Browsing Category: Healthy Living

How to Survive the Picky Eater Battle with No Tears!

Winning the picky eater battle with no tears on either side!

The Great Picky Eater Food Battle is not for the faint of heart.

Winning the picky eater battle with no tears on either side!

Lately, my two year old refuses to eat pretty much everything. Unless it is peanut butter, cheese, yogurt or her favorite fruits. She also likes ham, so regardless of what kind of meat I’m serving, I exclaim, “Eat! You like this; it’s ham!”. Sometimes, it even works! 😉

My picky eater refuses foods that aren’t aesthetically pleasing….

She turns up her nose at unfamiliar foods (unless they’re highly processed and full of artificial flavors)….

My toddler has even looked at her dinner plate and remarked, “Bleh!”. How rude! …

No matter how much I bribe her, or threaten time-outs, she Will. Not. Eat. She clenches her lips together, covers her mouth with her hand, and turns as far away from me as possible. And I know I have no course of action that doesn’t include handcuffs, straps, and pliers.

So what to do? I am a strict mom, but even I don’t believe in prying my daughter’s mouth open to shove food in it. 😉

Everyone says, “They’ll eat when they’re hungry!”. But what parent can stand there and watch their child starve nutritionally? While their child simultaneously grows unbearably crabby because, like their mama, they get HANGRY when they don’t eat.

Today, I am going to share what is helping us through this challenging time!

My mealtime tips for  dealing with a picky eater –

  • Serve several foods your child WILL EAT and one new food.
  • Serve small portions to avoid waste, frustration, or child getting overwhelmed at the sight of new food.
  • Encourage your child to try at least one bite.
  • Promise they don’t have to finish new food, or even swallow it. (My kids are big fans of spitting yucky foods in the trash after holding it their mouth for eons.)
  • If child still refuses to try even one bite, threaten to take away a privilege. For us, that’s tv time, which we often allow after dinner and before bed.
  • Follow through. No bite, no privilege.
  • Don’t get mad. Stay calm. Act like it’s no biggie if your kid is iron deficient because she refuses to eat her spinach.
  • Put cheese on it! My kids favorite food group – everything looks and tastes better with cheese!
  • Serve new foods at lunch, and familiar favorites at dinner. Your kids will have a full belly for bedtime and sleep soundly.
  • If kids don’t eat much of their lunch, don’t give them a snack. Or give them a small, but healthy snack to tide them over. NO TREATS! Go ahead, break out your secret stash of chocolate and eat it right in front of them. You deserve it for preparing food they didn’t want and washing a plate they wouldn’t eat off.
  • Keep trying!My mealtime tips for a picky eater

Our greatest success recently has been simply getting the food into my 2.5 year old daughter’s mouth. Whether or not she likes it, or will even swallow the food, at least she is opening her mouth! We accomplished this mainly by threatening a consequence (revoking tv privileges after dinner) and promising she can spit the offensive food in the trash if she so desires.

I trust that in time, her delicate palate will broaden itself from the repeated exposure to new flavors and textures. And if it doesn’t well…there’s always those sneaky veg recipes on Pinterest.

The Best Kitchen Hacks To Save You Time, Effort, Money, and Misery

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Welcome to this compilation of my best kitchen hacks!

I’ve been cooking and baking since I was a little girl, and I’ve learned a lot from my mom, a neighbor that let me cook with her, and my own personal experience since getting married.

Today I’m sharing with you kitchen hacks that took me decades to learn! (Two decades to be exact, but it is quality, not quantity that matters.)

My Best Kitchen Hacks!

Baking Muffins Evenly – Only ended up with 11 muffins instead of 12? Fill any empty muffins cups with water to ensure even baking. So say my mom and grandma, anyway….could be family folklore, but I still do it every time. 🙂

Boiling pasta (etc.) – Place a wooden spoon across your pot and it won’t boil over. This is apparently scientific but only works if you do it before you run screaming to the stove because the contents of your pan have already gone over the edge.

Oil/butter substitute for baking – Keep those snack size containers of unsweetened applesauce on hand. Measure yours, but the ones I buy for my kids are just about an exact 1/2 cup. That’s perfect for substituting in recipes that call for 1/2 cup of butter or oil. It may not be eco friendly, but it’s a lot better than opening a big jar only to have it go moldy in the fridge because you forgot about it. Not that I would ever do that.

