2015 Family Nutrition, Health and Well-being Overhaul – Weeks 1 & 2

We made it through our first couple weeks of our overhaul!  The lesson: focus on celebrating the small victories, chosing to be flexible in certain situations and when we fall short one day to get back on track the next… don’t give up!

We started our overhaul off strong and full of determination.  The T.V. stayed off, everyone got creative and fresh meals were being made. TV offWhile everyone was still home for the holidays I decided to serve lunches basically consisting of a healthy snack variety plate. It was so easy and the kids loved it so much. No elaborate cooking involved and barely any cleanup after.  Dinnertimes were also going very well. I gave the kids VERY small quantities so that I wasn’t setting them up to fail.  The rule: eat your dinner in front of you if you want a snack after dinner.  Simple.kids food

Then real life hit!  Bitterly cold winter weather arrived, I came down with a terrible head cold, we were attending a lot of birthday celebrations that included the present shopping before and typical birthday foods during.  While out shopping with the whole family one day Mike and I decided to stop for lunch at a chain restaurant.  Before entering we made a game plan already knowing their menu.  We decided to let the kids have typical “kid food” as long as they incorporated a vegetable instead of fries.  Beau chose cucumbers and chicken fingers and Holden chose a hamburger and steamed carrots.  Mike was a little nervous about finding something healthy on the menu.  Once we had been seated things started going down hill fast!  The babies were cranky, Mike couldn’t find a thing on the menu and decided to skip lunch and we were told that they had raw carrots but it would take too long to steam them… what!!???  I made the decision to give Holden raw carrots which he and Mike quickly protested to.  Mike kept giving me these looks across the table like “this is not working”.  I was enjoying a delicious salad complete with beets, peaches and grilled salmon and Beau starting digging into her cucumbers which I have never seen her eat before.  We started to make a little progress.  Holden ate his mini hamburger and then panic started to set in about trying raw carrots.  The poor kid was starting into a full blown anxiety attack.  That’s when I switched gears.

I decided to turn this into a teaching moment.  For anyone who has a child who suffers from sensory issues, you know that texture, temperature, colour and smell can all contribute to childhood anxiety.  “Okay”, I said to Holden,”Forget eating the carrots.  Please do something else for me.  Pick it up. Hold it in your hand.  What colour is it?  Is it soft or hard?  Why is is not soft?”  This began a discussion about the carrot.  Holden immediately relaxed and became very engaged in explaining that it hadn’t been cooked and it would probably crunch if he bit it.  We demystified the raw carrot.  Mike and I accepted this discussion as a win and we hope that the next time a raw carrot crosses his path he may not become so overwhelmed by it.

We tried a few new recipes this week and the biggest winner was from the Oh She Glows cookbook; Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta.  Drool-worthy!  This easy vegan dish has cashew “cream” sauce.  I couldn’t believe how quickly this meal was gobbled up.  It was incredible and Holden has been begging me to make it every week.  This one will for sure be a future staple in our home!Luxurious pastaAlthough my energy was low due to my cold I pulled together enough energy to cook up a big pot of soup also from The Oh She Glows cookbook.  I chose the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup to help us recover from our holiday food hangover and so Mike would have something easy to bring to work with him for lunch the following week.  This nutrient packed soup was perfect to help kick my stubborn cold’s butt and as Mike put it, even the after-taste is delicious!Eat Your Greens Detox SoupEven I got a little creative in the kitchen!  Here are two lunches I made for myself that were quick, healthy and very tasty!

BBQ Chicken, Kale and Apple Sandwich: BBQ chicken breast, kale, sliced apple and whole grain dijon mustard with a dab of mayo on a thin multigrain bun.  I added a side of greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and raspberries.


Sweet and Salty Walnut Whole Wheat Pasta: Whole wheat bow tie pasta with sautéed spinach, red peppers, tomatoes and red onions mixed with olive oil, sea salt and brown sugar topped with walnut pieces.

IMG_2924I know, I even surprised myself!

