A Healthier “Easter Basket” & Toddler Snacks

I recently saw a blog post by Danielle Walker on building a healthier Easter basket. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am plagued by the thought of feeding sugar and candy to my kids! Not that it never happens, but when it’s within my control, I try to have healthier (and just as delicious) options for Turner and Gracie to avoid the temptation and help them build healthy habits! Enter the Easter basket…

I just can’t get down with loading a basket full of candy and handing it over to my kids! I just can’t! So, after reading Danielle’s post, I decided to take a trip with the kids so they could pick out some of their favorite snacks from the bulk aisle of Whole Foods. They were actually SUPER excited about this! This is what they picked out: pistachios, dried mango, banana chips, cacao energy bites, and some frozen berries. (I know you’re probably thinking, well your kids are freaks. My kids would never pick out pistachios. But the idea is, get them to pick what they want within the boundaries that you’ve created. And remember, you can always say NO!) So these are the goodies they’ll snack on Easter morning! We had to test it out of course…

While we’re at it, I wanted to share a recent lunch and breakfast idea. Basically, anything that is arranged in a pretty pattern will have my kids gobbling it down! So our lunches recently have been Peanut butter, honey, and Coconut Butter (this is the bomb. Warm it and spread it on bread, or drop a huge spoonful in your smoothies) with a side of fruit, cheese, and pistachios. They tear it up!

Another idea, now that it’s getting warmer, is the smoothie bowl! You can make it however you want. Here’s the deal though, it’s thicker than a smoothie, so that means more work on your blender. I use a high speed blender (like THIS) so it doesn’t explode. Another option is the food processor which works great. OR if you don’t have either of these, just add some more liquid to thin it out a bit. It’s still delicious! So in this bowl I had about (I don’t measure) 2 cups organic frozen berries, 1/2 ripe avocado, 1 cup frozen banana, heaping Tbsp Coconut Butter, 1/2 cup to 1 cup of strawberry cashew milk (use whichever liquid you like), 1/2 cup raw walnuts, 1 Tbsp Acai Powder. Start on low speed and build up to high using the tamper (if you have a Vitamix) to blend completely. Pour into bowls and top with goodies like Cacao Nibs, coconut, and fresh or frozen berries. SO GOOD!

 

Happy snacking!

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Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

The countdown to fall is ON in the Watson household. I’m really fighting with everything I have to not decorate the house. My friend told me I at least have to wait until the end of September. I won’t lie though, I’ve been burning my favorite pumpkin candle for over a month now. And I’ve been baking tons of pumpkin flavored goodies. These cookies are among my favorite new fall treats. They’re incredible! I searched a few pumpkin cookie recipes on Pinterest and created a healthier spin on them so Turner and Gracie could eat them too. Now, I say healthy, but they have butter and flour. The healthy part comes with no sugar and replacing with maple syrup. They’re delicious! Fluffy, soft, and satisfying. They actually taste like a muffin top…but hopefully won’t give you one ;o) Happy almost fall!


Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cookies
Yields 11
A healthy spin on this fall treat!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter softened to room temp
  2. 1/4 cup maple syrup
  3. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 cup spelt flour*
  8. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  11. 1/4 tsp clove
  12. 1 cup oats
  13. 1 cup craisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a standing mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Pour in maple syrup and beat another few seconds until well combined.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined
  5. Add vanilla and egg and mix until combined
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and oats. Slowly pour into the mixer and mix until combined.
  7. Fold in craisins.
  8. Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop, place mounds of dough on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes until set and cooked through the center. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. *I used half spelt flour as an alternative to all white flour. You could easily use all-purpose flour if that's what you have!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Baby Food Purees

I really love making baby food. When Turner was a baby, he was the only child AND I didn’t own a business. So he got only the best homemade purees. He never had store bought (insert gasp). I breastfed until he was a year and never gave him a drop of formula. He was “the first child” indeed.

Now I love Gracie to pieces, but life is a tad busier these days. I own a business managing 16 rental properties, have a toddler, and attempt to maintain a certain level of sanity. I adore making Gracie baby food and make most of it! But I need to plan ahead for that, and I do throw the occasional store-bought food in the mix. I also had all intentions of breastfeeding her a year, but with working and parenting a toddler, my supply wasn’t as good as with Turner. I ended up making the switch to formula at 9 months (more about that transition HERE). I did have some guilt with that but ultimately knew it was the best decision for all of us! 

