15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

Hi Friends!

Today I thought we’d chat about mason jars for a bit. I was looking in my cupboard the other day and I realized that I have a TON of mason jars of all different sizes. Then I started thinking about all the different ways I use them. I made a list of some of my favorite uses and then did some research to put together a fun little list for you guys of ways you can use mason jars in the kitchen. There are tons of ideas out there because these jars can be used in pretty much any area of the house….but I didn’t want to make the list too overwhelming, so I thought I’d just focus on kitchen uses for this post.

ways to use mason jars 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

First, a quick review of just a few reasons why I love mason jars:

  • They can be used for portion control.
  • They’re microwave and oven safe.
  • They’re BPA free!
  • They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors.
  • They’re relatively inexpensive.

I could go on an on…but let’s get to the list. Here are some easy ways to use mason jars in the kitchen:

IMG 5821 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

Sprouting beans, lentils and grains 

An easy way to boost the nutritional value and you can do it right in your kitchen! Check out my post on How To Sprout Lentils post to get started!

IMG 6134 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
Single serve desserts

I almost always use a mason jar when I make my Microwave Sweet Potato Muffin! It’s the perfect way to avoid an overflow and leaves plenty of room to top with ice cream or yogurt! You can also use them to make parfaits, pies, custards and more. It’s super convenient because you can easily make individual portions and they can be baked right in the jars! Need more dessert inspiration? Check out this article or check out  pinterest for tons of ideas.

salad in a jar 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
Salads and Meals In A Jar 

These are perfect for packing in a lunch, picnic basket, etc. My friend Lauren wrote a Salad in a Jar post for me a couple of years ago with three yummy ideas to get you started. Put the dressing on the bottom and the lettuce on top to avoid sogginess and you can prep 4-5 salads at a time, store them in the fridge and have lunches ready for the week!

If you want to go beyond salad, Lexi just wrote a great post with some meal in a jar ideas like a Layered Taco Jar, Cajun Shrimp Jar and more! The possibilities are endless!

DSC 0293 e1408462256541 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

Next time you make a smoothie, serve it up in a mason jar! The fact that they have lids make it easy to take one with you on the go! And in case you haven’t seen this cool trick, if you have the right kind of blender, you can attach your mason jar right to the blender, which means no blender jar clean-up for you! Check out this article for more details.

jars 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

Pantry Storage

Use jars to store pantry items like grains, pasta, beans, nuts and seeds. Larger mason jars can also be used for baking supplies like flour, sugar, chocolate chips, etc and even things like muffin tin liners!

flowers 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

Flower Vase

Brighten up your kitchen with a jar full of flowers. They make a perfect vase. Look for colored mason jars to add even more color to the room!

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Serving drinks

There’s just something about drinking out of a mason jar that’s more fun than a regular cup! Try my Healthy Cherry Limeade if you don’t believe me! You can also use them to enjoy your coffee – hot or cold- or a fancy cocktail. Take things a step further and include the kiddos by turning a few mason jars into sippy cups! You can buy the lids or convert your own! If you like DIY projects, here’s an easy video about how to add a straw hole to your mason jar lid.

mason jar shaker e1408467220500 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

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DIY Shaker

Make a couple of these and use them for things like chia & hemp seeds, powdered sugar, toothpicks and parmesan cheese. All you have to do is pound a few nail holes into the metal lid of a mason jar! Here’s a great tutorial to get you started.

veggies in a jar 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
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Individual Appetizers & Snacks

Again, these jars can be super helpful for portion control. Try serving up individual veggies and dip jars as an after school snack, or make some individual 7 layer dip jars as an appetizer for your next party! Keep in mind that the wide mouth mason jars are probably best for this!

window sill herb garden 14 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

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Kitchen Herb Garden

Mason jars are the perfect size for growing fresh herbs in your kitchen. Here’s a great tutorial for getting started. Set them on your window sill to grow or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can grow them on your wall!

Mason Jar Tarts White Chocolate 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

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Lid Desserts

One of the more creative ways I’ve seen to use a mason jar, my friend Christina used the LIDS to make Mason Jar Lid Tarts!

DSC 0875 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
Gifts In A Jar

Whether it’s layering dry ingredients for a pancake mix or a batch of cookies (Check out links to 95 foodie gift in a jar ideas here), filling a jar with trailmix (like my Blizzard Bites) or flipping things upside down and using the jars to deliver a cupcake or muffin, gifts in a jar are perfect for holiday gifts, parties, baby showers and more!

