whole foods I get into my little ones and it needs to be obtainable and easy enough that it’s our norm. I also like to have our basic staples that my kids love because I hate fighting them on stuff.

So quesadillas are totally part of our regular rotation but I stuff them FULL of veggies. I try to fill them with the veggies my kids fight me on the most but also need the most. Because they seem to devour them no matter what. I also just found tortillas that are three ingredients.

Looking at ingredients is sooooo important. It’s amazing how most of what’s in our grocery stores is full of sugar and chemicals just to improve flavor while keeping things cheap. One thing I highly recommend is looking at the label of every single thing you bring into your house!!! It starts to open your eyes.

So what are some of our favorite things to shove in the tortilla? Onion, peppers, ham or turkey, spinach, and kale. Whatever we have in the fridge goes in. I chop it up pretty small which I find helps them to just eat it and not reject something that is in there. The little one will remove big pieces of peppers but if chopped small he eats them fine. The big one will pull out the spinach, but doesn’t blink if it’s chopped. Then I add the yummy cheese as my glue. 🙂

We serve them alone, with salsa, with guac – depends on if the kiddos are hungry or need the extra protein.

I’ve tried to come up with easy rotation items that I can change based on what they need such as: adding more veggies if we are fighting off some germs. More protein if they just aren’t getting enough elsewhere. More carby if their bellies seem a little off.

I do that with their buses too. Tummy isn’t good – add a bunch of crackers. They’ve eaten terribly – fill it with meats and veggies and fruits. Too mush sugar lately – skip the fruit.

This lunch doesn’t fail in our house. It’s easy, yummy, but also packed with goodness so I feel good about it too!

little lunches – buses

Since we try to do homemade meals I’ve had to figure out a quick, easy, affordable and likable solutions for my kiddos.  We try to minimize processed foods especially sugar and carbs so that limits our “sandwich” intake.  I am definitely all about moderation though, so pb&j, grilled cheese, chick-fil-a, all those things are definitely still enjoyed, but I just don’t want to make them part of our regular routine.  I want to maximize our meals that are “whole foods”.

This is one of our favs because well, the plate is amazing.  We don’t do plastics, so this stainless option is nice so my kiddos can have a little fun with their meal.  I love it because those 5 slots force me to give them a diverse set of options.  We usually do:

  1. Veggie – steamed carrots, frozen peas, peppers, (or other veggies but I try to mix it up).
  2. Fruit – possibilities are endless here
  3. Protein – Deli meat, avocado, hard boiled egg, nuts. I do deli meat a lot because it so easy but it is easy to get deli meat that is less than healthy.  LOOK AT INGREDIENTS!  This one from Trader Joe’s is awesome!
  4. Cheese/Hummus
  5. Something delicious – a few crackers, a couple m&ms, more fruit.

I think this way of eating is also nice for them to feel empowered to mix and match and eat things at their pace.  My little guy tries to eat all of the fruit and delicious stuff and then ask for more of that, but I won’t do it unless the healthy things have been eaten.  This is definitely something that takes time for them to learn though, but I find that it is a little easier with this nice variety given to them at once.

I know all parents want their kids to eat more nutritious foods and I know we all do our best, so please take my suggestions as ideas, the same things don’t work for every kid!  But I do try to remember that I am the mama and I am the gatekeeper for what comes into my house.  It makes me feel strong and empowered to remember that!  My kids aren’t going to eat only pb&j if I don’t always just feed them that.  And does that mean that sometimes my kids refuse to eat lunch and just skip it?  Yup, it does.  I’ve heard before that it is our job as the parents to provide healthy meals and it is up to the kid to eat it or not.  And honestly if I could go on a hunger strike for a meal and ensure I only ate french fries for the rest of my life I would DEFINITELY consider it because OMG I love LOVE french fries.  My little guy has thrown plenty of meals into my face because he just wanted a COOKIE!!!! A COOKIE. RIGHT. NOW!!

But we don’t cave, because I know that what goes into their bodies will become them.  Look how fast they grow!!!  Where does that mass come from? It doesn’t magic itself there, they are growing from the things that are going into their bodies!  So if all they eat are carbs and sugar, what is that creating? I just don’t see those cells having all the good stuff to be as strong as I want them to be.  Our brains need healthy fats to function correctly. So we don’t avoid fats – no lean, fat-free here, we just aim for whole foods 80% of the time.  The other 20% is delicious carby, sugary goodness!  We do lollipops at the grocery store, chick-fil-a dates with friends, dessert after dinner, and chocolate (as bribery especially!).  So don’t misunderstand my post, we definitely enjoy all the things, it is just not a primary source of food around here.

I tell my big little that my job is to keep her healthy and safe.  And to be healthy we need the right foods to power our bodies.  I tell her veggies make us healthy and meats/avocado/nuts (insert appropriate protein) makes us strong, and the rest is just yummy.  I don’t want her to associate food with body image but as what powers her body.

homemade-ish frozen chocolate covered banana mocha

I love me a good milkshake or a good frappe, they’re basically the same, except one has caffeine and the other doesn’t.  But I’m not going to go get a milkshake and then tell the kids they can’t have one…and I don’t really want to pay $6 for a frappe.  I also don’t like all the crazy sugar and crazy ingredients. I mean, why are there so many chemicals in something that’s pretty straightforward?

So instead I make this, and it’s fantastic!! I adore this Chocolate Covered Banana Mocha and I don’t feel guilty when I know exactly what is going in it.  So here is my homemade-ish frozen mocha recipe!

Ingredients:

  • Iced coffee concentrate
  • Milk (or water)
  • Banana
  • Chocolate syrup (1 tablespoon is what I like)
  • Ice

I use the Trader Joe’s Iced Coffee concentrate that you see in the picture and it calls for 1 part coffee to 2 parts milk or water.  I follow that and usually use 1/3 cup concentrate and 2/3 cup milk and dump in a banana and a squirt of chocolate syrup.  I add in about 2 cups of ice and away goes the Vitamix!  That’s it and I’m done.  It’s easier than going to the coffee shop.  I don’t need to buckle anyone into car seats.  Force them to hold my hand while crossing the street or end up buying them something with sugar that I don’t actually want them to eat. Win!