Challenge Complete!!

Week one challenge complete!! We did it!

I noticed today that my kids were counting their fruits and vegetables on their own.  They ate an orange and a bowl of frozen blueberries this morning as “breakfast appetizers” while they waited for Ed to make waffles.  I had fun experimenting with recipes for blueberry syrup too!  I took an original recipe, which called for 1.5 cups sugar(!!) and substituted about 3/4 cup honey.  It made quite a large batch, which unfortunately, tasted too strongly of honey.  But the kids loved it! I made a second, smaller batch for Ed and I with no honey, just a little bit of pure maple syrup added.  That one tasted much better.  Next time I try it, I think I’ll just omit the sweetener all together and see how it turns out.  Blueberries are pretty tasty and sweet to begin with!

But back to the kids counting their own fruits and vegetables… at lunch I served them scrambled eggs with spinach and a bowl of applesauce with frozen raspberries mixed in. Michael immediately started counting… spinach, applesauce, raspberries… “Mom – did you cook the eggs in coconut oil?”  Yes, I did. Not sure that counts as a vegetable, but he counted it and was thrilled to have exceeded the minimum requirement!  Then he said, “Just two more vegetables at dinner time and we get our very special dessert!”  Uh, oops. No wonder my kids were so into this challenge! I had completely forgotten that when I first talked to them about the challenge, I promised that if they  made it the whole week I would make them a very special, healthy dessert!  Ha ha ha… oh well.  Whatever the incentive, they did it and did it happily.  And to be quite honest, I think they’ll be happy to continue to challenge, even without the promise of dessert.  Now… what to make?  I have a recipe for spinach ice cream… think they’ll go for it?

Tomorrow starts Week 2.  I’ve decided to go ahead with the challenge of not forcing them to eat everything they are served.  For one entire week, I will simply serve them their meals and when they claim to be full I will not say a word.  I will allow them to stop eating.

I will allow for one small snack between breakfast and lunch and one snack between lunch and dinner, but they must be healthy.

Dessert is usually my incentive for clearing their plates, but it is also tied to how they behave at the table.  If they complain and whine throughout the meal they cannot have dessert.  They must have good manners and a good attitude if they want dessert.  I think I will stick with this rule.  They won’t have to eat everything, but they will have to be polite. Also, in the past we’ve had a rule about having to take at least 2 or 3 bites before they can declare they don’t like something.  I think I may bring that rule back – they don’t have to eat every last bite on their plate, but they do have to take at least 3 bites of everything.  Is that fair?  I think it is a good rule because it make them try things – they can’t outright reject anything.  But I am still not forcing them to eat beyond the point of being full.

I’ve been going back and forth as to whether or not to explain this challenge to the kids or to simply do it without telling them.  I think I will go ahead and tell them because I like to talk with them about healthy choices and I’d like them to know why I am doing this.  I will explain the rules as I’ve outlined them here.


Day 6

Decided not to bore you with the details of today’s menu, except to say we met our goal and then some.  Yay!  I was very happy this morning when Ed got up to feed the kids while I slept in.  I was even happier when I heard that they’d eaten 2 fruits with their breakfast!!

We received our weekly box of organic produce today.  (  Meatloaf sounded like a nice comfort food on this chilly day. We decided to use the potatoes from our box for mashed potatoes and also cooked up some carrots and parsnips that also came in the box.  In case you aren’t familiar, parsnips look like white carrots and taste kind of like a milder version of a carrot.  In the past I’ve cut them up and Emily would eat them raw, dipped in ranch dressing, just like she eats carrots.  Since carrots are often a dinner staple in these winter months, I decided to cut up the parsnips and cook them with the carrots.  I thought the kids would get a kick out of eating orange and white carrots.  Well….. turns out that parsnips cook much faster than carrots do, so when the carrots were done, the parsnips were overdone.  We sprinkled some seasoned salt and seasoned pepper on the veggies, along with a little butter.  When mixing them up, the parsnips disintegrated. The end result looked like carrots mixed in with mashed potatoes.  Quite honestly, it looked rather pretty.  I wish I had stopped to take a picture.  I also thought it tasted as good as it looked!  I thought, for those of you who like to sneak in extra veggies, parsnips would blend in well with mashed potatoes and probably never be detected!  For me, the next time I decide to make orange and white “carrots”, I’ll start the carrots first and throw the parsnips in towards the end!

