A balanced and easy approach to healthy living.

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How to Start a School Garden Program & Where to get Funding

school-garden-image-1Imagine an educational program that can improve students’ health, gets kids excited to learn science and math, and instills a love of nature? School garden programs can accomplish all of these feats and more.

In fact, school gardens are sprouting up across the country, as educators and school administrators begin to realize their many benefits.

For one, they are a hands-on and effective learning tool for teaching just about any subject, including social studies and language arts.

In addition, gardens have multiple beneficial health impacts. Studies on children and adults show that gardening can increase the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, alleviate stress, and improve cognitive function. Plus, gardening gets kids moving outdoors.

Finally, gardens teach responsibility, teamwork, and environmental stewardship. Children feel a sense of accomplishment and awe as they witness a tiny seed grow into a sprout, and eventually, a plant bearing fruit.


Whether you’re looking to start or expand an existing school garden program, now is the best time. With the beginning of the schoolyear, many school garden grant opportunities are now live and accepting applications. Check the list below to see if any of the programs are a match for your school. (The list includes national programs and those specific to my own state of Florida.) You can also check out the USDA’s “People’s Garden” web site, that has a searchable list of funding opportunities for different types of community and school gardens.

In addition to getting funding for your garden, check out the many resources on the internet for how to create a program at your school, like this awesome guide published by the USDA. (Hint: the first step is constructing a Farm to School Team of interested parents and school staff).

Finally, contact your local Extension Office (a national educational network concerning agricultural matters) for specific information about which crops will do best with your state’s climate.


National School Garden Grants:

Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant Program

The Whole Kids School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support an edible educational garden on the grounds of a K-12 school. Schools, or a non-profit organization working in partnership with a school, may apply. Since the grant program started in 2011, garden projects at more than 2,110 schools have received funding.

Apply at: https://www.wholekidsfoundation.org/schools/programs/school-garden-grant-program

Deadline: October 31, 2016

Walmart Community Grant

K-12 public, private, and charter schools are eligible to apply for a Community Grant ranging from $250 to $2,500 in four core areas of giving: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Opportunity. Schools can apply under the “Healthy Eating” core area. Potential grantees should located within the service area of the Walmart store, Sam’s Club or Logistics facility from which they are requesting funds.

Apply at: http://giving.walmart.com/apply-for-grants/local-giving-guidelines

Deadline: December 31, 2016

KidsGardening.org Youth Garden Grant

This grant opportunity will be going live later this fall. Make sure to check the web site so you won’t miss it.

Apply at: http://www.kidsgardening.org/upcoming-grants-2/

Deadline: TBD

Annie’s Grants for Gardens

This grant opportunity will re-open in November, so be sure to check back then.

Apply at: http://www.annies.com/giving-back/school-gardens/grants-for-gardens

Deadline: TBD

Slow Food USA’s National School Garden program + Chipotle

This one is not a grant, but a great fundraising opportunity provided by a partnership between Slow Food USA and Chipotle. Chipotle will host an in-restaurant fundraiser where 50% of the sales are donated back to the school. Chipotle can also donate food for a school garden fundraiser taking place at the school. They can also provide free coupons and materials you can use.

Check it out here: http://gardens.slowfoodusa.org/chipotle-resources-for-school-garden-programs


Florida Specific School Garden Grants:

Florida “Agriculture in the Classroom” Teacher Grants

Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc.’s Teacher Grant program strives to fund classroom projects that teach Florida school children about the importance of agriculture and introduce them to agricultural producers and representatives in their areas. The grant is open to general education and agri-science teachers in pre-K through 12th grade who want to use agricultural concepts to teach core subject areas.

Apply at: http://faitc.org/teacher-grant/

Deadline: September 30, 2016. Only the first 40 complete applications will be accepted.

Florida County Farm Bureau School Garden Grants

In addition to the Florida Farm Bureau, County Farm Bureaus may also disburse funds for school garden programs. Check the web site of your county’s farm bureau for more information. To find it, Google the name of your county plus the term “farm bureau” (example: “broward county farm bureau”) or call them directly.

Apply at: County Farm Bureau website

Deadline: Various

TERRA Mini-Grant

The Technology Education Research & Redesign Alliance’s (TERRA) Mini-Grants are intended to support school-based projects in grades pre-K through 12 that utilize technology in a new and innovative way or sustainability initiatives seeking to encourage and support creative, local environmental education and stewardship activities.

