Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

One of my 10 steps in discovering (and creating!) an adventurous eater in your family is Involvement.   Getting the kids involved in meal time has so many doors to open the world of being a leader. It’s not only about them cooking, it goes even further back in how that meal is placed on your table. Giving them the tools to spark that confidence, that might simply be hiding, can not only get them to taste what’s in front of them but also build leadership skills.

When we feel we’re too busy or in a rush to get meals in front of our family, not only is it totally stressful, but we are losing out on important lessons for our children. Thanks to Brooklyn’s Montessori education, I’ve been taught how important life skills are in academics and I have done my best to look at everything I do in my kitchen as a teaching versus a chore. I believe that our life skills foster independence and create leaders in our children. How does this work in the kitchen?

The moment you ask your child to be involved in what is in your kitchen, the teaching begins. Brooklyn helps choose what meals we will be having as a family, creating the grocery list, we shop together, prep and cook. What’s equally important is she helps set the table and clean up after the meal is done. Life skills create a solid human being and as a parent you should never feel guilty teaching your child to contribute as a family member. Does Brooklyn complain at times when I ask her to do something? Of course! She’s a normal 5 year old. We then have to work a bit harder to teach her how important her role is in our family. Even if your child complains, when they feel they are a part of something big, their pride shines and the leader inside them slowly comes out.  So how can your children get involved?

  1.  Create place cards for meals.  The creativity can be so simple at an early age.  They don’t have to cook a full-course meal to be a part of it!
  2.  Use my “Let’s Set the Table!” reusable placemat (you can get at Shop Here!) to make setting the table fun.  Our children’s book, “I Tried It!” has a fun little jingle that Brooklyn says with her cats for them to remember where everything goes.  You can get the book with the same link above!
  3. Grab some recipe cards or books and have your children choose a few dinners that week.  We have our creative Meal Planning Flashcards that you can use with your child to choose foods they want to try, along with creative recipes they can make on the back.  My recipes are SUPER easy and SUPER fast.  And SUPER tasty!  Have them choose a few items they will have in their lunchbox that week too.  100 Days of Real Food has wonderful and convenient suggestions for lunches.  Or follow some of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that give fantastic lunch options that are beyond easy.
  4. Have them find the items on your grocery list when you get to the store.  They will be so proud when they find things.  Brooklyn loves finding her dad’s items and telling him when she gets home that she picked them herself.
  5. Simple prep at home can go for miles.  We have wonderful tools we use in the kitchen that are safe, actually work and are fun.  Sign up to get my “Discovering the Adventurous Eater in Your Child” e-book on my website to see all the tools that work for Brooklyn.

Simple teachings surrounding what makes your family table a positive one, builds a strong foundation for your family. Allowing your child to tell you what they want for dinner that week, how they think the peppers should be cut, showcasing their creativity while helping, and demonstrating how helpful they are to you will create the adult you hope they will be. Someone who knows how to make decisions, help their friends, contribute to something huge, have confidence to voice their opinion, and not be afraid to let their creativity shine.

What ways do you use your kitchen as teaching opportunities? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Can Eating “Healthy” Actually Become UNhealthy?

Can Eating “Healthy” Actually Become UNhealthy?

How we eat, what we eat, when we eat… when did it become so overwhelming? Why do we find ourselves analyzing every ingredient, depriving, forbidding, and stressing ourselves out to a point where we lose focus of the true purpose of food? You try this diet, eliminate this ingredient, forbid a certain food group entirely, and find yourself going down a rabbit hole of information. This year a certain diet is all the rage, next month another food group is horrible for you, sugar is the devil, then the information you have been relying on and base your grocery shopping on… changes. Completely. You’re on your next mission and change this, eliminate that, read this, stop that, feel guilty because you ate that, are scolded because something is being marketed as bad for you, and the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper. Technically, we eat to survive, to have energy, to increase our immune system, and to allow our bodies to function at their highest level.   When did it get so stressful?

Friday’s “Megyn Kelly TODAY” was an interesting topic to me not only because I am a Health Coach, but I’m also a mom and a real person. Just because I’m a Health Coach doesn’t mean I don’t read, watch, listen or become affected by all the information that is out there. It’s overwhelming, can be incorrect, may not work for your unique body, and it can actually create stress, obsession, and affect how your children view food in their lives.

