Carly is back! You may remember her from when she shared her tips for how to be a badass mom and today she’s getting even more real. HOW TO TRICK YOUR KIDS INTO EATING HEALTHY AF! Guys – I don’t have kids yet but you can bet I’m going to use some of these recipes on Michael. They’re simple, delicious & pack a real punch. Win-win-win.
Side note: as you may know, the past few weeks I was away in France. It was really nice to put the phone away and enjoy some real quality time with friends. Now that we’re back you can expect a regular flow of content again! It’s essential to take a break and rest. I am SO inspired and recharged. Expect lots of juiciness.
Let’s dive in:
Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be back as a guest blogger here on The Skinny Confidential! My name is Carly and I live in Encinitas, California with my husband Adam, 3 year old son Rio, 1 year old son Dante and 16 year old Brussels Griffon, Mayzie.
I started a blog and Instagram account, The Preggers Pantry, during my first pregnancy in hopes to connect with and share ideas with other health conscious, like-minded mamas. My sons and I eat a primarily vegetarian diet so I post a lot of kid-friendly, plant-based recipes and health tips.
Prior to having children, I was a special education teacher for 12 years. I loved my work but I decided to be a stay at home mom when I had my first son. I recently started a healthy skincare line and now I have two products, Mama’s Mirac-Oil, a facial oil, and Mama’s Magic Mist, a facial toner. Both are safe for pregnant and nursing mamas, but are great for everyone, not just moms! My etsy shop is linked here if you want to read more about the benefits.
Ok, let’s get to it!
One of the biggest questions I hear from parents is: “How do you get your kids to eat such healthy foods?!” I also hear comments like, “You are so lucky your kids eat so healthy!” Yes, you can say I’m lucky, but it’s really just all my kids know. And it takes a lot of work and time to prep and make healthy options for every meal. So, it’s not all luck.
I do, however, feel very lucky that I don’t have a full-time job and I have help from my mom, so I have time to make 3 meals a day for my family. Being consistent with food is key and modeling for your kids is so important. I eat the same dinners my kids eat ( often adding extra raw greens, spices, etc. ). They see me eating the same veggies they eat and I don’t ask them to eat anything I wouldn’t eat. I’m not a nutritionist and do not claim to be an expert, this is just what has worked for me and my kids.
The consistency started when I first introduced them to food. I’m a little more lenient now with Rio, who will be 4 in a few months. Pretty much for their first 2 years of life, my boys never ate any processed sugar, dairy, or grains. And we still don’t eat any of those foods at home.
The way I see it is that they have these perfect little bodies and I don’t want to put anything processed into them. I am responsible for developing their gut health and taste for food and I don’t take that lightly. Rio is now almost 4 and Dante is 18 months. Neither of my boys have ever been constipated or have had any illness that required antibiotics or other medications. I attribute a lot of this to the foods they eat.
So how did I do it?
I fed my kids only savory, whole foods ( avocado, vegetables, beans, eggs, salmon ) from the beginning ( 6-7 months ) until about 10 or 11 months. I waited to introduce fruit until about 11-12 months, after they had already been eating veggies/healthy protein for a few months.
I love fruit and it has so many benefits but I wanted my babies to develop a taste for veggies first. I also never really gave them purees, just straight to avocado, steamed sweet potatoes and veggies and fermented vegetables. And I didn’t give them grains until after a year, when I slowly introduced oats and rice.
I believe that because of this consistency, my kids have always been good eaters. Don’t worry though, if you’re struggling with a stubborn toddler who is a picky eater, there is still hope!
4 tips and tricks to help your kids learn to love healthy foods!
Take your kids to the market with you
Letting your kids pick out the produce may just get them a little more excited about eating it. I have my list and show it to Rio, asking him to help me find things. I ask him to pick out a nice head of cauliflower or some plump tomatoes. Then, when we start meal prepping and cooking, he gets excited and talks about how he picked out the veggies. Taking kids to the grocery store isn’t always the easiest but it’s full of awesome learning experiences.
Let them help you cook
Involve them in preparing and cooking what they are about to eat. We have a special stool called “The Little Helper” that allows the kids to stand safely in the kitchen so they can reach the countertop. Let them put the ingredients in the blender for smoothies and allow them to use measuring cups and spoons to add ingredients while cooking.
They also make kid-safe knives so kids can practice cutting their food, which Rio thinks is so cool. Kids love helping and they get so much more excited about eating when they participate in the process of preparing and cooking.
Limit snacks/eat real food
If your kids are eating normal meals, they shouldn’t need too many snacks. And when they do eat too many snacks, obviously they aren’t going to eat much during their meals. If my kids don’t finish their smoothies at breakfast, I save them in the fridge and make them drink that before they eat anything else that day. I want to make sure they get those greens and if they are truly hungry they won’t have a problem finishing that first.
Our go to veggies/fruits for snacks are cucumbers, bell peppers, snap peas, apples, pears, bananas and frozen blueberries. If your kids are hungry, they will eat these things! If my boys ask for a snack, I always make them eat veggies and fruits first. Rarely do they ask for anything else! Dipping the veggies in hummus and the apples in nut butter might help too. Lundberg organic brown rice cakes are another favorite snack. We often top them with hummus, avocado or nut butter and jam.
If we have a birthday party to go to, I always make sure my kids eat a meal first so they aren’t as hungry for snacks. I usually bring our own snacks, especially for my youngest son, and did the same with Rio until he was 3. Before the age of 3 he didn’t even really care about the food at parties because he was full and busy running around. Now that he’s older, he is more curious about trying new foods. I let him have cake at parties and we talk about how things like cake, cookies and ice cream are fun but they are special treats that we only eat on occasions. He gets it.
