There are so many diets and theories and opinions when it comes to health. I’ve experimented with many of them! As I celebrate another year of life I’m so excited to finally be able to find joy in nourishing my body.
You Have to Be Healthy to Eat Healthy
It’s something I often say to people frustrated with trying to eat the “right way” but still not feeling great. There are so many diets that promote real food and healing. They all have merit, but that doesn’t mean they work for everyone.
I know this because I’ve tried them (read some of my thoughts HERE). And the only thing I got was severe obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, more food intolerances and infertility. But no healing.
The real problem is they all include rules. Specific diets place restrictions on what you can eat and categorize food as good or bad. When a food is deemed bad or forbidden guess what happens? You want it! You are left with this constant decision making between doing the right thing or the wrong thing. And feeling guilty if you choose wrong. Or worse food starts to cause anxiety.
It took me the last twenty years to move past feeling like food is either good or bad. But I did it. And I love it! It is so freeing to finally enjoy food.
Help for Food Freedom
Are you hung up on trying to find the right diet for you? Are you wondering if low carb or grain free or high fat is right for you? Does it make you stressed just thinking about it? Here are some simple tips to get past the fear and back to joy.
Start listening to your body.
Take note of how you feel when you eat certain foods. Keep a food journal for a week or two if need be. If nuts bother your stomach, take a break from them. If you feel better eating more carbohydrates and less fat then go for it. Eat what makes YOU feel good, not what helps your neighbor or your favorite blogger. If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease or allergies that will impact what foods hurt or help.
Get rid of the rules.
Stop viewing food as good or bad. As long as it’s real food it’s ok. Enjoy a piece of homemade chocolate cake and ice cream. Make a big stack of pancakes with butter and real maple syrup for breakfast. When you restrict foods because you think you shouldn’t eat them (instead of restricting because they actually make you feel bad) they create more stress. Ditch the diet and rigid rules.
Start focusing on nourishment.
This is where the fun begins. When you let go of unnecessary rules and you’re not constantly debating between eating a salad and digging into a container of ice cream you can focus on really taking care of your body.
Finding Joy in Nourishment
I spent far too many years trying to eat the perfect diet. Only to feel stressed, anxious and deprived. Then I had to go the other direction of eating anything and everything to try to restore metabolic health (you can read about my journey HERE and HERE). All to find a place of balance. Now I find great joy in nourishing my body. Not because a diet tells me to. Because I want to.
I heard someone recently say that happiness is external and joy is internal. Being happy comes from your circumstances, but joy is a state of being that comes from within. And it’s true. Good food does make me happy. But it’s the joy and peace I have inside that motivates me to make healthy choices every day.
Balanced Nutrition is Key
Today eating is like an exciting adventure for me. I try to pack as many nutrients into my food as possible. I add desiccated liver and fermented kale to smoothies and salads. I eat sardines and anchovies a couple times a week. I eat pastured meats and eggs regularly. I aim for a rainbow of vegetables and plenty of healthy fats daily. I drink herbal teas for added minerals and to support my body and get my hormones back in balance. It’s almost like a fun game to see how many vitamins and minerals I can get each day. I feel good and the joy comes pouring out.
But I also enjoy a dish of ice cream when I want it. Sometimes I eat a bowl of mashed avocado and tortilla chips for breakfast (quick and delicious…and it’s easy to add liver to avocado!). I like to bake with my kids and make special sweet treats together (like gluten free Oreos® and salted honey chocolates). It’s even rare that I go a day without at least a little bit of chocolate.
There is no more should or shouldn’t with food. There are no rules. There is no restriction. Which in turn eliminates cravings (imagine that!).
Now I love to fuel my body, and I love how it makes me feel. That does not mean my diet is perfect. Not every single bite of food has to be nutrient packed. And less healthy foods here and there don’t negate all the good stuff I put in my body every day.
Let go of Food Guilt
There is no guilt or feeling of reward for eating a certain way. I just truly love to eat nutrient dense food. No rules or special diets. I don’t eat GAPS or Paleo or AIP or low carb or any other specialized diet. I just eat real food that makes me feel good and that I know is helping me take care of my body. One day I might eat grain free while the next I might need some extra starch. And they are both just fine!
It’s very freeing to let go and find joy in nourishment. And it’s the healthiest I’ve ever been!
I am very blessed that I do not have an autoimmune condition or severe allergies. But I do have some sensitivities and health issues I’m still working through. But I try not to let them get me down. I nourish my body as best I can with my limitations and keep striving for full healing.
Eating real food is easy. There are limitless options. Eating real food that meets your needs can be hard. But once you figure out how to do it you’ll love how you feel.
Foods That Nourish
Some of my favorite nutrient dense foods are ferments. They are packed with natural probiotics. What I really love is how easy they are (take a big scoop and enjoy!) and how much my kids like them. My toddler can’t get enough sauerkraut. While we do make our own sometimes, I don’t always have time to pound cabbage.
I recently got the chance to try sauerkraut and fermented pickles from Cultured Guru.
Both the kraut and pickles have just a few simple ingredients and taste amazing! Using traditional fermentation these products are teaming with probiotics. They make great additions to a meal or are the perfect quick snack.
My oldest can’t get enough of the pickles. She has oral SPD and doesn’t tolerate any amount of spice. So even though she likes pickles it’s rare we can find any she’ll eat. But she loves the Cultured Guru pickles! She loves the sauerkraut too. Another rarity for her.
I’ll be stocking up too. My kids and I can’t get enough!! Such a blessing when working on healing allergies!
Super Charged Food for Kids
Another super food that tops my list is a traditional staple – organ meats. I get mine by adding Perfect Supplements desiccated liver to just about everything. I even make caramel with it! I also love the fermented kale, collagen and aquatic greens from Perfect Supplements. I add them to most of our smoothies.
Some of my other favorite foods include sardines, salmon, eggs, raw milk, butter, lard, tallow, pastured meats and a rainbow of vegetables. They all make my body smile.
You have to be healthy to eat healthy.
I’m so excited to finally be healthy so I can enjoy eating well and nourishing my body every day.
Are you ready to let go of rules and enjoy eating again? Ditch the diets and find joy in nourishing your body.
Today is my birthday, and I’m starting it with pure joy. Joy that I’m taking care of myself and this beautiful body God gave me.
Want to see what I eat for my #nourishingbreakfast #nourishinglunch and #nourishingdinner? Follow me on Instagram! It may inspire you…or it might gross you out. In my husband’s words, “You eat that for breakfast?!”
Disclaimer: I am working with Cultured Guru for this post. I have been compensated for my time but all opinions are my own.
The older I get the more I know exactly what I want…and what I don’t want (that’s the Analytical Eater in me!).
