7 Best Kids’ Yogurt Brands

7 Best Kids’ Yogurt Brands

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Whether you’re serving it for breakfast, an after-school snack, or for dessert, yogurt can be a healthy food and one that your kids will love to eat.

Yogurt is high in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics.

In the U.S., the yogurt market is booming—worth an estimated $38.7 billion

so if it seems the options are endless, it’s not your imagination.

Between plain, Greek, Skyr, French and dairy-free, fruit-flavored and with sweet, crunchy mix-ins, trying to figure out how to choose a healthy kid’s yogurt can make your head spin.

Luckily, I’ve done the work for you and selected some of the best kids’ yogurt brands based on the amount of protein, sugar and ingredients. Here are 7.

 

 

1. Siggi’s Yogurt Tubes

Siggi’s 2% low-fat yogurt tubes top my list for best kids’ yogurt brands and makes for a perfect snack or addition in your kid’s lunch box.

A strained, non-fat traditional yogurt of Iceland known as Skyr, Siggi’s has a thick and creamy texture but it’s smoother than Greek yogurt.

High in protein—5 grams per serving—and low in sugar, Siggi’s is non-GMO, made with milk that doesn’t contain rbST, a growth hormone, and made with real fruit.

 

 

2. Happy Family Whole Milk Yogurt

 

 

If you’re looking for a healthy kids’ yogurt to pack for the park, a playdate or school, Happy Family’s Whole Milk Yogurt pouches are a great choice.

Made with organic, non-GMO ingredients, they have no added sugar, are sweetened with organic fruit and vegetable purees and some varieties have healthy extras like oats and chia seeds.

Each serving has 3 grams of protein and between 4 and 6 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor.

 

 

3. Lavva

 

 

If you’re looking for a dairy-free, high protein yogurt, Lavva is my new favorite brand.

Lavva is plant-based yogurt made with pili nuts, a type of tree nut that’s grown in Southeast Asia and is high in magnesium, and a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, and monounsaturated healthy fats that kids need in their diets.

It’s also made with young plantains, coconut, cassava and real fruit, it has no added sugar, flavors or artificial ingredients and is available in 7 different flavors.

It’s also low in sugar—only 6 grams per serving.

What I like most about Lavva is that unlike almond milk and coconut milk yogurts, it has a much thicker, creamier texture and a more robust flavor.

One caveat: with 140 calories per serving, pay attention to portion sizes and take into consideration your kid’s age and if you’re serving it with lunch or as a snack, for example.

 

 

4. Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Tubes Strawberry Beet Berry

 

 

An organic kids’ yogurt made with dairy from pasture-raised cows and non-GMO ingredients, Stonyfield Organic’s Whole Milk Tubes Strawberry Beet Berry is one of the better in the product line of yogurt tubes.

With just 50 calories per serving, there’s a decent amount of protein (2 grams), but what I like best is that it’s also low in sugar (5 grams).

 

 

5. Green Valley Creamery Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt

 

 

A lactose-free yogurt, Green Valley Creamery’s Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt has no sugar added, no artificial ingredients and no preservatives.

Each 90-calorie serving has 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of sugar. They also have a whole milk variety that’s also high in protein and low in sugar.

 

 

6. Dannon Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt

 

 

Greek yogurt is high in protein and Dannon’s Oikos Greek Nonfat Yogurt does not disappoint.

Each 80-calorie serving has a whopping 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar.

The tangy flavor of Greek yogurt can be a hard sell for kids however, so try adding cinnamon, pure vanilla extract, fresh berries or even a hint of honey to sweeten it.

 

 

7. Dannon Danimals

 

With no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and non-GMO, Dannon’s Danimals non-fat yogurt can be a good option if kid-friendly characters are the draw that will get yours to eat yogurt.

With 4 grams of protein and 10 grams of sugar per serving, it’s not my first pick, but it’s not the worst yogurt brand either.

 

 

What are your favorite kids’ yogurts? Leave me a comment!

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Foods That Are Actually Desserts and Treats

5 “Healthy” Kids’ Foods That Are Actually Desserts and Treats

Go to any grocery store and you’ll find dozens of store shelves lined with so-called “healthy”  kids foods that you think are good choices for your family.

Maybe they have whole grains, are made with real fruit, are high in fiber, gluten-free and have no high-fructose corn syrup.

The healthwashing practices companies use are deceiving and can make you feel really good about buying their products for your kids.

After all, they’re not the potato chips, cookies and candy you already know to avoid.

Yet there are some foods that you’re probably feeding your kids every day, which although they may seem like good choices, are actually desserts and treats in disguise—and something kids should eat occasionally. Here are 5.

1. Dried fruit

My daughter loves to eat raisins and I used to be OK with her eating a handful with oatmeal or mixed with sunflower seeds since they’re a good source of fiber, iron (she was anemic), and calcium.

After a while however, I found that she was asking for them all the time and eating them like candy—and I can’t blame her.