Life has gotten exponentially easier since Gracie can now hold a bottle and feed herself using those pouch things! The pouches add to the convenience of feeding my baby, but I don’t want to use store-bought food all the time! So for the past few weeks I’ve used those reusable food pouches! I found a great brand that is easy to fill and clean so now I’m able to put her food in that. That helps alleviate the mom guilt just a tad! So here are some of our favorite purees these days. I peel, steam to fork tender, and puree.

 

Carrot & Golden Beet

Corn Plum Apple & Sweet Potato

Spinach Blueberry & Apple

Red Beet, Sweet Potato & Blueberry

There really aren’t measurements. I sort of just peal veggies, cut into small chunks, and steam on average 10 minutes. I DON’T steam the berries. I just make sure to wash them and buy organic especially when not steaming. For spinach and other greens, I throw them in my steamer basket for the last few minutes to soften and make them easier to digest. Then I blend it all up in the Vitamix. Add water, formula, or breast-milk to thin to your baby’s desired thickness. I don’t add water at this point because Gracie eats chunkier purees. But when she was a baby I would add the steam liquid at the bottom of the pot. Store in small glass jars in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays for easy prep for the rest of the week! I also mix in some baby oatmeal if I need to bulk it up a bit. I hope you like these! What are some of your favorite purees?

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Healthy “Ice Cream” Sandwiches

These are Turner and my favorite summer treats. We love our ice cream over here, so I tried to think of a healthy alternative that I wouldn’t feel guilty about eating and feeding to my toddler. I even let Gracie taste them! These aren’t actually made out of ice cream. But they’re JUST as tasty. I promise! They’re made out of frozen fruit, almond milk, and a splash of agave nectar. That’s it! I use graham crackers as the “cookies”. There are a few steps, so bear with me. Once you get the hang of it, they’re really easy to make!

  1. Start off with frozen fruit of your choice (I used bananas and strawberries). Be sure to let them sit out at room temp for about 5 minutes before blending. Pulse in the food processor until the fruit looks like sand (scrape down sides as needed).
  2. Add in a splash of agave nectar and then pour in the almond milk while the processor is running. Scrape down the sides and keep processing until you have a mixture that resembles ice cream!
  3. Line a baking dish with 12 graham cracker squares and spread the ice cream over the graham crackers. This is the part that takes patience. I usually put my hand on one side of the grahams and spread the mixture towards my hand to keep the crackers in place. You end up with something like this:
  4. Top the ice cream with the remaining 12 graham cracker squares
  5. Run a sharp knife between the crackers to score the ice cream so they’re easy to cut after you freeze them.
  6. Place the dish in the freezer for up to 2 hours. Remove the dish and cut over the scored lines to separate the sandwiches.
  7. Store sandwiches in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Let me know what you think!
Not So "Ice Cream" Sandwiches
Yields 12
So delicious and addictive! These ice cream sandwiches will satisfy your sweet tooth without leaving you feeling guilty!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups frozen sliced banana
  2. 2 cups frozen strawberries
  3. 1 tsp agave nectar
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  5. 12 honey graham cracker sheets (24 squares)
Instructions
  1. Place frozen fruit in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Let fruit sit for 5 minutes.
  2. While the fruit is sitting, line a baking dish with 12 graham cracker squares
  3. Pulse fruit until it resembles coarse sand. Scrape down sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Add agave nectar and pulse once to combine.
  5. With the food processor running, pour in almond milk. Pause to scrape down sides and pulse again. Keep scraping down sides and processing until the mixture resembles ice cream.
  6. Use the spatula to place dollops of ice cream over the graham crackers. Use an icing spatula or rubber spatula to evenly spread the ice cream over the crackers (I put my hand on once side of the crackers and spread the ice cream towards my hand. This helps hold the crackers in place).
  7. Place the remaining 12 graham cracker squares on top of the ice cream.
  8. Score with a sharp knife between crackers so the sandwiches are easy to cut.
  9. Place dish in the freezer for up to 2 hours.
  10. Cut sandwiches into squares and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
Notes
  1. Try mixing up graham cracker flavors (cinnamon, chocolate, chocolate on one side and honey on the other, etc). Also, play with flavors. Use chocolate grahams with a banana and peanut butter "ice cream" mixture. These are so fun and great alternatives to the sugar packed ice cream sandwiches!
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Toddler Foodie Favs

