Thursday, April 11, 2013

i'm over sugar: kids addition

some people have children that eat the food set before them with no complaints. i do not have those children. some of my kids are naturally less picky and thus, are better eaters than others. and sometimes at dinner, all the kids are throwing fits about something and some nights everyone chows down. dinner with littles is a touch stressful and loud!
there. i said it. we don't have all the answers and we're not going to pretend we do.

i can tell what has helped us as we've tried to increase our nutrients and decrease our sugar. and the tips we used to help our kids break their processed food habits that they obviously got from us! i think you have to look at this, again, as a heart issue. and talk about it this way in front of the children. the last thing we want them to learn from us is simply behavior modification. that doesn't work in the long run!

1) talk about the "sugar out/nutrients in" change. i made the mistake of just running full speed ahead that first week and my kids were freaking out. so finally, i was like...oh ya, you need to be in the loop on this change! 
so i said something like, we've been eating too much sugar and it hasn't been good for our hearts or our bodies. we have to learn how to eat healthier. that means more veggies and fruit and less sugar. we need God to help us because it's hard to change bad habits. 
layne was so receptive to that and i kind of felt stupid for not mentioning it earlier. oops, live and learn.

2) seriously just stop buying sugary junk. stop buying processed stuff as much as possible. the awesome thing about this is i wasn't the bad guy anymore. i could say, we literally don't have any cookies/cereal/whatever! go look. but we did have plenty of fruits and vegetables to choose from. and by default and sheer hunger, my kids starting eating fruit! it was amazing. (this also works for me...i can't eat crap if we don't have it in the house)
we do still buy a small amount of crackers sometimes and tortilla chips, but for the most part, our pantry is getting cleared. if you looked in it now you would see trail mix and applesauce and nuts. i need more ideas! leave them in the comments section or if you've blogged about ideas and recipes, leave the link in your comments. you will help others.
(i've been inspired by your #imoversugar posts on instagram. your shopping carts look in credible and so do your meals!)

3)keep structure, but be flexible.
change is difficult for you and it is going to be difficult for your kids. i stopped buying cereal because of the cost and the sugar content. they ate cereal in the morning and then after school...i just couldn't keep up and it wasn't really filling their stomachs for long. instead, i decided to do oatmeal or eggs, sometimes we do peanut butter toast.
layne woke up one morning crying about wanting cereal.  he truly said, don't you think this is a little bit crazy?!
so we made a deal that he could have cereal on the weekends. he stopped crying and ate his breakfast.
i think it's good to rest from some of the food rules during a structured time during the weekends. it's so much change at first... perhaps this will change as we settle more into it and perhaps it won't. we're flexible with it though.

4) set a fruit/veggie on their plate at every meal. raw micronutrients are the best kind. when we heat our food, the nutritional content gets lower. that's nothing to stress out about, but try your best to get raw fruits and veggies a visual nod every time you're feeding the kids. this goes for you too. you are their teacher and if you're not doing it, that's not a great example. by doing this, it becomes normal. i know my kids won't eat the veggies i put on their plate every time so my expectations and stress level are lowered when i believe this. but little by little, they've warmed up to them. just by sheer repetition, you will win! studies show it takes 10-20 tries before a kid will actually bite into a new food. lila threw her carrots across the room a couple times before i found them in the corner the next day. strong message, lila!

5)get creative. one thing they will eat with little coaxing is chicken nuggets. have you guys heard of Deceptively Delicious or The Sneaky Chef ? i love both of these cook books for lots of reasons. they help mothers sneak in vegetables for those picky eaters. in deceptively delicious, instead of the binder being egg for the nuggets, she uses sweet potato puree. it's just creative genius really. and while, in a perfect world, our children would eat raw veggies at dinner, it's a difficult task to compete with all the processed foods they have at their disposal and the habits we've this is a great way to inch towards more veggies.
(my modified recipe is below and it's gluten free!)

also, people are so good about making their food look appealing and silly and fun! jill from is amazing at this. go be inspired.

and if your kids eat yogurt or applesauce, pump it up with nutrients. for example, i put this in lila's applesauce every time i give it to her. folic acid, flax seed, b vitamins, and some smoothie that my husband made that morning. is it mean or is it awesome? i don't know. but she eats it, so....