Raisins, and other types of dried fruit, are really high in sugar. One small box of raisins has 25 grams of sugar—as much as a Hershey’s chocolate bar!

Dried fruit has more nutrition than candy of course, but it’s better to serve fresh, whole fruit whenever possible and reserve dried fruit as a treat.

2. Trail mix

Trail mix has traditionally be seen as a healthy food, but most types are packed with salty nuts, seeds, dried fruit (see #1), “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Trail mix is also high in calories: one ounce has 129 calories—it doesn’t sound like a lot, but because of its salty and sweet combination, it’s easy to keep snacking.

Nuts and seeds can be a healthy snack especially because they have the healthy fats kids need in their diets.

But if you want to serve trail mix, make your own because you get to control the ingredients and the portion size.

3. Cereal

Cereal is an easy option for breakfast especially when you’re rushed and running out the door in the morning—which if you’re like me, that’s every morning.

Yet most cereals are low in protein and fiber, filled with artificial ingredients and loaded with sugar.

In fact, a May 2014 study by the Environmental Working Group found kids who eat a bowl of cereal every day for a year get a whopping 10 pounds of sugar in their diets.

And I’m not only talking about the cereals that have bright, artificial colors, marshmallows and favorite characters on their boxes—so called “healthy cereals” aren’t always the best option either.

Cereal can be an OK breakfast option, but it’s probably best to serve it every once in a while, or as dessert.

Instead, serve eggs, oatmeal and even leftovers, which have the nutrition your kids need to stay focused until lunch.

 Need more ideas? Check out my blog post, 5 Tips For a Quick and Healthy Breakfast and How To Pick a Healthy Cereal For Your Kids.

4. Goldfish crackers

When I ask my kids what their classmates bring for snack time, most of them bring processed, packaged foods.

One of the most popular of course, are Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish crackers. Suffice to say, most parents have packed them in their kid’s lunch box or served them as after-school snacks—my daughter even gets them at church.

In fact, a 2018 survey found 2.63 million people ate 8 or more bags of Goldfish within the last 30 days!

Kids love the taste, but Pepperidge Farm also does a great job of marketing them as healthy. Some of their health claims include:

  • Baked with real cheese
  • No artificial flavors or preservatives.
  • Colors sourced from real plants.

 True, they have varieties made with whole grains and organic wheat, but Goldfish can’t compare to serving up fresh, whole foods like fruits and vegetables.

If you want to take a deep dive into why these snacks aren’t something you should be feeding your kid everyday, I encourage you to read Megan Telpner’s very comprehensive blog post, Why Golfish Crackers Don’t Belong in A Lunch Box.

5. Pre-made smoothies

Smoothies are often seen as the quintessential health food, especially because they’re made with good-for-you-ingredients like almond milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and fruit.

Yet take a look at most bottled or restaurant smoothies—yes, green smoothies too—and you’ll discover most are filled with sugar thanks to ingredients like fruit juice, honey, raw sugar and loads of fresh fruit.

Sure, fresh fruit has natural sugars, but sugar is sugar.

Take Smoothie King’s Apple Kiwi Bunga, one of their kids’ blends, for example. It sounds really healthy—it has kale—but with apple juice and an “apple juice blend,” this smoothie weighs in at 30 grams of sugar.

Store bought yogurt smoothies aren’t the best option either.

Stonyfield Organics’ low-fat strawberry banana smoothie is made with organic strawberry juice from concentrate. And the second ingredient? Cane sugar.

With 15 grams of sugar per serving, it’s not the worst smoothie you could feed your kid, but it’s better as a treat.

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

9 Best Meatless Protein-Rich Foods For Kids (+Recipes!)

Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s found in every cell of the body and is vital for building muscle, strengthening skin and bones, producing hormones, and transporting nutrients.

Although everyone needs it in their diets, kids in particular must get adequate levels of protein to support their rapid growth and development.

What’s more, eating meals with a combination of protein, fiber and healthy fats promotes feelings of satiety, staves off hunger, keeps blood sugar levels steady and can prevent overeating.

According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, protein needs for kids vary by age and gender:

  • Children between 1 and 3-years-old: 13 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 4 and 8-years-old: 19 grams of protein each day
  • Children between 9 and 13-years-old: 34 grams of protein each day
  • Girls between 14 and 18-years-old: 46 grams of protein each day
  • Boys between 14 and 18-years-old: 52 grams of protein each day

Whether your kids are vegetarian or you’re cutting back on meat and trying to get more plant-based foods in their diets, here are some of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids, plus healthy and delicious recipes to try.

1. Quinoa

A gluten-free, whole grain carbohydrate, a 1/2 cup of quinoa has more than 4 grams of protein. Quinoa is also high in fiber and a good source of B vitamins and magnesium.

A great substitute for rice and pasta, quinoa can also be served as a side dish, added to salads, incorporated into soups, stew, or chili, or even served for breakfast.

