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The One Thing You Can Do to Help Your Child’s Well-Being

The One Thing You Can Do to Help Your Child’s Well-Being

What if I told you that there was something you can do right now that could help your child succeed in life? Would you do it?`

If there was one thing you could do right now to help your child succeed, would you do it? Family meals with your children have been shown to have so many benefits! Find out why, and some resources for how to start having family meals. #familymeals #feedingbabies #parenting

What if that something only involved about an hour of your time a day, and could result in fewer emotional difficulties and symptoms of depression for your child, as well as better emotional well-being? How about  if there was the potential that it could decrease the likelihood that your child would become addicted to drugs, and could improve their overall health?

What is this magic thing, you say?

If there was one thing you could do right now to help your child succeed, would you do it? Family meals with your children have been shown to have so many benefits! Find out why, and some resources for how to start having family meals. #familymeals #feedingbabies #parenting

You might be surprised to hear that what I’m talking about is simply having family meals with your children.

Family Meals

Now I say simply, but I know that when it comes down to it, it may seem simple but it is actually much harder than it looks. With the busy lives of school-aged children and adolescents nowadays, so many families have a hard time getting everyone together for meals. I get it. I know it’s complicated. It only gets harder the older the kids get, too.

But here’s the thing. Having a planned and consistent family meal with your children has so many potential benefits it’s worth figuring out a way to make it work. At least for a minimum of a few times a week. The claims I made above about all the good that family meals can do? They’re backed up by research (1, 2). That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. There are so many benefits to having meals together.

So that’s it?

Well, as with everything, there is a caveat. The family meal needs to be pleasant. It needs to be a safe space where you as a family come together and share stories and talk about what happened during your day. It’s not a place for fights, or a place for power struggles about food. It’s also not a place to have  screens. The family table is a place where everyone needs to feel welcomed and secure.

Does it matter what I serve?

The most important thing to family meals is the environment you create around them. The food you serve is secondary.

With that said,  you should try to make the food healthy overall. Finding healthy meals you enjoy making and eating can help to make family meals more pleasant. If you think you have to make something that you don’t enjoy, meals tend to be something you don’t look forward to.

It’s a great time to teach good eating habits and manners, also, and it wouldn’t hurt to take advantage of that.

My kid’s only 6 months old/in preschool/already in high school, does it still matter?

YES! Absolutely to all of those. Starting family meals as soon as your baby is old enough to sit in a high chair sets the stage for how the rest of their life will be. It teaches them how to use silverware, drink from a glass, and take bites of food.

If your kid is in preschool and you’ve never really made family meals a thing, there’s no time like the present to start. It can help them to learn manners, and can decrease picky eating in the long term as they get older. Unfortunately, as magic as family meals are, they won’t prevent picky eating completely. It’s a developmentally appropriate stage that many kids go through, and the goal is to reduce the length of time it lasts and encourage balanced eating when they’re older.

If your child is in high school, the chances are good that they have a fairly busy and active life. That doesn’t mean they can’t be expected to be at family meals if at all possible. Maybe family meals at this stage need to be breakfasts, maybe your child is only at dinner 2 nights a week as their schedule allows.Having a set family meal time that your child knows happens, even if they aren’t able to be there, can provide a tremendous amount of structure and stability.

I’m sold! But seriously, I don’t have the time…

Like I said above, I get it. It is easier said than done. There is also no perfect solution that will work for everyone. Getting into meal planning on the weekend might be best for some families, encouraging your older children to help with prep on the nights they are home might work for others. Getting takeout occasionally isn’t a bad thing here either, as long as you sit down and eat it together.  A combination of freezer meals, meal planning, and quick, throw together staples tends to work for most families.

I’m the first to say that on nights my husband and I don’t want to cook our fallback is a veggie frozen pizza. If we’re on top of things it was homemade and frozen, but lately that hasn’t happened. It’s still a good meal, and we still sit down and eat it as a family. It’s enough.

Bottom Line

Make family meals a priority, even if you start out with 2-3 meals a week. Your kids will thank you for it when they’re older.

Meal Planning family dinners

The How-to

To help get you started, here are a few resources I’ve gathered:

  1. My recipe resources roundup post, to help you find some of those staple meals
  2. Follow me on Pinterest for lots of great ideas for quick and easy meals and snacks
  3. A list of quick, healthy meals from a fellow dietitian, to help get you started with meal planning

Do you have any tricks that you’ve found for getting meals on the table? Let me know!

Happy eating!

By | 2018-02-14T09:23:11+00:00 February 21st, 2018|

Advancing Your Baby’s Food Textures

What You Should Know Before Advancing Your Baby’s Food Texture

Now that your baby has been eating for a little while, they have likely developed their skills enough to be swallowing many of their foods. Such progress! Do you know what to look for before starting to add in other items and textures?

Mixed Meals

If you’ve been following a baby-led feeding style, you are likely serving finger size foods that are easy to mash between two fingers. Perhaps you’ve ventured into the land of feeding separated bites of meals to your baby. Maybe it was a chili or a dal that was already fairly soft.While feeding babies this food is certainly closer to normal table food than pureed, it can still take some significant modification from family foods to ensure that the foods are safe for baby. So how do you know when your baby is ready to have their texture advanced beyond what you’re currently doing?