Apply at: http://www.terraonline.org/2016-2017%20TERRA%20Grant%20Application.pdf

Deadline: September 30, 2016

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10 Kid-Friendly Pantry Staples for Quick + Healthy Meals

One question I get asked again and again is what to feed kids for dinner, and how to make meals that are quick AND nutritious. Enter your pantry. This is where the magic happens. If you have a pantry stocked with healthy items that can be incorporated quickly into a kid-friendly meal, then you’ve almost entirely solved the problem of what’s for dinner.

Here are 10 great busy-mom and kid-friendly food items we keep in my pantry. Many of these items can be served without the need to cook! Everything is meat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Buy in larger quantities and you will have what you need when you need it.

I like to stock up on these items at my new favorite online store, Thrive Market. Thrive sells healthy food, supplements, and natural body care products for up to 50% less than Whole foods and other brick and mortar stores. What I love about Thrive is that their prices are usually lower than Amazon’s and you can buy food products in everyday sizes. You can try Thrive for a free month and get 25% off your first order, plus you get free shipping for every order over $49. The annual fee is $59.95, which you will make back in savings.

1. Canned Salmon and Sardines


High in protein and loaded with heart- and brain-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, canned salmon and sardines are a great basis for dinner. They are also high in vitamin D and calcium. I avoid tuna because of the mercury content. The canned fishes are wild-caught, not farm-raised, which is healthier for you.

How to serve them? Make salmon salad like you would tuna salad (i.e. add mayo and whatever else you like). Serve salmon salad with veggies and whole grain crackers for dipping. Another idea: My kids love what I call “fish in a boat”–which is a couple of scoops of salmon salad in a romaine lettuce leaf (I just cut both ends of the leaf off and leave the crisper middle section). You can also make salmon patties, salmon tacos, and crumble salmon on top of a salad. Sardines can be served as is. For a full meal, add a starch, like potatoes or rice, and veggies. I buy these at Thrive and at big-box stores to save money and I look for brands that use BPA-free cans (such as Wild Planet). BONUS: no cooking necessary!!!

2. Taco Shells 

Tacos can be nutritious, filling, and fun. Keep a few boxes of shells around and you can make tacos with all sorts of things you already have in your fridge or pantry! We enjoy making tacos with canned salmon and refried beans (which are both on this list) as a base. Then we add shredded romaine, avocado, mild salsa and sour cream. Voila–a whole, balanced meal and you don’t even have to cook a thing. (I briefly heat the tacos in my toaster oven to soften them so they’re easier for my kids to eat.) Preferably, buy organic or at least non-GMO taco shells, like those made by Garden of Eatin. Serve blue and yellow tacos to make “Taco Night” even more fun.

3. Canned beans 

Pinto Beans, OrganicBeans are some of the healthiest foods in the world, and because they come packed with fiber and protein they are super filling. They are also versatile. The great news is that no cooking is necessary. Here are some ways you can serve them:

  • Sprinkle them on salads.
  • Mix them with rice or quinoa for a complete protein.
  • Serve beans with your kids favorite sauce or dressing.  I like using olive oil, lemon juice, and a little salt. Or, add soy sauce, which I sometimes combine with turmeric.
  • Make (or buy pre-made) refried beans for  tacos (here’s a quick and yummy recipe).
  • Make chumus and serve with veggies or corn cakes (see #4 below).
  • Briefly saute  beans in a favorite sauce if you prefer them warmer.

Preferably, buy organic, make sure there are no additives, and, buy brands that do not use BPA lining. You can also buy beans in cartons or bags.

4. Corn Cakes

Corn cakes are crispy yumminess and can be served plain as a snack or part of a meal. We like to spread them with almond butter and honey; chumus; salmon salad (see # 1 above) and, my personal favorite, a little mayo and mashed avocados. We avoid rice cakes because of the presence of arsenic in rice, which I’ve reported on here. Preferably, buy organic, or at least non-GMO. Real Foods’ Corn Thins are the tastiest and crispiest ones I’ve tasted, IMHO.

5. Quinoa

We make and serve quinoa at least once a week. It’s a full protein, iron, fiber and phytonutrients (among other things) and, as I am sure you’ve heard, it’s been called a “superfood.” There are so many great recipes on the web. I like to prepare quinoa and then sautee it in oil (I use avocado oil for this reason), with onions and garlic. Then I add other sauteed veggies like mushrooms, carrots, and/or peas. Another thing I love to do with quinoa is to mix it into a regular green salad. It adds bulk, fills you up,and absorbs the dressing, making it super tasty.