Try this recipe: Apple Quinoa Breakfast Muffins Perfect for Busy Mornings

2. Lentils

With 9 grams of protein in every 1/2 cup, lentils are one of the best meatless protein-rich foods for kids.

Since they’re also high in fiber, they keep blood sugar levels steady and are super filling.

Use lentils to make a vegetarian chili, lentil soup or meatless burgers.

Try this recipe: Lentil-Chickpea Veggie Burgers With Avocado Green Harissa

3. Eggs

In March, a new study came out, once again suggesting that eating eggs is linked to heart disease and premature death.

But experts say—and I agree—there’s no need to avoid them.

With nearly 30 grams of protein in one large egg, plus several key nutrients like potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Scrambled for breakfast, in a quiche or frittata for lunch, or hard-boiled for snacks when you’re on the go, eggs are a food you can always find a place for in your kid’s diet.

Try this recipe: Egg and Bacon Muffin Cups

4. Pumpkin seeds

With more than 5 grams of protein in one ounce, plus magnesium and zinc, pumpkin seeds are a great addition to your kid’s diet.

Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood.

Add pumpkin seeds to breads and muffins, on top of yogurt or in homemade granola.

Try this recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

5. Green peas

Serve them in meals or as a snack, these little green gems are also a perfect first food for babies.

With 5 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup, peas are also a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, folate and magnesium.

Try this recipe: Best Ever and Kid-Friendly Easy Split Pea Soup

6. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a superfood and high in protein: 1 ounce has more than 4 grams.

They’re also a great source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and phosphorous.

Add chia seeds to smoothies, pancake batter, overnight oats, and breads and muffins.

Try this recipe: Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

7. Chickpeas

All beans are excellent sources of protein, but chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) in particular, stand out. With nearly 9 grams of protein in one cup, chickpeas also high in fiber and folate.

Pair chickpeas with brown rice, add them to salads or make your own hummus.

Try this recipe: Roasted Chickpea Snack

8. Peanut butter

The quintessential kid-friendly food, peanut butter is packed with protein: two tablespoons has 8 grams—plus filling fiber and healthy fats.

Top toast with peanut butter, add it into breakfast smoothies or mix with Greek yogurt for a healthy dip.

Try this recipe: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Balls

9. Tempeh

Made with fermented soybeans, tempeh is an excellent source of protein: one ounce has 5 grams.

Tempeh is also high in calcium—a good thing if your kids don’t drink milk or you’re avoiding dairy—and rich in probiotics, the healthy bacteria that strengthen your kid’s immune system

Although tempeh is a great swap for meat in almost any dish, it shouldn’t be a regular food in your kid’s diet.

Since high amounts of soy in a child’s diet is linked to a Kawasaki disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can cause damage to the heart, experts say babies under 1 should avoid consuming foods with soy and older kids should consume soy in moderation.

Try this: Easy Baked BBQ Tempeh

What are some of your kid’s favorite meatless protein-rich foods?  Let me know in the comments!

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Your Kid Won’t Eat At Meals

[VIDEO] 6 Reasons Your Kid Won’t Eat At Meals

Although there are some kids who will eat anything you put in front of them no matter how new or exotic, all kids at some point will snub a vegetable, turn their noses up at what’s being served or flat out refuse to eat dinner.

As a parent, it’s incredibly frustrating to spend time cooking dinner only to hear “ew!” “yuck!” or “I’m not eating that!”

Take heed, mama.

It’s normal for kids not to eat meals from time to time. Sometimes they’re legitimately not hungry or they really may not like what you’re serving—kids have their own food preferences just like we do.

If your kids consistently push food around their plates, take 2 bites and declare, I’m done, or it seems like they’re never hungry no matter how hard you try, there are some possible reasons for their behaviors. Here are 6.

Short on time? Learn the top 3 most common reasons in this quick video.

1. Too many snacks

If your kid won’t eat at meals, it’s possible that he’s filling up on too many snacks throughout the day.

In fact, according to a March 2010 study in Health Affairs, kids eat snacks 3 times a day and consume up to 600 calories from foods like chips, crackers and candy.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule about how often kids should snack, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest toddlers need 2 to 3 snacks a day, while pre-schoolers need 1 to 2 snacks per day—healthy snacks that give them the nutrition they need.

If you cut back on the amount of snacks but you still find that your kid isn’t eating meals, consider making snacks smaller, adjusting the time between meals and snacks, or eliminating snack all together.

Also, instead of allowing kids to graze all day, have structured snack times and try to avoid snacks in the stroller or in the car when kids are more likely to eat mindlessly and overeat.

2. Pressure tactics

We all want our kids to eat enough and we worry when they won’t eat, but putting pressure on kids can create power struggles and make your kids less likely to eat their meals.

Instead of begging, pleading and negotiating, take a step back and be patient.

Let your kids decide if they want to eat, what they want to eat (among the choices you provide) and how much.

In order for kids to feel empowered to make their own choices, they need plenty of opportunities to touch, smell and taste their food and develop their own food preferences instead of being forced to eat something you think they should have.