Has your baby been eating food for a few months now? Are you ready to start giving them more challenging dishes? Find out what you should be looking for before advancing their food textures. #firstfoods #solidfoods #babyledweaning #dietitian

The Signs to Look For

Every baby develops differently. Some might be ready to advance much sooner than others. It is vital you pay attention to your baby’s signs.

There are a few developments that can signal it’s time to start advancing the texture of your baby’s food. They generally happen around 9 months of age. Keep in mind that I am mentioning this purely for reference. This does not to indicate you should start right at 9 months!

The First Sign

Mastery of the pincer grasp. This is when baby is able to consistently grasp small items between thumb and forefinger. Think blueberries or Cheerios sized foods.

The Second Sign

They’ve Got Teeth. Around this time babies tend to start getting teeth in if they haven’t already. These new teeth can be a great help to nibble off bits of harder foods. They will still not have molars to help them grind their food, but that does not usually alter their ability to start advancing their textures.

Once you’ve seen these first two signs together, you can see if your baby is able to handle harder textures.

Now What?

Try providing them with a slightly harder food, a vegetable or fruit is a great place to start. If you normally serve your baby vegetables cooked more than your own, try giving them more al dente like your food. Pay close attention to what they do with the food. A great sign to watch for is any increased gagging, or if after a first bite of the food they return to the softer foods and ignore the harder one. If they handle the harder food well, you should feel confident to keep trying other harder foods, as well.

So Can I Just Give My Baby Everything Now?

Your baby met the developmental markers and did fine with some slightly harder food. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that it’s safe to give everything directly as you serve to yourself or the rest of the family.

It is still important to pay attention to high risk choking foods like raw apples, whole grapes, and nuts among other things. Your baby will likely be able to handle smaller pieces of things though, and won’t need many things cut into finger shapes any more.

Bite Sized Food for Advancing Textures | New Ways Nutrition

Try cutting things like meat and muffins into smaller bite size pieces. These will allow your baby to continue to develop their pincer grasp. Now is also a great time to start introducing some casseroles or other more complex mixed dishes to your baby. Cut them into bite size pieces and let your baby taste the mix of flavors they provide.

Anything else?

Continue to pay close attention to your baby and follow their lead. Allow them to stay at the texture that is safest for them as long as they need to. At the same time, don’t be afraid to help them develop their skills even more!

Even though it may be exciting to have them start eating more of the exact same food you do, it is vital that you go at your baby’s pace.Your goal is to allow them to have the most pleasant experiences they can at meal times. Exploring different foods and textures at their own pace helps them to develop a great relationship with food that will last them their whole life.

Happy Feeding!

This is the fourth article in the Feeding Babies series. Check out the rest of the blog posts: Starting Solid Foods, First Foods: Traditional or Baby Led Weaning, and How to Choose the Best First Foods for Your Baby

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to hear when the next articles in the series are out!

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By | 2018-02-14T06:10:45+00:00 February 14th, 2018|

What Nutrients Are Important in My Baby’s First Foods?

What Nutrients Are Important in My Baby’s First Foods?

What first foods do babies need to thrive? Should we be concerned about calories, protein, iron, Vitamin C? What are the best foods to feed to baby to help ensure they grow well? What foods can get baby enough iron without needing a baby cereal?

So you’re officially ready to start feeding your baby solid foods. They’re about 6 months old and have met all of the developmental milestones. You’ve maybe even given them a couple of first foods. So what do you need to keep in mind as you start feeding them regularly?

Create Their First Foods Plate

I like to think of a 6 month old’s plate as needing 2-3 items on it. Remember, they have a small tummy and food for these first several weeks is really about skill building. As we get into 7-8 months, their skills will drastically improve and you will have a better idea of how much your specific baby will want to eat. In the meantime, offer them a variety of foods that are the appropriate textures to allow them to explore.

So which foods do you offer at each meal? Try to think of it as one food from each of the categories below.

First foods- A balanced meal with eggs, avocados, and steamed carrots

Make One Food an Iron-Rich Food

One of the biggest nutrients of concern for babies 6 months and older is iron. If you haven’t already had your pediatrician talk to you about it, you’re likely to hear something in the coming months. Getting adequate iron is important for your baby, and the general scientific consensus currently is that breast milk starts to not be an adequate source of iron as baby gets older than 6 months. The good news is this is a gradual change, and helping your baby to learn eating skills starting at 6 months and offering iron rich foods frequently has been shown to provide adequate supplies of iron for most babies.(source) So what is considered an iron-rich food?

Here are some ideas:

  • Red meat
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Beans

Make One Food a High-Calorie Food

As your baby continues to grow, they start to need complementary foods to provide calories. This doesn’t mean instead of breast milk or formula, though. It means in addition to the milk. Choosing a high-calorie food can help to get your baby the calories that they need to continue to grow.

