Nutrition for My 2Yr Old

Updated on August 24, 2008
K.M. asks from Olympia, WA
16 answers

hello all. i am looking for advise on healthy super-nutritious meals for myself and my two year old. i am trying to avoid gluten as much as possible, msg, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. i am not a big meat eater but my daughter seems to be (like her dad). the challenge is to make quick meals that meet our needs because i also have a 2mth old. any advice is welcome.

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So What Happened?

thank you all for the responses. i have learned a lot. i am proud to realize that a lot of what you recommend i already do. i am going to put all of your wonderful advice to good use. expecially the puree one. again thank you.

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answers from Seattle on

One of our family staples is spinach pie. We eat it weekly and my 18 month old gobbles it up. It's basically a crustless quiche -- full of protein, spinach and FLAVOR:

3 eggs
3/4 c flour (use any kind - we use whole wheat)
3/4 c milk
1 c grated mozerella cheese
1/2 t garlic powder (it's a lot, but it's good)
1/2 t baking powder
3+ c roughly chopped fresh spinach
2 T butter

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter in 9" pie pan and swirl to coat the pan. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. The pie will tolerate A LOT of spinach. When stirred, the wet ingredients will coat the spinach and it will look like there is too much spinach.

Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.

I like it best with sweet potatoes. I make "chips":

1 garnet yam, peeled and thinly sliced.

Toss slices with olive oil in a bowl and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

Place slices in a single layer on a large, parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 until cooked through and just starting to brown.

If you have a convection oven, you can cook both items at the same time, just turn down the oven to 325. Start baking the pie, then do the chips.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This is not so much a summer food, but we eat alot of this in fall, winter, spring.
You need a crockpot. They are fabulous!!
Basically I just put in the crockpot, 1.5lb of meat (either cubed lamb or beef stewing meat or minced beef, minced turkey etc) This takes 1 minute. Then I peel and cube sweet potatoes, squash and carrots. This takes 10 mins or even less if you use baby carrots that are already peeled and they don't need chopping. Then I add enough chicken stock to cover the vegetables. (Whenever I cook a chicken, I simmer the left over bones and carcass overnight with veg scraps and peelings if I have them, strain and put in the freezer so there is always "real" tasty chicken stock, but you can also just open a carton of chicken stock and pour it in. Trader Joes has a good well priced one, with no MSG. (stocks do often have it for flavor). So we are at 12 minutes - promise!. Add 1tsp ground cinammon (essential :) ) , a heaped tsp of herbs eg oregano, tarragon or a mix, salt and pepper. Stir up the goodness. I do this as soon as my little ones are in bed and set it off on high, then turn it down to low when I go to bed. When you get it down, I promise you it takes 15 mins to prepare and you wake up to a very delicious stew that has made itself. What I love about this method is that the meat and vegetables come out so soft and tender, it really doesn't matter whether my 2 yr old chews that well, AND I can throw a little in a blender and smooth it up for my one year old. I steam some greens to go with it, and one other thing you can do is when you get up, stir 1-2 Tbs of corn starch into a little water, add it to the stew and leave it on low till lunchtime. This makes the gravy thicker. Often I turn it off and just leave it sitting till dinner. It feeds us for days. If you use cubed meat, you can pick out the meat, but your veg will still taste real good from absorbing the flavor and goodness.
I also make chilli this way, and other stew varations, including bean dishes. Crockpots only cost about $30, I would invest in one. I serioulsy couldn't live without mine

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

So I've yet to need to avoid gluten, but I love cooking, so here are a couple ideas.

I'm a fan of making a big soup (Yuge!...and especially on chilly days :), and then freezing double servings of it together. You can control everything that goes into it, and then just pop on the stove or microwave. All of the nutrients stay right there in the pot and once it's in your freezer it's soooo easy in a pinch. Granted, making the soup to begin with takes hours...but if you make a big one you have soup for the next couple weeks whenever you want it. I'll list ingredients to a few (with meat)off the top of my head at the bottom of this message, and if any sound interesting message me and I'll toss the instructions along.

I'm still experimenting with curries (mild for my son and I, ridiculously hot for my husband :P), so I won't send any recipes along, but there are a ton of books and the control/nutrient-rich/freezing principles are the same. You can pour it over rice or other grain and veggies for yourself, and over meats + grain/veggies for your loves.

