Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler Recipe

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One of the many reasons that I love Summer is because of the fresh berries. Not only are they packed full of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre, but blueberries also taste delicious and are really convenient when you have small children (they are the best and most nutritious finger food!). Both my three-year-old son and my one-year-old daughter devour them by the handful on most days.

It’s easy to find both organic and conventionally grown berries at most stores right now, but I personally prefer to go to the farmers market and pick up a pint of BC grown blueberries- somehow they just taste better. Maybe it’s because I know that they haven’t travelled too far! We don’t have locally grown berries for very long here in Canada, so I tend to stock up and freeze them near the end of the season to use in smoothies and hot cereal during the winter months. My son also loves eating frozen berries as a snack with a spoon- he calls it “fruit candy” (I won’t complain!).

When I was given the assignment to test out this Blueberry Cobbler Recipe for Canadian Living, I was thrilled at the thought of having a new berry recipe to add to my collection. This recipe called for A LOT of blueberries, so I opted to use a large package of fresh organic blueberries from Costco. It was also a great excuse to use up a package of cornmeal that had been sitting in the pantry for a while.

The cobbler was super easy to throw together and made for a great post-barbecue summer dessert that everyone enjoyed. It wasn’t too sweet at all, which is why the addition of vanilla ice cream was, without a doubt, justified.

I baked the cobbler beforehand, and heated it up right before serving. Everyone loved it!

blueberries

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I got two thumbs up from all of the kids (between the ages of one to four) and most of the adults went back for seconds too. We will definitely be making this delicious summer dessert again soon.

If you’d like to try it out, hop on over to Canadian Living’s website to view the full recipe here: Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler 

And here’s a look at what the other Canadian Living Voices Bloggers had to say about this recipe: Canadian Living Bloggers Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler Slideshow

Happy Summer!!

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I receive compensation for it. All opinions are my own.

 

Eight Summertime Snacks For Moms And Kids On The Go

Now that my little guy is all done preschool for the year, I’m finding that we are filling up our mornings with play dates, playground visits and running errands. With two little ones in tow, I’m finding that I always need to have lots of snacks and drinks packed to get us through the mornings. Instead of scrambling right before we leave, I’ve gotten into the habit of preparing and packing up snacks the night before so that we can grab them and go. Even if you’re not heading out, having snacks ready in the fridge is always nice. Here are a few of our go-to’s right now:

Fruit and/or veggie kiddie “sushi”:

Spread natural nut butter and a bit of honey OR cream cheese onto a whole grain tortilla and layer cut-up fruit of your choice on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you’d like too! Roll it up and cut width-wise for “sushi-looking” roll-ups

veggie-rollup fruit-rollup fruit-pb-roll-up

Water melon wedges:

Simple but wonderful. Watermelon is great for a snack during the summer months because it gives kids a boost of energy and nutrition while hydrating at the same time! Kids love the sweetness of watermelon and Moms love the fact that it’s nutritious and portable!

watermelon

Fruit and yogurt smoothies:

I will often make fruit and yogurt smoothies in the morning and then pour them into portable cups for the kids with a few ice cubes to keep them cold. Adding yogurt and milk to fruit smoothies instead of juice will give them a protein boost which will help to keep them full and satisfied when you’re out and about.

Homemade trail mix:

Homemade trail mix is great because it offers a nice balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat which will help to energize your kids as well as keep them satisfied. It’s fun to eat and non-perishable too, which means you don’t have to worry about an icepack or cooler!

Homemade muffins:

I always have a good supply of homemade muffins in the freezer to take with us on play dates and playground runs. I pack them in a snack bag when they’re frozen, which keep any fruits or veggies, cheese or yogurt cool as well! By the time we dig in, they’re usually thawed. These flourless peanut butter and banana muffins are my kids’ new favourite. They are jam-packed full of nutrition and yummy too!

PB-banana-muffins

Muffin-tin Frittata’s:

These are one of our favourite weeknight meals and I often save the leftovers for lunches or snacks. Wrap in plastic wrap and pack in a small cooler with fresh fruit for a healthy on the go snack. Here’s the recipe!

muffin-tin-frittatta

Homemade fruit and nut crackers:

These homemade crackers are chock-full of nutrition and so simple to make. Pair them with cheese or nut butter for a nutritious snack! If you don’t feel like making crackers, you can enjoy it as a loaf of bread instead. Both are delicious!

Homemade-healthy-crackers

 

Homemade oatmeal raisin cookies:

These healthy (ish) oatmeal raisin cookies are high in fibre and are perfect for packing in your snack bag. Pair with yogurt, a fruit smoothie or have on their own!

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Happy summer snacking!!

Refreshing Summer Dessert: Grilled Peach Melba Sundae

 

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I had never grilled peaches until I received this assignment by Canadian Living to test our their July feature recipe “Grilled Peach Melba Sundae“. Not only was I excited about grilling peaches for the first time, but I was also excited by the fact that I got to test out a new tasty dessert (and so was the rest of my family).

