A 5-Step Guide To A Picky Eater Lunchbox

Picky Eaters love real food, too | Nourish Real Food

Byline: Sara Bradford

It’s back-to-school and everyone is thinking about lunchbox packing. Which lunchbox vessels to buy, what ideas you can come up with, and how you’re going to send a lunchbox that comes home empty.

While an exciting time for many of you and the chance to return to routine, the lunchbox brings up a range of emotions that is unique to anything I’ve seen as a nutritionist. This is ESPECIALLY TRUE when you are a parent that gets to pack A Picky Eater Lunchbox.

There is a very good chance you have a particular someone in your home that’s going to make packing lunches a challenge, that will test your patience beyond supermom capabilities. What about our “picky eaters” that just won’t eat anything we want them to eat? What then?

Well, you see…the picky eater (as we call them) are just little creatures with undeveloped palates. And it frustrates us to all heck when we feel they have control over this food thing. But perhaps that is where we’ve gone wrong. Perhaps we must all make an attitude shift. And instead remind ourselves of the reason they eat this way. And how to prevent it from making us crazy.

This is where I use my “very-experienced-lunchbox-building-nutritionist-mama” advice that COULD possibly change your life.

Focus On What They Will Eat!


Yeah, instead of wasting all that energy on why they don’t eat broccoli, praise them for eating green beans. Instead of turning inside out because they turn their nose up at chicken, hide some lentils in their homemade muffin.

And please stop saying to yourself that you HAVE to give them baloney sandwiches because it’s one of the only 5 things they’ll eat. Guess what, your list just got shorter…and easier!

Here are FIVE special ways to pack a picky eater lunchbox – that may even make you stop using the words “picky eater”.

#1: Master List

Make a master list of ALL…and I mean ALL the foods your simple-palated lovely likes to eat. You will be AMAZED at how long this list actually is.

#2: Skip The Crap Food (like baloney)

Part of developing a palate is “un-developing” a taste for the bad foods. I taught a workshop once on the sense of taste at a YMCA. I was SHOCKED to discover kids there who thought the (rather unbearably) “sweet” tasting water was nothing but water. They consumed so much sugar that it tasted like nothing. This is easy to change once sugar is removed or reduced.

#3: Hide Stuff In Stuff

Eventually they’ll try new things. Just not yet. In the meantime, get that nutrition INTO them by adding pureed vegetables, fruits, beans, or whatever into what they will eat.

Example: My daughter, picky-eater-extraordinaire, eats chili (of all things). You’d be amazed at what I can hide in there. It’s awesome.

#4: Empower Them

Let them choose the vegetable you pack in the lunchbox. Or ask them what fruit they want today. Don’t be crazy-mom and ask what their choice of protein is – work with what they understand. (Do you want cheese or hummus?)

#5: Substitute Good For Better

They want chocolate milk? Give them raw milk with homemade chocolate syrup – or even give dairy-free milk alternatives a go. They want cooked carrots? Slather them with some kind of high quality fat. They want a banana muffin? Make it with fresh ground spelt flour with pureed lentils, natural sweeteners and hippy chocolate chips.

And continue to inspire. Don’t be a fuss-pot yourself. Try new things in front of them. Their curiosity will be piqued.

Most of all, know that you are doing just fine. You’ll both be laughing about this over raw oysters and kombucha in 15 years. Happy Back-To-School! xo

Sara Bradford | Nourish Real FoodSara Bradford is owner/founder of Nourish ~ Real Food and a registered holistic nutritionist. She gets asked time and time again how she maintains her lunchbox enthusiasm. But, somewhere along the line, she was blessed with a burning desire to create the most healthy, delicious, colourful lunch boxes for her kids – and decided to take her years of experience as a Holistic Nutritionist and shower you with healthy lunchbox recipes.
On her site, you can find Sara’s lunchbox blog, her upcoming Think Inside the Lunchbox e-book, Lunchbox Kitchen TV videos, and check out her upcoming 30-Day Lunchbox Building Challenge and sign-up for her free newsletter.

