Clean Eating (with dirty kids)

Over a year ago we embarked on a lifestyle change and for the first month we followed a plan of strict clean eating. It was the start of some major changes in our house and it was amazing. After just 30 days not only had we both physically changed (by loosing some significant weight) but we also had huge emotional changes, we both had more energy, less mood swings, and naturally started making good changes and choices regarding balance with our lifestyle. We started to make exercise a priority and included activity in our week.

I no longer had any headaches, my stomach was for the first time relatively flat (I mean in comparison to what it had been, basically lost the bloated feeling) and my head felt clear (I mean as “clear” as it can be with three kids running circles around me).

Slowly over the last year we have fallen back in to some old habits and veered from our original plan. Some things were not feasible (or we have chosen not to make them a priority) for the long term for many reasons among them being limited resources (time and money being the big ones).

What started out as exciting, things like making time for meal prep, planning, exercise, etc, became all consuming of our time and life seemed like we were struggling to fit everything else in. Our kids have since started activities plus in the last little bit my son has started a therapy program which involves a lot more driving and time away. Slowly our homemade goodness turned to “healthy” premade/ processed convenience food.

Some of the changes we made were easy to stick to but unfortunately over time we have slipped with others and I have noticed my old “symptoms” coming back. Headaches, upset stomach, bloating and always feeling drained, no energy.

I went to the doctor, she ran blood tests (which showed nothing terrible) and I tried to change a few things but nothing has made as big of a difference as this last week when I started to go back to a more clean diet. All of a sudden I am feeling a lot better again. It has had me re-evaluating our meal planning and trying to determine how to balance clean eating with a busy family, mainly not spending my whole day meal planning, meal prepping, doing dishes and repeating.

SO, here are my clean eating ideas. I am hoping if I can stick to these basic guidelines it will help us make more lasting changes towards a healthy diet and happy bodies!


Take the time twice a week (my goal is Sundays and Wednesdays) to clean and cut up veggies and fruit, pre cook chicken, marinate any meat or any other prep work I can do ahead. Also for us snacks are important, so taking the time to bake goodies that I know are “healthy” but also yummy.


One great way to budget and still stay healthy is shop local farmers market with local produce. We are coming into our favourite time of year, berry season! We are so fortunate to live where we do, just this weekend I went out and got a flat of local strawberries (breakfast- smoothies, yogurt parfaits, lunch- strawberry spinach salad, dessert- strawberry shortcakes) and we just bought two cases of BC Prawns from a local fishermen. These will last us until next year and although we try to avoid doing too much frozen some of the things that are seasonal like fish and berries we do buy and freeze.

These are some of our favourite local places.


One big thing that I notice about our “clean eating” is avoiding any processed or pre packaged food which is tough to do when your busy and just want fast! But making salad dressing or dips like hummus or even your marinades all on the same day saves you time through out the week. I also will make and freeze portions of things like soup or muffins that can be easily taken out for a quick snack or meal. One goal we have is to do a little more canning. Last year we canned potatoes and although we try not to eat potatoes that often when we do it is so nice to drain and just fry up our tasty pre-seasoned and cooked potatoes. Sometimes stuff like canning seems like a lot of work and money at the beginning but in the long run it saves you on both!


In our house everyone loves being in the kitchen (well maybe with the exception of me). So I try to include the kids in meal prepping (they love to sit and “chop”, measure, mix, etc). This can also be time consuming and a lot messier than solo cooking but I do think the benefits outweigh the mess! The kids love it and are a lot more invested in trying or eating if they have helped. Plus they are so proud to share whatever they have made with anyone willing or brave enough to sample:)


We have also made some choices to not have certain ingredients in our house. So these are changes that have stuck since our initial change in diet and have stuck. At first I guess they seemed extreme or drastic but in reality these really were easy changes.

We do not have white flour or white sugar. We have replaced our white flour with a lot of different flours including almond flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour and spelt flour. This was a gradual change and we unfortunately had a case of moths who invaded our baking cupboard and I ended up having to throw everything away. I have just slowly bought the flours as I need them for recipes and really find that it is better to have in smaller quantities and buy fresh as you need. Sugar is a lot harder for me as I am a sugar and dessert freak! But I was surprised at how easy and how many natural alternatives they have so we now stick with honey, maple syrup and raw cane sugar.

One other change I made was pastas, I have switched to all brown rice pastas and am surprised at some of the good alternatives I have been able to find.

Our last big switch was with anything premade (sauces, marinades, etc). This was actually pretty easy for me but the rest of my family had a tougher time. I would like to say we have removed ketchup from our house but we have not (I try to avoid it) but the kids and Fraser still love it. However we do simplify our sauces and opt to stock Tamarind, Braggs Soy Sauce, Greek yogurt, Chili Paste, coconut milk, olive oil and a few other essentials so we can mostly try to make our own marinades and dressings.