DSC 0980 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
Store Your Leftovers

Mason jars are great for storing things like soup, sauces, broth, salsa, nut butters, etc in the fridge!

IMG 00841 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

You can also use them to take the place of some of your plastic tupperware containers as you make the transition to all glass!

salad dressing 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen
Salad Dressing

Store-bought dressings are often full of unnecessary ingredients. Make your own in a mason jar and store in the fridge. Make sure the lid is on tight and just give it a good shake before each use!

IMG 2513 15 Ways To Use Mason Jars In The Kitchen

If you grow your own fruits and veggies or just like to stock up when they’re on sale at the farmer’s market or the grocery store, canning is a great way to store fresh produce and have it on hand when it’s not in season! Try your hand at canning salsas, veggies, jams, sauces and pickling in mason jars!


And just as an added bonus, here’s a few non-food ways to use them:

  • Make a gratitude jar.
  • Use them to store leftover paint so you don’t have to keep the paint cans that take up so much space.
  • Make a terrarium.
  • Use one as a lamp base or make a lantern.
  • Store craft supplies.
  • Pour your own candles.

Let’s chat:
What are your favorite ways to use mason jars?! Leave ideas in the comments to keep the inspiration flowing! 



Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Hi Friends!

It’s time for another recipe refresher! I first published this recipe over 2 years ago and it’s still my go-to pancake recipe, so I think that warrants re-sharing it.  These Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes are not for everyone. If fluffy Bisquick-style pancakes are your thing (like my hubby), these probably aren’t for you. I love them because they’re dense, hearty, filling and packed with healthy ingredients!

whole wheat oatmeal pancakes Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I made a batch of these to snack on yesterday so I thought I’d snap a few updated pics and share the goodness with all of you.

Here’s the recipe:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
Dense, hearty pancakes packed with good-for-you ingredients!
Serves: 2

  • ⅔ cup yogurt (greek or regular, flavored or plain)
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c white whole wheat flour
  • ¾ c rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined
  3. Cook on a hot griddle or pan, flipping several times to make sure they’re cooked all the way through.


This usually makes about 8 pancakes. Batter will be thick! Make sure you flip them a few times to let them cook all the way through!

I love them topped with nut butter and fresh fruit, but I also eat them plain before workouts and occasionally make my own fruit syrup to drizzle on top!

DSC 0168 Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Feel free to have fun with mix-ins as well! Add some chia seeds, chocolate chips, chopped almonds or fresh fruit to the batter to change things up!

whole wheat oatmeal pancakes 1 Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes


Bean Bytes 103

Hi Friends!

It’s Monday. Time for more Bean Bytes.

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Tips, Tricks & How-To’s:
Food & Fitness Tips & Tricks via Cotter Crunch
How To Style Pictures on a White Background via PopCosmo
Eating Gluten-Free On A Budget via The Pretty Bee
What Every Millennial Needs To Know About Marriage via The Shine Project
How To Create Secure Passwords You Can Actually Remember via Hubspot

Great ideas!
5 Low-Impact Exercises To Do While Injured via Your Inner Strong

Like running?
33 Essential Running Lessons via Run To The Finish

Excited to be featured on Huffington post!
7 Days Worth of Trophy-Winning Breakfasts

What do you think?
Does Closing Comments Turn Blogging Into Lecturing? via Carla Birnberg


What Happens To Your Body Image After Having Kids via Fiterazzi

DIY Stain Remover via Back To Her Roots
How To Make An Animated GIF via Gimme Some Oven
Flying with Two Kids via Food Fitness and Family
Prepping for a Long Hike via Survive and Thrive
5 Things That Seem Productive But Aren’t via Apples & Arteries

Could’ve written this myself:
On My Soapbox: Sponsored Posts via The Lunchbox Diaries

Fantastic resource:
Labor & Delivery Cheat Sheet for Spouses via Running with Diapers

A different perspective:
If Your Pants Don’t Fit, Don’t Have A Fit via Candyfit

Just Show Up via Gabby’s Gluten-Free
The One Phrase I Hope We All Learn From Robin Williams via 30-Nothings


Deep thoughts:
Thoughts on Depression via Inspired RD
On Being Stuck via Love Life Surf
Raising Hope: How We’re Changing The World via Scissortail Silk

