9 Easy Christmas Snacks For Kids

9 Easy Christmas Snacks For Kids

Christmas is, in many ways, like Thanksgiving in that your kids may not like what’s being served. You might be able to get them to eat pasta for example, but fish, prime rib or any type of fancy side dish can be a tough sell. Even if they do eat, you may still be looking for some easy appetizers and finger foods for them and everyone else to munch on. That’s why I compiled this list of 10 easy Christmas snacks for kids which are all delicious, will satisfy the pickiest of eaters, and are the perfect addition to your holiday spread. 

1. SMOKY ROASTED CARROT DIP

Kids love dips and with this Smoky Roasted Carrot Dip, you’ve got a ton of flavor and creamy goodness. Pair it with whole grain tortilla chips, mini-pitas, celery sticks or broccoli florets, and you have a healthy, delicious option for kids to nosh on.

 

2. CHAI SPICED PECANS

Candied nuts are a holiday tradition and these Chai Spiced Pecans are the perfect way to add some festivity to your holiday table. A good source of fiber, protein and healthy fats kids need, they’re a snack you can feel good about serving up. With just a few simple ingredients, and less than 15 minutes to make, they’re also one of the best easy Christmas snacks for kids.

3. 1-BOWL CHOCOLATE ORANGE COOKIES

If you’re looking for a quick and easy cookie recipe, these 1-Bowl Chocolate Orange Cookies do not disappoint. No mixing, no creaming the butter and no waiting to chill the dough. These cookies use minimal ingredients, take just 10 minutes to prep and are bursting with goodness.

4. EASY & HEALTHY PEANUT BUTTER BALLS

These Easy & Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are sweet and salty (my favorite), no-bake and can be made ahead of time. For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free oats or coconut flour.

5. CRUNCHY ROASTED CUMIN CHICKPEAS

There’s no doubt kids love finger foods and these Crunchy Roasted Cumin Chickpeas make some of the best easy Christmas snacks for kids. High in protein and fiber, you can adjust the spices to suit your kid’s taste. The best part is that they only take 5 minutes to prep and it’s a dish your kids can help you make.

6. EASY CHRISTMAS FRUIT KABOBS

When it comes to easy Christmas snacks for kids, it doesn’t get better than these Easy Christmas Fruit Kabobs. With 4 simple ingredients, lots of natural sweetness and just 10 minutes to make, they’ll be a hit with your kids and guests alike.

7. CHRISTMAS COOKIE CUTTER TORTILLA CHIPS

When I discovered this recipe for Christmas Cookie Cutter Tortilla Chips, I was really blown away by blog founder Lyndsay’s creativity. With just 4 ingredients, these chips are a great alternative to store-bought versions and they’re gluten-free. Serve them solo, with salsa or guacamole, and they’re sure to be a hit with the kiddos.

8. GLUTEN-FREE WHITE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT PRETZELS

With all the amazing desserts and treats around Christmastime, following a gluten-free diet can be tough. That’s why I love these Gluten-Free White Chocolate Peppermint Pretzels. Salty and sweet, and oh so festive, these treats call for just a few ingredients and only take 20 minutes to make.

9. CHRISTMAS CANDY CANE COOKIES

When I was a kid, my mom made these Christmas Candy Cane Cookies every year and I loved them. With yummy peppermint flavor and plenty of festive color, these cookies will look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

15 Best Travel Snacks for Toddlers

15 Best Travel Snacks for Toddlers

Whether you’ll be flying, taking a road trip or hopping on a train to visit family for the holidays, traveling with toddlers can be stressful. You’ll probably be thinking about how to keep them occupied with toys, books, and special stuffed animals as well as how to avoid meltdowns. Chances are, you’re also looking for healthy, easy travel snacks for toddlers.

While we’re not frequent jet-setters nor do we travel a lot, I have taken several flights and road trips with my kids when they were babies and toddlers and I can tell you from experience that you can never pack enough snacks.

Getting through airport security screening, walking to the gate and going to the bathroom for example, always takes twice as long. So having snacks on hand can keep your kids fueled and happy for the long haul and also help you avoid pricey fare at the airport and at rest stops.

Best Travel Snacks for Toddlers

The key is to pack snacks that are healthy, simple and mess-free, and those your kids will actually eat. Here are 15 travel snacks for toddlers that will making this holiday season stress-free.