The last really important thing is a mind set, we do go to McDonalds (but now we usually just get for the kids and try to go to White Spot instead of the Golden Arches if we want take out), I buy processed food, we eat white flour baking (because we don’t live in a bubble and Nan bakes with it) and we frequent the Delta Bakery because everyone loves donuts and its a great bribe. I will rarely say no to an Emma’s Ice Cream Sundae. We are far from perfect but what I do know is each day is a new day and we get to start all over with our choices. So maybe we treat ourselves on Tuesday but Wednesday we try to stay true to the plan. I am working on finding a balance of how I want us to eat but also what is realistic and how we do eat. Plus we are social and I never want to make other people feel bad about how they eat or go to special trouble. Everything is about balance and if we can aim to do our clean eating 80% of the time I will be super happy!!!

So the reason I wanted to write about it is because sharing helps me to be accountable but also because I know a lot of you are families and struggle to stay healthy and make good choices while still being practical. SHARE with me your successes and things that work for you! We have our go to recipes and staple grocery items but I would love to hear from other families and find out how they manage meal planning, prep and staying healthy.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from some of you!

Food and Kids

To be fair my kids are not very picky and are, for the most part, pretty good eaters. However that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with deciding what to feed them. I think my biggest struggle is what I can feed them fast and easy, because I don’t know about you but in our house when one kid is hungry the other two are usually wanting to go for a nap and needing a diaper change and this mama only has two hands (and three little mouths to feed, bums to change, etc). So quick and easy snacks and meals are a neccessity for us. Here are some of my tips and tricks. 

  • Make ahead and package in serving sizes or individual portions (this is great for waffles or baking and especially great for anyone rushed in the morning like us!)
  • Cut up or cook and prep whatever you can once or twice a week (We usually try for Sunday and Wednesday but it really doesn’t matter when). This means all fruit and veg is washed and cut up in containers in the fridge, we usually make a couple dips and sauces (hummus and an alfredo sauce with Greek yogurt that can be used on pasta or to make pizzas). This makes quick meals easy, they are already half prepped and ready to go.  We also try to have cooked chicken in the fridge so we can quickly make a salad and top with chicken. 
  • Buy and eat seasonally, can or freeze what you can for the year!  My kiddos love berries so that is a big one for us, but we even cook and vacuum pack corn to last us through the winter and buy salmon from local fishermen and cut up and vacuum pack for the year.  This year we attempted pressure cooking potatoes from the garden and they turned out great, bonus is they are already cut up and ready to heat and they save time because they are already cooked.

Easy Snacks for school… this is totally a new area for me and one I have been struggling with. First, I can’t always decide what my little one would want to eat.  But now that I have been at it for a month, making Rowens lunch I definitely think I have gotten a bit better.   The only issue I think I’ve had so far is that its difficult for us to not include nuts and to avoid sending homemade or baked goods. His school is completely nut free so they don’t allow you to send anything homemade in case it contains nuts or even traces of nuts. Despite all that I have found lots of options to send him.  Here is my list but please share what you pack for your litttle ones.  

  • Cheese
  • Hummus and Veggies (carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers)
  • Raisins
  • Cut up fruit (apples, melons, grapes, pineapple)
  • Frozen berries (or fresh, but my kids love them frozen and then they last better packed in a lunch bag)
  • Yogurt
  • Apple sauce
  • Pepperoni
  • Granola or Nut Free Granola Bar

If you are struggling to get your child eating one of my favourite ways to get my son, who can sometimes be like this, to eat is to give him a toothpick to use to pick up his food.  I don’t know why but he just thinks its so fun and is more willing to eat.  That being said he also is encouraged to eat anytime he is involved. So sometimes that might look like including him in picking the berries or going grocery shopping together.  Obviously this is not an easy or a fast fix but if you can be patient and get them involved I amost always find the child a lot more excited and willing to eat!  I know when it comes to meal prep and baking my kids love to be involved. I will often just give them little butter knives and chopping boards with a small piece of fruit or whatever and let them cut it up or even stir for our baking.  And finally give them something interesting to eat out of, sometimes it is just a matter of changing from a plate to a bowl, or a bunch of different little containers, or even to change the size or shape of the food. For example in our house a banana has to be peeled but cannot come out of the peel or neither child will eat it, LOL!  And the cucumber needs to be cut in halves instead of long sticks of it. I never force food on the kids but I try to introduce it more than once and in different ways/ forms. 

Hope this has inspired you to start October off organized!  And given you a couple fun new ideas…  please share things that work for you and your family.  