Prepping the recipe was slightly more labour-intensive than I anticipated. Although the extra time that it took was totally worth it, I do wish that there was an easier way to peel and pit fresh peaches besides using a paring knife or carrot peeler (if anyone knows of one, please let me know!).

peaches

 

strained raspberries

Once the peeling and pitting was complete, as well as the pureeing, straining and heating of the raspberry sauce, it was smooth sailing. Grilling peaches turns out to be a piece of cake to do (make sure to continuously brush butter/sugar sauce on while grilling to maximize flavour and caramelization), and they were even tastier than they looked.

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Building the individual sundaes was the funnest part, attempting to make each bowl look prettier than the previous by delicately piling the perfect number of grilled peach wedges and raspberries on top of vanilla ice-cream, drizzle just the right amount of raspberry sauce on top and finish it off with perfectly toasted almonds (I used slivered rather than sliced, because that’s what I had). It truly was the most beautiful (and one of the most refreshing and delicious!) desserts I’ve ever made.

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Of course, the Dietitian in me loved the fact that this dessert included seasonal and fresh fruits. Peaches are a great source of Vitamin C, which helps to keep your immune system healthy, heal cuts and keep your gums, bones, muscles, tissues and blood vessels strong. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which can help reduce your risk of cancer as well. Peaches are also high in potassium and dietary fibre.

Raspberries are also chock-full of nutrition. They stand out from other berries because they are high in ellagic acid, an antioxidant that’s has several anti-cancer properties. They are also a great source of anthocyanins, natural compounds that have anti-bacterial qualities as well as potential anti-cancer properties.

Although ice-cream isn’t the healthiest part of this dessert, it is the most decadent part. And let’s be honest–what is summer without ice-cream? Make sure to use a high quality ice cream (read: one with REAL ingredients like cream and sugar!) instead of a cheaper, chemical-filled one. And please…go for a full fat ice-cream and just manage your portion mindfully.

For the full recipe, see Canadian Living’s Grilled Peach Melba Sundae.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I receive compensation for it. All opinions are my own.

What To Do When Your Child Is Constipated

when your child is constipated

It is not uncommon for young kids to become constipated. After all, toileting is one of the three major things that kids CAN control in the lives (along with eating and sleeping). Having a child who experiences constipation can be very stressful for parents, and it is hard to know what to do. When a child is constipated, he or she will often experience stomach pain, bloating, gas, loss of appetite and irritability–similar symptoms to what we adults might experience.

I had a reader question come through my inbox and I thought I’d write a post to answer her question:

I was wondering if you have any suggestions on anything I could add to my sons diet that might help him have regular bowel movements? He is almost 6 years old and due to the fact that he doesn’t like to go at school, he hold it in and ends up very constipated. I know I have to find ways to help him get over the fear of going at school but I was thinking maybe I could add something to his food that would help to keep him more regular. He eats lots of fruits and veggies and we serve healthy meals at home, but I thought you might have other suggestions too. I have heard that there are benefits to adding things like flax or chai seeds to food but I’m not sure if those are the best options for aiding in constipation or if there’s something else. Any help you can give would be appreciated.

Answer:

Good question! It is not uncommon at all for kids to “hold it in” until they are in the comfort of their own home. Many adults prefer to wait until they are at home to “go” so it makes sense that kids are the same. To be able to have a bowel movement, you need to be relaxed, so it makes perfect sense that a young boy would not be able to go at school, when other kids are coming in and out of the bathroom all of the time.

Increase fibre-rich foods:

It sounds like you’re doing a great job at making sure that your son has a balanced diet at home. I would continue to offer lots of fresh fruits and vegetables with skins at meals (with the exception of bananas, because they can exacerbate constipation), whole grain foods (oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread etc.) and other fibre-rich foods such as beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Adding a tablespoon of chia seeds or ground flax to oatmeal or smoothies is a great idea to boost his fibre intake a bit too.

Go easy on “binding foods”:

Besides adding a bit more fibre , I would be careful that he’s not eating too many “binding foods” such as white starchy foods (white bread, many breakfast cereals, white rice, white pasta etc.) as well as bananas and cheese. These foods will bind the stool so that it is harder to pass and this can often create fear around going to the bathroom because of the pain when passing. Also, make sure that he is drinking plenty of fluids during the day and with meals, so that his stools aren’t hydrated and hard.

If your son is still experiencing constipation (specifically hard-to-pass stools) after trying these dietary changes, you can try adding bran cereal (the original All Bran Cereal–the sticks, not the “buds”) to his regular cereal or to yogurt or a smoothie. Start with a tablespoon or so a day and increase to no more than 1/4 cup (they are very high in insoluble fibre and will soften his stool and increase motility in the digestion tract). You could also make some high fibre homemade banana muffins such as these.

