Back To School: 5 Healthy Ideas For Lunches And After School Snacks

For some reason the hours between lunch and dinner make my kids crazy with hunger! I call it the late day feast. I'm always looking for ways to get my kids to eat more veggies and healthier foods, so the late day feast is the perfect time to sneak these things in because frankly, they will eat anything!  Especially if you just casually set it out on the table for them to run by and grab a quick bite of something. In our house we call these "hummingbird bites," because they are too busy to sit for a meal but we need them to eat so they just fly by and grab a bite and get back to playing. The meal gets eaten eventually and they get to keep playing. If it's something messy we will usually hold it while they take a bite or they will use a fork. This only works if you are not in a rush to get out the door and you have more freedom with time.

We are fortunate to live near large grocery stores like Mother's Market, Trader Joe's and Sprouts that offer great deals and sales on organic produce. I try to buy most of my fresh produce from the organic section, so whatever is on sale or special is usually what I'll buy.

Here are some different ideas for lunches or after school snacks. This is a list of stuff my kids will actually eat. They are 7 and 4 & 1/2. My little guy hasn't always loved eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies and for a few years was stuck in a rut of only carrots, corn, apples, blueberries and red grapes. However, I kept offering different things to him and would also set out veggie platters with a wide array of colorful options that would get eaten quickly by sissy if you didn't act fast! My daughter has always eaten like a rabbit sneaking into a farm! I mean, as a 5 year old she was munching on Brussels sprouts and asparagus! 

After many colorful veggie platter presentations with an array of different dips like ranch, creamy cilantro dressing and hummus, he finally started trying new things. So don't give up if your child doesn't like something. Keep offering it! Someday they might just surprise you and try it! 

1. The Veggie Platter. 
You're probably rolling your eyes at this one, and trust me, before I saw it with my own eyes I would too. But think back to your child at an adult party or a holiday dinner. There is bound to be a veggie platter there with different dips and your child is bound to be drawn to something on there. So start with serving that! Our veggie platters vary from meal to meal with whatever I have on hand, but I suggest stocking it with stuff your kids like for the first few times you set it out then slowly add in a few new items for them to explore on their own. If they ask what it is, just casually tell them the name of it, reach over and eat one (make yummy noises) and walk away. If you make a big deal out of it, they won't eat it! Things to add to the veggie (and fruit) platter: carrots, cherry tomatoes (these ones are from our garden!), cucumber, celery (I slice it very small into "shoelaces" as seen in the picture, because it can be pretty strong), mini corn cobs, olives, sweet bell pepper slices, small romaine lettuce chutes with ranch dip, jicama slices, even some veggies that are lightly blanched like: broccoli, green beans and asparagus spears. If your kids are really having a hard time eating only veggies you can add in a bit of fruit like apples and grapes, but I recommend not adding in too much fruit because it's so much sweeter than the veggies and they might just eat the fruit and leave the veggies to die on the plate! To mix things up a bit in the veggie department, I'll even make a fresh pressed juice (adding more veggies than fruit to avoid too much sugar) and that seems to keep the troops pretty full til the next meal too.

2. Fresh Organic Fruit. I like to have some things on hand that are already ready to eat like pineapple spears, cut melon like watermelon, honeydew, etc., cuties (the little clementine oranges), fruit cups (in water if possible, to avoid too much extra sugar), apple slices or apple sauce, berries, bananas, etc.


3. Healthy carbs. Everyone needs carbohydrates to help with proper brain function but empty carbs aren't going to help anyone, so opt for healthier ones with whole grains like rice cakes and whole grain crackers. We also like unsalted pretzels, snap pea crisps, whole grain chips and salsa, etc. My kids love rice cakes and they now come in a variety of different flavors. We usually stick to brown rice, light salted with sea salt. We love this brand by Lundberg and can find them at Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Mother's Market, Von's/Pavilions, etc. They have so many products I'd love to try them all!  These organic, non-GMO rice cakes are by far my favorite!

4. Healthy Protein. Pair your healthy carbs, fruits & veggies with healthy proteins like hard boiled eggs, lean lunch meats, tuna salad, egg salad, chicken salad (easy chicken salad recipe found here), cottage cheese, low sugar yogurt, sliced cheese or cheese sticks, sea weed snacks, organic nut butters like, peanut (we love apples and peanut butter together!), almond butter or our new favorite, Honey Sunflower Butter from Wild Friends!  It's super yummy and the kids love it! They have other products too that I'll have to try. We found this at Costco. I'm eating it right now, in fact, on top of a rice cake!  Yum!


