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Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

How to Cook Real Food for a Crowd Without Stress

Don’t let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

Is it just me or is the end of the year crazy busy? The last thing I want to do is spend half of my time in the kitchen. Especially when I’m with family.

I’m the queen of making things as easy as possible (like this Instant Pot mac ‘n’ cheese). We just hosted Thanksgiving…and I was able to take a nap in the afternoon before the big meal (being pregnant had something to do with that)!

No rushing around. It was so laid back.

And yet we had quite a feast that I prepared completely by myself (well, my kids helped with chopping veggies and making the desserts since they are experts in the kitchen after doing the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse).

My Secret to Entertaining Without Stress?

Do as much prep ahead as possible. My goal when cooking for a crowd is to make as much food as I can ahead of time and just put things in the oven/crockpot/Instant Pot the day of. I tackle one or two projects a day leading up to the festivities. So I’m not overwhelmed.

Then I get to take it easy and spend time with my guests on the day of the party. No shortcuts with packaged food necessary.

I even have the added work of hosting for several days since my family is all out of town. So it’s more like meal prepping for three full days of meals instead of one big meal. But it’s still totally doable! The only thing I had to make at the last minute this year was the gravy. Everything else for our meal had been prepped hours or days ahead.

First Step to Cook Real Food for a Crowd

The first step is menu planning. Do this a few weeks in advance so you have time to shop for supplies and gradually work through your list. Then figure out what can be made weeks in advance, days in advance or the morning of. And go from there.

Here is my course-by-course breakdown of how to create a delicious holiday menu that you can prepare in advance. Your guests will be amazed by all of the real food goodness and you’ll get to enjoy spending time with them. Pick and choose from each category for your best holiday feast ever!

Head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’m sharing all of my stress free entertaining tips!Don't let the stress of the holidays alter your real food plans. Here are my simple tips to cook real food for a crowd without any stress!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

Going All In This Year

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year…I’m going all in.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

2016 was quite a year. There were so many amazing things that happened (I wrote about it here).

That doesn’t mean 2017 will be a let down. Far from it! I have some fun goals for this year. More importantly, God has good plans for me.

Fun Things Ahead.

Here are a few of the things I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Write a new book! I already have the topic. I just need to find time to make it happen. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready.
  2. Settle into a home school routine. We’re starting fresh this year now that my son is home too. So we’ll be seeing what does and doesn’t work, figuring out the best layout for our classroom and finding some fun ways to learn.
  3. Have fewer doctor appointments. I am thankful that lately this hasn’t been too much of an issue. My daughter is now going to the orthodontist only once every six weeks. And we’re still deciding if she needs to continue with the functional neurologist. Aside from that it’s just regular check ups or a trip to the ped if a child is really sick. My goal is no allergist appointments this year!!
  4. Get the house totally unpacked and settled. I’m amazed at how much we accomplished in three weeks here. We’re down to odds and ends boxes left to unpack. We’re still adding a few decor items.
  5. Adjust to farm life. I think come spring it will hit me a little more that we live on a farm. We’ll be cleaning the barn, starting a garden and hopefully getting chickens. Maybe a few bunnies too. Then reality will sink in!
  6. Make new friends. It’s my priority this year to make sure my kids have plenty of interaction with friends even though we home school. Plus we want to meet the people that live around us and develop new friendships when we find a new home church. It’s exciting and scary for this shy introvert!
  7. Spend more time together as a family. Now that we don’t have cable, we’re not as busy and we home school my prayer is that we have a lot more family time. We’re already trying to figure out where to go on vacation! I’m including in this extended family too – just yesterday I talked on the phone with my dad for a while. He broke his knee cap and had surgery a few days ago. I don’t live near by so I can’t really help much, but I can talk to him!
  8. Make sleep a priority. I probably say this every year. But I really mean it. I know it is the missing piece to my health puzzle. Now that my toddler has been sleeping through the night regularly for a month I am amazed at how much better I feel. I need to allow myself to sleep in sometimes and go to bed early sometimes. To-do lists can wait. I kicked this off yesterday with a nice Sunday afternoon nap. And going to bed early!

Setting My Sights High.

Probably my biggest goal is to finally slam the door shut on my anxiety and OCD that I’ve battled for years. I have made huge progress on them over the past ten years. But I’m ready to say goodbye completely.

This is only possible by the grace of God. Last year he laid it on my heart to be fearless. And that is my goal heading into 2017 as well. Following God’s path is not always easy, but it leads to blessing beyond measure.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

My Words This Year.

Every year I pick a word for the year to focus on (or should I say God picks a word for me). This year I have two:

FEARLESS

HUMBLE

Last year I felt lots of change coming. This year feels like it will be calmer. But still big. I anticipate more time just being still and quiet instead of constantly on the go. I look forward to the blessings and surprises God has in store for myself and for my family. And I pray that I will approach everything fearlessly and with humility.

Lest I question this choice, my sister-in-law bought me a “Be Fearless.” sign for Christmas and just yesterday after I had just finished writing this post my toddler was walking around saying “humble, humble, humble…”. Sometimes God speaks loud and clear!