Create a morning bathroom routine:

Another important tip that I often give adults who experience constipation (and works great for kids too) is to establish a morning routine where your son has at least 10-15 minutes (he shouldn’t feel rushed) when he can sit on the toilet, relax and try to go before going to school or going out for the day. Make sure that siblings/parents aren’t coming in and out of the bathroom when it is “his time” so that he can relax, and make sure that he sticks to his morning bathroom routine consistently every morning. It may take a few days or even weeks for him to start going consistently, but once he starts going, he will be much more comfortable when at school and you won’t have to worry about it “holding it”.

Another tip that I often give parents is to go with him to school to scout out a more private bathroom. Sometimes, there are private bathrooms in elementary schools where kids don’t have to worry about other kids coming in and out. Perhaps one day when you drop him off at school, you could go 5-10 minutes early to go on a bathroom hunt (or ask his teacher if she knows of one).

You may also be interested to read about what the #1 Mistake That Parents Make When It Comes To Feeding Kids as well as the Top 7 Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Their School Lunch 

I’m often posting family nutrition tips and resources on my Facebook page, so feel free to stop by!

 

What To Do When Your Child Is Treat-Obsessed

 Young blonde boy peeks out from a colorful lollipop

When your child reaches a certain age, around two or three years old, treat foods seem to become a bigger deal. The odd dessert that your toddler would either take or leave, suddenly becomes GOLD in your child’s eyes. It is normal for kids to want sweet delicious dessert foods often–after all, children have a biologically-driven affinity to sweeter foods, which may be a protective function (sweetness signals “energy-rich”). Kids also have more taste buds than adults do, which could possibly explain why they–usually around the age of two or three–start to turn their noses up to bitter vegetables (think green veggies). Also, bitter compounds, in historical times, signalled “toxic” or “unsafe,” so this could also explain why kids often reject them (but learn to accept them in their own time as they get older). Now that you know that your child is completely normal, read on for tips on how to tame the sugar monster in your home: 

Say “yes” instead of “no”: 

Instead of saying “no” to your preschooler when he demands a treat at a random time—let’s say before a meal—which would most likely escalate into a tantrum, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and say “Sure! You can have a treat, but you get to choose when you have it. You get one treat today, so would you like to have it now, before dinner, or would you like to save it for after dinner instead? If you choose to have it now, you won’t have any leftover for after dinner.” Or something along those lines. 

When kids feel as though they CAN’T have something, they become frantic about having it NOW and ultimately, a breakdown ensues. But when you give them structured choice—”you can have this, but it will be under ___ and ___ conditions. You choose,” the treat becomes a little less desired and because they know that ultimately they CAN have it (or a portion of it), the urgency seems to subside. Allowing your child to choose when he gets to have his treat also nurtures his strong desire for a sense of control and independence in his life, while still setting boundaries.

Don’t make them a big deal: 

Try to stay neutral when it comes to treat foods. If your child brings home a something sweet from a party or school and you immediately take it away and say “these foods aren’t allowed” or “you can only have one a day” then your child will likely lash out and want the treat food ten times more than when he walked through the door. Instead of making a big deal out of it, try to stay calm, matter-of-fact and neutral. Say something like “that’s kind of fun that you got those from school today. You can enjoy a few after dinner tonight if you want, but let’s put them away now so that you don’t spoil your meal.” Or something along those lines. Or you could include them in a meal or snack and say “let’s all enjoy a few when we have our afternoon snack” and then pair them with fruit and yogurt as an example. This way, it puts the treat food on a more level playing field with other healthier foods (which I’ll talk more about in a little bit). Similarly, if someone gives your child a treat, try not to say “Wow, you’re such a lucky boy to get a treat like that!” because this tells your child that treats are a BIG deal and that if they are a “prize”, rather than just another food. 

Eat the way you want your kids to eat: 

As mentioned in a great post by Maryann Jacobsen over at Raise Healthy Eaters, “Children learn to see food the same way their parents do, which may not always be healthy.  Research shows that parents who eat for emotional reasons, feel out of control with eating (called disinhibition) and worry about weight (their own and their child’s), not only are more likely to utilize controlling feeding practices, but tend to have children with similar issues.” Kids who are treat-obsessed may be observing their parents who have unhealthy or out-of-control treat-eating habits (sneaking food, obsessing over food, binge eating, emotional eating, etc.) and modelling after that. It’s important to address your own eating issues as a parent so that you can model not only healthy eating, but also a healthy food relationship. Read about how to nurture your personal relationship with food here and here

Reassurance that there will be treats in the future = more relaxed kids

If your child asks for a treat food, but for whatever reason you do not want them to have one, try responding like this: “I understand that you really want a treat right now, but it’s not treat time. You have had your treat already today, so there aren’t any more, but you will get another chance to have one tomorrow. What do you think you’ll want to have?” instead of saying “no, you are not having a treat now”. It’s important to set limits on treat foods, so that there is some structure, however it’s also important that kids learn that treats aren’t forbidden or highly restricted. As soon as a child feels that something is forbidden (like treats), that thing automatically becomes more desirable. This is when kids may start to sneak food and overindulge when they get the chance, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain, not to mention an unhealthy relationship with food long-term.