When holidays or birthdays roll around, I make a list with very specific items. I have spent so many years collecting gifts I don’t really care about and using them anyway. Which has resulted in a house full of clutter.
But now that I know who I am and what I like, I’m ready to have things I love and will enjoy using. In fact, one of the words that best describes me is simple. And I’d love to simplify my house and life by getting rid of about 70% of what I own. Most of it is just stuff that I have to shuffle around.
Any other moms that can relate?!
Gifts Mom Will Actually Use
While it won’t happen overnight. I want to get rid of things that I don’t use/don’t like and gradually replace them with the things I love.
After over a decade in the natural health world, I have settled on some amazing products and brands that I trust.
So I’m sharing some of my favorite items that I actually use and love (and some that are on my own gift list!) with you! Feel free to send this to loved ones wondering what to buy for you!
The Best Supplements for Mom
I know what you’re thinking…supplements are at the top of your gift list?? Yes! Because good health is at the top of my list. These are some of my favorite supplements for keeping Mom feeling her best. Which in turn helps everyone. Trust me, I work with a lot of moms!
Perfect Supplements is one of my absolute favorite supplement brands. Not only for the particular products they carry, but also for the quality. Everything is thoroughly tested, and they are completely transparent. That is one of the most important aspects of a supplement company. I use quite a few PS products regularly. Here are my top picks (yes, there are quite a few):
This is my favorite magnesium supplement. It helps relax the whole body and is great for those that have trouble winding down or falling asleep. I have been using it every night for over five years now! Use code Mary10 for 10% off your order!
These spore-based probiotics are both gentle and effective. Plus they are safe for just about everyone. My whole family uses these probiotics to help diversify our gut microbiome. Everyone, including Mom, could use some tummy love!
Bee pollen is great for your immune system and for supplying some key B Vitmains. Plus it is a good food source of copper, one of the most important minerals in your body. Just a small dose each day can give you a big boost!
True beauty is on the inside. But it’s also nice for Mom to feel good about how she looks on the outside! These are my favorite health and beauty products.
The Magnesium Lotion Shop
One of the highest priorities for almost every client is improving magnesium stores. And the best way to do so is transdermally (i.e. through the skin). We’ve tried various oils and lotions, but The Magenisum Lotion Shop has the best around! No itching. No stinging. No strange smell. And no toxic ingredients. It’s great for the whole family. It even helped my daughter with growing pains and sleep. We all put it on every night before bed.
Ever wish you could find natural replacements for OTC medicines without having to search high and low? Welcome to your one-stop-shop! Earthly has just about every natural remedy you could want. Here are some of my top picks:
Arnica salve stick – for bumps and bruises
Digestive bitters – for reflux and improving upper GI function
Feel better fast tincture – helps coughs, fevers, and upset tummies quickly
I know what you’re thinking. How are fashion and health related? Let me show you! These healthy AND fashionablel products are my favorites! And they are on my gift list.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you’ve probably heard me talk about Magnetude Jewelry. It is bio-magnetic, interchangeable jewelry that can help:
improve blood circulation
improve sleep quality
mitigate the harmful effects of EMFs and 5G
My personal experience using Magnetude has been sort of miraculous. After wearing it for just a few weeks I told my kids that I felt like the Energizer Bunny! It has increased my energy tremendously. I am also sleeping more soundly. An added bonus – my toddler is finally sleeping through the night consistently when he wears his Magnetude slider regularly.
This is the one of the easiest and most fun things you can do to improve your health! For the month of November all orders over $75 get a free holiday “tude.”
My son and I made a video to show just how powerful the magnets really are! Check it out.
Barefoot shoes are another one of my must-haves. I started wearing Xero Shoes about three years ago, and I have never looked back. Barefoot shoes help with spinal alignment and removing stress on the spine. I wear them every day, year-round. So much so that I have worn a hole in the toe! So a new pair of Xero Shoes is definitely on my wish list this year.
So far I have tried the Prios and the Mikas. I love them both! And I’m excited to try some of the other styles.
Is it possible to have too many kitchen gadgets? Probably. Maybe not. I’m not sure. I love fun, unique kitchen gifts. But then again I’m trying to simplify. Here are my must-haves in the kitchen that I use all the time.
Tea Strainer + Quality Tea
In the debate of coffee vs tea, there is no question for me. I love tea. I can’t stand coffee. I love using herbal teas to promote health. So a tea strainer and quality loose-leaf teas are always in my cupboard.
We all have those appliances that sit in the cupboard, possibly still in the box, that we don’t know what to do with. But then there are the workhorses that we use almsot daily. Here are my favorite appliances and gadgets that I use frequently or that are on my wish list.
Crockpot – it’s always on my counter and gets used multiple times a week.
Immersion blender – perfect for making mayonnaise, pureeing fruits and veggies, or even making magnesium lotion!
Vitamix – hands down my most used appliance. I use it for smoothies, dips, nut butters, sauces, and even grinding flour! I have the large container, small container, and dry container to do everything.
Berkey water filter – it’s hard to find a water filter that removes all the bad stuff while leaving the essential minerals. Berkey is at the top of the list for doing just that!
Tongs – I have three pairs…and I still run out some days.
Spatula – I have lots of spatulas, but only two that I really use.
If you want to feel your best, you have to be hydrated. This is one of the first foundations I address with every client. I don’t just mean drink eight glasses of water a day. That’s a good way to flush all of your minerals out! I love sharing a variety of hydrating drinks to boost your minerals and help your body absorb the water. But sometimes even if you know how to properly hydrate it’s a struggle. I find that having a water bottle that you love can go a long way in getting hydrated. Here are my favorites:
Staying healthy isn’t just about what you eat and drink (though those are important!). There are other aspects to your foundations of good health. This includes physical, mental, and emotional health! Some of my favorite tools and techniques for keeping Mom healthy on all levels include:
Our bodies are made of energy! And sometimes (well, a lot of times) we get out of balance. It’s important to restore the flow of energy. You can do this through:
Not only do these therapies help long-term, it also feels really good to have time for self-care and having someone else pamper you a bit! Find a local practitioner and calm your nervous system!
When it comes to nutrition my favorite tool for meeting bio-individual needs is Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis! It is at the heart of my practice. HTMA shows where your body is out of balance and how to meet your bio-individual needs.
Maybe I’m just odd, but I love getting exercise/fitness equipment as a gift. It gives me variety and motivation to keep myself moving. A couple of my favorite simple and budget-friendly methods for getting nourishing movement are:
Rebounder – get your lymphatic system flowing and help your body with gentle detox.
T-Tapp – this is another lymphatic-stimulating exercise that is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. No special equipment needed! Just some space to move. My kids and I love to do T-Tapp moves throughout the day to keep things flowing!