This year I’m going all in. I pray God will guide me through the challenges and the joys that lie ahead.

Do you have any goals for this year? I’d love to hear about them!!

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

I Let My Toddler Use Knives

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it’s worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That’s why I let my toddler use knives!

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Getting my kids in the kitchen is nothing new to me.

All three of my kids have been in the kitchen with me since birth…makes sense seeing as I spend half my day there!

I let my kids get involved as soon as they are able. My oldest was baking cookies with me at nine months.

Something New.

But I never really taught my kids a set of skills. I never really let them take control.

Until I started doing the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse from Kitchen Stewardship!

I started with my older kids (ages 7 and 4 at the time). They love it! And I love watching them gain confidence and asking to help in the kitchen.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Toddlers Can Do It Too!

Little sister has been sitting on the sidelines observing until recently. She turned two in August. And she was more than ready to join in the fun!

We started with knife skills (try them FREE here!). That may sound strange, but it really is an important skill and one that even a toddler can do. She loves to slice bananas any chance she gets. Every time we walk by them sitting on the counter she puts in her request.

I can teach her proper techniques while keeping her safe (cutting bananas with a butter knife is fairly harmless). And all of those banana slices she makes either go in her mouth or in the freezer for a delicious dessert or to add to smoothies later.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

More To Love.

We are now moving on to other skills like measuring and pouring. She LOVES pouring beans or water back and forth in containers. Big brother does it right along with her to sharpen his skills. Then they make homemade fruit snacks on their own! Sometimes we use molds. Sometimes we make them in a pan so they can practice knife skills again by cutting them into cubes.

What five-year old do you know that can make his own healthy fruit snacks instead of eating the artificially colored and flavored waxy things out of a bag?

It really is possible.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Helping Mom And Dad.

My older kids (now 8 and 5) are always willing to lend a helping hand with dinner preparation. Which is such a blessing to me! And I get the pleasure of giving them praise and boosting their confidence.

My eight-year old has a goal this year of being able to make a whole meal on her own. Right now our goal is confidence and safety cooking at the stove. And now that we are home schooling we are adding it right into our curriculum. It’s so much fun.

She is even starting to create her own recipes and keeps begging to start her own blog. Did I mention she’s only eight?!

You really will be amazed at just how much kids can do in the kitchen when you give them a chance.

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

Get In On The Fun!

Yes, even a two-year old can be helpful in the kitchen and start learning life skills. By the time my kids are teenagers I’m afraid I may be out of a job!
Are you ready to have some help in the kitchen?

Kids Cook Real Food

Try the knife skills lessons for FREE!

Sometimes it seems like more of a hassle than it's worth to get your kids in the kitchen. But that work will pay off, especially if you start early. That's why I let my toddler use knives!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m Slowing Down…

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m slowing down.

Whether I want to or not. I am. My mind is. My body is.

Here’s the problem.

Life is not.

In fact life is going in the complete opposite direction.

I have three very active children that seem to keep growing…don’t they know they’re supposed to stay little forever?

With those growing kids come more and more activities like soccer, t-ball, piano, church activities, time with friends, etc. As each child starts the activities multiply.

Full Time Work.

Then there is work. I work from home. I started my blog shortly after my oldest was born as a hobby. But it has grown into more than just a hobby. I have to work on it daily. And it’s a LOT of work. But now instead of just my own blog I help with someone else’s blog and write for several other blogs and magazines. Those hours add up very quickly. And none of them include child care.

I also started home schooling this year. Which I absolutely love and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. But it does take work. I have to be more organized and I don’t have as much free time during the week.

Did I mention we are moving to a 10 acre farm by the end of the year? That means we’re in the process of packing and cleaning right now. Soon we’ll be selling our house and then doing the big move…during the holidays. Yeah, it’ll be busy.

No Big Deal?

This all sounds like normal stuff. Most people can handle it.

But I’m struggling.

It’s not something I like to admit. But I am.

I am the kind of person that likes to say yes to everything and everyone. I also don’t like to ask for help. Those two traits don’t go so well together.

I also don’t have any help aside from my husband. We don’t have close family in town. If life is feeling crazy and hectic I just have to deal with it. I can’t call Grandma to take the kids for a few hours so I can catch my breath. Instead I get a few minutes of nap time to scroll through Facebook or Pinterest before jumping back in.

What Happened?

The thing is I used to be able to handle more busyness. So what happened?

I didn’t listen to my body.

I wasn’t honest about my struggles. I never accepted help. I never asked for help. Not even from my husband!

I’ve had a lot of really big stressors in my life over the last fifteen years. Bigger than I realized. And they took a toll. Major colon surgery. Years of infertility and treatments. Years of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and working with a psychologist.

I thought I was over a lot of the major stuff after that. So I didn’t even realize until just now how stressful the last three years have been.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Three Years Of Worry.

In mid 2013 I went through my last (7th!!) round of IVF…which ended in a miscarriage. The miscarriage lasted over a month. And my adrenals and thyroid went haywire. My whole body was swelling. I was gaining weight every week. Things were out of whack. I was trying hard to make huge lifestyle changes.

