Dear Judith . . . World’s pickiest eater

‘My daughter is almost 4 and only eats peanut butter and jelly. I sometimes substitute baby food veggies or fruit for jelly, but I want her to eat a wider variety and make sure she has a healthy diet. What can I do?’

They say peanut butter and jelly is a childhood staple, but this is ridiculous. I have a four year-old too, and I know it can be frustrating to watch your child reject the meal you’ve lovingly prepared. It may be small comfort to know you are not alone; a great many children become picky eaters approximately between ages 2 and 4.

You are doing the right thing by making your daughter’s choice healthier. To maximize the nutritional value of PB&J you can use whole grain bread; peanut butter with added omega-3 oils or another kind of nut butter like almond; and puréed fruit or veggies, sliced bananas, local honey, or dried fruit that you’ve stewed and puréed. By offering variety within her preferred structure is that you will be exposing her to new flavors and textures in a familiar format.

In the meantime, you can work on introducing new foods. I hope some of these ideas work for you.

Respect her choices. Part of pickiness is that children this age are just learning that they have choices and power. Respecting her choices will prevent turning food into a power play, which could become a huge problem down the road. It will also teach her to respect her own body’s hunger and satiety signals and give her the pace to explore at her own pace.

Don’t give up. Young children like what they know, and it if you continue to offer a new food she will likely try it. Eventually. Count on offering the same food at least 10-15 times before she tries it, and several more before she likes it. Let her see you eating the same food, too.

Start with something yummy. Since your daughter is stuck on a single food, reward her when she does break down and try something new. Though she’s probably not old enough to articulate the logical connection between new food and pleasure, the experience can be part of conditioning her — yes, like Pavlov — to let down her guard a little more easily. Remember, we’re working on food curiosity first: healthy can come later.

Let her to help you prepare food. Sometimes kids are more likely to try new foods when they’ve helped prepare them. At four, your daughter is old enough to break eggs, stir, add ingredients, set the table, etc.

Grow a garden. There is something magical about watching a plant grow from a sapling to a mature plant, then enjoy its fruit, especially for children. This is the best time of year to start seedlings, or wait a few more months and get plants that are ready to go.

Practice patience. In all likelihood, this is just a phase that will pass.

Best of luck!
Judith
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Judith is our Active Mama’s Munchie Maven and Yoga Maven. That means she teaches Active Mama’s Cooking Basics Chef classes, and is also our instructor for Active Mama’s Mommy Yoga with Judith.

Judith is refreshingly laid back, exceptional at what she does, and is the able mother of 3 beautiful children.

Judith comes well-accredited. She earned her Masters of Public Health and her passion is helping people find ways to make their lives healthier.

If you have questions for Judith she can be messaged throughhttp://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas

Judith is teaching another much-requested Health Cooking Session Sunday, March 17th, and this time, she’s added bread!!!

Dusting off the cobwebs

The other day I swept off my driveway.  If you know me well, you know I don’t like to clean.  Generally, I find cleaning a waste of time, because I can be doing far more exciting things like planning events for Active Mama’s, teaching and playing with my son (who just woke up from a 3 hour nap, wow!), or cooking.

To my surprise, I found the time therapeutic.  I embraced the ‘sweeping’ as a time I was creating a better well-being for my family, and thought about the life we are creating for my son.

Work has gotten more demanding these days, and I’m also gearing up to lead the Active Mama’s Warrior Maven workshop, a 6 month program focused on value-creation, self-improvement, goal-setting and -achievement, and traditions.  Let me invite you into my head:

  • “Sweep, sweep… I’m doing this for my family.
  • Sweep, sweep… I feel more organized.
  • Sweep, sweep… I’m glad it’s beautiful outside, the air smells good.
  • Sweep, sweep… when I go back inside, I’m going to pick up toys, and get dinner on the table.
  • Sweep, sweep… I’m happy and blessed.
  • Sweep, sweep… I have to strength and ability to really excel at work, and get my full-time workload done in half the time.
  • Sweep, sweep… I am in control of my outcomes.  God-willing, I have talent, and I need to engage it every day, and set a good example to my son.”

What kind of self-talk do you do?  What do you tell yourself when no one’s listening?  If your words aren’t positive, and you’re not sure how to use affirmations, then you are ripe for the Warrior Workshop yourself (http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas/).

