Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sao Miguel

I have travel fever.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was working on the photobooks that I wrote about. Once I finished the yearbook, I made a book to document our trip to Sao Miguel, one of the Azores Islands of Portugal. That was an amazing trip.

I don't have much to compare to since we haven't done much traveling, but I would definitely go back. Before this time last year I hadn't even heard of Sao Miguel, let alone the Azores Islands.

Lagoa do Fogo
Our daycare provider was going on a Disney cruise the last week of February last year and so we knew that one or both of us would have to take a week's vacation to look after Bean. We started thinking about going away, but didn't know where to go. I was 3 months pregnant with Pea, so I wasn't super keen on wearing a bathing suit (you know that stage when you're getting big for your bikini, but you're not really pregnant enough to embrace a maternity bathing suit?). Also, we didn't want to have to do a vaccination blitz with Bean (and didn't know if we'd have enough time).

At the  Caldeira Velha.
It just so happened that I saw a client who grew up on Sao Miguel and he recommended it as a destination for travel. When I asked about the weather in February, he explained that it's their rainy season there, but  the temperature doesn't drop much below 17 degrees Celsius. He also said it was a good place to take a toddler because it's safe there and everyone seems to love children.

That night, I went home and googled Azores and found this very handy website: . We looked at the packages offered and settled on a week-long package on Sao Miguel. The agent that we worked with through the site was super helpful, even getting us a car seat for our rental car so that we wouldn't have to fly ours over.

The gorgeous view I awoke to after our nap on arrival day.
Our flight was direct from Toronto to Ponta Delgada (the biggest city on Sao Miguel), and took about 5 hours. We flew late at night, so Bean was able to sleep on the flight (and we caught a couple winks here and there). We arrived early in the morning their time. There was an agent waiting for us at the arrival gate and she helped us get our rental car figured out. We drove directly to the hotel and napped for a couple of hours.

Once we awoke from our nap, we carried out a pretty normal day, exploring Ponta Delgada on foot. We stayed in Ponta Delgada that night and the next, then stayed 3 nights in Furnas, one in Nordeste, and then one back in Ponta Delgada before flying home.

Sightseeing highlights of the trip were Sete Cidades, Caldeira Velha, Lagoa do Fogo, Furnas and Parque National da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes at the Achada waterfall.

Trip highlights include the amazing weather, views and vistas, as well as funny stories from hurtling down winding roads that sent poor Bean's carseat tipping to its side, herding cattle with a Fiat Punto, and getting stuck in a farmer's field with said Punto, requiring the husband to go find locals to tow us out!

Bean was 17 months old when we went. Here's a quick rundown of how we made the trip work for our family.

1. Snacks on the plane. We packed dry cereal, raisins, granola bars and she ate it all!

2. Drinks during take-off. Other parents bring juice, but Bean was still breastfeeding occasionally, so I nursed her during take-off. She was asleep when we were landing.

3. We swallowed our pride and left the cloth diapers at home. While we could have made it work with cloth, we chose to go the disposable route for this one week in Bean's life. She lived through it.

4. To pack lightly, we brought no strollers, playpens or carseats. We just brought the Ergo for me to carry her in, and a MEC backpack for the husband to carry her in.

5. We bought her a gift. On the way to the airport, we stopped at MEC and bought Bean her very own Nalgene. It gave her a vessel for water, but also amused her off and on throughout the trip because she had her new water bottle. (Bonus - it didn't leak all over!)

6. Bring a piece of home, but not a big one. We brought one stuffed animal, one bowl, a fork and spoon, and two sippy cups. I don't think we even brought a blanket.

7. Be casual about food. We quickly discovered that sit-down dinners were challenging. We opted more often for eating on a couch in the lounge at the hotel so that Bean could play and wander around and just come take bites as she liked. A grandmother's nightmare I know, but it saved us from dinner table battles. We all got to eat and we were all happy. When we returned home, we went back to eating dinner at the table as a family. No one died.

8. Make time for down time. Although Bean always woke up around 7 am, we rarely left a hotel before 10 am. She would snack on some cereal and locally purchased fruit in the hotel room while we showered, then we would go down for a sit-down  breakfast at the hotel restaurant. After breakfast, I would just relax while Bean could tour around the lobby or lounge. Bit of an over-share here, but that gave her time to have her morning poop before we got on the road. Got that messy bum change out of the way and then we were good for the day!