1. Trail mix

Trail mix can be a great snack for kids, but not all types are created equal.

Most store-bought trail mixes are packed with salty nuts, dried fruit, “yogurt-” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms for example, so they’re high in sugar and sodium.

When looking for a healthy trail mix, read food labels carefully and stick with those that have only unsalted nuts and seeds and dried fruit. Or consider making your own trail mix with ingredients like raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts so you can control the ingredients.

RELATED: [VIDEO] IS DRIED FRUIT HEALTHY FOR KIDS?

2. Fresh fruit

Whole or cut-up fresh fruit like apples, pears, bananas, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and figs are healthy, easy options.

Related: 5 HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIGS

3. Cereal

Most kids love to munch on cereal, which is why it’s one of the best travel snacks for toddlers.

Unfortunately, when it comes to finding a healthy kids’ cereal, there aren’t a ton to choose from.

There are those that are obvious sugar bombs with their bright, artificial colors, marshmallows and favorite characters on the box, but cereals that have health claims like “a good source of fiber,” “gluten-free,” and “made with real fruit,” aren’t the best options either because many are high in sugar.

When comparing brands, look for cereals that have whole grains and are high in fiber. Bonus points if the cereal has a good amount of protein.

Avoid those that have added sugars, artificial ingredients, food dyes and preservatives.

Related: WHAT ARE ADDED SUGARS?

4. Tortilla roll-ups

A tortilla roll-up cut up into small pieces like sushi is a great snack option for your toddlers when you’re traveling.

It also couldn’t be easier to pull together.

Take a whole grain tortilla, spread it with a nut or seed butter, add a banana, roll it tightly and slice it crosswise into pieces.

You can also add smashed berries or a low-sugar jam, or use turkey and cheese, for example.

5. Yogurt tubes

Yogurt is one of the best travel snacks for toddlers because it’s high in protein and a kid-favorite, but be sure to read labels because many are high in sugar.

Siggi’s Yogurt Tubes or Stonyfield Organic’s Whole Milk Tubes Strawberry Beet Berry are two of my favorites for kids.

To prevent yogurt from spoiling, put it in a snack bag with an ice pack, use a freezable bag (I love the PackIt freezable snack bags), or simply freeze the yogurt ahead of time.

Related: HOW TO CHOOSE A HEALTHY KIDS’ YOGURT

6. Granola and snacks bars

Just like trail mix, granola bars can be healthy travel snacks for toddlers, but look for those that have protein and fiber, which will balance your kid’s blood sugar levels and satisfy his hunger.

When looking for a healthy granola bar, look for those with the least amount of sugar possible.

Sugar is sneaky and can be hidden behind at least 61 different names like fruit juice, cane sugar, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.

Also be sure to avoid granola bars with saturated fat and instead, look for those that have heart-healthy fats with ingredients like nuts, peanut butter, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Some of my favorite bars include KIND, Larabar and RX Bar.

7. Fruit and veggie pouches

Squeezable pouches of apple sauce, or those that have a mix of fruit and vegetable purees, come in really handy when you’re traveling.

8. Crudités

Pack cut-up vegetables like celery, cucumber, carrots, jicama, broccoli and cauliflower florets, and sugar snap peas.

Toddlers love to dip so pair veggies with a nut butter, bean dip, hummus or guacamole for a healthy, protein and fiber-filled snack.

9. Hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are loaded with protein—one large egg has nearly 7 grams—and they’re a great portable option whether you’re flying or driving to your destination.

10. Cheese sticks

High in protein, cheese is one of the best travel snacks for toddlers.

Pair your kid’s favorite kind of cheese with whole grain crackers, tomatoes or slices of fruit like apples and pears.

11. Popcorn

Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates like those in popcorn have fiber which stave off hunger and keep blood sugar levels steady.

Non-GMO, trans-fat free and low in sodium, SkinnyPop is one of my favorite brands.

12. Beans, peas or edamame

It may sound like a strange option, but beans, peas, or edamame are one of the best travels snacks for toddlers. Not only do toddlers love finger foods, but these are all a good source of protein and fiber so they’ll  keep your tot feeling full for hours.

