Moms have to help each other out! And that’s why I absolutely love moms who are sharing their good and bad experiences in parenting on the ‘gram, the web, and IRL, all in the name of community. Last year, at the first-ever Moms in Colorevent called Celebrating Our Magic, I was taken with mom of two (soon to be three) Malika Pham. In addition to posting absolutely gorgeous photos of her family, she frequently showcases her pristine refrigerator filled with fresh, healthy goodies for her family. I assumed it was just who they are — healthy people. People my family could never be. And they are healthy people, but what I learned recently is that this was not always the case.
Say what now? Is it actually possible to teach toddlers to ditch the sugary snacks and carbs? I didn’t think so, but she did it. And I’m so grateful she was willing to give us a glimpse into her journey in the hopes that I — and others — can start the new year off making better decisions for my family’s health.
If you follow me on Instagram, you are familiar with my simple, fuss-free, healthy recipes that my kiddos enjoy. What you may not know is that it wasn’t always that way. Once upon a time, it was nuggets, chips, and, if I was lucky, rice. Saying I had a picky eater would be an understatement.
Early into my motherhood journey, my son Sayid was diagnosed with autism and along with that came some health challenges. Most of those challenges were related to his stomach, gut, and overall poor diet. After seeing a few different doctors, specialists, and a nutritionist, I realized there was no quick fix. I knew I had to take matters into my own hands and do what needed to be done. I set out to fundamentally change the way we would eat and live.
It wasn’t easy, but in short, we eliminated all options except great choices so Sayid slowly adjusted day by day. The commitment was key for me. My son’s health concerns were enough for me to be all in. Together we threw out surgary cereals, ditched gluten, and embraced lots of fruit and veggies. Because my kids were so young I used many different (maybe even odd) methods to get them to try the new foods. I started with the eat-from-my-bowl method. Kids want everything we have anyway so I didn’t even bother with separate plates/smoothies. For older kids or kids who are very aware, choices are key! Give them enough choices (all ones you approve) so they have control over what they want to eat or not. It’s a win-win.
Over time, I have simplified the process of staying successful when it comes to a healthier lifestyle. Food preparation has been the focus, and here are my necessary steps to keeping my family on track:
Step 1: Plan out a menu (or just a few meals) for the week. This can be as simple as saying to yourself or to your smartphone “I will make spaghetti Monday, tacos Tuesday, stir fry Wednesday,” and so on. If you like visuals and are a little detail-oriented, you can make a full menu with as many meals planned out as you see fit. From this outline, you essentially have a grocery list.
Step 2: Shop weekly. I have a family of 4 (soon to be 5), so weekly works for us, but depending on the size and how often you cook at home this may vary. Shopping weekly allows me to not over purchase but also eat extremely fresh options. It also falls in line with my weekly meal prep.
Step 3: Once I have ideas or a menu for the week and the right supplies (groceries), there’s only one thing left – food prep, arguably the most important part of the process because in the long run it saves time and will make all things doable for the busy week ahead. I chop ingredients for meals ahead, pre-make a few things I might be serving the next day or so, and even wash fruit for quick snacking. I try to keep my fridge organized so it’s useful and easily accessible to all members of the family. Even the littlest hands.
Here are three of our favorite healthy recipes from Malika and you can also search the hashtag she uses on Instagram #ALLYOUGOTTADOIS and her profile @_malika_yasmin_ for more simple, healthy eating ideas for the whole family!
Core then cut your apple for perfect donut shaped slices. Spread your favorite peanut butter (sun butter works if you have nut allergies) on half or whole slice. Sprinkle with granola, and drizzle with honey. There are no wrong substitutions with this recipe and over a million toppings to make this hearty, healthy, and something the whole family would enjoy.
Start by chopping up your greens, herbs, and garlic. Crack your eggs, then add all greens and herbs to the mixture. This is the perfect time to sprinkle a hint of salt and pepper and a spoon of nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy taste, so don’t be shy. Heat your pan and lightly oil it. Olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, or butter will do. Line the pot with multiple tortillas, then pour the egg mixture on top. Cover with a lid so the egg cooks a little more thoroughly. After a couple minutes, top with additional layers of tortillas. Then flip the entire “quesadilla,” and cook for a couple minutes longer. Slide the finished product on a cutting board. Slice and enjoy.
Handful of spinach or Kale
1 frozen banana
½ cup of fresh or frozen pineapple
½ cup fresh or frozen mango
1 cup of orange juice
1 teaspoon spirulina (any additional supplement would work)
Blend all ingredients together, starting with spinach. It’s that simple. It’s that good.
Don’t like bananas? Skip them! Add in an extra 1/2 cup of mango or pineapple and call it even.