And just when I was making some progress I got pregnant with my miracle baby…the thing I had been working towards.

I was so happy, and the pregnancy went smoothly.

But it caused me a lot of anxiety. I worried about the health of the baby every day. But I just dealt with it. As I did my adrenals continued to suffer.

Wait, It Gets Worse?

After my daughter was born things were good for a bit. Then she had multiple severe vaccine reactions. And I spent the next year and a half fighting for her life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone than I did during that time. I worried about her and cried about it almost daily.

Her malnutrition and fighting to keep her nourished through nursing impacted me so much that even now, at 2 years old, every time I nurse her I have heart palpitations. Even though she only nurses a couple times a day and is a great eater. It’s my body’s natural response…worrying she won’t get enough.

To add to the stress of the last three years we’ve dealt with health issues for my other two children. It started as allergies and general gut health and has now turned into neurological issues.

As I’m typing this I’m still trying to unwind from a morning of my five year old constantly screaming at me and responding to everything I say with an extreme negative. Sometimes to the point where he shuts himself in the closet and screams over and over that he wants to kill himself.

It’s exhausting, disheartening and just overwhelming at times. All I can do is keep praying.

Allergies.

It is also a lot of work to cook for my family. With so many varying allergies I always have to cook multiple meals and make just about everything from scratch…even if I don’t have time.

There is no such thing as ordering pizza or going out to eat when I just don’t have the energy. Or even pouring a bowl of cereal when I can’t even think about breakfast.

It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. If I don’t do it my kids can’t eat.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Waiting For Our Dream.

Over the last year we have had some huge ups and downs in our house search too. We have had multiple offers accepted but then things not work out for one reason or another. It’s been very emotional and at times has felt very similar to our infertility journey. We are praying this house is really the one and we can move past this by year’s end.

Deeper Thoughts.

When I was growing up my mom dealt with anxiety and depression. At about the same age as I am right now she had a nervous breakdown and was in in-patient care at a mental health facility and was on lots of medication. We got to visit her once in a while and had to have my grandparents help take care of us. I was in third grade. My little brother was in kindergarten. Right now my daughter is in third grade and my son is in kindergarten. Yeah, it really makes me think about how things could go if something doesn’t change. I don’t want that to happen to my kids.

I’ve also always thought I’d have four kids (just like my family growing up…girl, boy, girl, boy. Right now we’ve got girl, boy, girl). From the time I was five all I wanted to do was be a mom…and have four kids. There were times during my infertility journey I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all. But I still held on to that dream of having four kids.

Now here I am with three kids…and the desire is still there, stronger than ever. But I also know my body is not healthy enough right now for another baby. And I’m not getting any younger. And life isn’t getting any easier. It weighs heavily on my mind almost daily. Though I try my best to remember that God’s plans and timing are perfect. We’ll see what the future holds.

Taking Its Toll.

Through the last few years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and stress my body has become extremely depleted. Which really doesn’t do good things for you, trust me.

Over the last few months I’ve started having more and more heart palpitations (which freak me out). I have started to gain weight in my abdomen over the last nine months (something I’ve never dealt with).

I thought maybe my thyroid was getting worse. I had my levels checked…perfect. I still tried increasing my medication just to be sure. No luck. If anything it made me feel worse.

So I did a 24 hour saliva cortisol test. It’s really not bad. My levels are in the normal range most of the day. But I think they are working very hard to stay there.

My adrenals are really being taxed on a daily basis.

Adrenal Health.

So I’ve been doing some research on adrenals. A few of the things that always come up:

  1. Get more sleep and go to bed by 10 pm.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast and eat a good balance of protein and carbs.
  3. Reduce stress.

I always thought sleep was my biggest problem.

But I don’t really think it is. I go to bed at 10 every night. I have for many years. I’m not a night owl. And although I am an early riser I get about 7 hours of sleep a night. So I could improve, but it’s not horrible.

I never skip breakfast. I am ready to eat the minute I get out of bed. I’ve been that way for many, many years. And I eat a big breakfast.

I also don’t skimp on calories throughout the day. So I’m not restricting in any way when it comes to quantity…a huge bonus for adrenal health and your metabolism.

Oddly enough the things that are a hindrance to most people are the things I’ve been doing right for years.

Sleep and morning routines are great. It’s the rest of the day I have to figure out.

It comes down to two things – stress and a limited diet (due to a nursing toddler with allergies).

So…

So now what? I can’t just stop life. Can I?

Well, not exactly. But I can make some changes.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

My body is getting older and slowing down. Life is getting busier. I’m ready to switch that around.

So I’m making a few goals for myself. And if I share them with you it will help me stick to them.

Maybe you want to join me?

These are goals for my myself as an individual and for my family.