In my life, I experienced one relationship that was harmful.  I learned the power of positive affirmations at that point.  In addition to prayer, positive affirmations change your life, because they help you ‘change your mind’.  Positive self-talk engages a brighter future, a more optimistic viewpoint, and a healthier expectation of what is to come.

Take some time this week to engage yourself in positive self-talk – it’s mission-critical.  If you’re having some focus issues, take 5 minutes to write 1 affirmation down in a notecard, and stick it in your wallet.  Write it down again, and put it on the mirror.  When you brush your teeth, say that affirmation out loud.

Watch this spunky girl for some fun-spiration if you need it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR3rK0kZFkg

Comment below with some positive affirmations that you can share.

Love Robyn

Read more about Robyn by clicking on the About Robyn page

Dear Judith… Dessert Doctor

“My husband has a sweet tooth, but I want him to eat healthy food. Do you know any desserts that are healthy and will also satisfy his sweet tooth?” – Active Mama’s member

I can sympathize with your husband: sweets are my weakness, too. I can pass on the chips, cheese and pizza, but once I get to dessert table all bets are off. My own husband likes to eat fruit in the evening, but fruit, even if eaten after dinner, is definitely not dessert.

Moderation is one way to enjoy desserts without busting your belt. Another way is to choose desserts made with healthy ingredients and cut down on the sugar. For me, dessert is an experience, part of a ritual of winding down my day and it’s the ritual that counts as much as the food itself.

That said, here are some ideas for healthier desserts:

pie

Pumpkin pie: Canned pumpkin is loaded with fiber and vitamins, and with pumpkin as the main ingredient pumpkin pie is surprisingly healthy. The trick is to cut down on the sugar in the traditional recipe. You can do that by using a recipe that calls for evaporated milk instead of sweetened condensed milk and add only 1/2-2/3 the sugar in the recipe. Some canned pumpkin has this recipe on the back of the can. You may have to play around with it to find just the right balance. Alternatively, you can use a no-calorie sweetener like sucralose (Splenda) to make up the difference if you want the full sweetness.

berry

Berry pie: Since we’re talking about pie, one of my favorite summer treats is strawberry pie. Take 4 cups of fresh strawberries (or blueberries, or both), remove their stems and cut in half. Set aside. Take another 2 cups of berries, either fresh or thawed from frozen, and purée. Add these to a saucepan with 2 Tbs. lemon or lime juice, 1/3-1/2 cup sugar, 1Tbs. butter, and 1/3 cup cornstarch. Cook on medium heat until it thickens. Using a pre-cooked pie shell, add about 1/2 of the fresh berries, then cover in sauce. Add the rest of the berries, then pour the rest of the sauce over it. Let the pie chill for several hours to set, and serve with whipped cream or sweetened Greek yogurt (see below).

choco

Chocolate-dipped fruit: Speaking of berries, what’s more romantic than strawberries dipped in chocolate? Make them with heart-healthy dark chocolate and you get a double-whammy. You can also dip frozen bananas in dark chocolate, or buy them pre-made at Trader Joe’s.

walnuts

Greek yogurt: Ok, this one comes awfully close to my rule about dessert. However, when we visited Greece on our honeymoon we were served yummy Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts for dessert. What a revelation! Greek yogurt is much thicker and creamier than what we call yogurt, and paired with honey provides a wonderfully sweet and tangy experience. These days you can buy Greek yogurt in most markets, or if you like you can simply strain some plain yogurt through a cheesecloth for several hours, scraping the cloth occasionally. Even better, you can add some sugar or other sweetener to Greek yogurt to make it taste like creme freche, but with healthy probiotics and little or no fat.

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Judith is our Active Mama’s Munchie Maven and Yoga Maven. That means she teaches Active Mama’s Cooking Basics Chef classes, and is also our instructor for Active Mama’s Mommy Yoga with Judith.

Judith is refreshingly laid back, exceptional at what she does, and is the able mother of 3 beautiful children.

Judith comes well-accredited. She earned her Masters of Public Health and her passion is helping people find ways to make their lives healthier.

If you have questions for Judith she can be messaged throughhttp://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas

Judith is teaching another much-requested Health Cooking Session Sunday, March 17th, and this time, she’s added bread!!!

