When I began my weight-loss transformation, Tye was just starting to eat a lot of solid foods, so he has really been on this whole journey with me!  As a parent, raising a healthy and strong child is one of my top priorities – and in order to successfully achieve that goal, I need to lead by example. If I make exercise and nutrition a priority in my life, there is a greater chance that he will do the same for himself.

I have found that one of the ways to get Tye excited about eating healthy is to INVOLVE HIM IN THE PROCESS. At 5 years old, he cannot do everything- but there is plenty he can do. Like helping plan the weekly menu, grocery shopping or visiting the farmer’s market or co-op, and his favorite - DUMPING AND MIXING INGREDIENTS!! We talk about how eating healthy foods and staying active makes us ‘Strong in our MINDS. Strong in our HEARTS. Strong in our MUSCLES.’ Meal prepping is a great way to bond and spend time with your kids!

My mission is arming parents and educators with tools and approaches to help them teach our youngest generations about healthy relationships with food and exercise. If we can help adults lead by example, we can set children up for a lifetime of heathy habits and success, in and outside of the classroom. My goal is to build meaningful relationships and work together with families and educators to inspire health in our homes, schools and communities — ultimately raising money to help school districts fund healthier cafeteria and vending machine options, refurbish playground and gym equipment, and provide more opportunities for kids to move and exercise throughout the day.

WHERE TO START?

-TIP #1: KIDS IN THE KITCHEN: Get them involved! Assign age-appropriate tasks for your kids and let them help you prepare school lunches and family meals. 

-TIP #2: TRY SOMETHING NEW: I give Tye cash when we go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and let him pick out a new vegetable, fruit, protein or healthy fat to try every week. We take it home, find a recipe to use it in and he helps make dinner (washing fruits and vegetables, measuring, dumping and mixing ingredients, etc).

-TIP #3: OFFER CHOICES (THIS OR THAT?): Instead of telling our kids what to do, let’s bring them along on the journey! When Tye is hungry for a meal or snack, he asks, “Mom, what are my choices?” I offer him two different options (both of which I approve!) but I give him the power to choose between the two so he feels a sense of ownership in his health.

Here are a few of my favorite meals, snack packs and desserts to try with your family!

HEALTHY MEAL #1

Grilled Turkey Burger w/ Avocado in Lettuce Leaf Wrap
Rainbow Baby Carrots & Hummus
Blueberries & Raspberries

You can either make your own turkey burger patties OR purchase Jennie-O frozen or fresh pre-cut patties from the meat department or freezer section of your grocery store. Instead of a bun, I like to make lettuce leaf wraps and throw a few slices of avocado on top to add texture and creaminess.  Rainbow carrots with hummus add color and dimension to the lunch box and fresh raspberries and blueberries are full of antioxidants.

HEALTHY MEAL #2

Rainbow Quinoa Salad w/ Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans and Sauteed Red Bell Peppers
White Balsamic (or Apple Cider Vinegar) & Olive Oil
In-Shell Edamame

Honeycrisp Apples & Nut Butter

This meal is especially great for kids who are not huge meat eaters. Quinoa, black beans and edamame are high in protein and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins, fiber and have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, which helps prevents blood sugar spikes and keeps kids satiated and focused in the classroom through the afternoon.

I prefer powdered peanut butter to regular or natural peanut butter. Simply scoop 2 Tbsp of powder into a dish and add water until you reach the desired consistency.  Tye and I also use the powder in our oatmeal and protein shakes. My favorite brand is Honeyville Organic Powdered Peanut Butter

What’s the difference? In 1 serving (2 Tbsp) of peanut butter:

  • Regular/Natural: 190 calories, 16 g fat

  • Powdered: 45 calories, 1 g fat

Rainbow Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup quinoa

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 red bell pepper

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes

  • 1 can of black beans

  • White balsamic vinegar (to taste)

 Instructions: 

  • Add 1 cup of rainbow quinoa and 2 cups of water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork

  • Dice sweet potatoes and toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Roast on baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, turning frequently.

  • Rinse canned black beans in water and heat in small pot on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently

  • Dice bell pepper and toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Saute on medium heat, stirring frequently, until peppers are translucent.

  • Mix quinoa, sweet potatoes, black beans and red peppers together in a large mixing bowl. Add white balsamic vinegar and stir to taste

SNACK PACK

Raw Trail Mix (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts & Pumpkin Seeds)
Hard Boiled Eggs

Rainbow Cherry Tomatoes
Sugar Snap Peas

This combination of healthy fats, protein and vegetables keeps kids full between lunch and dinner, allowing them to focus on learning and after-school activities instead of a growling tummy.

DESSERT: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

Many kids are accustomed to dessert after meals. Instead of putting a cookie or piece of chocolate in your child’s lunch box, try these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites (or Protein Brownie Bites) for a sweet treat. They’re full of protein and fiber and you can add in toasted nuts and seeds for added flavor and texture!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats

  • 1 1/3 cups coconut flakes

  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds

  • 3 scoops Isopure Creamy Vanilla protein powder

  • 2/3 cup honey

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter

  • 1/8 cup water

  • Optional: ¼ - ½ cup chocolate chips, toasted nuts, seeds, or dried fruit.

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix with spatula or wooden spoon until everything is combined. If mixture seems too dry, add another splash of water.

  • Roll mixture into 1-inch balls

  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator


BEVERAGES

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When it comes to beverages, water is best. Try using your child’s favorite movie character or super hero molds to make shaped ice cubes! If you know my child, then you know that #legosarelife. Tye loves filling up his water bottle with these! He also gets a kick out of making fruit and vegetable infused ice cubes and using a water bottle with built-in infuser! His favorite combinations are apple cinnamon and ginger peach, but here is a list of the other flavors we like: 

  • Strawberry Cucumber Mint

  • Citrus Mint (grapefruit/lemon/mint/cucumber)

  • Watermelon Basil

  • Blackberry Mint

  • Blueberry Orange

  • Pear Vanilla (pear/ginger/cinnamon/vanilla bean)

  • Apple Cinnamon (apples/cinnamon/plums/pears)

  • Rainbow Citrus (grapefruit/oranges/lemons/limes)

  • Ginger Peach

  • Lemon Lime Mint

  • Raspberry Lemon


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Lunch Boxes + Containers + Water Bottles +Utensils + More!

Visit my KID FAVORITES page for links to Products I love!


BALANCE

This might not be what your child’s lunch or snack is going to look like EVERY day, and this is certainly not an overnight switch! But as parents, we should not feel bad about the days we send our kids to school with peanut butter sandwiches and chips. It’s about balance. And as important as it is for Tye to eat healthy, nutritious foods, I believe it is equally important for him to know that sometimes, it’s OK for us to enjoy a burger or an ice cream cone so he isn’t averse to foods or feels guilt or shame when he indulges.