Healthy and nutritious store-bought and processed foods that this dietitian-mom serves to her family.
Let’s get real for a moment. As a dietitian mom, the assumption at the playground or at my kids’ school is that the snacks and meals I provide are always perfect. False! With three young kids and running a business, it’s near impossible to serve whole foods 100% of the time, nor do I think we should! There has to be a balance. Although I believe in real food first – I’m talking about fruits and vegetables, meats, whole grains and dairy – I also believe that it’s unrealistic 100% of the time. So, I thought I would share the top five processed foods that I feed my family.
1. Canned lentils:
I freaking love lentils. You’ll see what a lentil dork I am if you watch the video at the end of this post until the end! Lentils — especially canned lentils –are a quick way to instantly boost the nutrition of any meal. Lentils contain protein and iron and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. I will add lentils to just about anything, including salad, chilli, pasta dishes, smoothies, and even baked goods. Don’t believe me? Check out My Top 5 Favourite Kid-Friendly Lentil Recipes and my favourite lentil recipe Sweet and Salty Chocolate Lentil Granola Bars.
2. Flavoured Greek yogurt cups:
Seriously! Although plain Greek yogurt is best, I will buy small individual flavoured yogurt cups. They’re convenient and the kids love them. The biggest thing when choosing a yogurt, especially for kids, is to make sure there’s at least 2%MF (milk fat). This will help keep them feeling fuller for longer, and fats are essential for proper growth and development! I try to compare sugar content between different varieties and brands – some have lower sugar varieties which I love!
3. Boxed whole grain pasta:
My family loves pasta night and having ready-to-eat pasta on hand makes meal prep quick and easy. It’s also great staple to have in the pantry because we’ve all had those “what’s for dinner” panic moments. Pasta meals are also a great way to practice “family-style” eating. This is where each family member serves themselves from the options offered. For a DIY family-style pasta night, this means serving pasta (maybe try a few different shapes) and then offering a variety of sauces and toppings! Everyone can pick and choose what they would like! Family-style eating is a great way to offer younger kids independence and an opportunity to build their eating competence. It also takes the power-struggle out of the meal, which is a win-win for everyone!
4. Fruit and veggie sauce:
Although whole fruit and veggies are best, kids get bored with the same thing all the time. Wouldn’t you? I like to mix it up by offering unsweetened fruit and veggie pouches as a snack. They’re also a great way to add flavour to oatmeal in the morning! Always look for unsweetened varieties and try to keep the ingredient list simple.
5. Whole wheat tortilla shells:
Whole wheat tortilla shells are one of my favourite processed foods because they are so versatile. They can be used to make delicious cheesy quesadillas for supper and are great for lunch as an alternative to the typical sandwich. My kids even love them for snacks because we love making “sushi rolls”. Simply spread nut butter, honey or cream cheese on a wrap and then add your fruit of choice! Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and then roll up and cut lengthwise to achieve the “sushi” look.
What’s important to remember is that being a “Super Mom” doesn’t mean you have to do everything. I’m a firm believer that there are no good and bad foods. Life is a balancing act! Sometimes the homemade supper gets burnt (guilty), or there simply wasn’t enough time to prep anything. Throwing in a processed food, or ordering take-out, might just make meal time a little less stressful, and as a result, make the family happy and fed. I’ve listed my top five processed foods, what are yours?