Healthy Banana Substitute – Dislike banana but find it in EVERY healthy recipe? I knew I wasn’t the only one! Cook a sweet potato in the microwave until soft and use that instead (equivalent amount- you may have to guesstimate). Applesauce will sometimes work, too. Or, pick a banana that’s on the greener side. They’re not as sweet and not as banana-y tasting. 😛

Multitasking coffee grinder – Gave up on grinding your own coffee beans? Or upgraded to a new grinder? Keep that old extra grinder on hand to grind your own spices. Or nuts, flax seeds, grains….

Make your own oat flour – Ever see a recipe calling for oat flour? My fav muffin recipe calls for it, but I’ve never once bought a bag of it. I grab my Ninja food processor bowl and toss in whatever kind of oats I have on hand. Whirl and pulse until fine. Voila!

Food Processor

Keep your cold foods cold – Having a party and need to keep your salad cold during the event? Put some ice in a bowl that’s slightly larger than whatever your salad (or other cold item is in). Nestle your bowl of salad into the larger bowl of ice and it should keep for longer! I also saw this idea on Pinterest – How to Make an Ice Bowl. Great for serving shrimp, or chilling wines, maybe keeping fruit cold?

Rising Bread – Trying to master homemade breads? Most recipes tell you to put your oven on warm to rise your bread, but that doesn’t always work. My oven is still pretty hot on the warm setting and begins baking the bread prematurely! Instead, microwave a couple mugs of water until boiling. Stick the mugs in opposite corners of your microwave and put your bowl of dough in, covered with a light towel as usual. Close microwave and leave to rise – but occasionally check the warmth inside. You may need to remove the bread and reheat the mugs of water. Do NOT leave the bowl of dough inside when you microwave the water. Your towel might catch on fire. Not that I would know this from personal experience…

Stop crying while chopping onions – Freeze onion briefly or refrigerate before chopping. This is scientific – look it up! You can also run under cold water but it’s not as effective.

Rotten Eggs – Not sure whether your eggs are still fresh? Play sink or float. Place your eggs in a bowl of cool water. If they sink they’re fresh; if they float they’re no good. (To remember which is which, remember – dead fish float to the top, and so do your dead rotten eggs. Ha!)

Save on Citrus Fruit – Don’t you hate when a recipe calls just for citrus zest, no juice? Or vice versa? Next time, squeeze the juice from your citrus fruit and freeze the rind. Next time you just need the zest, you won’t have to waste a fresh lemon, lime, or orange!

Save On Citrus!

Another lemon tip – Enjoy having fresh lemon in your water? Or a slice in your tea? Slice up a couple lemons all at once, and freeze in a layer on a parchment paper lined pan. Or use my lazy man method – line them up in a freezer bag and carry it as carefully as you can over to the freezer. Either way works! Next time you want a lemon slice or two for your drinks, grab one from your frozen stash!

Softer edge brownies – I don’t make brownies much anymore but I learned as a kid, it is best to grease the pan, not spray it. You have more control this way…brownies do NOT like greased edges and the cooking spray often gets on the sides of the pan whether you want it to or not. Also, bake at 25 degrees lower than the box calls for and a few minutes longer. The edges won’t get too crisp before the middle is done. It depends on your oven (and your pan) of course, but this tip helped us be able to stop throwing out concrete edged brownies.

No more grating on my nerves (or cheese) – Let it be known that I HATE grating cheese or anything else. So one day, I had this brilliant idea (or, okay, I’m not gonna lie, maybe I saw it on the Food Network, I really don’t remember). Roughly chop up your bar of cheese and throw it in your food processor. Pulse until you have tiny little crumbles. Once it melts, no one is the wiser for your time saving method! You’re done in about 2 minutes as opposed to the hand-cramping hour it would normally be (give or take, ya know). This also works for zucchini! And I sincerely doubt that anyone will care if you have zucchini crumbles instead of shreds in your bread or muffins.

I hope you’ve found some of these kitchen hacks to be useful! I also have a coffee hack post, How to Make Gourmet Coffee at Home in which I share an easy way to quickly froth your own milk!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share with your friends, so they can save time and misery too. 😉

My best Kitchen Hacks to Save You Time, Effort, Money, And Misery

How to Make the BEST Zucchini Noodles Ever

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

Lately, I’ve found myself repeatedly sharing with friends how to make the best zucchini noodles. Finally I thought to myself, why not just make a blog post about it?

Tips to make the best zucchini noodles ever!

We’re cutting back on grains, and with zucchini in season, it is the PERFECT time to be making zucchini noodles! I never expected “zoodles” to take the place of my beloved carb loaded pasta. BUT….I’ve found it to be a pretty delicious alternative.