Frozen things in general (Boca Nuggets, tatertots, beans, Whole Foods' frozen shrimp/scallops, etc...sorry don't know about the gluten in boca nuggets!) either premade, or made by me and then frozen, have been a godsend to me being in school and having a little one. Pop in the oven or saute for a couple min and Voila!

To look for some gluten free grain alternatives I would check out Bob's Red Mill. My dad's a baker and took on avoiding using wheat as a challenge a few years ago and has SCORES of things from this company. I just popped over there and it looks like they're even setting up a gluten free website. .

So many other cultures use these grains as staples, that branching into ethnic cooking/recipes could be a great thing (the Egyptions and Chickpeas, my god! and of course my 2 year old son's favorite thing on the planet was Hummus also easy to make at home with a blender or food processor)...but it looks like I've gone off on a tangent (again) so I'm going to jump back on track.

So what we usually do for dinner is to try and match a protein (complete protein, like meat/ seafood/ grain+legume/ eggs or nuts), with a veggie (for complex/simple carbs &/or minerals/vitamins), & a dairy. Grains or starchy roots (read potatoes)if we feel like it, but we usually save those for lunch so they can be run off in the afternoon. Lunch is much the same as dinner but with fruit instead of veggies and add the heavy carbs. In English this translates to:

Lunch: (examples)
-Boca Nuggets & Tater Tots & yogurt or
-BBQ chicken Quesodilla & grapes or
-Turkey Sandwich & cottage cheese & orange slices or
-Japanese Food (sushi or rice noodle soups or tempura)& sliced fuit
-Leftovers from dinner ( favorite...but then, I more frequently heat up dinner for BREAKFAST as I'm always SOOOOOOO tired in the morning.)

Dinner: (examples)
-Shrimp & asparagus & mushrooms & fresh mozzarella balls
-Scallops & sauteed greens & cheese
-Quiche & salad
-Shortribs & corn & beans
-Indian Food (curries over meat/rice/veggies + saag paneer)
-Soups & cheese

oops...I just got really tired (it's a Little Late here...did i mention the whole tired in the morning thing?) I'm going to log off. I scan/update/edit tomorrow. :)

(Note: whenever freezing just cooked food : 1-freezing it just cooked & cooled is waaaay better health and taste wise then waiting and freezing leftovers. 2-As soon as your done cooking pour -or cut up and place if it's solid- into large flat dish like a baking dish or cookie sheet and toss it in the fridge to cool while you're eating and cleaning up. THEN pour it into containers to freeze. The whole trick is to bring the temp down fast enough so that NOTHING has time to grow.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Three items are priceless in our gluten free, low meat, no processed foods home: the rice cooker that has a keep warm setting, the grill and the crockpot. I start a big pot of rice (use all different kinds for variety) every morning when we wake up and we eat it with every meal (eggs and rice with fruit on the side for breakfast). The other non-gluten staple are potatoes - use a variety: sweet, baking, red, etc, which cook beautifully on the grill or cut up and tossed in the crockpot. I stock up on a variety of fishes for grilling, baking and sauteeing and the same for tofu. Tofu is super versatile - you can eat it right out of the package or prepare it similarly to shrimp. Also, I've found buffalo and ostrich are really satisfying and much healthier than beef.

Also I don't know about your daughter's palate, but my daughter has always loved to try new foods. She loves mild curry with potatoes, carrots and chicken. She devours sushi rice with shrimp and salad. With greens I've found that she eats them readily if they are from a neighbor, our own garden or she picks them out at a local farmer's market.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I promise- you can do it-- gluten free is tough but do-able -- ( older daughter is violently allergic to all gluten) -- rice- rice noodles- potatoes- all work beautifully as ordinary noodle substitutes. Gluten free bread is still rather boring- but toasted it's not too bad. You will be eating a diet heavy in vegs, meats, fruits - and the meat will provide a real boost of protein and fat ( the necesssary kind). 35 years ago- when my daughter was a toddler- newly on a gluten free diet ( in ASTORIA OREGON_ NO health food stores back then) I discovered that she could tolerate my experimental cooking best if she had protein at every meal-- for a while there- I made a little hamburger patty for 3 meals a day- the comfortable, familiar - liked food allowed her to try some other oddities- like ''only corn meal'' corn bread.
you can do it

