Healthy Road Food for Kids Starts with Bringing a Cup: Tips for a Well-Balanced Road Trip

After travelling back and forth on various road trips with the kids over the years, I’ve discovered that the key utensil for healthy car eating is the road cup.  Yes, it’s that simple.

road fruit cupI now always travel with a set of reusable, stackable plastic cups, enough for each passenger in the car (or plane or train).  It makes life so much easier.  The cup is perfect for holding a decent amount of food, managing portion control and has the flexibility of sharing lots of small, healthy bits, without hands flying everywhere and food all over the ground.

Depending on how long of a trip, the kids seem to be hungry practically every hour or 150 km (how is it possible to get that hungry just sitting there?).  This can add up to a lot of calories and junk food, if you’re not careful.  For those long rides, pass out the nutritious treats like a layered cake – just one or two things at a time so they don’t get bored of any one snack, plus you can control the timing and amounts of each layer.

road veggie cupAs an opening strategy, since I’m the one in the passenger’s seat, doling out the snacks, I always start with the cup-o-veggies first.  Like in any meal (even the well-balanced road trip meal), they’re always the toughest sell.  But when you start with the veggies, it gets them out of the way, the kids are at their hungriest so they will complain the least, and, they know that they need to get through that first cup, before they get to the other good stuff.  After this first course, you can relax.  The other snacks can be distributed in almost any order because you know they will get eaten.

The secret to a healthy road trip, and really, any good trip, is just a little prep before you go.  Thinking ahead and doing a little chopping beforehand will go a long way.  Here are some healthy snack ideas that are great for the road, as long as you have that cup:


  • Baby carrots
  • Cut cucumbers, red peppers or celery
  • Hummus for dipping – also good for protein and fiber (bring a spoon for scooping)


  • Berries
  • Apple or peach slices
  • Cut pineapple or melon


  • Cheese strings

Note:  If you’re travelling for more than an hour or so, make sure to keep perishables cold with an ice pack.

Healthy Snack Foods

  • Popcorn
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Raisins, dried mangoes or other 100% fruit snacks
  • Nuts


  • Water!!!!

You don’t need to get fancy.  Everyone could use more water to keep hydrated, it won’t spoil, has no sugar or calories and, unlike juice or soft drinks, the kids likely won’t drink it so fast that you have to pull over for pee stops every half hour.  I love the Thermos insulated, stainless steel water bottles.  Add a couple of ice cubes and the water stays cool and refreshing for hours.

Enjoy the ride.


Tips on How to Cook with Your Kids…and Still Have Fun!

The idea of cooking with your kids seems idyllic in your mind.  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  Laughing and tossing flour at each other, as jazz music plays in the background.  And then 30 minutes later…voila, the perfect roast.

Then you actually start cooking.  The screaming begins.  The crying.  The frustration.  And that’s just from the adults.

So what can you do to make this more like your dream than your worst nightmare?  Well, a little preparation goes a long way.  Make your time together more enjoyable with these simple tips:

1.  For lower commitment than a whole recipe, get your kids to help with one or two little parts of the meal, like washing fruit, taking the stems off beans or cracking eggs.  They still learn something, they feel helpful and they just like being with you!

2.  If you’re feeling more ambitious, pick a recipe out before you tell them about your activity together.  Or pick a recipe with them the day before.  This way, you can check that you have all the ingredients before you start and you won’t have an argument about which recipe to make, as your stomachs start to grumble.

3. Gather all the ingredients together first because even though you think you have enough milk, you may not.  This is bad news half way through a recipe.

4.  Pick an age/skill appropriate recipe.  If you are just starting to cook together or if your kids are young, make something simple.  Or choose a dish that you already know how to cook well.

5.  Make sure you have enough time.  Getting the kids to help will naturally take longer than if you were to make it on your own.  Expect this.

6.  Let them taste things as you go.  I find this especially true for fruits and veggies.  It’s a great way to sneak some extras into them, before they even make it to the meal.  It’s also a great way to introduce different ingredients.

7.  Don’t be afraid of trying something new.  If they have a hand in preparing it, they will be more excited about trying the finished product.

8.  Get kid friendly utensils, measuring cups, cutting boards and aprons.  It makes them feel like a real cook.

9.  Expect that things may go wrong. Cooking takes time and practice.  Remember that it’s as much about quality time together as the meal itself.  Guide them through it.  It gets easier every time.

10.  And most importantly, enjoy!

For more kid-friendly tips, recipes and cookbook stories, check out the “Little Belly Monster” book series.  Pizza and French Toast recipes now available online at Amazon, Indigo and Barnes & Noble.


My 9 year old’s first start to finish attempt at making scrambled eggs (with spinach and flax).

The Delicious Versatility of Avocados That Kids Love

A friend of mine once described avocados as “nature’s mayonnaise”.  I’ve never forgotten it because I strongly believe this to be true.  The melt-in-your mouth, creamy texture of that little fruit can add so much flavor to even the most mundane of dishes.

My kids are strong advocates, too, and like it in almost anything – an easy victory in the healthy eating front.  Try some of their favorites with your family:

• In salads.  Cut into cubes and added on top.  It helps make the greens go down way easier.

•  In sandwiches.  Add slices to any sandwich, hot or cold.  Especially on chicken or turkey.  Wow.

• On whole wheat toast.  So simple but so delicious.  Restaurants have started serving this at fancy brunches but you can easily do it at home for a fraction of the price.  If you want some restaurant pizzazz, add a dash of kosher salt and a squirt of lime juice on top.

• In wraps.  The kids love it in any form of taco, burrito, quesadilla or sandwich wrap.  In slices or as guacamole.

• In sushi rolls (maki).  Find them at restaurants, make them at home or buy them at the grocery store – they’ve become so much more accessible.

• On it’s own.  Sometimes I just cut an avocado in half, take the pit out and give the kids spoons to scoop it out.  It’s easy for me and fun for them to do themselves.

The only trick to the avocado is that you are at the mercy of when it’s ripe. Leave it out on the counter to ripen.  It should have a little give when you squeeze it gently.  If it’s too hard, it will taste chalky and gross.  Too soft and it may be brown and moldy-tasting.  You have a day or two to use it at its peek.  Or put it in the fridge after its ripe to preserve for an extra day or so.

It sounds trickier than it is.  You can quickly learn the primetime of an avocado.  And it’s definitely worth the small effort.

Chicken Taco with Homemade Guacamole