Good resources:
How To Do The Perfect Kettlebell Swing via Greatist
How To Make Money Freelance Writing via Erica D House
20 Quick Creative Writing Prompts via Freelance Writing Jobs
Last Month of Pregnancy Checklist via Pregnant Chicken
275 Free Resume Templates via The Daily Muse

Good tutorial:
How To Make Exercise GIFS via Feminine Muscle

Great points:
Blogging As A Business: The Cons of Blogging via The Healthy Maven


Great advice:
15 Rules To Host An Amazing Dinner Party via Energy We Bring
The Secret To A Strong Marriage After Kids via A Healthy Slice of Life
10 Tips For Putting Together A Baby Registry via Keep It Sweet

A must read:
Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt via Momastery

Good ideas:
10 Important Back To School Nutrition Tips via Fooducate
10 Resources for Alternative Uses For Earth Mama Products via A Gutsy Girl


Sounds terribly awesome:
Sprint & Countdown Workout via Running on Real Food

Do you agree?
No, Running Isn’t Therapy via Runner’s World

Great read:
This Wild & Crazy Miracle We Call Blogging via Gimme Some Oven

Read and learn:
What Is Lactose-Free Milk and Who Should Drink It via Fooducate
How To Take A Pause, Break or Leave from Social Media via Buffer


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Graham Cracker Ice Cream
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Breakfast Peach Crisp for One
Restaurant-Style Olive Oil & Herb Bread Dip
Spicy Black Bean Patties w/ Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Sesame Crusted Baked Chicken Fingers
10 Healthy School Lunch Ideas
Peach & Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Multi-Grain Pizza Dough
How To Enjoy Sushi The Healthy Way
Peach Peanut Butter Granola
Iced Coffee with Almond Macademia Nut Milk
5 Ingredient German Pancake with Cinnamon Peaches
Chopped BBQ Tofu Salad
Chickpea Flour Breakfast Pizzas
Thai Red Curry Lentils
Peach Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Creama
Easy Chickpea Oat Veggie Burgers
5 Ingredient Grilled Pesto Pizza
Avocado Toast with Egg & Prosciutto
Clean Eating In College — meal ideas
Huge Round-up of Energy Bites/Balls
Chocolate Banana Oat Cake
Strip Steak Salad with Hatch Chili Salsa
Grain Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
5 Spice Asian Pork Tacos

scenes from the week Bean Bytes 103

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Snapchats and a funny my hubby knew I’d like

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Why I love my hubby:
he imitates his fav emojis when I’m having a bad day.
We finally printed photos, got frames and hung picture rails!
Every day is Earth day to a farmer.

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There was a wonderful baby shower for baby bean this weekend!
Amazing decorations, food, friends and family.
And he was spoiled rotten!

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So many great gifts!

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Everyone got to decorate a onsie!
They turned out so cute!

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Some of my favorite ladies!

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My mom and sister were able to come in town for the shower
So great to spend the weekend with them.
And my MIL and my BFF Jackie did a amazing job throwing the shower.
So grateful!

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What Staring At The Screen Is Doing To Your Eyes 
6 Tips For Getting Strong In The Mind Gym
7 Tricks To Make It Easy To Eat Healthy All Week
What Should We Eat To Stay Healthy
Body After Breastfeeding
Why I Don’t Like Fitspo
Carrying Less
5 Simple Ways To Let Go Of Negative Energy
Design Basics Every Blogger Should Know
How I Learned To Appreciate My Husband
25 Things I Do To Love My Body
11 Pieces of Advice About Starting College
13 Time Saving Tips
5 Questions To Ask When Making A Decision
5 Yoga Poses To Help With PMS and Cramps
5 Tips To Prevent Digital Eye Strain
24 Problems We Should Have Solved By Now <– yes
10 Easy Chores For Toddlers

check it out Bean Bytes 103

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Wild Blueberries is having their Taste of Summer Sweepstakes.
They’re giving away a Nutribullet daily on Facebook,
plus a Cuisinart ice cream/gelato maker
AND $1,000 Cash + Gourmet Baking Kit!!
If you enter to win you get a free recipe ebook-
(featuring a couple recipes from yours truly!)

That’s all for today, friends!



Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

Hi Friends!

Time for more Sunday Food Prep. Last weekend I did my prep in two shifts- some in the morning and some in the evening. Here’s what I did:

IMG 6768 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

In the morning I got up, baked some PB Banana Oat Muffins, cooked quinoa to make breakfast bars and prepped fruits and veggies.