Best Books for Mom
Last, but definitely not least, on Mom’s gift list are books. Depending on your season of life you may or may not have much time to read. But I have recommendations for everyone. From cookbooks to homeschooling to homesteading to health.
If you are short on time AND needing some healthy meal inspiration, cookbooks will be your guide. I have quite an array of cookbooks – some in my kitchen and some stashed in a closet. The ones I keep in my kitchen I use time and again. Plus they have great stories and drool-worthy photos. These are the cookbooks that make the grade in my house.
Tuttle Twins – These are amazing read-alouds for the whole family about how our government, free market, and more is supposed to work. I’ll be honest – I learned just as much as my kids did. I wish every child was able to hear these books.
Yes, this post is all about what to give TO Mom. But I’m a mom…and I just couldn’t help myself. Moms love to give gifts to their kids as well. So here is a short list of some of my favorite natural health gifts for your family.
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.
Toddlers Can Use Knives!
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. 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.
Kitchen Skills for Kids
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 makehomemade fruit snackson 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.
Kids in the Kitchen
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 homeschooling 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.
Kids Can Cook
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!
It’s hard to believe I wrote this post over five years ago! I have now added another budding chef to the mix. My current toddler also loves getting messy in the kitchen with me. He is a big fan of washing dishes. That is another important skill!
My other chefs are 13, 10, and almost 7. They love to help plan meals every week and participate in dinner prep often.
I love that they are empowered to make healthy food choices and gain essential life skills. I have no worries about them taking ownership of their health as they get older.
But even after all these years we still go back to the Kids Cook Real Food ecourse for a refresher periodically. It’s great practice and motivation!
Do you let your kids help (or take over) in the kitchen often? Has your toddler learned to properly use a knife yet?
Getting my kids in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do since before my oldest could even walk. But fun and games aside, this is the real reason I’m teaching my kids to cook.
“It’s a good thing I like to cook.”
I made that comment to my husband earlier this week. And I really meant it.
With all of the varying allergies in our house cooking is a full time job. I’m not joking. I spend half of my day in the kitchen.
It’s a rare treat if I can come up with a meal the whole family can eat. There is no such thing as convenience food (unless you mean a box of raisins.). Eating out? That’s a thing people do?
Even as we look ahead to visiting family this summer I have to do the meal planning. I don’t get a break whether I’m home or traveling.
Nobody Else Can Cook for my Family
There is no substitute for me. Even my husband doesn’t know how to cook.
It doesn’t matter if I’m sick.
It doesn’t matter if I’m tired.
If I don’t cook, my kids don’t eat.
I happily accept the challenge of keeping my kids well fed and healthy. It is actually my passion.
Everyone Deserves a Break From Cooking
But let’s be honest. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you don’t get one, that passion fades a little. The joy of cooking isn’t quite the same when your food is reduced to a handful of safe options. And I don’t have ten hours a day to cook.
Have you tried cooking when you can’t let one person’s food touch another’s food? You must use a new knife for everything you cut. Did I stick that spoon in this pot or that one? Better get a clean one just to be safe. What rotation day are we on? Better check so we know what your snack options are. Does this measuring cup have latex? Gotta wash my hands after I add the flour to the bowl (or buy new measuring cups). Everyone must wash up as soon as they are done eating so you don’t get an allergen on anything.
Nothing is Easy with Allergies
Easy meals like sandwiches are a big undertaking. It requires me to make my own lunch meat and bake a minimum of two kinds of bread. Pizza…three separate crusts, two kinds of sauce, different toppings, some with and some without cheese, bake on separate pans, use different pizza cutters. Not so easy.
Cooking and eating at my house is like a very delicate juggling act. Fun in some ways. Not as fun in others. And one little slip up and it comes tumbling down.
Cooking is a Learned Skill
When I got married I really had no idea how to cook. I had a handful of things I could make. But not very well. And most of them involved packaged foods.
Over the years I have taught myself to cook. I have learned to be creative in the kitchen with evolving food restrictions and new diets. I always gladly accept each new challenge. I’m thankful I get to share my journey and my creations with you!
I Want to Teach my Kids to Cook
But my kids won’t be little forever. I won’t be in control of what they eat when they grow up. I can’t make choices for them when they are not home.
I want to empower my kids to take control of their own health and understand how to eat well in spite of their allergies. I want to share my passion for real food with my children.
Yes, we are working on and hopeful for healing. It would be wonderful if someday we can all eat the same food and a much larger variety of food. But that is not guaranteed.
What I can for sure give my kids is the knowledge and ability to cook and care for themselves.
Here’s the Plan for Getting Kids in the Kitchen
That’s where the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse comes in. We started it almost three years ago. When we do the lessons my kids LOVE it. And they learn so much. Now they are always begging me to help in the kitchen.
Sound good? Go check out The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse! There is something for everyone. Do it at your own pace and watch the videos whenever it fits in your schedule. It works for kids of all ages.
Set Goals for your Kids
My first goal was to have my eight year old be able to make an entire meal by herself, start to finish. Then in a pinch I know I could rely on her to make a meal. That may sound like an ambitious goal if your kids don’t normally cook. But she’s been cooking with me since she was nine months old. She loves helping in the kitchen. Now I can let her really take responsibility. Even my toddler has been doing the course and helping cook meals for two years. She’s very skilled with a knife!
I love cooking in spite of our challenges. But I don’t want my kids to depend on me forever (well, I do, actually…can I keep them this small?). Sadly they do have to grow up.
I could say I’m teaching my kids to cook so I’m off the hook. But really that’s not it. I want them to be safe. I want them to stay healthy even if a situation comes up where I can’t be around to cook a meal. I want my children to be able to visit Grandpa and Grandma and tell them what they can eat.
How about you? Are you ready to give your kids skills for life?
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.
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.
1. 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.
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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
Put your effort into making food that will last more than a couple days.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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. You can teach your kids to cook using the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Check it out HERE!
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.
When life gets busy don’t panic. There are many ways to keep eating quality food and making sure your family is well nourished.
Are you in a busy season? 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!
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.
Can raising animals help picky eaters? You bet it can! By teaching the new generation about where their food comes from we will raise adventurous eaters and healthy individuals.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard someone ask if you can’t have eggs because you are dairy free. Let that sink in a minute. Eggs…from chickens. That has nothing to do with dairy. It’s a completely different animal! Unless they know a secret I don’t and can milk a chicken!
What’s really sad is that it is adults asking this. Adults. That don’t know eggs are not dairy. Just because they are close together in a grocery store (as if that means anything about where they come from!). That doesn’t bode well for the future of our children. Food knowledge is not being passed down.
Kids have no idea where their food comes from or why it even matters.
This needs to change. I think food education (about REAL food) should be taught in schools and should be fundamental knowledge. It’s hard to make good choices about how and what you eat when you don’t even know there is a choice to make.
