Boy was it fun!
No, I’m not joking, we had a blast. The guests seemed to have a great time, as well. The slumber party was originally the idea of my newly 5-year-old daughter. At first I thought, HELL NO, but after a few days to think about it and inquiring with other parents, I realized we could be smart about this and make it the best party ever.
Slumber parties, to a 5-year-old, mean lots of snacks and movies and makeup and ALL THE FUN! My 5-year-old invited 2 friends and her sister (wasn’t that kind of her?) and I extended the invite to one of the guest’s big sister to even out the ages. My sister wished me luck getting through the night without belly aches but I was already ahead of the game on that one. Just like thinking ahead at the holidays, I wanted to do this party right by these little girls and give them a great experience, not an unhealthy one.
I decided to start the party off with cake and presents and get the biggest unhealthy obstacle out-of-the-way. This year, I allowed each of my daughters to pick out a decorated cake from the grocery store. It wasn’t gluten-free, sugar-free, or paleo… it was a conventional, decorated, birthday cake. The only thing I decided on was a whipped topping instead of the super-sugar-heavy icing, but it is what it is: a quarter sheet of junk. We sang Happy Birthday, blew out as many candles as I could find, had cake, opened presents and moved onto all the fun things the girls thought a slumber party should include.
Snacks included a tray of popcorn, grapes, Stretch Island Fruit Snacks, UNREAL 41 (M&Ms) & a 77 (peanut butter cups) for each girl, a bowl of apples, a dish of sunflower seeds and glasses of ice-cold water! The girls were so happy and excited. It was a joy to see their sweet faces smiling as we jumped from activity to activity all while enjoying good choices and special treats! Yes, they even ate the apples. They didn’t hesitate to help themselves throughout the evening to more popcorn, seeds, juicy grapes or more water. The best part: their manners were IMPECCABLE. “Please” and “thank you” and “excuse me”s all night long. Good job mom & dad!
- Stretch Island is a special treat in our house. 1: They are a NON-GMO verified company; 2: No artificial additives; 3: REAL fruit puree; and 3: I get coupons for $.75-$1 off at my local grocery store; plus they taste great!
- UNREAL candy is made with REAL ingredients and NO GMOs. They taste amazing and are available locally at CVS, Rite Aid, and Target. Though their peanut butter cups have half the sugar content of Reese’s, I still limited the girls to 1 cup each since they were enjoying their candy coated chocolates (40% less sugar then M&Ms) at will AND they just had cake.
After choosing their desired sleep location, 2 in the top bunk and 3 on the floor, I read the girls a story and closed the door at midnight. They weren’t up much later than that and I made sure to eavesdrop for a bit at the door. Their conversations were to die for! I awoke this morning at 8:07am and heard them chatting in the room still, door closed. GOOD GIRLS.
As soon as they heard me in the kitchen, the girls all scurried out in their pj’s and I quickly began preparing breakfast-to-order as they dove right into playing with LEGOS and art supplies. The initial order doesn’t reflect all that the girls ended up eating, as most had a 2nd serving of a different choice, but pastured local eggs, uncured bacon, gluten-free waffles and cereal, fresh fruit, grass-fed butter and dark syrup were among the options. I figured if I’m sending home tired kids, I may as well pump them full of premium fuel.
- Van’s Natural Food is a GMO free company plus they have gluten AND wheat free options. This is a special treat in our house as I rarely buy frozen waffles/pancakes since I have a great coconut flour recipe I like to make and freeze the leftovers for a quick morning meal. But there is something to be said for the convenience of Van’s.
- Barbara Bakery products are also GMO and gluten-free. My husband and kids enjoy the Peanut Butter and Cinnamon Puffins. This particular morning, the ladies requested cinnamon (40% less sugar then Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and one guest mentioned “I really like dat cereal” when she was all done.
I didn’t plan this party to be a ‘healthy’ sleepover, but I decided to share our celebration to inspire others to offer good choices, mixed with special treats, that aren’t all that bad. Especially when it comes to children, who typically have a special menu of crap at restaurants and an array of junk fed to them at parties. Life is meant to be lived and I indulge, as do my children, from time to time but control is taught through repetition. My daughters had a wonderful 1st slumber party filled with activities and movies and fun! I can only hope they are learning about food choice and control through example and experience. They are currently napping.