IMG 6772 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

Then we headed to a cookout for the afternoon. When we got back, hubby fired up the grill and cooked sliders, chicken and corn and got his flank steaks marinating. I hardboiled some eggs and baked the Quinoa Breakfast Bars!


Here’s what you guys have been up to:

Anne at Curate Beauty -

-washed and cut fresh veggies (bell peppers, raw beets, celery and cucumbers)
- roast veggies (zucchini, red onions, garlic olive oil and salt & pepper)
- baked tamari tofu
- unpictured (boiled organic eggs and fresh salsa)
The raw veggies get diced and thrown in with prewashed greens along with some hummus, avocado or a boiled egg for easy salads lunches.
The tofu and roast veggies get tossed into either a miso soup broth or a quick stir fried with quinoa or brown rice for an easy dinner.
foodprep Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78
Jessica at The Lovely Foodie -
  • Watermelon
  • Raspberries with Greek Yogurt
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Onion
  • Shallots
  • Green/Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Peppers
  • Carrot Sticks
  • Trail Mix
  • Chicken/Brown Rice/Asparagus
  • Cod/Brown Rice/Asparagus
  • Chicken/Brown Rice/Salad (Hubby)
  • Ono/Brown Rice/Salad (Hubby)


Turkey Sausage/Egg/Cheese Breakfast Burritos

 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

Vanessa -

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili, Salad with fruit and granola, Pork Tenderloin with mixed veggies, Coconut Energy Bites and my favorite Pumpkin Muffins. All gluten-free.

foodprep3 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

Naomi from Australia -

I’ve recently just hopped on the food prep band wagon and it’s making my life so much easier! I’ve found it especially helps to increase my fruit & veggie intake! 

I prepped:

  • fruit for snacks (watermelon, grapes, strawberries)
  • cut up veggies for snacks and chucking in quick dinners (cauliflower, capsicum, shredded cabbage, carrot)
  • de husked corn ready to cook
  • roasted sweet potato & cauliflower for dinner sides
  • fried onion and kangaroo sausages for the base of 2 stir fry dinners
  • cooked a few cups of wild rice mix

image 52 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78

Carrie at Carried Away About Nutrition -

This Sunday my focus was back to preparing for lunches throughout the week. Since I have to leave very early, I don’t have extra time in the morning. Here is what I did:
 - Cooked extra chicken breast while making dinner on Sunday to have on my salads
 - Packed spinach and kale salads with diced carrots
 - Marinated zucchini in olive oil, lime juice and garlic to bake Monday evening
 - Hard boiled eggs for snacks
 - Packed cashew nut clusters in individual baggies as a snack
 - Washed fruits
 - Packed up left over chicken and veggie stir fry as another lunch
photo2 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78
Nora at A Clean Bake -
This week I prepared (from left to right):
  • Chicken soup with veggies and wild rice (It’s chilly here!)
  • Shredded cabbage slaw for tacos
  • Diced red pepper for snacking
  • Salad for lunch
  • Crustless quiche for breakfast
  • Sliced mushrooms for a frittata I am making later in the week (we’re eating a ton of eggs this week)
  • Buckwheat stir fry, portioned out for lunches
  • Washed blueberries
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Shredded chicken for salad topping
  • Washed celery and cherry tomatoes for snacking
  • Washed and sliced leeks and asparagus, also for the frittata
  • Washed and chopped kale and washed spinach for salads
  • I also made a double chocolate zucchini bread for snack/dessert, which will be on the blog next week!

Sunday Food Prep week of 8 10 Sunday Food Prep Inspiration 78


Are you food prepping this weekend? Send me your pic! I’m out of submissions!

Here’s what I need from you:

Email me the following:
1. Your Name
2. Your Blog URL (if you have one)
3. A photo of your food prep
4. A short description of what’s in the photo. Tell me what you prepped and how you’re going to use it during the week!

Every Sunday, I’ll post a roundup of the photos I received that week so that you guys can see what others are preparing and hopefully get some inspiration and ideas! I’ll keep this series going for as long as I receive photos, so send one every week if you want to!

Send to: theleangreenbean <at> gmail <dot> com

Tweet and Instagram your pics as well to inspire others!! Use the hashtag #sundayfoodprep . Remember that in order for a pic to be included in the post, you have to email it to me! If you have more than one pic, please make them into a collage before sending!