Parents are Responsible for Food Knowledge
It is up to parents to turn this around. Because let’s face it – kids are bombarded with neon-colored packaged junk everywhere they turn. From a very young age my kids help in the garden, planting, weeding, harvesting. They also help in the kitchen (with their skills from Kids Cook Real Food) preparing food from scratch. And they help raise animals.
Right now we just have chickens. We hope to expand to other animals in the future. But for now we are enjoying our little flock.
My seven year old feeds the chickens and collects the eggs every day. All of the kids like to help care for our hens. They are learning by first-hand experience.
It is a great resource for all of your chicken questions. And I love how easy it is to read! Every subject has one page (kind of like a daily devotional). So you can quickly browse the whole book or go right to the topic you want and easily find the answer you need.
Since my oldest two can read they will be reading this book to give them a better understanding of chicken care. We have some chickens that are molting. So I’m going to let my kids use this book to figure out how we can help the hens through it.
My kids know all the work that goes into raising healthy eggs. They appreciate the nutritional value. And they know not to be wasteful. For them it’s not just about food on the plate. It’s everything that goes into getting the food there.
The same holds true for our garden produce and our apples. A jar of home-canned applesauce isn’t just applesauce. It’s pruning trees, picking apples, making and canning the sauce.
I hope to instill an appreciation and love for well-raised food in my children. They can turn up their noses at processed pseudo-foods. But when it comes to real, nourishing food they will be the farthest thing from picky eaters.
How You Can Raise Adventurous Eaters
Whether or not you raise your own food or animals, it’s important that your kids know where their food comes from. You can visit a local farm or even just try growing a tomato plant in a pot.
I did not grow up farming, so I’ve been learning a lot about chickens myself from this book. Even as the one that mostly only deals with the food once it’s in the house. Carissa’s book taught me about how to properly clean eggs to prevent spreading bacteria. I had no idea you shouldn’t run them under water!
Food knowledge is so important for this new generation. And feeding kids real, nourishing food will improve health and help prevent picky eating.
Whether you’re raising your own chickens or you just want to learn more, check out Carissa’s book here.
How much do your kids know about where their food comes from? One simple step you can take today is to provide quality books about real food for your kids to read.
Life isn’t always what it seems. Today I’m sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!
If you don’t know much about my story you may think my life looks well planned. I am happily married. I have four kids, two boys and two girls, all about three years apart. And almost ten years to the day between my oldest and youngest. Picture perfect, right?
Yes, it’s true that I am a major planner, But I can assure you that God did all the planning when it came to building my family.
As I approached Simon’s birth I realized just how monumental it was. His birth carried with it 33 years of dreams, desires and hopes…and struggles, doubts and fear. And in that one moment when he arrived a weight I’ve carried with me for so long was lifted.
Today I want to share the journey with you. Though I admit I debated about whether or not to. Do I want to relive it? Or just forget it and move on? These thoughts and emotions have been swirling around in my head for the last couple months. Hopefully I can get them written and fully let go. And maybe it will give hope to someone else. So here we go!
When it All Began.
It started on my fifth birthday. The only thing I wanted was a Cabbage Patch Doll. But they were sold out everywhere. Finally my mom heard a store near us had just gotten ten more. We rushed over. By the time we got there only five were left. It took me all of two seconds to pick the one I wanted. A girl with a tuft of blonde hair and a paci. I named her Caroline Rebecca.
And from that moment I knew that more than anything I wanted to be a mom.
But more specifically I knew deep down I wanted four kids – two boys, two girls. How I knew this at such a young age, I don’t know. I think it was a seed God planted in me. A seed of hope that has kept me going through a lot of struggles. No matter how hard I tried over the years to shake it (and believe me, I tried! I prayed and prayed for God to take it away.), I knew my life would not feel complete without four children.
I spent a large portion of my childhood playing with dolls. Not Barbies. Babies. I pretended to nurse them, dress them, feed them. They went wherever I went. I was playing dolls well into junior high!
The teenage Years.
Fast forward to puberty. When the fear first set in. From my first menstrual cycle at age 14 I knew something wasn’t “normal” about me. I only had a period once or twice a year. I was too scared to talk to anyone about it. I lied about it at doctor visits. I thought my body was broken…for good. And the fear that I would never have the family I dreamed of set in.
I started an obsession with health (which sort of led me to where I am now). It was an unhealthy obsession then (and would be for many years to come). I actually knew nothing about health. In my mind there was only one factor. Skinny meant healthy. So I became fat phobic – the popular dietary misinformation of the day. I could live on fruity candy and fat free ice cream and call it healthy.
This is also when my obsessive compulsive disorder began (though I wouldn’t understand it/identify it for another 15 years). My eating became so restricted. My weight dropped like crazy. I was less “normal” than ever. But I didn’t care because I was skinny.
This continued all through high school. I was underweight, scared of food and so undernourished.
Coming to a Head in College.
Then I went off to college. All of my obsessive behaviors combined with my extreme shyness created a lot of anxiety. And it was hard to make friends or let anyone get to know me.
I was playing soccer and taking honors classes. My days were so busy I hardly had time to make friends even if I wanted to.
By the grace of God there was some positive change by my junior year. My soccer career came to an end…which made it possible for me to start a relationship with the man that would one day become my husband. We were both electrical engineering majors, which allowed us to spend a lot of time together.
I had no idea at the time, but I was gradually re-feeding my body (you can read more about that in this book). My weight had gone up enough to be in a healthy range. And I was eating more nutrients (though still low fat and plenty of processed food). For the first time in my life I started having regular cycles! I finally felt normal. I got excited every month when it showed up. My body was working!!
On the flip side my OCD and digestive problems were progressively getting worse (I didn’t understand how food impacted mood at the time). And getting harder to hide.
A BIG Mistake.
One year after graduation Justin and I got married. A few months before the wedding I made a bad decision that would impact my health for many years to come…I started birth control pills. It was just what you do when you get married. I never thought twice about it, I never questioned what negative effects they could have. Or that it might not be how God wanted me to live. Trying to be in control instead of giving that to Him.
I now understand how harmful birth control is. And will teach my daughters so they don’t make the same mistake.
At first it was great. Having everything work like clockwork. I had no idea they messed up your hormones and that the period was just a withdrawl bleed, not an actual period.
Gradually I started to feel the impact. At the start of each new pack I would get so sick I would vomit, My anxiety and OCD were out of control. I was having panic attacks.
My digestive problems continued to get worse as well. I had constant painful colon spasms, I was constantly searching for solutions, I tried all sorts of dietary changes. None of them worked. They just made my anxiety about food worse.
I finally got to the point I couldn’t handle things and started working with a psychologist, I spent the next ten years working with her,
Time For our Family.
