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Staying Nourished on a Budget

We all have three main resources available to put towards our nourishment for the day: time, energy, and money. Typically when we use more of one, we can save on the other. Today I wanted to share 5 ways that you can save on money by putting just a touch more time into being ready with nourishment choices for the day.

  1. Overnight oats. This breakfast option is such a lifesaver for me! You can find some of our favourite recipe here.
  2. Go green! Make your own matcha latte or green smoothie to kick off the day with antioxidants at 15-25% of the price of purchasing it! Instead of stopping at Starbucks, try buying your own matcha powder or smoothie ingredients and make your favourite hot or cold beverage to go! One of my favourite is to blend coconut milk, matcha powder, and one pitted date or banana for a beautiful creamy matcha latte. And my favourite smoothie these days is this Kale Pineapple one. So refreshing and packed with nutrient density!
  3. Chop veggies ahead of time. Purchasing a salad or veggie tray on the go can be pricey so having veggies on hand at home that are ready to go can make a huge difference. Here are two strategies to help with that: 1) Buy “ready to eat” veggies such as snacking tomatoes, snap peas, and baby carrots. 2) Make an appointment with yourself, your spouse, and/or your kids 2-3 time per week to peel and chop veggies. This is not only a great way to be prepared, but it also is time together and gives your kids non-meal time exposure to vegetables. Another bonus of having veggies on hand is that you put them out as a “pre-supper” snack for everyone to save on the hunger cries from little ones and the “hangry cracker grab” for us adults. Also, never be afraid to buy frozen vegetables. They are less expensive than fresh, keep longer, and are still packed with vitamins and minerals.
  4. Cook once, eat twice. Try making extra at supper so that you can use it for lunch leftovers or in a new way at supper the next night. One of my family’s favourites to do this with is this Feta Bruschetta Chicken. We like to have it with a starch and veggies one night and on a pizza with a side salad the next!
  5. Make Soup. Soup is an incredible way to save money as you can use up any produce that isn’t in the best condition anymore and you have a meal on hand that you can heat up in a matter of minutes for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one. Here are a few of our favourites: Harvest Vegetable, Butternut Squash, and Bell Pepper Cauliflower. 

5 Strategies for Packing a Lunch They Will Eat!

1. Challenge yourself to see how many shapes and colours you can offer in their lunch box as each colour offers different nutrients AND the variety is a nice visual for your child when they open their lunch. They taste first with their eyes! 

2. Try to include representation from each nourishment group to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with a nice balance of energy from carbohydrates, protein for their growing muscles and bones, and healthy fats for brain growth and satiety. 

3. Choose a lunch box that allows your child to see the whole lunch at once rather than needing to open several small containers. 

4. Allow your child to be involved in making their lunches. Ask them if they would like carrots or cucumbers, pita with hummus and pumpkin seeds or turkey and cheese in a wrap. Ask them to help put the berries or raisins into their lunchbox. The more involved they are, the more invested they feel, the more likely they are to eat their lunch. 

5. Remember that the goal is to offer nourishment to children and not a gourmet meal. So it is 100% okay to offer a “snack lunch” of whole grain crackers, shredded cheese, baby carrots, hummus, sunflowers seeds, yogurt, and grapes. And sometimes these “easier” lunches are the ones that are loved most! 

THE BREAKFAST BATTLE

Two commons questions we are asked is “what if I do not feel like breakfast?” and “what should I do if my child doesn’t want to eat breakfast?” Today we are sharing suggestions to reduce any breakfast battles in your home and some yummy recipes too!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Our body has gone into “fasting mode” over night and slowly uses glycogen stores from our liver for energy to stay alive. Glycogen stores are like starch in the body…stored glucose. Our brain and central nervous system can only run on glucose so we need to replenish the body when we wake up. If we wait too long to eat, then the body will go after our muscles to glean the glucose backbone of body proteins.  We don’t want that! We work too hard to build muscle to use it that way! And for our children, we want their brains fed and ready for busy days of playing, learning, and growing. It is important that we, as parents, model making breakfast a priority for ourselves and our children.

Common questions/comments on this topic are:

  1. I feel sick if I eat in the morning.
  2. I am not hungry in the morning.
  3. My children will not eat breakfast.
  4. We do not have time for breakfast at our house.
  5. I find breakfast food boring!

Any of these sound familiar? Here are a few thoughts and tips for each one.

