convenience foods

it is so easy to fall into the trap of processed convenience foods for toddler's these days. i'll admit, as health conscience as i strive to be, i have at times fallen into the ploy. it's just so darn easy to busy those pretty little tidy packages of whatch-ama-call-its and just pop open the top & presto... snack is served! what mom doesn't need a little easy in her day?

with giant marketing budgets those massive corporations fill aisle upon aisle of packages, trying to convince us mom's to pick their "healthy" snack for our growing child. and yet i am hard pressed to find any toddler snack that doesn't list sugar as the first & main ingredient (which is horrifying when you think most of these snacks are marketed to the 1-years and under crowd). processed foods loaded with chemicals to keep food "fresh" not only affect health, but studies have shown they change our taste buds. we become accustomed to strong tasting flavours and find whole foods bland. a recent study showed that people who tended to include processed foods in their diets, generally preferred to eat any whole, real foods in their diet with added sugar & salt. this is something i am trying to change for my kids. i want them to grow up with a taste for whole foods and be able to appreciate their natural taste.

so even though i have been far from perfect in this area, my goal is to avoid processed foods as much as possible for the whole family. i have found the most difficult area to be snacking. seriously, who has time to bake muffins everyday? especially with the way my kids eat, they rarely last longer than a day! i have had to change some of my priorities in this area and make a consistent time for baking & meals prep but i am continuing to find a balance that fits for my family. i try to get a lot of it done in the mornings while davith does independent table time & the twins are napping. sometimes, davith even joins in & helps out. he's extra good at licking bater out of the bowl.

anyways, i thought i would compile a little list of healthier 'convenient' solutions for those days the muffins don't get whipped up quite like you had planned & you need something in a hurry {there is no hurry like 3 starving kids!}. feel free to add your own little snacking secrets! i love sharing!

1. organic cheese: i usually choose old cheddar {the older the cheese, the more absorbable the calcium} until i recently found some fabulous goat's cheddar - very strong tasting but super healthy. on a day i have more time, i might use a small cookie cutter to cut out some fun shapes to copy the more expensive, usually more processed, cheeses found in the kids lunch aisle in the grocery store. {just remember not all cheeses are created equal!}

2. organic fruit: this one is fabulous and our most readily available in our house. to spice it up, i occasionally load a bunch of fruit onto a plastic skewer. the twins love the challenge of chewing all that fruit off the stick. for their birthday, i spiced this one up by using cookie cutters to cut out shapes in mango & apples and then loaded them onto plastic skewers {i used the plastic skewers because the wooden ones can be too pointy for the babies}. the only problem with this snack is it can be sticky... especially with my kids. weird fruit are always a neat way to spice it up... yesterday i let the twins eat a pomegranate in the bathtub! they loved it & with the easy clean up so did i! gooseberries are another favourite.

3. smoothies: great now that the twins can drink out of straws. pack them full of fruit, protein, flax, spices, almond milk, yogurt, etc. and mix and match as you please. i even sneak in the occasional vegetable without them noticing. these never get old!

4. plain beans: the pc brand of beans has no sodium in their canned beans. this is a favourite of the twins... not so much davith but i'm working on him. on the other hand he loves roasted chickpeas!

5. organic veggies & dip: this one take some coaxing for davith unless i pair it with hummus, his favourite!

6. granola or roasted quinoa: i recently stumbled across a recipe for both and they are fantastic {i will post them for anyone interested}. this is an easy one because i just make a big batch and then i can store it for just the right occasion. i mix it with fruit, yogurt, i've even rolled banana pops in them.

7. homemade bars: these are super easy to whip up and are a great solution to avoid that high fructose corn syrup in store bought granola bars. when i make a big batch, they last through the whole week. it's a great on the go snack. one of my favourite's is granola cinnamon balls {i will post the recipe}.

8. carefully selected convenience foods: it just isn't realistic to have 100% of my kids diet to be organic & homemade. so i do have a few fail-safes that i trust. sometimes the only prep for a snack can just be researching the brand. here is a few that i have found, that i consider safe for my kids. most are found in the healthy food section at loblaws. the things i look for are whole grains, fewest ingredients possible (5 or less is ideal), ingredients i can pronounce & know, low or no sugar. and then just be careful as organic does not always mean healthy. the organic label is another marketing ploy - just because the sugar that goes into a cookie is organic doesn't mean it's a healthy snack. one of my new finds are heritage O's: made from spelt & quinoa, sweetened with a touch of honey, a much healthier alternative to Cheerios. Lundburg rice cakes made from wild organic rice, dried seaweed & other whole grain goodness - just top with peanut butter or hummus to hide that seaweedy taste (they can be messy as they do fall a part quite easily without any sugar). dehydrated veggies is also a great find. mmm... crunchy goodness!


  1. SARAH!
    It is like I am reading our life story with food on your blog...this is GREAT!
    Girl, I need some recipes!!! We just made this transition into an even more strict eating habits in our house. I have found the need for that regular baking time as well.
    We have even signed up with an organic farm near our house to buy our produce...AND...we are looking into the goats milk and cheeses!!!! I am so glad to have a friend who is doing the same!
    Adam even said that he would love to have the recipe for your bars...if you don't mind!
    LOVE YA!

  2. P.s. Love the little man! He is too adorable!

  3. wow! that's awesome! it's been a HUGE change in our house, one that we are still transitioning into... i must admit, i think i'm the worst! but having said that the more we change, the harder it is to turn back in a really good way. you just end up tasting food differently and then processed food tastes really gross. it's expensive, but soooo worth it! i will post some more granola bar recipes.
    it's so nice to know others making the switch too! it can be hard making drastic changes like that, especially when your surrounded by others who do it the opposite way! it really is a lifestyle change... changes everything, including how the day is organized. so encouraging to know someone else doing the same thing!

  4. Sarah!
    We too are trying to make the switch, Isla has been pretty much organic since day one, but we are finding it a bit trickier cost wise to switch ourselves over. Do you just buy in the organic department at loblaws, or do you have a health food store that you like?
    thanks so much for sharing!!

  5. hey kate,

    we generally get most of our organic produce from the organic co-op we are apart of called ottawa organics. the rest we buy at loblaws and then usually once a month i'll get steve to stop at the natural food pantry in the market or at joanne's place in peterborough for a topper-upper of our non-produce items like peanut butter, raisins, etc. the pc brand at loblaws is generally the least expensive.
    it is expensive... so we started out using the clean 15 & the dirty dozen list (i'll post them for you if you like) until we adjusted budget-wise.
    now that we've gone organic with our produce, our tastebuds have grown accustom & eating non-organic tastes so chemically. it sounds so funny but the freshness factor makes a huge difference! i feel so snobby! but i guess if your health snobby that a little bit okay!