Healthy Holiday Kid-Friendly Treats

christmas cocoa

This year, we’re having a holiday party and I’m soooo excited, I can hardly wait! Growing up it was a tradition for extended family and friends to attend my nana’s annual Christmas Eve party. It’s hard to put words to the emotions that are tied to that experience for me, but it never quite felt like Christmas until after my nana’s party. Her house was filled with gorgeous holiday decorations, celebratory food and holiday cheer that are etched in my memory right alongside her hearty laugh and contagious smile. I miss my nana deeply around the holidays and hope that I can recreate the christmas spirit for my son the way she did for me.

My dilemma for our holiday party has to do with sweet treats. For most of us, it isn’t a kick-ass holiday party without sweet treats (and yummy drinks) to fill our bellies! But as a kid, too much sugar, gluten and butter made me feel nauseous, tired and even crabby.

It’s no surprise because that’s what sugar does to little bodies (or any body for that matter)!

angry child with santa outfit

I doubt any kids want to feel junky during the most wonderful time of the year. That’s why for this year’s holiday party, I’ve searched for a few yummy, holiday treats that are kid-friendly and junky-feeling free. I’ve scoured my favorites sites for some oldie but goodies and new treats too. Every recipe listed here is gluten and dairy free, but you’ll also find them to be refined sugar free and low sugar too. Plus, since I have a few nut-free kiddos joining us, I’ve included nut-free treats too. Enjoy!

Gluten-free and dairy-free

Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Danielle Walker, author, Against All Grain – you can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies and these are so unbelievably yummy that I had to share.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies by Adrienne from Whole New Mom blog – you can use sweetener of your choice like maple syrup and skip the stevia

White Chocolate Chai Cookies by Kelly Brozyna, author and blogger, The Spunky Coconut – these look amazing for kids and adults alike

Snickerdoodles by Elana Amsterdam, author and blogger, Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry – my husband flipped for these cookies too!


Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Bites by Danielle Shea Tan, nutrition coach and blogger, Healthy Mamas for Happy Families – these may not look pretty, but they sure do taste delicious!

Pumpkin Bread by Danielle Walker, author, Against All Grain – turn this  yummy bread into mini muffins and they’re perfect for small hands!

Peppermint Marshmallow Crunch Cookies by Danielle Walker, author Against All Grain – these are melt in your mouth good.

Tell me in the comments, what are your favorite healthy holiday treats? How do you make them kid-friendly?


Two Key Strategies for Raising a Healthy Eater

As moms, we all know raising a healthy eater requires effort. But, it’s not the effort that’s the issue. It’s the consistency piece that gets us into trouble. Being consistent means no matter where we are or what else is going on, we MUST be consistent about how we enforce our feeding and eating strategies. Dinnertime is definitely one of the most common times for mishaps with consistency. Our kids are tired. We’re tired. Plus, everyone is hungry. It’s a recipe for disaster without a consistent strategy! On this particular night, my son was a mess and consistency almost went out the window…little boy cryingIt was 5 o’clock and time to make dinner. I was making Decadent Dairy-free Mac-N-Cheese so I only needed about 20 minutes prep time. Regardless, prep time requires a little focus so I usually drag my son’s blocks into the kitchen, put on a Sesame Street episode or let him help on a stool. Much to my dismay, nothing was working today. Evren was hanging on my legs, crying, and declining any of my fun offers. Sound like a rerun of dinner prep at your house too?

After nearly knocking me to the ground with the leg clinging, he began begging for snacks. Screaming at the top of his tiny, loud-ass lungs “Daaaattttessss. Daaaattttessss.” The kid is only 22 months so when he’s actually specifying food items, it’s clear he’s hungry. Since Evren rarely gets this upset about hunger I became ridiculously frantic about getting food into him. For a few minutes, I forgot about my training and client experience in the Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. I plopped a scoop of the dairy-free mac-n-cheese sauce atop of leftover quinoa and delivered it to the monster. Phew, I was saved, right? Wrong. Evren wailed “nooooooo” at the top of those loud-ass lungs again and tossed his spoon. On a normal day, this kid could gobble down green mac-n-cheese before it even reached the table. His refusal stopped me in my tracks to assess, what had I done wrong?

Always include something healthy that he never refuses in the meal too.