What do you typically serve to kid-guests during parties, playdates or special occasions?
The past few weeks have been hectic as I am knee-deep in a new career. After being in school all day for 12 months my routine of leftover lunches has now become leftover dinners because I typically work in the evenings. My family is left to fend for themselves (with the help of my menu planning and preparation, mind you) while I work 3-5 evenings each week. My house hasn’t been this organized in a year and we’ve been checking off the Pinterest ‘to do‘ list at lightning speed. Life is good. My weekly shopping trip, however, has been chopped into spurts.
I don’t mind shopping in spurts, but I received a lot of positive feedback on the weekly menu & receipt posts so my intention has been to continue doing a weekly $100 grocery trip and meal plan (you know, to keep myself busy) so, HERE I AM.
I put a few things back this week, like a 2nd box of k-cups ($5.99), in order to afford a few treats. I also decided against the organic butter (4.29) because we have some butter in the house and my sister recently picked us up 2 jars of Trader Joes Coconut Oil, which I have been using more of recently.
- Budget: $100
- Meal Plan: 1 week
- Final purchase: $92.61
Eating As A Family on a Tight Budget
During my hiatus, I will note, we were not living it up, it was quite the contrary as a matter of fact. My girlfriend, Jodi, recently asked “Without pasta or a starchy filler is it difficult to stretch (a dollar)?” and my immediate answer was “no”. We maintain our eating habits, as much as possible because we are committed to health. It’s almost better for us to spend our money elsewhere 😉 We (/I) are nowhere near perfect. Paleo is the goal and we live as close to it as we can. Sometimes, we don’t want to. 🙂
1. Snack less; It is a privilege, not a right
2. Pack meals with protein – no counting calories or controlling portions (within reason). EAT.
3. Cook with coconut oil instead of butter – it adds more fat to our lessened amount of food. Fat = energy and we all need energy to keep our brains and bodies working well.
4. Use more eggs – added protein and fat for a good price
5. Drink (even more) water.
6. GET BUSY and/or NAP – our bodies work best in these conditions
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Today was spent prepping dinner, which was sausage, steak and chicken kabob. They were speared with onions, green peppers and carrots. On the side, I had Brussel sprouts and bacon sticks and a salad heavy with mixed greens, cucumber, onion, carrot, celery and hard-boiled egg. Oil and vinegar for the dressing and I was full before my plate was empty. Therefore, my lunch is already packed for tomorrow: leftover kabob emptied out onto a bed of mixed greens.
I know I’ve mentioned my love of Brussel sprouts and I’m sure you’re all sick of reading about it, but they are my favorite. I love how they grow and every time I pick up a stalk at the grocery, I inevitably have 1 or more strangers ask what it is. Great conversation starter, who knew?! I think I planted brussels last summer just to see that gorgeous stalk in my own back yard. Of course, homegrown taste EVEN MORE delicious. I hope to have success again this summer.
I’m currently awaiting the finished product of a little snack we like to refer to as “Cookie Bars”. It’s like a grainless granola bar without weird ingredients, but more of a protein bar, if you ask me! Plain and simple, it’s a recipe that can be varied in so many ways. Once you make them, it’ll be a go-to treat for the kiddos, if not for yourself.
In a food processor add
- 5-7 Medjool pitted dates and handful of other dried fruit of choice (we used banana tonight)
Process till the dates start breaking down then add
- handful of pecans
- handful of whole almonds
Process till the really big chunks are gone then add
- handful of crushed walnut
- handful of coconut powder
- a big squeeze of honey (probably 1/4 cup)
Pulse till mixed around a bit and add 1/4 cup or less of maple syrup, grade B preferably. Pulse till mixed. Must be sticky enough to lump together, if not add a bit of honey and syrup till satisfied.