3. Food ruts

Serving the same foods over and over can keep your family on track with healthy eating and help you get meals on the table in a pinch, but when the habit turns into a food rut, kids will be less likely to eat at meals.

I’ll admit: I’m totally guilty of this.

To make my life easier and encourage my kids to eat healthy, my husband and I pack lentils almost every day for lunch, serve salmon most Mondays and make eggs almost everyday for breakfast.

Lately, I’ve realized that although my kids actually like eating the foods we serve, they’re probably bored—and I was right.

To my surprise however, they didn’t want pizza or chicken nuggets—mixing up lunch a bit with a sandwich with salmon salad was just fine.

When you can carve out some time, try a new recipe, a different cooking method or cook with a new spice to change things up a bit. Or, transform old standby meals, so instead of roasted chicken, make chicken roll ups, chicken soup or chicken enchiladas, for example.

4. Changes in appetite

Just because it’s meal time, doesn’t mean your kid will be hungry.

Toddlers in particular can be really fussy eaters and more interested in playing than eating too.

After the first birthday, a child’s growth isn’t as rapid as it was during the first year of life. Although they continue to grow at a slow, steady rate and they’re moving a lot more, their appetites may slow down making them not as hungry at meals as they once were.

As long as your child’s growth trends are progressing at a healthy rate, you shouldn’t worry.

However, if your child’s lack of appetite seems extreme, it’s always a good idea to talk to the pediatrician to rule out a medical condition or another issue.

5. Portions are too large

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned when it comes to feeding my kids is that kids aren’t adults and they don’t need as much food as we do.

Kids shouldn’t be expected to clean their plates—like adults, they should eat until they’re no longer hungry, instead of eating until they’re full.

You may also be surprised what a healthy portion is. For toddlers, the AAP says one serving of vegetables is equal to one tablespoon for each year of age, for example.

For more specific recommendations, check out Super Healthy Kids’ My Plate Guide to Portion Sizes.

6. Too much milk, juice and sugary drinks

If your kid won’t eat at meals, it’s important to take a look at what he’s drinking.

Although milk is a good source of calcium and protein, filling up on too much can prevent him from being hungry for real food at meal time.

The AAP recommends 2 cups of milk for kids between 1 and 8-years-old and 3 cups for kids between 9 and 18-years-old.

Sipping on juice can also displace calories in your child’s diet.

According to the new AAP guidelines for fruit juice in kids’ diets, kids under age 1 shouldn’t drink juice.

For toddlers between 1 and 3, juice should be limited to 4 ounces a day; children ages 4-6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces; and children ages 7-18 should limit juice to 8 ounces—if you’re going to serve it.

All kids should avoid soda, sugar-sweetened drinks and energy drinks.

Although the AAP says sports drinks can be helpful for young kids who are engaged in prolonged, vigorous sports, they’re usually unnecessary and plain H2O is just fine.

Do you have a kid who won’t eat at meals? What have you found that helps? Let me know in the comments section! 

6 Tips for Stress-Free Family Dinners

6 Tips for Stress-Free Family Dinners

There are three times every day when my life gets really stressful:

  • The morning when I’m rushing to get the kids out the door and on the bus
  • The homework-bath time-bedtime routine (need I say more?)
  • And of course, dinner time.

When you work and have after-school activities, appointments and errands, getting dinner on the table almost every night is no easy feat.

In fact, according to a 2013 joint poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, nearly 50 percent of families find it difficult to find the time to eat dinner together.

Still, about 85 percent of families manage it four or more times each week, a 2016 survey found.

Although getting everyone around the table is half the battle, there’s still the time needed to prep and cook said dinner and clean up afterwards. 

Add to that picky eaters and sibling splats and dinner can turn into one meal you dread.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are 7 tips for stress-free dinners—no wine required!

1. Batch cook ahead of time

Rushing home to get a healthy dinner on the table is time consuming and stressful, no matter how much you may love to cook or how many simple meal prep hacks you have.

If you can find pockets of time throughout the week to cook large batches of vegetables and grains for example, all you have to do when you come home is add a protein, which you can also pre-cook or add something ready made like a can of salmon.

If you’re so inclined and have extra chunks of time throughout the week, make a meal or two ahead of time that can be reheated.

2. Serve up an appetizer

When my kids walk in the door at 5pm, their first complaint question is, can I have a snack?

Eating together as a family is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating if you’re serving the same meal for everyone (I hope you are!).

If your kids are vying for something to eat while you’re cooking dinner or waiting for other family members to come home, serve an appetizer.

An appetizer is so much more exciting and sounds fancier than a snack, and it can also be healthier. Try vegetable crudités, veggies with hummus or guacamole, or fresh fruit.

3. Play it cool

Picky eating is by far one of the biggest sources of stress at the dinner table.

In fact, a survey by Abbott Nutrition Health Institute found parents of kids with picky eaters report feeling stressed about meal times and are more likely to have meals end in an argument.

