The welcoming of a new year often brings an inspired commitment to health and wellness for us and the ones we love. Here are some simple ways to increase your family’s commitment to health.

Choose whole foods.

Food found in nature and enjoyed in its whole form is designed to support our health and well-being. We are nature, and our bodies understand how to sort through the nutrients found in whole foods. Chemical processed foods confuse and weigh down the body with toxins. Instead, enjoy seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, humanely raised chicken, pastured eggs, sustainable small fish and high-quality fats including extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and pastured butter as the core components of your diet. Bring your kids with you to the farmers’ market and health food store. Encourage them to select wholesome and nutritious ingredients with you so kids are more inclined to try them.

Chew, chew, chew.

Chewing your food well is one of the most supportive elements to healthy digestion. This means chewing each bite at least 20 times. We have teeth in our mouth for a reason and we should use them! There are no teeth in our stomachs. When we send down food that is chewed once or twice we are asking the stomach to do a job it isn’t designed to do. Saliva has enzymes like salivary amalayse that help break down starches. By chewing our food well, we give these enzymes the opportunity to do their job and ease stress off of the rest of the system. Make it a family game to see who can chew the longest. Or sing a song and ask the kids to keep chewing until the song is over. Good habits start now, and good digestion fosters good health and strong immunity.

Love what you eat and make it balanced.

We are what we eat. What we eat becomes our skin, hair, nails, organs and other body parts, or at least helps with development. We know that our food can be our greatest medicine or our most toxic poison. Food is also a cultural and social pleasure. If you are in good health, I believe there are no forbidden foods. But choose wisely, enjoy in limited moderation and encourage your kids to listen to their bodies for signs when something doesn’t make them feel right. When the snack attack hits, make it a balanced snack with a protein, carbohydrates and fat present like carrots, hummus and olives or apples and peanut butter. Carbs give us energy, fats promote brain function and hormone development and protein builds and maintains our bodies. These macronutrients should be present in each meal, especially in snacks. Choosing a fat, protein and carb combo keeps our blood sugar stable and help kids feel satisfied until the next meal, opposed to reaching for more snacks. Teach kids which foods are comprised of carbs, fats and proteins and what their important functions are in the body.

Try my healthy twist on a granola bar.

My Chewy Oatmeal Granola Bars have no refined sugar, good quality fat, protein and carbs. They are flavorful, satisfying and fun to make with the family. Substitute any fruit, nuts, nut butter or spices you like to make them your own.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Granola Bars

Yields 16 Bars

Ingredients:
2 c. rolled oats
½ c. chopped walnuts
½ c. raisins
2/3 c. brown rice syrup
½ c. almond butter
¼ c. coconut oil
1½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread oats on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes until fragrant. Transfer toasted oats to a bowl and mix in the walnuts and raisins. In saucepan combine brown rice syrup, almond butter, coconut oil, spices and salt over medium heat until thoroughly mixed. Pour hot brown rice syrup and almond butter mixture over the oats, walnuts and raisins until evenly mixed. Immediately pour into a glass baking dish to set up. Allow to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a quicker setup. When cool, cut into bars.