One thing that I personally notice with my son (who definitely has a sweet tooth), is that if he asks for a treat and my husband or I say “no”, he automatically freaks out. He is three, so this tantrum-like response to “no” is fairly normal, however, if I calmly come down to his level, and first let him know that I hear and understand what he’s saying (“you are telling me that you really want a treat”), set my limit (“I understand, but we’ve already enjoyed our treats, so we are done for the day”) and then let him know that there is another opportunity to enjoy them tomorrow (“But guess what?! We’ll have another chance to have one tomorrow!”), 9 times out of 10 he says “ok Mom”. 

Separate treats from parenting:

Try not to bribe your child with treats (“If you’re good in the grocery store, you can have a cookie”) or use treats as a reward (“you were such a good boy at the doctor, would you like a cookie?”). If you reward your kids with sweets, this increases their desirability and appeal. Much the same, rewarding your kids with dessert foods because they ate their veggies at dinner is clearly communicating that veggies are to be avoided and desserts are to be desired. This may work VERY well short term (and trust me, I know how tempting it is to use this strategy), but long term, you’re not doing your child any favours. The more frequently parents use food as a reward or punishment, the more likely it is that their children grow to eat for reasons other than physical hunger, such as stress, boredom, anxiety, or happiness. 

Try to keep treats (or food in general) separate from your parenting techniques. 

Serve a treat WITH a meal instead of after: 

From time to time, offer your kids a treat with the rest of their meal instead of afterwards. Last Fall, I gave my son a few smarties with his lunch (he asked me if he could have some after lunch- they were leftover from Halloween). He was a bit confused when I offered them with his sandwich and veggies, but didn’t say much about it. Sometimes kids either rush through their meal to get to their dessert quicker or “save up” for their dessert, eating less of their meal than they usually would. Putting the treat on a level playing field with the rest of the meal decreases the urgency to finish and takes the treat’s “appeal” down a notch or two. My son continued to eat his meal and every few minutes popped a smartie into his mouth. Since then, I’ve offered a treat alongside meals randomly, and my son (now three and a half) thinks it’s fun, but still eats the rest of his meal like he normally would. 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to read about the #1 Mistake That Parents Make When Feeding Their Kids  and The 5 Phrases That Will End Mealtime Battles Forever 

 

Top 5 Tips For Successful Baby-Led Weaning

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My daughter is almost 10 months old and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve spoon-fed her food. She started eating solid food when she was a week shy of her 6 month birthday, when she grabbed a banana out of my hand and stuck it in her mouth, swished it around a few times and then swallowed it. Since then, she’s happily fed herself with no problems. I had been toying with the idea of trying “baby-led weaning” with my daughter, a self-feeding method of introducing solids to a baby, but hadn’t decided 100% whether we were going to go that route or not. When she took her first bite of that banana, and I witnessed first hand that she didn’t choke or throw up, I knew then and there that she would do just fine.

Now, before you give your special baby-food blender away and toss your ice-cube trays, realize that baby-led weaning isn’t for everybody (my son was happily spoon-fed for the first few months). It is not a “better” way to introduce solids–it’s a different way. Both methods (baby-led weaning and spoon -feeding) can work really well–it just depends on both the baby and the parents as to which method (or perhaps a combo) will work better. I also truly believe that both methods can be “baby-led”, especially if you pay really close attention to your baby’s cues and do not coax or force your baby to eat. Baby-led eating allows your baby to be in charge of whether and how much they eat. It gives them the opportunity to eat until comfortably full, which allows them to trust their inner cues when it comes to hunger and fullness. Experiment with both methods, being careful to follow your baby’s cues either way. Your baby will tell you fairly quickly whether or not he wants to accept food from a spoon or if he’d rather gum large chunks of solid food without any help. 

If you are going the baby-led weaning route, I’ve learned (as a BLW newbie myself) a few tricks along the way: 

1. Do not freak out when your baby gags: Your baby will likely gag. A lot. Babies have a great natural gag-reflex that will help them move food that has travelled too far to the back of their mouths, back to the front again so that they don’t choke. They may make a funny face and make a gagging sound, but if you wait for a few seconds, you’ll see that your baby is an expert at this and will not choke. Baby’s are developmentally ready to handle solid finger foods at 6 months of age (assuming baby wasn’t born premature), therefore it is very unlikely that your baby will actually choke on food. But it is still imperative that you take an infant CPR/First Aid course just in case (and for peace of mind).  If you freak out when your baby gags, your baby will freak out because they will be scared. Try to stay calm (or at least look calm) and let baby do her thing. 

