It's tempting to try to rush through meal prep in order to get food on the table. I get it. I know dinner (or lunch or breakfast) can be stressful. (Read this post for reducing meal time stress.) We all know that eating together is important but actually cooking together can be an opportunity for bonding too! If you can slow down (just a little bit) and invite your kids into the kitchen, you not only get a chance to chat, but you have a valuable teaching opportunity to impart your culinary and nutrition wisdom on your kids.
The key is to start simple. Use a simple recipe and hand over the reigns. The recipe above is easy and even my littles can do almost the entire recipe without help.
Tips for using cooking as a bonding tool
How do you use food and cooking as a bonding tool? What are your favorite recipes to cook with your kids? Comment below!
I've had super sensitive skin my whole life, but it wasn't until I went away to college that my skin problems got worse. I developed eczema on my hands and I've suffered with it ever since.
I've tried what feels like every single product on the market: lotions, soaps, etc. You name it, and I've tried it. The majority of products left me unsatifised with the results or even worse - with hands that were stinging from the product that was intended to soothe me!
It was my battle with eczema that first led me to the essential oils path, and I haven't looked back since. One of the most soothing and healing balms was something I created in my kitchen. The rich shea butter and calming lavender oil work together to heal and calm the itchy and painful symptoms of eczema.
This balm is thick and I like to put it on at night right before bed so it can soak in all night.
What you'll need
2-3 drops of lavender oil
1 Tablespoon of 100% real shea butter
Warm the shea butter slightly in your hands so it's easier to mix. Add the lavender drops and mix together in your hands. Apply to the affected areas.
All out of lavender oil?
Because of the therapeutic nature of this balm, it is especially important to make sure you are using pure, unadulterated oils. You can refresh yourself with my Essential Oil 101 post, or my post on how to order oils, and let me know if you have any questions.
Have you tried this recipe? Comment below!
Chia seeds are one of my favorite seeds because they are ... dare I say... fun? I like to put them in juice and let it sit and watch them expand. I put a lot of chia seeds and end up with a sort of faux bubble tea drink.
But apart from my bizarre love of their texture when they soak up a liquid, chia seeds are a superfood for a reason. Chia seeds are powerful antioxidants with the power to assist in weight loss, improve heart health, support insulin levels, strengthen bones, energize us, and boost metabolism. There really isn't a reason why you shouldn't be eating some of these each day!
I made refrigerator oatmeal each night and chia seeds play a starring role in my recipe.
Easy overnight oats recipe
I say easy and I mean it. No measuring required for this recipe.
I have a cereal bowl that comes with a lid so I use that, but feel free to use whatever container you want.
Now the magic is to put all of those ingredients together and let it do it's thing. It's up to you how big or small you make your portion, but the key is to make sure you have enough milk so the seeds and oats can absorb it. If it's too low on milk, add a splash more.
The cinnamon is beneficial for heart health but it also adds a kick of flavor to the oatmeal. It's easier to cut out sugar with the cinnamon, but if you need a little extra sweetness, opt for real maple syrup or coconut sugar.
What is your favorite way to eat chia seeds? Comment below.
If you read my previous post, then you already know that regular family dinners contribute to a family's overall happiness, physical health, and emotional health. But if you have small children, you probably are thinking "How can dinnertime be happy with a picky eater in the picture?"
Picky eating is normal!
Childhood picky eating is very normal! A study entitled "Food Rejections in Children: Cognitive and Social/Environmalen Factors Involved in Food Neophobia and Picky/Fussy Eating Behavior" illustrated justh ow common it is: nearly 39% of children aged 2-6 are picky or fussy eaters. The behavior usually starts around toddlerhood and begins to taper off by age 6. Even though this is a silver lining, 4+ years of picky eating can be draining.
7 Tips for handling picky eating
Since food is obviously necessary for ... um... living, it makes sense that a food battle would ensure. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is well-nourished, but picky-eating definitely puts a wrench in that plan. Follow this tips for handling fussy eating with peace and respect:
Avoid yelling or forcing a child to finish his plate
Because much of fussy eating stems from panic and fear (picky eating is sometimes referred to as "Food Neophobia" in the science world), yelling or forcing a child to sit until the plate is clean only increases feelings of panic and fear. The more panic a child feels, the more negative feelings s/he will associate with dinnertime.