Hey, Friends! I’ve been working on a post for some food ideas for toddlers! I love perusing Pinterest for food ideas for the kids. At the same time, it makes me feel like I suck at life, because who honestly has time to make these fancy colorful meals for their toddlers! Most days, lunch is a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a smoothie and various sides for Turner AND me. But occasionally, I’ll have the time and/or energy to make him a nice meal! I also have been making Gracie’s baby food, with the exception of moving week, when I bought a few jars of baby food. I actually saved the glass jars because it’s quite convenient to make a batch of baby food, fill the jars, and keep them in the fridge to grab and go (story of my life)! I’ll be posting those soon! Here are some toddler meal ideas to share.

Toddler Meals:

*Graham crackers with peanut butter, berries, yogurt with cinnamon, and a homemade Chocolate Bar.

*Chips and guacamole, berries, peanut butter and banana sandwich, a spoonful of almond butter (per Turner’s request).

*Crackers and beet hummus (from Whole Foods), re-fried black bean and cheese quesadilla, berries

*Peanut butter and banana sandwich with tons of berries.

These are just a few of our favorite things! I’ll be posting our favorite “Ice Cream” Sandwich shortly. Share some of your favorites! We’re always looking for new foodie ideas. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Starting Solids for Baby

It finally feels like spring here! It’s been sunny and in the 70s everyday. We can finally spend some time outside enjoying the fresh air after being trapped indoors with every cold known to man the past few weeks!

It’s hard to believe that Gracie is almost 6 months! I’m finding that my parenting is a bit different between Turner and Gracie. I feel like I was keeping close track of every milestone with him. Gracie seems to just do her thing and go with the flow. Suddenly I’ll realize something new that she’s doing, like rolling over, or sitting up. But I’m not waiting for it as much as I was with Turner.

Starting solids was a HUGE event for Turner (HERE is more on Turner’s solid food experience). I felt like it needed to be some big culinary event. For Gracie, it’s more like, wow she’s almost 6 months! Time to start solids I guess? Although in my mind it means more prep, more laundry, messier diapers, etc. So I’m not in as big of a rush I guess? Plus she’s not as hungry as Turner was, so I feel less pressure to start solids.

Since Gracie is a lot smaller than Turner was, I decided to start her on rice cereal. I skipped that step with Turner because he didn’t really need it. I bought a box at Whole Foods and tried it with her last week. She was NOT having it. I didn’t feel like she was missing much, so I moved on to real food instead.

I wanted to start with veggies since it’s harder to go back once they get the sweet taste of fruit! So I tried avocado (blended with water to make a thin puree) NOPE! Next I thought I’d do butternut squash (steamed and blended with water to make a thin puree) since it’s a bit sweeter but has a lot of nutritional value. I’ll let you see how that turned out for yourself…

So it looks like I just need to keep trying! I’ll do the butternut squash for a week and then move on to another food. It’s amazing how different siblings can be! But, one thing’s for sure, they are obsessed with each other! Happy spring!

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Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl

Turner loves a good smoothie. In fact, we have a “smoothie date” every day before his nap. That means we either go to our local smoothie shop, or if we’d rather not spend an arm and a leg, we go home and make our own. Our “go-to” is some sort of variation on this one.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of smoothie bowls on Pinterest, and I thought that would be such a fun thing to try! So I did a similar recipe to our favorite smoothie, but made it a bit thicker to eat with a spoon. And the toppings are the best part! Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear!

Berry Protein Smoothie Bowl
A fun spin on our regular old smoothie!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 ripe avocado (flesh)
  2. 1/2 ripe banana
  3. 1 cup fresh spinach
  4. 1 tsp agave nectar
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1 heaping Tbsp plain greek yogurt
  7. 1 tsp chia seeds
  8. 1 Cup frozen raspberries
  9. 1 Cup frozen cherries
  10. 1 Cup unsweetened almond milk
  11. Optional toppings: coconut, raspberries, bananas, chia seeds, walnuts
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and mix until combined. Top with your favorite toppings!
Notes
  1. I use a vitamix, so the tamper allows me to mash everything down as I blend. If you have a regular blender, stop periodically to scrape down the sides so it's nice and smooth.
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Festive 4th of July Snacks

Turner’s favorite foods are strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, and peanut butter. He would live off them if he could. I’m always trying to come up with creative snack ideas to keep it interesting. The 4th of July is the perfect way to incorporate festive snacks into our day. I wanted to share some of our favorites with you!