Parents of picky eaters often try to control the situation and beg (take one more bite), negotiate (eat your vegetables and you can have dessert), or use pressure tactics like waving a forkful of food in their faces or telling them they can’t leave the table until they finish their dinner.

Put yourself in your kid’s shoes: would you want to eat if someone was forcing you to do the same?

Kids don’t learn manners, respect and good behavior overnight and the same goes for raising healthy eaters. It takes teaching, plenty of patience and modeling the desired behaviors.

Kids also need time to develop their food preferences and opportunities to touch, smell and taste their food.

Stay consistent, but don’t stress.

4. Get rid of the distractions

Taking phone calls, checking emails, or watching the game are not only distractions at the dinner table that take away from meaningful conversation and  quality time together as a family, but they also make for stressful meals.

Make a commitment as a family: no phones, devices or TV allowed.

Instead, focus on what you’re eating, how much you’re eating and the people around you.

The one caveat? Music in the background, which can help ease stress and make mealtimes happy.

5. Get kids to pitch in

Cooking, cleaning up and setting the table shouldn’t be all on your shoulders.

Getting your kids involved in age-appropriate activities empowers them to take responsibility, teaches them how to work together as a family, and can ease some of the mealtime burden.

Kids as young as 3 can put out napkins, while older kids can handle place settings, help plate the food, load the dishwasher and wash dishes.

6. Be positive

When you’re already pressed to spend time with your spouse and kids, it’s tempting to talk about everything that’s on your mind.

I’ll admit, this is one area when I fall short.

I’m constantly telling my kids “please don’t interrupt,” and “close your mouth while you chew.” I’m also guilty of tackling hot button issues with my husband or discussing the week’s schedule—both of which can wait until after dinner.

Trying your best to create a meaningful experience will make for stress-free family dinners.

If your kids tend to fight at the dinner table, try having them sit apart.

Or challenge each person to talk about the best or most surprising part of their day, something they love about another family member or what they’re grateful for that day.

Dinner time won’t always be perfect, but it can be a positive experience. 

[VIDEO] 9 Amazing Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

[VIDEO] 9 Amazing Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Have you ever seen those women on social media who are 9 months pregnant running marathons, lifting huge, heavy barbells at CrossFit or managing impossible Yoga poses without breaking a sweat?

I have but no, I wasn’t one of them.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was teaching Spinning classes and had completed my first endurance race—a 1/2 marathon—about 3 months earlier.

Since my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage however, my doctor suggested I cut back on exercise until the 3 month mark.

Once I was in the clear, I returned to the gym but not to a bike. 

Instead, I exercised several days of the week and did low-impact workouts like walking, strength training, stretching and prenatal Yoga.

More power to those women who can keep up with their intense workouts during pregnancy but let’s get real: particularly during those early months of pregnancy when you’re dealing with morning sickness, mood swings and exhaustion, the couch is much more appealing than the treadmill.

Still, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women with normal, healthy pregnancies get between 20 and 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most—or all days—of the week.

Why? Because there are so many amazing benefits during pregnancy and way beyond those 40 weeks. Here are 9.

1. Lower risk of pregnancy complications

Exercise during pregnancy strengthens the heart and blood vessels and may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes by 25 percent, a 2018 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found. 

Studies also show women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to gain excess weight, give birth to babies who weigh more than 9 pounds (also known as macrosomia), and less likely to have a caesarean section.

2. Cures pregnancy constipation

Between 11 and 38 percent of women deal with constipation during pregnancy.

Blame it on your hormones, prenatal vitamin, and changes in your diet but constipation can also be a result of being sedentary—another great reason to get moving.

Looking for more ways to prevent and cure constipation? Watch my video.

3. Eases aches and pains

Staying active during pregnancy can help ease low back pain, pelvic pain, leg cramps and round ligament pain which are common during pregnancy.

4. May prevent postpartum depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 9 women nationwide and in some states, as many as 1 in 5 have the condition.

Yet studies show exercise during pregnancy may prevent postpartum depression.

In fact, a September 2017 meta-analysis in the journal Birth found women who participated in various types of exercise like stretching and breathing, walking, aerobics, Pilates and yoga during pregnancy had lower scores on depression symptom tests than women who didn’t exercise.

5. Fights fatigue

Most pregnant women feel sluggish, particularly during the early weeks of pregnancy and then again as they near their due dates.

Although the last thing you might feel like doing is going to the gym, getting in a workout—even if it’s walking, swimming or a prenatal Yoga class—can give you a boost of energy.

6. Improves sleep

When you’re dealing with heartburn, aches and pains, your growing belly and frequent trips to the bathroom, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by.

Yet regular exercise can help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily and help you cope with stress that might be keeping you awake. One caveat: don’t exercise too close to bedtime since it can have the reverse effect.

7. Faster recovery from childbirth

Exercise during pregnancy can help build up your strength, muscle tone and endurance which may make labor shorter and less painful.