I didn’t get too creative with my breakfasts yet, I stuck to my good old quick, healthy and simple staple this week: soft boiled egg, quinoa bread with almond butter, water and coffee (nope not giving up my coffee).  I did however trade out my skim milk for unsweetened almond milk in my coffee.breakfastAnother note-worthy meal was fajitas.  To make a healthier version we used whole wheat wraps, swapped out sour cream for avocados and sautéed portobello mushrooms along with many other delicious veggies.  This meal was a great option for Holden and Beau to be able to pick and choose what they want and try new vegetables.  Fajitas will for sure be added to our weekly rotation and in a couple of weeks Mia and Everly will be able to enjoy it along with us when we start Baby Lead Weaning.fajitasThen there was the exercise… there was a lot of discussion about working out, planning on it, staring at our home gym but we didn’t finally start until the end of these two weeks.  This will be priority starting next week!  I also had to start getting creative with the kid’s exercise since we were in a deep freeze.  I had been wracking my brain and didn’t feel well enough to drag everyone out to an indoor playground (the way Canadian parents survive winter).  Then it hit me!  I grabbed some sidewalk chalk from our garage and raced to our unfinished basement.  May I present to you “people town” as my kids call it.  Complete with a hardware store and market.

people townHere are some take-away tips: 

Take the time to cook some quinoa and barbecue chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and have them ready in the fridge for wraps, sandwiches etc…  Yes, we are those neighbours that dig a path in the snow to our BBQ!

Make your food pretty.  Because I knew I was going to be photographing my food I took the time to create a nice looking meal.  I even took quick on-the-go snacks out of the wrapper and sat and enjoyed them.  I found myself slowing down and eating when I did this resulting in being more satisfied after.  My new favourite healthy on the go snack: the Kashi granola bars with chia seeds.  Mmmmm…IMG_2901

Our goals for next week:

Master some new recipes including breakfast recipes.

Find some healthy boxed and frozen options I can buy at the grocery store since santa didn’t seem to get my request for a black hole of extra time each day!

EXERCISE!!! I don’t know how, I don’t know when but this needs to happen!

Don’t forget to subscribe, follow and like Nesting Story!!!




Our Family’s 2015 Nutrition, Health and Well-being Overhaul – Tailored for a Busy Family of Six

2014When I look back at 2014 I am filled with feelings of shock (twins are on the way), lows (depression during my painful pregnancy), highs (the arrival of Mia and Everly), exhaustion (parenting four children) and triumph (parenting four children). In fact, out of all 32 years of my life, this past year has been the biggest roller coaster ride.  My heart is so full with love, responsibility and pride.  I am so proud that our family took our surprise of a lifetime head-on and conquered the pregnancy, birth and adjustment to life as a family of six so well.  I know that every member of this family has been tested and has stepped up to the plate in 2014.  Although we have had to put ourselves into “survival mode” for a lot of it, I believe we have come out a stronger and closer unit.

Often when talking to other parents one of the first questions they ask me is “how do you do it?”  “It” meaning parenting all four, managing our home, nurturing my relationship with my husband and all the other things.  Well, to be honest, there is one area that has truly taken a hit.  Our family’s nutrition and health.  In this past year especially, we have started to turn to more fast food, processed and easy but not nutritious meals than ever before.  I had stopped cooking very early on in my pregnancy due to nausea and constant braxton hicks contractions whenever on my feet and had to make due with substitutes.  Our family has not come out unscathed.  My husband Mike had to have his gallbladder removed in February and he also put on some sympathy weight with me while I was pregnant.  Holden and Beau grabbed every opportunity of getting special treats from visitors and family looking after them, resulting in the beginning stages of cavities and very picky eating habits.  Although I have made a lot of progress with losing my twin weight I am still not quite near my goal: to fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  I have also found myself becoming more and more sensitive to certain foods, especially sugar, triggering migraines and my IBS.

There is part of me that feels like I have been letting our family down.  As most other moms would agree, as much as your partner can help with meal prep there tends to be this ripple effect that starts with mom.  Meaning if I indulge, everyone else in our home hops onto the junk band wagon before I can chew and swallow down that instant regret!

Recently there has been a shift in our home.  Yes, we have started to eat a bit better and the kitchen is actually being used again.  I have also noticed a new awakening from each member of this family (who has the ability to vocalize this).  We are each longing for change.  Eating better foods, foods that provide fuel and leave you feeling energized instead of wanting to lay down for an hour!  I know that for Mike and I this spark has come from a special new friendship.

