As a mom of 3 young boys and a chiropractor who promotes a healthy lifestyle, I lead a very full life with health always remaining a top value in our family. I read a quote today that highlighted the fact that the ‘greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you’. So, we invest a lot of time and energy eating well and working out to keep our bodies healthy and strong.
The following are some of the snacks we like to make often so they can be added to the kids’ lunches for their busy days or to come in and eat following a rigorous workout. We typically eat a diet high in vegetables, healthy fats, adequate protein and low glycemic fruit. Keeping the blood sugar stable is key to lowering inflammation in the body and promotes optimal hormonal health.
Many of the ingredients used in the following recipes can be found on Nuts.com along with a great list of recipes for some healthy snack options.
- Guacomole- Add some fresh chopped cucumbers, carrots, peppers, or whatever veggies you love to this easy to make dip for a quick, nutritious snack.
2. Creamy Chocolate Smoothie- Make this on your way out the door in the morning and keep it cold and ready to consume following your workout.
3. Date Balls- Throw all the ingredients in the food processor and roll these into delicious date balls your whole family will enjoy.
4. Chocolate muffins (flourless)- These high protein and deliciously moist chocolate muffins can also be made as a cake. No one will ever guess the main ingredient is black beans, promise!
5. Paleo Power bars- These are much healthier than most power bars out there and you’ll know exactly what you’re fueling your body with-all natural ingredients.
A few weeks ago my kids and I drove back to my hometown of Grand Falls, NB. Although it was spring, it certainly didn’t feel like it there. The snow banks were high enough that my parents could barely see their neighbour’s house. Inside their lovely home, my mom had been growing some little mung bean sprouts. It was nice to see something green (that we could eat) growing inside despite the fact that it was so cold outside. The mung beans only take a few days to sprout and were ready to eat when we got there. My oldest son David who is 7 grabbed a handful and before I knew it had eaten the whole jar. They taste like peas from the garden so he ate them right up. My mom then proceeded to show me how easy they are to grow.
We tried a few batches at home to get the hang of it and I then went in to David’s grade 2 class at school this week to do an experiment with them. I decided to show the kids how to grow their own at school and then to bring materials home to be able to show their parents how easy it is. The class has 22 kids so I brought in 6 Mason jars and divided the kids up into groups of 3-4 kids. My goal was to have at least some of the kids be brave enough to taste the sprouts prior to getting started. I had my niece walk around and give each child a spoonful. Before I even turned around, my jar of sprouts was gone and every single kid tried them and liked them, in fact some of them loved it. I love using peer pressure in a positive way with kids, works every time!
My strategy here is to get the kids to show their parents what they did and by doing so increasing the likelihood of them eating it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the more they are involved in the process of getting the food on their plate, the more likely they are to eat it.
Here are the simple steps to growing your own mung beans in your kitchen:
- Buy the sprouts you want to grow from your local health food store. I got mine from the bulk section at Organic Earth but Sobeys and maybe even Superstore have them in their organic sections. You will see an assortment of them and they can all be grown using the same jar and same methods, some of them just require a little more time to yield a batch.
2. Once you have your beans, you can either purchase a jar for sprouting for about $10 with the lid to strain the sprouts daily. You can also use a Mason jar as we did and get a plastic lid (I got mine from Michael’s and just cut it out to fit on the Mason jar lid).
3. The beans need to be rinsed to get any residue off them and then soaked overnight.
4. In the morning you tip the container and strain them. Add some more water and rinse them again before straining it completely. Repeat this step once again at night.
5. You will start to see little tails sprouting from the beans. Once the green cover is completely off the bean (this usually takes 2-4 days) they are ready to eat. My oldest son didn’t even allow them to get completely sprouted before consuming my first couple of batches.
6. Enjoy! You can keep them in the refrigerator for a few weeks and sprinkle them on salads or just snack on them on their own. Start soaking another batch right away so you always have some fresh!
