Brainfood Breakfast Cookies

breakfast cookies

A good friend of mine inspired my toddler and I to whip up a tasty twist on her No-Bake Breakfast Cookies. Truly it didn’t take too much of any persuading on her part. Who wouldn’t want a cookie – let alone at breakfast! – and if you can skip the tedious task of baking them? Where do I sign up?

While I did not have the ingredients on hand to make this version, my munchkin and I were happy that our own take turned out deliciously. My favorite part (besides the bake-free aspect) is that my toddler couldn’t get enough – and little did he know that he was chowing down on brain-boosting healthy fats from the chia seeds and nuts, not too mention each one provides as much protein as an egg. Score for mom.

I hope you and your little ones enjoy these addicting cookies as much as we have!

No-Bake Chia cookies

Yields 15

Prepare a batch of these chocolatey, chia filled no-bake cookies for your next hurried morning for a no-guilt breakfast on the go!
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Prep Time
10 min
  1. 1 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
  2. 3 TBSP honey
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 1 cup whole grain cereal (we used Multi-Grain Cheerios)
  5. 1 cup old fashioned oats
  6. 1/3 cup raisins (boil them and allow them to soak a few minutes to make them extra plump!)
  7. ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
  8. 2 TBSP chia seeds
  1. In a large mixing bowl, or using your stand mixer, combine all ingredients until peanut butter and honey are evenly distributed.
  2. Once combined, invite your kids to help you squish the mixture into balls (roughly 2-3 TBSP each).; This part was our favorite! Good luck not eating the entire batch!
  3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week (or freeze!).
Nutrition information per cookie
  1. 175 calories, 11 grams fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85 mg sodium, 16 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, 6 grams protein, 0% vitamin A, 2% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 8% iron
By Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN
Adapted from

Gingerbread Granola


The holidays are here! The wreathes may be hung, the tree may be decorated, and the presents wrapped tightly in a bow, but the menu??? Eek. Something always slips to the wayside, doesn’t it?

Thankfully despite the busy days ahead, I have a recipe that will not only make your home smell deliciously inviting, but it can be made ahead, stored festively, and provide a dash of health to your family during a not so healthy holiday season.

Let me introduce you to this recipe for Gingerbread Granola. Reminiscent of Gingerbread Cookies, this hearty cereal is a fun way to start (or end) your day! In our home, our toddler loves being able to nibble on “crunchies” (while handpicking out the plump raisins to enjoy separately), while the rest of us prefer to serve it over a dollop of Greek yogurt (vanilla for my husband, plain for myself – love the sweet-tart combo!).

Gingerbread Granola
This decadent granola will not only give your home a sweet holiday aroma – one that will surely help to lure late sleepers out of their cozy beds – it will also provide a nutritious meal to jump start your holiday with the energy you need.
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  1. 2 1/2 cups oats
  2. 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  3. 1/4 cup almonds, sliced
  4. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  5. 1/2 cup flax seed, ground
  6. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  7. 1/8 cup molasses
  8. 3 TBSP olive or canola oil
  9. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  10. 1/4 tsp salt
  11. 1 tsp cinnamon
  12. 1 tsp ground ginger
  13. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  14. 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  15. 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add oats and nuts.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
  4. Top the oats and nuts with the sugar mixture. Stir until the oats are coated.
  5. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake 20 minutes before tossing to allow for even baking.
  7. Bake for another 15 minutes (until oats are beginning to crisp and turn golden brown).
  8. Serve with milk, kefir, Greek yogurt or crunch along as a stand-alone snack!
  9. Granola Mason Jars
  10. I like to store ours in Mason Jars to keep the granola crisp (and to make it easy to find for my boys!).
Nutrition facts
  1. 240 calories, 11 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 45 milligrams sodium, 31 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 16 grams sugar (10 grams naturally from the raisins), 5 grams protein, 0% vitamin A, 0% vitamin C, 4% calcium, 6% iron

Better for You Snacking for Your Next Family Roadtrip

road trip

Well aware that your kids will get hungry during your next road trip, yet unsure of what to choose outside of a convenience store free-for-all? No problem. Read on for our nutritionist’s favorite healthy options to stock your purse, diaper bag, or cooler.

