Kids & Veggies: Top 10 Tips to Get Little Ones to Eat Better

Kids and vegetables. They go together like oil and water sometimes, right?

Not in our house! But that was after intentional decisions and work. I bet there are some children who are born loving broccoli, and that’s great. But that was NOT the case for my daughter. It was a struggle, every. single. meal. for. a. year. to get her to try anything new.

But here we are, she’s 2 and a half, and she eats everything.

I am writing this to share some of the tips I found successful when trying to teach my daughter to love vegetables, and also to encourage you to endure those tough days and not give up. Eating a variety of foods is so essential for proper nutrition and starting children early is the best tip I have.

Here are 10 of my favorite tips to get kiddos to love their veggies:

  1. Cook them deliciously! SO often people have said things like “I hate Brussels sprouts” to which I reply “Really? How have you had them?” Most common answer is boiled or steamed. Um,  I wouldn’t like that either! The best way to eat Brussels sprouts in my opinion is to slice them and saute them with onions and garlic in a pan or roast on a sheet tray in the oven. They get such delicious texture and flavor, a family favorite. Another example is broccoli. My daughter loves it when I serve the broccoli roasted with lemon, garlic, and salt.
  2. Serve with a Dipping Sauce – kids LOVE to dip. Do they like ketchup? BBQ sauce? Vegan cheese sauce? Cook the veggies, cut into spear type finger food and serve with a sauce. This instantly makes it more interesting! My daughter also loves it when I steam broccoli, season with garlic & salt, then serve with a vegan cheese sauce to dip in! My favorite vegan cheese sauce recipe is one I adapted from Oh She Glows and the Minimalist Baker. I’ll share on my blog soon!
  3. Serve with their favorite foods! OK, we don’t want to totally torture the poor kiddos. Sweeten the deal a little with making a delicious and balanced plate. What do they like? My daughter loves pasta. I try to get her to take one bite of something new every 2-3 bites of her favorite on the plate.
  4. Set an example. Your children are watching. You can’t just make salad, broccoli, or green beans once a week and expect them to hop on board. They have to see their parents eating them, loving them, and serving it to themselves before they are willing to do it themselves. If you want your children to eat healthier, you have to be willing to eat healthier yourself first.
  5. Be consistent! If there’s something you’d like your children to eat more of, make it regularly. They have to be exposed to healthy foods regularly in order to be more open to try them.
  6. Guacamole Trick: This one is from a fellow mama that I follow, Ellen Fisher. (She has a plant based e-book that’s incredible!) To teach her sons to love salad, she finely chops spinach and blends it into guacamole. As her children age, she slowly lessens the avocado and it turns into more of a salad and less of a bowl of guacamole. I tried this with my daughter and it works. I chop spinach, tomatoes, onions, and season the mashed avocado and serve with a spoon. She loves it!
  7. Sneak them in if you have to! One of my favorite ways to sneak in veggies is to shred carrots and chop spinach then mix them into pasta sauce. My daughter always loves to eat pasta so loading up the marinara with veggies is a great way to get her to eat a more balanced meal.
  8. Smoothies every day. My daughter did not love smoothies. It took me a while of consistently making them for myself and offering them to her to get her to actually want her own cup. I love to add spinach, flax seeds, powered greens, kale, and other goodness into smoothies. I got her a stainless steel thermos that hides the color of she smoothie so she doesn’t refuse it based on color. Her favorite smoothie is more like a milk shake and is a mixture of: bananas, flax seeds, almond milk, peanut butter, dates, and greens.
  9. Make it Fun! I also love to tell my daughter stories. I talk to her and tell her how broccoli are little trees! Aren’t they cute? Make it fun. Let them see you enjoying your meal and they’ll follow your lead….eventually!
  10. Don’t give up. Kids will take their own lead if you let them. Sure, some kids just will not love broccoli, and that’s ok. It’s up to you to find healthy foods that they’ll love. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worthwhile. I am so happy I put in the effort with my daughter as now she eats salads, veggies, and pretty much anything I make. I cook one meal at each meal time and we share. Keep the faith, my friends! The effort you’re putting in is worth it to help instill a sense of vibrant health and a life long love of veggies.

If you’d like any specific recipe ideas or to chat more about this, feel free to comment or message me!

 

His Strength in Our Weakness

Ah, social media.

What a marvelous tool we have at our fingertips to keep in touch with loved ones!  It’s great to see what people are up to through social media, but are you getting the full picture?

We see what others want us to see. Some people are more transparent than others, and that’s OK.

I recently shared something with a friend that I’ve been going through and she was both brokenhearted for me and also completely shocked.

I have been diagnosed with moderate depression.

After feeling off for the past two years and trying everything to get myself back to feeling like myself again, all to no avail, I knew I had to get professional help. It took three doctors to get me to realize that there was something wrong chemically in my brain. They all concluded it was a mixture of post-partum depression, possibly situational depression, but nonetheless: it was happening to me. I never thought it would, and it did.