Today I had the pleasure of going into David’s grade 1 class at school to do a fun little activity. Last week I mentioned to his lovely teacher, Mme Ramona that I would love to bring in some healthy cupcakes for them as a celebration for the end of the school year. She was very gracious and allowed my sister and I, who both have kids in this class, to come in today. I then decided to add a little activity with some health lessons for them to take home and put into practice. We made them do a veggie man. The class has 26 students so the teacher divided them up into 3 groups. My sister and I chopped up 3 bins of veggies with all the body parts ready for the activity. Each group was then given the task to put together their man. The activity included them eating it afterward. My husband Jason had made some hummus for their heads which we had also given to each group. The kids enthusiastically made their man and before we could even take a picture, they were devouring their veggies. Prior to the activity I asked them a couple simple questions to spark their brains about the importance of eating raw veggies. When children are asked what rabbits eat, they are always quick to say carrots and greens. I then ask them what would happen to the rabbit if we fed it ice cream. They immediately let me know the rabbit would get sick. I then asked about a dog and what would happen if it was fed chips and pop. Once again they always reply without hesitation that the dog would get sick. I then bring it back to humans and what happens to us when we eat this type of junk food. They get it. So, I then tell them we wanted to make them healthy and strong today and that is what kids want. Helping them focus on what they want (healthy and strong) vs unhealthy (weak and frail) helps them make better decisions.
My sister and I also made them some chocolate cupcakes which they again thoroughly enjoyed. They ate these and drank some healthy water:
- 1 cucumber, sliced and unpeeled
- 1 1/2 to 2 liters of water
- 3 mint sprigs (boiling it first in a small amount of water will help release the minty flavour quickly)
- Half a lemon, sliced and unpeeled
- Ice cubes
So, this summer have fun adding some raw veggies before every meal. My friend Lois sometimes gets quite creative with my kids and makes them some fun veggie plates. They always love it, especially since she is far more creative than their boring mom:). I’ve included the veggie man, a few of Lois’ creations for the boys, and my friend Susanne’s birthday party platters. I hope this sparks some ideas for you and your family to include more healthy raw fruits and veggies into your wellness regime this summer!
Lately my oldest boy has been coming home from school so hungry. We’re always trying to find something he can eat that won’t be too big to ruin his dinner but enough to give him energy to play for the rest of the afternoon. These date balls are a perfect snack since they are sweetened with dates, have lots of protein, AND the boys love them. It’s great because they can help me make them by putting the ingredients in the food processor. They like taking turns pushing the buttons as well. In a few minutes, we have a healthy snack that I can keep refrigerated for them to enjoy over the next few days. I found this recipe on Lusa’s Organics blog and modified it slightly.
1 cup nuts (I used almonds, walnuts, and pecans. You can use whichever nuts or any combination of nuts you prefer).
1 1/2 cup dates
1 cup nut butter
3/4 cup of additional goodies (unsweetened coconut, dried fruit like blueberries or cranberries)
3 TBSP cocoa powder (optional)
Place nuts in food processor and turn on. It is always extremely loud with nuts so be prepared and warn the kids:). Once these are chopped, you can transfer to another bowl.
Add the dates to the food processor and turn it on once again. This is always so loud as well. Make sure all the pits are removed from the dates.
Place the chopped nuts back in to the bowl with the dates and add the additional goodies.
Blend everything together once again briefly using the food processor.
Take approximately one tablespoon or so of dough and roll into balls with clean hands.
Place in a storage container in the refrigerator.
Yields approximately 20 balls depending on the size.
There are many variations to this recipe but for a quick and healthy dessert/snack, this can be whipped up in minutes. Laura, who works with us at the clinic brought them into work the other day and I couldn’t help but make them the next day.
- 3 cups of cashews (or another nut you enjoy)- I use a combination of whatever nuts are available in my pantry, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews)
- 1 cup pitted Medjool dates, packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (optional)
- Place the nuts in a food processor and break them down into chunks. Add the dates in pieces and vanilla. Process until the nuts and dates form a batter together. Taste the batter, if you desire additional sweet flavour add maple syrup. OPTION: You can also add a couple tablespoons of ground flax seeds for added nutrients and fiber.
- Grab a handful of batter and test the consistency by rolling into a ball, make sure it holds together. If it is not sticky enough, add a few more pitted dates or maple syrup and process until they hold together.