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I'll quote you part of my response to another question (I have a picky eater 24 months old):

Some surprise favorites for my picky eater (and all of these contain iron and protein!):

Cantaloupe w/cottage cheese
Dried fruit (esp. raisins, apricots, prunes)
Oatmeal (use colander to sift out half the sugar, add raisins)
Mashed potatoes (w/cheese & Spinach)
Clam chowder
Soy Milk
Shrimp (esp. w/linguine & white sauce)
Chicken drumsticks
Linguine w/Trader Joe's "Clam Sauce" (in spaghetti sauce section -- this is superyummy! can add corn)
Pinto beans (whole even better than refried)
Tacos w/out shells, or ground beef w/fresh onions, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes.
Whole FRUIT (watermelon, grape, mango, plum, banana, apple, orange, strawberry, peach, blueberry, raspberry, papaya, etc., use melon baller when possible, - watch out for kiwis, many are allergic to the fuzzy skin)
Buttered MULTIGRAIN toast (prefers over white, try several kinds)
Cream cheese cubes wrapped in ham slices
nitrate/nitrite free hot dogs from trader joe's
broccoli (esp. w/mac n cheese)
quiche (trader joe's quiche mexicaine)
burritos, enchiladas (mexican food in general: beans are high in protein and nutrition, low fat, no sugar)
CHEESE (when all else fails)

You'll have to weed out the gluten products because I've never paid much attention to that. I've also found this webpage to be a great resource for 3 item meals that really helped me get the idea of simple, quick, nutritious feeding:

I found Trader Joe's to be a great high fructose/hydrogenated oil -free source that is not too expensive, and they also carry a lot of gluten-free products. And I *always* read the labels on everything I buy -- unfortunately the only tried and true way to avoid MSG, hydrogenated oils & high fructose corn syrups. Specialty stores can be really expensive but at times worth it, but I've also found Safeway's Organics ("O") brand to be incredible! Excellent prices and excellent taste even compared to other organic brands!

Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have gluten allergies and I use products made from rice that I purchase from New Seasons. They are made by EnerG foods. Their website is and I love the gluten free muffins. They have ones that have sweet potato in them and they taste good. I just pop them in the toaster, add butter and sometimes a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. This companies web site is really great because you can check ingredients in each item. Trying to avoid certain foods is difficult in the beginning, but after a while it gets easy.

I like to make one pot meals. I like to use those oven baking bags to make a whole chicken or pieces of chicken with broth and vegies. My kids love this. Another thing is boil skinless chicken, skim off any stuff from the top, add vegies and there you have chicken soup. Add your salt and pepper only to your bowl and you don't have to worry about excessive sodium. My mom's favorite is pot roast. You can do the same with chicken, pork or beef. It doesn't have to be something huge, it can be cut up pieces of meat. Put them into a crock pot with water, add spices and chopped vegetables. Check on it onc in a while and there you have another meal.
The trick to avoiding the ingredients you mention is to stop purchasing processed foods. Fresh ingredients are healthier, and most processed foods have chemicals and hidden fillers like fat.

Best of luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I don't know where you live, but if there's a Dream Dinners near you, they have wonderful, nutritious meals in servings of 3 and they don't use corn syrup, hy. oils, msg, and you can ask for gluten free or lactose free! I can get great meals on the table in 15 minutes. Go to
to find one near you. All the recipes are tried out on children first before it goes on their menus. The menu changes every month. I've been using them for 6 years and I save money on our food budget and only eat out once a month. They are Weight Watcher friendly, too.:>)



answers from Seattle on

Baked salmon in foil--flaked and deboned

Small turkey meat balls with lots of veggies

Small pizzas on bagels

My daughter at that age at lots of meat. At 16 she became at vegan. She is now thin, strong, and beautiful (I'm biased). Protein is good for brain cells and bone growth.



answers from Portland on

I understand where you are at. We are off all grains, beans. We don't eat sugar of any kind, no packaged anything. I have had to be creative too. We eat alot of meat, but alot veggies and fruit. We're into drying lately. You can dry anything, even thinly sliced meat. Smoothies are a big favourite with us. We eat alot of fresh farm eggs too. Meat, lots of diced veggies, fried eggs in a bowl is wonderful! Also you can buy gluten-free corn tortillas. Whole, organic foods are best. I do alot of cooking and freezing when I get a chance too which works great for soups or rice or anything. Also you might look into a book about food, called Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. She goes into fermenting foods and getting the most nutrition out of them. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

