Elemental Kids: But Why?

Hello Families!  Laura here to explain more why I am talking about creating a mindful lifestyle for the whole Family.


Why is it important?  Why mindfulness? Why Yoga? Why talk about it?  I’m channeling my inner three year old of asking why. WHY. WHY! :) The question of why can be annoying to hear , but asking why provides us with so much to learn and explore.

 

Why mindfulness?  

First, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness, in my mind and heart, is taking in every moment and feeling without judgment. For more on how to introduce and incorporate mindfulness in your family, go to my post Elemental Kids: Mindful Summer for the Fam.  Now let us get back to WHY MINDFULNESS?  Once I found mindfulness, I am now able to look at each moment of my day in a completely new way.  When a good or bad situation is brought to me, I am able to breathe and embrace each moment.  Even on those days my mind is out of control,  I remember I always have my breath. Now, is this possible for children to grasp this concept?  OH YES! Watch this beautiful video of children discussing the breath.  The video brings tears to my eyes every time because why wouldn’t we want children to feel safe and calm every day? Especially the dark moments of their lives.  Mindfulness is a superpower we all can tap into.  OR this video explains WHY MINDFULNESS in a way that anybody can understand.  Scientist are finding evidence that mindfulness/meditation has a positive impact on our brains.  I’m not a scientist, so here is an article on scientific discovery on mindfulness from Huffington Post.  

Now that you have more information on mindfulness, why not try this approach?  What could you and your families lives look like with mindfulness? I believe it is a risk worth trying!   

Why Yoga? 

What is Yoga?  Yoga means unity or what I like to say is community because yoga has allowed me to bring unity within myself, so that I can build a community around me.. The benefits that yoga provides for children is similar in the benefits yoga provides for adults. Yoga is a recipe incorporating mindfulness, meditation, and poses. These ingredients come together to create a safe place we can ALL come to when we are feeling our worst and even when we are feeling our best.  Yoga isn’t just for when we are broken. Yoga is a lifelong practice of allowing us to always try and be in the present good or bad moments of our lives. Yoga Ed states, “Yoga supports your child’s development physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and academically.” The article reminded me of how beneficial yoga would have been during my childhood. I believe I could have handled my stress and anxiety in a healthier way with yoga.  Now, for my favorite part… the science of yogaI can’t argue with science. Yoga supports development, sleep, physical fitness, the brain, and reduces stress and anxiety.  I understand there are many out there that just won’t try yoga for many reasons. Now that you have this information,  all I ask is for you and your family to try then see and feel what happens in your mind, body, and heart.  

Why talk about it?

First off because our world needs to talk more, text and social media less (find a balance),and talk about the matters that might make us a little uncomfortable. Here is why: I believe we all have shoved so much into the back of our minds because we are afraid of confrontation or change. I am 100% guilty of being this person who pushes conversations in the back of my head to be stored away and never communicated.  I’m done being that person and I hope you will join me in this discussion and many more.

Just imagine what would you and your families life look like with mindfulness, yoga, and healthy communication.  Remember my Bonus tip from my Back to School Mindset Post you don’t have to make huge changes fast.  Take one moment at a time.

I want to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment and we can continue this conversation together.  

Yoga for All Love for All

Laura

Veggie Smoothie for Toddlers by Melissa Cates

Back in the good ole days, I could spoon anything into my little one’s mouth, and he would predictably mush it around and swallow. Aaaahhh... the sweet satisfaction of knowing little round belly was full of nutritious fruits, veggies, proteins, and the occasional tasty herb or spice.  (You know, for palate expansion....) Jump ahead to present day, Austin is two, and his lips might as well have a deadbolt on them. A deadbolt to which only he holds the key, and who knows what motivates him to unlock it. One day pasta is permissible, the next nothing but fruit shall pass.

Oh, two year olds. I won’t say they are “terrible,” because they are really too much fun for that label. I will say they will teach you a whole heap of things. About yourself, about them, about love, about forgiveness, about patience, about how to get crayon marks off of hardwood floors...

Really, I wish I had taken out stock in Purell and Brawny. And, maybe invested in part of a vineyard?

DSC_1195.JPG

Anyway, ever since those little lips starting locking out my attempts at rounded nutrition, I started sneaking past the gatekeeper by throwing everything and anything into the blender and serving it up with a straw and a smile. (A little theatrical enthusiasm goes a long way with toddlers.) You may have to gradually add in the stronger tasting greens and veggies, but a good starting place is sweet baby carrots. Get that past your little culinary tyrant, and you can move on cauliflower, spinach (raw is milder than the cooked, frozen stuff), kale, even green peas! I really just use what I have in the fridge, but this one is what Austin drinks most days.

As A says when he gets up from his nap:  “It’s ‘moovie time!”