Megyn Kelly had Ramani Durvasula, author of “You Are Why You Eat.”, on this segment and they talked about the topic of Orthorexia. Which is the obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy (Google Dictionary). Notice the words “that one CONSIDERS healthy.” There is no blanket definition of what “healthy” means for every human being. Ramani discussed how anything can become unhealthy or dangerous when it creates an obsession. I agree with her 100%. I found myself in this obsession when I became a Health Coach.

And especially when I became a mother.

Every ingredient was Googled. I read healthy mom blogs. Followed other health coaches on social media and read the articles they’d attach about all the foods that are bad for us. I had special instructions for the nanny. More like a 4-page print out. For my mother. For my husband. Absolutely no juice. No processed foods EVER! Sugar was evil. My hormones were affected by any grain that I put in my body. Dairy is the most disgusting thing you can put in your body. I have more rules but even I can’t stand to read them. My rules were charged up wherever I seemed to go. My chiropractor’s office. A talk I would attend. My curriculum. Newsletters I subscribed to. A documentary I would watch. I was being fueled and at the same time I was obsessing and stressing out big time.

I just want to say, because this can get a bit touchy, that I’m not talking about people out there that have legitimate allergies, autoimmune disorders, food intolerances, or illnesses where certain foods trigger symptoms. I am not one of these people so this post is not focusing on this special audience.

What I am focusing on is avoiding, or getting out of the trap, where food is taking over your life. Is it interrupting your ability to enjoy life and the world around you? Do you find shame in eating certain foods? Do you realize how this can affect your children? We are the leaders, role models, and the inspiration to our children and how they view the foods that are around them. With all the outside influences they have, and will continue to have, how are we as parents paying attention to the signs and modeling a healthy mindset about food?

When I noticed I was being taken over by all the influences around me, when I realized I was giving others anxiety about what to feed my daughter, when I had so much guilt over 3 bites of a dessert, when I saw how I analyzed every ounce of food that was put into my mouth (and my daughter’s!), I knew I had to make a change. For both me and for my family. Here are some tips that Ramani Durvasula had on “Megyn Kelly TODAY” that I agree with and have been doing in our home:

  1. Don’t demonize foods or create food shame. Your child will not only judge themselves, but it will also create an unhealthy relationship with food.
  2. Be a gatekeeper instead, it’s about what you present to them and teaching them a healthy relationship with food.
  3. Teach them how to regulate. Talk about variety of foods instead of “bad” food or shaming food. Too much off anything, even if it’s “healthy”, isn’t good.
  4. Avoid sentences like “In this house, we don’t eat sugar.” Because they will have sugar in their life. At a birthday. A special occasion. Someone else’s house. The key here is balancing the treats with foods that fuel their bodies.
  5. Eating the same. Everyone eats the same way, dinners are as a family, & no separate meals should be the focus the majority of the time.
  6. Eating together as a family as much as possible.
  7. Share food prep.
  8. Share meal planning.
  9. Model healthy eating- “Do as I do, not as I say.”
  10. Open the conversation and teach them how to look at the imagery around. them in the world- social media, magazines, movies, & peer conversations.
  11. Trust your child to know their body & trust their body.

For more on this segment, you can watch the segment and read about it here: Watch Here!

You can get your copy of “You Are Why You Eat.” Here: Buy Here!

It’s all about learning, growing, and paying attention to what brings us joy & happiness. This is very specific to you as an individual. If you don’t find stress in eating healthy and the choices your family makes, that’s FANTASTIC. Keep going with it! We all need to step back, pause, and reflect on what makes our lives the best possible.

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

The Right Tools can Create an Adventurous Eater!

The Right Tools can Create an Adventurous Eater!

I have “The Sound of Music” in my head as I write this today…

“These are a few of my favorite things…”

I talk a lot about the importance of involving your kiddos in the kitchen if you really want them to be more open to tasting the wonderful feast in front of them.  Giving your kids a part in the play, and a say, gives that “I’m a part of this” feeling; which is such a motivator to actually trying the creation.  And who wants to do it all on their own anyways?  Wouldn’t it be nice to eventually have your teens claiming a Monday night to make dinner for the family?  And it’s actually delicious?  So let’s start the exposure and training while they are young so they can be proud chefs when they are grown.  I remember having a college roommate that had no clue how to boil noodles.  Even with the directions right in front of her.  I was not only confused but I also felt bad for her as she had zero confidence in her first apartment with making a meal.  Therefore, most nights she simply picked up fast food.  No one taught her, it was always done for her, and she didn’t even know where to learn how to cook.  I’m not expecting Brooklyn to be cooking a 5 course dinner for her college roomies but my daughter will be going to college knowing how to prepare the best foods for her body.  Mixed in with some gyros or nachos after the bars of course ;-).

