7 Best Healthy Foods To Buy In Bulk

7 Best Healthy Foods To Buy In Bulk

Cooking healthy meals for your family doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

In our home, we keep things really simple.

Each week, we buy the same staple foods and make many of the same meals. Between working full-time, writing this blog, my kids and everything else that has to get done, there’s no time for guesswork or experimenting with new recipes.

And buying foods in bulk is one way we’re able to make sure we always have ingredients on hand to make healthy meals.

Although we don’t have a membership to a wholesale club because it doesn’t make sense for our family of 4, we stock up on sale items and buy foods that stretch our food budget. 

Buying in bulk can save you money, but you’ll need to watch your kids’ portion sizes or you could end up spending even more. On the flip side, if you don’t consume it in a timely manner, it can spoil and create food waste.

The key is to stock up on a few key ingredients—fresh, frozen, and non-perishable—

so you’ll always have what you need.

Here are 7 of the best healthy foods to buy in bulk.

1. Beans and Legumes

If you’re trying to get more plant-based foods into your kid’s diet, buy beans and legumes.

Black beans and lentils are two of my favorites to stock up on because they’re high in both protein and fiber and excellent sources of iron.

Black turtle beans in particular, are high in calcium: 1/2 cup provides 160 milligrams.

I prefer to buy dried beans and then soak and cook them because they’re more robust and lower in sodium than canned but canned beans are just as healthy and delicious.

Swap beans for meat in Mexican dishes, add them to soups, stews and chilis or as a replacement for eggs and oil in your favorite baking recipes.

2. Cinnamon

When it comes to healthy foods to buy in bulk, cinnamon is at the top of my list.

High in antioxidants, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties and studies suggest it’s  beneficial for controlling blood sugar, improving LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. 

I keep several containers of cinnamon in my home because it’s so delicious and can be used in a variety of meals.

I add cinnamon to oatmeal, pancakes, muffins and desserts and sprinkle it on roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

I also like to mix cinnamon into my coffee grounds which adds a robust, delicious flavor to my morning cup.

3. Chia seeds

An excellent source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are by far one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

I keep a large mason jar of chia seeds in my pantry and incorporate them into pancakes, breads muffins and overnight oats, add them to smoothies and use them to make chia seed puddings.

4. Berries

Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen so they may be healthier than fresh varieties.

In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases, frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are some of the best frozen foods to buy in bulk because they’re high in fiber and antioxidants, and low glycemic so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.

Add frozen berries to smoothies, use your blender to whip them up into a healthy dessert, or serve them as a snack—something my kids loved when they were toddlers.

Or add berries to oatmeal, yogurt and baked goods for extra fiber and a natural sweetness.

5. Quinoa

High in both fiber and protein, quinoa (a seed), is one of the best healthy foods to buy in bulk.

Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate that’s high in fiber and a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.

I love keeping plenty of quinoa on hand because it cooks super-fast and it’s so versatile.

Swap it for oatmeal, add it to a fruit parfait, incorporate it into green salads or serve it as a side for dinner.

6. Olive oil


Whether you’re roasting vegetables to make them healthy and delicious for your kids, making your own salad dressing or coating a pan to scramble eggs, olive oil is a necessity when you’re cooking healthy meals.

High in monounsaturated, healthy fats and vitamin E, olive oil also makes food delicious and satisfies hunger.

Store olive oil in a cool, dry place away from the sunlight to prevent it from becoming rancid.

7. Rolled oats

Another whole grain option that’s high in fiber, rolled oats are also a good source of iron, selenium and manganese and are low in sugar.

Oats are naturally gluten-free but because of cross-contamination, look for brands that are labeled accordingly. I like Bob’s Red Mill

Swap rolled oats for recipes that call for flour or use them to make oatmeal, overnight oats, cookies, energy bites and protein bars.

Which foods do you like to buy in bulk? Let me know in the comments!

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without

Before I got married and had kids, food and nutrition weren’t nearly as much of a focus in my life as they are now.

As a single woman living alone, I relied on quick and easy meals like scrambled eggs or pasta and broccoli.

If I cooked, it would have been something like a piece of pan-seared salmon but snack foods like hummus, crackers and cheese sticks for dinner were just as good—seriously!

Of course, Chinese take-out was always an easy option too.

When I met my husband however, I became more interested and inspired to cook healthy, delicious meals.