I believe that every once in a while you cross paths with people on this earth that you are meant to build a relationship with.  I have a handful of the most incredible mommy friends and luckily for us our husbands are also close friends.  Well, a couple years ago I joined the most incredible group, consisting of entrepreneurial women.  In that Group was Angela Liddon.  We hit it off immediately.  Then we each found out we were expecting girls within weeks of each other.  By the time our girls were born we were getting together regularly, and soon after our husbands Mike and Eric met and became fast friends.

Angela is the very well known vegan blogger and author of the wildly popular book  and blog Oh She Glows.  Angela creates the most delicious healthy plant based recipes.  Over the last few months Mike and I have been treated to tasting many of these recipes over meals and get togethers.  We were instantly sold!  We cannot believe how delicious plant based meals can taste.  I have even witnessed Mike branching out and trying foods I never thought he would go near.  There is also something about watching someone cook with so much joy that makes you want to whip something up yourself!  officialcover

I approached Mike about doing this life change and he was on board immediately!  Here are some of the areas that we are planning on overhauling:

Nutrition and Meals  We plan on approaching this area with a practical and realistic approach.  We want to focus on eating clean.  We will be incorporating some plant based meals into our diet. There will be no deception when it comes to feeding our kids healthier foods.  I have tried the whole puree the veggies and hide it and A. they taste the difference and B. I want Holden and Beau to build a positive relationship with healthy food and to do so they need to know what they are eating.  I will be using some recipes from Oh She Glows among other healthy recipes sources as well.  We will also be including Mia and Everly during meal time in a few weeks when we start Baby Lead Weaning.  Here are some of the ways we will be adapting healthier meals to our busy lifestyle:

-cooking large quantities and freezing extra portions to have on hand on hectic days

-creating a one or two week meal rotation to create predictability for our kids and make grocery shopping easier

creating healthier copy cat versions of our boxed staple foods

-having some fast ten minute meals on hand as a backup when an unexpected wrench is thrown into the day

Exercise – We want to move away from the couch potato screen-time loving family that we are and start moving more and get fresh air.  It can sometimes be tricky getting outside with babies but here are some ways that we plan on getting active.

-dusting off our home gym and working out inside

-getting Holden and Beau involved in more sports and activities

-going on active dates with Mike (we used to go indoor rock climbing, skiing and horseback riding)

-getting outdoors as a family: hiking, sledding, walking Holden to and from school

Creating a Stress Free Sanctuary – Mike and I have spent our first two years in our current home creating beautiful spaces for our children and have neglected the spaces that impact our own well-being.  Here are some of the areas in our home that we plan to makeover:

-kitchen cupboard ingredient storage, purging, replacing chipped dishes and dull knives etc…

-our master suite will be getting a big re-design to feel like a sanctuary we can retreat to at the end of the day

-home gym makeover

General Well-being – Remember when you were a kid and your parents didn’t let you watch TV or play video games all day?  Do you remember when they didn’t spend every hour of the day being your playmate?  You went outside in your backyard to play with your siblings.  You used your imagination.  When did we get into the habit of feeling the need to entertain our kids every second?  Over the years Mike has gotten into the habit that when he is home he has to be playing with the kids all of the time.  Often to kill time he will take them out shopping, get drive through for lunch and basically drift around.  This has become expensive and unhealthy.  I know he does this to help get them out of my hair but I watch as Mike falls by the wayside and doesn’t take care of himself.  We can kill two birds with one stone, nurture independence and open up more time for Mike and I to cook and exercise.  Here are some ways we plan to foster independent play and creative thinking with our kids:

-set limits on screen time and stick to it… even on weekends

-give choices of activities they can do and rooms they can play in.  Instead of letting them wander aimlessly around our house with fights erupting every five minutes

-encourage them to get creative.  Instead of spending a ton of time setting up an intricate craft that creates a huge mess and only occupies them for ten minutes, hand our kids paper and crayons and have them use their imagination

I am excited and a little nervous about this endeavour.  I plan to document our journey on my blog including the the days when I fall short, the kids throw temper tantrums and when my cooking bombs.  Hopefully I will stumble upon some practical approaches that can be applied to other busy families.  I hope you follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well!