Ascend Mom Advice: Easy and Nutritious Tips & Tricks

You know the drill - a chaotic morning/afternoon/evening with little prep time, a picky toddler, different preferences across multiple kids (yesterday you loved broccoli!?) - and the desire to feed everyone in the house a nutritious and yummy meal.  It's no easy feat.  

That's why we've asked our Ascend instructors, who are also super moms (in our opinion), for some tips & tricks on how they feed their hungry kiddos, as well as themselves, and how they teach their kids about the importance of nutrition.

 

Emily, Mom of 3 (9, 6, and 3.5 years old) - We talk about what makes you strong and gives you power: power on the soccer field, at the dance studio & at the playground.  Then we pick from our power group:  eggs, greek yogurt, steel cut oats, almonds and avocado!

Jaime, Mom of 4 (13, 11, 8 and 3 years old) - All four of my kids have different palettes, so variety is the spice of life in my house!  My solution?  A make-your-own salad bar with yummy homemade ranch and lemon honey balsamic dressing (Recipe coming on the blog!).  My kids like to be in control of what goes on their plates.  For salad protein add-ons, the family favorites are shrimp and grilled chicken.

Jessica, Mom of 4 (9, 7, 5 and 2 years old) - This momma is a registered dietician nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Sport's Dietetics from the University of Utah (MS, RDN).  She is also a certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD).  Here's her top tricks of the trade:

  • Make family meals a priority.  This is an important time to connect with one another - Sure, they get chaotic, and we are not always all together, but when we are, I am reminded of how important it is.
  • Positive vibes!  It's not about making them eat, it's about providing balanced meals in a positive environment.  Our kids get to decide what and how much they want to eat.  The result?  Low stress, low anxiety, nourishing meals = positive experience!
  • Involve the kids in the process.  My family eats better when they participate in grocery shopping and harvesting vegetables from our garden.  My son has an absolute love of tomatoes that continues year round, that started with him eating cherry tomatoes from our garden.  Asking my children to choose their produce is empowering for them.
  • The power of the slow cooker:  I have to plan ahead and I find that my slow cooker, especially at this time of the year, is my favorite go-to for family meals.  Some simple prep in the evening or in the morning sets us up so that the magic happens during the day and dinner is ready in the evening.  So we will try a new soup, a family classic, or will slow cook beans, vegetables, or a lean variety of meat and then add simple sides, such as fresh fruit, sliced cucumber, and salad, making it easy to prepare in a few minutes to compliment dinner.  Here's a family favorite recipe for slow cooked beans.
  • I am a big fan of leftovers!  A warm thermos of soup, beans, or meat and vegetables is a great option for lunches and is currently a favorite way to send lunch for school. Leftovers in a thermos can make lunch just a little more fun and interesting.

Kat, Mom of 2 (2.5 years and 5 months old) - Our studio owner has a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science and is a Health Coach certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  With a toddler and a newborn, Kat's challenge is a chaotic sleep schedule, picky toddler cravings and an on-the-go schedule between the studio and home. 

  • Keep it simple!  There are many days in our house where everyone is eating at different times and craves something different.  So, having easy food on hand to whip up is the only way to ensure everyone gets their healthy fill.  Roasted veggies (olive oil and sea salt), frozen veggies (steamed on the stove), chicken sausage (warmed on the stove) and salads are main staples in our house.  And of course, heating up leftovers is a lifesaver.
  • Plan to have a plan.  Keep your go-to healthy foods stocked in your house.  My worst nightmare is a bare pantry or fridge and a hungry toddler.  Cook up healthy protein in bulk.  I will grill 4-6 chicken breasts at a time to have chicken on hand to toss into a salad, add to a meal or even cut up and take on the go.  
  • Finger foods.  Toddlers love portable foods they can grasp and munch on with their hands.  Not to mention, when you're running out the door with kids in tow, sometimes you need these finger foods in your bag as well!  Some of my favorites - roasted sweet potatoes, carrot and celery sticks, apple slices, egg muffins, and cheese sticks. 
  • Make ahead meals - Anything that cooks itself or can be frozen and cooked later is a lifesaver.  The slow cooker, overnight oats, and Kate's recipe for Chia Pudding, are all meals/snacks that are planned in advance and can provide well-balanced nutrition when you're strapped for time.  On days that you have time, consider making a double batch and freezing some for later.

Next time you're at the studio, feel free to ask any of our instructors about how they fuel their bodies, or email us with your nutrition challenge so we can answer it on the blog!