Since he works in the restaurant business and even worked as personal chef, he taught me how to use a knife and cutting board, how to roast a whole chicken and how to prepare a real meal from scratch.

Although cooking techniques like blanching still throw me off and I’m not all that adventurous with herbs and spices, I can hold my own in the kitchen today.

Of course, having kids has also been a driving force behind my motivation to cook. Between making homemade baby food, preparing their school lunches and cooking dinner almost every night, I’m always in the kitchen.

But let’s be honest: cooking takes time—time I don’t always have.

So over the years, I’ve found some amazing kitchen gadgets that have helped make meal prep easier, helped me pull together meals faster, and saved my sanity.

Here are 5 kitchen gadgets I can’t live without.

1. Vitamix

I recently received the Vitamix as a Christmas present from my husband and after getting over the initial sticker shock, I was hooked.

Unlike the small blender I was using, I love that you can put several types of vegetables for a smoothie in the Vitamix and it blends up everything into a super-smooth consistency, much like a juicer, but the fiber is still there.

The other great thing about the Vitamix is that it isn’t just for smoothies. You can use it to make homemade nut butters, dips and spreads, soups, frozen desserts, flours and dough and non-dairy milk.

2. Solid Wood Chopping Bowl

This solid wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna knife is hands down, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets and a tool I use every day.

There’s nothing more delicious than a chopped salad and with this bowl, you don’t have to drop $10 at your favorite lunch spot to get it. I simply add salad greens, onions, carrots and avocado and chop everything up in the bowl. I add dressing and a protein and lunch is ready in minutes.

If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, it’s also a great tool to get them in the kitchen to prepare—and get excited about—healthy meals too.

3. Pampered Chef Pan

Pampered Chef is known for their stoneware and for good reason.

I use this Pampered Chef pan most days of the week to roast vegetables and make sweet potato fries, and meatballs. Everything you make with the pan is evenly cooked, crispy on the outside but moist on the inside and bursting with flavor.

It’s also a breeze to clean and doesn’t require any soaking or scrubbing.

4. Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner


If there’s one kitchen gadget that ensures you’ll always have a quick and easy meal on hand, it’s the Oxo good grips salad spinner.

It’s a totally old-school kitchen gadget but it’s a must-have to wash salad quickly and keep it fresh all week long.

5. Cuisinart Stand Mixer

Another classic tool, the Cuisinart Stand Mixer is a kitchen gadget I’ve had since I got married and it’s become quite useful throughout the years.

If you love baking as much as I do, the mixer is a must-have.

Although it’s not in my regular daily rotation, it’s come in handy for making breads, my nana’s famous Christmas cheesecake and my kids’ birthday cakes.

What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets? Leave me a comment! 

10 Simple Meal Prep Hacks For Busy Moms

10 Simple Meal Prep Hacks For Busy Moms

I wish I had better news for you, but the truth is that getting healthy meals on the table takes time.

Time to plan what you’re going to cook, time to shop for the ingredients, time to do the actual meal prep and cooking, and (ughh) all the clean-up.

When you’re rushing to get out the door in the morning or get dinner on the table at night and everyone is exhausted or having their own meltdown, pulling together healthy meals can seem next to impossible.

That’s where meal prep comes in.

With some simple strategies, you can plan ahead of time and have a system in place to get breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table every day.

Here are 10 simple meal prep hacks to try.

1. Pull out the iPad

When you’re trying to get something done like make an important phone call or make dinner, do your kids swarm to you like a hive of bees?

I hear you. In my house, dinnertime is prime time for meltdowns, siblings fighting and bad behavior.

Although I try really hard to limit my kids’ screen time, I’ve come to realize that strategic use of the TV and the iPad can come in handy especially when I’m cooking.

My kids get to decompress after-school and have some fun, while I’m able to get dinner on the table without feeling totally stressed out.

2. Store food in airtight containers

Clear glass, airtight food storage containers are your secret weapon for meal prep.

They not only keep all of your produce fresh and in clear sight but they help prevent food from spoiling, drying out, getting soggy or absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator.

Glass containers also cut down on time because they go from the fridge and the freezer to the microwave or the oven which makes cooking dinner a breeze.

Carve out some time on the weekends—or whenever you can—to wash, cut up your fruits and vegetables and store them in individual containers so you’ll know exactly what you have on hand.