Include the nutrients where you can
My son definitely falls under the picky-eater category. My main goal is make sure he gets the proper nutrients. He loves fruits, vegetables, and grains. He does not like any form of meat so protein is where I struggle. I rely a lot of eggs and peanut butter. I make shakes for him occasionally to make sure he has enough protein. The simplest recipe I use is this:
Stick to what works
My son definitely can get into a rut with food, but as long as he is getting enough nutrients, I don't mind at all. Sticking to what I know he loves makes meals less of a battle. I know one day he'll be more adventurous, but for now, I'm just focusing on what he does enjoy.
Rewards can be a very slippery slope. If you reward a child for doing X behavior, it can (but not always) escalate to the point where s/he won't do anything without a reward. However, for short-term use, rewards can be very effective. If you are thinking of using rewards for eating, be sure to never use food as a reward. Consider a sticker chart for just trying.
Even though it gets tiring, always ask your child if they want to try a bite of X food. You will probably get a lot of "No thank you's" (I know I do!) but the key is to continue to expose your child to the new food. Eventually s/he will try it. Child experience food through social learning, which means that the more they see it, the more familiar it becomes, and the more likely it will be accepted. I love to add berries or bananas to my cereal and oatmeal but for years that has been a big fat No for my son. Instead of putting berries in his cereal, I slice them on a ramekin and let him eat them separate. One morning, much to my surprise, he dumped his berries in the cereal and happily ate it all. That may seem like small potatoes but for this Mama, that was a huge WIN! I was so proud of him; he did it all on his own without a battle. Now he loves his berries in his cereal, and he came to that conclusion all on his own.
Presentation for new foods is key for my son. The way I present it both verbally and physically plays a big part in whether or not he'll try it. I bought him fun plates and silverware that look like construction vehicles to help make meals more fun. The way I describe food also helps. We call broccoli "baby trees". He loves broccoli but the very first time I introduced it, he was wary. A simple name change was all he needed to give it a try.
The key to keeping the peace at the table is to remain pressure-free. Ask your child to try a food, but don't hound him. Remember that research shows that a child may need 10-15 tries of a food before he actually eats a serving.
Dealing with a picky eater can be tiring and exhausting and can be a major source of dinnertime drama. Following these tips can definitely help bring more peace to your table. What have you done to help a picky eater in your family? Comment below!
Some of my most memorable childhood moments were connected to family Christmas traditions. I think part of the happy associations is that there was such a joy around the holidays in my home. So much joy I could taste it. So much joy.
As a mother, I can now appreciate how much effort goes into holidays in order to make them so magical for children. Here's a list of ways to infuse some extra joy into your holiday season.
Baking Christmas cookies is a classic holiday tradition, but for good reason. Not only do you get yummy treats, but the process is worth more than any cookie. It reminds me of the quote, "The journey is just as important as the destination."
Let your children set the pace, blast the Christmas tunes, and enjoy the time spent in together. Extra points if you make batches of cookies for friends and neighbors
Love and joy are two things that cannot be depleted by giving it away. In fact, it's the opposite. The more love and joy you share, the more you get in return. Choose a cause and spread cheer.
Have a wrapping party
Involving your kids not only provides a fun activity but also helps to teach the importance of giving. It's okay if their presents aren't wrapped Pinterest-perfect. A gift wrapped with love is the best kind.
Nothing screams winter joy quite like a cup of warm hot cocoa. Making cocoa from scratch is just another excuse to spend some quality time in the kitchen. Try these recipes:
There's nothing quite as magical as a walk through the snowy woods, but if woods aren't your thing, try a skating rink, ski slopes, or good old fashioned sledding. Research continues to show how important the great outdoors is for kids' mental, emotional, and physical health.
How do you bring joy to your holidays? Comment below, we'd love to hear from you!
We grow basil in our garden, and it usually is a hardy herb that produces much during the season. So we tend to eat a lot of recipes including basil in the summer. Our toddler loves to help pick the basil.
1 can of frozen pineapple juice concentrate (Don't add the water)
1-2 cups of milk, depending on the consistency you prefer
Fresh basil leaves, to taste
Blend all in the blender and enjoy!
Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.