Want more inspiration and tips? Read these:

Top 10 Foods for Sunday Food Prep
How to Prep Food on the Weekend

Weekend Prep for Easy Weekday Meals
How to Eat Healthy in College
How to Eat Healthy During the Week

And check out the Food Prep Tab for links to all the previous Sunday food prep posts!


Let’s chat: Are you prepping food today? Whatcha makin’?


What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Hi Friends!

I’m so glad all of you enjoyed Part 1 of What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids! Today we’re back with part 2, as promised. So somehow I unintentionally split up the responses so that part 1 was mostly older kids and part 2 is mostly about the little ones! So for those of you with toddler-aged kiddos, this one’s for you!

feedkids What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Like I mentioned last time:
This post is in no way saying that only RDs know how to feed their children a healthy diet. I know there are tons of moms out there who do a great job! I just thought it would be a fun way to inspire you guys and share some new ideas and tactics from these wonderful ladies who are not only moms, but RDs, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals!

Here we go:


IMG 4065 What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN
Founder of Nutritioulicious
Children: 2 1/2  year old twin girls

1) What do they typically eat for breakfast?

During the week, they rotate between these three breakfasts. Daisy Brand Lowfat Cottage Cheese with bananas or berries OR lowfat plain yogurt with bananas or berries OR Quaker 1 minute oats made with 1% milk & bananas or berries. On the weekends, we’ll go for brunch and they’ll have an omelette with mushrooms, onions, and cheddar or an egg sandwich with tomato and avocado.

2) What do they typically eat for lunch? If they’re school aged- packed lunch or buy at school? Why?

  • Leftovers from our dinner the night before
  • Frittata with veggies and cut up cucumbers and tomatoes on side
  • tuna sandwich on occasion, always with side of cut up veggies
  • Homemade flatbread veggie pizza
  • during the winter they’ll have soup or veggie chilli
  • and fruit after their main lunch

3) What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?

Luckily this hasn’t really happened yet!!

4) What are their favorite snacks?

All fruit with raw unsalted almonds, apple with peanut butter, roasted chickpeas, part-skim string cheese, Annie’s honey graham bunnies, cucumbers and hummus, baby carrots and hummus

5) Are any foods off limits?

Nothing is off limits, but fun foods like cookies, cake, ice cream, etc are a rare occasion during the week and in the house. Usually they get to enjoy those fun foods when we have company over for a meal and/or if we’re out at a restaurant (usually once a weekend)

6) Any tips for picky eaters?

  • Be a role model and show your kids that you eat the same foods you want them to.
  • Expose them to all types of foods early on and continue to introduce them as time goes on, even if your child thinks he/she doesn’t like it
  • Don’t give in and let them eat whatever they want if they’re not eating what you made for dinner
  • don’t be a short order cook.

7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?

A lot of parents give in to kids menus rather than ordering for their children from the main menu. Personally, I don’t see a reason for kids menus. Also, many parents don’t continue to introduce foods once children don’t eat it once or twice. But most children need to be reintroduced to foods over a dozen times.


jenna.jpg What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Jenna Braddock, RD
Blog: Fresh Food Perspectives
Children: Jackson age 3 and Ben age 1

1) What do they typically eat for breakfast?

(Almost) every morning we start with a fruit and veggie smoothie (here’s my base recipe). One day, when Jackson was about 13 months, he wanted to try my smoothie. I gave him some and he drank it all. Ever since, we both have a smoothie almost every day. Ben will join us as soon as he gets a little better at drinking from a straw.

In addition, Jackson loves an “egg manwich” which consists of a fried egg with cheese on a whole grain english muffin, bagel or toast. He may also eat a banana. He’s a pretty hungry guy. Other options we may have instead are a frozen whole grain waffle (we are into Van’s right now), a homemade blueberry muffin, or oatmeal.

Ben is just getting into the big people food game but these days he is eating a scrambled egg, banana and some other veggie at breakfast.

2) What do they typically eat for lunch? If they’re school aged- packed lunch or buy at school? Why?

Lunch for us is a variety of things depending if we were out all morning or home. We often eat leftovers from dinner. Other options are:

  •  PB & J
  • turkey, cheese, and avocado roll ups
  • Meat and cheese sandwiches
  • Black bean bowls with quinoa

To the above, we always have at least one veggie (like carrots, peppers, tomatoes or broccoli) and if available, a fruit. My son loves to dip so hummus is usually involved.