Cut-up veggies also do double duty for quick meals, after-school snacks and school lunches.

3. Use ice cube trays

To prevent food from spoiling and make cooking quick and easy, freeze small portions of leftover ingredients in ice cube trays and then re-heat them when you need to.

Store homemade baby food purees, leftover stock, smoothies, pasta sauce, pesto and herbs—even coffee for a quick and easy cup of cold brew.

4. Make overnight oats


Mornings are hectic whether you have little ones you need to get to daycare or big kids who have to catch the bus.

Instead of serving cereal or instant oatmeal which are usually low in fiber, high in sugar and highly processed, fill mason jars the night before with oats, fruit, nuts or seeds and milk for a quick and easy breakfast.

5. Cut, then wash vegetables

Washing vegetables before you cut them up makes sense, but you might discover hidden dirt on the inside of produce like mushrooms, celery and broccoli and end up re-washing them again anyway.

Instead, chop everything first, then give your fruits and veggies a vigorous wash under cold, running water.

6. Slice it in


The thinner you slice vegetables and protein sources, the quicker they’ll cook whether you’re sautéing or roasting them.

I slice foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and tempeh super-thin and they cook in minutes flat.

7. Offer an appetizer

Your kids may refuse to eat all day but right before dinner is when they’re most likely to ask for a snack—so give it to them.

Offering an appetizer won’t spoil their dinner and if it’s a healthy choice, it can be a great way to take advantage of their hunger and get them to eat more vegetables and try new foods.

Letting them munch on something small can also help you buy some time while you’re getting dinner ready.

Serve roasted root vegetables as “fries,” hummus or a bean dip with cut up raw vegetables, or kale chips, for example.

8. Pre-heat your pan

Sheet pan meals already make dinners quick and easy, but you can save even more time by heating up the pan while your oven is pre-heating and you’re finishing up any meal prep.

Pre-heating the pan will cook everything evenly and speed up your cook time.

9. Pre-portion smoothie ingredients


Smoothies can be a quick and easy breakfast option for you and your kids, but the key is that it’s simple.

After you go to the grocery store or at the beginning of the week, wash and prep all of your fruits and vegetables and store them in individual Ziplock bags. In the morning, you can pop everything into your blender for a no-brainer breakfast with minimal clean-up.

10. Use your appliances

Chopping, slicing and dicing are seriously time-consuming especially if you’re using fresh garlic or cutting up vegetables that need to be peeled and sliced like butternut squash, for example.

If you don’t own a basic food processor, consider purchasing one that can do all the work for you and slash some serious time off your meal prep.

4 Folate and Folic Acid Benefits For All Moms—Whether They’re Pregnant or Not

4 Folate and Folic Acid Benefits For All Moms—Whether They’re Pregnant or Not

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate or vitamin B9, is well known as a vitamin that pregnant moms take to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.

Since the first 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy are when the neural tube is formed and when defects occur, and up to 45 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, taking folic acid before you get pregnant is vital.

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) guidelines recommend that women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day. During pregnancy, women should increase the amount to 600 mcg; breastfeeding moms need 500 mcg.

Although most women get enough folate, some women, such as those with the MTHFR gene variant, may not be able to utilize folate properly and may need to take the bioactive form.

Interestingly, research suggests folate and folic acid can actually be beneficial for all moms, whether they’re planning to become pregnant or not. Here’s what we know.

1. Folic Acid May Prevent Heart Disease

Heart disease is often seen as a man’s disease but nothing could be further from the truth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States, accounting for approximately 1 in 4 female deaths each year.

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise and stress reduction, getting enough folate may actually ward off heart disease.

According to an August 2016 meta-analysis in the Journal of The American Heart Association, folic acid supplementation is associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke and a 4 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

2. Folic Acid Acid May Reduce Cancer Risk

Some studies suggest that adequate levels of folate may prevent certain cancers. According to a large 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who had total folate intake of 900 mcg a day or more had a 30 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who only consumed 200 mcg a day.

Since some studies suggest that high levels of folate and folic acid may actually increase cancer risk however, more research is needed to determine whether or not taking higher doses is actually beneficial. 

3. Folic Acid May Prevent Depression and Postpartum Depression

Some studies have shown an association between low folate and depression.

Researchers have also looked at the link between folate and depression during pregnancy and postpartum depression.