5. Kid Sized Sandwiches And Snacks. I have learned as a mom that my kids will try almost anything if it's cut cute and small. So in addition to these snacks I also like to do mini egg salad sandwiches, cucumber with cream cheese, peanut butter & jelly, tiny ham & cheese or turkey & cheese (both with pickles, of course!) or chicken salad sandwiches on whole grain bread (kinda like what you'd find at a fancy afternoon tea). We also keep on hand plenty of healthy trail mix made with unsalted nuts and unsalted pretzels, sesame sticks, dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, banana chips or plantain chips, popcorn, with yogurt chips for a little something sweet added in and I'll serve it in a small dixie cup to eat on the go! We also make mini banana or apple muffins with flax seed, chia or sliced almonds. Anything healthy to keep them full til the next meal!

What are your favorite healthy snacks?  Please let us know in the comments below!

My kids were making "sandwiches" with rice cakes, sea weed snacks and veggies. 

*The products I'm featuring in this post are just some of my family's favorites. I was not asked to advertise for them. 

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Mom, Party Of One!

This is a pic from a pre-baby #3 night away, but it fits perfectly for this post! 
Tonight I'm having a rare moment that needs to happen more often. I'm having the night off while my husband is at home wearing our 8 month old baby in the Moby wrap trying to wrangle a 4.5 year old and a 7 year old to bed while I sit here writing, reading, munching on munchies and basically effing off.  Exhale.....

I deserve it! 

I work very, very, very hard.

I'm a stay at home mom of 3 small kids and my days and nights never ever, ever end. I'm not being overly dramatic either. My 8 month old is attached to my breast all hours of the day and night, waking about every 45 minutes to breastfeed during the night due to teething and growth spurts - so at this point in my motherhood career I'm permanently on call - at the mercy of a tiny human who can eat for days and loves to snuggle his mama. I know this too shall pass and someday I'll tell a new mom holding a newborn in a grocery store how I really miss nursing my babies -- but for now I'm just fricken exhausted. I'm always at the brink of these huge blow-out, break-down tears and I'm always trying to work out how I can get my next fix;

A.K.A. a nap.

I'm suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) and even though I have several recent posts sitting in my drafts folder that talks about it, I haven't been able to finish any of them to post them on my blog. I think because maybe it's too heavy...?  I'm living it so it doesn't feel like something "fun" to write about. It feels too raw, even though I know I need to write about it so I can get the ball rolling on my healing.  But I do mean to post these blogs because I need to do this for myself and because I think it might help someone somewhere to know they are not alone in their dealing with PPD. I'm determined to bring some normalcy to it to help release the stigma. I didn't ask for PPD. I'm not feeling this way because I needed another project on top of having small children, trying to keep house, cook healthy meals for my family, breastfeed a baby and homeschool for the second year and oh yea, try to get my body back after having 3 kids too. Let's not even get to my freelance writing or my blog writing or children's book writing because right now those are pretty non-existant. So if you are reading this and can relate to any of these words regarding the PPD then please let me know in the comments below. You're not alone, My Friend!  In fact, you can join me in bailing water out of the sometimes sinking ship. I'd love the conversation! Let's start a PPD hashtag on Twitter to get more support.

#PPDsupport  (Click for more articles on my blog relating to PPD)

So, I have my pretty good, so so days and my horrible days and not many in between. In fact most have been the latter. I have a lot of horrible days lately. Then the kids go to bed way past their bedtime and I sit in my rocker feeling guilty from my horrible mood during the day or how much I yelled at the kids or how tired I was and how many times I dozed off in my rocker while nursing Baby Brother while the kids were playing Lego's, Magna-Tiles or Calico Critters or watching Wild Krats or something. Usually TV though. So I sit there nursing a tiny Baby Man who has also fallen asleep (but might wake if you move him) and my husband and I contemplate having a bowl of ice cream and what we should watch on Hulu and all seems to be OK for a bit because I start to recognize myself again and I recognize my husband again and laughter comes out of our mouths reminding me of the two young lovers who sat at the dinner table for hours drinking wine and talking about everything under the sun as opposed to the frustrated words of two over-tired, overworked, exasperated parents who can't get one word in to each other all evening, that isn't about the kids or work or regarding the mess and the stress. Our stressful mess. Then, regretfully, I stay up way too late because I'm trying to have some time alone in the quiet and peaceful stillness of my soul...


I'm not a morning person. At. All. I never have been - since birth, probably. I am always too tired. Too depleted and never feel rested. For as long as I can remember I have tried to see just how many more minutes of sleep I can eek out in the morning before I have to get my fat, tired ass into the bathroom to pee then off to fight with wake up two grumpy kids who are way too much like their mother...