While hubby was busy making dinner, Matthew and I were making blueberry muffins for dessert!  As far as blueberry muffins go, I thought they were ok.  Ed said they were fine.  The kids ate 3 each!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat.  For my SCV friends, they sell it at Vons and Albertsons – not at Stater Bros.)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (don’t use imitation – ever!)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (you can use any oil, but coconut is your healthiest choice!)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed from our aho box! but, of course, any kind will do)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. Heat oven to 400
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (first 5 ingredients on list)
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient mixture and add remaining ingredients
  4. Mix together
  5. Scoop into muffin pan, prepped with liners.
  6. Cook about 13-15 min, until toothpick comes out clean

Makes 12 muffins

Also wanted to share one more cool thing.  I mentioned these ( ) in an earlier post.  Today I got my highly anticipated Pampered Chef order, which included an very cool manual food processor.  I was so excited to try it out!  I took some frozen mango and cherries, defrosted them in the microwave and then put them in the food processor.  Added some of Trader Joe’s non fat, plain Greek yogurt and processed away!   Made a delicious yogurt that went into the silicone pop molds that the kids can take to school in their lunches.  This beats buying those yogurt tubes they are so fond of!  My homemade mixture is much healthier!  No sugar (except for the sugar naturally occurring in the fruit) and lots of protein!  Sugar is the #2 ingredient in the store bought yogurt tubes 😦  They are just as sweet and the kids love them!  Emily even saw me making the yogurt and asked for a bowl of it for dessert! (Along with her 3 muffins!)  Of course, not everyone has the new Pampered Chef food processor.  That’s ok!  You can use a regular food processor or a blender!


QUESTION:  Any of you computer savvy people out there know why, when I add a website reference in the blog, does it not automatically create a link?

Day 5

Breakfast: Pina Colada Smoothie mentioned a few posts back, but this time I added a cup of raspberries.  Yum!   We also finally did our tast testing of the Lara Bars and the Pure Organic bars.  The Pure Organic bars seem to be winning… the cherry one this morning was my favorite!

Lunch – kids took pb&js to school, with applesauce and yogurt (my mixture of greek yogurt and frozen cherries, blueberries and raspberries)

Dinner – Sausages and baked beans was the plan.  Didn’t know what to do about the vegetables and we are running low.  Our weekly produce box comes tomorrow morning.  I took what we had (some lettuce, spinach, a carrot, red bell pepper, tomatoes) and threw it together in a salad.

Another successful, if not too exciting, day.  I am pleased to see that this challenge isn’t that hard for our family.  It does require that I think and make sure we are all getting an extra fruit or vegetable in… usually one per meal has been our standard.  But I am happy that my children are willing to add another without argument. 2 days left of this challenge and my only question is Will I keep it up when the two days are over? I honestly don’t know.  I’ll probably try, but I also know that my kids and I like to snack on fruit during the day, so if one meal gets only 1 fruit or vegetable, I’ll be pretty comfortable knowing we’re most likely still eating what we should.


My aunt came to visit tonight and the kids were in rare form.  Getting up from the dinner table, running outside… I found myself yelling at them to sit down and threatening not to take them out for the promised frozen yogurt after dinner if they didn’t sit down and finish their meals.  In the back of my mind, this had me thinking about that issue of Should we make them eat everything on their plates? As I’ve said before, I feel like I serve them appropriate portions and I serve them the healthy things I want them to be eating, so yes, I want them to eat everything I give them. However, part of what I am trying to “give them” are healthy habits to last a lifetime.  Is cleaning your plate every time you sit down to eat a healthy habit?  Maybe, if your plate was always perfectly portioned and full of the most nutritious foods.  But how often in life is that the case?  More important, I think, is the ability to stop eating when you are satisfied.  This is one thing I clearly lack.  I can see that my children still have this natural ability, so why on earth am I trying to train them against it?