  1. Lay down during the day for 5 – 15 minutes. Resting isn’t always enough. Physically laying down can really help recharge your body.
  2. Eat a snack in the afternoon to help with blood sugar regulation (I can’t wait to learn more about this in the Fix Your Blood Sugar course!!)
  3. Eat less before bed to give my body time to rest and truly recharge at night instead of working on digestion.
  4. Change my exercise routine. Try more T-Tapp and yoga and do less cardio.
  5. Sleep in on the weekends (this is a HARD one for me…but I am really going to try)
  6. Take time off from work (another really hard one…I love sharing my stories and my food with you…but it’s a lot of work…I may be MIA here and there over the next few months/years…it’s because I’m heeding my own advice). Keep the weekends more open for family time.
  7. Use our move to get the house organized and more functional for us so we spend less time with chaos and cleaning.
  8. Start using some hormone-supporting essential oils (still researching these a bit).
  9. Start the big kids on some herbs that help with calming their nervous system and a cleanse to get rid of parasites.
  10. Continue to have my oldest work with the functional neurologist to also improve the nervous system. And possibly have my son start as well.
  11. Take time for my marriage and connecting with my husband (it’s been over 2 years since we’ve been on a date due to the above situations…I think it’s about time!!)
  12. When my toddler is done nursing I can add a few more to this list – hormone level testing and another hair tissue mineral analysis to see where I’m at. Then go from there with flooding my body with the nutrients it needs.
  13. Read as many of the books and take as many of the courses in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle as I can. After I download them I’ve got them for life. So I can take my time. But for once I am going to make the time. There is just such a wealth of knowledge contained in the bundle. It may take me a few years to get through it all. But I really hope to. I’m starting with the Perfect Periods course and the Heal Your Gut Summit. Then I think I’ll switch over to some of the books on kids’ health. Maybe I’ll even include it in our home school curriculum and read it with my kids!!

Life Is Still Crazy.

I know the next two months are still going to be pretty stressful with moving. But I know that up front and am going to take measures to deal with it as best as I can.

I also know that there is much more to the root issue than adrenals. I’ve got to work on hormone balancing and overall gut health.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Then once we get settled I’m ready to start a new lifestyle.

One that includes home schooling all of my kids, starting a farm and watching them learn about raising animals, getting away from the busy pace of life and just slowing down. Having that goal in mind keeps me going.

If I can remember I hope to do an update on this in a year. I love to look back and see how much has changed. See where God has led me and how He has directed my path.

God’s Plans.

Even this post was not one I had planned to write at all. I just sat down in front of the computer and started typing. Really. I wanted to share a piece of me with you today. And that is one last goal. To do more of that moving forward.

At the start of this year God really laid it on my heart that this would be a year of huge change. I had no idea what. But I knew stuff was coming. He also told me to be fearless. And I am trying my hardest (though it is REALLY hard for this natural worrier). So far He has been true his intentions. If you had told me at the start of the year I’d be nursing a healthy toddler, home schooling my oldest and getting ready to move to a 10 acre farm I would have said you were crazy. But God is good.

I feel more changes still to come.

Including even more change in focus in my writing. I’m not even sure what that means. But I trust God does. And He’ll guide me.

Do you have any goals you’d like to share? Did any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it!!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make

Start the year off with less stress by delegating some kitchen work. Today I’m at Kitchen Stewardship sharing ten mason jar lunches your kids can make by themselves.

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

No hiding from it now. The new year is here.

That means it’s time to get back on track with healthy eating! One very important part of that is teaching your children what real, nourishing food is and why it is important.

In my experience the best way to teach your kids about good food is by letting them help prepare it!

Start teaching them at a young age and by the time they are in school they can practically pack their own lunches. What parent doesn’t want a little help with lunches?!


Ready to start delegating that task? Here are ten lunch components kids can make by themselves. As an added bonus you won’t hear any complaining about boring or gross lunches. Kids can’t complain if they choose and pack their own lunch!

Take one more item off your to-do list with these fun, healthy and simple mason jar lunches that kids can make (using glass or plastic containers).

Ten Mason Jar Lunches Kids Can Make | Just Take A Bite

VEGGIES WITH DIP

Add sour cream and your choice of seasoning to a jar (we like sea salt, garlic powder and dill weed). Put the chopped vegetables on top. No need for separate containers. The veggies are already in the dip and ready to go.

Fun and easy finger food. Perfect for a school lunch.

Want more ideas?

Click here to head over to Kitchen Stewardship where I’ll show you just how much fun your kids can having making mason jar lunches.

Don’t think they’re ready to tackle this project yet? Check out the Kids Cook Real Food course to get them started!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters

Sometimes picky eating is a much deeper problem than it seems. But sometimes it’s not. Here is a simple cure for picky eaters…that aren’t really that picky.

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

I wouldn’t call any of my kids picky eaters.

Wait a minute. Isn’t this whole site devoted to feeding children that struggle with eating? Yep! And I learned it all from my kids.

But none of them is picky.

To me a picky eater is a child that is truly just wanting to have some control and make his own decisions about his food.

A picky eater is not a child whose diet is limited to noodles and crackers. That is a much deeper problem related to the child’s health (be on the lookout for my book on how to deal with that soon!!)

My kids all have other root causes for their eating issues. When they are feeling good they are all wonderful eaters.