What To Eat After Giving Birth

Byline: Julia Jones

Pregnancy is a time of wonder, hope and anticipation. But after that little bundle of joy arrives many mothers find themselves struggling. Postnatal depression and divorce rates are high, and breastfeeding rates are low.  Over 80% of new mothers say they feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

But before I scare you away I want you to know it doesn’t have to be like this. After giving birth women have very special physical and emotional needs, recognised by hundreds of different cultures for thousands of years. Anthropologists Stern and Kruckman found that cultures with low incidence of postpartum mood disorders share a range of protective social structures that provide support and care for new mothers.

Similarly, anthropologist Dr. Dana Raphael studied how humans have managed to keep their babies alive for so long when breastfeeding seems so hard. She found the same pattern occurring in nearly 200 cultures around the world. Ancient communities appreciate a new mother’s needs, not the least of which is your need to be nurtured and loved and cared for in the same way that you nurture and love and care for your baby.

Why hospital food is the worst thing you can eat after birth. And what to eat instead.

One of the key universal features of postpartum care around the world is warm, nourishing comfort foods. Soups, stews and puddings feature on international postpartum menus and are always cooked for the mother, not by her. Different cultures have variations in detail. I cook Ayurvedic food for my clients, based on ancient Indian medicine.

Ayurveda is an elemental science, meaning it is based on the five elements – earth, fire, water, air and space. If you picture a pregnant woman you can see her abundance of earth and water! Childbirth is the biggest and fastest change in a woman’s life. In just a few hours her body loses vast amounts of earth (for example the baby and placenta), water (in amniotic fluid and tears) and fire (through her blood and sweat). Ayurveda emphasises balancing the elements in your body, meaning you need to replace the earth, water and fire that is lost in childbirth.

Even if you normally enjoy eating raw foods, Ayurveda teaches us that different foods are appropriate for different stages of life. Raw foods are suitable for people with strong digestion and lots of earth and fire. New mothers on the other hand are already high in air and space. The qualities needed after birth are sweetness, warmth, oiliness, simplicity and moisture. Soups, stews and puddings, good fats and good sugars will give you the energy you need, but to digest them you will need to add spices and keep meals simple and regular.

An Ayurvedic postpartum diet is like weaning a baby. When you eat after giving birth, start with soft, warm, soupy foods that are simple to digest, gradually introduce more texture and variety, and eventually, as your appetite and energy return you can go back to your regular diet. Sit down to eat fresh, homemade food regularly. If you only do one thing – eat cooked food.

You can see how standard issue hospital food does not fit the postpartum bill as it is often old, cold, dry and heavy to digest.

This is a recipe I suggest instead, as it aids digestion, has instantly accessible energy and builds blood. Rice pudding is a wonderful food for friends and family to bring you in hospital in a thermos, so add this recipe to your birth plan.

Nepali Rice Pudding Recipe

rice pudding

Cooking time 35 minutes
Serves 3—4


  • 5 cups pure water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • pinch nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk


Bring water and rice to a boil in large pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally until it begins to thicken. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add the sugar and spices and ghee. You may need to add an extra cup of water at this stage if your pudding is too thick.

Continue to cook slowly; stirring as needed. When gelatinous consistency add milk. Cook for a few more minutes to thicken.

Serve hot, with sugar and ghee to taste. Serve as desired throughout the day.

This recipe is from my book Nourishing Newborn Mother – Ayurvedic recipes to heal your mind, body and soul after childbirth. You can check it out at www.newbornmothers.com.au.

mailchimp size profile picJulia works with pregnant women who want to find peace and joy in motherhood and is the founder of Newborn Mothers. She is an Ayurvedic postnatal doula, recipe book author and creator of a weekly free pregnancy podcast. Click here to listen to her free podcasts.

Chia Breakfast Porridge (Vegan, Paleo, Nut-Free)

Byline: Coach Bryn

There’s something incredibly comforting about the statement, “Made in a peanut- and gluten-free facility.” That comfort ends when in order for that statement to be present, I need to be holding a box of processed something. Gotta love the allergic life.