2. Plan your family meals to be baby-friendly: The food that I typically make is quite flavourful, sometimes spicy and sometimes contains seasonings such as salt and pepper–things that 6 month old babies do not need. A baby’s kidneys are not mature enough to handle a lot of salt (sodium) or sugar, so it’s important to keep this is mind when you’re preparing and cooking food. I purchased the baby-led weaning cookbook, but decided not to use it because, after all, one of the reasons we went this route is so I didn’t have to create a whole different meal for my baby. So what I did instead was toned down the spice and the seasoning a lot. For example, I wouldn’t add salt and a pepper to our vegetable frittata (we could add it on afterwards if we wanted) or I would use fresh chicken and homemade pizza sauce on our pizza’s (instead of ham or store-bought pizza sauce). I would take out a scoop of stir-fried meat and veggies for my daughter prior to adding stir-fry sauce and I when I made homemade hamburgers, I would leave the seasonings out of hers. Remember that the same guidelines apply to baby-led weaning as with spoon feeding in regards to what to feed your baby. It’s important that you focus on iron-rich foods first (meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, eggs, iron-fortified grains) and progress onto vegetables and fruit and then whole grains and dairy after that (9 months for yogurt and cheese and 12 months for homogenized milk).  Here’s some information on introducing allergenic foods to baby and on when and how to transition baby to cow’s milk. 

3. Buy an easy-to-clean high chair and plastic bibs: Baby-led weaning is definitely messier than spoon feeding. We invested in a new highchair for our daughter, as I found that hand-me-down that we used for my son was hard to clean. You don’t have time to clean a highchair for 15 minutes after each meal or snack, so make sure that the high chair is easy-t0-clean (I find plastic is best, and we remove the cushy cloth lining too). Buy a few plastic bibs that you can rinse quickly and that have a pocket that catches food (our daughter will just scoop fallen food out of the pocket). You even might want to think about putting a small tarp down underneath your baby’s highchair so that you don’t have to clean your floors several times a day. Friends of ours do this, and clean it off at the end of the day. Genius. 

4. Think BIG: You may be tempted to cut your baby’s food into teeny tiny pieces so that they don’t choke. Unfortunately, baby’s don’t have the fine motor skills to pick up tiny pieces of food and bring them to their mouths until they are around 8-9 months old (or older). This is why it’s so important that you make baby’s food pieces large enough that they can grab onto them. A homemade potato wedge or half of a skinless, boneless chicken thigh cut length-wise, or a slice of pear (peeled) are examples of appropriate sized pieces of food. A piece of whole grain toast with some butter on it cut into thick strips would be appropriate too. Your baby should be able to pick up their food, bring it to their mouth, and gnaw on it. It is normal for baby to “miss” their mouth or drop their food, but as long as they can bring it to their mouths, it is likely appropriate in size. It is still very important to avoid foods that pose a risk of choking for the first year of life, such as hard fruits and vegetables (ie. raw carrots), stringy foods (ie. celery), nuts and seeds, whole grapes, a gob of peanut butter (I thinly spread on toast strips), and wieners and popcorn. 

5. Go with the flow: Your baby may absolutely LOVE self-feeding right from day one, and she may go through periods where she’d rather be spoon-fed. My daughter for the most part has thrived with baby-led weaning, but she went through a period when she was teething, where she wanted to be fed pureed food with a spoon (presumably because it was softer and didn’t hurt). When and if you do feed pureed food, either make it yourself (best choice) or choose organic options from the grocery store. Know that it’s completely normal for your baby to reject a food, spit it out or throw it. It may take up to 20 exposures for a baby to accept a food so keep re-introducing the food pressure-free. Include baby in family meals (this is the beauty of baby-led weaning) and give him/her the food that the rest of the family is having (assuming it isn’t a choking hazard). Know that most of the food may end up on the highchair, on the walls or on the floor, and this is ok. Your baby is getting most of his/her nutrition from breastmilk and/or formula until one year of age. Have fun with it! 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this post that I wrote on baby-led weaning vs. spoon feeding and how to create a healthy eating environment for your baby. 

Sesame Chicken With Fennel and Orange Salad

 

sesame-chicken-orange-fennel-cabbage-salad

Spring is finally making an appearance in our city, although there are still many remnants of winter, with snow on the ground and a chill in the air. My son has been dying to play in the park and ride his bike and it’s only been in the past week that we’ve been able to make that happen–even if only for 10 minutes at a time. Because it’s been such a brutally long winter, I’ve continued to stick to our usual go-to winter meals–hot steel-cut oats for breakfast and warm comfort foods such as soups, casseroles, stir-fries and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be given the assignment by Canadian Living to test out this refreshing citrusy sesame chicken salad. It was about time that I switch things up and try something Spring-inspired. 