There are 2 challenges I am really eager to take on.  One is this idea of letting them decide when they’ve had enough.  The other is the challenge of cleaning out our kitchen and our diets… ridding our diets of processed foods and eating whole and real foods.  I know that this one will be a major lifestyle change.  I am hoping that we are close enough already that it won’t be a complete 180, but I’m smart enough to know that it’s going to me more involved and harder than I think.  I might have to tackle that one one meal at a time.  Maybe start with the breakfasts first, then move on to lunches and dinners.  Baby steps. But first, I think I am going to try the idea of letting my children decide for themselves how much to eat. In the next two days I will think about the rules, but they’ll probably be simple enough.  Feed them and keep my mouth shut about when they decide they are done. 🙂
On a side note, I had intended to take on the challenges posted in and blog about them here, but next week’s challenge over there is really not a challenge for us at all.  It’s about eliminating soda and other “junk food” drink from your diet.  We already have, so that is why I decided to come up with my own challenge for week 2.  We’ll see what happens in week 3!


Day 4

St. Patrick’s Day!

I am a little bummed that I didn’t plan out St. Patrick’s Day like I usually do.  I like a green theme… green bagels in the morning, something unusual and green for lunch and dinner – green waffles anyone?  Green eggs and ham?  🙂

But I was able to get in the spirit with green smoothies this morning!  6 leaves of kale, 1 banana, handful of strawberries and a handful of pineapple, just to make sure it was sweet enough!  Add water and blend!  Yummy!  Michael then went to school for his pancake breakfast (the reward for reaching 100% of his reading goal) where he scooped peaches, strawberries, grapes and melon onto his plate 🙂  Emily and Matthew went to a playdate where they had cantaloupe along with bagels, muffins, cookies… filled them up so much they didn’t want lunch.  I did convince them each to eat a banana later though.

Tonight’s dinner plans: oven baked french fries, BBQ chicken sandwiches and some sort of easy, canned vegetable.  Peas or green beans, I guess – we’ve got to have something green, right?

Right now I’m getting ready to pick Michael up from school, then we are heading to Chik-fil-A for our free green ice cream cone!  Nope, today is not the healthiest of days – lots of snacks that I wouldn’t normally like them to have – but that’s ok.  As much as I want them to eat pure and healthy, I know that there are days and occasions when there just has to be treats and fun, right? Knowing that they are eating great 90-95% of the time makes me feel pretty good about the times they don’t.

Day 3

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach and a smoothie (banana, pineapple, blueberries, carrot, water and coconut oil) Yay! Finally finished off all the spinach from my weekly produce box! Want to check out where I get my weekly dose of awesome, organic produce?

Lunch: Different for everyone!  Emily: salad, Matthew: leftovers from dinner, carrots and applesauce (the applesauce counts, but it felt a little like cheating.  But I was in a hurry and he’s picky, so I went with it!) Michael: ants on a log, orange bell peppers and tomatoes, Me: leftovers from 2 nights ago (plenty of mixed veggies in there) and an orange. Hubby: exact replica of last night’s dinner 🙂

Dinner: Try this one!  I call it Rainbow Casserole.  The original recipe is:

But I’ve played with it enough times and I’ve made some changes.  I’ll add a can of black beans and a can (or two if it’s a small can) of sliced olives. Original recipe calls for 1 green pepper.  I omit that, but instead chop up 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange pepper and throw that in.  I use the blue corn tortillas I find at Trader Joe’s (I like that Trader Joe’s claims to not sell anything made from GMOs.  Corn is one of those things that is almost always genetically modified, so I am hoping that they are true to their claim.)  I’ll sometimes throw in the tomato called for in the original recipe, sometimes not.  Either way, it turns out to be a beautiful rainbow casserole!  Also, if you want to make it vegetarian, just omit the chicken and use a can of cream of celery soup instead.  I’ve done that before and it turned out great!

I meant to throw another vegetable on their plates, but I was in a hurry and ran out the door as soon as Ed got home tonight.  I admit I totally forgot.  But there were peppers, olives and chiles in the dinner.  Does that count?