6. Nuts 

We always have a variety of nuts on hand for a quick snack. Full of protein, they are great when you need a pick me up or to quench a craving. My kids enjoy them, too. Sometimes, we make them part of meal, with cut up pieces of fruit or veggies. I like to buy them raw so that none of the nutrients are destroyed during the roasting process. Important note: so many kids have nut allergies these days that we eat our nuts at home or in the car. We avoid taking them into public places.

7. Mung Beans

I buy dried mung beans in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods and other health food stores. Mung beans are super easy to sprout. Read this post on how to sprout mung beans (all you need is a glass jar, water, and a paper towel!). Then read this post for ideas on how to serve them (so many ways–plain, in salads, in dishes, etc.). Note: don’t buy sprouted mung beans; buy dried, like in the photo above, and sprout them yourself for maximum nutritional punch.

8. Lentils

Lentils are are a low-fat, low-cholesterol, nutrient-rich substitute for meat. Unlike dried beans, they do not need to be pre-soaked, are less gas-producing, and can be cooked in under 25 minutes. We use lentils to make soups, add them to quinoa, and prepare them sauteed alone or with veggies. You can read my post, “Ode to Lentils,” to get recipes and the full list of why lentils are so awesome.

9. Veggie Broth

Pacific Foods Organic Vegetable Broth, Low Sodium-32 Oz

I always have a few boxes of organic, low-sodium veggie broth on had to make quick and easy veggie soups. Also, quinoa and rice tastes better when it’s boiled in broth. I like the Trader Joe’s brand and the Pacific brand which is found in most super markets. Organic boxed chicken broth is also available, if you prefer that.

10. (Healthier) Prepared foods

Let’s face it: as easy and quick as it is to prepare the above foods, sometimes we just need something that’s ready to go. The key is to choose prepared meals that have ingredients you can pronounce and recognize, no additives/preservatives, and minimal sugar. Most packages foods are high in sodium–but if you generally eat a healthy diet and have no reason to pursue a low-sodium diet, then occasional splurges like these should be find.

  • Organic soups: Pacific brand has many flavors and is found in big box stores and most markets. My kids and I enjoy the creamy tomato flavor.

Pacific Foods Light Sodium Creamy Tomato Soup, Organic, 32 Fl Oz

  • Indian prepared meals: Found at super markets, big box stores and Trader Joe’s, prepared Indian meals like Madras’ brand and Trader Joe’s brand may be in high in sodium, but typically contain more or less healthy and pronounceable ingredients.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions and look forward to hearing about your favorite pantry items! Please share!

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An Easy Money-Saving Tip for Buying Produce

Piggy bank with red heart pillow

Has this happened to you before? You buy packaged produce, say a box of mixed greens or a bag of asparagus. A day or two later, you open the package and the greens/asparagus don’t look  fresh. Maybe they’ve started to smell, and you can see some wilting or yellowing. You end up throwing out the healthy produce you bought. It’s a waste of money and you’ve missed out on some awesome nutrients.This happened to me until I got smart about selecting produce.

So here’s my strategy to buying the freshest, longest-lasting greens: check and compare their expiration dates. Supermarkets often sell two or more shipments worth of produce at a given time, which means that some packages will be fresher than others (I’ve figured this out after years of comparing). The key is to dig through the packages until you find the freshest one, i.e. the one with the expiration date furthest into the future. You may find a difference of 3-5 days or more, which buys you a lot of time to include them in meals! My general rule of thumb is that I look for an expiration date that is at least 5 days in the future, so I know I have several mealtimes to consume the product before it starts going bad.

So, for example: the other day, I went to buy baby spinach and some boxes had an expiration date of January 1st, while others said January 4th. So, of course, I bought a box that said January 4th. I also made sure to select a January 4th box that had no yellow or wilted leaves.

Spinach leaves.

When I can’t find a package that gives me at least five days before the expiration date, I find an alternative product that will give me more time. Instead of buying the boxed baby kale that expires within a few days, opt for the spinach that expires over a week later. Bottom line: It’s best to buy fresh and have a chance to eat the product, then buying exactly what you want and it going bad quickly.

Note: expiration dates are never precise. The product can start going bad before or after the date printed. But they are a convenient rule of thumb because they do tell you which products are fresher and which are older. Obviously, it’s best to eat whatever you buy as soon as possible, because veggies and fruits start losing nutrients the older they get.

Another really great money-saving tip: If your greens have started wilting before you have a chance to finish them, then cook them! 

