Remember when being “alternative” wasn’t necessarily cool? Or maybe it was? I guess it depends on if you view being different, doing things against the grain, as cool. Well, these days, I am pretty proud to consider myself as an ‘Alternative Mom,’ a title I find to be extremely cool.
No matter what kind of lifestyle you try to instill on your children, at the end of the day, a kid is a kid and, let’s face it, they want kid food. At some point, they are going to leave the shelter of their high chair and enter the real world, a world where you can no longer manipulate what they eat, a world where they are, most likely, learning eating habits from other children whose lunchbox choices may not jive with yours.
If you were to ask my children what constitutes a gourmet meal, they would gladly tell you that nothing screams gourmet more than mac ‘n cheese, chicken nuggets and, of course, cookies and cake. As a mother, I have worked against the grain, for a very long time, to prevent them from wanting and eating such foods, mainly because most of those options are bad for them in almost every way. But, somewhere in the middle of that struggle, it dawned on me that it was up to ME to make smarter choices for them while still tricking, ahem, I mean helping them think they are still eating the kind of food a kid wants.
So, here are a few of my top picks for feeding my kids their desired ‘kid food’ while still providing them with healthy treats:
: Skip Tysons, skip the McDonald’s drive-thru and grab yourself some Ian’s, as it is, by far, our families favorite staple. They offer everything: breakfast, lunch, dinner....even dessert! I’m not gonna lie, I’ll even make double what I need for the children because when we are having chicken nuggets from Ian’s, I plan on diving in just like I did when I was a kid. And just like when I was a young girl, I can dive in guilt-free. I like to cook these until they are extra crispy and golden brown. And what would a nugget be without a little ketchup? I serve them with organic corn and homemade french fries. *Gluten Free
Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies: Bye-bye Goldfish, hello Cheddar Bunnies. These are a MUST-HAVE in my kids’ pantry. This is their go-to snack and God forbid I packed a lunch without them. Baked with organic wheat flour and Real Aged Cheddar this treat has no trans-fat and no sugar Don’t ask, just go and get them now. I have to buy 10 boxes at a time because they eat them that quickly! Seriously, my kids are addicted! Annie’s also make my kids favorite Mac ‘n cheese, as well as fruit snacks and Fruity Bunny cereal.
: These are great - especially for “on-the-go” times. They also double as an amazing “sweet treat” for mom. I can make myself a cup of tea and enjoy one of these babies like it’s a piece of carrot cake or a coconut cream pie, depending on the flavor. There is something for everyone. I always keep an entire box in my pantry. We cannot live without these. Even my hubby enjoys them when he is craving a healthy snack. YUMMY! My favorite is Chocolate Chip Brownie. Oh, and p.s. - LARABAR has always been naturally gluten-free
: Koala Chocolate and Peanut bars: these are always around. Everyone in my family loves them. Natures Path is, essentially, a granola bar. They are naturally gluten-free and don’t contain what my kids call ‘weird’ ingredients. Move over, Quaker, there’s a new granola bar in town! *naturally gluten free
Van’s Natural Foods
: I don’t know what goes on in your house, but each Monday through Friday morning in my house is pure chaos. Getting two little ones up and out by 7am is never smooth sailing - unless I plan ahead. One of the ways I win the morning war is by using Van’s organic frozen waffles. My kids have a slight obsession with these. I’d be lying if I said we topped them with something pure and healthy like raw honey or agave because, well, we don’t. I’m from a European family, and so I’ve passed down the tradition of what I did when I was their age - I top those puppies with Nutella
. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials lately, or your children have, no doubt, begged you to buy it at the store. And for good reason, it’s DELICIOUS. It’s chocolate and hazelnut, people, and it tastes good on everything. Everything. You can spread it on fruit and I assure you, even the most picky of eaters will shovel it in. Oh yes, I do whatever it takes! People if you have never sliced yourself an apple and dipped it into Nutella, then you have not lived. Trust me on this one...try strawberries too. Another blissful party happening in your mouth...But when there is time to make your own, I love Bisquick Gluten Free