  1. Fruit. Crisp apples, juicy pears, sweet peaches, or a creamy banana will all serve to satisfy that sweet tooth.
  2. Cheese. Pick up a bag of cheddar, Colby jack, or mozzarella cheese in string form, star shapes, or as a baby-size ball. This way you are making this calcium rich option far more appealing to your hungry kiddos.
  3. Cereal. Whether as a standalone snack, sprinkled over a cup of yogurt or added to a trail mix, cereal is an easy option. Make it whole grain to boost the fiber and nutrition!
  4. Water. Save loads of money and calories by stocking up on bottled water or better yet pack your own refillable bottles.
  5. Trail mix. Make your own with a few of your family’s favorite ingredients. One of our classic mixes includes MultiGrain Cheerios, raisins, almonds, and peanut M&M’s.
  6. Snack bars.
  7. Fresh veggies. Amp up the appeal by serving a colorful assortment of carrot and jicama sticks, bell pepper rings, and cucumber rounds. Encourage your kiddos to boost flavor by dipping them into individual cups of hummus, salsa, or edamame guacamole.
  8. Popcorn. With only a few calories per bite, whole grain, air-popped or homemade microwave popcorn is perfect for those mindless carried munchies.  Add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, or sugar for a flavorful twist.
  9. Yogurt. Whether frozen yogurt tubes or individual cups, this protein rich treat is creamy and satisfying. If you are up for the challenge, bring plain (Greek) yogurt along with a few bagged toppings such as granola, peanuts, fruit, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or roasted nuts to customize the flavor.
  10. Breakfast cookies. For a true treat whip up a batch of whole grain breakfast cookies or muffins made with fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds – ingredients that are sure to satisfy.

What treats tend to be found in your car? We would love to hear what foods are fueling your family this summer!

Thanks for reading!

The Great Pumpkin Cake


Charlie Brown has nothing on us this year. This clever idea is sure to impress everyone at your next fall potluck or Halloween party.

It’s always so much fun to see—and taste—the dishes at a potluck or family gathering. To create a stunning treat for your next event, try this reinterpretation of the classic bunt cake. It’s sure to be the star on the dessert buffet.

Use your favorite recipe to bake two bunt cake.  When cool, slice across the top of one cake to remove some of the rounded top.

Set the cake on a serving platter, spread a layer of your favorite icing or filling, and then carefully place the second cake on top.

Make a double batch of your favorite white frosting and reserve ½ cup.

Tint the frosting orange to cover the cake, and tint ½ cup of the frosting brown for the pumpkin’s stem.

For the Stem: Frost an ice cream cone with the brown icing and place on top of the pumpkin. Decorate platter with seasonal candies and embellishments as desired.


Why I Don’t Give My Kids Almond Milk

almond milk

If you were to open our refrigerator, you would be greeted with a variety of milks. Organic Whole Milk, 2% Organic Milk, Chocolate Soy Milk, as well as Unsweetened Almond Milk. While my husband enjoys almond milk on his cereal and I enjoy a mug of warm chocolate soy milk, our boys stick with traditional cow’s milk.

Why? Let’s chat.

We Start Whole.

After celebrating each of our boys’ first birthday, I began to transition them off of any leftover frozen breast milk and powered formula (I am not one to let anything go to waste! A “finisher” by definition.), mixing either with whole milk in a sippy cup. Once the leftover milk was gone, it was whole milk all of the way. Served at meals only, with water in between.

As every child is different, each boy reacted very uniquely. My first, who remains quite stubborn, has probably consumed a total of two cups of milk since this transition. Unless the whole milk was placed in his beloved bottle, he was not about to give in and try it from a cup or straw. Because of this, I, being the worrier that I am, allowed him to have one 6 ounce bottle of whole milk while we did story time at night until he was 18 months-old. Bad habit surely and perhaps it made the situation worse, but I was a new mom and he was (and remains) my baby. Still to this day, as a nearly 3 year-old, one who witnesses his younger brother enjoying milk in a cup daily, still will not take a sip (and we have not pressured him to do so ever, in case you are wondering).