In early 2006 my husband and I started talking about having kids. The thing I had been waiting for since I was five. I stopped taking birth control…and the long journey through infertility began. I waited six months with no sign of my cycles returning naturally. Those three years on birth control had destroyed my health both physically and mentally.
During those three years I also underwent a host of tests to help my digestive problems, But every time the doctor would tell me everything was normal. After years of searching for answers I finally self-diagnosed my problem. At 26 years old I had a rectal prolapse. I met with a colon surgeon who confirmed it and ran more tests, In September 2006 I had surgery to correct it.
I was out of work for two months. It was a long, slow recovery. Something I don’t care to ever repeat.
My first day back at work post surgery was also the day of my first visit with the endocrinologist. We started with three rounds of clomid – which my body did not respond to. Next we moved on to IUI. It was during this process that we learned we had both male and female infertility, As each month came and went with no luck my fear of not having the family I dreamed of really surfaced. I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all.
The endo told us our only option was IVF. He didn’t give any health suggestions, No dietary advice, Just medical procedures. So began our journey through the lonely, painful, expensive world of IVF.
Of course my body never likes to follow the norm. The doctor diagnosed me with polyfollicular ovaries – not PCOS. But I could never find any information about it. He said he rarely had patients like me.
I didn’t respond as well as hoped to the procedure because of my condition. I produced tons of eggs…but most of them were not mature enough to be useful. So after the egg retrieval I hyperstimulated, In other words all of the empty egg sacs filled with fluid, which then filled my abdominal cavity. It’s painful. It makes you feel sick. It can damage your ovaries, And it makes you unable to transfer any fertilized eggs back. We had to freeze everything and give my body time to recover.
We waited another month to move on. Just when it was getting too hard to hope we received great news – our first IVF transfer worked! I was pregnant. I gave birth to our first child, a daughter, in 2008.
Let’s Try Again.
In the fall of 2009 we decided to start trying for another baby. I weaned my daughter just weeks before returning to the endocrinologist to start the next round of treatment. In other words I didn’t give my body any time to recover or restore nutrients. We did another IVF transfer. Unfortunately it didn’t work. And it used up what fertilized eggs we had frozen.
So back to square one. We started right up with a new round of IVF stimulation. It was around this time that I first learned about real food and started making dietary changes.
As before I hyperstimulated and had to recover before doing transfers. We went on to use up all of our fertilized eggs with three frozen transfers…all of which were unsuccessful. The third one was dragged out a bit, but ended up being a chemical pregnancy. I felt so broken and alone (I wrote about it here). Those fears were taking over. Would I ever have more children?
After a couple months off we started yet another round of IVF. Again I hyperstimulated. The worst it had ever been. I was so sick and had to do transfusions to help my fluids balance. But finally we got to our sixth frozen transfer. Praise the Lord it worked! I gave birth to our first son in 2011. During that pregnancy I started the GAPS diet to try to help with my digestive problems. Unfortunately it made my OCD go out of control. It also made my food sensitivities worse in the long run.
In May of 2013 we headed back to the doctor, hopeful we would at least have one more child. We still had fertilized eggs in the freezer. Just as I was starting the hormone meds we got a letter that my endo was retiring immediately due to health problems. Panic. I’m already starting a round of treatment…now what?
Thankfully we have another great endo in town that was taking on all of my old doctor’s patients. And he was able to squeeze us in yet for this cycle. This was it. We had to use up all of our freezer supply for this transfer. The two week wait was eternal. I felt all of the usual symptoms. But the hormone shots do that to you.
Finally I got the pregnancy test results – positive!!! I was so beyond happy. It worked. We would have three kids. I would have to settle for that. And we would be done with fertility treatments.
But a week later I started to bleed. I went to the doctor for an ultrasound – inconclusive. No heart beat. But it could be too early. I had my hormone levels checked – they weren’t rising. I went for a final ultrasound to confirm it was a blighted ovum.
Dreams shattered. Fears in control.
Letting God Take Control.
Now what? Justin and I both knew we couldn’t do another round of IVF. My body couldn’t handle any more. And we had already spent so much money on it.
But this was when God really changed my life. Through this heartbreak he brought so much healing. You can read all the details HERE and HERE. When I tell people our first two children were conceived via IVF and our second two were natural I always get the same comment – “Your body just started working again! It figured out how to do it.” No. NOT AT ALL. There was a LOT of work that went into the healing process. And it was HARD work. So hard. But in December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. Our second daughter was born in 2014.
You would think that would put an end to my fears. But it didn’t. Her first two years of life were riddled with fear. From vaccine reactions to tongue ties to so many allergies I was worried she’d starve to death. She didn’t gain any weight for a year. We could hardly leave the house. It consumed me. By God’s grace we made it through. She is now thriving.
Yet through those years of struggles with her I thought daily about having another baby. It weighed heavily on me. I didn’t know if my husband would be willing to try again. I didn’t know if my body would work again. A lot of unknowns. A lot of giving it over to God on a daily basis.
I weaned my daughter in early 2017 in order to start working on my health. To my complete amazement my body started cycling on its own about six weeks later. That alone gave me hope. That had never happened before. My body was working!! Nothing was regular. But I charted my cycles. On August 14, 2107 I found out I was pregnant with our final miracle baby.
I had a deep rooted fear in the back of my mind the whole pregnancy. All of the “what-ifs” played out over and over. I had experienced enough heartbreak and witnessed others go through heartbreak. What made me think I would get a happy ending? I had waited 33 long years for this. I was so close, but not there yet.
And I felt like I didn’t deserve it. That somehow it would all be whisked away just before I got there. I was so caught up in Satan’s lies that I couldn’t see God’s love.
I could hardly even enjoy my pregnancy during the last six weeks. Satan was working hard to make sure my fears were front and center everywhere I looked. Every song I heard. Every picture I saw. It all seemed to point to something bad happening.
But over the past couple years my focus has been “Be Fearless.” God brought me this phrase. It’s hanging in my kitchen. I see it daily. And I have to give my fears over to God daily, sometimes hourly. Living fearlessly isn’t always easy. But it is living according to God’s Word.
On April 23, 2018 we welcomed our fourth miracle baby to the family. Precious little Simon Arie. He has completed our family and once again shown me just how real God’s love is. Everything went smoothly. He is healthy and growing well. All those fears were for nothing. There is a song on the radio often these days called “Fear is a Liar.” I love listening to it. But I often replace the word fear with Satan. They are the same. I’m done listening to Satan’s lies. I will continue to Be Fearless.
It’s actually been hard to write this post because at just a few weeks postpartum I’ve already left it behind. I should have started writing it while I was still pregnant! This will always be my story. But I’m so ready to move forward without this 33 year fear controlling me.
