News: Lifestyle

The Meals My Kids Can't Get Enough Of

By Tammy Woeppel

The Meals My Kids Can't Get Enough Of
Last week I touched on some of the ways that I convince my boys to eat a variety of foods. This week, I'm offering up a roundup of their favorite dishes. Some people are surprised to learn that my 2 and 4 year old will eat dishes that are somewhat spicy, or that have strong flavors in them, like curry. We just started young, and assumed they could handle it- and they did! We've definitely gone through picky phases (my older one took about 1.5 years 'off' from eating anything other than rice/beans, simple carbohydrates, and eggs, but he is now is back on the train and even asked for vegetable soup as his special birthday dinner haha!). Here are the meals that we rotate into the menu pretty regularly...along with a fair dose of takeout burgers and pizza! 


1.Homemade Granola: I can't bring myself to spend $$$ on store-bought granola when homemade is so simple and frankly, so much yummier. All three of my guys basically eat this for breakfast. I just make tweaks based on what I have in the house. 


2. Fried Rice, Egg, and Avocado Bowl: On the off-chance that someone prefers eggs to granola, or I just plain forgot to meal-plan something for lunch, this is an easy go-to. We typically make a big batch of brown rice at the beginning of the week and can always throw together a bowl with egg and avocado, or any other veggies we have on hand.


3. Chicken Tikka Masala: This is seriously such a hit in my house. If we've overdone it on the meat for the week, we'll switch this to a vegetarian version. 


4. Whole30 Pumpkin Chili: A great way to sneak in some extra nutrients with creamy pumpkin. It sounds like a weird combination, but trust me- this will end up on your weekly menu plan!


5. Fiery Hot Chicken Chili: My mother in law actually made this recipe for me several years ago and we've been hooked ever since. I usually tweak it by subbing ghee or avocado oil for the butter, and omitting the sugar. I also sometimes sub veggies for the chicken in my quest to eat more plant-based. The combination of spices gives this a super addicting flavor, and despite the name, it's actually not that spicy.


6. French Lentil Soup: Beans in general are a big hit with my kids, and they especially love this lentil soup. We make it vegetarian, or sometimes crumble sausage into it for a heartier meal, and serve over rice. 


7. Almond Crusted Chicken: A healthier take on chicken fingers, this is actually one of my favorite meals- delicious with or without the strawberry balsamic sauce.


8. Stuffed Zucchini: My kids would never voluntarily eat zucchini, but the "boat" shape of these makes them fun to gobble up.


9. Savory Paleo Breakfast Meatballs: Amazing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever. 


10. Ina Garten's Roasted Chicken aka "Engagement Chicken": Whether you're looking to get engaged or just feed some picky eaters, this engagement chicken recipe will do the trick (it worked for me in both instances!).


11. Easy Fried Rice: If you need a very basic meal with a twist, this is your go-too. Make a big batch like we do, and you can use it all week as your base for any rice bowl you need to throw together. Having this on hand has saved me for many meals when I'm not on point with my meal-planning game. 


12. Beef Stir-fry: Our kids have been eating flavors like soy, ginger, and garlic since they were little thanks to their chinese grandmother, so they love a good stir-fry. The good thing about stir-fry's is that you can use whatever you have on hand and make it as basic or complicated as you want.  


13. Banana Chocolate Ice Cream: If you have a high-speed blender, and some ripe bananas, then you can make banana ice cream and add whatever you want to flavor it. Normally, I have cacao powder so that's what my kids get. They literally love this just as much as the real thing, and I love that it's a vegan treat.


14. Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding: The Minimalist Baker Blog is one of my favorite food go-too's when I need inspiration, and this recipe is no different. Once again, it's very simple and I usually have the ingredients on hand but if nothing else, you can blend avocados/cacao powder/sweetener of choice and have an amazing chocolate pudding. 


Do you think you'll try any of these with your children? What are some other recipes that you swear by in your house? Let us know in the comments!

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Read This if You Are Serious About Creating a Non-Toxic Home

By Tammy Woeppel

Read This if You Are Serious About Creating a Non-Toxic Home

We have so much information about health all around us. We start our days with lemon water and green smoothies, we all know to exercise on a regular basis, we turn to yoga and acupuncture just as much as we turn to medical doctors. There are no shortage of restaurants where we can find an organic, non-gmo, seasonal farm-to-table menu sourced with local, fresh ingredients through small-farmer cooperatives. Skincare and toiletries have seen massive growth over the last several years with demand for clean, non-toxic ingredients skyrocketing as people realize that it's not just what we ingest, but what we slather on and absorb through our skin. But one thing people rarely think about is the toxicity of their actual homes and everything we put in it, from the materials used to construct it to the throw pillows we casually toss on the sofa.

I recently made the switch to organic pillows (I plan to purchase the mattresses for our family once we make our next move), and I also had our sofa upholstered in organic fabric, so I've initiated the process to 'green' up our house a bit more now that I have a good system in place with non-toxic cleaning products (vinegar and water on #repeat). However, after reading this series in the Chicago Tribune, it was really eye-opening (and downright alarming!) to realize how prevalent these heavy-duty chemicals are in our everyday lives and especially those of our little ones. 

So, how is a busy family with a budget supposed to combat this? Well, we can only do what we can do and it's definitely overwhelming to try and make every change at once. I'm a big fan of starting small and working your way up to bigger overhauls and that's what I'm currently working on.

For starters, you can shop for non-toxic products such as low VOC paints or sustainable wood furniture, but this is obviously very limiting. Without the demand though, companies won't produce it so it's good to always ask and put the request out there! Another tip is to purchase a floor model or vintage pieces that have already had the opportunity to offgas (ie, release a chemical gas that was dissolved, trapped, frozen, absorbed or adsorbed in some material)- in other words, it has already 'aired out'. Considering vintage dressers make the cutest changing tables, this is a great option when decorating that nursery for your little one. 

As I mentioned previously, one swap I made was our pillows. Around the same time that I started educating myself more on this subject, a friend and her husband happened to start a 'clean' mattress company, Avocado Green Mattress, and I'm seriously so proud of what they're doing. From their responsible sourcing of non-toxic raw materials like latex, wool, and organic cotton to their made-to-order model to their super-competitive pricing (their most expensive california king mattress is only $2199 including an additional pillow-top), they just and if you look at the reviews, you'll see that a LOT of their customers would agree. I highly recommend reading this for in-depth information on why it's so important to sleep on an eco-friendly mattress.

Another company that has become my first stop when looking for fabric is Two Sisters Eco-Textiles. I originally contacted them when we were sourcing for NONA but I ended up loving them for all my home fabrics (they sell apparel, drapery, and uphosltery fabrics as well as my new go-to housewarming gifts, these adorable napkins and tea towels)! Their customer service has been on point, and the owners are all about helping, even if it means sending you somewhere else to get what you want. They are clearly passionate about educating consumers and ultimately offering safe products with a transparent process. 

So, it's a start. I still have a long way to go- this is just the tip of the iceberg. But, knowledge is power and living clean isn't a trend that is going anywhere. I hope that green construction and home furnishings is a category that will continue to grown like the skincare industry has, giving us consumers an easier way to provide safe spaces for our families. 

Have you made any changes (big or small) to live a cleaner life? Would love to get inspired- leave us a comment below!

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