Toddler Lunch – Get Creative Yet Healthy

Is the daily monotonous routine of toddler lunches getting you down?  The key is all in your attitude…your creative juice…and your knowledge of what is healthy for your little one.  Too often I find parents who are in a rut with what to fix their little ones for lunch turn to the fast, processed & packaged foods they can find in the many big box grocery store chains.

Instead of turning to packaged snackables, hotdogs, or mac-n-cheese, try taking these fresh, healthy options and turn them into a creative lunch which will bring a huge smile to your little one.  Most recently, I took the following ingredients and turned them into a fun experience: Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich: Ingredients: organic fresh strawberries, Organic Valley organic cream cheese spread, and Rudi’s Organic Bakery Multigrain Oat bread.  These are 3 ingredients my little ones normally enjoy separately although I was feeling in a rut with what to make for lunch.

I sliced the strawberries into thin circles, cut off the crust from a slice of bread, and spread the cream cheese onto the slice of bread.  I first cut the bread in half and then added 3-4 strawberry slices onto the bread.  Next, I doubled up the slices to make one half sandwich.  I then cut the sandwich into small squares.  Here you have 4 small strawberry cream cheese sandwiches.


You can either set these sandwich squares on a plate with a few extra strawberries


Or you can get creative as shown here and creative a smiling face for your little one to enjoy

I am a big fan of lunch boxes which are set up as bento boxes with dividers.  My particular favorite is the Australian based company, LunchBots.  The lunch box is stainless steel and has 3 compartments which work great to ensure I have enough variety for my little one yet do not over pack food.  I usually have fruits and veggies in one compartment, protein in another and a snack type item in the last compartment.  My toddler loves its ease of use, light weight and variety of food I can place inside.  I often place a sticky note to the inside of the lid with a heart or something similar from Mommy.


Any of the ideas above can be substituted with foods you enjoy as well as what foods are in season.  Seasonal food choices are another great way to continue staying fresh and creative with your meals.  Lastly, get your toddler involved in meal preparation.  It all starts at the grocery.  Have your toddler help select what food items you purchase from the grocery – peas or carrots?  Apples or pears?  Then at home, have your little one assist in preparing the meal.  You will be surprised as to how much help a toddler can be in making a meal.  Retrieving items from the fridge, spreading cream cheese, peanut butter, etc. onto bread, placing foods on a plate/bowl, taste testing ( a huge task in my house!), and of course taking the finished plate over to the table (practice in not spilling).  The more involved the more apt your toddler will be in wanting to eat the final product!





No Bake Healthy Bites – Fun & Easy Recipe!

I had so much fun making these amazing Healthy Bites for my Whole Foods Market Park City and H3B  Healthy, Happy and Whole Lecture Series this morning. Check them out – great for an energy boost

No Bake Healthy Bites


1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats

½ Cup Ground Sunflower Seeds

½ Cup Almond Butter

½ Cup Ground Flax Seed

½ Cup Cacao Nibs or Mini Dark Chocolate Chips

1/3 Cup Raw Honey

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional) 

Stir ingredients together in bowl, chill in fridge 30 minutes, take out of fridge, roll into 1 inch balls, store in air tight container in fridge.  Great healthy, energy snacks for kids on the go!

Julie Tao, Health Coach, Tao Spa Solutions

(949)584-8104;; Facebook: Taospasolutions; Twitter: @taospasolutions

Navigating Your Local Market

Today is full of advice on how to eat whole, fresh food as opposed to packaged & processed foods. In light of today’s release of the movie Fed Up

I wanted to touch on how to navigate through your local market. I am often asked how to shop for food in a market that is overflowing with processed, packaged foods.

First, I recommend choosing a natural, whole food type of market that will provide you with many whole food options. These natural markets stock their shelves with many fresh, natural, non GMO and organic food choices. If this type of market is too pricey for your budget, main stream markets will have a natural food section & often times organic produce, fruit, dairy and meat.

Shop the Perimeter – what does this mean? Markets line the outside walls (perimeter) with fresh, whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. I recommend shopping here first and filling your list. Peruse the interior aisles last once you have chosen your fresh foods. You are more likely to purchase fewer packaged foods this way.

Lastly, limit trips to large wholesale member based food stores. Purchasing food from these retailers tends to increase what is thrown away. Therefore creating unnecessary waste. Shop for what you need today and tomorrow rather than what you anticipate needing for the next week. You will find your shopping basket will be filled with fresh options rather than packaged.

I leave you with this…eat what’s in season when you can

Toddler Sleep – is it all in the timing?

I share this post knowing and understanding the difficulties most parents can have with newborn, infant and toddler sleeping behaviors.  I have had my share, trust me.  I am curious after reading and re-reading well written books on sleeping habits, blogs, posts, community discussions and more on the topic, if it all just comes down to timing.  Timing of your child’s temperament, age, timing of your family environment, as well as your particular parenting style.

I have read some amazing books on the topic and have taken away great tips and ideas along with my most beneficial aspect, knowledge on sleep and what we need at different aspects of our developing early years.  I am thankful to have read these books along with the “real” dialogue I have had with moms throughout on this topic.  Everyone has their “thing” when it comes to sleep and it seems to be top of mind to most moms.

In the past 6 months, my 2.5 year old has accomplished many of these sleep milestones without needing to utilize any structured sleep training methods or CIO methods.  I must say, I am not against any of these methods, we have just chosen our own method of timing and persistence. Or should I say perseverance?

For me I found communicating with my little one expectations of what was to come (ie. no more bottle, no more mommy staying in the room with you, and no more milk at bedtime, etc) in a slow, consistent and patient nature is what worked well for us. Now, I am not good with sudden changes in behavior, so the “rip the band-aid off” approach is not typically the approach I take with my little ones.  For some, my approach might take too long and can be not only tiresome but lengthy.  It works for us.

In my previous career, an executive in the Spa & Hospitality industry, I always introduced new programs and changes within the business to my team this way and always had success with adults.  I thought, why not try this same approach to my children?  Communication and defining the end in mind, I found was the key ingredient to successful transitions.

Most recently my LO achieved the milestone of not having milk at bedtime with no resistance and definitely no tears.  At almost 2.5 most families took care of this months ago and I applaud each of you for doing so.  I made the mistake when my LO weaned from nursing to introduce a bottle in the crib – yes BIG mistake!  Fast forward to now and yes, this is a milestone we are just now achieving.  I must say though with 7 days of discussing this change with my LO every day when waking up in the morning, at nap time as well as bedtime of what was to come, taking the milk away happened easier than I ever thought possible.  We chose the date together and when the big day came, my LO told me what was going to happen and how it was going to happen.  Yes, a proud mama moment.

Now transitions like this are not all peaches and cream, it did require a few extra hugs and I love you’s along with an additional song.  I also checked in for another tuck in for a few days to ensure my LO just how proud mommy and daddy were of accomplishing such a difficult achievement.

And now I can take another long exhale and move on to the next toddler achievement.


Milk – does the body good

I recently tried Organic Valley single serve milk as my daughter is learning to drink milk from a variety of different containers.

They offer this product in whole milk, 1%, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry although it has been difficult to find either the whole or 1% milk in retail stores. Parents must be preferring the sugary flavors to the plain, natural milk for their children.

I have written about Organic Valley in previous posts as I truly like this brand and what it has to offer. We are always stocked with a variety of their products in our fridge at any given time.

Offering these single serve milks with the straw have been very popular with my daughter.