There are still challenges ahead. We’re working through nursing/food reaction issues with this little guy (of course – that’s just the way things are for us). I’m a mom. I will always be concerned about about my kids’ health and safety. There are still traces of the OCD that I’m working through and hope to get rid of through God’s power.
But I won’t have to carry the daily burden of whether or not we’ll have more children. A weight has been lifted that I can’t even describe. It was a part of me for so long. It almost feels like I’m leaving a piece of me behind.
I still have one more big milestone ahead. When I eventually wean our youngest. I will close the chapter of my life where I share my body with another person. When that time comes I’ll be ready to focus on fully nourishing myself and restoring my health. But thankfully I’ve got a while. I’m not quite ready for that yet. Breastfeeding is one of my favorite things about having babies. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.
I never for one second take for granted these precious miracles God has entrusted to me. And although the journey was long and difficult I am thankful for all I have learned along the way. Each child has brought me so much healing. They have already given me more than I could ask for. I pray that I can be the mom they need and teach them well as they grow. Teach them how to love, how to take care of their bodies and how to live in God’s love without fear.
I am anxious to see what God has planned for the next chapter of my life as this one comes to an end. One thing I know is that I don’t have to be afraid of it.
When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don’t need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.
As a mom of three kids plus one on the way I can say I’ve gone through a lot of baby gear. With our first we had everything (who doesn’t, right?). Swing, exersaucer, bouncy seat, Bumbo, jogging stroller, play mat,…the list goes on and on. Our house was loaded with baby items.
By the time my second was born I realized I didn’t need so much. I knew holding him was much better than setting him in some contraption all the time. They aren’t good for the spine and development anyway. Plus he hated being strapped into ANYTHING. So all of those toys were pointless. All I needed was a blanket for the floor and a carrier so he could be with me the rest of the time.
With my third I used even less. And now that I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of number four I know that there is very little you actually need for a baby. And it helps keep your house from getting so cluttered! So I’ve come up with a list of my essential baby items for a natural-minded mama. Yes, every baby needs a place to sleep (whether that’s by your side or in a crib) and clothes. But beyond that these are my favorites (and some are on my current wish list!!).
My Essential Baby Items
Soft Structured Carrier
I have used a carrier with all of my kids. It is probably my most used baby item. I carry them from birth until at least 2 1/2. But it has taken me until baby four to figure out which one I really like! With my first child there weren’t too many options. I just went with what was in the store – Baby Bjorn. Now I know they aren’t designed that well and put baby in a poor position.
Thankfully when she was around one I got a new soft structured carrier – a BabyHawk. I have used it with all three kids! And I really do love it. It’s been my favorite up to this point. It keeps baby’s legs in the M position, which is best for the spine.
With my son I also got a Moby (wrap style carrier). It worked very well for him because he loved being really close to me at all times. Though my daughters did not like it. It was not roomy enough.
After years of carrying my kids I’m actually deciding to get a new one this time! I love the comfort of my BabyHawk. BUT I hate the long straps. I’m so sick of tying my BabyHawk and my Moby. I feel like I’m always dragging long strings when putting them on.
So my final choice and top pick is a soft structured carrier with buckles. I also want a hood for when baby naps or to be able to nurse discretely while out and about.
There are quite a few great brands of SSCs out there. You just have to try some on and see what fits you best. Some great examples are Ergo, Boba, Tula, and Lillebaby. I have my eye on the Boba this time around. And can’t wait to start using it!! No more annoying straps. Just a quick clip and done.
We did not start using cloth diapers until my second child was born. I wish we had done it with my first! We have saved so much money by using cloth diapers. Plus it’s just so much better for baby’s skin.
There is an up front investment and a learning curve. Do you want all-in-one, pocket or covers? Growing up there was only one way to cloth diaper. But now there are so many choices! And they are so cute too. But once you have a good stock you don’t have to worry about running out of diapers. No weekly purchases.
We chose to use pocket diapers and have been very happy with them. The brands we use are Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius. Though there are so many others! Cleaning is easy with a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet. And we have accumulated enough diapers that we only have to wash them every three to four days.
I love that we are doing our part to help the environment by not filling landfills with so many disposable diapers.
I know cloth diapering doesn’t work for everyone. But I truly think it’s far easier than most people realize.
Now that we are expecting baby four a few of our original diapers are wearing out. The elastic in the legs is not so stretchy. So we’ve had to replace a few. But it’s still a very, very small cost in comparison to disposables.
Nursing Tanks and Tops
If you are planning to breastfeed nursing tanks are a MUST. I live in them when my babies are little. They make nursing so much easier.
With my first I went super cheap and just got a few from Target. They worked. But they weren’t the best fitting.
With my second I wised up and got some quality nursing tanks (I used Bravado). They are so nice and fit so well I can actually wear them alone as a tank top when I’m out and about (which is great with spring/summer babies!). After using them with two kids they are getting a bit stretched out. So I need to buy replacements. But almost daily wear of them for about four years combined is pretty good.
On top of nursing tanks there are now many options for nursing apparel. This was not a thing when I first had kids. I’m excited this time around to buy shirts that allow easy access for nursing…while still looking cute (here is an example of one I like)! I love that more and more efforts are being made to encourage breastfeeding and make it easier to do so in public.
When my third child was born my sister-in-law gave me a nice, muslin swaddle blanket. My first thought was, “look, another blanket to add to the pile.” But it quickly became a favorite! At three years old my daughter still sleeps with it!
I love how light and breathable these blankets are. They make awesome nursing covers because they are large and lightweight. Plus they are so soft. You can use it to cover a car seat or protect baby from the sun in a stroller. They are great for toddlers that want to snuggle too.
It would seem that I don’t need another muslin swaddle this time since we have one. But I don’t think my toddler is willing to give it up. So it’s one more item on my wish list for this baby. This is the one I want!
It may seem pretty obvious that you need a car seat for a baby. Unless you don’t plan to ever drive anywhere. I add this here as something to consider. We used the same infant car seat for our first three children. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with infant seats.
Yes, you need one. Yes, it’s handy to be able to strap baby in while you are in the house and carry them into your destination.
BUT – it disturbs me seeing people leave their baby in a car seat for so long! I’m not judging. I did it too with my first. But now I can’t stand it. My kids are only in their car seat when in the car. Other than that there is no reason to keep them in. Why keep my baby strapped in a seat when I can take them out?
My oldest had a somewhat flat head as an infant. And keeping her in a car seat (and other things like a baby swing) too long and too often contributed.
For this baby we had to make a choice. Buy a new infant seat (our old one is very expired) and then buy a new booster after that. Or go for an all-in-one? We decided to get a Graco 4-in-1 seat. It will last from birth until ten years of age. And I don’t have to worry about breaking my back carrying an infant seat. Something to consider when you are expecting a baby.