Today I’m talking about the kind of picky eating that is more a battle of wills than taste buds.

If your child is a picky eater there is a simple cure. Teach your child to cook!

I can’t tell you how many times my kids have practically inhaled a meal because they helped prepare it. They feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Great idea! But how exactly do I teach my kids to cook?

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has put together an amazing course for both parents and children to teach kids of all ages to cook.

My kids and I have been previewing the course over the last couple months. Not only are my kids absolutely loving it and learning a lot, I’m learning too!

I’m learning basic skills I was never taught as a child. I’m learning how to teach my children and how to work with them in the kitchen.

So far my kids’ favorite part has been using knives (of course). You can preview the knife skills for free right now.

But there is SO much more to learn. My four year old is already starting to crack eggs. My seven year old is very anxious to try making a detailed recipe on her own. She actually made today’s breakfast (she even planned it) of strawberry parfaits.

Kids Cook Real Food is a way to get the whole family on board with healthier eating and put that picky eating to rest. Who knows, you may have a budding chef on your hands!

The course is open for enrollment this week.

Check out the free videos and get ready to end the picky eating by teaching your child to cook. It is a skill that will benefit both you and your kids for life.

Does your child have strong opinions about what she will or won’t eat?

A Simple Cure For Picky Eaters | Just Take A Bite

There really is a simple cure for picky eaters. Get them in the kitchen! If that doesn’t work. Come back and see me when my book is ready and we’ll talk more!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

New Year’s Goals Everyone Should Have

Don’t get caught up in the January frenzy of diets and grand resolutions. I’m sharing some New Year’s goals everyone should have that won’t leave you stressed and burned out by February.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

I’ve been making goals for myself every year for quite some time. At first they were so lengthy and detailed because my life was a mess and there was so much to work on.

Every year I scale back as I get healthier and can take more time to just enjoy life.

This year I decided to change things up again and create goals not just for myself. Instead I came up with new year’s goals everyone should have!

My goals do not include dieting, reaching a number on the scale or trying to be more crafty. Those are fine if that is what you like to do.

But for most people they just leave you burned out and feeling defeated and stressed by February.

Here are my New Year’s goals everyone should have.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Get more rest.

This can mean sleep or just down time. Either way, we are all overworked and overstressed. Take a day off each week or aim to get to bed earlier a few nights a week. Rest and sleep are so critical for good health.

No restrictions or diets.

Make this the year to stop following the latest food trend (i.e. paleo, primal, GAPS, Whole30, HTM, low carb, high fiber, low fat, Atkins, etc.) and start listening to your body. Nobody can tell you what to eat to feel your best. Only you can figure that out.

Really pay attention to hunger signals and nutritional needs. This changes with each season of your life and even day to day. No prescribed diet can tell you if your body needs some extra protein or starch today.

Listen to your body and make choices each day based on how you are feeling and what your body needs. Restricting (whether particular foods or calories) whether it’s for a few months or just a few weeks or even days will have an impact on your metabolic health. Each time you restrict you are creating more work for yourself down the road to get your metabolism back to full strength.

If you need help with knowing what your body really needs I highly recommend HTMA.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Move your body.

Notice that I did not say exercise. Try to move your body more each day. Movement incorporated throughout the day is more effective than sitting all day and then jogging for thirty minutes.

If you have a desk job get up every hour and take a little walk. Or keep pedals at your desk and pedal while you work. If it works for your job a treadmill desk is very effective for moving while you work (and is on my wish list!).

Strenuous exercise is just that – stress. And any stress on your body will have an impact. So don’t strain yourself and force yourself to work out. Just add movement to your whole day. A moving body is a healthy body.

Also move according to your health and ability. If you are nursing a little one or recovering from adrenal fatigue now is not the time to push yourself. Simply working around your house and taking a slow walk is sufficient movement without burdening your body.

I tend to sit a lot during the day whether I’m writing or playing on the floor with the kids or driving kids here and there. But I notice that on days where I put away laundry or grocery shop and have more movement all morning I feel so much better. I am not forcing myself to jog five miles. Just moving.

Yoga, walking and weight lifting are all great ways to move your body.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Strive to nourish your body every day.

Pick one thing you can do each day to add nourishment to your body. Try adding one food like liver, egg yolks, probiotics, sardines, gelatin or broth each day.

Make sure you are getting a good balance of protein, carbohydrates (including starch, not just sugar) and fat that works for your body and your current health status. Figure out your metabolic type and pay attention to how different ratios of macronutrients make you feel. Then aim to get the right balance each day.

For me, that means a lot of carb/starch right now. Being a sleep deprived mom that is still nursing a 16 month old full time and being a slow oxidizer I need a LOT of starch in my diet. So my meal may look unbalanced to you since I’ll have two or three big slices of sourdough bread that make up half my meal. But if I don’t eat that way I feel rotten and cold all day and have no energy. I do balance that with lots of vegetables, pastured meats and healthy fats for all of my vitamins and minerals.

Give your body the balance and the nourishment it needs each day.

Make time for yourself and for others.