Stay at home mom NOT stay at home hair

On a beautiful September day I put my son down for a nap and went off to get some things done around the house. First, I needed to stop by the bathroom to grab a hair tie that would get my wild hair out of my face. Usually this would be a fast process…in and out, but I stopped to look in the mirror. Yikes!!! It then dawned on me that it had been 3 days since I showered! Most would assume I probably hadn’t been out of the house much and that must be why I looked so busted. Nope! I had been everywhere!! Grocery store, play dates, and dinner with friends. So early into motherhood I had decided it is much easier just to throw my hair up in any hair tie and go out and about. I was also a paranoid mother and was too scared to bathe while I was home alone with my child. HAHA!! I eventually figured that out.

As for my hair, I am a trained hair stylist so doing my hair should be pretty easy for me, but now days I just don’t have as much time to do it. My son also enjoys yanking at my hair on a regular basis. I am sure a lot of you mama’s are familiar with these experiences. So, after that day in my bathroom I decided put in the effort to take better care of hair.

This could have been me!
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Wearing a pony tail is a quick and easy style for us busy moms, right? The problem is, wearing your hair in a pony tail too often can be damaging to your hair. However, in our “on-the-go” lives we can’t always avoid it so here are some useful tips for when you do make the decision to wear your hair up. If possible, avoid putting your hair up when it’s wet. Hair’s elasticity is doubled when wet, so when you put your hair up it breaks as it dries. If you can, let it air dry before putting it up. Instead of using tight hair ties or ones with metal on them, try a scrunchy (the 90’s best hair accessory!). Dent free hair ties are great as well and super cute! If you do not have time to let your hair air dry, opt for using a clip, braiding your hair, wearing a hat, or head band instead of using a hair tie. These accessories can be fun, easy and fashionable! I am a big fan of Forever 21 and H&M to find hair accessories- inexpensive and stylish!!

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You could also do some fun things with the front of your hair to give some style to pulled back hair. Maybe a front poof, braid or twist.

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If your hair is longer there are lots of fun things to do. Braid your hair, twist it, then pin it. Boom! You have an “updo”. The ballerina bun has become popular and is super cute.

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If your hair is curly, here are some pretty updo options.

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It is a full time job to be a mother. It can be tough at times, but more than anything it is pure joy. So, let’s make our hair match the beautiful glow of motherhood we all wear proudly. We are some hot mamas!!

I will be giving lessons on how to do a lot of these styles at the event I am hosting at my salon, Zonolite Hair Studio, on March 18th at 5 p.m. These are simple styles, but sometimes it helps to have someone help guide you in how to do them in a quick and practical way (perhaps even with a baby in one arm-haha!). Hope to see you guys soon!!

Best,
Nicky

Next blog topic: Colorful Mama

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Nicky Nocera is an Active Mama’s Fun Mama Style Maven.  Full of style herself, she is the mother to a bounding, happy, healthy young man named Bristan who is cute as can be.

Nicky is a profession hair stylist and colorist at Zololite Hair Studio in Atlanta.  She is hosting a Salon Event for Beautiful Mama’s on Monday, March 18th.  Check http://www.meetup.com/activemamas to RSVP.  (You must be a member to attend).

Dear Judith…

Last week I asked the group what food questions they have. I’m no “expert,” but I have been making family meals for almost 13 years and I have a small arsenal of ideas to keep everyone happy. Boy did you deliver. Over the next few weeks, I’ll answer those questions the best I can; I welcome your feedback, comments, and additional questions.

Can you help me with some recipes for healthy meals?

There’s an old saying that a home contractor can be affordable, timely, or do high quality work. Now choose two. Cooking is the same way. Ideally, a meal should be healthy, easy and tasty, but rarely can one get all three. Food being a highly subjective matter, it’s impossible to accommodate every taste all the time. Here are some of our favorite healthy dinners, tried and true from our family of five.

Salmon Teriyaki: Couldn’t be easier, and the sweetness of the sauce appeals to lots of kids. Cover a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper. Get some fresh or defrosted salmon fillets and lay them skin side down. Cover with teriyaki sauce and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. The flesh should be cooked through but soft and the skin may stick to the foil but you should be able to lift the fish away from the pan intact. Serve with white or brown rice, baked potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes*, or whole wheat pasta with an olive pile and garlic sauce. Add some steamed spinach or broccoli to round it off.