Hi K.,

I'm a mom/M.D./jewelry designer, two preschoolers and another on the way. I survive by planning ahead!! I make red sauce from scratch, often using ground turkey for a sauce filler for my meat lovers (much healthier than red meat), and I freeze it. Fun shaped pasta with red sauce packed full of pureed veggies, fools them every time! I would love to pass along my sauce recipe, if wanted. I keep a stack of salad dressing recipes, and throw everything into my salads, from ravioli to gorgonzola with pears. Everything we make from scratch, and my two year old and three year old ASK me for homemade asparagus soup, homemade tomato soup, homemade sushi, and I've cut times down to TEN minutes for these 'treats'!!! I make fish more appealing by combining it with mashed potatoes or rice, and a fun filled salad. again, if it's possible on this forum, I would love to pass along the recipes. Weekly planning for groceries makes each night a breeze---dinner's already pre-determined, so I can whip out what I need without a ton of brain power!



answers from Jacksonville on

Maybe you already know this, but the trick is to shop the perimeter of the store where you get the produce, dairy, and meat. Avoid the middle aisles. Pick out meats that are easy to grill (cuts of meat/steaks when they are on sale, pork chops, fish, etc.) A serving size of meat is the size of the palm of your hand, or a deck of playing cards. That's the rule of thumb. Try out some grilling or marinating sauces that sound good. You can use a dab on the meat; if it has sugar in it (which you are trying to avoid) put it on toward the end of cooking, or the sugar will carmelize (burn). Or, instead of using a sauce, get some Montreal Steak SEasoning and sprinkle on the meat, then put a bit of olive oil on your fingers and rub it into the meat. Makes it delectable! I get big costco size containers of it (at costco) for like $6, and it lasts a long time. Also, costco has big bags of frozen vegetables that steam well, that are reasonably priced, and some are even organic. So with a meat, and lots of veggies, and maybe a side of rice or potatoes or a salad, you've got a meal.



answers from Seattle on

Hi K.!
I am a wellness coach using whole food liquid nutrition in order to give your body what it needs. Since our soils our depleated of the rare earth minerals our bodies require to function at their optimal level we have to look for something more. Eating healthy is just one part of the getting/staying healthly puzzle (I have included an article below I thought would help you), you also need to be drinking enough water (1/2 your weight in oz.), getting enough sleep, exercise, appropriate sun exposure (which can be a challenge for us here), etc. When shopping, think raw...those foods that are as close to how they were grown as possible. Organic is better, but doesn't ensure they were grown in mineral rich soil. Please let me know if you want more info. :-)

Ten Healthiest Foods Under $1

HOW MUCH For That Bag of Groceries?

By Dr. Mercola

You can’t tune into the news today without hearing about the rising cost of living, be it gas for your car, heat for your home, or food for your family. Many baby boomers are giving up -- or at least stretching out -- food luxury items such as those coveted fancy coffees, because their pocketbooks are thinning, along with their hairlines.

In this report, I will give you some ideas for selecting delicious, nutritious items that won’t empty out your bank account.

In 2007, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all food rose by 4.0 percent, the highest annual increase since 1990. The CPI for food is forecast to increase another 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2008 as retailers continue to pass down higher commodity and energy costs to consumers in the form of higher retail prices.[i]

Most of you are aware of how the skyrocketing cost of oil is driving food prices rapidly skyward, but you might not be aware of the huge role biofuels have played in this increase. According to a confidential World Bank report, biofuels alone have forced global food prices up by 75 percent.[ii] According to an Iowa State University study published in May 2008, food prices have climbed an average of $47 per person since last July due to the ethanol surge alone.[iii]

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that your food bill has gone through the roof. Is there anything you can do to stretch your food dollar, without having to sacrifice nutrition?

Fortunately, you can still find many affordable, nutritious foods at your farmers market or local nutrition store, or even at the corner grocery. With a little creative use of your dollar, you can enjoy the best foods while getting the most “bang for your buck”.