Some ideas might be:

  • Fatty fish
  • Avocados
  • Cooking with oils and butter
  • Full fat plain greek yogurt

Make One Food a Fruit or Vegetable

Your baby needs to be exposed to lots of different flavors and textures and one of the best ways to do that is by offering many different fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables also contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals of importance, like Vitamin C which can help with iron absorption. The only limit on this category is the texture your baby is able to handle at their current developmental age.


  • Steamed carrots
  • Steamed sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

What Else Does My Baby Need?

Of course iron and calories aren’t the only things that are important in first foods for a growing baby. They are the most critical initially, though. As they grow, things like zinc, omega-3s, and selenium become important. Following the above breakdown and adding foods to your lists as your baby grows will provide most of these nutrients in abundance. Red meat is a great source of zinc as are nuts, eggs, and beans. Seafood can be a great source of both selenium and omega-3s. Adding things like chia seeds and omega-3 enriched eggs can also help with omega-3s. Don’t worry as much about the individual nutrients, though, as about offering a variety of foods from the different categories. A generally balanced diet will provide your baby with all the nutrients they will need.

What About Texture and Size?

Appropriate size and texture meat for baby's first foods

For the first month or so the general rule of thumb is that the first foods should be able to be squished between your thumb and forefinger, or very fibrous where baby can’t break it off. An example of a fibrous food would be a slice of read meat that baby can gum and suck on but has very little chance of actually taking a bite. There are various sites and groups out there that have different recommendations about textures. The research and experts show, though, that the best way to reduce the risk of choking is to ensure that at the beginning babies are only provided foods that are soft or not able to be broken off. The best sized first foods for baby are finger width and around 1.5 times the length of their fist. The general idea is long enough so that they can grasp the item and still have enough room to nibble. Avoid round or disk-shaped items like grapes as these have a higher risk of choking and blocking your baby’s airway.

How Do I Remember All This?

A handout for your fridge to help you remember how to balance your baby's meals of first foods

Well I’m glad you asked! Even though I do this for a living, when it came time to start feeding my daughter I still needed an easy way to figure out what  first foods to give her. If you read my last post you might remember me mentioning that I created a handout to hang on my fridge. It has ideas of what to offer in each category, and reminders of textures and portion sizes. I find myself referring to it every day just to make sure I’m offering as balanced of meals as I can to my daughter. Sign up below for your own copy of this handout, and let it help you create interesting and balanced plates for your own kids! I’ve got a Pinterest friendly infographic at the bottom of this page that you can pin to your boards and share, as well.

To Sum it Up

Bottom line: Give your baby a variety of different foods from each of the three categories above. Make sure the food is the appropriate texture and size, and allow them to explore and develop their skills as you go on the feeding journey with them.

Happy Feeding!

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By | 2018-02-07T06:01:47+00:00 February 7th, 2018|

First Foods: Traditional or Baby Led Weaning?

Best First Foods for Baby

Do you know what to give your baby as a first food? Here's a first foods for baby chart with solid food ideas and some baby led weaning principles. | NewWaysNutrition.com

Now that you know when to start feeding your baby, it’s time to get into the what of first foods. Pureed baby food or regular family food? Is there a specific food to start with? Continue reading to find out!

As always with the Feeding Babies series, please keep in mind that while I am a health professional, this post is intended to be informative only. This is not a specific recommendation for anyone. As I do not know your specific situation, I cannot make recommendations for any type of food that your baby should start with. Please use your best judgement and consult with your care team as necessary.  

What to feed baby for a first food? Puree or Baby Led Weaning?

The Most Important Thing

First and foremost, let’s touch on the most important thing. That your baby get’s fed. That’s it. We can talk all day about the specific foods, textures, timing, etc. But the most important thing hands down is that your baby has food. You have every right to do what feels right for you and your baby. Do not let anyone else make you feel badly about your choice. We all make different choices for different reasons. As long as you feed your baby, you’re doing your job.

The “Norm” for First Foods

First Foods- Baby Eating Puree | New Ways Nutrition

Traditionally, parents have fed babies pureed foods. These foods are what we generally consider “baby food”, and tend to be present in baby meals for months on end. The general consensus is that this developed when the recommendation was to feed your baby quite early in their life, when they didn’t have the ability to chew their food. You can even see this lack of chewing ability in babies fed early at 4-5 months old; they just aren’t ready for anything but pureed foods. When you wait to feed your baby until they show the proper developmental markers, they will be much more ready to handle other textures.  At that point, there is no reason to confine them to purees.

What are my Options?

One of the more popular methods of feeding babies today is called Baby Led Weaning, also known as Baby Led Feeding or Baby Self-feeding. This is when baby self-feeds table foods of an appropriate texture. Think starting with an avocado instead of pureed foods. Methods along this line have been shown to allow baby to better regulate their internal hunger and satiety cues. They also lead to a natural progression of chewing and swallowing ability, and allow them to properly develop their gag reflex. These are all very good things in the world of baby development! It also means that you don’t have to purchase or make baby food. With a few adjustments to ensure the texture is appropriate for baby, it means you can feed them what you are eating. It’s really a win-win, both short and long term, for baby and families.