Warm Squash Salad

You can saute wilted greens in oil (with salt, pepper, and fresh garlic or whatever spices you love), throw them on top of a soup when it’s almost done cooking, use them as a pizza topping, include them in your omelette, or put them in a sandwich. I’ve sauteed all sorts of greens before: arugula, kale, baby greens, lettuce, etc. They all taste great  and you would never thing they had wilted!

Wishing all of my readers a healthy, peaceful, and fulfilling  new year!

And thank you for all of your support!




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How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (Part 2)

saving money as a family piggy banks

This is part two in a series on saving money while eating healthy. You can check out Part 1 and the first two tips here.

Money-Saving Tip #3: Avoid Health Food Stores…Shop Discount Stores and your Supermarket

Whole Foods and other health food stores typically offer the highest prices. So, unless there is a good sale, I only go to these stores for special items I can’t find anywhere else. Instead, I take advantage of the increasing number of affordable healthy and organic options that are now available in discount and big box stores.

For instance, when I shop at Target, I get a bunch of organic grocery items that are cheaper than almost anywhere else: pasta sauce (they have many great varieties), pasta (gluten-free and regular), apple sauce snacks for kids, organic spices, fruit leather snacks, Navitas Naturals Hemp Seeds, and frozen wild salmon. Target also offers a limited selection of organic fruits and veggies. If you prefer to buy in bulk, Costco, Sam’s Club, and other big-box stores have great values, too. These stores sell organic mixed greens, spinach, baby carrots, quinoa, eggs, hummus, frozen organic fruit and veggies, and more, all at great prices. Trader Joe’s, if you’re lucky to have one nearby, has some of the best prices around for produce (organic and conventional). I also shop my local supermarket’s organic produce section, and save money by choosing grocery items made by the store brand’s “natural” line.

Amazon offers low prices on some pantry items, but you usually have to buy in large quantities. “Add-on” items can offer a deal on buying one, but I still tend to get the best value by visiting brick and mortar stores.

Money-Saving Tip #4: Shop In-Season

We are used to being able to eat whatever we want, when we want it, but you’ll always save money buying produce when it’s in season—not only are the base prices lower, but these foods often go on sale during their peak growing months. For instance, at my local supermarket and even at Whole Foods, organic berries of all kinds are on sale throughout the summer, so I save $1-2 for each box I buy. Not surprisingly, we eat lots of berries during warm months! In the fall and winter, you can get deals on organic apples, oranges, and bunches of clementines.

Money-Saving Tip #5: Stock Up During Sales

When there are sales at Whole Foods and elsewhere, I buy as much as I can.  (By the way, you can check out Whole Foods’ circular here). If it’s fresh produce, then it’s on the menu for the week. Otherwise, I stock up on sale items and store it in my pantry or freeze for later. Here are some tips on how best to freeze your low-priced goodies:

  • Organic Fruit: cut up and freeze in chunks; use for smoothies, baking, and baby food!
  • Organic Veggies: Frozen veggies are great for baking and roasting. Broccoli, zucchini, peas, and green beans are some examples of veggies that can be frozen and used in tasty stir fries.
  • Organic Herbs: freeze minced herbs in ice-cube trays in olive oil, then pop cubes into the pan when you are ready to cook.
  • Free-range meat and wild fish: divide into family-friendly portion sizes, then freeze portions in air-tight Ziploc freezer bags

2013-07-28 21.01.39

My frozen stock of wild Alaskan salmon. Normally about $18.99/lb, I got these on sale at Whole Foods for $12.99/lb! I divided the fish into dinner-size portions, and voila! Ready to go any time.

Stay tuned for part 3, with more money-saving tips!

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Eating Healthy on a Budget: Easy Ways to Save (Part 1)

Piggy bank on green grass with flowers background

A lot of people tell me they want to eat healthier, but it’s too expensive. I relate. A diet based on whole, natural, and organic foods is pricier than the alternative. Even a recent Harvard study has shown that a healthy diet is more costly than an unhealthy one, though not by that much.

So, how do we buy the most nutritious food without breaking the bank?

Here is the bottom line to eating healthy on a budget: shopping for nutritious food is all about making the right trade-offs. Sometimes it makes sense to splurge, and sometimes it doesn’t. Once you’re aware of the trade-offs, you are empowered to make decisions that are good for your budget and your health.  In this post, we will explore two ways to save money.