9. Balconies are your best friend. If you're traveling with children balconies in warm climates are handy! Husband would get Bean to bed while I sat in the lounge reading or writing post cards. When I came back to the room, we would sit out on the balcony so as not to disturb Bean. He would drink wine and we would eat chocolate and play cards.  It was nice.

10. Drive during nap time. We tended to drive a lot in the morning after we left the hotel. That allowed Bean to have a morning nap. Then we would stop for lunch and do some walking for awhile before getting back in the car (where Bean would nap again). There were also times when she would nap in the carrier on husband's back, but most of the time she slept in the car.

Hopefully this will inspire you to travel even if you have a little one at home. I'm sure it's a little trickier with two or more, but I think it's manageable as long as you are laid-back about it all and you set realistic expectations.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Whirlwind Week (+ What's in Your Kids' Medicine?)

You're probably wondering where I've been for the last week.
I've set out to try to post 3 days a week, but already my schedule is floundering a bit. Sure, it's not ideal, but it's for good reason.

When Pea was born in August, we left Bean in daycare Monday through Friday so that I could bond with Pea and also catch up on sleep. This was a great setup for us, especially since our daycare provider is super-affordable. However, over the holidays in December, we had Bean home with us for ~2 straight weeks, and on many of those days, my husband went to work, leaving me home with both kiddos. At first it seemed daunting, especially since we were working (albeit part-time) on potty training with Bean; however, we quickly found ourselves in a groove and I began to REALLY enjoy that time with my wee ones. When it was time for Bean to go back to a full-time schedule at daycare, I was sad, so we decided that we would change things up and I would keep her home with me three days a week. Our daycare provided requested specific days (since some are more convenient for her to have another little body around), and we decided she would go Mondays and Fridays, but be home Tuesday through Thursday. Great decision!

We've had lots of fun on our days together, from going to the library, to going to the Family Literacy Centre, to even going to Toddler Time at Skyzone (room full of trampolines - oh yeah!). Aside from enjoying the time together, there have been two really great benefits to having her home. The first is that Bean has been a positive influence on Pea in terms of routine. While he used to cat nap all day (because I couldn't be bothered to wiggle him into a schedule), with Bean around, he has a small nap in the morning and then a longer one in the afternoon while she has her nap. The second advantage has been HUGE progress in potty training. Yep - last Tuesday she decided she was done with daytime diapers!!

So why the the whirlwind? Well, potty training a 2 year old while looking after a croupy 5 month old makes for busy times. Combine that with back pain for mom, back pain for dad  (plus a second degree burn on his hand), sporadic fever in the 2 year old, and sleepless nights, and you've got yourself a crazy week that leaves little time for cranking out quality blog posts. The good news is that the potty training is good with only ~1 accident per day, the croup is subsiding, my back pain is gone, the husband's is improving, and the fever is gone. Sleep isn't back yet, but we're working on it.

Now the medicine bit. As I'm sure you can imagine, this weekend I found myself scouring the shelves of the local drug store for some miracle that would solve all our problems and deliver us all to sleepytown. Here is what I learned from that adventure: READ THE LABELS CAREFULLY!

When I was picking out analgesics for Bean to help bring down her fever, I was faced with some decisions, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen? Liquid or melting tablets? Grape, orange, fruit, bubble gum or cherry flavour? Dye-free or (full of) dye?

Those seemed like the easy choices. We like ibuprofen in our house usually, and the melting tablets are easy with Bean because it's less mess. We stick to grape because we've always used grape. We like dye-free because it makes us feel like conscientious parents (haha).

All set to go then, right? Wrong.

When I looked at the matches for those decisions, I had a choice between Advil or the store brand. The store brand was cheaper, so I went to grab it, but soon realized that the dose was cut in half but the bottle still contained the same amount of tablets. Tricky! So in this case the store brand was less economical. Point for me - I didn't fall for it.

Ready to go? Nope - I decided to read the non-medicinal ingredients and discovered that the first non-medicinal ingredient listed on the ibuprofen boxes was aspartame. Yes, you read it right - aspartame. An artificial sweetener that has not been tested extensively in children and thus the reason why diet pop is not recommended for children. Huh. Take a look at the acetaminophen - no aspartame, but sucralose is there (though it's the last of the non-medicinal ingredients listed). Sucralose is the same as Splenda, so yet again another artificial sweetener. On top of this, both medications contain sugar alcohols. I knew about the sugar alcohols in analgesics; however, I was not aware of the artificial sweeteners. Now here's the kicker. While I thought I was all wise to purchase the acetaminophen because it had contained a sweetener that I'm more comfortable with, I soon realized that the order in which the sweetener is listed on the label has nothing to do with the content in the medication - the ingredients are listed alphabetically!