Many ask what tools I have in the kitchen that are safe and easy for Brooklyn to use.  Below are all in our kitchen and we love them all.  We hope you do too!  Cue some “Sound of Music” and away we go!

“These are a few of my favorite things…”  (copy and paste links into your browser):

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set:

https://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-3-Piece-Peeler/dp/B005PP99L6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526921450&sr=8-1&keywords=oxo+peelers+set+of+3

Wavy Crinkle Cutting Tool:

https://www.amazon.com/Crinkle-Vegetable-Stainless-Serrator-Chopping/dp/B01GJGL99E/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1526921491&sr=1-2-spons&keywords=wavy+crinkle+cutting+tool&psc=1

ZYLISS Easy Pull Food Chopper:

https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=zyliss+easy+pull+food+chopper&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=228982220797&hvpos=1t1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13167526252655973331&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9021516&hvtargid=kwd-353831210343&ref=pd_sl_sh4bzhn2l_e_p37

Silicon placemat that the entire family can use:

https://www.amazon.com/Placemat-Silicone-Waterproof-Portable-Toddler/dp/B0757K8NRQ/ref=sr_1_15_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1518405203&sr=1-15&keywords=eating%2Bmat%2Bfor%2Btoddlers&th=1

StarPack Kid Nylon Kitchen Knife Set:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0162AI724/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Stainless Steel Silverware Set:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H8QR3TE/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Salad Spinner:

https://www.amazon.com/Spinner-iLove-Cooking-Vegetable-Scissors/dp/B078X1HQ2C/ref=sr_1_13?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1518406647&sr=1-13&keywords=salad+spinner

Architec Kid’s Cut & Serve Cutting Board Plates:

https://www.amazon.com/Architec-Cutting-BPA-free-Dishwasher-Plastic/dp/B00SITPK8C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1518721769&sr=8-3&keywords=cutting+board+for+kids&dpID=4137ATfYeUL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

D-FLIFE|Extra Thick 1MM Non-Slip Textured Essential Chopping Board Kit:

https://www.amazon.com/D-FLIFE-Non-Slip-Textured-Essential-Educational/dp/B074TCRSFS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1518722048&sr=8-4&keywords=cutting+board+for+kids&dpID=51DHKvKHOZL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Lazy Susan: Hog Wild Chic on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/listing/534636886/painted-lazy-susan-wood-kitchen-decor

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Super Easy Snacks For Your Busy Life

Super Easy Snacks For Your Busy Life

The words “Can I Have a Snack” are coming out of your children’s mouths at an average of 50 times a day. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a tad but it probably feels like that- or more. It’s exhausting and sometimes we wonder if they really are even hungry, or just bored and want to bother us?

This time we are going to hit a pain point that many moms come to me with. Being super busy but wanting to provide the best snack options for their kids. Looking at the prep time for healthy snacks and being overwhelmed by it. Full time in an office or full time in your home, even part time can create the “when do I even have time for this?” feeling.

First, let me just tell you that the healthiest snacks require little to no prep. The simpler the item, the better. Your kids don’t care if you made it in the oven, rolled out 60 balls, sliced 25 bars, or hung from the ceiling while baking the world’s healthiest cookie. If you don’t ENJOY making homemade snacks and you don’t want to MAKE the time to create them, then DON’T do it. There isn’t a food cop watching you or even a Health Coach like me judging you. Listen, I don’t bake often. Pinterest and homemade snacks give me the sweats. So I just stay off Pinterest and I don’t look at 5 page blogs about homemade truffles with chia seeds. Even if the recipe takes “only” 30 minutes (because it never does), I just don’t want to do it. So I don’t. What do I do? Well, I like grabbing and going. I like things in the fridge that are ready and portable. How do I choose the best options- that will actually keep Brooklyn full and not asking me for a snack 20 minutes later? I focus on these key nutrients:

  1. Healthy Fats
  2. Complex Carbs & Fiber (veggies, fruits, & whole grains)
  3. Clean Protein

What are some examples?