I always try to be a positive and upbeat person. A silver lining seeker, a glass half-full believer. After I had a baby, I never felt so alone and hopeless. This made ZERO sense to me in reality. I had the sense that my thinking and feelings were flawed, but I couldn’t shake them. I had the reality of a blessed life with my family, my sweet baby girl, and all God has given us. Yet I had this overwhelming sense of hopelessness I could not shake. I hated that I felt so down, I was ashamed of it.

I went through about a year of just barely going through the motions. I was chronically sleep deprived with Tessa that first year, and it was the hardest time of my entire life. I had no idea how much getting little sleep could negatively affect your life until I had a child who wouldn’t nap more than 20 minutes at a time or sleep longer at night than 1-2 hours every night for  the majority of her first 1.5 years. It actually was more physically and emotionally draining than any other trauma I’ve endured. I tried several different methods, read books, etc, to get her to sleep more and none of them worked except time. She’s a pretty good sleeper now, thank God, good routines, and Essential Oils. Thank God He makes babies so adorable because, man, that was rough! But I love her so much, even when we went through such a hard time together.

I always felt an inherent sense of gratefulness for Tessa, never blamed or resented her, I wanted to help her sleep because I bet she was just as miserable as I was, if not more! I am grateful my depression was not so bad and I still had somewhat of a grip on reality. Many women who suffer from post-partum depression have had it much worse than me, and my heart breaks for those families. I am so grateful to God for giving me what I could handle and seeing me through it. I am on the healing side of this now, however this is still very difficult to write.

When my friend was so surprised to hear about my struggles, it made me think about how I am perceived by others. Something that’s always been a part of my nature is to be stoic. I don’t hang on to the negative, so I usually don’t talk about it either. I accept things, grieve internally, move on, and truly don’t let things get to me. When I am upset, handling myself from a place of strength and poise has always been important to me. These are not inherently bad things, however I have found so much of God’s power in my weakness by sharing it with others. We are not called to be prideful and stoic, to suffer alone and live in darkness. Through talking more openly about my depression I have learned the value of bringing our struggles to light, and seeing them in the light of God’s truth through scripture and the encouragement of others.

I’ve been learning a lot about this lately and it’s caused me to feel compelled to be more transparent about my struggles. Obviously, I never mean to suggest people should air their family’s struggles online, out of respect for the family unit that is not always appropriate. However, my own personal struggle with depression is something God has called me to share. Keep in mind, sharing your struggles may look differently for different people, too. But I urge you, if you are struggling, talk to someone you trust about it. Seek help. Seek God! You can get better. You will get better if you truly want to!

I’ve gone through so much in the past few years, lots of change in general. I have learned that God has given us the ability to feel emotions, we need to let ourselves feel them and lean on Him to deal with them. So often, while trying to remain positive, I have suppressed real emotions! Life is not always going to be sunshine and roses. It’s going to get messy, and that is alright. It’s how you deal with the mess that counts! And guess what? God loves us anyway, despite the mess.

I am so grateful for my life and my precious daughter. I am thankful to God for all this blessing of a baby has taught me about His love, about life, and about myself. I have grown in ways I never had anticipated. Depression is just a short season of my life, a drop in the bucket. This isn’t going to define me or be the end of my story, and it doesn’t have to be the end of yours either.  I have so many fond memories of Tessa and me during those years. I don’t want to let my depression taint my memories of Tessa’s baby years. I so badly want to go back in time and soak them up a little more, though. Ah, life.

Find the things you love and pursue them with your whole heart. Seek Jesus. Seek true JOY in the Lord. Know that you are so loved by a God who gave it ALL for us, while we are sinners. Yes, I am talking to myself in all of this and sharing it because God did not call us to do this life alone.

God says in 2 Cor. 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For this reason, among others, I’ve chosen to share my struggle. I am nothing in my own power without the Lord. This season of depression left me feeling weak, unworthy, unlovable, and hopeless. But God says His power is made PERFECT in our weakness. Out of this weakness, I am stronger because of the Lord, and good therapy! God will not waste any hurt or any negative experience, He will work it together for good. He comforts us and so we must comfort others. If you are hurting today, I would love to talk to you. Take heart in 2 Cor. 1 and know that you are SO loved and worthy of love. Again, talking to myself, too!

 

 

 

 

Grateful for All of It

It was 5:15am. Which is astronomically early for a stay at home mom who is frequently woken up by a nursing baby in the night. Let that all soak in for a moment.