3) What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?

If Jackson doesn’t like what we are having, we encourage him to at least take a taste. We also remind him that his dinner is his only option for food; there’s nothing else. If he is truly not hungry or doesn’t want to eat, that is his choice. Usually he asks for food later while getting ready for bed and we remind him that he had the option to eat his dinner earlier.

Jackson is not a picky eater at this time so he usually doesn’t show displeasure with food. However, he does have days that he is just not as hungry or doesn’t really love what I make. Our kids also go to bed shortly after dinner so there’s not a lot more time to think about food.

As a disclaimer, I also feel it’s my job to expose my kiddos to all kids of cuisine and flavors. Therefore, they are bond to not like something I make from time to time. That’s ok though. I try not to take it personally. There’s things I don’t like as much as others.

4) What are their favorite snacks?

Both my boys love fruit so we have it at at least one snack time, usually with Greek yogurt. I often get asked if eating too much fruit is a problem. It can be but I’d rather my kids be eating too much fruit than too much “fluffy” snacks.

We also eat bars – my Hidden Honey Bars, Kashi, or Nature Valley Protein Bar, nuts and dried fruit, and veggies and hummus.

5) Are any foods off limits?

I chose to withhold sweets from my kids until they turned 1 just because I wanted to give them the opportunity to develop a taste for vegetables. I don’t consider anything truly off limits. If something sneaks into my kids diet every once in a while, it’s not going to cause serious damage. There are some things that I try to limit in our every day choices.  I limit foods with artificial colors. I just don’t trust them. I also limit fluffy snacks – things like goldfish or fruit snacks. They have their place but they really don’t have any nutritional value to offer. My boys mostly drink water. They have milk occasionally. Soda is off limits and I’ll try to keep it that way as long as possible.

When it comes to sweets and treats, we try to talk about how they are fun but we don’t have them all the time.

6) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?

Letting the kids dictate what the family eats. Kids aren’t developmentally capable of making well balance, nutritionally sound decisions all the time. It’s the parents job to teach the kids about balanced eating and more importantly demonstrate it. It’s hard work to feed kids healthy. It takes more time, more patience, more clean up and you don’t always feel like doing it. But you have to do it. It’s too important. It may not be perfect every day, but that’s ok.

holley.jpg What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Name: Holley Grainger, MS, RD
Website: www.holleygrainger.com
Kids: Ellie-3 years old and Frances-6 months old

1) What do they typically eat for breakfast?

Ellie (my 3 year old) isn’t a big breakfast eater but I make sure she at least drinks a cup of milk and has something to eat each morning. It ranges from blueberries to a graham cracker to dry cereal to yogurt. Lately, I’ve been making her smoothies (aka “milkshakes”) with milk, fruit, and yogurt and that seems to keep her happy and full.

After Frances’ formula bottle, she usually eats oatmeal or baby food. I’m a mom ambassador for Beech-Nut and I love the new line so I usually feed her mashed banana or something from the line like carrots, sugar snap peas, or get favorite, pineapple, pear and avocado. I’ve started keeping up with Frances’ eating adventures on my facebook page using #FeedingFrances.

2) What do they typically eat for lunch? If they’re school aged- packed lunch or buy at school? Why?

I’ve put quite a bit of effort into making balanced, well-rounded school lunches this year since Ellie usually eats the best and the most at school. However, since time is of the essence I try to keep lunch prep to a 5-minute maximum. I follow this formula: lean protein, vegetable, fruit, dairy and whole grain. I don’t always hit all of the food groups at each lunch so I take that into account at later meals.

For example:

  • lean meat (chicken, turkey, or ham)
  • vegetable (green beans, red bell pepper strips, or carrots)
  • dairy (yogurt or cheese)
  • fruit (pineapple, apple slices, banana, mandarin orange segments, or berries
  • whole grain (popcorn or whole wheat pretzels)

3) What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?

I pour another glass of wine! Seriously though, I try hard to serve Ellie what Brent and I are eating for dinner but sometimes she just doesn’t want anything to do with it. I usually try to make sure that there are foods on her plate that I know she likes so she will have something to eat. Other times, if she is pitching a fit for chicken nuggets then I relent because it isn’t worth the argument and I don’t feel terrible about them (whole grain breading, chicken breast, organic, etc).