So long story short - when you buy pain relief medication for your kid, there's a good chance you'll be giving them a dose of artificial sweetener. Don't think you're smart by picking the one with the sweetener listed last - that just means that you picked one with that starts with a letter that comes later in the alphabet. I'm going to let it slide since Bean rarely takes medication and it's likely a very small amount that's in each tablet. However, it makes me better appreciate food labels which actually list their ingredients in descending order.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What's in Your Cart?

Grocery stores - a place that is both fun and frustrating for me.

Fun because I love shopping for food for myself and my family, and because I enjoy looking at new products.

Frustrating because it's an in-my-face reminder of how much processed food is going home with people (and I assume, eaten).

Now, I don't always go around watching what people put in their carts, but sometimes I catch myself doing it subconsciously. I don't set out to judge people - it starts simply as curiosity.

I also pay close attention to how my grocery cart looks. I realize I'm not, nor do I need to be perfect; however, I'd like to think that if I bumped into a client I wouldn't be completely embarrassed by the contents of my cart.

We've all heard that we should "shop around the outside aisles" at the grocery store and avoid the cans, bags, boxes, and jars in the middle. That's good advice.

We've also been told to read labels and while they're still very confusing for most people, I think people have some idea as to what to look for and they do it (at least somewhat) successfully most of the time.

But what if we made it even simpler? I mean REALLY simple?

Try this:

Always make fruit and vegetables your biggest buy. For things that don't really fit in a food group, aim to have 3 or fewer of those items in your cart (less if you don't happen to be buying many fruit and vegetables that trip).

For example, the other day when I went shopping, this is what was in my cart (don't judge - I'm going out on a limb here and telling the truth ... It's not flawless):

Red, yellow, and green peppers
Brussels sprouts
Green Beans
Ginger root
Seedless watermelon

Bucatini pasta
Whole grain pitas
Whole grain small tortillas
Whole wheat bagels*
High fibre low sugar granola bars
Whole wheat all purpose flour

Pecorino Romano cheese
1% milk
Low fat marble cheddar cheese

Lean ground veal/pork/beef combo pack
Chicken Kiev (uncooked)***
Lean ground beef****
Peanut butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Jar of pasta sauce

So why is it so helpful to do this? Because it ensures that there are more healthy choices in your home so that when hunger strikes, the healthy choice is the easy choice.

Bottom line: If you don't shop this way, you're setting yourself up for failure.

*our local grocery store stopped carrying the whole grain bagels I posted about before. My husband and I are both athletes who find these bagels effective for giving us a nice energy boost.
** I like to buy high fibre low sugar varieties, but my husband also likes to have a less healthy option available. I have decided not to fight this battle. Oh, and I bought Rice Krispies to make squares with those marshmallows
***our local grocery store prepares some stuffed meats that are tasty, affordable, and convenient. We tend to lean on these choices once or twice a week for dinner. They're fresh, tasty, and aren't loaded up with junk
****this was a weird grocery trip because there are usually more vegetarian protein sources on the list. Just happened to be the week that I was making meatballs for a dinner party.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A walk in fresh air is the ticket to sanity.

That is the moral of today's story.

Be forewarned - this post starts with a pathetic sob story, but stick with me. I expect it will be entertaining nonetheless.

Pea Pod likes to wake up every 3 hours during the night usually, which equates to at least 2 wake up calls in the night for me. The other night, however, he slept much better, so after going to sleep around 11:30 pm, I only had to get up at 3:30 am and then again at 6:30 am. Bean also woke up at 6:30 am, so we were up for the day at that point. That means I slept roughly 6.5 hours which isn't bad for me these days, but for some reason I was exhausted and really, really grouchy.

It didn't help things that Bean was also grouchy (again, for some unexplained reason). She was throwing screaming fits left right and center and refused to do anything reasonable the first time I asked. I seriously contemplated calling up our daycare provider and begging her to take my little toddler off my hands for the day just to preserve some of my sanity.

But I couldn't do that. After all, she's my kid. If I can't look after her when I'm feeling a little grouchy, what kind of a mother am I?

While I was feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, irritated, and all of those things, my sweet husband attempted to come to my rescue by granting me some alone time in the form of a shower.