13. Nut butter

Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are all great options.

You can buy individual packets like those from Justin’s or pack your own in individual snack containers.

Pair it with whole grain crackers or fresh fruit or veggies and you have a healthy, satisfying snack.

14. Muffins

Muffins or mini-muffins can be a healthy snack option but most store-bought brands are made with refined carbohydrates, are low in fiber and high in sugar.

Read labels carefully or consider making your own with healthy ingredients like pumpkin puree, zucchini or spinach, for example.

Need a recipe? Try this one for Sweet Spinach Muffins With Banana.

15. No-bake energy bites

I love no-bake energy bites because they take minutes to make and are a healthy, bite-sized snack option for kids.

Depending on the ingredients you use, they can be a good source of protein, fiber and healthy fats too. Most recipes call for rolled oats, nuts and seeds, raisins and other types of dried fruit.

What are some of your favorite travel snacks for toddlers? Let me know in the comments!

6 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

6 Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes

Having enough food for Thanksgiving—or any family get-together for that matter— is something that my Italian-American family always worries about. If it so happened that we didn’t have enough food, it would be downright embarrassing, even a “sin.” Of course, that never happens and in fact, we always have way too much and plenty of leftovers.

If you too, have a refrigerator that’s filled to capacity after the holiday and you’re looking for ways to re-purpose all that turkey, cranberry sauce and the other fixings, here are 6 Thanksgiving leftover recipes to try.

1. Healthy Easy Turkey Pot Pie

With a crispy topping thanks to phyllo sheets, and a warm filling of turkey and vegetables, this Healthy Easy Turkey Pot Pie is one of the best Thanksgiving leftover recipes your kids will love. The best part? It takes only 15 minutes to pull together.

2. Cranberry Sauce Quickbread

I love cranberry sauce but there’s always so much leftover. And besides, how much of it can you really eat?

That’s why I love this recipe for Cranberry Sauce Quickbread. Gluten-free, nut-free and vegan, this bread is a great option for breakfast, brunch, school lunch or after-school snacks.

3. Easy Turkey Soup With Cabbage

If you’re looking for a way to transform leftover turkey into a healthy dinner, this Easy Turkey Soup With Cabbage is perfect. With a mix of herbs and spices, and packed with protein, this soup is a satisfying option to warm you up on cold nights.

4. Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

This Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich has the best of everything: turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and if you’re so inclined, throw in some lettuce.

5. Copycat Panera Turkey Chili – Instant Pot Recipe

Panera Bread is known for their warm, savory soups and chilis and this Copycat Panera Turkey Chili – Instant Pot Recipe is the perfect way to enjoy it at home. With leftover turkey, simple ingredients and plenty of flavor, you can relax and do some online shopping on Black Friday because dinner will be ready in 15 minutes.

6. Leftover Turkey Dinner Tacos

If you’re looking for a non-sandwich idea for Thanksgiving leftovers, try these Leftover Turkey Dinner Tacos. Pick a hard or soft taco shell, pile in the turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy and you have a quick and easy meal over the weekend.

 

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving leftover recipes? Let me know in the comments!

10 Halloween Party Food Recipes

10 Halloween Party Food Recipes

If you’ve been scrolling through Instagram lately, you’ve probably seen a ton of Halloween party food recipes filling up your feed. Between deviled eggs that look like cute little pumpkins to phyllo-wrapped peppers that look like mummies all beautifully pulled together on a charcuterie board, the photos put most moms’ efforts to make Halloween party food to shame.

If you’re like me, buying your kid’s Halloween costume and running to Target to get candy for trick or treaters is about all you have time to pull off.

Related: 6 Ways To Get Rid of Leftover Halloween Candy

But like most other holidays for kids, Halloween is usually celebrated on several different occasions leading up to October 31. Between parties at home, school, and in the community, chances are, you’re either making or bringing some type of Halloween party food.

My advice: give yourself and break and close out of Instagram. Then check out these 15 quick and easy Halloween party food recipes, plus peanut-free Halloween snacks and ideas for kids with food allergies.

Serve Healthy Halloween Party Food Before Trick-or-Treating

Before my kids head out to trick or treat, I try to make sure they eat a healthy dinner because Halloween doesn’t have to be an-all-or-nothing holiday.