Money-Saving Tip #1: You Don’t Always Have to Buy Organic

Organic produce and products made from them are better for your health than conventionally grown crops. A recent review of 343 studies found that, on average, organic crops and organic-crop-based foods contained higher concentrations of antioxidants, less cadmium (a toxic chemical found in cigarette smoke), and, unsurprisingly, less pesticide residues than conventionally-grown foods. If money weren’t an issue, I’d suggest buying everything organic.

In real life, that can get pretty pricey. Luckily, there is a wonderful tool that can help you prioritize your organic purchases and determine when it’s ok to save with the cheaper, conventional options. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list tells you which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic, while the Clean Fifteen list tells you which produce is least contaminated, so you can buy the conventional version and save money.  These lists are based on scientific analyses of pesticide content in foods and are updated every year or so. To keep track in the grocery store, download the EWG’s free app, “Dirty Dozen,” for your iPhone or Android smartphone.

The Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists for 2014

Money-Saving Tip #2: Buy Frozen

Frozen fruits and veggies are often cheaper than buying fresh, and, luckily, they may have as much or more nutritional content as the fresh version found in supermarkets. This is because produce chosen for freezing are usually processed at their peak ripeness, a time when they are most nutrient-packed. By contrast, produce destined to be sold fresh are picked before they are fully ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. (EatingWell has a really great overview of the pros and cons of frozen vs. fresh).

I still try to buy fresh when I can, particularly, local and in-season produce, as these are hands-down the most nutritious options (more on that in my next post). But, frozen can be a great way to cheaply add healthy fruits and veggies to your family’s diet, particularly organic berries and other fruits (which can get pretty pricey), as well as organic broccoli, green beans, and peas. Frozen veggies are amazing in stir-fries and baked dishes, while frozen fruits are perfect for breakfast smoothies the whole family can enjoy.

Frozen wild fish is also cheaper than buying fresh. I buy wild instead of farmed fish because the latter tend to have higher levels of certain toxic chemicals and are sometimes fed antibiotics. In addition, wild fish contain more protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But wild fish can be very expensive. Wild salmon, for instance, can sometimes cost $19/lb. So, unless there’s a good sale on fresh wild fish, I buy it frozen. It’s not only cheaper, but easy to find lots of varieties of frozen fish, including in your local supermarket, Target, Walmart or Costco. By buying frozen, I save 50% or more of what I would spending buying fresh.

Simply Balanced Alaskan Keta Salmon Skinless Fillets 24 oz

Target’s Frozen Wild Salmon Fillets

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will discuss more money-saving tips. How do you save money when buying healthy foods? I’d love to hear your strategies.

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Your Kid Likes Veggies?!?

Friends of ours often comment on my daughter’s penchant for veggies. She’s almost 23 months and has been enjoying veggies since she was six months old. She requests them for snacks and meals. At least half of what she eats in a given day consists of raw fruits, vegetables, and sprouted legumes. When she sees me eating a salad, she sticks her hand in the bowl, pulls out some leaves, and munches away.

I’m excited to share the strategies I’ve used for almost two years now to encourage my daughter’s interest in whole foods, particularly raw veggies and sprouts. I’ve learned that starting early and being consistent are key. Every child and family situation is different, and what works for ours may not work for another, but perhaps some of these strategies will work for your little ones:

1) Expose baby to veggies in utero and during infancy : I ate lots of veggies throughout my pregnancy (after morning sickness subsided, of course!) and while I was exclusively nursing her. I believe that exposing her in the womb and then through breast milk to various flavors  of fresh, whole foods, helped her develop taste buds that are keen on veggies, fruits, and legumes. If you don’t have boobs (i.e. dads and soon-to-be dads), encourage your partner’s healthy eating by making her veggie dishes and salads she will enjoy–the benefits will trickle down!

2)  Baby’s first foods should be veggies, then fruits: When it comes to first foods, start with veggies (and bananas are great, too). There is no rule that says that you need to start kids on cereal first. In fact, Dr Sears, and more and more pediatricians recommend avocados as the perfect first food. Why not let your infants start their exploration into food and flavors with the healthy, whole, from-the-ground stuff instead of the highly processed stuff? If I were constantly fed cereals, I probably wouldn’t develop much of a taste for veggies, either. Carbs are just too addictive.

My daughter’s first foods were avocado and banana. The great thing about these two foods is that they are not only nutritious, but are soft enough to be eaten raw (for full nutritional value) by an infant. After eating these for a month or so (while still nursing), we introduced her to other veggies, like cooked butternut squash, carrots, and peas. Then we went on to pea shoots, baby greens, lentils, quinoa, and some fruit.