When it comes to toys you really don’t need many…at all. A baby can be overstimulated very easily. Instead of buying all the toys with flashing lights and music, stick to a handful of simple, non-toxic toys.
Something to chew and something to shake. Maybe a mirror. Baby really wants to see your face and your surroundings. Wearing baby, talking to him or her and spending some time working on motor skills is sufficient.
The great thing about only having a handful of baby toys is that you can spend a little extra to get high quality and they won’t overtake your house. As your baby gets older look into Montessori style toys to encourage creativity and learning.
It’s no secret that reading to your child is one of the best things you can do for them. One item we have an abundance of in our house is books! We read a lot. I always say you can never have too many books. It is one of the best tools for learning. It also encourages lots of time together and good communication.
Even at just a few months old my oldest would sit and listen to book after book after book. She ended up teaching herself to read at the age of four and is still our bookworm.
My son was a child that had to move. It took longer for him to be able to sit through books and to pick up reading. But it was still well worth the effort.
All of my children were pretty early talkers. I truly believe that all of our time reading together was a huge factor.
They all ask me to read to them the instant I sit down these days. And we go to the library every couple weeks to restock our book supply. It’s rare that we come home with fewer than thirty books.
This is one that a lot of parents don’t really think about. But your baby’s bed and bedding is so important. Babies sleep…a lot. Which means they spend a lot of time on a mattress of some kind. Which kind you use can have an impact on your child’s health. Many are made with chemicals that are dangerous to inhale. And some people even say it could be the cause of some cases of SIDS (which is why back sleeping helps…less direct contact with/inhalation of the mattress).
We are in the process of replacing all of our mattresses. We just started with our toddler. She got a new mattress from My Green Mattress. They aren’t cheap…but they are worth the investment!
In our family we are also very conscious of environmental allergies (since my husband and all of my kids have them!). Everyone in our house has a dust mite cover on their mattress and pillow. The baby should be no exception.
The final thing on my essential baby item list is an EMF-blocking blanket. Yes, another blanket. This one is unique.
EMF (electromagnetic frequency) may be something new to you. It’s a topic I have researched some, but not nearly enough. But definitely enough to know that we don’t know the full impact they have on us. This post from Wellness Mama is a great read if you want to learn more.
Sadly EMFs are all around us these days with the use of cell phones, laptops, wireless devices, smart meters and just about anything that uses electricity.
I am very intentional about not allowing wireless devices like phones and tablets to touch my children (or myself!) aside from our hands. The effect of EMFs is proportionate to distance. The farther away you are the less impact they have. I don’t put my cell phone in my pants pocket, in a stroller or in a pocket of my carrier. I turn off the WiFi on my phone when I don’t need it.
We limit anything electronic in the bedrooms. I do still use a monitor, but try my best to keep it across the room from baby and not right by my head.
That being said, there are EMF-blocking blankets to use over baby when you are sitting at your computer with them or using your cell phone by them. It’s just one more step to protect that precious little baby of yours. This is not something I’ve used in the past, but it is another item on my wish list!
Is That All?
As you can see my list of essential baby items is quite small. I wish I had been able to read this list before my first was born. It would have saved a lot of money and countless hours dealing with an overabundance of toys. Who knows, maybe it would have helped my oldest with her sensory processing disorder! She sure had more than enough stimulation.
A baby needs sleep, nourishment and to be close to mom and dad (both physically and in communication). That’s really it.
If you are expecting a baby (be it your first or fifth) or know someone who is, use this list as a guide to what is really essential and worthwhile buying for baby.
What would be on your natural baby essential items list?
Real foodies love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. But don’t forget about the little ones. Here are my top picks for little foodie gifts.
If you want your kids to grow up knowing about real food, you have to teach them. What better way than with some Christmas gifts that promote real food and natural health?!
My kids love all things related to food – cooking food, eating food, learning about food and nutrition. So it’s no surprise that my gift list for little foodies isn’t that different than my list for adults. Just a little more age appropriate.
My kids have or want everything on this list. So it really is little foodie approved!
Now you might think I’ve really lost it. I put liver at the top of my gift list and now on my kids’ gift list! I really truly believe it is that important. Although my kids would not want a jar wrapped up under the tree, they do understand how nutritious it is and request to add it all sorts of foods.
Soon I’ll be sharing my son’s secret taco seasoning recipe – which includes lots of desiccated liver. My youngest likes to put liver on her salads.
While this may not be a stocking stuffer, using liver in your cooking will give your kids the gift of good health. And it doesn’t get much better than that.
You can always get an extra 10% off using my code TAKE10. I already stocked up for the year. Merry Christmas to all my kiddos! Grab yours HERE.
Kids Cook Real Food eCourse
Making nutritious food for your kids is a wonderful gift. The next best thing…teaching them to cook good food! It’s the gift that won’t take up space and will benefit them for a lifetime.
My six year old loves to cook dinner with me. By the time he is college age he’ll practically be a chef. I keep saying he is going to make an amazing husband someday.
My girls beg to help in the kitchen too. That’s why we’ve been doing the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse for two years now! Even as early as age two kids can learn to use knives, proper measuring skills and how to follow a recipe.
This really is a gift for you too. Wouldn’t you love for your kids to be able to get up in the morning and make breakfast? With the KCRF eCourse they will!
If you teach your kids to cook…they’re going to want some kitchen tools. Trust me on this one. My kids LOVE having their own set of measuring spoons and cups, knives and other little gadgets like crinkle cutters.
This can be a great way to encourage a child that is hesitant to help in the kitchen. It also teaches your child responsibility by needing to take care of their own equipment.
Last year my oldest got a set of knives for Christmas. Now every time she helps with chopping she HAS to use her knives. Maybe this year I’ll get a set for my son. Yes, a six-year old can safely use sharp knives! They learn how in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse.
Of course when your kids start working in the kitchen with their new skills and new tools they will have to look the part. Last winter my oldest and I made super cute aprons for each child. They grab them whenever they help me cook. Or even just to set the table. My son likes to fill the pockets with silverware and pretend he works at a restaurant.
This year I think we might go a step up and get the older kids chef coats (like these)! My daughter wants to be a baker some day. And my son really loves to cook. They will be thrilled to look like a real baker and chef with the proper attire.
Again, it’s one more way to encourage kids to learn about food, nutrition and how to cook. It’s a win for everyone.
My oldest is an avid reader. She has been since she was a few months old. I could read book after book to her when she was literally three months old. It was crazy.
Now at age nine she still devours books. One of her favorite things to read is a cookbook! It’s actually a great way to teach younger kids to read too. Get one with lots of pictures to help those younger readers (and for those that just love to see good food). Then you can look through it together or they can read on their own.
Choose some recipes to make together. Or for older kids challenge them to try a new recipe on their own for dinner some time!