Below are ten excellent, nutrient-packed food choices that you can still find for around $1 per serving.

1. Two Cage Free Organic Eggs: $0.84

Eggs can be one of the most healthful foods in the world. However, not all eggs are equal. There is mounting evidence of a monumental nutritional difference between true free-ranging chicken eggs and commercially farmed eggs. This is a result of the diets eaten by the two groups of chickens.[iv]

Commercially farmed hens subsist mostly on corn, soy and cottonseed whereas hens that forage in a pasture for seeds, green plants, insects and worms receive a smorgasbord of other nutrients. Remember: garbage in, garbage out. It applies equally to hens, cattle, and people.

Don’t be fooled by the egg industry’s double-speak definitions of what free-range really means. The UDSA defines “free-range” as chickens that have “access to the outside”. This does not specify whether the “outside” is a field for foraging or a cement courtyard and does not define their diets.

It is always best to obtain your eggs from a local farmer whose methods are known. To find free-range pasture farmers, ask your local health food store or refer to or Many people are finding it rewarding to raise their own eggs. You can read about this at Mother Earth News.

If you must get your eggs from the grocery store, your best bet is to look for free-range organic.

Avoid all omega-3 eggs since they are actually less healthful for you. Typically, these hens are fed poor quality omega-3 fat sources that are already oxidized.

It is best to eat your eggs raw. Yes, you read that correctly. Raw.

Eggs are often one of the most allergenic foods, but this is because of the changes that take place in the cooking process. Eating eggs raw also helps preserve many of the highly perishable nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are powerful agents in preventing macular degeneration. Raw eggs are not a likely cause of salmonella poisoning. For more about this, read my 2002 article.

2. Raw Organic Milk, 8 oz: $0.62

Despite the bad press that raw milk has received, it is one of the best foods out there for nutrient value. The downside is that it remains a bit difficult to come by, depending on where you live. Not only does raw milk taste better than pasteurized milk, it contains more nutrients that are beneficial because they haven’t been destroyed by heat.[v]

Why has the FDA selected raw milk as its whipping boy? The reason is likely far more political than nutritional. Just like the drug industry, the dairy industry has strong lobbying powers. And when I say “dairy industry”, I’m not referring to the small farmer who provides your raw milk.

If raw milk really caught on, big commercial dairy farmers would have to clean up their acts -- raise healthier cows, provide pastures, etc. This would cost them a lot of money. So they use their substantial weight to shine raw milk in a negative light, making it appear as unappealing or dangerous as possible.

Raw milk is neither unappealing nor dangerous and is far better for you than pasteurized milk. Its popularity is growing all the time.[vi] To find a site near you, go to the Real Milk website. Not only does it give you links to raw milk farmers but also provides excellent information on the nutritional benefits of raw milk.

3. Raw Nuts and Seeds:

Sunflower seeds, raw, 1 oz. = $0.82

Mixed raw nuts, 1/2 oz. = $1.00

Nuts are a good substitute protein for meat, for those of you preferring a vegetarian diet, as long as they aren’t eaten in excess. The reason for moderation is that, except for walnuts, almost all nuts are top heavy in omega-6 fats and can upset the omega 6/omega 3 ratio. The average American has an omega 6:3 ratio of 15:1. It should be 1:1. Therefore, any amount of omega-6 fat is not a good thing for most Americans.

You need to be cautious with the quantity of nuts you eat, especially if you have high levels of insulin. Nuts are not your best choice if you suffer from high blood pressure, excess weight, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

My favorite nuts are pecans, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. I normally avoid peanuts because they are one of the most pesticide-laden foods you can eat. Most peanuts are also contaminated with aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mold.

Seeds are similar to nuts in that they are relatively high in omega-6 fats. They have fewer carbohydrates than nuts, so they are a little less problematic. Two exceptions are flax seeds and chia seeds, which are higher in the desirable omega-3 fats.

The best way to obtain flax is not from the oil but to grind fresh flax seeds. A coffee grinder will do this very nicely. This way, you will also get the benefits from the lignin fiber in the seeds and obtain the freshest (i.e., least oxidized and damaged) fats.

To summarize then, raw nuts and seeds can be an economical, healthful addition to your diet if eaten in moderation, particularly walnuts, flax and chia seeds.

