5 Healthy Hacks for Busy Families

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“I don’t know how you do it all!” 

A statement I frequently hear as a working mom of eight children, ages 2-15, who keep me just a little bit busy. My husband Ryan and I live in rural Tennessee where we chose the simple life which includes gardening, raising chickens, and other rural life chores. Ryan flips houses and manages rental properties, I teach and write, and we recently created a non-profit organization called The Lucas Project.

Yes, I’m probably in desperate need of a nap, but really, you may be wondering:

How does she balance it all?  Work and play and family and laundry and dirty toilets and feeding a crew that requires at least three solid meals a day and healthy, homemade meals at that?

Photo courtesy Jess Ronne

I realize we aren’t the only busy family in the world.  Sure, we have most people beat with the sheer number of children, but we do seek to eliminate busyness in other areas such as being selective with our social calendar, allowing each child to pick one extracurricular activity (and only if it fits into the family calendar) and prioritizing dinner time together at home over most other opportunities.

Part of this dinner time routine involves making healthy choices so that we can avoid the additional stress of illness and/or doctor appointments—as they tend to produce a domino effect in our life when one person becomes ill—and two, we like to have energy to do the activities that we love and parent so many children!

It’s not too much of a battle to get most of the family to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—things that are “good for our bodies” as I tell our youngest Annabelle; however, we do have two picky ones—little Miss herself and Lucas our special needs guy. I often have to find creative ways to sneak in nutrition with these two.

Here are my go-to healthy hacks—not only for Lucas and Annabelle, but for the rest of us as well.

These five hacks are easy to implement, almost completely disguisable (except for the little green splashes of color with spinach) and allow for better health and vitality—which is what most of us are after, right?


Photo by Jessy Smith on Unsplash

1. I always swap out the vegetable oil in a baking recipe with either an equal amount of coconut oil or applesauce.

2. I almost always swap out the sugar in a recipe with 1/2 the amount of maple syrup. Another little trick in tomato-based sauces includes using cherry tomatoes to add a sweeter taste. Simply blend a few cups of these right into the sauce.

3. I add a little flax seed, chia seed or wheat germ or a combination of the three to almost anything. Meatloaf, bread, muffins, cake, pie crust, pizza crust. These three healthy additions are virtually tasteless and add fiber, improve digestion, skin, and cardiovascular health, cholesterol, hormones, and help fight cancer to name a few of the benefits

4. I also add a bag of chopped up spinach to most of our main dishes.  Spinach has tons of health benefits including skin care, anti-cancer properties, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone density, iron regulation, and on and on and on. If your family is really particular, throw this bag of spinach in a food processor and chop it up very finely. Add this colorful ingredient to lasagna, casseroles, pasta dishes, burgers, whatever you can think of.

5. This is my own little hack that doesn’t really serve anyone but me but—to serve myself is in a way serving my family. This is my go to cocktail.  Pour half a glass of cheap chardonnay, add pineapple sparkling water and then a splash of elderberry.  Makes for a healthy(er) cocktail option with half the calories!

There you have it! Five healthy {EASY} hacks for busy families.

Mother Earth Living
Mother Earth Living
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