The Struggle is Real (Food)

In my household, even a trip to the produce section requires an extensive internet search and careful planning. We eat real food.

We have a combined allergy list of gluten (celiac), dairy, peanuts, treenuts, shellfish, strawberries, melons, and all legumes with sensitivities to eggs, corn, soy, and processed chocolate (cacao seems to be ok).

Plus enough environmental allergies to make Oral Allergy Syndrome a regular spring/summer/fall occurrence. Oh, and celiac disease that was un-diagnosed for so long that going grain-free became necessary to facilitate healing.

So, legumes…this is our real-food-identifying wild card and the thing that makes an allergy label on a box so comforting. Did you know that jicama is a legume? Neither did I until I heard about the new food of the moment and wanted to try it.

Thankfully, my google-fu was strong enough to keep me from making my girlfriend sick. The result is a search history filled with “is ___________ a legume?” and a whole lot of recipes!

The one I am sharing today was my lifesaver during the Polar Vortex. I needed a warm, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs type of real food breakfast that I could prepare in bulk and that fit within the ridiculous confines of our dietary restrictions. (Sorry, oatmeal, it’s not you, it’s me.)

The bonus of this recipe is that it is also delicious cold (and by not heating the ingredients, you could even make it raw), so I’m looking forward to having it over the summer as well. It’s also easy to swap out the berries for any other fruit flavor you might like.

Chia Breakfast Porridge (Vegan, Paleo, Nut-Free)

IngredientsChia Breakfast Porridge

  • 2 cups frozen berries. I used a mix of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
  • 2 cups coconut milk (about 1.5 cans)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup hemp protein
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1 cup chia seeds (Pro tip: to keep them from getting stuck in your teeth, buzz them up in a coffee grinder first!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla 1 tsp cinnamon


3 Tbsp maple syrup if the berries are not sweet enough 1/2 cup collagen – this makes the recipe NOT vegan, but still delicious


1. On the stovetop, heat half of the milk with all of the berries in a medium sized pot.
2. Once the berries have mostly thawed, stir in all of the remaining ingredients and the rest of the milk.
3. Serve warm, topped with bananas and extra maple syrup. It’s also delicious cold if you’re in a rush.

coach bryn 150

Coach Bryn is a certified holistic health coach and productivity expert. She will help you kick butt, get healthy, and rock your purpose like a boss.  Get on the list now for the next group of 5 Weeks of Healthy Baby Steps.

Forget Boring Salads! 3 Ways To Eat More Greens Painlessly

This is a guest post by Heather Rampolla.

Eat More Greens PainlesslyDo you ever feel like it’s a struggle to eat more greens? Perhaps you know you should be eating more leafy greens, but chewing on another (boring) salad… seems so blah!

There are many magical benefits from consuming leafy green vegetables:

  • Full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals;
  • Rich in fiber, an important nutrient for optimal digestion, weight loss, and controlling hunger;
  • Helps lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and temper blood-sugar swings;
  • Contains a lot of water to help keep you hydrated;
  • Contributes to beautiful skin and hair;
  • May help ward off depression and improve mood

You likely already know all this but struggle with how to make greens fit in without any drastic change to your current lifestyle.

Regardless of what Kermit the Frog has told you, eating more greens can be easy without sacrificing taste.


Here Are 3 Simple Magic Tricks To Eat More Greens Painlessly:

#1 – “Chop The Crop”

Sometimes I just want to eat a “normal” meal– not a salad– and sometimes I feel too lazy to chop my veggies by hand. On days like these I gently pulsate my greens in my blender or food processor and throw them into whatever hearty dish I happen to be cooking.

This “chop the crop” technique greatly reduces the volume of my greens. With this method, I can easily get in lots of leafy greens without feeling like I’m eating lots of greens. Plus, it only takes a matter of seconds to chop and toss into any meal.

Here are two of my favorite meals that use the “Chop the Crop” method:
Kale Pesto Pasta
Super Fast Kale Salad

If you’re not a fan of kale by all means switch it out with spinach or another leafy green you love.