I am off to put together Michael’s lunch for tomorrow.  Found these and they arrived today.  He is eager to try one out!  I’m going to put greek yogurt mixed with frozen fruit in there and freeze it.  I’ll let you know tomorrow how he liked it!  🙂

Day 2

*After finishing this post I realized that there is a lot of talk about our daily menu. I guess that is to be expected in such a challenge but if you find yourself getting bored towards the middle, feel free to skim  – look for recipes and links – and just read the last paragraph or two.  I think there is something good there for you to think about.  🙂

Well, today was more of a struggle :-/

Once again, we woke up with no time to spare this morning.  We raced around to get dressed and I whipped up a smoothie for the kids. (I love how quick and easy it is to do that!) Today we tried the PB&J smoothie and it was a hit!  (Original recipe: ) To make  enough for my 3 kiddos I upped it to about 1 cup juice, 1 cup milk, 2 bananas, 2 cups berries (we used frozen, organic mix of blueberries, strawberries and raspberries) and whatever peanut butter was left in our jar 🙂  Looked to be about the right amount to me!

While at Trader Joe’s yesterday I picked up some bars that I wanted to try out with the kids.   I was looking for some “real food” bars – simple ingredients, no added sugar.  I grabbed a few different Lara Bars, something called Pure Organic, I think.  I’d have to check the pantry to be sure but I’m upstairs and don’t feel like going down.  I’ll give a full report on the bars that got 3 thumbs when we are done with the taste tests!  This morning we tried 3 different bars and they each seemed to get 2 thumbs up (since I have 3 kids, I’m looking for 3 thumbs of approval here…) Matthew liked all of them, Michael and Emily disagreed on which ones they liked.  But I was happy that everyone liked at least 2 of the 3 we tried.  I think tomorrow we’ll do another taste test – the kids really enjoyed it!

Between the smoothies and the bars, I figured they each got their 2 different fruits in for the morning.  I ate a banana on the run and thought I’d eat an orange when we got back, but I got distracted and about 10am my stomach started rumbling, reminding me that I forgot the 2nd piece of fruit!

Emily and Matthew did well at lunch. Emily wanted a salad, so she got more than her 2 veggies there.  Matthew ate a scrambled egg with spinach (cooked in coconut oil!).  They both had an orange too.  I ate last night’s dinner leftovers, so I was covered.  I’d sent Michael to school with ants on a log and carrots.  Usually I’d have thrown some yogurt in there too, but I wanted to be sure he ate the carrots so I left it out today.  Stinker came home today having eaten NONE of his celery with peanut butter and only 1 carrot!!!!  How does that boy survive???   He claims he didn’t have time to finish, but I don’t understand what the heck he is doing at lunch time that leaves him only enough time to eat one carrot stick?  Aargh.  I made him finish the carrots as we were running out the door to Tae Kwon Do but the “logs” ended up in the trash 😦  He did have a serving of dried apricots for his morning snack though, so I guess he got his 2 servings in?

Dinner was mostly a success.  Monte Cristo chicken from Dream dinners, which had NO vegetables in it, carrots and asparagus.  This was the kids’ first taste of asparagus. Michael loved it, Emily tolerated it and Matthew tried two bites but refused to eat more.

During the day the kids will snack on fruit… I found these fun treats at Sprouts today:

Matthew had a bag while we were waiting to pick up Michael today.  The bag says it contains 3 servings of fruit!  Michael had a banana after dinner… Though it was a little difficult getting everyone (including me!) to have their 2 fruits/veggies with each meal, I’d say that throughout the course of the day we each exceeded our 6 total serving goal.  Yay!

I am realizing that this blog (all 2 entries of it so far) is quickly becoming a diary of our daily meals.  How boring!  Hopefully I am introducing you to some yummy recipes and neat treats. 🙂  Some food for thought tonight:  Do you make your kids finish everything on their plate?  I admit that I am often guilty of this.  Part of me knows it’s a bad thing to do – I want them to listen to their internal cues and stop eating when they are full.  However, they are kids.  I don’t really trust them to stop eating on their own.  I think they’ll claim full when really they just don’t want to eat their vegetables.  :-/  What to do??  I try to be sure to give them appropriate kid size portions.  I talk with them constantly about what is healthy and what is not.  I try my best to serve them the most nutritious food: brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta, plenty of fruits and veggies.  Hmmm… I guess I’m not doing so bad after all 😉  Perhaps another challenge I need to tackle is to go a whole week (2?) of feeding my kids what I want them to eat and then sitting back and letting them choose how much to eat. I think that would be a good one!