It’s super cute whenever someone tells Rio he is getting big because he responds with, “I am getting big and strong because I eat all my healthy food!” One party we went to had a huge cheese platter and he overindulged and told me that night his tummy hurt. He said, “Mom, I think cheese should just be a special treat food.” Sometimes kids just have to learn the hard way that some foods don’t make us feel as good as others.
Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to bring snacks everywhere we go. If I do bring snacks for my kids, it’s an apple and some cucumbers. Especially if my kids have just eaten a meal. Sadly though, it’s kind of the nature of our culture right now that ( junk ) food is involved in almost everything we do.
I have friends with older kids who say that the snack situation after sports is out of control. I’ve heard that sometimes after soccer games kids are eating snacks like blue Gatorade and doughnuts. WTF. I don’t want my kids to have issues with food, feel left out or try to sneak things from me as they get older.
I know there will be times when they rebel and eat things that aren’t the greatest for their bodies. My hope is that by developing the healthy foundation early ( and taste buds, gut health and palate! ), they will be able to recognize what foods make them feel best and they will ultimately make good choices ( most of the time ) when it comes to what they put in their bodies.
Bigger meals/fewer options
I am a big believer in the old school idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I make my kids green smoothies every day and fresh juice every other day. I give them those to drink first thing in the morning while they play and while I’m cooking the rest of their breakfast.
We are a mostly plant-based family but my boys LOVE eggs along with juice and smoothies. For breakfast, Rio and Dante usually eat two eggs each plus some pancakes, oatmeal or sweet potatoes. Sometimes they even want more so I give them fresh fruit or frozen blueberries ( their favorite ).
I think because they eat such a healthy, huge breakfast they don’t really need many snacks throughout the day. Rio occasionally will request a certain food or meal, but usually he just asks, “Mom what are you making today?” They don’t know yet that there are options other than what I’m cooking. It’s nice to give your kids a few choices ( do you want an apple or a pear? ) but giving them too many options or too much power isn’t a good idea. Plus, kids crave structure and boundaries. Stay strong and explain to them often why it’s important to eat good food.
Hide the veggies
If you still can’t get them to enjoy veggies, try these recipes to see if you can sneak some past your picky babes! Make up cute names for foods and sauces based on what your kids are into and make meals special and fun!
Here are a few simple recipes with lots of veggies “hidden” inside:
HIDDEN VEGGIE RECIPES
Tyrannosaurus Rex Pasta
+ 2 cups spinach
+ 1 small steamed zucchini
+ 3/4 cup marinara sauce
+ 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
+ directions: blend ingredients and serve over @eatbanza pasta shells or Trader Joe’s lentil pasta.
Superhero Salmon Burgers
+ 2 cans Wild Planet Salmon
+ 1 egg
+ 1 cup finely chopped spinach
+ 1 small handful finely chopped onion
+ A little chosen foods avocado mayo
+ A little dijon mustard
+ A few dashes garlic powder, salt and pepper
+ Optional ingredient: bread crumbs
+ directions: mix all ingredients, form into burger patties and cook in avocado oil for 5-7 minutes on each side over medium heat.
Magic Mac and Cheese
+ 1 C spinach
+ 1 medium sweet potato ( steamed )
+ 3 carrots ( steamed )
+ 1/2 red pepper
+ 1/4 white onion
+ 2 cloves garlic
+ 1/2 cup raw cashews
+ Juice from 1/2 lemon
+ 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
+ A few dashes of salt, pepper, smoked paprika and turmeric
+ directions: put red pepper and onion in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil to soften. Add all ingredients to blender or food processor, then use sauce for veggie dipping or on your favorite pasta. We love Tolerant Simply Legumes Organic green lentil elbow macaroni with this sauce.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
+ 1 steamed sweet potato
+ 1/2 cup steel cut oats
+ 3 eggs
+ 1 banana
+ directions: blend all ingredients and fry in coconut oil.
Spinach Pancakes ( vegan )
+ 1 cup nut milk
+ 1 cup steel cut oats
+ 1 cup fresh spinach
+ 1 banana
+ 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
+ 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
+ 2 tablespoons maple syrup
+ directions: blend all ingredients and fry in coconut oil.
Polar Bear Popsicles
+ Get some BPA free popsicle molds and get creative! Blend some coconut milk, frozen strawberries, banana and a little spinach. We also like to use leftover fresh juice to make popsicles. You can’t mess these up and they are delicious!
Here is a list of staple items we ALWAYS have in our house. I listed the stores where I buy things too, for the best deals!
The Pregger’s Pantry Grocery Shopping List
Costco ( ALL items are organic! )
+ Baby Spinach
+ Baby Kale
+ Sweet Potatoes
+ Butter Lettuce
+ Carrots (not baby carrots)
+ Frozen Blueberries
+ Frozen Strawberries
+ Organic black beans (BPA free cans)
+ Chosen Foods Hemp seed
+ Chosen Foods Chia seed
+ Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
+ Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes
+ Medjool Dates
+ Bitchin Sauce
+ Nuttzo nut butter
+ Coconut aminos
+ Dave’s Killer Bread
+ Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats
+ Pink Himalayan Salt
Things I buy locally/Farmer’s Market/Whole Foods Market ( most of these are organic )
+ Happy Pantry raw sauerkraut
+ Wild Planet Salmon (canned)
+ Coconut yogurt (we love Coyo brand)
+ Nutritional Yeast
+ Raw Almonds
+ Raw Cashews
+ Bell Peppers
+ Snap Peas
Trader Joe’s ( ALL items are organic )
Oh and the best advice I can give for getting your kids to eat healthy AF: only buy food that is healthy AF.