So, if you don’t already know, we are house full of babies. My oldest is 2.5 years old, followed by a 1.5 year old and a 4 month old. I will start off by saying yes they were planned, yes we know how babies happen and yes we are fairly busy! I have been pregnant for what feels like a solid 3 years and we have also always had a baby in the house! It means a lot of spit up, crying, giggling, diapers, you get the idea. It has also meant a lot of chapped and sore nipples, nursing bras, breast pumps, bottles, formula, and all things that go with feeding babies.
I was super excited about breast feeding my first, I did all the research, read all the books and websites, talked to as many people as I could and just was totally on board. I knew how hard it could be but also felt breast feeding had so many positives for the baby and it was winter so what else was I going to do but sit and happily feed my baby. Boy was I wrong; I ended up having a C-section which meant my milk didn’t come in right away.  And that was just the beginning of my struggle with breast feeding, I also did not like having a cover on but was super uncomfortable and still am feeding in public or in front of anyone else.


Rowen, my oldest, was pretty good at latching on and I was feeling pretty confident except for the fact that the poor baby was virtually starving the first few days. Now maybe this is normal but as we are preparing to get discharged a nurse walks past our door and hears this baby screeching and screaming at the top of his lungs. His throat sounded raw from having screamed so much and so she comes in to see what is going on. She watches me breast feed (at this point I do not care, seems all part of the feeding that you show everyone under the sun how your baby latches and they are happy to grab and grope you to get into a better position). She then has me try to pump out some milk. Bone dry, not a drop of milk comes out. I was so thankful for this nurse and her expertise at this moment because she says a baby should not be this upset and that we need to get him some formula. His lips were dry and he was starting to show signs of dehydration. As a new mom, who is nervous, tired and unsure of what to do I was so happy I was open to following the advice of that nurse and not so “breast is best” stubborn that I insisted on waiting it out. We fed our 3 day old son the formula (we are talking about maybe 2oz) and it was as if instantly he was a different baby. He finally stopped crying, relaxed in our arms and fell fast asleep. She also sent us home with a bit of formula to use until the milk came in. Now I gave a bit of formula and waited for the milk, which didn’t take too long and was overflowing when it came! The moral of my first born story was that giving the formula didn’t mean disappointing or harming my baby, it meant finally allowing both of us a little time to sleep and regroup. A happy mom is the best thing you could give a new baby, and that 2oz did exactly that.


Now I am not sure why but it became apparent to me that breast feeding wasn’t all that I thought it would be. My son like a lot of men enjoyed the boob and loved to suck which meant he always wanted to be on me. This was a very overwhelming feeling to me; it left me feeling very trapped. This baby that was already so helpless and relied on us for everything now needed me to always be within sucking distance for not only his food but his comfort. It was too much. Plus beyond the anxiety that it gave me, it was also physically extremely painful. This led to us, at a very early age, alternating breast feeding with bottle feeding pumped milk and eventually because of convenience also bottle feeding formula. I was happy with my choice and it also gave me a lot of flexibility. I could leave my baby for a couple hours without worrying about him was probably the biggest one. And for me, sometimes those couple of hours was what I needed to come back refreshed and ready to handle another day or night. It also meant I could get a lot more help with the baby, essentially anyone could feed him. I was pregnant again when my first was just 3 months old so some days I was dealing with my sweet new baby and dealing with the exhaustion and crappy feelings that go along with being pregnant. My son never had nipple confusion or a preference for breast milk over formula, he was so flexible.


My next two babies were each unique in my experiences. The first thing that was different was my attitude and views on breast feeding. This time I was realistic about what we needed for my peace of mind and sanity as well as what we could handle as a family who would now have two (and eventually three) babies at home. Grace my middle child was immediately fed bottle and boob, formula and breast milk. I went in knowing I wanted this and the nurses were not super supportive but I am made sure to insist on what I wanted. With Eleanor, my youngest, the strangest thing happened; I started to enjoy breast feeding. She is efficient and feeds with long breaks in between (while still gaining so much weight). I keep saying third time’s a charm but the lesson I have learnt when it comes to breast feeding is that it is different for each child. No two kids are the same and that applies to more than just feeding! And therefore. no two kids need the same thing; this also applies to more than just feeding! If someone had told me that I would one day enjoy breast feeding and even be comfortable enough to do it outside of my homes four walls I would have laughed in their face.

Never feel that you are doing the wrong thing or that you are stuck doing it one way. If I have learnt anything from this parenting thing is things aren’t ever what I expect and rarely do I do it the way I thought I would.
I wrote about my experiences with breast feeding not because I think exclusively breast feeding is bad (in fact I think it is fabulous and have huge admiration for those who can do it), but I want to let people know there are other options to feeding your baby and that sometimes a moms mental well being means more than the babies health benefits that come with breast feeding. And also to empower moms to feel confident in their decisions with their kids, you know what is right for you, your children and your family. Remember what is right for one child or family might not work for another child or family!