#2 – “Green Drink Packs”

If you’ve never tried green smoothies and juices before, they can sound like drinking lawnmower pulp or swamp water. I assure you they’re not. In fact they can be a super way of adding in your greens without tasting them.

But even if you know that you like green smoothies or juices – when you’re busy, sometimes the idea of pulling out multiple ingredients to make a green smoothie or juice can feel overwhelming.

“Green Drink Packs” are so simple to make. One day a week I create 5-7 “packs”. Here’s how you make them:

For smoothies, I use a large plastic baggie that includes all my ingredients to make one green smoothie recipe. I make these packs in bulk and stack them neatly in the freezer. That way when I need a super fast meal or snack, all I have to do is pop a Green Drink Pack out, maybe add some water to the blender, and voila! Literally 2 minutes to make a meal.

For juices, I use an 8-10 cup container, and place all my ingredients to make one green juice recipe. I usually lay the greens first, and use the weight of the cucumber, celery or apples to compact the greens. I also make these in bulk for the week and stack them in my fridge. It takes about 15 minutes max in prep time, but saves me about 15 minutes each day.

Drink Packs are perfect for when you’re busy or on-the-go. You’re getting handfuls of fresh fruits and veggies that without blending or juicing would be time consuming to eat.

Here a few Green Drink Pack ideas to get you started.

#3 – “Roll With It”

Have you discovered that even with the best of intentions that salad that you brought to work gets ditched as you head for the deli? Especially at lunch time we tend to crave foods that we can eat with our hands…pizza, sandwiches, wraps, etc.

Why not change it up a bit and use your leafy greens as the base of your wraps and sandwiches. Fill them as you would any other store bought wrap. Or toss in some of your leftovers for a quick meal.

Collard greens, and Swiss chard are two of my favorites to make wraps with because they are large and can easily fit lots of fun fillings inside. You can also use tender butter leaf lettuce and make smaller wraps.

Sure, it’s not quite the same as eating with bread, but you’re also eliminating the wheat and gluten, which converts to sugar and adds on weight.

Try my Sesame Ginger Wraps recipe that your whole family will love.

Now that you have 3 Magic Methods to painlessly add in more greens, which one are you most excited to try?

NEWCLEARfbprofileHeather Rampolla shows you how to add in more fresh foods into your busy lifestyle without sacrificing taste. Want more help? Click here to discover the 3 Steps To Get Out Of Your FUNK & Stop Eating JUNK!

How Real Foods Reprogram Your Brain for Weight Loss

real foods - quinoa saladThis is a guest post by Amy Hager.

Adopting a Real Foods diet has a strong appeal for many people, especially when it promises practically effortless weight loss. Think about it. What was it that prompted you to make the switch? Perhaps you had a friend that told you how much better he or she felt since giving up processed foods. Or was it your co-worker with now radiant skin and glowing smile that got you curious? Maybe it was your sister who’s now lost 22 pounds and counting since green smoothies have become a staple in her diet. The reality is that eating real foods leads to real results in your body.

The Magic is in the Mixture

Consider the Standard American Diet (SAD, yes, I know). Most of the foods are processed, meaning that a lot of not-so-good for you ingredients are added to the food. Extra salt, sugar, bad fats, preservatives, flavorings, etc., are present in amounts that are much higher than anywhere else in nature. SAD foods typically are lacking in quality vitamins, minerals, fiber, water content, antioxidants, and enzymes. The other thing about SAD foods is that many of them are designed by the food industry, which has studied carefully which combinations of ingredients make you want to eat more and more of their foods, even if you’re full. What you’re left with is food that’s not very nourishing, but chemically very tasty to the brain and untrained taste buds. The danger of this is that you can easily take in too many calories quite quickly, possibly without knowing when to stop.

Contrast that with eating real foods. You now have foods that don’t have extreme, addictive tastes. The foods have more texture, more bulk (from fiber) and it usually takes longer to eat them. The natural nutrient  and water content makes these foods feel more filling, so that you can more easily know when you’re getting full. And as you are getting more essential nutrients into your body, you are becoming more nourished so that cravings aren’t as strong as you may experience when eating primarily SAD foods.