If you don’t like zucchini, try these anyway. (I typically hate cooked/stir-fried/baked zucchini – yuck!!) Use my method, and these “noodles” will come out with a great texture very similar to pasta.

  1. Make your zucchini noodles. (I use a Pampered Chef spiralizer I bought from a friend. My Palermo brand one from Amazon broke after six uses. Spend a little more for better quality!)
  2. Put the zoodles in a colander and set it over a bowl.
  3. Salt the zoodles well.
  4. Let sit in fridge for several hours, the longer the better.
  5. Remove from fridge. You will see a lot of zucchini water in the bowl below!! Squeeze and pat zoodles dry with a paper towel or two.
  6. Grab a skillet and throw those zoodles right in there. I don’t even oil my pan, but you can if you think you need to.  Saute over medium to medium-high heat for a few minutes. Just long enough to heat through and get a bit more water out.
  7. Add your sauce and Voila!

Follow these tips and you’re almost guaranteed to come out with the best zucchini noodles you’ve ever made!

So far, I’ve never managed to ruin my zoodles, not even once. Well, ok, I came close when I tried to make sauce and cook the zoodles at the same time in the same pan. (They were a bit chewy. So don’t do that.) So, I’ve either got the touch or these are pretty much fail proof! Try them and let me know!

Here are some of my fav zucchini noodle recipes I’ve made so far:

Zucchini Noodle bowl

Ginger Scallion and Egg Drop Bowl Zucchini Noodle Bowl (If adding the zoodles to soup, I think they’re pretty much dump and go. No need to spend a lot of time getting the water out and sautĂ©ing since they’ll be going into broth.)


delicious zucchini noodles with sesame ginger sauce

Zucchini Noodles with Sesame Ginger Sauce 

which go great with :

Asian Quinoa Meatballs to serve with zucchini noodles!

Asian Quinoa Meatballs

Just remember not to sautĂ© the zucchini noodles in the same pan you’re making the sauce in. It ruins any chance of great pasta-like texture. Go ahead and make both the sesame ginger sauce and the meatball sauce if you make those two dishes for dinner- you will probably need the extra sauce. I used almond butter in the sesame ginger sauce and we LOVE it that way!

You can also sautĂ© extra veggies along with your zoodles – bell peppers, mushrooms, super finely diced carrots (I obliterate my carrots in the Ninja Master Prep chopper bowl – ain’t nobody got time for a cutting board! 😉 And unless the carrots are chopped tiny, they won’t cook fats enough.)

Good luck making the best zucchini noodles ever! I hope my tips help and are easy to follow! If not, let me know about it in the comments and I’ll do an edit just for you. 🙂

Questioning My Plate: America’s Out Of Whack Nutrition

out of whack nutrition

out of whack nutritionThe past few years, I’ve become increasingly dubious of America’s seemingly out of whack nutritional concepts. Maybe I’ve just read too many books, watched too many documentaries- but wait, is that possible? I have never set my mind on one particular way of eating. I’ve kept an open mind regarding each and every nutritional theory.

I am still not sure if I should eat more fat, but less meat, or just fewer grains, potatoes and corn. But I do know that the Food Pyramid (or the newer “My Plate”) has some major flaws.

“MyPlate is divided into sections of approximately 30 percent grains, 40 percent vegetables, 10 percent fruits and 20 percent protein, accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy, such as a glass of milk or a yogurt cup.”

my plate

However, many studies have shown that eating ANY kind of grain is detrimental to your health, and can lead to inflammation in the body contributing to diabetes, alzheimer’s, etc. Yet, grains are a vital part of our daily food intake, suggests the government. Also, many people cannot eat dairy. And there are plenty of other sources from which we can get calcium (leafy greens, anyone?).

My plate also encourages enriched grains. When you remove vitamins and minerals from a food, then add those nutrients back in, it won’t have the same nutritional value or the fiber that the food in its original state contained.

Nature doesn’t produce enriched or fortified foods. If you’re eating the diet nature intended — predominantly vegetables, fruits, lean meats, nuts and seeds — you’ll have no need to purchase anything that has been artificially “enriched” or “fortified.”


Harvard came up with a more detailed version of “My Plate”, and I appreciate the measure they’ve taken to  focus on better quality foods in your diet. (I love the clarification that potatoes and french fries do not count as vegetables!)

harvard my plate


However, I still think further steps need to be taken to verify the healthiest diet before pushing it onto our children, don’t you think? Childhood Obesity has tripled since 1976. Oddly enough, that is when the food pyramid as we (more or less) know it was introduced. That’s a good indicator we’re doing something wrong. Could it be we’re eating way too many refined grains, or just grains in general?