According to a November 2017 study in the journal Nutrients, women who took folic acid for more than 6 months during pregnancy had a lower risk of postpartum depression than those who took it for less than 6 months.

Some studies also suggest folic acid, in combination with anti-depressants, may improve symptoms, but it’s unclear whether it’s effective or not.

4. Folic Acid May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s unclear whether folic acid supplementation may prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease but some studies suggest it may have some benefit.

While observational studies have found an association between low levels of folate and poor brain function and a higher risk of both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, folic acid supplements have not been shown to improve cognitive function or prevent these diseases, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

For people who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s however, folic acid may help, according to a June 2016 study in the journal Mediators of Inflammation.

What Moms Should Know About Folate and Folic Acid

Since folate is a water soluble vitamin, it’s not stored in the body so you need to get it in your diet, ideally through food.

Foods high in folate include dark green leafy vegetables, some types of fruit, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy, meat, poultry and grains. Some foods like breads, cereals, pastas, rice and other grains are also fortified with folic acid.

Although most women get enough folate, symptoms of a folate deficiency include fatigue, irritability, weakness, poor concentration, headache, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and pale skin, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It’s important to note that although the folate thats’s naturally found in foods isn’t harmful, high doses of folic acid and fortified foods may be. There are also certain medications that can interact with folic acid supplements so when in doubt, always talk to your doctor.

8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

8 Supermarket Shortcut Foods To Make Healthy Eating Easy

The new year always comes with the best intentions: eat healthier, work out more, get more sleep and cut down on all that stress.

When it comes to your kid’ health, perhaps you’ve made a commitment to stock your kitchen with healthy food, cook more and share more family meals together.

Those are all great New Year’s resolutions to have of course, but so often we find ourselves back to our old habits come February.

Between work, after-school activities and every other obligation you have, carving out time to plan, shop and cook gets really challenging.

With some healthy eating hacks and a few supermarket shortcut foods on hand however, you don’t have to rely on processed foods, ready-made meals and grab-and-go options to make sure your family stays on track.

Here are 8 supermarket shortcuts that will make healthy eating a breeze all year long.

1. Salad kits

My family has become hooked on a salad kit made with shaved Brussels sprouts, shredded cabbage, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. Not only is it healthy and delicious, but having a salad kit on hand helps us pull together dinner in minutes flat.

When choosing a salad kit, always read labels since many salad kits are high in calories, sodium and sugar and use low-nutrient greens like iceberg lettuce instead of dark leafy greens.

2. Spinach

High in iron, spinach is also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins A,C,E, B6, folate, magnesium and calcium.

Pre-washed baby spinach (organic when possible), cooks super-fast and can be incorporated into almost meal you’re making.

Sauté spinach with olive oil and garlic, add it to soups, stews and stir-fries or incorporate it into a quiche or frittata. Raw spinach can be mixed with other salad greens or used for your morning smoothies or green juices.

3. Frozen fruits and vegetables

Since frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak freshness and flash frozen, they may be healthier than fresh varieties. In fact, a June 2017 study in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found in some cases frozen produce is more nutritious than fresh that’s been stored in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Stocking your freezer with a variety of frozen options will help you pull together meals in no time. Add frozen veggies to pastas, omelettes, or a stir-fry and incorporate frozen fruit into smoothies and yogurt or serve it as dessert.

4. Beans

Beans are one of the healthiest foods for kids and make for a quick and easy meal.

Add canned beans to tacos, fajitas, soups and stews, serve them solo in your kid’s lunch box, or puree them into a healthy and delicious bean dip.

5. Tempeh

If you’re looking to add more plant-based protein sources into your meals, try tempeh.

With more than 5 grams of protein in every ounce, tempeh is also high in fiber and magnesium.

Since it’s made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is also a great way to get probiotics into your kid’s diet.

Marinate tempeh and bake it, slice it thin and sauté it with vegetables, or swap crumbled tempeh for meat in your favorite Mexican dishes.

6. Canned fish

One of the best supermarket shortcuts to help your family eat healthy is canned fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies.

Packed with protein, low in saturated fat and rich in micronutrients, fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support kids’ brain health and memory.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend kids eat fish 1 to 2 times every week, starting at age 2.

If your kids refuse to eat fish however, try non-sneaky ways to incorporate small portions into their meals. For example, serve canned salmon as a dip paired with cut up raw vegetables, top toasted whole-grain bread with a bit of anchovies, or add a few sardines to pasta dishes.