Doesn’t that get messy? 

Baby Led Weaning can get messy | New Ways Nutrition

There’s no sugar coating this part. Yep! When babies feed themselves from the beginning, there is a learning curve. They have to practice the skill of eating and getting food into their mouths. A decent amount of food will end up on the floor. In return, though, your baby will be an adventurous eater who is exposed to lots of textures and flavors. Generally these babies grow up to have more adventurous palettes. It doesn’t mean your baby won’t have picky stages as they grow. Overall, though, these babies have been shown to end up less picky than their traditionally fed counterparts.

What if I want to stick with purees?

Some parents don’t feel comfortable starting their babies on anything but pureed foods, and that’s ok. Like I said above, it is your choice. If you decide to start on pureed foods, I encourage you to keep in mind that they are just starter foods. By the time your baby reaches 7-8 months old they should have no problem advancing their textures to lumpy purees and soft table foods. There is a good chance they will want to feed themselves, too. We will cover specific things to look for before advancing textures in a future post.

Rice cereal as a first food or not?

Bowl of Rice Cereal | New Ways Nutrition

If you decide to start with pureed foods, there is no real need to start with a fortified cereal. Rice cereal was the general recommendation when babies were starting solids very early. The thought was that you should avoid allergens until later in life. Rice cereal is one of those bland foods that doesn’t have a lot of flavor, is allergen free, and fortified with iron. The iron in it is not anywhere near as well absorbed as that in breast milk, and the actual amount of iron babies can absorb from it is up for debate. Pick any fruit or vegetable to start. Oatmeal is also a viable option, as is meat to help with iron intake. Most babies will not have a problem switching between foods, just continue to vary what foods you offer.

What about allergies? 

The recommendation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease is to introduce your baby to allergenic foods early and often. This means that once baby is developmentally ready for foods, incorporating things like peanuts, eggs, wheat, and soy into their diet is a great idea. There is no evidence that waiting several days between introductions of foods helps to prevent or identify allergies. This is no longer the generally accepted advice. Allergic reactions can happen at first introduction of foods, or after several exposures and months down the line.  Knowing what’s in your food and ensuring that you are offering a variety of foods frequently is your best bet at helping to prevent food allergies down the line.

Responsive Feeding

No matter which method you choose, the best way to help your child develop a healthy relationship to food is to practice responsive feeding. What’s that, you ask? It’s letting your baby lead the way in deciding how much they want to eat. Pay attention to your baby’s cues, like turning their head away. Respect those cues by not pushing more food after they are done. Don’t encourage your baby to have “one more spoonful”, or force the spoon into their mouth. With self-feeding methods, the same general guidelines apply. Don’t force  your baby to have more than they want at any meal. Don’t decide for them which types of foods on their tray should be consumed first or completely. Babies have an innate ability to know when they are hungry or full. It is incredibly hard as a parent to tune in to their cues ahead of what we think they should eat. But listening to them first and foremost, and trusting that they know what their body needs is one of the best things you can do for your child.

I want to try this self-feeding method, what do I start with? 

First Foods For Baby- Baby Led Weaning | New Ways Nutrition

The beauty of self-feeding is that your baby can generally have what you are having, with potentially some slight texture modifications. Assuming your diet is an overall healthy and balanced one, that is. Things like avocado, meats, greek yogurt, and soft fruits and veggies are all great options. I like to have a chart up on my fridge to remind myself and my husband of great food options as we’re cooking or meal planning, as well as portion sizes and texture recommendations. Sign up below to grab a printer-friendly, full version of the picture above to hang on your refrigerator. It’s the same one I have on mine!

Last thoughts

No matter which method you choose to use, know that they don’t have to be exclusive. If you spend any time on social media you will come across people who have become very dogmatic in their choice of feeding method. Know that this does not have to be the case. Trust your baby and your intuition. Follow safe practices to avoid the major choking risks, and have a fun time introducing your baby to solid foods. Offer multiple foods frequently from the start.  Doing this will help your baby to develop a long term liking of different tastes that will help them throughout their life.

Happy feeding!

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By | 2018-02-06T14:34:06+00:00 January 25th, 2018|

Recipe Resources for Mealtime Inspiration

Recipe Resources Roundup- A collection of the best delicious, nourishing recipe resources from around the internet for those days when you just need a reliable healthy recipe that works!
Recipe Resources Roundup- talking about those tried and true sites that will always have a foolproof recipe for you.

Recipe Resources Roundup- talking about those tried and true sites that will always have a foolproof recipe for you.

One of my favorite things to do online is find new recipes. I like the inspiration I get from seeing new recipes pop up on blogs I follow. I also like being able to find the best version of a dish that I saw someone post about on social media. However I end up finding the recipe, I love to get in the kitchen and experience the satisfaction of a recipe that turns out perfectly.