This year make people a priority. Whether that means self care or setting aside the to-do list to play with your kids or making time to connect with your spouse. People are what matter. Build relationships. Cherish them.

Extend grace to yourself and others.

We live in a very critical society. We judge others. We are bombarded with ideas of what you should or shouldn’t look like in the media. Pinterest images make us feel like we should be whipping up a new craft each day.

Let’s stop the criticism and instead show love. We all want to feel accepted and loved. So start by loving yourself and extending that grace to those around you. You can’t control how other people behave but you can be a light to others.

This also means being vulnerable. Stop hiding behind masks. Be real. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. And we’d all be a lot happier if we let those flaws show, accepted help where we are lacking and helped others with our strengths.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Take time for reading God’s Word, prayer and listening.

I go in phases with making devotional time a priority. But every time I do I am amazed at how I see God at work and feel so much more at peace.

But the thing I haven’t always done is taken the time to really listen. Read your Bible and pray. Then just be silent. You can’t hear God if you don’t listen! I encourage you to slow down and keep eyes and ears open to hear God throughout the day.

Make time for fun.

There is so much pain and trouble in the world. It is important to take time to do fun things and see the good and beauty around. Go on dates with your kids. Have a family game night. Go for a walk in the woods with your spouse. Read a good book. Try something you’ve never done before. Life is often very serious. Make time for fun.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Take joy in the little things each day.

Don’t get so busy that you miss out on the little things each day – your child’s smile, a special note from your child, a beautiful sunrise, a refrigerator  filled with food, drawers full of clean laundry, running water. There are so many things to be thankful for.

This year we could all complain less and find more joy each day.

Put down the phone!

I try my best to keep my use of electronics to a minimum when I’m not working. But I’m sure I could do even better. Put down the phone or tablet or whatever is in your hand to be able to follow through on the other goals – making relationships a priority, finding joy, having fun, listening to God.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want my kids’ memory of me to be with a phone in my hand staring at a screen instead of playing with them.

Let’s put that phone down and talk to people face to face.

It’s all about balance.

After writing all of these goals I realized I made quite a list! Which is kind of the opposite of my intention. But they are all great. Pick the ones you like or maybe just one and see if it helps you feel better in 2016.

It all boils down to balance in all areas of life. Slow down, focus on gentle movement, take time for rest, eat balanced meals without extremes or restrictions, enjoy life, pursue passions, take time for others and for God.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Pick your word.

In addition to goals, every year I choose a word to focus on. Something God lays on my heart. Last year was GRATITUDE. The year before was LOVE. And before that ACCEPTANCE.

This year I am choosing to focus on PATIENCE. There are so many things I want to do and accomplish. There are so many things to try to squeeze in each day. I usually feel so overwhelmed by all of the need-to-dos and want-to-dos in my head.

I am working on patience and trusting in God’s plans and timing. I pray he will develop my passion for his purpose. And that I will be more patient with my children. I don’t usually enjoy a season of waiting. But I feel like that’s where I’m at right now in so many aspects of my life. So I’m going to be patient. I know God has big things planned for me when this time of waiting is over. But he has work to do on me yet while I wait.

Try picking your own word this year. What would it be?

Personal goals.

I do have a few personal goals this year. I am writing my first book and my goal is to finish it. It is something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS. But wasn’t sure exactly what to focus on. Now I know. And I’m excited (be on the lookout!).

I also want to focus on healing for my kids. They each have a ways to go to be at full health.

Finally, I want to work on my character. I want this to be the year with no more shouting and being vulnerable and letting people see the real me.

There it is. My list of New Year’s goals everyone should have. Plus a few personal goals (notice that I kept that list short so I can actually do it!).

What are your goals this year? I’d love to hear them!

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway!

Take one simple step towards better health this year by updating your health and beauty routine. I’m so excited to share my Cheshire Fields review and giveaway of some amazing products!

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

I am working with Cheshire Fields to blog about these products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to review these products. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Just about everyone is on the lookout for simple ways to improve their health. Especially as the new year starts.

I’m not big on diets or spending a lot of money to feel good. I don’t know about you but I also don’t have a lot of extra time to learn to make my own health and beauty products.

But I do love when there are affordable, homemade, high quality products that are in line with my views on health.

I recently got to sample some products from my friend Michelle at Cheshire Fields. She has an assortment of handmade soaps, shampoos, balms, sprays and more that are 100% natural (and I really mean that…not just labeled organic or using the term natural without much meaning behind it).

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to natural health and beauty most people jump to coconut oil. It is amazing stuff.

But since I have a toddler with a coconut allergy I try to keep our house pretty much coconut free. That means just about every soap, lotion and shampoo is out.

I was thrilled to find out that Michelle has many products that are not only coconut free but also dairy and nut free! Natural products that are safe for my family. I didn’t think they existed!

Tallow Balm

The first product I tried as soon as it arrived was the tallow balm.

I haven’t been able to use lotion in over a year! A year!! Can you say dry skin?