The odds of developing diabetes increased by 40% from the 1970s to 1980s and then doubled between the 1970s and 1990s. Analysis by gender revealed an 84% increase in diabetes incidence among women during the 1990s compared with the 1970s. In men, diabetes more than doubled during the 1990s compared with the 1970s.*


I do not claim to be an expert in any way. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different theories, and I’m still trying to decide which is best. Right now, I am leaning towards fewer grains, and less meat, but with a bread loving family that has been rough. In any case, more vegetables and more nutrients is undeniably the best route to take!

And that’s the great thing about Dreena Burton’s cookbook, “Plant Powered Families” – the recipes are loaded with nutrient dense ingredients! I’ve seen other vegan/vegetarian cookbooks with a bunch of typical flour and oil recipes…sure, it’s vegan but is it healthy?A plant based diet is the healthiest kind to keep your cholesterol low and avoid inflammation in the body, which can lead to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. If you are interested in reading more about a plant based, highly nutritional eating lifestyle, I suggest Dr. Furhman’s book, “Eat to Live”, which includes lots of info and some recipes. Read, “Grain Brain” for more about studies on the detrimental health effects of eating grain. Also, if you are vegan, or considering becoming one, there is nutritional information in the back of  Dreena’s cookbook, “Plant Powered Families”, and a sample meal plan if you are interested in foregoing meat, dairy, eggs, etc.

Last week, I promised to share another exclusive recipe from Dreena Burton’s cookbook, Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes. You can enter to win this vegan, plant-based cookbook here, in last week’s post.

But wait, don’t throw your hands up and say, “Whoa, now, I’m no vegan!”. I’m not either! But check out these Power Protein Balls from the Plant-Powered cookbook. You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy these healthy bites of energy!

Power Protein Balls


I started out by following Dreena’s yummy pins on Pinterest, then I followed her on Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, then
I realized I was obsessed with these yummy, nutritional recipes and NEEDED one of her cookbooks. So I e-mailed and asked if she would be interested in letting me review a copy of her cookbook and host a giveaway for readers on my blog! I am excited that she agreed and can’t wait to announce the winner next week!

Meanwhile, as promised, here is the second exclusive recipe!

Protein Power Balls

Makes 25–28 balls

Our girls are pretty busy with hockey and sometimes they take off to games for hours and need some power-packed snacks. I created this treat for them—it sneaks in a little extra protein boost!

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup coconut flour (see note)

1/3 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 1/2 cups pitted dates

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2–3 tablespoons Vega Choc-a-lot Protein Smoothie powder (see note)

1/4 scant teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

In a food processor, process the pumpkin seeds, coconut flour, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds until fine and crumbly.

Add the dates and process through until they are worked into the

mixture and are crumbly.

Add the cocoa powder, Vega powder, sea salt, and vanilla extract and process again for a minute or two. It will appear as if nothing is happening for a few minutes! The mixture will just be whirring around in crumbs, but soon it will start to become sticky and form a ball on the blade. Stop the machine and remove the dough.

Take 1–1 1/2-tablespoon scoops of the dough and roll in your hand. Repeat until you have rolled all of the dough.

Coconut Flour Note: If you don’t have coconut flour, you can substitute 3/4 cup rolled oats.

Protein Powder Note: This protein powder has some stevia, so adjust to taste for sweetness. Start with 2 tablespoons, and stop to taste the mixture before it is in a sticky ball. If you’d like to add more, try another 1/2–1 tablespoon. If you have another favorite chocolate protein powder you would like to add—go for it. If you don’t want to use any protein powder, omit it, and make these simple changes: increase the cocoa powder to 1/4 cup total, add another 2 tablespoons of hemp or sunflower seeds, and another 2–4 dates, to taste.

Idea: You can leave these balls uncoated, or roll in a dusting of coconut sugar, cocoa powder, ground pumpkin seeds, or a combo!


The cookbook giveaway ends June 15th, so be sure to check out last week’s recipe for (vegan) Cheesy Caesar Dressing and enter to win! Share with your friends, too!


One last time, in case you missed it, here is the link to enter!


And if you want to learn more about the diabetes epidemic, but don’t have time to read, watch this documentary:

Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat

You can watch it for free if you have a subscription to Hulu.