  1. I feel sick if I eat in the morning. This is likely due to the fact that your body is not reacting well to coming out of fasting mode. Try to eat at least something…even if small, and then eat a more complete meal as soon as possible after that.
  2. I am not hungry in the morning. Hunger can present itself in different ways. In the morning you may not “feel” hungry, but that does not mean that your body does not need nourishment. As I mentioned above, try to have at least a little something. If you wait too long to eat, you are more likely to overeat later in the day.
  3. My children will not eat breakfast. Having children sit down for breakfast is a routine that can be encouraged by parents just like any routine. The earlier you model this and create it to be a habit for you and your children, the better. If you have older children that refuse, then having a “grab and go” option for them is better than nothing. For example, a smoothie in a “to go” container, a whole grain wrap with almond butter and sliced apples or peanut butter and banana, or overnight oats that can be eaten on the run.
  4. We do not have time for breakfast at our house. Mornings can be a very busy time in homes…especially with small children. As with anything, making time is the key. This means planning ahead and prioritizing. Setting our alarms at a time that allows for breakfast oriented activities is important. If you want to plan ahead, you could make pancakes or waffles the day before and then pop them in the toaster in the morning. If you like cereal, you can pre-pour it the night before and just add milk and fruit in the morning. I always pour our kids milks into their cups and store them in the fridge that way overnight so those are ready right away no matter what. I have a friend who makes sure that water is in the kettle and her tea is portioned and ready so all she has to do is turn the kettle on and pour water….that is organization!!! For more information on strategies we use and breakfast ideas for kids, you can check our this post.
  5. I find breakfast food boring! It is so true that toast and cereal can become boring and old super quick! Some people love the idea of an easy breakfast that doesn’t take too much brain work or time and that is great. Others like to have variety. Below are a few ways that you can keep breakfast interesting.
  • Make energy bites that provide calorie and nutrient density in a few bites.
  • Try typical weekend breakfast ideas on week days: wafflespancakes, French toast and egg bites don’t have to wait for Saturday and Sunday. They can be a quick and easy option on a week day if prep is done ahead of time. You can make extra on the weekend and just pop them in the toaster oven on a weekday. For omelettes, you can mix everything together the night before and all you need to do is take a few minutes to cook them. Great options to add to an egg are diced peppers, tomatoes, and cheese, then add avocado once it is ready. Yum! Pair with some whole grain toast or English muffin and you are good to go!
  • Change up your fruit…you could serve cereal or toast with peanut butter everyday and still keep variety with a great rotation of fruit on top or on the side.
  • Try a homemade muffin (this is one of our faves) and smoothies with a variation in smoothie and muffin flavours.
  • Try a breakfast picnic to switch things up…

INTRODUCING SOLIDS

Infant Food Introduction

There is a large debate in the world of infant feeding these days in terms of Baby Led Weaning vs. Purees. As Dietitians specializing and women’s and children’s health we are asked quite often which is “better”. Our answer is not clear cut. We like to inform our clients of all the facts and then let them decide what is best for their baby and family. If you have wondered about this topic, then this article is for you. We are going to share 7 topics to think about when initiating infant feeding and within that discuss BLW vs. purees.

1) Wait until baby is 100% ready. The timing of ideal food introduction is when baby shows ALL signs of readiness. Many infants will show interest in food well before they are physiologically ready for it. Mothers can be tempted to start feeding their child solids earlier than ideal with hopes of longer sleep times or concern that breastmilk or formula is not enough. But in reality it is more adventitious to wait for baby to be 100% ready. This means that their extrusion reflex has diminished significantly, they are holding their head up independently, and they are able to sit up in a chair designed for infant feeding. If food is offered before these milestones choking could occur. Also, once these developmental milestones are reached, the gut has usually reached its milestones for increased digestive needs as well.

2) Go slow! Whether you choose BLW or purees it is ideal to introduce foods one at a time with 2-3 days between each food intro. Aim to offer first foods early in the day so that you have time throughout the day to watch for a reaction. This slow process can be anticlimactic for may moms who have been anticipating the day of first foods for months! But it is safest for baby if we take it slow until we know what they are able to tolerate well and what foods may cause gas, reflux, and/or an allergic reaction.