Once the mixture is fully combined – sometimes, I put it in a larger bowl and use a spatula to smash it around some more, but did fine with just the processor tonight – line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flatten the mixture to an even thickness of about 1/4 an inch or your likeness. I then sprinkle it with cinnamon.
Bake at 325 for approx 20 minutes. I check on mine every 10. Timing depends on the thickness and for thicker bars, I usually flip the entire thing after 20 minutes and bake it off for 10-20 more.
Once the bar is browned, I add some sort of chocolate to the top. Sometimes a high cacao dark chip, melted in the microwave and spread on but tonight I used Enjoy brand chocolate chips because that is what I had. I sprinkled them lightly across the bar, placed it back in the oven for 1 minute then removed, spread the chocolate in a very thin layer then removed the parchment paper, with the cookie bar on top, from the sheet to cool on a rack.
As it cools, it will harden. Once cooled, I break it apart by attempting to cut it into rectangles. Sometimes it cuts well and other times, it’s more of a break line that I create.
If you use the same recipe, slightly less honey and syrup, you can toss the mixture while roasting and create a delicious cereal to be enjoyed with some milk of you choice. Warm it for an oatmeal like sensation.
My husband couldn’t wait to get his hands on one of these. While I was getting the girls dressed after bath, and before they were cooled entirely, he went ahead and cut them. Warm and delicious! A comfort treat. The girls had one before bedtime tonight. Yet, they are entirely acceptable for breakfast.
Once cool, I store them in Tupperware, with parchment or wax paper between layers in the fridge and the girls help themselves when they wake up or feel a little hungry. I’ll also grab a few and toss into a ziplock bag when we’ll be running around all day. Easy pick-me-up and a delicious treat.
Savings note: Use the ‘candy bins’ at the grocery store to bag your own nuts. It ends up to be more like $2 or less for more than enough compared to $6 for the prepackaged nuts. This is why we always have a variety in our house.
I LOVE when folks are interested in eating Paleo. I only wish more of them would stick with it as it gets lonely rejecting offers of sweets and treats all the time. Imagine my excitement when a student joined my class who only eats: PROTEIN and PLANT-based carbs! He didn’t know it was ‘Paleo’, he just knew it was best for his body.
So, in keeping with retaining as many protein & plant loving friends as possible, I would like to share a few go-to Paleo mantras for making this journey work for you in modern American culture. One of my faves is:
Pig Out Paleo. I mean, if you’re going to hunt through the house for something you may as well make it Paleo. Right?! See below for health(ier) pig out options.
Set yourself up for success. Google the shit out of “paleo” advice/foods/recipes. Research why & find your own answers – the more you want it, the more you’ll find. Prep, prep and more prep so you always have food on hand. Pinterest has become an amazing little friend of mine. I’m a visual person and love a simple ‘pin’ to refer to at any time. I have a “Things Worth Eating” board that could help you get started. Then just search “paleo” snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, appetizers, and more!
As Paleo As Possible. Listen, no one is perfect in anything they do. If you want something that isn’t exactly or completely on the clean eating list, make your own decision and move forward with it. Don’t wallow in less then 100%. Actually, a huge part of the Paleo community promotes an 80/20 lifestyle. It leaves room for real living in this busy world of ours. Just don’t get carried away *wink*.
Make good choices, as often as possible. These are real answers and they work if you incorporate them into your daily thinking. One blunder towards something that is inherently non Paleo, does not a failure make. Keep going, keep choosing, keep searching for your groove in a life style based in plants and animals AND simplicity. Your life will change once you take on a clean living lifestyle, for the better.
So you’re hungry and its 11 o’clock at night? EAT. Are you just looking to shove something in your mouth? Snack mindlessly? You’ll get over that eventually, in the meantime, I say: EAT. Life is for living, not punishing. Setting yourself up for success includes gradually finding a peace with sweets, emotional eating and other negative food behaviors. YOU’LL GET THERE. Don’t be so restrictive when starting that you set yourself up to fail. PIG OUT PALEO.
Late night ideas (have as little or lot as you’d like, you’ll get better at making good choices, promise):
- Nuts – straight up, mixed; chopped or blended. Do them your way.