  • Red White and Blue Ice Pops
    Bottom Layer: blended frozen strawberries, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk
    Middle Layer: blended frozen bananas, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk
    Top Layer: blended frozen blueberries, plain yogurt, a splash of almond milk. This turned out kinda purple, but it was delicious nonetheless!
    If I was patient, I would have frozen each layer before adding another, but who has time for that?!



 

  • Red White and Blue Fruit Platter
    A pretty presentation always makes food more appetizing. I use this Porcelain Egg Crate to dress up our plain old berries and bananas. I actually use this for other snacks like pretzels, gold fish, cheerios, etc. It’s a fun way to display toddler foods.

 

  • Red White and Blue Parfait Pops
    In a large bowl, combine 2 cups plain yogurt with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp agave nectar, 1/4 C. fresh blueberries, and 1/4 C. fresh diced strawberries. Stir to combine and divide evenly between dixie cups. Cut festive straws in half and stick in the center of the cup. Top with a Tbsp of granola and freeze overnight. And, there you have, festive parfait pops!


    I hope you and your kiddos like these treats as much as we do! I’d love to hear some of your favorite holiday snacks too!

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Toddler Meals

Happy Tuesday! Turner and I have both been struggling with the nasty sinus and cough bug. Lots of napless days and nebulizer treatments! But I think we’re on the mend.

As Turner gets older, it seems harder to get him to eat healthy foods. Now that the weather is warmer, it’s definitely easy to disguise greens like spinach or kale in smoothies. Here is a link to our daily green shake. I’ve also been compiling some photos of meal ideas that I wanted to share with you for your finicky toddlers!

Working from top to bottom, left to right:

1) Fish Sticks, Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas, Guacamole 2) Sliced Cheddar Cheese, Grapes, Banana with Peanut Butter 3) Grilled Cheese Squares, Roasted Butternut Squash, Grapes, Cucumber Slices 4) Honey Roasted Turkey Breast, Roasted Butternut Squash, Roasted Baby Carrots 5) Fresh Berries, Cottage Cheese, Chicken Nuggets 6) Spread almond butter on banana, roll in chopped granola and freeze.

Hope your kiddos enjoy these ideas! Feel free to share your favorites with us!

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Toddler Meal Ideas

I can’t even believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted! Life has been good, which I’m thankful for! We just started potty training two days ago (kind of), which entails Turner walking around the house naked and me following him around with his potty asking, “Do you have to go pee pee?” to which he replies “NO” and then pees on the floor. I’m not quite committed to it, because I don’t really have the time, so I don’t have an exact plan. I’m just sort of seeing if he takes an interest. If not, we might table it for a few months. I’ll keep you posted!

Turner and I have our daily routine, and a big part of that is food! I love to cook and experiment with food, so I try to come up with healthy meals and snacks for him when I have the time. As many of you know, Turner loves food. But lately, he’s gotten pickier with what he eats. I have to be extra sneaky about it. I guess he’s really becoming a toddler. I’m always searching pinterest and other blogs for toddler food ideas, so I thought it would be helpful to share a few of mine!

Breakfast Ideas:

~Scrambled egg, waffle, fruit
~Scrambled egg, breakfast cookie, fruit
~Healthy Baby Pancakes with fruit
~Plain oatmeal with a touch of Greek yogurt and cinnamon





Lunch Ideas:

~Peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread with fruit
~Egg Salad served with whole wheat toast
~Banana topped with peanut butter served and a few graham crackers


Afternoon Snack Ideas:

~Steamed carrot sticks with ranch dressing
~”Milkshake” (unsweetened kefir with cinnamon stirred in with a straw) served with “Breakfast Cookie
~Smudgies served with freeze-dried cranberries and fruit
~Greek Yogurt mixed with 1/4 tsp turmeric (lots of health benefits. Read up) and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For supper, Turner usually eats what we eat. But in the case that he’s not into it, here are a few of his favorites:

Supper Ideas:

~Soups (minestrone, chicken noodle, lentil)
~~Meximelts
~Refried black bean and cheddar quesadillas.
~Small noodles with butter and cooked peas and carrots

I hope this was helpful! I stick with what I know Turner likes and modify it now and then. Feel free to share your kiddo’s favorites too!

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