In my rapid-fire response, I neglected to provide other options he LOVES on the plate. When his tantrums started, I was still chopping his familiar dinner ingredients, grape tomatoes and leftover hard-boiled eggs, so they didn’t make it in my first attempt at dinner. If you’re trying to raise a healthy eater, always “strategically” include 1-2 foods in the meal that your kiddo will eat. Dairy-free mac-n-cheese wasn’t new for Evren, but it had been awhile since we ate it so having other familiar foods on the plate was especially important.

Eat meals as a family.

My hungry little monster got the best of me and I sat him down to eat without me. Family meals are more important than we realize. Our young children not only see that the food we are serving is safe, but they also pick up on the modeling we do as healthy, competent eaters. Evren may have eaten the dairy-free mac-n-cheese at the get go if I had been eating with him, but I wasn’t modeling what I wanted to be done.

Thankfully, I snapped into action and recovered from my mistakes quickly by providing a complete meal with all options and sitting down to eat with Evren. No sooner was he gobbling down the green mac-n-cheese that mommy was also eating. Crisis diverted.

Evren gobbling down dinnerRaising a competent eater takes consistency and diligence, but it’s worth it for both the health of my growing son and our family life (aka my sanity). If you haven’t been regularly practicing the Division of Responsibility Feeding and Eating Model, please know there are other important guidelines that make it successful. Plus, it’s going to take time to see results. That’s why I’m here, to support families like you in this process!

If you have a picky eater or just want to learn and practice evidence-informed strategies for raising a child who prefers healthy food, has a positive relationship with food and is comfortable trying new foods, then please contact me. I make raising healthy eaters a fun, simple and supportive experience for all.

Celebrating healthy mamas everywhere

healthy mama and daughterCommitting to raising a healthy family is a HUGE job! Like me, I’m sure you have a long list of actions you’re willing to take to raise a healthy family. For me, it means:

  • Fewer vacations – Allocating less money to vacations and more money to fresh, organic foods and products for my family
  • Less time – Spending extra time preparing fresh, REAL foods and schlepping them everywhere to reduce our consumption of unhealthy options
  • Judgement – Getting judged by others who think my commitment to feed my kiddo clean food (e.g.,organic, free-range, wild) is unnecessary hooplah
  • Strength – Spending many moments educating my family about using food and healthy habits to nourish their minds, bodies and souls

Every single action you take to teach your family about healthy habits should be celebrated! Seriously, as healthy mamas, our families and friends should be screaming from the mountain tops about the amazing work we do to raise healthy families!

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I’ll be shouting (from my computer) about all the amazing healthy mamas out there. I’ll be shouting all over Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the efforts and accomplishments that moms in the healthy mamas community are most proud of.

Inspiration & Commitments from Healthy Mamas:

Rachael, Founder Mommybites BostonRachael: I’ve been showing my kids the importance of exercise by sharing my progress in couch to 5k with them and taking then for runs in the stroller.

Brett, Author & Owner, Sheer BalanceBrettI aim to only serve whole foods to our little guy. I try very hard to get every color of the rainbow into his diet. Much work, but totally worth the effort!

NeetikaNeetika: It is very tough to work and raise healthy families! But one accomplishment I’m proud of is that I’ve been able to provide Raina with mostly home cooked meals as opposed to feeding her packaged processed foods. Even though sometimes home cooking has to be easy Mac and cheese made from fresh cheddar block, I feel it’s still better than giving her Kraft Mac and cheese in a box!

Julia Founder JCampbell Social Marketing

Julia: I am committed to including vegetables in every dinner, no matter what!


Marybeth: I am proud of living an active lifestyle with swimming, biking, running and yoga. My kids love to join in and also see how important it is to take care of our bodies.

Family running race

Stacey: Exercise is a very important part if our lives – whether it is Scott coaching the Track and Field clinic, running a race, me hitting the gym or taking lots of walks with the family… Physical activity is part if our life and we also use it as family bonding time!

Katie: I’m teaching my family the value of exercise by training for and running a half marathon! Only a couple of weeks to go!


When it comes to raising a healthy, happy family: what achievement or commitment are you most proud of? Tell us in the comments so we can celebrate you too!  (We’ll be posting these commitments on FB, twitter and more this week!)