All Recipes are not Created Equally 

With that being said, have you ever gone to make a recipe from Pinterest or a blog and it was just not good? It was missing something, or the instructions or measurements were bad? It had way too many crazy ingredients  or was just nowhere near what the traditional version you remember was like? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced those thoughts over the years of using internet recipes.

The Best of the Best

Through many tries and fails, I have found a pretty surefire list of reliable sites to find recipes on. These aren’t from allrecipes, or food.com. They’re bloggers that I have tried enough of their recipes to know that they know what they are talking about. They can all write recipes properly, to boot!

I love giving new bloggers and recipe creators a chance, don’t get me wrong. I take it as my duty to test a lot of them so that you don’t have to, even! (You can find things that I’ve tested and enjoyed on some of my Pinterest boards for those of you who are interested.) The one thing I don’t like, though, is planning to make a recipe for a weeknight meal and having that recipe not turn out. Sometimes, I just need to know that if I pick something to make it is just going to turn out.

The List

So without further ado, below you’ll find some of the websites that I scour when I’m looking for a new recipe that I know will just work. There’s only a few of them when it comes down to it. I’ve gone through and pulled out some of the recipes I’ve tried and loved on these sites. Hopefully some of the recipes will inspire you. If they don’t inspire you to cook these specific ones, hopefully they’ll inspire you to head to the sites for some other delicious recipes. Getting into the kitchen to cook and having family meals is one of the best things you can do for your family. Now let’s try and make it easy, foolproof, and delicious in the process so we can all keep our sanity!

Smitten Kitchen

This is the one blog that I will always find something I want to make on. Always. It is also the blog that my husband can go to and pick a recipe to make without any input from me at all. She takes all sorts of recipes and trials multiple different versions. She posts only the ones that really and truly work. Every time. Judging by our favorite recipes I’ve posted below, you’d think she only does breakfasts. She doesn’t, I promise. We apparently just get really excited about good breakfast recipes. We have made a ton of her dinner recipes and they are great. If you only take away one thing from this post, keep Smitten Kitchen in your back pocket for when you are in need of inspiration.

My Favorites

Best Recipes- maple oat scones smitten kitchen

Oat and Maple Syrup Scones

We literally make these at least once a month. And by we, I definitely mean my husband because I have not once made these. He does it every time. Lucky me!

Smitten Kitchen Best Brownies

The Best Brownies Ever

These may not be for a meal, but they are so good I have to share. Smitten Kitchen has so many different brownies on the site it’s hard to choose. I admittedly have not come close to making them all. I found these one day, made them, and haven’t made anything since.

Baked Spinach and Eggs with Biscuit- Smitten Kitchen

Spinach and Baked Eggs

It might not sound like much, but is an amazing option for a savory breakfast or dinner. Great to take to potlucks, especially brunch ones. Pair with the biscuits below and they are one of my favorite breakfast combos.

Buttermilk Biscuits- smitten kitchen


I found these and haven’t made any others since. Perfect for any meal and can be tweaked to go with anything you want. They are technically buttermilk, but since I never have buttermilk on hand I always do the adding vinegar to regular milk trick and they still come out amazing.


These are the standard waffles we use for breakfasts and brinners. Although we have made them more times than I can count, I still haven’t gotten pictures of them! If we ever want to change it up, she has a lot more options on the site. This is the one recipe that I change a little and it happened purely by accident. The first time I made these I didn’t see that you were supposed to separate the eggs and beat the egg whites. I added the whole egg when it says to add just the yolks. It worked out. They are delicious. And I will never beat egg whites for this recipe, because that just takes more time than I want to give!

Oh She Glows

This site is full of veggie heavy meal ideas. It is technically a vegan site, however I find her focus is more on vegetables and not meat substitutes. This means it is full of meals that just happen to not have meat or dairy in them, instead of ones that are vegan versions of meat heavy dishes. Hopefully that distinction makes sense to someone other than me! For the meals or snacks that are only vegan because they use a milk substitute, I have found that subbing cow’s milk or butter generally tends to work pretty well for those not avoiding them.

My Favorites

Oh She Glows Red Lentil Dal

Red Lentil Dal

Ignore the awful picture, the recipe is much better than my photo! This is a great dish with veggies and lentils that is usually served over rice. Super easy to whip up, a nice option for a warming weeknight meal.

Big Vegan Bowl- Oh She Glows

Big Vegan Bowl

Less of a recipe, more of an idea that we frequently use. A great example of a great lunch or clean out your fridge meal. Easily adaptable and great for breaking up to feed babies, too.

8 Minute Pantry Dal

I wont bore you with the pictures I have managed to take of this dish. They weren’t good. The dish, on the other hand, is great! Incorporates lentils and any veggies you happen to have on hand. We frequently use frozen veggies that are rolling around our freezer and it’s a great time and money saver. Don’t miss this one.