4. Berries: 1 cup fresh organic blueberries = $0.95

Berries are among the best fruits on the planet. Not only do they taste great, they are densely packed with a variety of potent phytochemicals that can do wonders to normalize and improve your health. They are high in fiber and low in sugar, so they won’t cause drastic insulin swings if eaten in moderation.

The best way to eat berries is in their raw, natural state, since heating and freezing can damage some of the antioxidants. The different varieties of berries contain different types and levels of antioxidants, so berries have a range of health benefits.

Blueberries are one of the most powerful antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) have ranked blueberries #1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 40 other fresh fruits and vegetables.[vii] One of the beneficial phytochemicals is anthocyanin, which is what gives blueberries their deep blue color. They also contain vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium.

Blueberries offer many health benefits, including protection against urinary tract infections, cancer, age-related health conditions and brain damage from strokes. The European blueberry, or bilberry, is known to prevent and even reverse macular degeneration.

Cranberries are also loaded with antioxidants and are famous for treating and preventing urinary tract infections. In addition, they offer protection against cancer, stroke and heart disease. Cranberries are rich in polyphenols, which might inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells and reduce the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.

The best way to eat cranberries is to eat them raw and whole. Commercially prepared cranberry juice is loaded with sugar, which undoes any health benefits of the fruit. Whole, fresh cranberries are especially good when added to vegetable juice.

Strawberries came in second to blueberries in the USDA’s analysis of antioxidant capacity of 40 common fruits and vegetables. They are rich in fiber, manganese, folic acid, potassium, and contain more vitamin C than any other berry. Among strawberries’ antioxidants are anthocyanins and ellagic acid, a phytochemical that has been shown to fight carcinogens.

Raspberries are another one of nature’s little health-packages. They are rich in anthocyanins and cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as ellagic, coumaric and ferulic acid. They contain calcium, vitamins A, C, E, fiber and folic acid. Raspberries are thought to offer protection against esophageal and other cancers.

As with all fruits, berries should be eaten in moderation and should be washed well before eating. Keep in mind that too many at one time can spike your insulin level.

5. Watermelon: One-pound slice = $0.59

On a hot, summer day, who can resist a big, juicy slice of watermelon at the family picnic? As it turns out, this universally loved melon has health benefits as well, and it won’t break the bank.

Like berries, watermelon is loaded with phytochemicals, including lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline. When citrulline is consumed, it is converted to arginine. Arginine is an amino acid that has beneficial effects on the heart and circulatory system, as well as the immune system. Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, leading to another beneficial side benefit of watermelon ... a Viagra-like effect without the hazards of a toxic drug!

Watermelon -- an aphrodisiac? Who knew?

Arginine also helps the urea cycle by removing ammonia and other toxic compounds from your body.[viii]

6. Coconut Milk: 7 ounces = $0.98

Coconut is quite nutritious (unless your primary source is macaroons). The oil in coconut is one of the best oils for your body because of its medium chain fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCT’s). MCT’s have many health benefits, including raising your body’s metabolism and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Coconut milk is quite versatile -- ask anyone who has been doing vegetarian cooking for a while. It can be used as a milk substitute and is delicious in sauces and dressings, as well as baked goods. Coconut milk has been a staple in the Thai diet for centuries.

Coconut is nature’s richest source of MCT outside of human breast milk. Coconut oil is very stable and does not oxidize and break down quickly like other oils, and it has a shelf life of more than two years. It is absolutely the best oil for cooking.

Your body needs fat but it needs the right kinds of fat to function optimally. Coconut fat is one of those fats. People have actually lost weight by incorporating coconut into their diets. This is because the MCTs promote thermogenesis, increasing your body’s metabolism, producing energy. Coconut has also been found to be helpful to thyroid function, as well as digestion.[ix]

Fresh coconut is delicious although a little difficult to find sometimes, but there are now some good canned coconut varieties available. More and more research is emerging all the time about the health benefits of coconut.

7. Spinach: 5 oz. fresh organic spinach = $0.95

Popeye was correct. Spinach is extremely good for you! Regardless of your nutritional type, eating more vegetables is recommended for everyone. Spinach is high in antioxidants and has a very high ORAC score. ORAC is Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is a measurement of a food’s ability to destroy the free radicals that cause your body damage.