7. Edamame

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame (soybeans) are high in calcium: one cup of provides 97 milligrams.

Purchase edamame frozen or fully cooked and add it to rice dishes, soups and salads or serve it as a side dish. You can also serve edamame as an appetizer before dinner when kids are hungry and more likely to try new foods.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa, a seed, is high in both protein and fiber as well as B vitamins, which support the nervous system.

Quinoa is also a quick and easy grain that can be served for breakfast with fruit and cinnamon, mixed into a yogurt parfait or as a side dish for lunch or dinner.

10 Healthy Eating Hacks For 2019

10 Healthy Eating Hacks For 2019

Whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, get in shape—or nothing at all, the month of January is a great time of year to set new, healthy goals for your family.

Perhaps you want to encourage your kids to eat healthier, try new foods or leave behind their picky eating behaviors for good.

Just as other New Year’s resolutions don’t happen overnight, getting your family to eat healthy requires consistency, patience and simple, yet realistic, strategies to make it happen.

Here are 10 healthy eating hacks for the new year that will make it doable.

1. Make a list

Without a grocery list, it’s easy to be tempted by processed foods and convenience foods that can easily derail you. You may also end up buying too much food that goes to waste or find yourself resorting to unhealthy takeout when your refrigerator becomes empty mid-week.

Before you head to the grocery store, try to have a rough meal plan for the week and make a list of the foods and ingredients you’ll need.

You don’t have to plan out each meal perfectly, but as long as you have a general idea of what you’re going to make for dinner each night, and what you need to stock up on for all of your other meals, you’ll have plenty of options.

2. Prep ahead

If you can carve out an hour or two on the weekends to wash, prep and store your aromatics and fruits and vegetables, it will save you a ton of time during the week.

3. Take shortcuts

Buying pre-chopped ingredients may cost a bit more, but if doing so means you’re able to make healthy meals faster, then it’s totally worth it.

Most grocery stores have pre-chopped mirepoix, garlic, cauliflower “rice,” spiraled vegetables, and shredded Brussels sprouts that can shave off a ton of time making healthy meals.

4. Batch cook

I work full-time, write this blog and have two kids but I still manage to get dinner on the table (almost) every night.

I’m not a super-mom by any stretch of the imagination or a pro chef, but with bath cooking, I’m able to pull it off.

On Sunday and a few times throughout the week, I make large batches of vegetables, rice, quinoa, lentils, beans and hard-boiled eggs that can be used for healthy school lunches and dinners throughout the week.

5. Use an appliance

Cooking healthy meals can be time consuming especially if you have to chop vegetables or wait for rice to cook, for example. Luckily, there are so many appliances like the Vitamix, Instant Pot and slow-cooker to make it quick and easy.

6. Make sheet pan meals

When you’re rushing to get dinner on the table, you need fast, fuss-free meals.

Instead of using multiple pots and pans and making meals that require multiple cooking methods, make sheet pan meals. Choose your vegetables, add a protein, and roast everything together to cut down on cooking and clean-up time.

7. Assemble meals

Don’t like to cook? No problem. You don’t have to use a single appliance to pull together healthy meals.

Instead, assemble pre-washed bagged salad or try a salad kit and add a protein and healthy fat for a quick, easy and no-brainer meal.

8. Rely on frozen foods

Many types of frozen, microwave meals are high in calories, sodium and trans fat and low in fiber and overall nutrition, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your freezer to get a healthy dinner on the table.

Make large batches of stews, soups, bean burgers and casseroles or double a recipe that can be frozen and reheated.

Also, stock your freezer with quick and easy options like frozen shrimp, vegetables and peas that can be used in several different meals. Frozen fruit can also be used in smoothies, added to yogurt or served as dessert.

9. Stock your pantry with canned food

When you’re short on time, canned food can be a great alternative to fresh.

Canned salmon, tuna, sardines and beans are all healthy, easy and versatile protein sources that can be paired with a salad or cooked vegetables.

10. Rethink dessert

Bribing kids with dessert to eat dinner or take a few bites of their vegetables may be effective, but it puts a sour taste in their mouths—so to speak.

When kids are told they’ll get dessert if they eat the healthy stuff, a tactic Dina Rose, PhD calls the dessert deal, it teaches them that dessert is more desirable than their meal.