Austin’s Sneaky Veggie Smoothie

Serves 2 (momma could use a nutrional boost, too!)

  • 1 ripe banana (preferably frozen)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored
  • 1 handful baby carrots
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 handful kale
  • 2 brussels sprouts (if you dare…)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, optional (Austin needs the extra fat and calories)
  • 1-2 tbsp honey, agave, sugar, or molasses
  • ½ cup greek yogurt, I use weetedplain for lower sugar content
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Blend your heart out!

Tip: When loading your blender with all this goodness, put the heaviest foods on the bottom nearest the blade.



 

Seven Sneaky Tricks for Feeding Your Family Well

Seven Sneaky Tricks for Feeding Your Family Well

Do you have a toddler with a picky palate? Or maybe a husband who politely refuses anything green? Feeding your family and yourself a healthy, balanced diet can be tricky, and even stressful, when you throw in busy schedules, differing tastes, and food allergies or sensitivities. We mothers aim to please. It’s part of our job description to try to make our families as happy as we can, but it is also our job to nourish them. Unfortunately, if you are like me, you can find yourself too often throwing PB&J’s and grilled cheeses your kids’ way as preemptive, peace-keeping measure at mealtime. After all, who has the time and patience for a protesting preschooler at the end of a hectic day?

I have found that there are ways to feed my two-year-old food that actually makes it to his mouth (and stays there) with a nutritional value I can feel confident about. Here are my go-to tricks for feeding my picky family…

1.    Greek Yogurt. This thick and creamy alternative to the regular stuff is a protein powerhouse that is also a great source of calcium and probiotics to help with a healthy digestive system.  I buy it plain and substitute it anywhere I would use sour cream (tacos, chili, baked potatoes), or sweeten it with a little stevia and stir in fruit for a sweet treat. My favorite is mixed with mashed banana and a smidgen of vanilla extract!

2.    Spinach.  While I do not have one of those picky husbands (mine will pretty much eat anything), I do have a picky toddler. So, sneaking greens in our meals is like outsmarting a super sleuth. One tried and true dark and leafy I can get past his discerning palate is spinach. In its raw form, it has no distinct flavor, so I can chop it very finely and slip it into foods like grilled cheese, quesadillas, pesto sauce, and even mac and cheese.

3.    Smoothies. Now here is where I really pack a punch. My son LOVES smoothies (and anything he can drink through a straw, really). I throw in anything we have on hand but always include bananas, baby carrots, spinach or kale (raw), almond milk, and yogurt. Other awesome add ins could be cauliflower, flax seed, almond butter, blueberries, mango, or even an all-natural whey protein powder. I really like this one. Get creative! This is a really fun way to involve your kids and fill dietary gaps.

4.    Coconut oil.  You’ve probably heard the hype about this one. Coconut oil is a superfood for many reasons. It does contain saturated fat, but it is actually a desirable type called lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride. This is a fat that goes directly to the liver to be metabolized into energy instead of stored as fat. For this reason, it helps you satisfy hunger and burn calories. Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties! You can even use it as a natural alternative to diaper rash cream. I stir it into oatmeal, spread it on toast, and use it to instead of butter or oil in baking. It makes our Saturday banana pancakes super tasty! Here’s a quick recipe that your kids will lo ve: cube sweet potatoes, toss with cinnamon and coconut oil and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

5.    Almond Butter. This yummy treat has more iron, magnesium, and calcium than peanut butter (although, we also go through A LOT of peanut butter). I spread it on bananas for a quick snack, pair it with a low sugar fruit spread on whole wheat bread for an AB&J, and stir it into oatmeal to up the protein and add flavor. (Secret: It’s also really good licked off a spoon… just don’t double dip!)

6.    Hummus. This creamy dip is a favorite for everyone in my family. My husband can eat half of the container in one sitting… er, standing, as he usually hovers over the counter with a bag of chips. Suprisingly, my son loves it, too. He sometimes dips mini pita rounds (which makes a complete protein when paired together) or apple slices, but more often than not he eats it with a spoon! I’m okay with that since hummus is nutrient-dense, a good source of protein, and contains the B vitamin folate as well as iron, a mineral many kids don’t get enough of.  You can even use it in lieu of mayonnaise on a sandwich.

7.    Gather ‘round the table. This one is not so sneaky, but it is good practice for many reasons. Austin will eat more variety at dinner when he eats the same thing that mommy and daddy are eating. Most nights, we try to sit down together, say a blessing, and eat our dinner together. He learns about good manners (even if he doesn’t necessarily practice them all the time!) and what is expected of him at the table. I admit most breakfasts and lunches take place in the kitchen with A in his highchair and me running around doing dishes, cleaning up, and fixing my own meal, so it is all the more important that the evening meal be a slower, family occasion.

Wishing you health and good table manners,

Melissa