Weekly Challenge: Week 1 / Day 1

Yesterday, a friend introduced me to the website/blog:  Wow!  I am inspired!  I shared the link on FB because I knew many of my health conscious friends would be excited to check it out. I thought about blogging our healthy eating adventures… sharing our finds, recipes, failures and successes.  But – I know that this is the kind of thing I tend to start and then as I lose enthusiasm, I stop.  So, I figured I wouldn’t do the blog.  But then a friend suggested I do it and that got me thinking again, so – here I am!  Not sure if it will last… not sure if it will be an everyday thing or an occasional thing, but here it is.  (Since healthy eating is not so much of a fad, but more of an everyday challenge for us, I am hoping I can find enough challenges to keep it interesting and to keep me going!)

If you come visit, say hi!  Post a little comment now and again.  Knowing that someone is interested and reading will inspire me to keep writing!

This week’s challenge, from is: Week 1: March 14 – March 20 – Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.

That shouldn’t be too hard.  We are very good about eating at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal.  I like this challenge because I’ve been thinking for a long time now that we need to add more vegetables.  I’d like to have 2 vegetables with dinner each night.  Until now, I’ve been kind of lazy about planning and executing it though.  So, yay for this challenge!  My kids are all on board!  They like challenges like this!  The husband, still slightly concerned about my recent coconut oil craze (another post on that later), gave a half hearted “sure” when asked if he’d participate.  I think that was mostly for the kids’ benefit.  But, since I make dinner and he pretty much eats what I make without complaint, it should be easy to get him to eat his 2 veggies with dinner.  And since he takes dinner leftovers with him to work for lunch, we’ve got that covered too.  I doubt he’ll start including 2 fruits with his morning bowl of cereal, but he eats that early in the morning with no one watching.  At least the kids will think he’s completing the challenge 😉

Today was our first day of the challenge.  The kids and I woke up 30 min. before the 2 little ones had to be at preschool.  In our mad rush to get ready and out the door I threw them each (the preschoolers) a squeeze packet of carrot applesauce.  That counted as one serving and they were thrilled because these expensive little pouches are usually reserved for Michael’s school lunch! Then I tried a new recipe I found on the 100days site – I threw 2 cups of frozen pineapple and a can of coconut milk in the blender and made virgin pina colada smoothies!  Serving #2 (and quite possibly 3… I’m pretty sure the coconut milk would count as a fruit serving.)  *The kids all loved the smoothie!  I found it a bit thick, a little too creamy.  I think next time I’ll add extra pineapple – that should do the trick!)

I sent them off to preschool with an orange and a serving of peas in their lunchboxes.  Knowing that my dad was coming over and taking us all out to lunch, I didn’t want them eating too much, but wanted to make sure they met the challenge requirement.  Done!  (Well, almost.  When I picked them up I discovered that Matthew’s glass bowl fell and broke, so no peas for him. Yes… I send glass to the preschool.  Only when sending something that’s going to go in the microwave because I do not want them microwaving plastic.  In 3 years of my kids going to school there it has never been a problem.  Today I was asked not to send glass any more.  Oh well.  I apologized and explained why I had been using glass containers.  The teacher totally understood and agreed to put their food in a paper bowl before microwaving it for them. Yay!)

Ok, so back home where Michael ate oatmeal with blueberries and an orange.  I had 2 oranges, 1 egg and a piece of whole wheat toast.

Lunch turned out to be easier than I thought – we went to Souplantation!  What a great way to get a variety of vegetables!  The kids all filled up on lots of fresh veggies before tackling the mac n cheese and ice cream 🙂

For dinner tonight I have a Dream Dinners Peanut Butter Chicken and Penne dish defrosting in the fridge.  I know this includes lots of carrots, some red pepper and cabbage.  Still, I’m not sure by the time everyone gets some on their plate if it will amount to a full serving of vegetables.  I plan on making cauliflower to go with it and  some edamame.  That should cover tonight’s dinner!

Day One, not too hard!