I was thrilled to try the tallow balm and was not disappointed. Just a tiny bit goes a long way and creates soft, smooth skin. Plus it smells so good with all of the essential oils added.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

I love that it is safe to use on my entire family, even my kids with allergies. It also comes in a compact case that is easy to take wherever you go. We brought it along for all of our holiday travel.

My oldest likes to use it on her hands at bed time and wear socks on her hands (thanks to Michelle’s suggestion!). By morning she has super soft skin again instead of dry, cracked hands.

Sinus Balm

The sinus balm was a Christmas present for my seven year old. That might sound strange to some. But she has struggled with environmental allergies and mouth breathing for years.

Having another natural tool for helping her breathe better at night is a huge blessing.

It is also made with olive oil and is very safe. The scent is pretty strong. But that is how it works.

My son had a stuffy nose the other day and told us he had to breathe with his mouth open. We put some behind his ears and on his neck. He didn’t wake up once in the night!

Disinfectant & Freshener Spray

With young kids in school I don’t have to tell you how excited I am to have a safe disinfectant spray! It is so easy to use. Just shake and spray.

It makes my house smell wonderful (thieves will do that). Plus I can freshen things in a matter of seconds.

No need to use chemicals to clean your house. This spray can be used directly on surfaces to get rid of the germs.

I was so glad to have it around after my daughter had the flu. It has also come in very handy for the potty seat that sits in our bathroom. It is almost impossible to keep that clean and free of bad smells. The freshener spray worked wonderfully.

Tea Tree + Lavender Freshener

The tea tree + lavender spray is one of Michelle’s new products. It is similar to the disinfectant spray, but with different oils.

I can’t decide which one I like better. The tea tree and lavender combination is very floral and leaves the whole house smelling bright and fresh. I will be using both all winter long!

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Itch Relief Remedy

When you have a child with eczema there is a never ending search for products to help calm the itching. So I was very excited to get to try this.

It comes as a powder that you can make into a paste. It has a very mild scent and soothing ingredients. Just a pinch goes a long way so this will last a long time.

Chamomile Lavender Dry Shampoo

I wash my hair every day. Otherwise my hair gets so oily. It is fine and thin.

When Michelle told me about her dry shampoo I was so excited. I can actually get by without washing my hair once in a while with this product. Simply rub it into the scalp to absorb oil. Plus it smells amazing!

For those mornings where my little one just doesn’t want to sleep and let me take a shower this dry shampoo is a life saver! I can leave the house without feeling like I look unshowered. It is even great for days that I wear my hair down. By afternoon it already looks greasy. Just a bit of dry shampoo and I’m looking good again and smelling good too!

The chamomile lavender is great for light colored hair like mine. There is another one specifically for dark hair.

I was so impressed with all of these Cheshire Fields products. I even bought a bunch for Christmas presents for the women in my family! But you don’t have to wait until Christmas. They make great gifts any time of year.

Plus this is just a small sample of all of the great products Michelle has to offer. She is so passionate about sharing homemade, natural products.

Cheshire Fields Review and Giveaway | Just Take A Bite

Michelle has generously offered to give away a hair care bundle to one of my lovely readers. It includes:

  • Henna Shampoo Bar
  • Hair Oil
  • Dry Shampoo (you choose light or dark)

I don’t know about you, but I could use some serious hair pampering this year!

Can’t wait to see if you’re the winner? Head over to Cheshire Fields right now and use the code MYNEWYEAR to get 10% off your whole order all month long!

I hope you check out all of the Cheshire Fields products. Come back and let me know what looks good or what you’ve tried.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

How To Organize Your Pantry For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety

Start the new year with some organization! Here are my top pantry organization tips for allergy safety.

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

There’s no way around it. Living with food allergies is a challenge.

What’s worse? When you have multiple family members with different allergies!

If I combine all of my kids’ allergies we are pretty much allergic to everything. That is not an exaggeration. Our allergies even include foods like rice, potatoes, apples and chicken.

It goes without saying that I have to be very organized to keep everyone safe. Especially my toddler that will put anything she finds in her mouth.

Whether you have one child allergic to one food or a host of allergies spanning the whole family these tips will help you stay organized and keep everyone safe.

Even if you don’t have any allergies these tips will help you keep your pantry organized and easy for kids and baby-sitters to navigate.

Head over to Super Healthy Kids where I’m sharing my tips on keeping your pantry, fridge and freezer organized and everyone safe this year.

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on the Table When School Starts

Don’t let the busyness of fall derail your real food lifestyle. Use these ten tips for keeping real food on the table to maintain your sanity and everyone’s health.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Believe it or not it is already time for school to start and all of the fall activities to begin again.

Summer was easy. There was time to prepare plenty of good food. Snacks were easy with the abundance of fresh produce.

Now life gets busier and time is limited.

So how do you keep it real?

Here are a few tips to get your fall started the right way and keep your family well fed.

Plan, Plan, Plan

One of the most important ways to make sure you are making healthy food is to plan ahead. At the start of each week or each month take a few minutes to plan meals.

Check your schedule and plan meals that work around your activities. This will also help you when grocery shopping so you know exactly what you need.