4) What are their favorite snacks?

Blueberries, yogurt, graham crackers, popcorn, Fig Newtons.

5) Are any foods off limits?

No, but we limit foods with a low nutrient value and try to balance with more nutritious choices.

6) Any tips for picky eaters?

Let your children help you prepare their meals. We went through a chicken nugget jag but when I asked Ellie to help me rinse some black beans, she stood on her step stool at the sink and ate them straight out of the colander. The more involved she feels, the more likely she is to try something.

7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?

I think they give up to fast when their child rejects a food. It’s important to keep introducing the food but if you feel like you’re stuck, try different methods of preparation. For example, try raw, roasted, and steamed broccoli before ruling it out.

melissa.jpg What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids: Part 2

Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RD, CDE
Blog: Sound Bites
Kids: Daughter- 14, Son- 6

1) What do they typically eat for breakfast?

Breakfast really varies at our house, especially with the different ages of my kids. But dairy and fiber are the two main “goals”. My son usually has what we call a “breakfast cookie” which is actually a high fiber granola bar and a glass of milk or what we call “frozen yogurt” which is a yogurt tube that has been frozen. My daughter has either a high fiber cereal with milk, or a “breakfast cookie” and a carnation instant breakfast shake. Over the past couple of years, my daughter has gone through phases where she wanted to skip breakfast (not enough time, not hungry, etc.) but I make it a point to “enforce” breakfast so she has the fuel to do well in school. I let her choose what and how much she eats, but she has to eat something.

2) What do they typically eat for lunch? If they’re school aged- packed lunch or buy at school? Why? 

We are big fans of school lunch – our school district has done a great job of improving the menu over the past few years. During the summer, however, we pack lunches for camp. My goal is to make sure that there is one serving from each food group and also something fun. My daughter makes her own lunches and, frankly, I just check to make sure she actually has food in there! My son loves to discover a special treat of a small piece of candy or a pudding cup.

3) What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?

We don’t really have this problem – I guess we just love food! Sometimes my son says he doesn’t like what we’re having, but usually that’s when it’s something he has never had before. So, we remind him of our rule: you have to try it (taste it) and then if you don’t want to eat it you don’t have to. Despite his protests, he often likes the food enough to try a little more.

4) What are their favorite snacks?

They’ll snack on anything when they’re hungry so I take the opportunity to offer fruits or vegetables, plus whatever they are in the mood for such as crackers, cheese sticks or a smoothie (my son loves to create different smoothie recipes).

5) Are any foods off limits?

There are no foods off limits in our house, but we do practice “out of sight – out of mind” and I find it works very well for my kids! As a former supermarket dietitian, I really utilize smart shopping habits to set up our home environment to support healthy food choices.  We want to eat more veggies so I make sure to bring a variety into the home.  We want to eat less candy, so I try not to have it around the house. Halloween and other holiday candy gets put into ziplock bags with each kid’s name on them and stored in a cupboard – and usually the kids forget that it’s even there!  I wish I could forget it’s there, too!

6) Any tips for picky eaters?

I am blessed that my kids are not “picky” eaters.  However, my son is very much like I was when I was little – what I would describe as a “plain” eater.  I didn’t like a lot of sauces, seasonings, etc.  Sometimes I wonder if this is genetic, or if it’s because even though I did a great job of exposing him to a variety of nutrient-rich foods at a young age (when he was 2-3 years old he used to ask for black beans and tomatoes for breakfast) I wasn’t as focused on encouraging him to try different flavors and spices.  However, since we have our rule of “try it but you don’t have to eat it” I am confident that he will find a variety of flavors that he likes as he grows up.

7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?

I think it’s hard for parents to trust that their kids will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. I know I struggle with this, even as a dietitian. But when I honor their ability to listen to their hunger and fullness cues I know I am helping them develop a healthy relationship with food. Having said that, if they are still hungry after a meal, I make sure their “seconds” are nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, protein foods, dairy or whole grains. Likewise, if it’s mealtime and they are not hungry, I ask that they at least eat a “snack” but let them choose what it is and how much to eat.


So there you go! Hopefully you picked up some new ideas and tips.

Now it’s up to you guys. Would you like to see this series continue? Perhaps with a more general focus on “what busy moms feed their kids”? Let me know in the comments and i’ll make it happen!