Do you ever find yourself getting stuck in a rut when it comes to feeding your kids healthy foods? Brittany Dixon, a mother and nutrition blogger, came up with an online recipe exchange called Munchkin Meals to share ideas for quick, easy, home-cooked meals made with natural, unprocessed foods.
Dixon started Munchkin Meals about six months ago, when her daughter, Hailey, now 13 months old, showed signs that she was ready to begin eating solid foods.
“I was hoping to show that starting early and being consistent would teach kids to enjoy healthy foods from the start,” said Dixon, 29, of Mooresville.
Dixon started blogging about the meals she was feeding Hailey and other moms responded with interest.
“I decided to try a link-up, which is an online exchange of recipes. By having new ideas being shared, I think it keeps it fun and keeps people interested in trying new foods with their kids,” said Dixon.
Munchkin Meals shares ideas for all kinds of moms; working moms, stay-at-home moms, and moms with other time restrictions.
Every other Thursday, people submit Munchkin Meals at Dixon’s blog, www.ahealthysliceoflife.com. Here’s how it works. On their own blogs, moms post photos and recipes of meals they are feeding their children. They input their blog post’s website address on A Healthy Slice of Life, and a link appears directing other moms to the shared Munchkin Meals. Recipe ideas and photos can also be shared on Twitter and Instagram, using the hash tag: #MunchkinMeals.
While Munchkin Meals tends to mirror foods appropriate for children Hailey’s age, Dixon encourages moms to submit photos and recipes of meals for kids of all ages, simply noting the child’s age in the blog or Twitter post.
Dixon believes it is important to expose children to healthy, home-cooked meals. She hopes parents won’t have to force a piece of broccoli or sneak pureed vegetables into sauces to get their children to eat healthy, if they can teach their children to like the food in its natural form.
Dixon also recognizes the practical importance of making meals that are quick, easy and inexpensive. As a simple snack, for example, she recommends a handful of peas instead of cookies or crackers. Many kids already dislike healthy foods, and when given the choice, won’t eat them. For that reason, Dixon believes in starting early and staying consistent.
Dixon feeds her daughter whole, natural, unprocessed foods, although she does include pasta and Toasted O’s cereal in her diet. She feeds her mostly organic foods at home. However, when they are out and about, she recognizes convenience and has no problem feeding her non-organics.
Dixon started her daughter out with vegetables and fruits, including roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, avocado and bananas.
Now, just six months later, Hailey enjoys eating advanced foods such as non-spicy Indian food, especially chic peas, and vegetable stir fries over brown or wild rice.
“I want her to explore and enjoy food. That was my goal from the start, letting her explore it, so she’d be comfortable and familiar with it and learn to love it herself,” said Dixon.
Before having her daughter, Dixon owned a nutrition company. As a certified lifestyle and weight management consultant, she worked as a health coach, did metabolic testing, and taught people about healthy eating.
“I had a lot of people asking me what I ate, how I kept balanced, so I started the blog a couple years ago to share health information and food that I ate. It transitioned with me as I’ve grown in my life. It’s gone from just sharing health news to sharing how I navigate being healthy as a new mom. That is definitely a difficult arena that women find themselves in – trying to keep a balance between taking care of their children and taking care of themselves,” said Dixon.
Healthy eating has been a constantly evolving journey for Dixon.
“I was about 25 pounds heavier in college than I am now. When I got out of college I decided I really wanted to focus on getting healthy and losing weight, and not in a diet way because I had tried all that. I just wanted to be healthy,” Dixon said.
She started walking and eating Lean Cuisine.
“As I kept educating myself, I learned how many chemicals went into processed food. I learned to strive toward eating a whole foods based diet. Now that Hailey’s here, I feel even more strongly about leading by example,” Dixon said.
Having worked with lots of different individuals, and coaching them through their unique challenges, gave Dixon a wide perspective on diet and nutrition.
When she started Hailey out on solid foods, she followed an unconventional method. Instead of feeding Hailey pureed food, she skipped that traditional step and went straight to finger foods, using a method called baby led weaning.
“Baby led weaning is a method of introducing solids that is based on the idea that babies should explore food. Texture, smell, taste and color intrigue the baby and the baby is free to play with their food and taste and eat it at their own pace, as opposed to the traditional spoon-fed method,” Dixon wrote on her blog. Foods must also be age appropriate, soft and safely sized to prevent choking.
Readers of Dixon’s blog showed their approval and appreciation by nominating her for a readers’ choice award. A Healthy Slice of Life won Elevate Magazine’s Best Personal Blog in Charlotte award in August.