I also know that if they return with a basket filled to the brim with candy and they haven’t eat dinner, they’re more likely to go overboard. All that sugar and empty calories on an empty stomach will lead to a blood sugar spike—and crash: cue the meltdowns.

If you don’t have time to cook a meal, focus on healthy Halloween party food including fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources and whole grains. If eating dinner beforehand isn’t an option, serve healthy Halloween appetizers or snacks.

Halloween Appetizers For a Crowd

Whether you’re tasked with bringing a dish to the party or you’re only serving up small plates, these Halloween appetizers for a crowd are super-easy and delicious.

1. With salsa and avocado, this 7-Layer Spider Web Dip is healthy and delicious and so creative that your guests will think you spent hours whipping it up.

2. Mayo-less with a little bit of a kick, these Devilish Sriracha Avocado Deviled Eggs will be a party favorite.

3. These Stuffed Mushroom Eyeballs are gluten-free, dairy-free and make for a fun addition to your Halloween party food spread.

Simple Halloween Party Snacks

4. It doesn’t get much easier than these kid-friendly Ghost Pizza Bagels.

5. Beef and crescent roll dough make for a delicious combination in these Mummy 

Meatballs.

6. If you’re looking for a healthy Halloween snack amidst all the candy and treats, these adorable Tangerine Pumpkins and Banana Ghosts are the perfect fit. The best part? They only take 10 minutes to make.

7. What kid doesn’t love a yummy muffin? These Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins are high in vitamin A and only take 5 minutes to make.

Halloween Party Food Recipes: Desserts

8. Kids love dips and this Pumpkin Pie Dip is sure to please any picky eater.

9. Pumpkin and cheesecake? Yes, please. These No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake Truffle Mummies are adorable, tiny bites of goodness.

10. It doesn’t get more kid-friendly than Oreos and pretzels and these Oreo Spiders and Pretzel Wands are super-cute and simple to create.

Halloween party food for kids with food allergies

If your child has food allergies like my child, you know that Halloween can be nerve-wracking as you do your best to prevent accidental exposures to unsafe foods. You’ll have to read labels, ask questions about the foods being served, and maybe even bring a dish that’s safe for your child to eat.

Plan ahead for Halloween party food at school

If your child will be having a party at school, the teacher probably already knows that your kid has food allergies, but that doesn’t mean she’s necessarily reading every food label that comes in.

If you’re able to attend the party, it’s a good way to keep your kid safe. If you can’t, ask the teacher to give you a list of the snacks or send photos of the ingredient labels so you can check them beforehand.

For homemade foods like cookies and cupcakes, it’s wise to have your kid avoid them altogether. Alternatively, you can send your child in with an allergy-safe treat to enjoy.

Sort and check Halloween candy at home

When your kid comes home from school or trick or treating, sort all of the candy to figure out what’s safe and what’s not.

You might think certain types of candy are OK because they were safe to eat in the past, but ingredients can differ between fun size and regular size, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

If a piece of candy doesn’t have the ingredients on the label, check the nutrition label on the brand’s website to make sure your kid doesn’t eat something that can cause an allergic reaction.

Look for the food allergy pumpkin

In 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project® launched to keep kids with food allergies safe on Halloween. Homes that have a teal-colored pumpkin on the doorstep signal to kids that they’ll receive a fun, non-food treat. To find Teal Pumpkin Project homes in your area, check out their participation map.

Peanut free Halloween snacks for school

If your child has a peanut or tree nut allergy, you can serve nut-free Halloween snacks. Some ideas include:

  • Fresh fruit dipped in caramel or chocolate
  • Fruit wands
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Nut-free trail mix
  • Nut-free granola
  • Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Nut-free fudge
  • Nut-free chocolate
  • Homemade treats

     

What are some of your favorite Halloween party food recipes? Let me know in the comments!

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love  Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

15 Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Blueberries are superfoods for kids and with these healthy blueberry recipes, you'll find new ways to serve them.

“I love blueberries!,” my older daughter exclaimed.“Blueberries are delicious!,” she continued.

That was last summer when my daughters and I were visiting their grandparents and we decided to go blueberry picking.

As a toddler, she used to eat blueberries by the handful and would even come close to finishing off half of a pint.