Flourless Breakfast Cookies

These always earn rave reviews, whether as a dessert or for breakfast. They are essentially thumbprint cookies. Unlike most cookies that claim to be good for breakfast, these truly are. Full of oats, bananas, peanut butter, and chia seed jam, there are no ingredients in here that I don’t eat normally for my breakfasts. Super simple and quick, they freeze remarkably well which makes them great for days you don’t have time to make anything for breakfast.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal- Oh She Glows

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

Carrot Cake is my favorite. Nothing else compares to it in my mind. We even had it for our wedding cake, that’s how much both my husband and I like it. So imagine my love of this totally satisfying and nourishing breakfast version. Full of lots of carrots, it starts your day out on the right veggie foot, too!

Simple Bites

This website is written by a former chef who has  three kids. It is full of so many recipes and practical tips for getting kids into the kitchen and teaching them how to cook. She has two cookbooks, and unfortunately for this post, when I went to look for our favorite recipes I realized that they were mainly from the books. She still has amazing recipes on the blog, but other than the two I’ve listed below, I recommend perusing around her site yourself to find ones to try. You can’t go wrong!

Simple Bites Lentil Sloppy Joes

Lentil Sloppy Joes

I tried these on a whim one night, and they were incredible. I like them way more than normal sloppy joes, and they are full of veggies and lentils for a nice balanced meal. Even the heartiest of meat lovers will enjoy these. I generally like to top them off with a simple coleslaw for an added crunch.

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes-Simple Bites

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes

This is my go to pancake recipe. It’s quick, easy, and has great ingredients. What more could you want?

All of the sites I mentioned are great resources to have bookmarked or share with your family. Hopefully you will find them as useful as I do and they will become a part of your kitchen for years to come!

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By | 2018-02-06T12:38:22+00:00 January 17th, 2018|

Feeding Babies Part 1: Starting Solid Foods

How to Start Your Baby on Solid Foods

Feeding Babies: How to Start Solid Foods. A series to help your child have the best relationship they can with food, starting with how, and when, to introduce solid foods.

Feeding Babies Part 1: Starting Solid Foods | New Ways Nutrition

This is the first in a new series I will be doing all about how to help your child have the best relationship they can with food, from first bite through adolescence. While I am a health professional, this advice is for informational purposes only. I encourage you to talk with your own doctor, dietitian, or other qualified health professional to help you find the course that is right for you and your family. Any examples used in this series are examples only and should not be taken as prescriptive. Everyone has different methods they have found to work when it comes to feeding their kids. This is intended as a research based look at the issues with some everyday examples thrown in. Bottom line– this is a judgment free zone! Mommy and Daddy guilt be gone! With that said, let’s dig in…

The beginning of your child’s life is a time that is full of so many amazing moments. From their first smile to being able to sit up, it all seems to go by so fast. Before my daughter was born, I was so busy buying all sorts of baby paraphernalia that I didn’t do much thinking about how we were going to do the actual parenting. I figured we had plenty of time to work that out. At 5 months and counting (quickly, it seems!) we are definitely approaching that time where our parenting philosophy is going to need to start showing itself in full force.

Seeing as how helping families figure out their feeding philosophies is a main part of my job, you’d think I would know exactly how I wanted to approach feeding my daughter from the moment I knew I was pregnant. Not the case, unfortunately. Sure I know a lot more than the average person. I also have a general idea of what I want to do. But what her first food is going to be? What specific style we will use to feed her? Nope, haven’t gotten there yet. Not to mention I have to make sure that my husband knows and is behind whatever way we decide to go. So many things to think about! Which is why I figured I would lay out all of the evidence and background here, to not only help you but to help myself. And to explain in writing to my husband and extended family exactly what I’m thinking. (Hi Honey!)

First things first. When should you start foods?

When to start solid foods | New Ways Nutrition

Well, it Depends…

Unfortunately for parents everywhere, this depends on who you ask. It couldn’t be straightforward, could it? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting at about 6 months of age. Other sources, including some pediatricians I’ve heard of, seem to be fine with starting at 4 months. Recommendations over the years have changed, but usually lie within the 4-6 month mark.

Why the difference?

There are a few things that different groups are looking at when they make recommendations. These include how ready is your baby’s gut, what is their developmental ability, risks of food allergy development, and are there any nutrients your baby needs at a certain time.

OK, so what do we do?

I recommend starting solids based on your baby’s developmental markers that show readiness to start solid foods. This is based on looking at all the different recommendations as well as  the reasoning behind them. Every baby is different, and this also takes into account your baby and not just the average baby. These markers are unlikely to be present until around 6 months, but again, every baby is different.

If by chance these markers aren’t there by 6 months, that’s ok! Continue watching closely for them to be present, and start when they are. If this is your situation, it would be a good idea to consult your pediatrician or a dietitian to inquire about iron stores. Iron is one of the main nutrients health professionals watch out for when you start to get to the 6-month mark. It is by no means a reason to rush into eating before your baby is ready, though.

The only real caveat to this is if you have a history of food allergies in your family. In that case the latest research recommends starting allergen containing foods closer to the 4-month mark. Make sure you talk with your pediatrician or dietitian about timeline and your family history first! The number one thing I can say is do not be in a hurry to start solid foods. Your baby has a lifetime of eating ahead of them. Ensuring that they are ready and able to appropriately accept foods can help make their relationship with foods throughout their whole life a good one.