This week I have been trying to change some things to heal my PPD naturally:

  • I have decided to get back on my supplements and vitamin routine so my energy doesn't "bottom out" like it does without them.
  • I have been trying to juice everyday and incorporate more fresh, raw, organic veggies into my diet overall.
  • I have been trying to avoid the "quick-fix" yet damaging snacks (bowls of cereal, mostly) because I don't think the processed wheat is doing me any favors. In fact, it's just time to admit already that we're simply not friends anymore. It makes me too angry. 
  • I have been trying to think more positively and eliminate any extra drama. 
  • I'm trying to get out in nature daily or do something fun (like take the kids swimming at the water park) as many days of the week as possible.
  • I have been trying to not yell as much in the mornings to get the kids ready and out of the house. This one is hard!  My family is really bad at getting going and I need to be better about my prep the night before to ensure smoother morning transactions. Dilly Dallier/Time Waster/Procrastinator Extraordinaire 

(I need to change that!)

I have been trying to go see a therapist and I intend to make an appointment with a new Naturopathic Doctor my friend told me about, but both of those things take a lot of time and a lot of money. Mostly because they are not covered under insurance at all. Much like most natural healing things, or more natural healthcare. They also add a bunch of added stress because I need to deal with child care and schedule time for that and then there's the whole, trying-to-get-everyone-out-of-the-house-on-a-certain-time-frame, fiasco.

I'm having a hard time at this whole motherhood thing right now. You'd think that after 7 plus years I'd be better at it, but not so much these days. I feel like most days need a do-over.

So for now I'm trying to do as many things as I can naturally or for free. Taking a walk in nature is free and provides more stress relief than medication or therapy combined. I just need to find a way to get the energy to actually do it, then figure out how I can make it last.

Until next time...

Thanks for reading and thanks for being a friend of MyTalesFromTheCrib!  Come say "Hi" on Twitter!  However, I'm no longer on Facebook and here's why: 


Happy 39th Birthday To Me!

It's the last year of my 30's. Wow, that kind of seems crazy because I feel like I was just in my 20's a few years ago. On my 30th birthday my brand new husband and I were getting on a plane to move to the Island of Kauai. It was a very exciting time. We had just gotten married and the world was at our feet. That seems like yesterday yet we're already talking about what we should do for our 10 year Anniversary next year. I will be turning 40 next year as well, so we definitely need to do something fun. Maybe take a weekend cruise with the kids? Maybe renew our vows?  Maybe head back to where we spent our honeymoon or where we spent our first wedding anniversary? Not sure. But we'll have to do something awesome for sure.

But today I'm 39 and at this point in my life I'm just in survival mode. I have an 8 month old breastfed baby who demands the bar to stay open all hours of the night and day. I have a 4 & 1/2 year old who is riding the delicate balance between wanting to be a big kid and still wanting to be mama's baby, and I have a 7 year old who is keeping me on my toes every hour of the day while I try to figure  this parenting thing out. Most days with this bunch I feel like a complete and utter failure. I never feel as though I make the right decisions or the right in-the-moment-choices, and I feel like I'm behind the 8 ball most of the time. That is probably a huge factor in my PPD (Postpartum Depression) right now for sure. It has taken a tight hold around my neck hard this time. But who am I kidding, no one really wants to hear about that. It's a total buzz kill even if it is my truth and my reality.

So today is my birthday and I feel tired, worn out and struggling with what to do and how to keep the daily schedule. When you're a mom of 3 kids every day is the same regardless if it's your birthday, a day running errands or if you're on a family cruise in the Mediterranean Ocean. It's all just survival mode, am I right ladies? If you are shaking your head no, then do me a favor and PLEASE fill us all in with your secrets in the comments section. I'm dying to know!

On this joyous day of 8's (August 8th), my little family and I are heading to the bay to swim the day away. When I was in my 20's my ideal birthday would be a champagne brunch on the beach with all-I-could-drink mimosas and all-I-could-eat super rich brunch fare, but today my hubby went to our favorite breakfast burrito take out place (because the baby was nursing/napping) and brought home some yummy breakfast burritos and fresh squeezed orange juice and we sat at our picnic bench under our covered patio in the back yard with the kids being silly and the baby eating a mum mum in his high chair and Jack Johnson playing on the iTunes. The sun was shining, there was a nice breeze keeping us cool and everyone was laughing and smiling and toasting me for my birthday.

A lot has changed over the years and even after being a mom for the 3rd time, clocking over 7 years I still feel the daily struggle. However, I've got my awesome hubby at my side feeling like I can conquer anything and today I wouldn't have it any other way. Warts and all.

Happy 39th Birthday to me! May this year be filled with new adventures, renewed passions and dreams and more failures because that is where I get my good writing material.

Cheers to 39! And Cheers to all my fellow Leo's out there!  Grrrrr!

If you want instant good blogging Karma points then just hit the share button to your favorite site below!  Simple as that!

This pic really has nothing to do with my 39th birthday other than I have this look on my face a lot most days and I love this movie. But other than that I wasn't in a wedding dress looking depressed because I totally married the right guy!
"If you're a bird then I'm a bird too."

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