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!

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.

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.