As for our second child, the more laid back of the two, he is quite fine with a sippy cup or straw cup of milk. Once in a while I get a strange look and in that case, I simply warm it up a touch and he is a happy camper.

Now, why whole milk? A glass of organic whole milk has zero additives, 8 grams of protein, 0 grams of added sugar, and a hearty dose of calcium, potassium and vitamin D.

Whole Milk (1 cup): 150 calories, 8g fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 12g carb, 8g protein, Vitamin A 4%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 30%, Iron 0%, Vitamin D 25%


No additives. Natural sugar content from the milk sugar, lactose.

What Do Other Mommy Dietitians Serve At home?

After talking to a handful of other “Mommy RD’s”, it seems my milk practices are quite common. Everyone I spoke with, including Colleen a mom of a 20 month-old cutie, opted for (organic) whole milk while their little ones were 12-24 months.

Katie over at Mom To Mom Nutrition started her toddler (and plans on doing the same with her soon to be 1 year-old) with whole cow’s milk at age one.

“From a nutrition and cost standpoint, there’s no other beverage (or milk alternative) on the market that compares to cow’s milk. While he could drink a gallon a day, I’ve limited his milk intake, offering in sippy cups 2x a day. I was starting to worry that he was filling up on milk vs. eating solid foods at meals. Naturally he’s OK with less milk and more water, and we’ll be making the switch to 2% milk at 2 years since that’s what the whole family drinks.”

As she comes from a true milk-loving family, she even had a delicious recipe to offer featuring a “Chocolate Hide-the-Veggies Smoothie” made with, you guessed it! Milk.

Katie Mulligan, a pediatric dietitian and mom to a 4 and 2.5 year-old, also prefers 2% milk.

“My kids are 4 and 2.5 years. We use 2% and probably always will. I figure they don’t get much fat otherwise because we eat pretty healthy at home. Their other major source of fat on a daily basis is peanut butter and the olive oil I use in cooking. With the absence of processed snacks and treats, the fat in the milk is their fat. Plus, they only drink 9-12 oz/day.”

Melinda, a mom of two boys herself, prefers a lighter fare with 1% milk.

“For my boys – ages 10 and 13 – we use 1%. It is a taste/health compromise – the small amount of fat adds just enough creaminess that the boys like it and drink it. We also have had a rule in my house since they were little: “milk with meals!”.”

Danielle, the Migraine Nutritionist and mom to her beautiful 7 year-old daughter, now serves skim after making the switch from whole milk at age 2. 

“We chose to switch her as she has always been an excellent eater, gets plenty of dairy fat and other fat from solid foods and, we didn’t want 2 different containers of milk in the refrigerator all the time. I send her to school with the Horizon Organic low fat milk boxes for simplicity and we buy whole milk from time to time in the colder months for making hot chocolate.”

What’s great about this Momma is that despite her own preferences, she recognizes when and why others may choose something different. A friend of her’s prefers whole milk for their children and as they do not tend to consume milk fat in other forms, and as they are on the thinner side, she agrees it makes sense to serve whole.

Why Not Almond Milk?

Alternatively, plant-based milks may contain 4 or more teaspoons of added sugar. While soy milk provides the same amount of protein as a glass of cow’s milk, almond milk has a whopping ONE gram. Protein is key for growing toddlers, particularly as they tend to live on carbs. While little ones need VERY little protein, often times the glass of milk and fruit are the only things consumed at dinnertime, therefore with a single drink they are well on their way to reaching their goal.

If I were to serve almond milk instead, surely they may drink more as most are flavored and sweetened, to me it would be equal to another treat. Yes, in our house, chocolate milk is considered a treat! Flavored milk is largely fortified sugar water. Sorry, folks. Take a look at the stats below:

Almond Milk (1 cup): 90 calories, 2.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0.5g polyunsaturated fat, 2g monounsaturated fat, 16g carb, 1g protein, 10% vitamin A, 45% calcium, 2% iron, 25% vitamin D, 50% vitamin E.