But as she got older, bananas, mango, watermelon and cantaloupe became her new favorite fruits and getting her to eat one single blueberry was impossible.

Maybe it was the experience of berry picking (likely) or that her Italian grandmother, who can get her to eat just about anything, was there (even more likely).

Whatever it was, I’ll take it because blueberries are one of the best superfoods for kids.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Not only are blueberries sweet and delicious, but they’re packed with nutrition.

Blueberries are a good source of fiber—1/2 cup has more than 2 grams—as well as vitamins C and K and manganese, an essential nutrient.

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, including anthocyanin, a flavonoid which gives them their rich hue.

Anthocyanin is also known to support cognitive and motor function, improve visual and neurological health, and prevent disease.

In fact, a February 2019 study in the Journals of Gerontology conducted in adults found eating about a cup of blueberries a day can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease by 20 percent.

Another reason blueberries are healthy is that they consist of nearly 85 percent water to help satisfy your kid’s hunger and prevent constipation.

Related: 10 Foods That Relieve Kids’ Constipation

Since blueberries contain high levels of pesticide residue however, consider purchasing organic blueberries, fresh or frozen.

Sweet, succulent and delicious in pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, yogurt and desserts, there are also a ton of unique ways to incorporate them into other meals too.

Healthy Blueberry Recipes Your Kids Will Love

Here are 15 healthy blueberry recipes to try.

Breakfast

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Blueberry Bliss Breakfast Bars

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

Avocado Blueberry Baby Smoothie

Lunch and Dinner

Cranberry Blueberry Salad With Blueberry Balsamic Dressing

Blueberry Chicken Salad Wraps

Wild Rice Salad with Corn, Blueberries and Almonds

Blueberry Basil Chopped Veggie Salad

Vegetable Couscous With Wild Blueberries

Desserts and Snacks

Blueberry Cheesecake Bites

Blueberry Fruit Dip

Blueberry Muffin Energy Balls

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

2 Ingredient Vegan Blueberry Ice Cream

Wild Blueberry and Almond Butter Yogurt Popsicles

10 Healthy 4th of July Snacks For Kids

10 Healthy 4th of July Snacks For Kids

The 4th of July is the quintessential American holiday filled with parades, fireworks and backyard barbecues. Whether you’re the one hosting or you’ll be a guest, hot dogs, burgers and corn on the cob are a sure-bet for kids, but you might want to also have some healthy 4th of July snacks on hand too.

These 10 healthy recipes are festive, super-easy to make, and will satisfy your kid’s hunger in between lawn games and fun in the pool. Bonus: there are gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free options!

Related: [VIDEO] 10 Summer Healthy Eating Ideas For Kids

 

1. Fruit Sparklers

2. American Flag Vegetable Tray

2. Patriotic Yogurt Bites

3. Kid-Friendly Avocado Hummus Cups

3. Red, White and Blue Popsicles

4. Gluten-Free Berry Fruit Pizza

5. Zucchini Parmesan Fries

6. Melon Prosciutto Mozzarella Skewers

7. American Flag Cheese Plate

8. Blueberry, Strawberry & Jicama Salsa

9. Caprese Salad Skewers

10. Popcorn with dried blueberries and cranberries

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

Along with strawberries and cherries, avocado (it’ also a fruit!), is one of the healthiest and most delicious foods you can serve your kids.

Guacamole, avocado toast or added to green smoothies are some tried and true ways to serve them up.

But there are so many healthy avocado recipes that the options are endless.

My kids are big fans of avocado—whether it’s in a salad, mixed with sweet corn, tomato and red onion, and of course served with tortilla chips.

Here, learn a bit why avocados are healthy for kids, and get 20 healthy avocado recipes to try.

Avocados are a superfood for kids


Tons of vitamins and minerals

With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, your kids will get a ton of nutrition without a lot of calories.

Avocados also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids, or plant pigments found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.

Eating avocado alongside nutrient-dense vegetables helps to improve the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K and E.

 


Healthy fats

 

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or the healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and the risk for heart disease later on in life.

 

The polyunsaturated fats found in avocado are also vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy, infancy and childhood.

 

  

 

Filling fiber

 

Avocado is a great source of fiber, which helps to satisfy kids’ hunger, help them feel fuller longer, prevent weight gain and cure constipation.

