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4th of July: Toddler Approved Meals

I always get excited when holidays approach! In many ways, I celebrate so much differently now than how I did before kids. I try a lot harder now to have fun food, drinks, crafts, games, and more to do with the girls. We usually have other kids over too, so it makes it more exciting to make a creative treat for more people!  Independence day is one of our favorite holidays because it’s not only great weather to be outside but also, it gives us a chance to show our girls how to be patriotic. It reminds me of my fun childhood by the lake, with family and friends, watching fireworks… it’s one of my favorite holidays!

As for snacks, it can be tricky with toddlers. With the red, white, and blue theme, there’s so many things you can try that even the pickiest of eaters with enjoy it!

4th of July Gummy Stars

Ingredients:

12 oz organic blueberries (frozen is fine)

12 oz organic strawberries (frozen is fine)

8 oz coconut milk

10 oz filtered water (divided)

11...

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A Review on Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chips as a food review, what? I know it sounds a little silly. Perhaps you have your go to brand that you always buy. Maybe you’re not brand loyal in the least and are always trying new ones. Either way, I feel it’s necessary to review because there are so many chocolate chips and chocolate candies with fillers, too much sugar, or things that could be unknowingly harmful to you, or at the very least, not as good as you think it is. If we’re going to splurge on chocolate (and let’s be honest, it’s worth the splurge), then let’s get the biggest bang for our health buck.

As a chocoholic myself, I feel completely qualified to share my honest opinions and reviews of different chocolate chips. Seeing as how we use it all the time… everything from a little after dinner treat with my girls to homemade trail mix to a drizzle over fat bombs… I wanted to make sure we were eating the best kind. Chocolate chips are rarely just...

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How to Help Your Picky Eater

"Your kids are such great eaters!"

"I wish my kids ate as good as yours!"

These are common statements I hear from other moms, either from daycare or just friends. Truth is, they don't have any other option but than to eat what I make for them. Thankfully they are only 3.5 and 1.5, and they have eaten this way since day 0, because I refused from the beginning to play the "short order cook" role. I don't have time for picky eaters. I could say the same thing about my husband. If he wasn't as happy-go-lucky as he is when it comes to food, he'd be SOL because he'd have to make his own dinner if he wasn't going to eat what I make for dinner each night. 

Thankfully, I do love cooking, I think I'm pretty good at it, and besides a few minor food avoidances, I don't have to worry about food allergies or anything like that. 

With Teagan, we do 99% gluten free, and unless we are out and about or it's a little treat, we don't do bread products/wheat products and we do very...

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Packing Lunch for Your Toddlers. Part 2.

Incase you missed part 1, make sure to refer back to it! In this part 2, I'll share with you some examples of the lunches I've prepared for my girls! I personally use these containers from amazon because they are relatively inexpensive, I can buy them in bulk, dishwasher safe, they fit in their lunch boxes, it's okay if I throw them out, if they crack, etc. We don't heat them in the microwave, though they are BPA free. If something needs to be heated I put it in a separate container to be heated. 

Here are 12 examples of our lunches in pictures! Comment below if you find this helpful!

Leftover chicken & veggie stirfry, berries, nut/seed crackers, wholly guacamole packets.

Egg & spinach muffin, raisins, fruit, and canned green beans.

Frozen peas & carrots, organic cheese, baked chicken with ketchup, grapes & honeydew.

Shredded chicken, frozen peas & carrots, cucumbers, berries & wholly guacamole.

3 days worth for 2 kids.

Grilled chicken,...

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Packing Lunch for Your Toddlers. Part 1.

I love sharing what I'm feeding my kids (hence the passion behind Mommy Feeding Family), and I often share my meal plans, pictures and instructions for what I put in my kids' lunches, and more on social media. If you follow me on SnapChat (@AshleySweeneyRD) you've probably seen those cute lunch boxes I use... sSo what’s inside of those lunch boxes?  Deciding how to pack those lunches can sometimes cause some serious brain fog.  Let me help you navigate the lunch box dilemma! See Part 2 for examples!

Weekly Lunch Packing Steps:

  1. Get your lunch boxes ready.
  2. Plan your family dinners for the week.
  3. Determine which dinners would make for easy leftovers for lunches (for yourself and the kids).
  4. Pack bulk items into individual serving baggies (veggie straws, crackers, seeds, nuts, etc,)
  5. Wash, dry, chop and portion veggies into individual serving baggies or lunch boxes. 
  6. Keep extra veggies washed & chopped in the fridge for easy after school snacks. 
  7. ...
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Non Food Rewards

In a recent blog post, I shared my advice about not using food as a reward with your child, and how to enjoy treats around the experience, not the food itself. Today I'm sharing a list of some of my favorite non-food rewards that you can try to use with your kids! Use in place of candy or treats for positive behavior!

