Let’s talk about healthy eating with toddlers!
A couple of weeks back I had a question box going for lunch suggestions for a toddler. (I got some great ideas I shared them later in my stories. You can find them in my Food highlights now.) I have gotten to the point where Malachi is starting to get a little picky. Sometimes he won’t eat dinner and all he wants is yogurt, granola bars, and fruit. It could be worse, he could just want cookies or something like that.
Trying to make sure he gets all his nutrition, vitamins and everything else they need, meals are getting harder and harder. Some days he just eats the same thing as the day before, and I get bored with it. I want to be able to feed him well and teach him about food. There is just so much stigma about body image and food and eating and exercising and just everything. It’s important, but it’s talked about in such a way that it makes us feel bad or shameful of it.
Eating well is something I’ve always struggled with, I have a serious sweet tooth that gets in the way! Carbs are my best friend! And all the healthy portions and snacks were something I didn’t care for. When Malachi started eating solids I opted for organic things, healthy options and not so much processed packaged snacks. Don’t get me wrong we have that stuff too for those tough days!
We love the Love Child Organics for our granola bars, fruit sauce pouches, and crackers. As well as Annie’s bunny crackers, mac and cheese, just for some examples. You can get organic options at Costco, like frozen vegetables and fruits. Buying organic is a little more expensive, so we get some things organic and others we don’t. I just keep an eye out on our budget, and most times we can make organic options last long so over time it works out price-wise. But I am always looking at labels comparing ingredients and making sure for the most part I know what everything is. I’m that mom in the store googling ingredients. It’s so important to see what we are putting in our bodies and making sure we are doing the same for our family. I want him to go for the healthy options. I want to create that habit in all of us this new year. Also, because he is so tiny for his age, I wanted to make sure he was getting all his nutrition and gaining a good amount of healthy weight.
Personally, I still struggle with eating properly and the whole process of changing my eating habits is challenging for sure. There’s nothing quick about it, it is a process, it requires hard work and determination on my part. Planning and prepping too, which I’m not a fan of. I’m still struggling, every day to have proper lunches, healthy snack options and make the decision to get my butt to the gym!
Malachi, my son, loves fruit as I may have mentioned already. Bananas, strawberries, blueberries, all the berries really. Pretty much all the fruits too. He is a big vegetable guy too. Carrot and cucumber sticks. Avocado, zucchini, peppers, peas, and pretty much everything. Broccoli is a favorite too. Tomatoes, he’ll actually wait for someone to open the fridge and then go straight for the bin of grape tomatoes. I got lucky, he’s not picky until dinner time usually, then I think he’s eaten so much throughout the day he’s full. I’m working out different schedules so he’ll eat more dinner. He basically loves everything and doesn’t really have “favorites” I guess.
Okay, so, some ideas for a “day in the life” of meals for my toddler.
Meal Option #1:
Milk and Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich
Breakfast has dairy, fats (healthy, brain developing fats), fruits and grains. We usually have rye bread at home. Or brown. Rye bread contains more fiber and less fat than white bread. White bread often just offers excess calories and little benefit. Malachi loves bananas but if your kid is not a fan peanut butter and jam is good too, we love those. We use homemade strawberry or raspberry jam. Some other good options are this Strawberry Chia Seed Jam. Smuckers Just Strawberry Jam is also a great jam that we love too.
We do smoothies! He loves them, and they are the perfect way to get those green vegetable nutrients in if you’ve got picky eaters!
We do oat milk, frozen spinach, frozen avocado or full-fat Greek yogurt and a fruit of choice; frozen blueberries, mangoes, or strawberries.
Yogurt – Iogo Nano Drinkable Yogurt
Fruit and cottage cheese or a Granola Bar (I listed a few of our go-to granola bars in the On The Go section).
Basically anything in the fridge or cupboard in regards to fruits or other snacks. If we have homemade muffins or banana bread we will have that.
Meal Option #1:
Scrambled eggs, Fruit – whatever is in the fridge. Blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, Avocado – Western Family has organic frozen avocados, and then we have meat of some sort. We sometimes have in house roasted lunch meat, or I have leftover chicken or ham in the fridge from the night before. Lunches are the hardest for me because it’s nothing I really thought about before having my little guy.