I have to admit, I rarely use fennel in cooking unless I’m making roasted root vegetable (usually at Christmas or Thanksgiving). Before I made this recipe, I don’t actually think that I had eaten fennel raw, which now that I’ve tried it, I can’t believe! It was delicious and paired perfectly with the red cabbage, orange and cilantro. Fennel tastes mildly like liquorice, which added to the complexity of the flavour in this salad.

fennel

 

fennel-cabbage-salad

The recipe (on the cover of the May issue of Canadian Living) calls for chicken breasts, but I happened to have boneless, skinless chicken thighs on hand instead, which worked out really well.  Both the sesame glaze and the dressing were a breeze to make, and I had almost all of the ingredients on hand (with the exception of apple cider vinegar, which I replaced with red wine vinegar). 

ingredients-chicken-salad

Because I had a sneaking suspicion that my 3 year old and 10 month old might not appreciate this meal as much as my husband and I would, we decided to feed them early and put them to bed so that we could enjoy dinner just the two of us–a rare “at-home date night” as we call it. My husband isn’t a huge salad fan, but he was pleasantly surprised when he tasted this one and even had a second helping. 

guy-eating-salad 

Because fennel and cabbage are fairly “sturdy” vegetables, this salad will make for great leftovers tomorrow (even though it is already dressed).  I would definitely recommend trying this refreshing Spring salad out–it was delicious, easy to make and allowed me to branch out from making the same old salad that I always do.  Not to mention the fact that this salad-that-eats-like-a-meal is jam-packed full of nutrition and is satisfying and filling. 

Enjoy!

sesame-chicken-salad

Check out the full recipe here: Sesame Chicken With Fennel and Orange Salad 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I receive compensation for it. All opinions are my own. 

Moms: Five Tips For Staying Healthy When Life Feels Overwhelming

Portrait of scared baby against crazy mother with pan on head

 

Being a Mom is rewarding and amazing, but it’s also the hardest job that I’ve ever had. When I had my daughter 9 months ago, I assumed that she would be a laid back, happy baby like my now three year old son was–a baby who slept through the night by three months, and rarely cried. Instead my daughter cried through her first 7 months of life, rarely napped for longer than 20 minutes at a time and didn’t particularly like to sleep at night either. Having a rambunctious three year old and an extremely fussy baby made life seem *very* overwhelming at times. As a Mom, regardless of how many children you have and what their ages or temperaments are, there will be times where you feel stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed. Even though we know these times pass eventually, it can sometimes seem impossible to “keep our heads above water”. If you’ve ever felt that drowning feeling, you know what I’m talking about.

During those tough 7 months, I found it hard to stay healthy. I would forget to eat sometimes (which NEVER happens),  I would grab the easiest and most convenient food around instead of being careful to eat a balanced meal, I would become dehydrated from forgetting to drink enough water, and I’d trade exercise and sleep in for cleaning my house. Although I did give myself a break and didn’t beat myself up about it (I was in survival mode, after all), I did start to feel run down, impatient, and exhausted. No doubt this stemmed from the craziness that was my life at the time, but it was also a result of not taking care of myself enough. I’ve preached many times that it is very important to take care of yourself as a new Mom, and how proper nutrition is essential for breastfeeding and so on and so forth, but here I was, totally neglecting my own health. What I learned from it though, was that as a second (or third or forth)-time Mom, you need to be creative and take a few short-cuts to stay healthy through the overwhelming times. Here are a few tips that I learned along the way: 

Be creative with your activity:

If your baby refuses to nap, strap him or her into a carrier (I used the Ergo Baby), and go for a brisk walk. If you have a toddler or preschooler, get them to either ride their bike or scooter or strap them into the stroller and push them. Set up a mini-circuit in your house where you do squats and lunges, walk stairs and lift weights (or your baby). Buy a second-hand treadmill or elliptical trainer for your home (this is what I did) so that you don’t have to worry about childcare when you go to the gym. Have a dance party in your living room with your kids. I put my baby in the jolly jumper and crank music while my son and I dance. It’s fun and gets the kids moving too. This will also put you in a better mood and boost your energy (any exercise) because activity releases feel-good endorphins in the brain. 

Make meals simple:

Think simple and forget fancy when it comes to meals. Start with protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy) and add veggies and/or fruit and a whole grain food. Examples are a suppertime omelette with salsa on toast, this yummy turkey-taco pizza, french toast with yogurt and berries, or stuffed peppers that take no time at all. Kids love these easy-to-make meals and they take less time to prepare. Here are some of my favourite (and most popular) quick and easy weeknight meals:

DIY Kung Pao Chicken

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Thai Peanut Chicken Thighs

Muffin-tin Veggie Frittatas

Turkey Tomato Pasta Bake 

Need more? Here are some more quick and easy supper ideas

Cook once, eat twice:

There’s nothing worse than glancing at the clock after a busy day and realizing that it’s almost supper time, but you haven’t had a chance to prepare anything yet. This is why it’s so important to make the most of the meals that you actually do have time to cook. Recycle one part of a meal for something new the following night. For example, if you make tacos one night, use the leftover meat to make taco pizzas or taco salad the next night. If you’re barbecuing chicken one night, barbecue 3 or 4 extra chicken breasts to use in a stir-fry, quesadilla or chicken caesar wrap the next night. I find it’s easiest to recycle the protein (meat, poultry, fish etc) portion of your meal to cut down preparation the next night, but I also often make extra rice or quinoa to use for leftovers as well. Leftover grilled or stir-fried veggies are also great additions to salads. 