Yeah - not so much. Little toddler Bean decides 3 minutes is quite enough alone time for Mommy, and trots into the bathroom and pulls open the shower curtain to tell me all about the "pictures" she can't find and demanding that I find it. (Yes, I said "it." "Pictures" refers to an iPad-like toy she got for Christmas that we hid from her because she was so obsessed with it that it was creating some behavioural issues.) I really wanted to tell her to take a hike, but I held my tongue and told her I'd help her look for it shortly.

Exit shower, Bean demands "uppie" as I'm trying to sneak upstairs to throw on some clothes. I bring her up to my room and proceed to get dressed while she tries to get into everything. Finally, as I'm about to go back downstairs, she decides she wants to play in her room and has a screaming fit because I won't stay upstairs with her. Bah.

Honestly, I don't even remember what else went wrong (so it makes for lame story), but I can tell you that I felt like I was losing my mind and that my daughter was the most irritating little being on the planet. And, I was going to have to spend the day dealing with her tantrums and whining as well as her rough love for her infant brother.

Finally, I had an idea - I was going to take them outside. I would strap them in the stroller and walk to the library to return the books and movies we had borrowed. Bean would be motivated to go because she likes playing with the trains there, and Pea Pod doesn't argue much these days.

I cannot even tell you what a difference that walk made. While I still had my kidlets close to me, I got to experience some real, good quality "alone time." I could think without being interrupted, there was no screeching or whining, and my head was clear. That walk was miraculous.

And now that the kids are in bed and I'm writing this post, I realize that my walks most often have this outcome. I can't think of a single time that I've gone for a walk and haven't returned feeling much better than when I left. There's just something about going for a walk on your own (or nearly so). For me, those walks bring clarity to my mind and sanity, too.

Physical activity is therapy for the body and mind. Even a simple walk with a stroller will do the trick. Believe me - I know.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Simply Delicious and Fuss-Free Applesauce

I am embarrassed to report that I only first made applesauce two years ago, when Bean was eating pureed food as an infant. I am not sure how it is that I waited so long to make such a tasty homemade treat.

That first time that I made applesauce, I used a standard recipe from my trusty old cookbook that my mother bought for me when I moved out. It turned out delicious and I even canned a few jars of it.

Step 2.
Unfortunately, what I remember most about the experience of making the applesauce was the straining of the sauce once it had been cooked. You see, the recipe called for the skin to be left on the apples to add texture and colour to the sauce, but once it was cooked, it was to be strained so as not to negatively affect the texture with large pieces of apple skin. It took a long time to mash the cooked apple mush through a metal mesh sieve using a wooden spoon. Sadly, I also burned that first batch a little, as it was cooked on the stove as per the recipe's instructions.

However, I was over at a friend's place a couple of weeks ago and she was telling me about how she was making applesauce in the slow cooker for the first time. GENIUS!!
Step 6.
I haven't had a chance to go to the farmer's market lately, and I think most of the apple growers have stopped coming (they've run out of apples because of the poor growing season this past summer), so I had to buy my apples from the grocery store. I bought a bag of Cortland apples and last Friday I made applesauce history in our home!

After doing a bit of searching for slow cooker applesauce recipes online, I decided to do the following 10 incredibly simple steps to yumminess:

Step 10.
1. Wash apples.
2. Cut into quarters and cut out core.
3. Cut quarters in half (now we're dealing with eighths).
4. Place apple pieces in slow cooker.
5. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) water.
6. Add 2 cinnamon sticks.
7. Cook on high in slow cooker for ~4 hours.
8. Stir and check on the sauce a couple times during those 4 hours.
9. When ready, remove cinnamon sticks.
10. Scoop apple mixture into a food mill and mill it.

Step 10 continued.

And the result? Homemade applesauce that is blushed and tastes amazingly like apple pie. My husband, Bean, (5-month old) Pea-Pod, and I cannot get enough of it! Go make some - it's easy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Asian-Inspired Grainy Salad

Inevitably, when I discuss meals and healthy eating with clients, at least a handful of them ask me what I eat. The same is true when I meet new people in my personal life. People always ask, "do you always eat healthy?", or on the flip side, "do you ever eat chocolate or junk food??".

The truth is that I don't even know anymore. I think I eat " normally," but my husband tells me I eat healthfully all the time (or most of the time). Irregardless, I am happy with how I eat, my health is good, and so are my energy levels. Best you can ask for, wouldn't you say?