Ingredients: Almondmilk (Filtered Water, Almonds), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum,  Sunflower Lecithin, Natural Flavor, Gellan Gum, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.

A Place for Plant-Based Milks

Clearly as I do purchase almond milk for my husband, I am a fan. Plant based milks can have a healthy place in our diets. For him, I started buying almond milk because he tends to go on massive yogurt streaks where he surely exceeds his 3-A-Day of dairy, therefore UNSWEETENED almond milk is a happy way to balance his intake out.

For myself, I enjoy a glass of chocolate milk, and as one who tends to stick to a plant-based diet, soy is my milk of choice. While controversial, I have done my research and feel just fine enjoying 1/2-1 cup of soy milk many days in addition to edamame or tofu from time to time. Yes, it has added sugars, but it’s my treat and one I feel I have more than earned at the end of a long day with our two busy boys!

What about you?

If I were to visit your home and sneak a peek into your fridge, what would I find? Coconut milk? Flax milk? Or are you a traditionalist yourself? I would love to hear your opinion on this seemingly touchy subject.

Be kind everyone :) 

Healthy Christmas Tree Snack

christmas tree cookies

This simple snack is sure to be a hit with the kids. Let them get creative woth decorating their tree. Dried fruit and tomatoes are other great ornament options.


1-2 stalks celery
1 slice ham
1-2 baby carrots
1 cheese stick
small section of a yellow pepper


Use cut celery arrange on an angle to create the shape of the tree.  Slice a baby carrot into wheels for the ornaments.  Cut a yellow pepper into the shape of a star for the top of the tree.
Create the trunk by rolling a slice of deli ham into a one inch wide roll-up and folding it in half.  Slice the bottom off to create a straight line if you wish.
My favorite part of this snack are the snowflakes.  I created them by slicing some string cheese into wheels, then carefully slicing little triangles out of them (from the outside in).
Serve with a little ranch for dipping, and enjoy!
(My kids ate this whole snack up!  So much good fiber and protein!)

Variations: Use cucumbers for the tree (sliced in “sticks”) Use a carrot or two for the trunk and cherry tomatoes for the ornaments Use yogurt for the snowflakes.

Red White Blue Recipe Roundup

fourth of july recipes

With Memorial Day right around the corner and festive barbecue’s popping up left and right, who isn’t in need of a delicious recipe decorated with our dashing colors of Independence? With the spirit of the holiday in mind, here is a tasty (and EASY) roundup of recipes from a few of my favorite health-minded bloggers. Enjoy!

My friend at Around the Plate likes to whip up her Red, White, + Blue Parfait as an American classic for her family. Simply layer a whole grain granola with protein packed Greek yogurt and fresh berries for a fabulously festive way to kick off the holiday weekend!

Nutella Crepes from Love & Zest. Need I say more? Seriously. Just add fresh berries to a whole grain crepe, tortilla, or heck, even a slice of bread, covered with a decadent spread of chocolate nut spread and YUM.

This Blueberry, Strawberry, + Jicama Chip Dip from Two Peas + Their Pod is a very unique take on a fresh dip. Certainly a unique flavor, but a fun way to introduce jicama to your kiddos!

And of course, I have to give a shout out to the tasty bloggers found right here at GF4K!

This no-bake dessert lets kids help with any patriotic celebration preparation. All it takes is a quick dip, roll, and a bite. Easy peasy and zero excuses NOT to share these Red, White + Blue Dipped Strawberries at your next get together.

If you come across blue potatoes at your local market? You will have to mix up a batch of this Red, White, + Blue Potato Salad. A specialty twist on a classic picnic addition.

Fourth of July Cake. It’s cake. No further description needed.

While you are busy trying to please the kiddos, be sure to mix up a dish or two to impress the grownups as well. This Independence Day Salad is the perfect choice. Feta, fresh berries, nuts, and mixed greens. Fresh, light, and ideal for a summer day.

Hope you and your family enjoy celebrating the lives and memories of the incredible men and women who have fought for our freedom throughout our lifetime and beyond. Our family of four will be celebrating with friends with a 5K, cookout, and hopefully our small West Michigan  parade as the cherry on top! Cheers!

Thanks for reading!

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