In fact, a May 2018 study in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology found women who exercised throughout their pregnancies had shorter labors and were less likely to get an epidural.

Research also shows women who exercise during pregnancy recover faster after giving birth.

8. Supports postpartum health

Staying active during pregnancy can help establish a healthy habit that you’re likely to stick with after giving birth and as a result, prevent certain conditions.

Exercise in the weeks after delivery may lower your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots. It can also help keep your energy levels up despite the sleepless nights and 24/7 care your newborn needs.

9. Helps you lose the baby weight

Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy and help you shed the post-baby lbs. Certain exercises can also help prevent or recover from conditions like diastasis recti, a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles.

If you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery you can likely start to exercise a few days after you’ve given birth or when you feel ready, according to ACOG. If you had a c-section or complications or you’re simply unsure, you should always check with your doctor first.

Did you exercise during pregnancy? In what ways did it help you? Let me know in the comments!

10 High-Fiber Foods Kids Will Love

10 High-Fiber Foods Kids Will Love

Fiber is something all kids need in their diets but most aren’t getting enough from foods like fruits and vegetables and those with whole grains.

In fact, 9 in 10 kids don’t eat enough vegetables, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 39 percent don’t eat any whole grains.

If you’re trying to get your kids to eat more fiber-rich foods, the good news is that you don’t have to resort to gritty bran cereal, sneak vegetables into their meals or force them to drink a fiber supplement.

With plenty of opportunities to taste and explore new fiber-rich foods, kids can grow to accept—and even crave them.

These 10 picks are healthy, delicious and super-easy to incorporate into any meal or serve as snacks.

1. Apples

When you think of high-fiber foods, apples are usually the first to come to mind.

With more than 4 grams of fiber in one medium apple, they’re also a great source of vitamin C, and have quercetin, an antioxidant that may improve cognitive function, a March 2017 mice study in the journal Behavioral Brain Research suggests.

2. Chia seeds

With a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber in every ounce, chia seeds are a standout when it comes to fiber-rich foods for kids.

Chia seeds are also high in protein, a good source of calcium, and the highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which studies show support cardiovascular health, lower inflammation, prevent chronic disease, and support brain health.

A word of caution: due to the risk of an obstruction in the esophagus, avoid feeding chia seeds to little ones.

3. Raspberries

All types of berries are high in fiber, but with more than 6 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup, raspberries are one of the best.

Raspberries are also loaded with antioxidants and rich in vitamins C, K, and magnesium, and they’re low glycemic so they won’t spike your kid’s blood sugar.

4. Avocado

Avocado is a superfood for kids, thanks to almost 2 grams of fiber in every ounce. 

Avocado also has 20 vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and lutein and zeaxanthin, or carotenoids, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.

5. Figs

Real figs (not the cookie kind!) are one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

A 1/2 cup of raw figs contain nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs have more than 9 grams.

Figs are also a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin K.

6. Popcorn

If you’re looking for a crunchy kids’ snack with some fiber, serve up some popcorn.

A cup of popcorn has more than 1 gram of fiber, which isn’t a ton but it’s much better than a bag of chips for example, and it’s a whole grain. Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates keep blood sugar steady and help stave off hunger.

7. Rolled oats

With 6 grams of filling fiber in a 1/2 cup, rolled oats are a good source of whole grains as well as iron, selenium and manganese.

When buying rolled oats or oatmeal, always read labels and compare brands because the amount of fiber can vary.

8. Almonds

With nearly 3 grams of fiber in one ounce, almonds are fiber-rich and filling.

Almonds are also a great source of protein and iron, and make for a quick and easy kids’ snack.

9. Sweet potatoes

With more than 3 grams of fiber in a 1/2 cup,  sweet potatoes are one of the best high-fiber foods to feed your kids.

Sweet potatoes are also loaded with antioxidants and lend themselves to almost any meal.

10. Beans

You can’t go wrong with beans, which are high in both fiber and protein, and an excellent source of folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. They’re also rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that fights inflammation.

Navy beans and small white beans are some of the highest in fiber—more than 9 grams in a 1/2 cup.

7 Best Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

7 Best Pregnancy Nutrition Tips

When one of my friends was pregnant with her first child, like all new moms, she tried to do everything she could to have a healthy pregnancy, including eating right.

She talked to her doctor about her diet and read a book about a pregnancy nutrition.

But with all of the recommendations about getting plenty of protein, iron and calcium for example, she started to worry about getting enough of every nutrient and she ended up gaining 60 pounds!

Although your diet is really important for both you and your baby, all of the pregnancy nutrition advice can seem overwhelming and make you crazy.

Instead of worrying about following a set of rules, eating the “right” foods, and getting a certain amount of nutrients in your diet, stick to the basics.

Here are my best pregnancy nutrition tips and general recommendations that can go a long way in having a healthy pregnancy.

1. Get folic acid

Folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, is a must-have nutrient for a healthy pregnancy because it prevents neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida and anencephaly.