Tacos: Tacos are a great way to stuff veggies into a meal. Kids love them because they can choose their own stuffing and eat with their hands. Use ground turkey, shredded chicken breast, veggie-based crumble, beans, or even leftover salmon teriyaki for protein. For toppings you can use the classic lettuce-salsa-cheese combo or experiment with Asian slaw** (great with leftover salmon), or apple and avocado slices. Corn-based shells are gluten-free — check the box to be sure — and soft shells add minimally to the meal’s carb load. If you really want to be carb free, gather your protein and toppings in lettuce leaves, wrap them up, and eat like dumplings. Or throw everything in a bowl and make it taco salad.

Turkey, veggie or low-fat beef burgers: The classic American meal can be made more healthy by using a low-fat patty. I recommend ground turkey (85% lean, more if using ground chicken or turkey breast), ground sirloin (93% lean), or veggie burger (varies by brand). You can use a whole-wheat or multigrain bun and load up on healthy toppings. Some ideas include lettuce, tomatoes, baby spinach leaves, sautéed mushrooms, onions, pickles, guacamole, cucumber slices, and feta cheese. Skip the fries and serve with fruit, salad, or sautéed onions and mushrooms.

Chili: Whether you use a mix or make it from scratch, chili is great for winter and fundamentally healthy as long as you watch the salt. Throw all ingredients in a slow-cooker in the morning and let the flavor mix all day. Add black and kidney beans, onions, extra tomatoes and bell peppers to increase the nutrition. I like my chili with meat, but some use soy ground or bulgar for texture. Serve over rice, pasta, with tortillas or wrap in lettuce as above.

Soups: Soups*** are a great venue for added veggies, just watch out for sodium. Most soups are easy to make at home and slow cooker friendly. Serve with a crusty whole grain bread to complete the meal. It’s usually better the next day and you can freeze the leftovers for a quick healthy meal.

Kabobs: Grab some skewers and put the kids to work threading meat and veggies. With infinite variations, kabobs are a great way to build a healthy dinner. The classic preparation uses marinated lamb as the protein, but you can use beef, chicken, tofu, fish or none. Onions are a great compliment to whatever you choose, and I usually add bell peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. You can also add any produce item that can be threaded and cooks quickly in small pieces (or good raw): eggplant, zucchini, baby corn, pineapple, etc. serve with white or brown rice, couscous, or pilaf.

*Mashed sweet potatoes: Poke a hole in the skin of 2 large sweet potatoes. Microwave until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Scoop flesh into a bowl and mash. Taste and add a pinch or two of salt and a pat of butter if you think it needs that.

**Asian slaw recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/awesome-asian-slaw-61492

***My mom’s soup au pistou: combine two cups each of chopped onions, carrots and potatoes. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 30 minutes. Add a can of beans (kidney, white, or navy), a cup of green beans, crumbs from two slices of bread, and 1/3 cup pasta. In a small food processor grind together six cloves garlic, two tablespoons tomato paste, 1/8 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Grind these well then add to soup while it’s hot.

____________________

Judith is our Active Mama’s Munchie Maven and Yoga Maven. That means she teaches Active Mama’s Cooking Basics Chef classes, and is also our instructor for Active Mama’s Mommy Yoga with Judith.

Judith is refreshingly laid back, exceptional at what she does, and is the able mother of 3 beautiful children.

Judith comes well-accredited. She earned her Masters of Public Health and her passion is helping people find ways to make their lives healthier.

If you have questions for Judith she can be messaged through http://www.meetup.com/Active-Mamas

2 Style Tricks for Busy Moms

As the Mama Style Maven (thanks Robyn!!) and also a new mom (one year this February), I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about style. In particular, how to look good but not spend excessive time or money on fashion, because it has to be balanced with all the other things that are happening our lives. It’s easy to say that style is one of the last things on our minds, because we women juggle, multitask, and work in so many different capacities. For many of us, there could be a full or part-time job, a small business or at-home venture, running errands, organizing the household, plus caring for children (which would be enough work in itself!). In the midst of all this, how do we find or keep a sense of style?