Eat breakfast:

If there’s one meal that you should not miss, it is breakfast. Research continues to support the fact that eating breakfast boasts many health benefits. It gives us a boost of energy to start our day, it revs up our metabolisms and if we include a good source of protein such as eggs, dairy and/or meat, it can help to decrease the chances of unhealthy snacking later in the day. What’s more, is that breakfast eaters (both adults and kids) tend to weigh less than breakfast skippers. This could be due to the fact that our cravings throughout the day are controlled better when we eat a healthy breakfast (including protein), therefore eating less calories overall by the end of the day. 

Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go:

If you ever hang out with me in person, you know that I always have my purple water bottle with me at all times. I don’t let it out of my sight. Staying hydrated is really important. More than half of our body is made up of water. Our bodies use water to regulate our body temperature, lubricate our joints and remove waste from our bodies. Every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies need water to function properly. And I don’t know about you, but I tend to sweat more these days, carrying my baby around and chasing after my toddler, so my water needs are higher than normal. If you’re a breastfeeding Mom, your water requirements increase, as well, to keep your milk supply up. Aim for about 2.5 to 3 litres of fluid a day to stay hydrated. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink– by that point you are already slightly dehydrated. 

Important note: Be sure to book yourself a doctors appointment if that “drowning” feeling doesn’t subside. As important as it is to stay healthy physically, it’s also important to stay healthy emotionally and mentally as a Mom. If you can’t seem to shake the overwhelming feeling or if your mood doesn’t improve, you could be dealing with post-partum depression. Don’t let your health slide- make sure you seek help. 

Setting Mealtime Boundaries For Your Child

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As the parent of a preschooler and baby, I know firsthand how stressful mealtimes can be. They are certainly not relaxing by any stretch of the imagination, but they can be enjoyable and less chaotic if boundaries are set. It’s up to us parents to set these boundaries and consistently enforce them, while at the same time, letting our kids explore food in a fun and unpressured way.

Minimize picky eating and mealtime battles by setting these mealtime boundaries with your kids:

You set the timetable:

As a parent, you get to decide when mealtimes happen. Otherwise, eating becomes a food free-for-all and a snack-fest all day long. When this happens, kids often refuse to eat at meal times (because they’re full from snacking) and this makes mealtime unenjoyable for all. One of the things that I love about Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility, is that it takes the pressure off of both the parents and the kids when it comes to mealtime. Parents are responsible for the what’s, where’s and when’s of eating and then kids get to decide whether and how much they eat. This can be scary for parents because it means that the control is handed over to their kids after the meal has been served. But once parents can let go and trust that their child will learn to accept most foods in time, this no-pressure way of feeding lifts a huge weight off of their shoulders. Parents already carry the burden of planning meals and snacks, shopping for and preparing food, so when the responsibility of making sure your child actually eats is shifted from the parent to the child, parents often feel a sense of relief. As they should. 

The 5 minute warning:

Give your child a 5 minute warning for mealtime. When kids are focused on building a Lego kingdom or pillow fortress, or deep into a puzzle, they will likely react negatively (to put it nicely) when Mom or Dad insists that they stop NOW and come to the table NOW. It’s just not that easy for toddlers, preschoolers and young kids to switch gears that quickly. Giving them a 5 (and then 3,2 and 1) minute warning allows them to finish up what they are doing, clean up and come to the table. 

The magic mealtime words:

When your child resists (even with the warning) to come to the table, saying “but I’m not hungry!” or “I don’t want to have dinner!”, you can use the “magic mealtime words” which Maryann Jacobsen, RD explains so brilliantly in her Huffington post article “End Mealtime Battles With These 5 Simple Words“. These words are “you do not have to eat“. It may seem counter-intuitive to say these words, but it will make your life a lot easier. It takes the pressure off your child, you likely dodge a mealtime battle and like Maryann explains in her post, 9 times out of 10, your child will eat once they’ve sat down with the rest of the family. You are setting a boundary in that your child must sit at the table, but you are taking the pressure off by leaving it up to them as to whether they eat and how much they eat. The ball is then in their court. Make sure that you include one or two foods that you know that your child likes–that way, he or she will have something to eat even if they don’t like (or aren’t ready to try) other foods. Including a familiar and accepted food also makes it less scary to try a new unfamiliar food alongside it. 

It’s not all about eating:

If your child refuses to eat with the rest of the family for whatever reason, tell him or her that it is ok, but they must stay seated at the table. Teach your kids that mealtimes aren’t just about eating food, but also connecting with the rest of the family. Mealtimes are an opportunity for kids to tell you about their day (and vice versa), to observe you eating (which gives you a chance to model healthy eating), and to connect with the rest of the family. We set the 10 minute rule in our house which means our preschooler must stay at the table for at least 10 minutes before being excused. 