 


Related: How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?
 

 

 

 

25 Healthy Avocado Recipes for Kids

 

Mashed, blended, scooped or cut up into cubes, there are so many ways to serve avocado. 

 

Avocado makes a healthy first food for baby or as a substitute for mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup, or for butter in baked goods.

 

Here are some healthy and delicious ways to serve avocado.

 

 

Breakfast

 

 1. Butternut Squash Avocado Muffins

 

2. Tropical Avocado Breakfast Parfait

 

3. Avocado Toast

 

4. Avocado Pineapple Smoothie Bowl

 

5. Bacon and Eggs in a Mason Jar Topped with Avocado, Tomato and Basil

 


Lunch

 

6. California Grilled Chicken Avocado and Mango Salad

 

7. Chilled Avocado Soup

 

8. Avocado and Cheese Toasties

 

9. Avocado Egg Salad

 

10. Avocado and Cheese Roll-Ups

 


Dinner

 

11. Summer Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad with Creamy Buttermilk-Dijon Dressing

 

12. Avocado Chicken Enchiladas

 

13. Avocado Cilantro Lime Rice

 

14. Tortilla Soup

 

15. Summer Goodness Millet Salad

 

16. Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

 

17. Avocado Pasta

 


Snacks and Desserts

 

 

18. The Easiest 4-Ingredient Guacamole

 

19. Avocado Fries With Lime Dipping Sauce

 

20. Avocado Chocolate Mousse

 

21. Vegan Brownies

 

22. Mint Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream

 

23. Creamy Avocado Lime Parfaits

 

24. Coconut Avocado Popsicles

 

25. Chocolate Avocado Pudding Pops

 

What are your favorite avocado recipes? Let me know in the comments!

 

6 Reasons Cherries Are Healthy For Kids + Recipes!

6 Reasons Cherries Are Healthy For Kids + Recipes!

Cherries are one of the most healthy and delicious fruits during the spring and summer months and a favorite in U.S. households: people consume more than 2 pounds of cherries each year.

Whether you add them to a lunch box, serve them as a snack or dish them up as an after-dinner treat, chances are, they’ll be a hit with your kids.

Not only do kids love to eat bite-sized foods, but they also get to be in control and feel empowered to choose how much they want to eat, which may encourage them to make healthy choices at other times of the day too.

It goes without saying however, that if you have little ones, be sure to pit the cherries to prevent choking. Since they have a tough texture, it may also be a good idea to puree them if you’re serving them to an infant.

Read on to discover 5 reasons why cherries are healthy for kids, plus some healthy and delicious recipes.

1. Rich in antioxidants

Cherries are high in polyphenols and vitamin C, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Vitamin C in particular, is important for skin, bones and connective tissue, promotes healing, helps the body to absorb iron and helps in the formation of neurotransmitters, or the body’s chemical messengers.

2. Supports brain health

Cherries are also rich in anthocyanin, an antioxidant that provides their rich red pigment.

Anthocyanin is also known to support cognitive and motor function and improve visual and neurological health.

Studies in mice suggest consuming cherries also supports brain health, improves memory, and prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

3. High in fiber

Since most kids don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, they’re falling short on fiber which is necessary to satiate hunger, keep blood sugar levels steady and prevent constipation.

Studies also show eating plenty of fiber lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

In fact, a January 2019 review in The Lancet found compared to people who ate less fiber, those who ate more fiber had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, colon cancer and a risk of dying early from any cause, by 15 to 30 percent.

With more than 3 grams of fiber in one cup, cherries will help kids get the fiber they need.

4. May prevent type-2 diabetes

Cherries have a low glycemic load so they don’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels, which may prevent type-2 diabetes, a condition that’s on the rise among kids

5. Heart-healthy

Although the research is still unclear, some studies suggest drinking tart cherry juice or consuming cherries may lower levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure—all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

In fact, a small June 2019 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found consuming the juice of Montmorency cherries reduced insulin levels and blood pressure.

Although heart disease isn’t something to be concerned about when your child is young, what they eat today can set the stage for their diet—and their health—well into the future. 

6. May make bedtime easier

If you have little ones, bedtime is one of the most dreaded times of the day to begin with.