So what do I eat? Well, maybe it's time I get back to sharing some of our favorite recipes (and some new ones we've been trying).

This Asian-inspired salad is based on a recipe from this cookbook, but tweaked to the point of being quite different. It's a great grainy salad, perfect for lunches and packs a satisfying load of protein and fibre. It's got some crunch to it with a soy-ginger flavour scheme and hints of sweetness from dried cranberries. Oh - and it looks way better than it does in this photo.

1.5 cups cooked rice, bulgur, quinoa, or any combination of cooked grains
Raw sugar snap peas
1 sweet green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup lightly toasted raw, unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 can rinsed chickpeas
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
1 lb extra firm tofu
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Dash hot pepper flakes
Fresh parsley (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

How to:
1. Open and drain tofu. Chop into cubes (roughly the size of dice). Place in dish and combine with 1 tbsp of the soya sauce as well as all of the garlic and ginger. Cover and refrigerate while the remainder of the salad is assembled.

2. In a large bowl, combine cooked grain with chickpeas, pepper, water chestnuts, and cranberries.

3. Toast peanuts in dry non-stick frying pan on stovetop over medium heat. Toast until just fragrant. Add to salad.

4. Wash sugars snap peas and peel strings (as best you can without spending too much time on it). Add to salad.

5. Add marinated tofu to salad and toss to combine.

6. In small dish or jar, combine remaining 2 tbsp soya sauce with honey, cider vinegar and pepper flakes. Drizzle over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and or parsley. A

Great served on a bed of baby spinach leaves.

Makes about 8 servings.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Years to Remember

Remember school yearbooks? How expensive they seemed to a high school student? But how incredible they were when you finally got them? So shiny and new and starring you and all your best friends? And then there was signing them! Nothing made you feel more proud and popular than having the inside covers inked up with messages from your friends, crushes, acquaintances, as well as the odd note from some random person you barely knew.

Well, in our home, yearbooks have recently taken on a whole new meaning. After realizing that I had a billion digital photos with which I was doing nothing, I decided it was time to make a photobook. Sure, I'd tried scrapbooking in the past, but it's tedious and reminds me of why I wasn't an art major.

My (incredibly artistic and gifted) sister-in-law was always creating fabulous photobooks documenting her travels and adventures. I loved looking at them, as well as the idea of ACTUALLY using the photos she had taken.

2010 was a pretty big year for us, with the birth of our Bean, as well as some very sad losses. I had taken photos regularly throughout the year since my husband and given me a DSLR as a graduation gift that January. So, what better year to start!

That first year, I used Photolab. They had a deal on and it seemed easy enough, so I gave it a whirl. It turned out decently, but I'm even happier with the way the 2011 yearbook turned out from MyPublisher.

This year I intended to use MyPublisher again because I was happy with their product and they always have deals on. When I was about to check out, having made a 2012 yearbook in the same style as the 2011 edition, I realized I could save a whole bunch of money by upgrading the cover and paper. OKAY!

The fancier cover and paper are awesome. We're super happy with the finished product! So happy, in fact, that I rushed to meet the sale deadline to order a photobook from our trip to Sao Miguel last winter.

If you're thinking about making a 2013 yearbook, start now by following these steps to save you time next January:

1. Take photos regularly and upload them to your computer or web album.

2. Colour correct, crop, edit as you go. I always skip this step, so when you look at my photobooks up close, it is blatantly obvious that I work in nutrition, NOT graphic design!

3. Organize your photos by date. I like to separate by month.

4. If you want to keep track of important dates, do so electronically or use ONE calendar/agenda to do so. It's no fun hunting around for a date in a year's time.

Oh, and I'm so proud to say that I started doing these yearbooks before I ever saw the idea on Pinterest or anywhere else!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ears make everything cuter

That's my philosophy when it comes to baby and toddler clothes and it seems like that's a popular opinion when you look in stores such as Carter's.

I always love to knit hats for friends that are having babies. There's something about making a little knitted hat for a wee little head that is just so much fun.

I really love making rolled brim hats because it makes the size adjustable and it's easier for kids to put them on. Bean loves her hats, so she's regularly pulling them on by herself (and taking them off).

Over the past couple of years, I've made Bean at least 10 hats of this style. Some have pom-poms, some have flowers, some look like pumpkins, and she even has a Santa hat and a bumblebee hat.