- Dark chocolate – the higher the cacao the better.
- Fruit – dried, baked, sliced or whole, it will satisfy a sweet tooth.
- ANY COMBINATION OF THE 1st 3: Get creative.
- Olives – good fat, salty and the little ones satisfy my ‘munchie’ needs. I’m enjoying them now, straight out of the jar with a tiny spoon. CHEERS!
- Apple sauce – I’m a simple girl, it doesn’t take much. Note: your apple sauce need not include sugar/syrup of any kind. If you didn’t make it yourself, read the label. My store brand is good enough: apples, water and that acid that keeps it from discoloring.
- Hard boiled egg – a little salt, maybe some pepper, it fills you up.
- Veggies and guac – fatty and filling plus you get that crunchy snack vibe going.
- Soup/stew – leftovers rock.
Here are 75 more ideas. Google is your professor: ‘paleo_____ recipe”
What are your go-to snacks?
I’m all for snacking. You’re hungry? EAT! I love food. Yummy-delicious, filling, food that provides me lots of energy and taste and excitement. So when did little bags of processed, grain heavy, sugar filled foods become known as ‘snacks’. What entitles us to take every opportunity to ‘snack’ on candy and little sticks of crap? I’m not a food nazi, I’m really not. In fact, someone recently commented on how I didn’t seem as stressed over my children’s food as she would have thought I was. I still argue: a snack is not the same as a treat so stop treating it as such.
Some people don’t believe in snacks and I may have been among them before I began looking at food as fuel. Now a snack is just more food. Healthy food. Fuel for the body, brain and to keep you chugging along through the day. Treats don’t do that for you. They leave you hanging after 30 minutes like a bad friend. And don’t get me started when it comes to kids, the innocent snack suddenly takes on a magical appeal and turns into sugar and sweets and exciting little morsels of junk. They’re not born thinking this, we taught them so we can re-teach them, if we must. If not, they will soon become adults who indulge in ‘snacks’ between every meal and possibly who snack between snacks, as well. Overweight and/or disease riddled, adults. Depressing. Enter the modern-American culture.
I don’t know how this thought-shift happened, but I’ll start with preschool. Most schools work similarly where each student is assigned a day or days to bring in a snack for the entire class. The children usually get to help hand out the snack or lead the line to the playground on snack day, so it turns into a special event. And so it should be, every child deserves to feel important, but a special event is no longer special when it is a daily occurrence. I also have a problem with the fact that at 9 or 10am, most children do not need a snack if they were fed a proper breakfast heavy with protein. Then you present that early morning snack in the shape of a brownie, cookie or cupcake, multiply that by as many days as your child goes to school and you’ve set them up for a routine of behavioral crashes by 11 or 12 each day and the idea that they ‘deserve’ this ‘snack’ regularly. Poor kid. They don’t know why they feel funny inside or why they’re starving by lunch time and craving more processed food and carbs. We, as the adults, choose this for them.
Of course, I am not referring to an exceptionally exciting day like a birthday celebration. This deserves a little fanfare, an extra special treat and a bit of a pomp and circumstance. If cupcakes do that for you, so be it. I’m not a martyr but the daily dosing of sugar snacks is overkill and has allowed us to be members of the unhealthy culture we live in today.
Let us move on to organized sports and activities. You or your child are depleting energy. You’re sweating, losing water, burning fuel. Why, then, would a sugary ‘sports’ drink or juices, bags of chips, whole wheat fish, pretzels, or mini cookies (but they only contain 100 calories!) be the first thing one reaches for to share after the baseball game or to the swimming pool? Fuel your body with good food and it will repay you with good action. After you’ve refueled would be the proper time for an extra treat, like ice cream for the winning team.