I may be getting a bit nerdy here. But this is how important nutrition is to me. I really want my kids to understand why we eat the way we do. I want them to understand how to care for animals, how to grow our own food and how it helps our bodies. Not to mention how we eat is important for taking care of God’s holy temple.
This year for science we chose to study human anatomy and physiology. My kids LOVE it! They beg to do science every day. We just finished learning about the digestive system and are now learning about nutrition. Perfect! This is the curriculum we are using.
I know not everyone homeschools. But that doesn’t mean you can’t study nutrition! Find age appropriate books (or even “study” some cookbooks) and make time to read them often.
Hands down the toy all of my kids play with the most is our play kitchen and food/dishes. We started with just a small bucket of play food when my oldest was about two. It has evolved now into a full bin of dishes and food. They make elaborate feasts and love to play restaurant.
This is the kitchen my youngest just got for her birthday. It is the perfect size for little hands. And all of this pretend play helps develop a love for working with food.
Little foodies need to focus on health in addition to real food. A mini trampoline (like this one) is a great way to get out energy. But more than that it is wonderful for the lymphatic system. Every bounce or tap helps drain the lymph nodes.
When I did Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis for my girls one of the action items on their plan was to rebound for ten minutes every day! Kids think it’s fun. But it’s more than that. It is so good for them!
Last on my list is another repeat from my real foodie gift list. Crunchy Balm. My son uses it daily when his legs get itchy. I love the quality ingredients (tallow and essential oils) and how well it works.
This year I think I’m getting my oldest some of the Crunchy Organics lip balm. She’s at the age where she is interested in “beauty products.” But there are very few products that I will let her use because I am picky about ingredients. I totally trust this lip balm. It’s on my list too! I ran out of my last one. It’s the only thing that keeps my lips from cracking in the winter.
And for the older crowd Crunchy Organics has deodorant too! Another product that requires careful consideration due to potential harmful ingredients. There are a few different scents so it works well for boys or girls! I think this will be another stocking stuffer for my oldest.
Time to Shop!
It’s so fun to shop for little foodies! I love encouraging my kids to understand where their food comes from and why it’s important. Let’s raise a new generation of good stewards, taking care of God’s creation. Start small with some fun Christmas gifts!
Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I’m inviting you into my (blessed) mess.
Let’s get REAL.
I don’t mean real as in real food. I don’t mean real as in natural health. I mean real and as in honest, real life with all of it’s mess and chaos.
Like my sweet, little girl that has turned into a threenager over night. Or my son that has returned to daily stomach aches. Reality.
If you follow my blog you may have noticed that it’s been pretty quiet around here lately. No fun, kid-friendly recipes. No meal plans. Silence.
Well, life has been messy. Literally one big mess. Let me show you what I mean.
This is the current status of our school room. As you can imagine, not much schooling is happening here. Don’t worry, we’re still doing plenty of school work. It has just moved to the living room and dining room.
And this…this is my kitchen floor. My children have decided it’s a place to throw whatever they like. I can barely walk through without tripping on shoes (even though the kitchen is right next to the mud room…where shoes belong).
This is my daughter’s craft area – that has been very unsupervised for a while now apparently. I keep telling myself I’m letting her be creative.
The Living Room…
Now we come to the living room. A messy coffee table is not that abnormal, right? This one is unique in that it’s been my table, my desk, my everything for the last two months. I’ve been parked on the couch with severe “morning” sickness.
Yes, all of this mess has been for one very good reason. God has blessed us with another miracle!! Next April we will welcome baby four into our family.
I am so grateful for all of the people that brought meals and helped take care of my kids. I am thankful for my family giving me grace in the midst of this chaos.
Sometimes it’s in this chaos that God has to humble us too. You know I’m a big fan of real food and nourishing your body. I’m the lady that eats stir fry, roasted veggies and avocado for breakfast (normally). I’ve been gluten free for years. I avoid all things processed. And yet for the last two months I’ve lived on cereal, frozen pizza and canned ravioli. It’s hard to even say that out loud.
I’ve had to give myself grace and just eat whatever I could keep down. Any attempt of fruit and vegetables was met with a trip to the bathroom (or if that was too far I always had a bucket by my side). I couldn’t even think about meat without gagging. I tried every natural remedy out there. None of them made any impact. I have even been on anti-nausea medication. But I still was barely functional. Carbs and cheese. That’s about all I’ve been eating for months.
I managed to only lose one pound during the first trimester. So I call that a win. And I am rejoicing that I am finally starting to feel a little better and able to eat some real food again. I can keep squash, beef and Brussels sprouts down! What a blessing.
As much as I love a natural lifestyle, there are times when life gets messy and you have to just let go. Real food is great. But so is being real. This is our reality right now.
My time on the couch has taught me a few lessons.
Being sick is lonely!
I was still with my kids every day. I still talked with my husband every day. But it was different. Until a few days ago I couldn’t sit at the table to eat a meal. I felt like an outsider to my own family meal times. Most of the time my husband had to put the kids to bed (something I usually do). I missed out on those precious bedtime chats. I even missed taking care of my house. I just had to sit back and watch life happen. And watch the mess pile higher and higher.
Mess = Stress
I’ve realized just how much the mess in our house is the source of a lot of stress. For the whole family. Just a few days ago my oldest asked me, “Why am I so angry all the time lately?” I told her we all are..because our house is so chaotic.
The first item on my to-do list when I’ve regained my strength and energy is organizing and de-cluttering. I recently read an article about highly sensitive people. And it really resonated with me. I feel so much more peaceful when my house is simple. I honestly don’t even like many decorations on the walls. Having kids with sensory processing disorder I know it will help them as well.
I’m ready to do away with the nightly meltdowns about picking up toys because my kids don’t even know where to put anything. I’m ready for a clean, clear space to do our school work so my kids can truly focus. I’m ready for a play area that encourages my kids to read and explore without overwhelming them with options.
I’ll have to take it one room at a time. But I’ll get there. Simplify is the plan. More peace in our house is the goal.
I know life will be messy again when the new baby arrives. In the mean time I’m hoping to eliminate a lot of the mess in the house.
Kids are capable.
I’ve also learned how much my kids are capable of doing. How much they can work together and learn from each other. My oldest has been my backup teacher and mother lately. And she’s so good at it!! I think the kids listen to her better than they listen to me. She even took care of me when I was at my worst, making me food and helping around the house.
It’s a mess.
Real life is messy and chaotic at times. But it’s also full of joy and lessons learned. I’m thankful for our mess. I’m thankful for a little more energy to deal with the mess.
And most of all I’m thankful for my whole family, including our newest member on the way!!
All glory and honor go to God for this miracle. He is the author and creator of life. And we praise Him for his goodness to our family.