If you have to be gone most of the afternoon or everyone has a different schedule, try making a crockpot meal that will be ready whenever you need it. Maybe you’ll be home in the afternoon but won’t have time to cook. Prepare a casserole first thing in the morning so you can put dinner in the oven and go back to your to-do list.

Try planning a few meals that will have a lot of leftovers. Then transform the leftovers into another meal. Roast a chicken one night.  Then use the leftovers to make soup or stir fry another night.

No matter what is on your agenda you can feed everyone healthy food if you plan ahead.

If you need some ideas to get you going I’ve been posting weekly menus for years!  Check them out.

Stock the Freezer

As much as you try, there isn’t always time to cook a good dinner. Or maybe for you breakfast is chaotic trying to get out the door on time.  The solution is a stocked freezer.

Breakfast foods like muffins, coffee cakes, granola bars and even smoothies freeze very well. Make a few big batches of your favorite breakfast items on the weekend and you’ll have a healthy, homemade grab-and-go breakfast all week.

Another great item to have in the freezer is cooked meat. Tacos only take minutes if you have pre-cooked ground beef. Cooked chicken works well for stir fry, fajitas, sandwiches or salads.

Do casseroles work well for your family? The next time you make a casserole, make a double batch and freeze one.

Stock a few casseroles in the freezer and you’ve got a no-prep dinner just waiting for you. A frozen casserole does not need to thaw. Simply give it a few extra minutes to bake.

Cooking and baking when you have the time and stocking your freezer is one of the easiest ways to keep your family well fed.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Stock the Pantry

Maybe you haven’t had time to plan or stock your freezer yet. Now what?

Keep your pantry filled with foods like canned salmon, noodles, beans, rice, olives, dried fruit and tomatoes. A simple pasta dish will come together quickly. Cook the noodles. Add salmon, beans, tomatoes and seasoning. Dinner is served.

Stock the Refrigerator

When it comes to simple, a refrigerator filled with fresh fruits and vegetables is key. A salad can be assembled easily when there is plenty of fresh produce on hand. It is very portable as well.

Make the dressing in the bottom of a container and layer the salad toppings. Mix it when you are ready to eat.

Kids are more likely to grab fruits or vegetables to snack on if that is what is available. Nutritious food does not have to be complicated.

You can also keep easy protein sources on hand like nuts, cheese, yogurt and hard boiled eggs.

Keep Inventory

All of the preparing and stocking doesn’t do much good if you don’t know what you have. Keep track of what is in your freezer and pantry.  Every time you put something in or take something out take note.

A great way to take inventory is with a dry erase board. Then you don’t even have to open the freezer to know what you have.

Fill Up At Meals

Snacks can be the most time-consuming foods to make. They are also the most likely sources of junk food.

Make sure your meals are nutrient-dense and filling so you won’t need to snack much. A meal should have a balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates. Figure out what ratio works best for your body. Then stick to it at your meals to feel satisfied.

When you do need a snack something simple like fresh fruits and vegetables will be sufficient.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Make Snacks That Last

For the occasions when you do need snacks, make homemade munchies that don’t go bad easily. A batch of homemade graham crackers lasts in the cupboard for a couple months.

Dried fruit travels well and holds up to heat. Homemade fruit snacks or gummies will stay fresh in the refrigerator for weeks.

Put your effort into making food that will last more than a couple days.

Don’t Bring Junk Into the House

When life gets busy it is easy to grab convenience foods. But if the food is not in your house, you won’t eat it.

So skip buying the junk food at the store and keep the fridge and cupboard filled with quality, nutritious food.

Keep it Simple

Real food doesn’t have to be complicated. Whole milk yogurt mixed with fresh fruit or a fried egg and toast make very easy breakfasts.

Lettuce topped with nuts, cheese, dried fruit and fresh vegetables is a great lunch. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and sea salt on top for a quick dressing.

Chicken legs, potatoes and carrots placed in a crockpot in the morning will provide a nutritious and delicious dinner in the evening.

Eating real food is possible even when you only have a few minutes at a time to prepare meals.  Just keep it simple.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Let Everyone Help

Preparing good food doesn’t have to be left to one member of the family. Get kids involved with simple food preparation at a young age.

Even small children can chop fruits and vegetables, make salad dressing or assemble fruit salads. Older children can help cook at the stove and even prepare whole meals if mom and dad are busy.

Take turns planning and preparing meals throughout the week.  By dividing the work the food will be prepared faster and nobody will feel the stress of having to do it all.

As school begins and other fall activities get under way don’t panic. There are many ways to keep eating quality food and making sure your family is well nourished.

Ten Tips For Keeping Real Food on The Table When School Starts | Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Are you ready for fall to begin? Use these simple tips for keeping real food on the table to make sure you’re eating well even if you are busy.

Looking for easy meal ideas to get your fall started?  Here are some of our favorites!

Sloppy Joes

Tacos

Salmon Salad

Split Pea Soup

Broth Burgers

Sweet and Sour Stir Fry

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Squash Soup

Sweet Potato Salmon Burgers

Chicken Nuggets

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for  you.

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.