A workaround is to let your kids have dessert but consider offering dessert choices that you can live with. In our family, dessert is usually fresh fruit but it can also be dried fruit, yogurt, or a homemade muffin, for example.

5 Reasons Why Healthy Eating Make Kids Happy

5 Reasons Why Healthy Eating Make Kids Happy

You already know that feeding your kids healthy foods is important for their growth and development and overall health and wellness, but can healthy eating make kids happy too?

There’s no doubt that food is medicine and raising kids to eat healthy can prevent childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes and a long list of chronic health conditions plaguing our nation.

When it comes to mental health and conditions like anxiety, depression and ADHD, many doctors are quick to prescribe a pill.

Medications may be necessary and can be life-saving for kids, but research shows a child’s diet can also make a big difference when it comes to mood, mental health and happiness.

Here, read on for some of the reasons why healthy eating makes kids happy.

1. Healthy eating supports gut health and the brain

When we hear the term microbiome, we often think gut health, but the microbiome is actually a vast ecosystem made up of 100 trillion microorganisms, or microbes, that live in and on our bodies.

These microbes are made up mostly of bacteria but they can also include fungi, viruses and other types of tiny organisms.

The gut microbiome specifically, has received a lot of attention in recent years because researchers have made important discoveries about its link to the brain.

In fact, the gut is often called the second brain because of the strong pathways along the gut-brain axis.

The enteric nervous system, which directs the function of the GI system, has 30 types of neurotransmitters and 100 million neurons.

So although we often think the brain is entirely responsible for mental health and mood, experts say the gut has a lot to do with it too.

Suffice to say, optimizing the gut with foods, especially those rich in probiotics, can help the brain.

2. Healthy eating improves sleep

Although most parents agree that sleep is important for their child’s health and well-being and performance in school, most kids fall short, a 2014 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found.

Curbing the electronics, sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and leading by example are all key, but experts say gut health also has a lot to do with the quality of sleep, which can affect a child’s mood.  

As previously mentioned, a ton of neurotransmitters are found in the gut, including serotonin—about 95 percent worth!

Often dubbed the happy chemical, serotonin is also a building block for melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. What’s more, there is 400 times the amount of melatonin in the gut than there is in the brain.

3. Healthy eating can prevent depression

The increase in children with anxiety and depression in the U.S. is alarming.

According to a June 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, between 2007 and 2012 the amount of children between ages 6 and 7 with anxiety increased by 20 percent while those with depression increased by 0.2 percent.

There are a lot of factors that play into a person’s propensity to develop anxiety and depression like genetics and family history, trauma and environment but diet also plays a role.

According to a large cohort study published in October 2013 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids exposed in utero and during early childhood to junk food and those who lacked healthy foods were at an increased risk for developing anxiety and depression while they were still young.

Experts say healthy eating however, can help ward off these conditions.

Take the SMILES trial published in January 2017. It’s important to note that the study was conducted in adults, so it’s unclear if the same results could be replicated in kids.

Still, the study found that 30 percent of people with depression who followed a Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks reversed their depression, compared to only 8 percent of those in the control group who didn’t change their diet and only received social support.

4. Healthy eating is linked to better self-esteem

 

A December 2017 study in the journal BMC Public Health found healthy eating is associated with better self-esteem and fewer emotional and peer problems, such as bullying, in kids between ages 2 and 9.

Interestingly, kids had the same boost in self-esteem whether or not they were overweight.

On the flip side, when kids have strong self-esteem, they’re also likely to make healthy food choices, the same study found.

5. Healthy eating can help kids with ADHD

 

Approximately 11 percent of kids between ages 4 and 17 are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While experts say foods can’t cause ADHD, processed foods, artificial food dyes and sugar may worsen symptoms.

It also seems that eating a whole foods diet can help to support the health of a child with ADHD. In fact, a February 2011 study in The Lancet found 78 percent of children who followed a “restricted elimination diet,” which consisted of real, whole, unprocessed foods, experienced an improvement in their symptoms.

Have you found eliminating certain foods and changing your child’s diet improved his mood? Let me know in the comments.

 

6 Natural Remedies To Ease Kids’ Tummy Aches

6 Natural Remedies To Ease Kids’ Tummy Aches

When my daughter complains that she has a stomachache, the first words out of my mouth are always, “are you going to vomit?!”

I know no one likes dealing with a kid who is vomiting, but when I see someone else getting sick, I start gagging myself.