Decide what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable: 

Decide what is “acceptable” behaviour and “unacceptable” behaviour at the table and stick to it. In our home, acceptable behaviour is saying “no thank you” if food is turned down, tasting food and if it’s a no-go, politely spitting it out in a napkin, eating with hands if the food is a “finger food” and using utensils when it’s not (or at least giving it a good go), playing with food to explore (stacking, feeling, organizing, separating etc.). Unacceptable behaviour is throwing/flinging, leaving the table too soon (before ~5 minutes for toddlers, and before ~10 minutes for preschoolers), bringing toys to the table, saying negative things about the food served, being rude, yelling and getting up and down from the table over and over again. The most important thing is that you stay consistent with your mealtime expectations so that your kids know what is acceptable and what is not.

Give warning about future eating opportunities: 

It’s easy to fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to eating (and feeding) when life gets busy.  Meals and snacks often get served when time allows, in the car, in front of the TV or in bedrooms. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in when your child says “I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” to avoid confrontation or a tantrum. When it happens (which could EASILY happen in my house because my son is hungry allofthetime), main meals tend not to be eaten. This could be because your child is too full from snacking before the meal, and/or because they are holding out for future snacks later on. When my son was younger, we got into the bad habit of offering a bedtime snack every night, regardless of what time dinner was eaten. So even if dinner wasn’t served until 6:30pm (and my son goes to bed at 7:30pm), he would still get a snack. What started to happen is that he would eat less and less of his dinner, knowing that yogurt and berries, banana and peanut butter or something else familiar and yummy was coming before bed. We’ve started making a point of letting my son know whether or not there will be a snack before bed (depending on timing) and it has helped. We either say “the next time you will have a chance to eat isn’t until tomorrow’s breakfast”  or “the next chance to eat is right before story time”. If your child asks for a snack an hour later, remind them by saying “remember when I told you that your next chance to eat isn’t until before story time? That’s when you will get a chance to eat again. This is in 2 hours. The kitchen is closed until then. ” Or something along those lines. It’s important that we give our growing children ample eating time and opportunities (about every 2-3 hours), but it’s also important to set boundaries so that eating doesn’t become a food free-for-all. 

If you found this helpful, you may also like this post on how to avoid common mealtime battles and this one on what not to say to your kids about food

 

Souvlaki-Style Pork Tenderloin With Mixed Vegetables

souvlaki style pork tenderloin

Easy to make, healthy, delicious and kid-friendly! You can’t go wrong with this Souvlaki-Style Pork Tenderloin With Mixed Vegetables.

Aloha from Hawaii!

I have been enjoying the sun and surf with my family in Hawaii for the past week and a half and I’m trying not to think about the fact that we are flying home to the bitter cold in a few days. We’ve been getting updates from friends and family back in Calgary about the cold weather–it sounds like we decided to vacation at the optimal time (not to rub it in fellow Calgarians)!

We’ve been loving the beautiful weather here in Maui and have managed to get to the beach everyday for at least a couple of hours of swimming and soaking up the sun. Our three year old has been in heaven, building sand castles and “surfing” with his boogie board. Our 7 month old has never been happier, getting her fair share of ocean time and playing in the sand.

One of the highlights of our trip has been the amazing food. The fresh fish and seafood, fruits and veggies, macadamia nut treats and coconut drinks to name a few favourites. But one of the best meals that we’ve had so far on the island was tonight’s dinner, Souvlaki-Style Pork Tenderloin and Mixed Vegetables. I made this delicious recipe because it was my first assignment (so exciting!) as one of the Canadian Living Network bloggers. This recipe will be featured in Canadian Living’s March 2014 issue (hits newsstands today!), so I was asked to recreate it and write about it on my blog. A few months ago, I was thrilled to be chosen to be a part of Canadian Living’s “CL Voices Network”, which means that I will be writing blog posts (on this blog) for Canadian Living, testing and sharing tasty recipes like this one, writing about healthy products and taking advantage of any other exciting assignments that are thrown my way. As a longterm fan of Canadian Living, I am bursting with excitement about this new venture and am honoured to be a part of the Canadian Living team.

This is one of the best pork tenderloin recipes (my hubby and kids can attest to this) that I’ve ever tried. Although this recipe incorporates mostly greek flavours (which I love), I thought that is would be fitting to mention the fact that pork is actually a big part of the Hawaiian cuisine–being that traditionally, pigs were raised for religious sacrifice–and is often served at Hawaiian celebrations (such as Luau’s).  I had planned on barbecuing instead of baking (because the thought of turning on the oven in this heat and humidity was not appealing), but decided at the last minute to follow the recipe as is and bake it. I’m so glad that I did because it turned out perfectly! Not only was this delicious, but it is also very nutritious. Pork tenderloin is extremely lean, so it doesn’t send us over the edge calorie-wise like some higher fat red meats do, but it is also very tender and moist if cooked correctly. The medley of vegetables alongside the pork is colourful and nutrient-rich. There is no need for an additional starch or grain with this meal because the nutrient and fibre-rich sweet potato provides all of the starch needed. Any leftover pork will be perfect in sandwiches, on pizza or paired with leftover veggies for lunch or dinner the next day.

Here is a link to this delicious recipe: Souvlaki-Style Pork Tenderloin and Mixed Vegetables

 

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Canadian Living and I received compensation for it. All opinions are my own.