Meal Option #2:
Veggies, Cracker and Cheese Tray is one of our favorites.
Carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas (whatever we have at the time) with either Annie’s Cheese crackers or Breton crackers. I haven’t found a favorite for crackers outside of Annie’s in terms of organic as of yet that is good for meats and cheeses.
Meal Option #3:
Annie’s Mac and Cheese with frozen veggies mixed in.
This is perfect for days where I don’t have any groceries, or we are in a rush and I can’t put the time into preparing lunch with washing and cutting and everything else that goes into lunches. Because let’s be real, some days we just don’t feel like preparing for this big lunch.
– Veggies and Dip
– Annie’s Bunny Graham crackers
– Pretty much whatever I find that can last us until dinner.
On the GO
We live a busy lifestyle, as I’m sure most of you do as well. It’s just life. Be here, do that, so we always have a snack bag with us on the go. For those moments when we are missing meal times and running errands. First off, again we aren’t against packaged snacks, just look at the ingredients, is my advice! 🙂 We pack a Love Child Fruit Pouch, a box of raisins if we have some, some crackers or cookies, like Annie’s Cheese or Graham Crackers, First Food Organics Munch Mix is great for toddlers on the go or a Love Child Organic Snack, a granola bar – Nutrigrain or a Love Child Oaty Chomp Bars. Then if I have to the cooler I’ll pack fruit, yogurt, and his milk. Plus we always have a water bottle with us too.
On a side note, First Food Organics, Love Child Organics, Once Upon a Farm and Gerber’s Organics are my top 4 brands, you might have other organic brands that you love and that’s great. Find what you and your baby need and go from there. I’ve also heard that Peter Rabit Organics are really good too.
– Meals are just what we eat at dinner. I don’t make anything different or special for him. Our dinners usually contain a carbohydrate group, a veggie group, and a protein group. I’ll share more on dinner recipes and what we use here at home in a later post. I often share dinner ideas and what I’m cooking in my stories on Instagram.
So liquids, juices, milk, formula. The whole shebang. Malachi gets really bad eczema when he consumes milk, not milk products, just milk. Weird I know. So we switched him to a sensitive formula, the Similac Alimentum, which worked wonders for us. I did take him off of it at 16 months, but because he’s tiny, and can’t have regular milk we went back on until he’s about 2 just for the right fats and such (I discussed it with my doctor and public health care nurse). If your child has tummy or skin problems and you don’t know what is going on, try it out, talk to your doctor first too.
So in our house, we don’t really do juice. My mother in law makes homemade apple juice so he’ll have that sometimes. Always mixed with water. He’ll have orange juice sometimes as well, also mixed with water. We are big Ningxia Red drinkers – you can learn more about that on my wellness Instagram, Courageous Navigating Oils, so that’s his juice really. Apple juice isn’t great for them, as it usually contains a lot of sugar.
Milk – cashew, almond, oat, soy, regular… I didn’t know there was that many before Malachi started drinking milk. He has formula at bedtime, and then about 5 oz of milk in the morning, and at lunch. He drinks Oat Milk, specifically Earth’s Own Unsweetened Original Oat Milk. Their website also has this cool compare chart for looking at the nutrients and everything. I however just found it and was that mom standing in the milk cooler for like 40 minutes trying to find the best one.
It’s a tough thing always being the one who comes up with ideas to feed the family. Always cooking, and it goes both ways, whether dad is cooking or mom. I often ask my husband for ideas, but he loves his certain foods and that is that. I saw this quote the other day, thought I’d share it because it is so relatable. “Waiting for mom to cook dinner, then realizing you are mom and you don’t know what you are making for dinner.” This quote is basically my life. It’s a huge struggle to find proteins for him, as he isn’t a huge meat eater. I also struggle with changing it up once in a while, so new ideas are always welcome!
Leave me your best healthy eating with toddler meals in the comments! I hope this helps you a little. I also found this amazing site that helps with feeding toddlers if you are looking for more ideas.