But older children may get less sleep than they need because of electronics use, evening activities, homework, and a lack of sleep rules such as a sticking with a consistent bedtime, for example. 

Instead of turning to a melatonin supplement, which experts say is a concern for kids, eating a handful of cherries may help.

In fact, a December 2012 study in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests consuming tart cherry juice can improve the duration and quality of sleep.

That’s because cherries are the only natural source of melatonin, Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and best-selling author said in this article.

Melatonin, known as the sleep hormone, regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles.

Healthy Cherry Recipes

Here are some of my favorite healthy cherry recipes to try.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars by Tutti Dolci

Fresh Cherry Sauce by The Brewer & The Baker

Cherry Almond Smoothie by Hungry Girl For Vida

Super Detox Salad by Well Plated

Cherry Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins by Hip Foodie Mom

Cherry Pomegranate Limeade Popsicles by Chef Savvy

Do your kids eat cherries? How do you serve them? Let me know in the comments.

7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

7 Healthy Memorial Day BBQ Ideas

The Memorial Day BBQ is the unofficial start to the summer and whether you’ll be hosting or visiting family and friends, there will be plenty of food.

Yet between hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, chips and dip and your favorite red-white-and-blue dessert, Memorial Day is also one of the most caloric, high-sugar, fat-laden holidays of the year.

While I encourage my kids to try new foods and indulge on any holiday, I also worry that they’ll overeat, which in the past, have caused them to become physically ill.

Not only that, but I want to teach them healthy eating habits and how to enjoy food without going overboard.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice taste, forego your favorite summertime dishes or have “food rules” to strike a balance. Here are 7 healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas that will allow your family to enjoy without getting too far off track.

Stay hydrated

Chances are Memorial Day will be a warm, sunny day and your kids will be running around so it’s important to encourage them to drink plenty of water.

Encourage your kid to stick with water throughout the day, instead of juice which is high in empty calories and sugar, spikes blood sugar, and may encourage cravings for other sugary fare.

If plain water is hard for your kids to swallow however, add sliced cucumbers or strawberries for some flavor. See also: How to Get Your Kids To Drink More Water

Since thirst can often be mistaken for hunger, drinking water before you arrive to your cookout can prevent overeating.

2. Offer veggies


The great thing about the vegetables served at Memorial Day BBQs is that they’re often kid-friendly.

Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, brightly-colored sliced bell peppers, cucumber slices, broccoli florets and jicama “fries,” are often kid favorites and if they’re served with a dip, even better.

You can also set up a station with a variety of vegetables and have your kids make their own grilled veggie kabobs.

Although your kids may still not want to eat vegetables since other, tastier options will be available, do your best to get some on their plates since they’ll help to satisfy their hunger, fill them up, and prevent constipation.

3. Arrive hungry

Most nutrition experts advise people to have a small snack before they arrive at a party to prevent overeating, but arriving hungry may actually be a good thing for your kids.

By taking advantage of their hunger, you might have an easier time of encouraging them to make at least a few healthy choices.

Instead of filling up their plates with chips, which they’re probably going to eat anyway, you may be able to get them to eat fruits and vegetables first and have a more balanced meal.

4. Upgrade your protein

Most kids love hamburgers and hot dogs, but think about other protein options for you and them.

Instead of regular ‘ol hamburgers, make your own using grass fed beef. Or serve organic grilled chicken, shrimp or pull together a bean salad or lentil chili.

5. Include healthy dessert options

Kids should enjoy s’mores, ice cream or a festive Memorial Day dessert, but why not have other options available too to show kids that healthy food can be delicious.

Consider making a fruit salad with strawberries and blueberries, homemade fruit popsicles, or an almond butter fruit dip.

6. Pay attention to portions


When buffets, family style dining, and bowls of snacks are out for the day, it’s easy for kids to grab and lose sight of how much they’re eating.

Although I let my kids decide what they want to eat, I also help them make up their plate and keep portion sizes at bay.

7. Set up games and activities


There’s no doubt kids will be busy running and playing at their Memorial Day BBQ, but you can also set up games and activities that encourage them to move more. 

Think: ring toss, jump rope, hide and seek, tag, telephone or freeze dance.

What are some of your healthy Memorial Day BBQ ideas? Let me know in the comments!

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!