The higher the ORAC score, the better a food is for you. Your own body’s ORAC can also be measured as an indication of how many antioxidants you have working for you.

Spinach’s ORAC score is surpassed only by prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and kale. Of course, you should not overdo fruits due to the high carbohydrate content, but there is no such risk of eating too many leafy greens. Some research has shown that it might be the “brain food” needed to help avoid memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

In one study, women given 10 ounces of fresh, raw spinach saw their ORAC score go up more than when they took 1,250 mg of vitamin C daily. In a study involving rats, a daily serving of spinach prevented the memory loss and slowdown in learning capacity usually seen as the animals age. Rats given spinach or vitamin E from the age of six months were less likely to forget where things were as they got older than rats given nothing extra, or rats that got strawberries.

Spinach is also rich in folic acid, which can help lower blood pressure. In addition, it is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which can lower the risk for age-related macular degeneration.

8. Garlic: 2 cloves = $0.05

Whether you are dodging vampires, hypertension or cancer, garlic should be on your menu daily. Garlic boosts your body’s natural abilities to protect you from hypertension and osteoporosis, and research is mounting that it decreases your risk for various forms of cancer. It is a potent antimicrobial as well, working as a natural antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic agent.[x]

Garlic’s main active ingredient is allicin, but this agent vanishes about an hour after you cut into it. This is why you must eat garlic fresh! You can’t swallow cloves whole -- they must be crushed first. Taking a garlic pill is a waste of time.

You can add 1-2 cloves to your vegetable juice to cut down on the pungent taste. The chlorophyll in the juice also tends to cut down on the potentially offensive garlic odor.

9. Wild Rice: One serving = $0.99

Contrary to its name, wild rice is not a rice at all but a grass. Wild rice is really the annual aquatic seed Zizania aquatica, mostly found in the upper freshwater lakes of Canada, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Wild rice towers over other grains when it comes to nutritional content. It is higher in protein, fiber, minerals, B vitamins, folic acid, and complex carbohydrates. It is particularly rich in niacin, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. If you are going to choose a grain, you just can’t do better than this.

This versatile grain can be used to make a pilaf, a breakfast “cereal,” stuffed into a bell pepper or a tomato, or tossed with fruit and nuts and made into a salad.

10. Krill Oil: Two capsules = $0.84

There was a time when I would have placed fish on this list as one of the top ten foods, but unfortunately, today, the dangers of eating fish outweigh the benefits due to the toxic mercury levels they now contain, with very few exceptions. Fortunately, I have discovered a cost effective way for you to receive all of the benefits of fish without the danger of heavy metal contamination.

There is a pure marine oil from Neptune krill that is loaded with powerful antioxidants and essential omega-3 oils, with NO heavy metal contamination. Krill are small shrimp or prawn-like creatures that feed the world’s most mammoth animals—the great whales. Toothless great whales gulp down huge quantities of krill to provide the energy they need to fuel their massive bulk. A blue whale eats up to 8,000 pounds of krill each day!

There are many ways krill oil can help you. These are just a few:

A healthy heart
Healthy joints
Fighting aging
Supporting your brain and nervous system
Stabilizing your cholesterol levels
Optimizing your mood
Keeping your skin healthy

This unusual oil boasts a very comprehensive set of necessary antioxidants not seen in fish or cod liver oil, and it is stable and well absorbed with a good deal of research to back it up. Generally, I am not a huge fan of supplements, but this is one important exception.

I hope that you have found these suggestions helpful in making the most of your food dollar in these economically challenging times. I am sure you will come up with many other excellent ideas as you become familiar with your local farmers market and nutrition stores. It might take a little more effort, but I am confident you will discover ways to eat within your budget, without having to sacrifice your health.



answers from Seattle on

Hi! I start every day with a healthy Isagenix IsaLean Shake -a delicious whey protein shake made from all natural ingredients and filled with minerals, vitamins, fiber and amino acids. Some days I add fruit or other supplements to my shake. The best thing is that my two girls (3 and 4), love them as well. So, I know that we start each day with great all-natural nutrition plus it is quick and easy. You can see the shakes and other nutritious supplements including the best kids' vitamin at I loved the products so much I got involved in the home business as well.
Best of luck to you!
Here's to great health!



answers from Seattle on

Hi K.!