This Christmas, a friend of my husband became a father to a pair of teeny tiny twin girls. (He already had a daughter roughly Bean's age, so the poor man is pretty outnumbered around his place!) As soon as I heard that the girls had been born, I rushed to the store (ok, I waited till the day after Boxing Day) to buy some wool to set to work on some hats. I decided to make one pink, one purple, and to make a striped pink and purple hat for their big sister.

The hats were cute, but I wanted to up the cute factor just a little more, so I knitted up some ears and trimmed them with a crocheted border. The striped one and the purple one are finished - I just have to sew the ears onto the tiny pink hat. I know I'm not quite done, but I just couldn't wait any longer to share them with you!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Snack Fit for a Toddler

.... Or anyone else who likes to play with their food!

This is one of Bean's favorite snacks: fruity kabobs.

Inspired by the cover of this cookbook, these kabobs are a hit around our house and they're even kinda fun to make.

Plus, if you want to get all educational here, I suppose you can teach patterns with these kabobs.

All you need is a stick - Popsicle sticks work. I used these weird wooden stir sticks that we've had since our Jack & Jill five years ago. They're skinnier than a Popsicle stick, but the ends are blunt, which makes them seem safer than a bamboo kabob skewer. Plus they can be easily snipped with scissors so that I can shorten them to pack them in Bean's lunch (I don't have containers that fit the full-size version well).

The food is the fun part! Melon works really well, as do grapes and strawberries. The cover photo features kiwi slices and pineapple chunks, too. Actually the cookbook calls for a drizzle of melted chocolate to dress up the fruit. However, we haven't taken that step for a couple reasons: 1. It makes the whole task of making them a little more cumbersome. 2. I'm pretty sure Bean would lick the chocolate off and then demand more.

In place of the chocolate drizzle, we've been using mini marshmallows between some of the fruit pieces. They get a little gooey from the fruit, but Bean seems to enjoy peeling them off, and they're a nice change as she eats her way through the kabob.

What will you be skewering on your next fruit kabob?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"Lunch-able" at Home

Around our place, we call "snacky" lunches "lunchables." They're quick to prepare, Bean loves them, and so do we! (I call that a win-win-win!)

Lunch-ables don't have to be pricey boxes of highly-processed food - they can be anything you want them to be!

Red, yellow & orange bell peppers, English cucumber, celery, Cortland apple, canteloupe, Stonemill cranberry pumpkin seed multigrain baguette, cheesey bread sticks, marble low fat mild cheddar cheese, unsalted raw peanuts, raw California almonds.

Our lunchables at home are inspired by the 4 food groups. Here's some basic instructions to get you on the right track:

1) Start with veggies and fruit, and place them on a large plate (or in a large container if you need it to-go).

2) Shoot for the rainbow! Try to incorporate as many colours as possible. More colours = more nutrients and more visual appeal.

3) Dietary restrictions aside, try to hit all 4 food groups ( veg & fruit, grains, milk & alternatives, meat & alternatives).

4) Avoid high-fat and overly sweet or salty snack foods. Try to keep it fresh (mostly) and be generous. That way, you probably won't crave any sweet desserts after (and if you do, you can make it small since your hunger is mostly satisfied).

5) When it comes time to eat your lunchable, try to eat some of each food rather than focusing on one food group, then moving to the next. This will make sure you EAT the variety of food that you prepared. For example, we prepare Bean's plate in front of her, giving her one of each food to give her a little sampler. If she wants more afterward, she can have more of her choosing (in Bean's case, it's always more veg). For us, we start with two of each thing and go from there.

Happy Lunching!

What is the difference between healthy eating and eating healthy?

There's a simple, but subtle difference.

Eating healthy = eating foods that are nutritious and give you good, positive energy.

Healthy eating = a "healthy" relationship with food. It means eating healthy (or healthfully), but also not swearing off foods because some magazine article said it will cause your fat cells to bloat and take over your body. It means eating well-spaced meals/snacks throughout the day, and not overeating (to the point of discomfort). It's about eating food primarily for physiological reasons (i.e.out of hunger), but being able to eat a little extra or some less healthy options occasionally without it being a big deal.

If you ask me, healthy eating is the golden ticket to health and weight management. It is the most common reason people come to me, and it's one of my favorite topics on which to counsel people. It's simple and complex, easy and challenging. One thing it most certainly is is rewarding.

If you want a hand with working on healthy eating, or if you have questions or even requests for future posts, please email me at jacqfruitblog at