Activities!

  • Playtime in the park
  • Children’s museum’s
  • Trips to the zoo
  • Movie of choice
  • Trip to the local farm to see the animals and plants
  • Water table play
  • Set up a small swimming pool in the backyard

 Trinkets & Toys

  • Crayons + coloring books
  • Paint and canvas
  • Sticker books & special stickers 
  • Cumulative stickers (once they get __ number of stickers they get to buy something or pick out a new toy)
  • Play dough
  • Stamps* (let them pick out their favorite stamp & ink color at the craft store)
  • Water bottles or fun cups
  • Balloons- All kids love balloons
  • Bubbles*
  • Books

You can buy a lot of these things in bulk, or even from the dollar...

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Food is Fuel, Not a Reward

Too often food is used as a reward.  “If you go put your shoes on right now, I’ll give you a cookie.”  Since we know our kiddos love a sweet treat (and who can blame them?!), we as parents often use it to our advantage, because let’s face it, it works.

So, what’s the problem?

What ends up happening is the treat becomes a reward and gets put on a pedestal.  When in reality it should be treated as food, not a trophy.  The goal here is not to avoid treats, but give our children the foundation for a healthy relationship with food, all food, even brownies.

Below is a chart of common ways food is used as a reward and maybe what to do instead. 

  

Instead make it about the experience not about the food.  Creating traditions around food is great because it naturally becomes more about the experience than the food itself.  Birthdays are a great example.  Just think about your child’s last birthday party...

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Homemade Frozen Yogurt Pops

My girls loved these super simple homemade frozen yogurt popsicles! I made them for a few reasons:

  1. There is too much sugar, artificial sugars and mysterious ingredients in the store bought kind.
  2. Teagain is teething, bad, and she loves anything cold and frozen!
  3. It's fun!

So you could buy these little Zipsicle containers and use them for almost anything and for a million recipes! I'll share my two simple recipes:

Strawberry Chia

  • 1 cup organic full fat yogurt
  • 1.5 cup fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tbs chia seeds

Blueberry Flax

  • 1 cup organic full fat yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tbs ground flax seeds

Put all ingredients in a blender, I use the Vitamix, and blend til smooth.

Use a funnel to pour ingredients into Zipsicles. 

My recipe made about 5 popsicles of each flavor. 

Freeze laying flat, then once frozen put in large zip lock container. 

Enjoy!

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5 Ways to Improve Your Kids' Gut Health

5 Way to Improve Your Kids Gut Health

Scroll down to watch one of my live videos from my Mommy Feeding Family group in which any mom can join for free! I shared 5 ways to improve your children's gut health!

I go in depth during the video, but the 5 ways include...

1. Reduce inflammatory foods in your kids diet. Sugars, processed cookies, candy, juice, inflammatory oils, etc.  

2. Get outside and stop sanitizing everything. Bacteria, good and bad, live everywhere, and exposure to all kinds are good for our gut microbiome. There is certainly a time and place for bleach, but every day hand sanitizer is not doing you any good.  

3. If pregnant or hoping to be pregnant, and you have a choice, research shows children born via vaginal vs c-section and children breastfed vs formula fed makes a big difference. I know this isn't always an option, and I'm not trying to cause any mommy guilt, because Lord knows we all get enough of that, simply stating...

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Picky Eaters

We want the best for our kids and feeding them wholesome, nutritious food is a high priority, but it can be beyond frustrating if your child is a picky eater.  From coast to coast, lots of blood, sweat, and tears have been shed over broccoli.  

Ideally, mealtimes should be relaxing, calm, and enjoyable… for everyone, including you, mom! I’m here to help you take the stress out of mealtimes and the pressure off of YOU!

Remember this, every meal will not be perfect 100% of the time.  After all this is real life!  Look at the big picture...the overall goal is to instill a healthy relationship with food. So when your baby is no longer a baby, they are equipped to make healthy food choices on their own (most of the time).  Try out some of these tips to help your little ones develop that healthy relationship with food.

For more help with learning what to feed your family, nutritious dinners, making sure everyone gets enough protein, etc. join my Mommy...

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