 What are the markers to watch for?

Baby Can Sit Up Developmental Marker | New Ways Nutrition

Your baby:

  • Can sit up unassisted
  • Tongue no longer extrudes (in other words, your baby doesn’t thrust their tongue out when something comes towards their mouth)
  • Has an interest in your food
  • Puts toys and other things in their mouth
  • Has some hand control to get things where they want them to go

These markers take into account social readiness as well as physical. Both are equally important for their lifetime eating habits as well as peace around your family table. Feeding a baby that’s too young can result in a struggle and make meal times trying. That’s no fun for anyone involved. By following a few guidelines, feeding your baby really can be an amazing, rewarding, and fun time for the whole family!

Got it. What’s Next?

Once your baby is showing all the signs that they are ready for solid food, its time to pick a first food! I’ll dive into this topic in the next post in the feeding babies series.

Have any questions? Topics you’re curious about or want me to cover in this series? Let me know! Be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I share meal and snack ideas from all around the internet to help inspire your food choices. Feeding Babies will also be moving to Instagram soon. I’ll be sharing our progress as we introduce our daughter to solid foods. 

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By | 2018-02-06T14:32:00+00:00 January 10th, 2018|

The Best Healthy Travel Snacks for Families

The Best Healthy Travel Snacks for Families

We just got back from a trip to British Columbia to introduce the babe to her Canadian family. One of the things that always shocks me about traveling is just how meager the food options are at most airports, and how expensive those few options are. Now I’m the last one to say I won’t eat something, and am generally pretty open to all options for food. There’s just something about most airport food that leaves me feeling heavy and sluggish afterwards, though, so I generally try and avoid it, and the outrageous price tag!

With that in mind, I prepped some snacks for us to eat on our long days of travel and figured I would share them with you all. I’m also sharing some cheap, non-perishable options I tend to grab when I don’t have time before a trip to prep food. All in the name of keeping your mind and body happy while traveling so you can enjoy all the sights, sounds, and people while feeling your best!

Packaged snacks:

  1. Lara bars– these tend to be my go to bars. There are no funky ingredients and they provide just enough substance to tide me over for a bit. I tend to stick to the original versions as those are the ones usually on sale, but I love the nut versions, too.
  2. Trail mix– Usually I get this from Trader Joe’s. I like to look for something with a good mixture of nuts and dried fruit, and occasionally a bit of chocolate for some added sweetness.
  3. Crackers and nut butter– I aim for whole grain crackers and small packs of nut butters. My favorite nut butter is Almond and can usually be found in multiple different package sizes.
  4. Fresh or dried fruit– mandarins and tangerines are great options year round, but any fruit that isn’t too delicate works. For dried fruit I tend to choose apricots or banana chips out of personal preference. I like to avoid cranberries or cherries that have added sweeteners. They usually make me feel like I am just eating sugar so it is better for me to avoid them.

Homemade snacks:

  1. Date balls– there are all sorts of recipes for them out there and you can find one for any flavor that you like. One that I favor is Daily Garnish’s Coconut Date Energy Bites. The added oats and orange zest in these make them feel a little more substantial and unique.
  2. Granola bars– again, multiple healthy options out there. I like to find ones that incorporate dried fruits and nuts for added staying power, and err on the side as little sweetener as possible. My favorite bar of the moment is Oh She Glow’s New Mama Glo Bar. These have brown rice sugar as a binder/sweetener, and make me crave more every time I have one.
  3. Sandwiches-from standard peanut butter and jelly to hummus and veggies. What I pack depends on time of day and how long I’m traveling. I usually will pack a sandwich if I’m traveling over lunch and/or dinner. If I know I can eat it within four hours, I’ll pack a clean out the fridge hummus and veggie sandwich to really help me feel nourished and satisfied. Otherwise it’s PB & J or almond butter and fruit.
  4. Oat cookies– a cookie in name only, it is full of whole grains and dried fruit with very little sweetener. You can find all sorts of cookies out there like this, but here is my favorite:
5 from 1 vote

Awesome Oat Cookies

A healthy, oat, fruit and nut cookie ideal for snacks and traveling. (Adapted from Peas and Thank You cookbook)

Course Snack
Cuisine Vegan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 12 cookies


  • 4 tbsp ground flaxseed, divided
  • 1/2 cup water

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup any flavorless oil, grapeseed or canola works well
  • 1/4 cup milk, sub non-dairy milk to make this vegan
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix Ins

  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped**
  • 1/4 cup raisins**
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped**


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. 

  2. Combine 2 tbsp flaxseed with water in a small bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

  3. Combine remaining flax seed, flours, oats, baking soda and spices in a medium sized bowl.

  4. Add wet ingredients to flaxseed mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved. 

  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.

  6. Fold in the nuts and dried fruit until just combined

  7. Spoon 12 heaping spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet. Press down into loose cookie shapes. 

  8. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden brown on bottom. Transfer to cooling rack. 

  9. Once completely cooled, cookies can be stored sealed tightly on the counter for 2-3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. 