batter or Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix
. I’m drooling right now all over my keyboard at just the thought of it. Let’s move on before I short circuit this thing. *gluten free options available
Booty: You heard me, I said “booty”. I don’t know if you know this, but us new mom’s aren’t too excited about letting our kids ingest plastic anymore. Yeah, shockingly, we don’t think it’s that great to let our kids ingest poison. So for today’s mom, Cheetos are out and Pirate Booty is so in. *gluten free
: With so many food allergies today, it’s important to be aware. Having two kids in school means having to be very careful when I pack their lunches. “NO NUTS ALLOWED” is a pretty common issue. So, I was delighted when I found Enjoy Life’s Double Chocolate Brownies, Snickerdoodles, No Oats Oatmeal and Happy Apple. These are just a few of the choices you can purchase and enjoy. But if I ever get the time to make some homemade treats, like brownies, I love using Bob’s Red Mill. *gluten free
: My family is really big into sandwiches. Good ol’ fashion sandwiches. We love Applegate for all our sandwich needs! How can we not, they are No Antibiotics Used • Humanely Raised • No Hormones Used • Gluten & Casein Free
• Vegetarian Grain Fed. Try ‘em and tell me what you think. You’ll be a convert, for sure.
Organic Bakery: This really is the best thing since sliced bread. Trust me, I took a poll. Whether you are just wanting better quality, or if you only buy organic, or if you have dietary needs, like being gluten free
like me, Rudi’s has it all. Soft, yummy good ol’ fashioned white bread is what my kids want. They want it buttered with peanut butter and jelly ..and yup, you guessed it, with Nutella too.
Juice: H2O is always our first beverage choice, but when we want something sweet, we only drink Simply Orange and Simply Lemonade. When I pull the seal off these bottles, it’s like peeling an orange and squeezing a lemon. It’s that fresh! I think the only juice that wold be better than this is homemade and I just don’t have that kind of time, do you? If you do, make us some please...thanks.
Back to Nature
: Can mac ‘n cheese be healthy and fun? Yes, it sure can. My kids love when I say “when we get home mommy will cook you bugs, ok?” We usually get reactions wherever we are, too. That’s because this fun and tasty pasta is shaped like little bugs. And kids scarf ‘em down like they are getting paid to eat it! This brand replaces so many of those conventional snacks that our youth is living on such as Cheezits and Ritz Crackers, just to name a couple. We have switched to Crispy Cheddar and Classic Round and don’t feel like we are missing out on a thing.
The Joy of Pasta (Tinkyada)
: Pasta and butter, pasta and pesto, pasta and cheese, pasta and red sauce....you name it and we eat it. This is my favorite pasta brand, from pasta salads to lasagna. It’s never mushy and never too crunchy like a whole wheat pasta can be. It’s also white, and that’s very inviting for my kids. I know, they’re prejudiced. I’ll blame that on their father - I don’t like to take the blame, so I pass it on. It’s a really nifty trick. Try it sometime! *gluten free
: These are where we go to find most of our crunch! Chips,chips and more chips. You can never have enough chips. Am I right or am I right? *gluten free
So, these are just a few of my top picks for feeding healthy kids. Yes, just a few top picks - I could go on for days. What can I say, my family eats like hogs. Really healthy hogs. With these items on hand, packing healthy lunch boxes is a super simple task. And it costs about the same as buying the cheap, unhealthy versions. I mean, it may be a few dollars more at the grocery store, but, in the long run, it will be a ton of money saved on medical bills. These brands are easy to find, go great in lunchboxes, and make perfect on-the-go snacks. Most of these products can even be purchased right from their websites. It’s so easy, you don’t even have to go to the store. Which any mom knows, kids in a grocery store can be as fun as letting the animals loose at the zoo. At least with these snacks, you aren’t adding to the sugar high.