Usually my daughter and I are both peacefully visiting dreamland this time of day but my husband had just came into our bedroom with a flashlight searching high and low for his favorite hoodie before hustling out the door to make it to the gym before work. Thankfully, she slept through it, but I wasn’t so lucky. After all, I am a mom and wake up to even the faintest noises. You know, like the carpet blowing in the wind of the air conditioner or my daughter faintly humming in her sleep. Anyway, I do frequently steal said hoodie (it is the best), so it’s understandable why he was searching through my closet for it (doh!). In any case, as I laid there awake I thought maybe I could get my day started early and get some things done. My daughter does not take very long naps and I don’t get much quiet time to myself to think. Around 5:30 I decided, OK, I’ll get up, get some coffee, read my bible and devotional, and get cracking on some things.

As usual, my daughter had other plans. She began to stir and wanted to nurse. I thought, oh great! This means she’ll sleep in longer if I nurse her now. Wrong again, mom! She promptly sat up straight in bed after nursing and stared at me. Ok…tried to coax her into going back to sleep – no luck. New diaper – still no luck. Next move, I went to get her a bottle, as she takes a supplement a few times a day, and thought maybe that’s what she wanted. Wrong again, she tossed her cookies everywhere after getting 1/3 through the bottle.

So now I’m up extra early, tired, and cleaning up puke. Not exactly the relaxing and quiet start to my morning I had envisioned. As I felt frustration and exhaustion start to set in, I began to pray and ask for patience. Ever pray and ask for patience? It’s God’s most favorite way to answer in irony as He’ll just give you more opportunities to practice. So of course what came next were multiple attempts to lay her back down and a baby fighting sleep.

After I finally coaxed her back to sleep, I quietly walk downstairs to get some coffee. Ah, yes. This is what I wanted! I got my coffee, a cozy blanket, my journal, and began to read my bible and devotionals. What happened next helped me make sense of my entire morning and refocus my attention.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV – A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

There’s a time for everything, because every season of life comes with all kinds of situations. This was a reminder to me that despite my occasional moments of difficulty, exhaustion, and frustration, this season of life also comes with the most beautiful moments too. It’s so easy to get stuck in the rut of frustration but to battle that, I need to always keep the bigger picture as my perspective for positive living. My daughter is almost a year old and I’ve loved to watch her grow and change every day. She is just beginning to walk unassisted, says mama in the sweetest voice, pretends to talk on the phone to me, gives the most slobbery adorable kisses, flashes me a smile whenever I walk in the room and has such a sweet yet cautious personality that emerges more and more every day. My walk through motherhood has been such a blessing and this season of my life is something I’ll always look back on fondly, so these verses were a real reminder to me that there’s a time for everything in all seasons of life. In order to enjoy the sweetness of this season of my life, I must also take with it the frustrations that come along and walk through them with grace and patience.

As with everything in life, motherhood’s adversities are no match for a grateful & loving heart.

My Daughter’s Inner Voice

This morning started off as just an ordinary morning with my 9 month old daughter, yet it will always have a profound and lasting impact on me as a mother.

After our morning kisses and cuddles, we got out of bed and I set her up with a few toys to play with while I brushed my teeth and got myself ready for the day. While standing at the sink, I found myself feeling a little  discouraged about my body and where I am physically in my postpartum journey. I had expected things would be going back to normal faster than they have. I expected I wouldn’t be as tired as I have been as a new mother and would have had the energy for the workouts I’d love to do. Yet, as I stood at the sink, I found myself lifting my shirt to examine with disappointment the battle scars I have on my lower abdomen from late in my pregnancy. The negative thoughts I had quietly in my head were screaming so loudly through the look on my face. Feeling two little eyes gazing up at me, I looked down to see my baby girl standing there, with one arm holding herself up against the bath tub and the other holding her own shirt up as she examined her own tummy.

Oh, my. What am I doing?

Sure, she’s just 9 months old and was just innocently mimicking her mama as she loves to do lately. But make no mistake, my actions were ultimately teaching her that it is ok to have negative thoughts about yourself and to give into the pressures of this life to feel you are anything less than uniquely beautiful in God’s eyes – no matter how you look.

Although it is reasonable to want to lose a little weight and wish away the marks on my abdomen, the problem was my heart behind it this morning. I was trying to live up to unreasonable expectations based off of other people that do not match up with my reality. I am recognizing this morning that as her mother, my voice  and attitude about myself will greatly influence my daughter’s inner voice about herself. I want to treat myself better in order to teach her that beauty is not the sum of your gravitational pull and overall outward appearance. Beauty is what flows from the heart through your actions. It’s how you love yourself and how you love others. I was not loving myself well this morning and it is a blessing I have had this revelation while my daughter is so young.

This is just one small part of the endless journey to try and thrive on grace! This is MY journey! I needed this reminder to be grateful for the amazing body God has given me that gave LIFE to my daughter. Every mark is worth it. It was an important reminder to love myself, accept the things I cannot change, and work harder with a positive attitude to change the things I can. But most of all, it was a reminder to always be confident and kind to myself, as little eyes are looking up to me.