Although many women think they should start taking folic acid when they first see the plus sign on a pregnancy test, it’s important to take it before you even plan to become pregnant and especially during the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Since nearly 50 percent of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, experts recommend all women take 400 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement daily.

Although folate isn’t absorbed as well as folic acid, it’s still a good idea to get it from foods like beef, chicken, pork, fish and shellfish, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans and legumes and fortified foods like some cereals.

2. Don’t eat for two

The advice that you need to eat for two when you’re pregnant is outdated and incorrect.

In fact, following this advice may be why 47 percent of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, according to a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can lead to pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and sleep apnea, preterm birth, birth defects, problems during labor and delivery, and is linked to a higher risk for c-sections.

Research also suggests babies born to obese moms are more likely to be overweight themselves and may be at risk for poor developmental outcomes.

Excess weight gain can also make it harder to lose the weight after you give birth.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories.

If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calories for a healthy weight gain.

3. Limit fake food

A whole foods diet can help ensure you get the right amount of nutrition to support your health and your baby’s growth and development.

Instead of fast food, processed foods and foods with refined carbohydrates, focus on getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, clean sources of protein, whole grains and healthy fats.

Since your blood volume doubles during pregnancy and you may feel more tired than usual, eating real food will give you the energy you need.

Whole foods are also more satiating, so you’ll be less likely to overeat and gain too much weight.

4. Get your omega-3s

Fish is an important source of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids which are important for your baby’s brain development.

In fact, a 2016 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found eating more servings of seafood each week was associated with higher cognitive scores and a decrease in symptoms of Autism.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says it’s safe to eat two, 8-12 ounce servings of fish per week. Fish with low levels of mercury include shrimp, salmon, catfish and pollock.

Avoid those with high levels of mercury which include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you eat white albacore tuna, limit it to 6 ounces a week.

If you can’t stomach fish, try adding other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like walnuts, DHA-fortified milk or peanut butter, or talk to your doctor about taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement.

5. Eat enough

Although many women gain too much weight during pregnancy, there are also those that may go in another dangerous direction.

In fact, a 2012 survey by SELF magazine and CafeMom.com found nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to cutting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples.

If you’re unsure of what to eat—and how much—consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in pregnancy nutrition.

6. Eat iron-rich foods

In order for your body to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby, you need about double the amount of iron during pregnancy than you did before you became pregnant.

ACOG recommends 27 milligrams of iron a day which you can likely get from your prenatal vitamin, but it’s also a good idea to eat iron-rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, beans and peas and iron-fortified cereals.

Eating iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can also help your body absorb iron more efficiently.

7. Don’t stress

The thing about pregnancy nutrition is that no matter how well-intentioned you are to eat healthy, your pregnancy may not go as you had planned.

Whether you’re dealing with morning sickness or something more serious like gestational diabetes, you may have to tweak your diet.

My advice: eat whole, healthy foods and follow your nutritionist’s advice, but don’t stress.

Being a calm mama is so much more important than adhering to a strict list of pregnancy rules.

5 Homemade Baby Food Myths—Busted

5 Homemade Baby Food Myths—Busted

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links from Amazon Associates. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I recommend these products either because I use them or because companies that make them are trustworthy and useful.

When my daughters were babies, there was nothing more that I enjoyed than making homemade baby food.

After pouring over recipes in The Baby and Toddler Cookbook, and discovering amazing new flavor combinations of fruits and vegetables, risotto dishes and stews, I loved steaming, pureeing and serving them up to my little ones.

Making your own homemade baby food is one of the best things you can do for your child and a great way to set him up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Despite the fact that homemade baby food is fresher (just look at the colors of each and you’ll be convinced!), healthier, and way more tasty than store-bought, homemade baby has been given a bad rep for being too time consuming and more expensive to make, but nothing could be further from the truth. 

Here, learn 5 of the most common homemade baby food myths and why they’re totally wrong.

 

 

Myth #1: Homemade baby food takes too much time


Between the shopping, washing, prepping, cooking and pureeing that’s required, many moms think it’s simply too time consuming to make homemade baby food.

Sure, it’s much easier to throw some jars or pouches into your shopping cart, but it’s actually not as time consuming as you might think.

I’d say it took me anywhere between 1 to 3 hours a week.

And since my husband was totally on board too and pitched in, it was even faster.

If you make your baby’s food in bulk and freeze it or make a few batches throughout the week, it won’t become a part-time job.

If you decide to freeze it, the more storage cubes you have, the less time you’ll spend.

Although the baby food makers are handy, a larger unit like the Vitamix can make more at one time.

Looking for more ways to save time? Read my blog, How to Make Homemade Baby Food—Fast.

 

 

 

 

Myth #2: Homemade Baby Food Is More Expensive

 

 

I used to think that making purees was more expensive, especially because I was buying mostly organic ingredients.

Yet making it from scratch surprisingly yields a lot from single fruits and vegetables.