  1. Cheese sticks
  2. Veggie crudités and dip (hummus, yogurt with dill, hummus and TJ’s pesto, already-made guac)
  3. Nuts
  4. Freeze Dried Fruit
  5. Whole Grain Crackers & Cheese
  6. Nut Butter & Smashed Fruit Sandwiches on Whole Grain

What’s awesome is that all of these are portable. Stick ‘em in a baggie or container, put them in a thermal, bring ‘em in the car. When you focus on the key nutrients I list above, you can relax and know that these will keep their tummies full, moods in check, blood sugar at an even level, and their energy high.  There’s no contest going on here other than the one in our own head’s.  So why not just cut the stress and keep it simple?

What snack ideas do you have that keep the peace and don’t stress you out? Share below!

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

My Family is Super Busy… So How Do You Do It?!

My Family is Super Busy… So How Do You Do It?!

I recently surveyed some moms asking them “How do you do it?” with an active schedule with their children. How do you provide nutrient-dense meals that are fast? What time do you eat? When do you prep? How do you do it when your spouse or partner has the opposite schedule- so you’re on your own? What happens when you get home from work at 5:15pm with your kids and there is a piano recital at 6:15pm? How do you make a meal in under 30 minutes that actually has flavor? What happens when one child has food allergies and the others don’t? Many moms wanted more quick snack grab ideas.

What else? Moms wanted to know more about stress and anxiety in their kids. Moods their children can have, along with the mom’s mood, came up. Meltdowns in not just the toddlers but also their older children. How to balance everything without feeling overwhelmed. Self-care time. How much does a mom play with her kids, and how much do you let them figure out how to play on their own? Where is the time to do everything a mom wants to?

There are no magic answers that will work for every family but there are ways we can all share our tips so we can try something and see what works. Or what doesn’t! It’s OK if it works for your friend Sally but doesn’t work for your family. Don’t stress about it- the right path will come to you.

Today we’ll tackle a simple topic of eating healthy when your kids are busy and you’re even busier. Busy is the word that comes out of moms’ mouths the most lately where I want to take the stress out of the word. Or at least lessen it a little. Below are 5 tips I have on how to eat the best way for your family with a crazy schedule.

  1. Make 3 ingredient meals. Many times the simpler the meal, the healthier the meal. It doesn’t have to be gourmet to be delicious and in my opinion, it can have more flavor. I love stuffing sweet potatoes with fiber-rich ingredients like beans and peas, top off with a dollop of plain yogurt. If you’re not doing dairy, a drizzle of avocado or olive oil for a healthy fat to keep your family full for a long time. Time saver? Bake the potatoes the night prior so all you have to do is microwave them. Top with canned beans and thaw out some peas.
  2. Going with the above, focus on meals with high fiber, healthy fat, and clean protein and avoid the overly processed foods that will leave you and your kiddos starving. The processed foods out contain 2 things that spike your blood sugar and create the huge crash, which leads to ravenous hunger. Sugar and overly refined ingredients. So with meals, focus on these items and your child may not be hungry for a snack. If they are, focus on these items when it comes to snacking as well. And you don’t have to have typical “snack” items for a snack… why not grab some leftovers from the fridge and give a small portion of that? Why do we feel we need granola bars, crackers, and packaged items? Adding in foods that will fill & fuel your child will lessen the snack stress we all have.
  3. Prep on the weekends. Don’t have the time? You need to make the time and schedule it. There aren’t any excuses here and when it comes to creating healthy options for your family- this time is essential. What’s not essential? Social media time? Mindless time fillers? Sitting at a baseball game doing nothing (you can meal plan on the sidelines!)? The excuse of “I don’t have time” needs to change to “I need to find the time.” If you don’t have the desire to find the time, then I suggest you really thinking about your goals and values when it comes to your family’s health and wellness. Find a why. A reason. A necessity. Then you’ll make the time.
  4. Buy produce that is already chopped or frozen. Hello! Huge time saver and you and your kiddos are more likely to eat them with them already being prepped.
  5. When it comes to dinners for the week- Choose 3 ingredients and cook them 2 different ways. Spinach for example. One night you can have an awesome spinach pesto pasta night (in under 30 minutes with a recipe I use… I’ll be uploading recipes soon!). Space it out and another night add spinach to an egg frittata that you make (another super easy, under 30 minute recipe, that I’ll be adding!)

With all the awesome feedback I’ve been receiving from moms on what they need help with, I’ll continue addressing all these in the posts to come. For now, take in these simple tips and reach out to me if you need more help and support. I’m here for you!

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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