As a stylist (and as a mom, fashion blogger, and entrepreneur) I always like to use two key strategies: systems and simplicity. Simplicity means avoiding excess and having easy, multipurpose pieces. For example, we may have closets of clothes that don’t fit and wish we could look a little better, but we don’t have the time every morning to go through possibilities and try to figure it all out. The simpler (and less stressful) option is to own a few pieces that a) fit well, right now; b) can be mixed and combined with other items in our closet; and c) fit our lifestyle, which includes considerations of color, fabric, situational appropriateness, etc. In other words, items that you like and know how to wear. Then with these pieces, you can move to step 2, creating a system.

A system is something that can be repeated and applied over and over again. It always works, and the more you use it, the faster and more automatic it becomes. Stylewise, for each of us there are systems to be created that can streamline the process. Want to add pop without loading up on jewelry? Have 2-3 “accessory basics” that are lightweight and go with virtually any outfit. Want to look more put together? Pick a formula for your body type, e.g. fitted on the bottom, looser on the top and stick to it when shopping. (That way, your tops and bottoms can always be worn together.) Clueless about colors? Find 1 or 2 that you love and pair with neutrals for a complete look.

Dressing may or may not always be fun, but it definitely shouldn’t be painful! Try thinking of simplicity in your wardrobe and systems when you dress, and you may find the process is a little easier, faster, and lets you enjoy your life and look great at the same time! Next month, I’ll cover 5 Easy Essentials for Moms.

Warmly,
Kaity Moreira
Active Mama’s Fun Mama Style Maven
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Kaity is a new mom and fashion blogger, stylist, and personal shopper. For more info, check out

http://www.meetup.com/active-mamas

http://www.stelladot.com/kaitymoreira or email her at stylekaity@gmail.com.

Stella & Dot Independent Stylist
(347) 456-8640
kaitymoreira@aol.com

The Seven Wonders of the World

Late at night I have insomnia. It’s probably poor leftover sleeping habits from my son night nursing, thinking too much, and who knows what else? (And no, he still doesn’t sleep through the night yet, even at 15 months old. But I don’t mind.)

The topic I’m focused on tonight is love. Your child takes your little heart and makes it fragile. You think about things you never thought of before. ‘What if…?’ ‘When will…?’ ‘How can…?’

Love is deeper than the ocean. Its grip is stronger than death. Its valleys are grander than the Grand Canyon and its mysteries are more wonderous than the Seven Wonders of the World. Its foundation is older than the Earth itself. Its possibilities extend far beyond the Milky Way. And You stand smaller than a grain of sand on the coast of the vast Pacific Ocean, such is your heart in love.

Some people search their whole lifetime for love. Yet look… Mother, now love has found you.

Lift your arms to the sky and rejoice and be glad. Shout to the heavens that you have this gift. Stand on the rooftops and tell everyone how happy you are that love has found you. Everyday, express the sincerest measure of gratitude.

Hug your baby and tell him or her of your mutual love. Little ones need to hear it again and again.

Don’t take love for granted. Praise God for the good works He has done.

Now here are the real seven wonders of the world:
1. Babies are created and develop in a womb. That is a miracle.
2. Babies can be sustained almost entirely on breastmilk for the entire first year. Another miracle. Talk about intelligent design!
3. Babies are entrusted to the care of another human (i.e. what a vote of confidence The Lord takes in me to lavish me with this gift!). Just like all humans, we are clumsy and insecure, and not perfect, aren’t we? Realize this: as women, you can stand as tall as cypress, as loyal as eagles and as wise as Solomon if you ask.
4. It so pleases The Lord to give us one more day together on Earth. Every day is a gift.
5. Babies grow a tiny bit bigger everyday, unnoticeable to our naked eye, but also, so obvious. The body is amazing.
6. The human brain develops naturally: motor skills begin, and speech, logic and empathy emerge. How long have we tried to mimic the human brain in computers and robots? The human brain is fascinating, able to store millions and millions of iterations and interactions to help inform you what to do. There is no replacement.
7. And we, as mothers, are here to lap up the goodness. What a gift. Our presence, our very existence, is the seventh wonder of the world. May we be blessed with many more days and years ahead.

Selah.

See meetup.com/active-mamas for more information

Love, Robyn

Read more about Robyn by clicking on the About Robyn page