According to Liz Huber, Founder of Sage Spoonfuls, it’s about three times less expensive!

Another way to save is to shop in season and hit the local farmer’s market, when food is also freshest.

Also, look for deals at club membership stores or buy frozen foods, which 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.

 

 

 

Myth #3: Homemade Baby Food Is Too Hard To Make

 

 

 

When I became a mom, I had very limited skills as a home chef. I could scramble eggs, pop salmon in the oven or sauté some vegetables, but that was about it.

You might feel intimidated to make your baby’s food because you think it’s too hard, but if you can do all the other things you do as a mom, it will be a breeze.

The key is to have the right tools on hand. I recommend basic kitchen gear like:

  • A cutting board
  • Knives: a pairing knife for peeling and a chef’s knife for chopping. I love Wustof knives.
  • A steamer basket, pot and lid
  • A blender and/or immersion blender
  • Ice cube trays
  • Small storage containers
  • Storage freezer bags

Anything else, like a sheet pan for roasting veggies, you probably already have on hand.

 

 

Myth #4: Homemade baby food isn’t as safe as store-bought

 

 

It’s true that store-bought baby food is heated at high temperatures to kill bacteria and extend shelf life, but it doesn’t make them immune to recalls and other issues. 

In fact, in 2016 Gerber recalled two types or organic baby food due to a packaging defect that could cause them to spoil during transport or handling.

And more recently, a Consumer Reports’ investigation found concerning levels of arsenic, cadmium and lead in baby food, and organic foods were just as likely to have it as conventional foods.

You might be worried about food borne illness and food poisoning, but one of the best ways to prevent it is to follow some basic food hygiene guidelines: wash your hands, your utensils and appliances, and rinse produce under clean, running water before peeling it.

Also, use separate cutting boards for produce and meat, a meat thermometer to make sure the food is properly cooked, and always store food properly.

The FDA also recommends avoiding ingredients like raw, unpasteurized milk and honey in infants under 1. Always check with your pediatrician about how and when to safely introduce allergenic foods like nuts.

 

 

Myth #5: Homemade baby food is inconvenient

 

 

Jars and pouches are easy to throw in your diaper bag, bring to daycare or take on a road trip.

But if you store baby food in individual, grab and go containers or re-usable pouches after you make it, it’s just as convenient as store-bought.

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

7 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat a Healthy Breakfast

You’ve heard the old saying, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when it comes to our kids, most don’t eat it.

According to an August 2017 study in the British Journal of Nutrition, only about one-third of kids eat breakfast every day, 17 percent never eat breakfast and the rest only eat breakfast a fews days a week.

If your kid doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning, doesn’t have time for breakfast or doesn’t like what you’re serving, don’t give up.

Here, learn some simple strategies to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast every day.

1. Make breakfast family time

If you’re rushed in the morning to get your kids out the door and they’re feeling the pressure, they may feel too anxious to eat breakfast.

Instead of stressing out, carve out enough time for breakfast, even if it means the beds don’t get made or the dishes are left in the sink.

You can also make breakfast an opportunity to spend some quality time as a family together, especially if you don’t eat dinner as a family.

Read a Bible verse, ask your kids what they’re grateful for, or talk about your plans for the weekend. 

2. Don’t eat a late dinner

After-school activities can make it tough to eat dinner on time, but if your kids are eating dinner late, they may not be hungry for breakfast.

Try to feed your kids before you head out to activities and discourage after-dinner snacking so they’ll have an appetite come morning.

3. Do some easy meal prep

If there’s no time to make breakfast in the morning, make it ahead of time.

Set aside individual re-sealable bags of fruits and veggies for smoothies, make overnight oats or parfaits in mason jars, boil a batch of hard-boiled eggs, or make a frittata, egg casserole, or egg “muffins” at the beginning of the week or the night before. 

4. Let them decide

Cereal and toast are easy options for breakfast but if your kid is more likely to eat leftovers for breakfast, then go with it.

Pair a protein with veggies or a piece of fruit, serve soup, or mix leftover rice with coconut milk, nuts, cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to break out of the breakfast rut.

Another way to give kids choices is to make something easy like oatmeal, and then let your kid choose the spices, nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruit.

5. Wake up earlier

Little kids are up early anyway, but if your kids are older and they like to sleep in until the last possible minute, they probably don’t eat breakfast because there’s no time.

An easy fix? Try moving their bedtime back a half an hour or so until they can wake up in time.

6. Take the lead

No surprise here, but only 47 percent of adults in the U.S. eat breakfast every day, according to a 2015 survey by Instantly.

Although you may think mornings are hectic enough, carving out time to eat a healthy breakfast may encourage your kids to do the same.

7. Serve a morning snack

If your kid isn’t a breakfast eater, stick to small bites.

Serve 4 or 6 ounces of a green smoothie, apple slices with almond butter, mini muffins, energy bites or raw vegetables with hummus.

What are some of your tricks to get your kids to eat a healthy breakfast? Let me know in the comments.