While I'm certainly no health fanatic, I do spend a lot of time learning about health, for my son as well as for myself, husband, and other friends and family members. Here's my advice...take it for whatever it's worth to you.

Do your best to include lots of fresh (preferably organic)veggies and fruits in your daughter's diet. One of my favorite things to do is to freeze fruit. Grapes, mangoes, pineapple, and blueberries are amongst my son's favorites. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible and have my son eat veggies and/or fruit for snacks often. I only give him organic dairy products to make sure that he's not getting the hormones and antibiotics that dairy cows are typically fed. I avoid all corn products and most soy products that aren't organic. Almost all non-organic corn and soy products that are available to us in the U.S. are genetically modified and do NOT have to be labeled as such (which I find quite disturbing). Unfortunately, they have no idea what the long-term health consequences are to our little people's developing bodies. I don't know about you, but I refuse to let my son be a lab rat. I don't even think it's fair to do to the lab rats...but that's another topic altogether ;-).

My daycare provider turned me onto 2 recipe books that I just love: The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine and Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry's wife). You may have caught the Oprah show when Jessica Seinfeld was on it. Both books are all about how to get your kids to eat healthy foods, without even knowing it. If it hasn't happened already, you may find like so many of us that even if your child was a good eater before, at some point she may all of a sudden decide that the things she used to love are now Yucky!!! Both books utilize the idea of steaming and pureeing a variety of different veggies and fruits and basically hiding them in healthy recipes of things that kids universally love. So far, the things I've made have been quite delicious, to my husband and me as well as to our son who is nearly 4. If you follow their advice and spend about an hour a week preparing the purees in advance and freezing them, it makes easy work of cooking up the recipes throughout the week.

The typical American diet is highly deficient in the right kinds of nutrients for our and our little ones' bodies. Make sure that your child and you are getting ample vitamins and minerals. Know that the FDA's recommended daily allowance are a load of garbage according to most naturopathic physicians. One of the best things that you can do is to ensure that your child is getting ample high quality essential fatty acids. If you go to Super Supplements or a local health food store (or talk to a naturopath and/or a nutritionist), they'll be able tell you what you should be doing to make sure your daughter is getting the right nutrients.

One more thing - keep your child away from "light" or "diet" foods/drinks of any kind. New evidence is coming to light that many of the foods that we've been told are healthier for us, may actually be causing very serious chronic illnesses. My doctor says just to stay away from all of it and control portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight. My doc says absolutely no artificial sweeteners (including aspartame/Equal, sacharin/Sweet-N-Low, or Splenda). You'd be surprised at how many people feed diet sodas and fruit juices to their kids thinking they're being healthy. There's some really scary things that happen chemically in our bodies when we ingest some of this stuff and the health consequences can be devastating - especially to young bodies.

Good luck and good health!



answers from Portland on

I'm in the same boat, trying to avoid gluten, etc. And we are by and large vegetarian. Here are some things I rely on:

*Fresh fruit
*Steamed veggies
*cottage cheese/nearly any cheese
*tofu (you can marinate it earlier and then pan-fry or grill)
*steel cut oats with applesauce and walnuts/slivered almonds(they are the long-cooking kind, but I just make a big batch once or twice a week and then save the leftovers)To punch up the flavor, add a little vanilla at the very end, or stir it in before serving.
*bean salads. Especially like this one-
1 can kidney beans
1 cup of corn (or corn salsa, for some kick)
1 small tin of sliced olives
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, optional
grated cheese, optional-- add when served
toss with some slightly warmed olive oil, add a few pinches of basil to taste, some chili powder for warmth and a bit of cumin to season the beans. Drizzle a bit of lime over it if you like. Season with salt and pepper and let sit until you are ready to serve. Yum.

*Polenta and marinara with sauteed seasonal veggies. Bob's Red Mill makes great dried polenta corn grits you can cook at home, or you can buy premade polenta. I make my own due to some cow's milk allergies and use goat's milk instead of parmesan. I also throw in a couple bay leaves for flavor. Delish. You can make up a whole "loaf" of it and it will keep in the fridge for several days. This is also a great one to have on hand as your husband and daughter can grill up a couple sausages to add to it.

*oh, and of course, stir fry.
I hope these help.

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