The Brain Response

An interesting thing happens in the brain during digestion. Normally, hormones in the gut signal to the brain when you start getting full as you become satisfied from your food. But sometimes this process doesn’t happen so smoothly. Imagine eating a nice meal out and you are feeling a little stuffed. If the server were to bring out a platter of baby carrots after the main course- do you think you’d be tempted to eat a few? Probably not. Why? Because you’re full and satisfied. But what if the server were to bring out a delectable dessert, bite sized morsels of your absolute favorite treat. What do you think would happen next? I’m betting you might try a bite. But after the first bite, you may be suddenly able to “make room” for several more.

So what happened here? It’s actually a complex chemical cascade in the brain that gets triggered by love at first bite. Actually, make that first sight! Some people are quite visually suggestive and just the sight of their favorite foods can trigger a hormonal response. One of the things about SAD foods is that they are typically higher in sugars, salt and fats. It just so happens that this magic combination is also a huge trigger for the reward center in the brain. This reward center releases a surge of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel a rush of good feelings. And that’s what makes junk foods taste so good, it’s not just the taste buds that are responding but our brain and our entire body feel the effects. Naturally, the more we consume these hyper-palatable (super tasty) food combinations, the more we crave them. We end up craving them so much, that we eat portions larger than we need and even when we aren’t hungry.

Reprogramming the Brain

By now, I’m sure you can see the slippery slope of how SAD foods keep us in a cycle of craving and overeating. For many, this is what leads to weight gain over time and makes it difficult to switch to new styles of eating. There are very strong, biological & chemical reactions occurring in the brain that have been argued to be as intense an experience as drug addiction. This certainly illuminates the struggle for many who have difficulty losing weight.

Despite the powerful reactions that certain food combinations can have on our body, we can take more control by choosing which combinations of food that we eat. If you’ve known someone who had to follow a low sodium or sugar free diet (perhaps yourself) they may have told you that after awhile they got used to it. In fact, they can’t go back to eating the “regular” foods because they taste too salty or sugary. This demonstrates the ability of our taste buds to adapt to changes in the diet. Surely the adaptation didn’t occur overnight, but after a few weeks the person has experienced a significant change in how they perceive an extreme taste such as sweetness or saltiness.

You can have this same effect over reducing the addictive power of SAD foods by incorporating more whole, real foods into your diet. As you begin to remove the SAD foods that are primarily sugar, salt and fat combinations (chips, donuts, cookies, chocolate, fries, fast food & take out) your brain reward center is getting stimulated less and less. And as you keep real foods as the staple of your diet, you are nourishing your body adequately so that the brain is not suffering cravings due to lack of nutrients. You begin to slowly reprogram your brain for balance. When this happens, your body follows suit and excess pounds start to drop away. The fun part about it is that you didn’t have to count calories, measure or weigh your food or exercise endless hours at the gym for this to happen.

Keeping it Real

It’s important to pay attention to your own individual experience when switching to a real foods diet. Sometimes we don’t get the results our neighbors did and wonder why. It’s possible that this addictive combination may be sneaking into your body without your consent.  Even real foods have the potential to taste addictive to the brain, so try to notice if this is happening to you.

  • Are you making a lot of recipes that feature intense sweeteners like dates, honey or agave?
  • Are you finding yourself adding salty or sweet sauces to your foods?
  • Do you notice that you eat a lot more nuts when they are roasted, salted or honey glazed?

These are just a few ideas where the calories (and tasty second helpings) can sneak up on you, leaving you frustrated in your weight loss or maintenance plan. But the good news is that for the most part following a diet comprised of whole, natural, minimally processed foods will leave you feeling energized, satisfied and feeling good. And when you feel good, you want to do good (like take a walk or cook a meal). And when you start doing these things regularly,  you really start to notice the lasting impact eating real foods can have.

Amy HagerAmy Hager is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a Wellcoaches® certified health & wellness coach. She keeps busy as a bee tending her own backyard beehives as well as helping clients navigate a happier, more meaningful journey towards lasting weight loss and can be found at beehappylife.com