Water and protein make the most sense when ‘starving’ or a banana when depleted after a long game, run or day in the sun. Yet we grab a bag of treats because they come in boxes of 24 and there is enough for everyone on the team. Eggs come in cartons by the dozen. Boil them up, keep them in a cooler. Okay, my husband would look at me weird too, how about carrots then? You can get a huge bag of carrots for a few dollars, even the organically grown kind, from your local market. Hand them out. They are a great source of fiber, keep hunger at bay, provide the body with vitamins and will help you make it till dinner before eating again. Bunches of bananas are also easy to carry and filling. Grab a pre-made veggie tray if you’re looking for ease. The options are out there. We need another thought-shift.
Lunches and packed meals always seem to have a ‘treat’ added to the pile of food choices. Why? Couldn’t we just as easily pack a salad with some protein and call it a day? There is no need for the insulin spike of starchy carbs and candies leaving us wanting another round of the same, when we could fill our bellies with nutrients that will provide clarity and a steady source of energy. Still hungry? Have an egg. Enjoy a banana. Make a sweet potato. Leftovers. Peel a carrot or cucumber lickidy-split. Thought-shift.
Which brings me to potlucks, office parties and holiday gatherings where everyone finds excitement in bringing their gooiest, most fattening, delicious, dish of whatever treat, bread or cake they are most known for making for every potluck, office party and holiday gathering. We hover around the food table, re-plating and filling our bellies until we can fill them no more, and then of course complain about how full we are. How did veggies (and other healthy options) get the shaft on creativity? I have to hand it to a friend who brought pre-portioned Dixie cups of veggies with a dash of Ranch dip in the bottom of each to a recent gathering. It was a great presentation! Everyone was excited to grab one. In fact, our food table(s) were FILLED with healthy options, one more yummy than the next. You can make things enticing and new and delicious without over indulging. There will always be an opportunity to overindulge, trust me. In this snack culture, however, it seems folks indulge at every chance they get.
In short, lead by example and encourage healthy habits in yourself, your kids, friends, family, co-workers, etc. Share bananas with the team, or an avocado salad at your next office potluck. You’ll be the hit of the party and others will start trying their hand at something more refreshing since the brownies, breads and pies are usually covered, several times over. Most of all, enjoy your days. Don’t fill your bellies with sweets, treats and junkie choices. Those are meant as extras to a nutritious diet, not as fillers between meals or the meals themselves.
Please share your ideas, struggles and stories on our blog and our Facebook page.
I’m going to approach this post in a different way because I just don’t have the time or energy to write all that I would like on this subject. Cheating? Perhaps, but sometimes cheaters win. It’s true and you know it. At least I’m still offering you the information in the links I have supplied below (READ THEM!). I apologize for not elaborating in a more personal tone – NEXT TIME!
Why do you crave unhealthy carbs? Here you go!
- 5 Reasons Women Crave Carbs – Easy to read, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I will say, however, that Emily Deans, M.D. once noted the sugar/sweets/carbs craving during our menstrual cycle could relate right back to the nature of the beast: breast milk. Our first taste of sugar. Lactose, is a sugar. Carbs turn to sugar. Lack of nutrition craves food, comfort, taste. You see the cycle here? Eat real food as often as you’re hungry and you will fill the nutrition gap. That doesn’t mean you will lose those cravings, of course, but you will learn the difference between hunger and craving.
- Why Do I Crave Carbs? – Put down the carbs. Seriously. Fill your body with fat and protein from optimal sources and it won’t ‘need’ these simple carbohydrates, it will eventually stop craving them. Of course, that takes a long time, but it happens. One day you’ll wake up and that birthday cake just doesn’t do it for ya anymore.
- Eat Carbs Crave Carbs – Evil little rascals.
Ideas to curb the cravings?
- 20 Tips – Here’s a handy flip through, which I’d like to add “Brush Your Teeth” to – usually comes in handy for those late night cravings. Drink a glass of water, brush your teeth, GO TO BED.
Bad habits need to be broken. It can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the habit. Bad habits have immediate payoffs – good habits are established for a reason. All things are possible. REMEMBER: you are in control. The food you put in your mouth doesn’t magically appear inside. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m saying it’s possible.
Please share your go-to tips for curbing a craving in the comments or on our Facebook page dedicated to Pushups and Carrots. We are a community focused on wellness, become an active participant.