6) make a simple rule. our rule is that you take the number of bites of your age. layne is 6 so he must eat 6 bites before leaving the table. if he chooses not to, there is a consequence. but generally, just not having to sit at the table all evening is a good enough incentive for him. so this works for us.
this might not work for you, but put some sort of structure around eating so the kids have boundaries and you can fall back on the rule when you want to be inconsistent.

onto the sneaky chicken nuggs!
the breading on these nuggets was not gluten free in Deceptively Delicious, so i had to come up with my own idea for that part. we were out of gluten free bread and all we had was g-free waffles. so i toasted all 6 waffles, threw them in the food processor with some salt and spices and it made a delicious crispy breading!

so much so, that i prefer it over any other breading i've made. even better than the chex mix chicken, which i loved.

2 chicken breasts, raw and cubed and salted (this will make more than you think!)

1 can of sweet potato puree (or make your own puree)
1 egg

6 toasted gluten free waffles (or not g free, whatever)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregeno or italian mix
1/4 cup ground flaxseed

so here's what you do.

rinse and pat dry your chicken breasts.
slice the breast into nugget sizes or strip sizes. you'll want to keep these pretty uniform so they will cook the same in the oven.

i do sprinkle a little salt on them at this point.

in the food processor i therw in my toasted gluten free waffles with 2 tsps of salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano and 1/4 cup ground flaxseed.
i processed it all up until it was very fine. the finer the better.

then you dip them in the sweet potato puree mixed with one egg.

and then roll in the breading.

put them on a sprayed pan and cook them at 375. bake for 25 minutes. i flipped them halfway in between but i'm pretty sure that's not all that necessary.

don't stop there though. i like to make a bunch to freeze. what you'll do is lay some parchment paper out on a pan and lay the nuggets out on there. then freeze them like this, on the pan for an hour or so. after that, you can throw in a ziploc bag and they are ready to bake.

when you bake from frozen, give them 35 minutes instead of 25 minutes.

enjoy! i sure did.

here is part 1 of the series that explains what the heart is behind all this not eating sugar and what my symptoms of crappiness were.
here is the second part: 8 steps to steps to stop feeling like crap


  1. I love your posts about leaving sugar out, good for you! I have always wanted to try too but my sweet tooth always wins. I just posted a recipe you or others may want to try on my blog. They are quinoa patties with a greek yogurt sauce and they are super delicious. Here is the link if anyone wants to try them out!

  2. We've slowly eliminated most processed food from our house. The only boxed cracker we buy is Triscuits. They only have a few ingredients and my kids love them...probably because they're the only option. No more Cheez-Its or Goldfish. They especially like the Triscuits Minis. With hummus or avacado...mmmm good! Another of their favorites are frozen Gogurts. I buy the

  3. I'm soaking up so much from this, you are basically my life coach.

    I used to teach pre-k and FLIPPED out at the food the kids were getting served at "hot lunch." Literally cookies and cream flavored milk, and burgers and fries at least once a week. Thankfully (and because I harassed the admin) they now use Revolution Foods, an amazing healthy food school vendor (you should check out their site for snacks you can buy).

    I don't have any ideas, but have you read this? It doesn't really address health, but says good things about kids eating what adults eats and not using food as a punishment/reward.

    Also, James did a cool series on what her daughter eats, and most of it looks healthy and so appealing, even for adults. You just search her "bird food" tag, I always get snack ideas.

    Your blog is such a ministry Jami! Come to DC and let's meet.

  4. Oops, didn't mean to hit publish. Anyway...I buy the big box of Simply Gogurts from Costco and throw half of them in the freezer as soon as we get home. They love 'em! I know they aren't 100% natural/non-processed but close enough for us!

    Thanks for doing this series! I'm working on the "my sugar addiction is a heart issue" thing and it's a bigger battle than I realized.

  5. way to go jami! way to go! seriously. great suggestions for HOW to actually go about it. and what you told the kids..."We need God to help us change bad habits." oh geez. help me God, change my bad habits.

  6. My mum, out of necessity probably with 4 kids in 5 and a half years, was the master at preventing dinnertime battles. Two techniques she used worked really well on us: The No Thank You Helping and The One Thing.

    If you didn't want to eat something at supper, you said "No thank you." And then you got a helping of it anyway, just a lot smaller than everyone elses, which you had to eat. We always felt a bit sneaky getting to eat less than the other guys but we were still eating it. (Somehow it never occured to us to say no thank you to everything. We weren't too bright, I guess.)

    The one thing was sher genius as far as I'm concerned. On the first of the month, every month, we were each allowed to pick a thing that we didn't have to eat that entire month. (I don't think it was allowed to be a protein or a staple carb like rice or potatoes.) We were each allowed to choose something different if we wanted and you could either pick a new thing the next month or stick with that you chose last month. (There was so much strategy involved; picking zuchinni right when the garden was at its peak was key, and mushrooms were a good bet in winter months.) Whenever your thing appeared you were allowed to pick it out of your food and pawn it off on one of the grownups or a willing sibling. Getting to pick our thing let us feel like we had so much control over the whole eating thing, and we'd willingly eat olives and zuchinni and whatever else we didn't really like just for the joy of picking out those mushrooms and lining them up on the edge of someone else's plate.

