Friday, September 23, 2016

How I Feed My Kiddos

So I got a couple of requests after I posted the Banana Almond Butter Muffin recipe last week for what I feed my kids, since I tend to be a bit crazy particular about what they eat. I would say 80-90% of the time they eat very clean. But do we eat donuts sometimes and stop for a Starbucks treat from time-to-time or get Chick-fil-A on a night where I just can't even think? Of course. I think balance is important, but MOST of the time they eat pretty clean.

My kids are very different eaters. Drew eats almost everything. She will try pretty much anything and loves fruits and vegetables. This girl picks spinach, okra, peppers, and tomatoes straight from her Pops' garden and immediately eats it. BUT her brother...not so much. After many years and many tears {and some help from speech therapy at 3}, he only eats 3 fruits and vegetables - carrots, apples, and grapes. They are very different, and for the most part, I am not a short-order cook. So I have learned to take what I know about my family and craft our meals and snacks around that! I am not a gourmet cook by any means - but I will not sacrifice quality. A recipe that has a million ingredients or steps just isn't going to cut it.

Here are some of my rules:
1) No or low sugar. There are very few things I buy with added sugar. If it does have added sugar, it must be VERY LITTLE. If I put a * by the food below, it does have added sugar.
2) Very few carbs. We eat very little bread, tortillas, and 'crunchy' snacks. Your body treats bread the same way it treats sugar, so I try to limit that. The kids get to pick 1 snack/day and the ones I buy are as clean as possible. Probably half our meals don't have a carb or if they do many times it's rice or potatoes.
3) Water. The kids main drink is water. They do get about 2-4 ounces of juice a day with all their vitamins {Omega 3, Vitamin D, and a probiotic put in the juice}. If they ask for milk, I let them have it, but they probably ask AT MOST once a week.
4) Squirty fruits. We still eat quite a few pouches, but I have cut Trent down from 6-8/day down to 4.
5) Read labels. I am constantly reading labels and making sure I understand the ingredients. I search for added {sometimes hidden} sugar and junk ingredients.

So here's a sample of what we do:

-Drew wakes up hungry and wants to eat! She loves scrambled eggs, Applegate breakfast sausage*, fruits, and veggies. Once in a while she'll ask for a sunbutter/jelly/honey sandwich which is just sugar/carbs, but I let her have that occasionally.
-Trent is NOT hungry when he wakes up. I might get an apple or a hard-boiled egg in him. 
-If they eat a good breakfast {relative to each kid}, they can have a squirty fruit before we leave.

-Drew gets meat {Applegate hot dogs are her favorite, lunch meat**, dinner leftovers}, a string cheese, a squirty fruit, and either 2 fruits/1 veggie or 2 veggies/1 fruit. She loves grapes, oranges, bananas, apples, watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries for fruit, and she loves tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, green peas, and sweet potatoes as her veggies. See? My easy eater!
-Trent gets meat {lunch meat**, Applegate chicken nuggets, spinach hamburgers - I have been making these for years and switched from zucchini to spinach and now also blend in tomatoes, grilled chicken or pork chops}, a Siggi's yogurt*, carrots, and 2 squirty fruits.

-When I pick the kids up from school, they get a snack. Trent usually eats pecans, string cheese, or an apple {or all of the above - he seems to make up for not having a big breakfast by eating a ton after school}. Drew eats raisins, a banana, pecans/cashews/almonds.
-I make my own popcorn using this recipe. I use coconut oil and salt and that's it!
-The time period before dinner is when they usually get their 1 crunchy snack - Mary's Gone pretzels, Nut clean as possible!

-I typically cook big meals Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Brent golfs on Wednesdays, so that's when I might pan grill chicken or pork chops. I am working on adding a Sunday dinner, but I'm not there yet, ha! The weekends are leftovers, super simple meals, occasional meals out, etc.
-We are big spaghetti eaters. I buy Amy's sauce {I don't buy it through Amazon but get at Natural Grocer} because it's organic with no added sugar. It is HARD to find spaghetti sauce without added sugar. I make spaghetti probably twice a month, and I've recently started sauteeing and pureeing spinach and adding it to the sauce to get more greens into Trent.
-I make 2 'breakfast for dinner' meals. 1 is bacon, eggs, hash browns. I buy Pedersen's bacon - no added sugar. I make sure the hash browns are clean - a lot have crap added. Everyone also adds a fruit/veggie. This is usually when Trent eats grapes. This is our newest fruit for him, so I still have to force it a bit. The other breakfast is a sausage/egg scramble. I have yet to find breakfast sausage without sugar but I buy the healthiest I can find.
-Quesadillas, burritos or fajitas - I buy Stacy's tortillas - 5 ingredients and super clean. Trent and Drew typically just want cheese quesadillas, Brent and I will eat them with chicken and apples inside - yum. I might do one of these options once a month because of the tortillas.
-Chicken fried rice - this one makes me laugh because everyone eats this differently. Trent only eats the chicken and rice, Drew wants the rice, eggs, and veggies, Brent wants chicken, rice, eggs, veggies, and I eat it all PLUS coconut aminos instead of soy sauce - y'all this is a must have - soy sauce is TERRIBLE for you but coconut aminos are GOOD for you and taste AMAZING.
-Bacon wrapped chicken - salt, pepper on chicken tenders, wrap in bacon, bake at 350 for about 45 minutes - flip halfway
-Chicken, green beans, and red/sweet potatoes baked in the oven at 350 - super easy and delicious!
-I make my own chicken nuggets sometimes using this recipe.
-I will make meatloaf but cook in cupcake tins so it cooks quicker and makes little meatballs.
-I don't use our slow cooker a ton but plan to change that because some of our afternoons are getting busy with after school activities, so I'm going to start dusting off my crock pot recipes and seeing what I still consider clean enough to make {grin} and using Pinterest for new ideas!

So that's basically how we eat. The kids know if they've had their crunchy snack and if they have hit their limit of squirty fruit. They know not to ask for food after dinner {unless they want to eat a fruit or vegetable}. They know sometimes we will have treats but that it isn't an every day thing. We talk about what foods fuel our body and what foods don't and why that's important. We talk about things that help our brains and things that don't. I explain why I give them the vitamins I give them, etc. Am I perfect? Of course not! But I view their little bodies as a miracle that I want to cherish and nurture as much as possible.

I hope this post wasn't terribly boring!! {grin}

**What I wanted to say about lunch meat is it is hard to find good quality stuff. I always buy organic and nitrate/nitrite free and where possible I buy without added sugar. At our main grocery store, I can't find it without sugar, but it's very low.


Emily said...

Love your philosophy. Exceptions can be made but the base / norm is healthy! I'm going to have to check out applegate hot dogs. We don't eat hot dogs on the regular but when we have grilling night we usually get a pkg of the regular and they are truly so bad for you. And I may try my hand at chicken nuggets. I REFUSE to buy store-processed chicken nuggets because of my stupid psychological fear that my children will somehow become dependent on them like every other toddler I know. Overall we are pretty similar, especially in the snacking department!