Recipe Notes

**The raisins, apricots, and walnuts can be subbed for any dried fruit or nuts of your choice. 

All of the above homemade options (except for the sandwiches) are great for freezing, and can be made well in advance of any traveling. These were also a few of the snacks I made for the newborn days. I would grab one from the freezer when I was feeling hungry but had no time, or hands, to make something. They were lifesavers!

Here’s to happy traveling!

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By | 2018-02-06T12:36:44+00:00 November 21st, 2017|

Navigating Halloween with Your Children

How to Navigate Halloween with Your Children

Navigating Halloween with your children | New Ways Nutrition
Halloween is just around the corner, and for most people it is a holiday represented by bags of candy and sugar overload. As a parent, how do you help your child to navigate this smorgasbord of calories and sugar?

I still remember every Halloween when I was a child. We would get dressed up in our costumes and head to the best streets in the neighborhood to collect as much candy as we could. When we had accumulated our stash, my sister and I would head back home and spend hours sorting and trading our candy. Each of us would try to get as many of our favorites as possible and then would eat them for weeks afterwards.

after trick or treating

Those are fond memories, and for many parents and children those experiences are a passage of childhood. It may be hard for us to remember as we try to help our children with eating healthfully, but eating Halloween candy for a short period each year will not forever harm your child. It can actually help them to develop valuable lifelong healthy eating skills.

Parents have many different ways of handling Halloween candy consumption. Some do a version of buying the candy back, often with the help of a dentist or a “switch-witch”  who provides some toy or other item in exchange for the candy. Others implement a rationing system, with their children allowed to have a predetermined amount of candy on Halloween and in the days that follow.

While there are many viable options for families, in my experience as a dietitian I recommend allowing your child to experience the fun of Halloween in all its candy overload glory.
trick or treating

Division of Feeding Responsibility

Now if your first reaction to a dietitian recommending that you allow your child to eat their Halloween candy unrestricted is “you’ve got to be kidding me!” you’re not alone. That is what many people have come to expect from health professionals. However, as a dietitian I truly believe in the Division of Feeding Responsibility that is put forward by Ellyn Satter, a leading child feeding expert and Registered Dietitian. It is a way of feeding your child that can help to ease your mind, and the guilt, that often goes along with mealtime struggles, not just at Halloween but year round.

While the details of the Division of Feeding Responsibility theory are for another post, the main tenets are that you, as the parent, are responsible for deciding what food your child will eat and when they can eat it. Your child is responsible for deciding whether to eat that food and how much they will eat. This allows your child to learn to trust their own hunger and satiety cues, while still providing structure from the parents.

I know that the thought of allowing your child to choose how much to eat can be overwhelming in many cases. Our first instinct when trying to help our children learn healthy habits is often to tell them that they need to eat a certain amount of each food. Then we hope that they will eventually start to replicate these patterns on their own, if all goes well. For some kids this can work, but for others it is a recipe for endless tantrums and struggles at meal times and there IS a better way! I’ll get into the details of how to feed your child following this method another day, but for now, back to Halloween.

halloween candy

Putting it into Practice

Making Halloween candy a restricted item can often lead to your child just wanting more of it. It sets it up as a forbidden item, and for most of us as soon as you tell us we can’t have something, we just want it more. So how do you help your child to eat their Halloween candy responsibly without having to put outside restrictions on it?

  1. Discuss ahead of time what Halloween is about. Are there other traditions in your family like getting dressed up or decorating the house for trick-or-treaters? Will you go out all night and get candy, or just for one hour after dinner? Help your child to prepare for the holiday so there are no surprises (and hopefully no tantrums!) Try to emphasize the non-candy traditions you have as a family.
  2. Eat a wholesome meal before going out to trick-or-treat. Offering a balanced meal before can help to satisfy your child’s hunger with healthy food. This can help to prevent the binge effect that being hungry and presented with infinite amounts of candy can present.
  3. Have fun with your children. Encourage them to enjoy the process of trick-or-treating and not just the loads of candy that will result. See who can get the most steps on your route or create a dance routine for in between houses to get some extra movement in. Foster a sense of fun for the night that is in addition to the candy.
  4. Speak with your kids about how they feel both during and after eating candy. We all know that eating a bunch of candy can lead to feeling sick, sluggish, and many other things. Help your child to recognize these feelings and their own instincts with questions like “How did you feel after eating the candy? What would you do differently next time?”
  5. After the day of Halloween, continue to follow the division of responsibility. Offer your kids the candy as a snack if they want it, and let them regulate how much they have. Continue to emphasize the process of eating the candy and not the end result by helping your child to check in with their instincts. How does it make them feel? Kids are naturally in tune with their instincts and if we help foster them, they will learn to recognize what food makes them feel good and what doesn’t.

Establishing these steps as the norm in your family year after year will help your children to develop the ability to moderate their food intake on their own, and help them to develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

Like what you read? Having problems establishing a healthy mealtime routine in your house or worried about your own relationship with food? Head to the Services page to see how I can help!


By | 2018-02-04T13:28:27+00:00 October 26th, 2017|