  7. I am thoroughly enjoying this and somewhat obsessively checking your blog for the next recipe. I've made the tortillas (wow!) and the swt potato chips. My kids are terrible eaters...I've really slowed down and started "taking care of my food." One thing I like to keep on hand are pumpkin muffins. I just found a good recipe for pumpkin bread and then replaced a bunch of things to try and make them healthy(i.e. applesauce for eggs, coconut oil for veg oil, used whole wheat flour, added flax seed, etc). My kids love to eat these for breakfast.

    Thanks for constantly using your blog as an encouragement and for proclaiming the truth of the gospel without tickling ears. Our world needs that now more than ever.

  8. TOTALLY TRUE: if you don't buy it, they can't eat it. I control my kids' diet the same way--no crap in our pantry, they eat string cheese or fruit or carrots out of pure survival instinct!

  9. have you tried making your own granola? super easy and tons of variety! you can even make "bars." good luck! i am really enjoying this series!

  10. The book “French Kids Eat Everything” is a great resource! It’s basically the same concept of if you put healthy food in front of your kids, eventually they’ll eat it – especially if it’s their only option. They’ll learn to like it too, once the processed foods and snacks or no longer available to them. One great thing that’s worked for us (from the book) is when our girls say “I don’t like it!” We respond with “Maybe you’ll like it when you’re older” and move on without a big fuss. I would say at least 99% of the time when we serve it again they’re eager to try it because they’re “older now”. They may not always eat a ton of it, but it's their choice to try it again and again until they like it. A couple of great snacks we make are raosted chick peas, and homemade fruit leather – so easy and both are delicious!

  11. Our favorite snack is organic vanilla yogurt, a spoonful of peanut butter, and small bits of dark chocolate pieces mixed together. Tastes quite similar to chocolate chip cookie dough. It's my girls favorite after school snack for sure!

  12. I don't want to mention it because I have the book checked out from the library and hope to keep it awhile, but I have found some good ideas from "mealmakeovermoms" cookbook - No Whine with Dinner. They also have a weekly podcast that I haven't listened to, but the recipes seem really good. Simple ideas of how to add nutrition to kids meals. Thanks for sharing your tips and process!

  13. I was wide awake from 2 am on this morning. I spent some time in prayer and then checked in with my favorite blogs, one of which is yours:) I am so on board with all of this Jami and as proof I got my butt outta bed at 4 am after not being able to go back to sleep. I came downstairs and dumped all the girls' (holy excess) Easter candy with the exception of a few pieces. I figured I can't go all cold turkey on them or they'll go through trauma:) I went through my pantry, taking stock of what we have. In order not to waste food or budget, I resolved to make meals with whats left in the pantry now. And then to make some drastic changes on my next shopping trip.
    You also inspired me to dig Deceptively Delicious out of my cookbook spot and actually READ it again. I bought it at a yard sale years ago and never made a single recipe from it. Ive thought many times about getting rid of it. So glad I didnt.
    I now have a fresh shopping list for next week and the girls and I had fresh fruit over yogurt with eggs for breakfast. Hello to a new outlook for this family of four.
    THANK YOU for inspiring me, even in an insomniac state, to get off my butt and do something good for my family. I need some great recipes to use- Im not lucky enough to be on Instagram so Im missing out on those.

  14. Our favorite healthy snacks as of late are these homemade fruit snacks:

    You could really do this with any fruit you want. I usually double the sauce and make a batch of fruit snacks with one half and stir yogurt and honey into the other half and freeze it into popsicle molds. We are also loving popcorn popped on the stove with coconut oil and sea salt. Also, cheese cubes are another fave (and fast). I impulsively bought a juicer and the girls will chug the stuff- ginger, apples, greens, beets, carrots, oranges, mint...doesn't matter, they love it and think its fun...although the diapers after fresh pressed juice...well...not so fun. TMI?

  15. loving it, per usual. Coconut milk is my addition to the list of's fattier (good fat) and more protein so I use it instead of milk or yogurt in my smoothies. That way a)I stay full longer when I mix it up with fruit for breakfast and b) less dairy, which never hurt. (yogurt makes me feel like an air balloon)

  16. So inspiring! Thanks for being so honest. :)


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