- Once your batter is ready, roll into balls (approximately 1 inch in diameter) and store in the fridge so they become firm. This will make approximately 24 balls that are an easy and healthy grab on the go snack!
*Can also be frozen and taken out when needed.
We have the greatest neighbours and today they had a birthday party for their little boy. Typically at birthday parties for kids, there are tons of snacks but not always a lot of healthy options available. One thing I know is that the more healthy options we give them, the more people at least have a choice to eat well vs sugary and processed foods. Check out the healthy trays she made for snacks. Pair these with hummus or guacomole and there is plenty for everyone to enjoy!
Top tray- Blueberries for the face, the smile is made with blackberries, eyes are mushrooms and 2 blueberries as eyeballs.
Middle tray- Brocoli for the face, blueberries for the mouth, shredded carrots make up the hair and mushrooms and blueberris for the eyes and eyeballs.
Bottom tray- Lots of mini tomatoes for the face, blueberries for the mouth, mushroom eyes and blueberry eyeballs, and carrots as the nose.
There were lots of happy kids and a beautiful table of great food. There was a bowl of date rolls, which I will soon be posting a recipe for. There was a bowl of berries, a bowl of almonds, some salsa to go along with the corn chips. The wraps were filled with delicious egg salad or chicken salad with cumin and raisins. People could choose between the wheat wraps or the salad wraps, I chose the latter and they were spectacular. I will be posting recipes shortly for the chicken salad and egg salad fillings for the wraps.
I always love it when the kids get more fruits and veggies throughout the day. One of the ways to do this is to have it is a dessert or for breakfast and adding a dip helps make eating fruits a little more fun. These are easy to make and a great dairy-free alternative to yogurt based dips. The recipe is from www.everydaypaleo.com. I also have a dull salad knife and fruit cutting knife that I let the kids use to help chop some of the fruits to put in the dip. When they’re involved in the process, although it can be slower and a little more messy, they enjoy eating it a little more.
Decadent Fruit Dip
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 teaspoons coconut flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Optional)
Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender, except for the cocoa powder, and blend until smooth. If desired, pour out half of the mixture and add the cocoa powder to the food processor with the other half of the dip. Process again until the dip is well mixed. Now you have 1 vanilla dip and 1 chocolate dip! Makes 1 cup of vanilla and 1 cup of chocolate. After some time in the refrigerator, the dip will become even thicker.
Most times when we have visitors, one of the go to menu items for either an appetizer or a snack in our household is guacomole. It is so versatile as it can be used as a dip for vegetables or corn chips. I would have to say that on every occasion, it has been a hit. This morning I got back from the gym and Jason was just finishing up a yummy batch. I just sat at our kitchen isalnd chatting with a neighbour and ate tons of fresh veggies (cucumbers, celery, carrots, and brocoli) while dipping them in this delicious concoction. It was too good not to share. Did I mention super healthy too? To top it off, it’s something green on St. Patty’s Day that’s not filled with artificial color. So, go on and make yourself a batch and enjoy! He made a triple batch of the recipe below which was ideal for 4-6 people to snack on. If you plan on making a little extra that you’re not going to eat in one sitting, make sure to keep the avocado pit and place in the bowl to store it. It usually prevents the guacomole from turning brown.
- 1/2 lime (juiced)
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (loosely packed)
- 2 tbsp salsa
- 1/2 clove garlic (use 1 clove if you enjoy garlic a lot)
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of cumin (or to taste)
- Juice 1/2 of a lime by poking it with a fork while squeezing the juice from it into a bowl.
- Mix in the 2 tablespoons of salsa. Add the avocado in and if you don’t have a food processor, use a fork to mash it up and mix it in well with the lime and salsa.
- Mince 1/2 clove of garlic into fine pieces and stir into the bowl as well.
- Add the pinch of cumin along with the salt and pepper to taste.
This picture shows an easy way to remove the pit of the avocado. Gently twist the pit to remove it from the avocado. Remember to keep the pit if you’re planning on keeping extra guacomole for later.