Some people swear that kids should be exposed to veggies before fruits, because once they taste the sweet fruity stuff, they won’t want to go back. I agree for the most part, though I believe that bananas are an exception. They are an excellent first food for any baby. Bananas continue to be one of my daughter’s favorite foods and I am TOTALLY ok with that!

3) Eat the way you want your child to eat: Modeling is so crucial. Demonstrate the healthy eating habits that you want your child to acquire. When we have dinner as a family, there’s nearly always a raw salad on the table, plus cooked veggies or legumes. Your child will mimic your habits, good and bad, so try to make them good!

4) Lead with veggies: Whenever it’s time for a meal or a snack, I offer veggies first (assuming it’s convenient to do so). If you offer a sandwich, pasta, or other processed food first, they’ll definitely say yes to that, fill up, and you can forget the veggies!

5) Make it interesting and fun: Lately, to keep up her interest, I’ve been giving my daughter her veggies along with a healthy dip, like humus, guacamole, or salsa. She is really enjoying exploring different dips and loves sticking her cut veggies into the gooey stuff. If you prefer to cook, lightly saute your veggies in different sauces and flavors. Do you have other creative ideas? Share them in the comments section, please!

6) Encourage her savory tooth instead of her sweet tooth: Sweet foods tend to be worse for you and more addictive than savory foods, so I rather my kids enjoy the latter when they’re in the mood for a treat. The treats I keep in the house for my daughter (and for her parents 🙂 ) are chips. I’m not talking Frito-Lay. I buy the kind you find in a health food aisle: non-GMO, often organic, always baked (never fried), and usually made out of lentil flour, corn and/or a mix of whole grains. My favorite brands are Food Should Taste Good, R W Garcia, and Mediterranean Snacks.

7) Don’t proactively offer sweets…: Our culture associates special occasions with high-sugar and high-fat foods. I think I speak for the vast majority of people when I say that a birthday is not a birthday until some cake, cookies and other treats have been eaten. But no child is born with the belief that special occasions and treats must go together: this is a product of nurture, not nature! Your child doesn’t know that she’s meant to have cake or ice cream on her first birthday, so why go out of your way to encourage it? The need to eat unhealthy to celebrate is OUR need–i.e. the parents’ need–not the child’s need! So celebrate with some fruit, yogurt, or whole grain baked good, instead–your kid will not know any better. Better yet, just have a healthy meal, find a way to incorporate a candle, sing happy birthday, open presents, and call it a day. I actually baked a gluten-free carrot-chocolate cake for my daughter’s first birthday party that got rave reviews from guests. She didn’t even look at it, so I didn’t offer it to her, and she still had the best time.

8) …but don’t deprive your child–give them a treat when they ask for it: I don’t proactively offer sweets (per #7), but if my daughter asks for a treat–usually when we are at a social affair where we are surrounded by junk food and desserts–she often gets it. You’re shocked, right? Yes, most times my daughter asks for a food, I give it to her. Sometimes I’ll try to distract her from her request. But, if she insists, I give her what she wants. My only exceptions are candy and gummies (because they’re made of pure corn syrup), and dried fruit (because these stick to the teeth, and until she lets me help her brush her teeth, she ain’t getting any!).

Here is my reasoning: If you say no, your child will only desire it more (this is a universal truth). And, I’d prefer my child to explore foods under my watchful gaze, so I can impose limits, than let her get older and start exploring on her own. The good news: because I’ve followed the strategies listed here, half the time she doesn’t ask for treats when she sees them. And when she does, I offer her some, and she ends up eating just a small portion! So it’s a win-win.

9) Keep fruit juices and sugary drinks out of the house or hidden: It’s no secret that kids these days are addicted to sweet drinks, especially juices, that have a high sugar content. If you don’t keep juice, candy, or other sugary treats around, your child won’t be used to seeing them, and won’t start to believe that there is anything special about them. They won’t know to ask for them if they don’t see you consuming them! We have some cookies and ice cream, which we break out when she’s asleep 🙂

It’s been so gratifying to watch my daughter become a healthy eater. Granted, she’s still an only child and young enough that I still have control over her environment a  majority of the time. As she spends more and more time away from her parents and with her peers, I’m sure I’ll encounter new and different challenges around eating healthy. But, hopefully, by the that time, at least some of her good habits will have stuck 🙂

What are your own tips to encourage healthy eating?