Most of the time however, her stomach hurts because she ate a bag of chips, too many sweets or even went overboard on fruit, despite my best efforts to teach her about portion control.

Tummy aches are a surprisingly common complaint for kids. According to a May 2016 study in the journal American Family Physician, about 9 percent of kids’ doctor visits are due to stomachaches.

Most of the time, they’re mild and short-lived but if your kid has tummy aches that seem severe or persist, checking in with your pediatrician is always a good idea.

An infection, food allergies or an intolerance, constipation, fatigue and even stress can cause tummy aches.

When it’s your run of the mill tummy ache however, there are some natural remedies that can help ease your kid’s discomfort.

1. Chamomile tea

 

My go-to remedy when my kids have tummy aches is a cup of decaffeinated chamomile tea, which is a well-known remedy for upset stomach.

Chamomile leaves are high in flavonoids, a type of plant pigment that is thought to be responsible for chamomile’s healing properties. Research suggests chamomile may reduce inflammation and help the muscles relax.

Infants and young children however, should never consume chamomile tea, because (like honey), it may be contaminated with botulism spores.

2. Ginger

 

Ginger is another ancient remedy for tummy aches, nausea, and for pregnant women, morning sickness.

Studies suggest ginger’s effectiveness is due to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties. The oily resin from the roots of ginger contain bioactive compounds that are believed to help ease gastrointestinal (GI) distress.

If you decide to try ginger, ginger ale won’t cut it because it’s not made with real ginger root and is mostly sugar and high fructose corn syrup anyway.

Instead, try ginger tea, ginger beer (it’s non-alcoholic), or freshly grated ginger in a cup of warm water.

3. Heating pad

 

A heating pad (set on low) for about 20 minutes often does the trick when my kids have tummy aches. It helps relax the muscles in the abdomen and it can be soothing while your child is resting.

4. Peppermint

 

Peppermint, an herb which is a cross between water mint and spearmint, has been well researched and shown to be an effective remedy for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to a July 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

Less is known about peppermint’s effectiveness for indigestion or nausea but it’s still worth a try.

Peppermint tea seems to be safe for kids, but be sure to read warning labels.

Peppermint essential oil in a diffuser may be OK, but the oils should never be applied to an infant or child’s face or chest because serious side effects can occur if they inhale it, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

5. Produce and fiber-rich foods

 

If your child has a tummy ache because he’s constipated, a green vegetable smoothie, a few prunes or a small amount of prune juice may do the trick.

If constipation is a persistent problem, it’s important to talk to your pediatrician to rule out a medical condition.

Of course, taking a closer look at his diet is important too.

Avoid fast foods, processed foods and greasy foods and prioritize fruits and vegetables and other fiber-rich foods that can ease and prevent constipation.

6. Drink up

 

Sometimes drinking water is enough to get things moving and ease a tummy ache.

If you have a tough time getting your child to drink plain water, add slices of cucumber or strawberries, which will add a hint of flavor.

How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

How To Safely Introduce Nuts To Your Baby

My kids were babies just a few years ago, but at that time parents were told to avoid offering peanuts, almonds and other tree nuts until they were toddlers and as late as 3-years-old.

The food philosophy was meant to prevent babies from developing severe and life-threatening food allergies.

Nearly 8 percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies and peanuts are the most common allergen, according to a 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics.

In a short amount of time a lot has changed however. Now experts say introducing peanuts and tree nuts early on when babies start solids can actually prevent food allergies.

In January 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed new guidelines from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an effort to reduce the amount of kids with peanut allergies.

The updated recommendations came after a 2015 landmark study, the Learning Early About Peanut (LEAP) trial, which found that early introduction of peanuts can prevent peanut allergies in kids who are considered “high risk,” meaning those who have eczema and/or an egg allergy.

As a result, the AAP now recommends parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies can “freely” introduce peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age.

Babies with mild or moderate eczema can be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts at 6-months of age.

Those with severe eczema and/or an egg allergy should also be introduced to peanuts and tree nuts between 4 and 6 months of age and after they have started other solids without any reactions, but they should also have allergy testing done beforehand.

Knowing whether your child has a moderate or high risk for food allergies can be tough, so air on the side of caution and talk with your pediatrician first before introducing nuts into your baby’s diet.

Nuts are a healthy first food for babies

 

For infants without food allergies, nuts can be one of the best first foods for babies.