3) Nutrient content matters. One of the main reasons we introduce foods is to ensure adequate iron availability for the child’s growing body and brain Iron allows for Oxygen to be delivered throughout the body and brain and is essential for brain growth and development. Full term babies are born with about 4-6 months of iron stores. One of the main reasons we introduce food around 6 months is to provide additional sources of iron (on top of what is available in breastmilk and iron fortified formula) as the stores deplete. Meat, pork, chicken, fish, lentils, avocado, eggs, oats, and spinach are all foods rich in iron. Plant based iron sources are not as absorbable but when paired with a source of vitamin C can be absorbed quite well. Because of this starting with high iron foods and then high vitamin C containing foods are great places to start with infant food intro. Iron fortified cereals are also available.

4) Texture matters. Now for the topic that the most people ask about…puree or texture. The reality is that by 7-8 months it is very important that texture is offered to a child to help them develop a pallet for foods that are not just uniform and smooth. Prior to that (so in the first 4-6 weeks of feeding), it is truly up to the child and parent to decide. Some children truly hate purees.  They want to explore a big chunk of avocado and gnaw on it and mush it and experience the food. Other children would prefer to have the safety of mom helping with those first bites and start to explore once they know how this whole “eating thing” works. You know your child best and what their personality might lean towards in that area. Don’t let the gag reflex alarm you. It is very normal and part of the development of eating. Here are two things I tell all parents that I work with. The first is that if you start with purees, try to increase texture by the time your child is 7 months. The second is that if you start with BLW, still follow the “introduce one food at a time” rule. It can be tempting when you are offering foods to your baby that the family is enjoying , to then offer them a variety right away. This could lead to an allergic reaction without truly knowing what food caused the issue.  

5) Don’t be afraid of flavor. It is important to limit sodium in an infant’s diet, but offering spices is encouraged. Allow for your child’s pallet to learn about different flavors from a young age; thereby creating tasty and interesting food. There is a lower risk of excessive food jags and picky eating behaviors for a child who was exposed to flavor early on. As I mentioned with food, introduce spices one at a time with separation in between as well.

6) Remove your food biases. When offering food to you baby (or children), be cautious of your words, facial expression, and body language. If they notice that you are not a fan of a food they may choose to not like even before trying it. Also if there is a food you do not enjoy, remember that your child may like it and it is still important to have as part of your food offerings.

7) Be aware of allergens. Certain foods are more likely to cause an allergic reaction in children. Most recent guidelines state that we are to go ahead and integrate these foods into food intro from early on; however, we may use a little more caution when introducing them. This is especially important if someone in the family has an allergy, asthma, or eczema. When introducing a higher allergen food, try touching the back of the babies hand with the food and watch for any signs of redness or bumps or irritation. If all is well in that area for 24-48 hours then you may want to touch the cheek and/or lip with the food. Again watch for any abnormal coloring or behavior or swelling. IF all is okay after 24-48 hours then you can offer a small amount of the food. If all is well both externally (no hives, swelling, or redness of the skin) and GI (no gas, diarrhea, or vomiting) wise after 48-72 hours the offer it again. Sometimes an allergic reaction comes upon the second food exposure. If all is clear after that you can assume that all is well unless a reaction occurs down the road. This sounds painfully slow and it is, but it is also very worthwhile.

What’s for Breakfast? Blackberry Crisp

If you are looking for a cozy, warm, antioxidant rich, nutritious breakfast that doesn’t include boxed cereal, try this delicious crisp.  You can prepare and bake it the night before and warm it up in the morning.  Or simply prep it and bake it bright and early.  You can substitute any frozen or fresh berry, or fruit you have on hand.  We like to double the topping since that is the crunchy goodness our families love.

Ingredients:

Berry Mix:

  • 2-3 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsps arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup

Topping: (double if desired)

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsps maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and grease a pie plate or baking dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl add the blueberries, lemon juice, vanilla, arrowroot powder and 2 tbsps of the maple syrup. Stir to coat the blueberries evenly. Add the blueberry mixture to the prepared pie plate. Set aside.
  3. In a second mixing bowl, add the oats, ground flax, almond flour, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
  4. Whisk the melted coconut oil with the remaining maple syrup and add to the oat mixture stirring until oats are evenly coated.
  5. Spoon the oat mixture over top of the blueberries in the pie plate and smooth into an even layer.
  6. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the blueberries are bubbly and the oats are golden brown. (The oats may seem a bit soft but they will crisp up as it cools.)
  7. Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy!