Need a dairy-free option?
Calling all dairy-free peeps (and even those who love dairy)! Have you tried nutritional yeast? This deactivated yeast has a nutty or cheesy flavor and is highly nutritive (hence its name). One tablespoon contains 3 grams of protein, 180% of your adult daily value for thiamine, 140% of your daily value for vitamin B6 and 160% of your daily value for niacin, all important B vitamins. Dairy-free peeps like that it resembles cheese in flavor. It can be found at most health food stores and grocery stores.
Here are some fun ways to use it:
Let me tell you a story.
This is my own story, a tale of restriction and calorie counting and obsession about everything I ate. Do you know the first time I purposefully ate almond butter as an adult, I measured it out and only let myself have 1 tablespoon on a piece of low-calorie bread? Ya know, because healthy fats were important, but I couldn’t have TOO much. (Insert major eye roll.)
I was convinced that this “high calorie” food would immediately cause weight gain, so I kept it tightly controlled, measuring it out to the last morsel.
That’s how I treated all food while I was in college - it was something to be controlled, to be measured, to be counted. My degree in dietetics fed into this obsession, as I kept learning all about my future job as a dietitian and the science of food. I was the queen of fake food - think spray “butter,” Diet Dr. Pepper, Lean Pockets, fat free cheese - as long as it was low calorie, I was game!
Fast forward a few years later. completed my dietetic internship and went to graduate school at USC. While there, I met a wonderful professor who introduced me to Intuitive Eating. My world was turned upside down as I learned about this unbelievable concept coined by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. It completely changed the trajectory of my own life with food and how I wanted to practice.
I learned that food is just food - it’s not good or bad, it has no morality tied to it. I needed to eat when my body said it was hungry, to stop when it was comfortable, but if I ate “too much” (according to my fullness signals), that’s it’s OK too. I learned to seek satisfaction in food, to listen to what my body craves and honor those signals. I learned that I really could eat all types of food and still be “healthy,” that I naturally gravitate to lots of veggies, fats, fruits, proteins, and starches without thinking about it because they taste and feel good to me when I let go of that judgment and obsession.
This is what I want for you. This is what I want for your kids. Need help? Please read Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Resch! We weave Intuitive Eating principles into both of our courses. Thanks to the other IE/HAES dietitians out there who are helping spread the word!
Start offering utensils at 6 months.
Let’s talk some of our favorite utensils! (You’ll learn much more about promoting utensil use in our toddler course). Judy recommends utensils with short handles made for little hands. Offer loaded utensils as early as 6 months (watch sharp ends), but always encourage your child to touch food with their hands and don’t get discouraged if they revert to “cave man/cave woman” eating. We never want to discourage use of hands, as many young children default to this and may stop self-feeding successfully if they are discouraged to use their hands.
Check out the utensils section of our Amazon Shop for a complete list of our favorites.
Shown, from the left:
Offer utensils often so your tot gets used to seeing them and eventually can stab, scoop and cut food herself! Start by loading them for her, and eventually you’ll see that she’s wanting to load it all by herself.
Quick and easy!
Ready for another simple Instant Pot recipe? We LOVED using the Trader Joe's Marsala Sauce. We dumped 2 jars over 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (more tender and cheaper than chicken breasts) and cooked it on high for 10 minutes. That's it!
For an easy veggie idea, roast broccoli and cauliflower in olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper and serve it with Organic Super Grains from Whole Foods (basically a combo of white and red quinoa, millet and buckwheat).
Add an easy side dish: Throw together a tomato, basil and burrata salad with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper! YUM!
We are ALL about fast, easy, tasty, filling and nourishing meals that don’t take forever!
What I wish I would have told myself.
This is me, age 29, with my husband and first baby Hannah. I didn’t cry when she was born...I cried when she latched for the first time, which happened moments before this image was captured. This photo, taken by Doula Dianne, means so much to me now because it was the beginning of my feeding journey. It’s also the true start down a path that led me to knowing all of you wonderful humans and getting to live out my passion with my amazing business partner Judy.
I appear giddy and joyous here, but I was also so anxious about breastfeeding. I put SO much pressure on myself to breastfeed, and fortunately after a TON of pain and latch issues (we later realized she had a severe tongue and lip tie), I had a great breastfeeding experience. Not always easy, but great. I wish I had told myself that no matter what, it would all be ok.
When we started baby-led weaning at 6 months on the nose, my eldest took to it like a champ. My second daughter was even more of a foodie and was demanding to take part of every meal we ate once she started with solid foods. I have been fortunate to have the wisdom of Judy and what would eventually become our online infant and toddler courses to help me navigate any challenges that came up. I know I am lucky.
I know from the clients I see every day that not all feeding journeys go this way, that mine may seem especially easy. Judy and I work with feeding and nutrition challenges every day - we listen to and comfort sweet mamas as they cry, mourning the loss of an experience they so wish they had. We celebrate even the tiniest of successes and offer our professional and mama-to-mama support when things get tough. We adore meeting such wonderful, diverse, passionate families and witnessing new parents evolve into the fiercely protective people they never knew they were.
Feeding and nutrition are SO emotional, so personal. Everyone does it differently, because everyone is different. We are grateful to be part of your journey. Thank you for being part of ours too!
Let your kids help too!
We tried the Sprouted Whole Grain Pizza Crust from Trader Joe's today and it was a HIT! I like that the crust is made from whole grain sprouted flour, which is usually easier to digest than regular four, and contains a blend of various whole grains. Pro tip: bake it without toppings for 5 minutes at 400F before topping it and putting it back in the oven. The crust will be a perfect thin crust crispiness. The package has 2 crusts so makes a TON of food!
Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. I love to top it with simple homemade pizza sauce (see below), riced cauliflower and shredded Italian blend cheese on top. No hiding the cauli - your kids will catch on and won’t trust new foods if you’re hiding things! My girls even sprinkle on the riced cauliflower themselves.
For the simple sauce:
Dump the tomato paste into a medium bowl. Slowly add water and mix until you achieve desired consistency - not too thick, but not so thin that it’s watery. Add a drizzle of olive oil if desired, then stir in Italian spices, salt and pepper to taste. This is a very modifiable and inexpensive way to make sauce for 2 pizzas!
Try the Butternut Squash Pizza Crust to make it gluten-free!
You're going to want to try this one!
Y’all went nuts on Instagram for our Lentil Pasta Tuna Noodle Casserole, so we’re finally posting the full recipe! This recipe is awesome because it feeds a lot of people and stores in the fridge/freezer well. It's also gluten-free for those who need it.
This casserole tastes best when reheated in the toaster oven, conventional oven or on the stove. It’s crazy high in fiber and protein plus has anti-inflammatory CLA (a type of fat), some omega-3s (more if you use salmon), and lots of calcium and iron! Plus, it’s CHEAP for how many it serves. My kids shovel this in, and it’s a nice comfort food on a cold winter night. I cook by taste, so follow your instincts on this one! Add more or less cheese, paprika, etc. depending on your family’s preferences. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 375F. Cook pasta per directions on the box and drain. Place pasta in a large bowl and combine all remaining ingredients, leaving 1 cup of shredded cheese for the top. Press into 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook for 25-35 minutes or until cheese starts to brown and bubble. Let it cool, then eat and enjoy!
Give it some veggies and protein.
Do you sometimes use boxed mac and cheese for your kids or yourself? Yes, homemade mac and cheese is great, but sometimes we need convenient options! If you're a boxed mac fan, you're going to love this!
Here's how we like to modify boxed mac and cheese:
Trader Joe's Organic Mac and Cheese or Annie's Homegrown brand are some of our favorites,
Try this early with your young toddler so that they are used to their mac looking a little different each time! Have an older toddler set in their ways and will only eat the mac and cheese from the blue box? Use the strategies in step 7 of our Toddler Course to slowly graduate away from foods presented the same way each time.
Additional tips to try:
You are worthy.
You are worthy of enjoying food, of finding joy in the eating process, of eating when your body - no matter what size it is - says it’s hungry! Your body size does not define your worthiness as a partner, as a mother, as a woman, as a human. Don’t let your life pass you by as you strive to be something, someone else. Yes, taking care of yourself and moving in a way that feels good to your body is important, but so many times we self-sabotage because we don’t feel like we are worthy of the same love we give to everyone else, including our kids whom we adore. You are worthy!
If you need help with this, please check out “Intuitive Eating" by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. I trained under Elyse in graduate school and the Intuitive Eating philosophy completely changed my life and the course of my career. This book is a complete game changer. Judy and I hope to teach you how to navigate food with your kids so they grow up seeing food as just food - delicious, enjoyable, and yet just food. Let’s break the cycle of chronic dieting, body bashing and shame surrounding food so our kids don’t have to struggle as well. If you're looking for a more step-by-step approach to this with your little ones, check out our Toddler Course.
Needing some extra protein?
Hard boiled eggs are a great way to pack some protein into your snacks and meals without taking too much time. Here are a few ways you can serve them to your little ones, or even for yourself, on those really busy days.
There's no wrong way to use hard boiled eggs. You can make a batch over the weekend and use them throughout the week for the whole family.
PS: There’s not much difference between brown and white eggs besides the type of chicken they come from.
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!