Raising Healthy Kids: All Things in Moderation
Setting good examples for our kids can be tough. Some days tougher than others. Heck, some months are tougher than others. Over the years of raising my kids, I have realized that when it comes to food, moderation is best. When my son was first born and I was a new mom, I had the best intentions. I was going to make all of my son's baby food, he would only eat organic, non-gmo foods and he would NEVER have soda. But, then two years later, my daughter came along and I was tired and he was crying...
Now, here we are, over a decade later and I am going to be honest, when we go out for dinner, my kids love ordering Shirley Temples. They LOVE ice cream and they generally only eat the frosting off of birthday cupcakes. Yes, I try to get my kids to eat a heavily plant-based diet. Yes, I try to make a home-cooked, healthy meal each night. Yes, I know cafeteria food is generally disgusting and not good for my kids. However, some nights, those Applegate Chicken Nuggets are so easy to put in the oven after a 10 hour work day. And, some mornings, it is so much easier to give my son $2 for the school pizza and hope he picks the apple instead of the bag of chips.
Here is what I have learned as my kids (and I) are growing up:
- I can't control everything they eat, but making sure I have healthy options in our fridge, freezer and pantry at all times is a very good first step.
- If my kids go to a friend's house and eat Doritos and drink Pepsi, they will be okay, they will not grow a third arm. I will make sure they have an extra helping of fruit or veggies at their next meal.
- Letting my kids eat ice cream every night (if they weren't at previously mentioned friend's house eating crap) doesn't have to be a bad thing. They always watch their portions, and we have REAL ice cream made from REAL ingredients in our freezer at all times.
- Exposing my kids to all kinds of healthy, real foods is important. Eventually they will try things, and they just may surprise me! Case in point: the photo above is of our 8 year old daughter, Josie, trying oysters for the first time...and LOVING them! Her comment after her first slurp? "Mmmm, tastes like the ocean." Proud moment!
- When baking treats for them at home, I always try to sneak in healthy foods (dark chocolate and beet muffins are our new favorite!)
- As long as my kids have healthy options and feel like they have a say in what they eat, we are all one big happy family (expect for when we all have to agree on what movie to watch on Friday nights).
Recipe for Dark Chocolate and Beet Muffins
- 2 eggs (or can substitute ground flax seed and water for a vegan cupcake. You won't taste the difference! Mix 2 TBSP ground flax with 6 TBSP warm water and let stand for about 5 minutes)
- 1 cup (about 2 small sized beets) pureed. I generally use Love Beets (the messy work is done for me!)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut or raw sugar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips + more for topping
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line 12 muffins with paper liners or grease with coconut oil.
- If using the flax substitute for the eggs, prep now in a large mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, should have the consistency of egg whites when ready.
- Add beet puree, melted oil, maple syrup, milk, sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk thoroughly.
- Add cocoa powder and flours and stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined. The batter should be scoop-able, not pour-able. If the batter feels too thick, add a bit more milk.
- Lastly, stir in chocolate chips. Then divide batter evenly between muffin tins (should be enough for between 11-12) and sprinkle with a few more chocolate chips (optional)
- Sprinkle with chopped walnuts (optional)
- Bake for 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before removing from the pan. If you aren't going to eat these within a few days, they freeze wonderfully!
Did I mention that my kids love topping these muffins with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert???!