Nuts are an excellent source of protein, and are high in omega-3 fatty acids which supports brain and eye health, and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.

Here, learn how to safely introduce nuts to your baby.

Never feed your baby whole nuts

 

 

It goes without saying, but whole nuts are a chocking hazard for babies. The AAP says you shouldn’t introduce them into your baby’s diet until he can chew them well—probably around age 4 or 5.

Also, never feed your baby a spoonful of peanut butter or another nut butter, which is also a choking hazard.

Start slow

 

Once you get the green light from your baby’s pediatrician to introduce nuts into your baby’s diet, offer just a taste at first.

As long as your baby has no symptoms of an allergic reaction or an intolerance, you can gradually increase the amount the next time.

Offer a tiny taste

 

Peanut butter, almond butter and other types of nut butters are an ideal way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since they’re so sticky however, make sure you mix a very small amount with yogurt, a vegetable or fruit puree or infant cereal. Blend it well and make sure the nut butter is super smooth and has a consistency your baby can handle.

Serve a spread of nut butter with finger foods

 

When your baby is ready for finger foods, spread a small amount of nut butter on toast, pancakes, or waffles or even soft fruits like bananas or pears.

Adding nut butter to finger foods is a great way to get protein, more nutrition and extra flavor into your baby’s diet.

Prepare a pesto sauce

 

Pesto is a healthy and delicious way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Since many types of store-bought pesto sauces are high in sodium however, make your own version with pine nuts, walnuts or almonds.

Add pesto to pasta, grain dishes, soups or vegetable purees.

Swap all purpose flour for almond flour

 

Using almond flour in your baking recipes is a great way to introduce nuts to your baby.

Almond flour has more protein than all-purpose flour, is gluten-free and quite tasty. Use it to make breads and muffins for your baby, but be mindful of the amount of sugar you use.

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

6 Tips To Manage Your Kid’s Food Allergies During The Holidays

When you have a child with food allergies like I do, keeping them safe during holiday parties and family get-togethers can be challenging.

Between new types of foods, homemade dishes with secret ingredients and all those Christmas cookies, you’ll be laser-focused on what your kid can eat and what he must avoid.

Although managing your child’s food allergies can definitely be nerve-wracking, with some planning and a few simple strategies you can enjoy the holidays and keep your kid safe.

Here are 6 tips that will help.

1. Talk to the host

If you’ll be attending an event at someone else’s home, call the host and let them know about your child’s food allergies and what can happen if they accidentally ingest an allergen.

When you have a child with food allergies, the reality is that you are his biggest advocate.

Unless the host of the party has a child with food allergies, it’s unlikely that they’ll read food labels or even know how to read a label.

What’s more, most people don’t understand how serious an accidental exposure can be and may say a meal is safe, when it really isn’t.

While some hosts may go out of their way to check labels and read every ingredient they used, it’s always a good idea to ask what foods will be served so you’ll know what your kid will have to avoid.

2. Bring a safe dish and dessert

One of the best ways to keep your kids safe and make sure they’ll have something to eat is to bring a safe dish and a dessert that they and everyone else can enjoy, including guests who may have other dietary restrictions.

3. Supervise your kids

It goes without saying that if your kid is young, you must ask about the ingredients in every dish and choose foods carefully.

But since family and friends may give your kid something to eat without asking, it’s important to also watch your kids throughout the event too.

4. Talk with your kids

When kids are old enough to understand what it means to have food allergies, it’s important to talk to them about how to stay safe but without scaring them.

Make sure they know not to eat a food without asking you first and not to share foods with other kids who may also have food allergies.

5. Ask guests to bring a non-food item

When my daughter was 3-years-old, we attended a party at a neighbor’s house and while we were chatting, she tasted a dip that had nuts in it. Luckily, she only had hives and we gave her a dose of Benadryl, but it was a big wake up call to watch her more carefully.

If you’ll be hosting and grandma insists on bringing her famous cookies, there may not be much you can do. But if guests ask what they can bring, have a list of alternatives like a bottle of wine, another beverage, or festive napkins.

6. Plan non-food traditions

During the holidays, food is a big part of the festivities. But for kids with food allergies, they may feel left out if they can’t enjoy some of the food.

To take some of the focus off food, plan other activities or start new holiday traditions which will create magical memories your kids will remember for years to come.