Gluten free + dairy free packed lunch ideas for toddlers

February 20, 2017

As many of you know, the girls recently started a new preschool (which they love so far!) and since they stay for the lunch program, I have to send them in with a packed meal three days per week. The lunches need to be nut-free and must not require refrigeration or need to be heated. Since the girls don’t eat dairy or gluten, I was a bit worried about what to prepare for them.


After doing some research, I realized that with the proper equipment and a little bit of planning, the lunches were totally doable. Today I want to share some suggestions that you might find helpful if you are preparing gluten-free and dairy-free school lunches. These ideas would work for kids on regular diets, too!


To begin, I bought insulated lunch bags that were large enough to store the girls’ containers and utensils. The bags are durable, simple to clean, and fold flat for storage. They also have a velcro top that’s easy for toddlers to open. The material is lead-free, bpa-free, and phthalate-free.

I also purchased a couple of stainless steel thermoses for food storage. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these! They have a wide mouth that’s easy to fill and eat out of. And they hold 10 ounces of food which is the perfect portion size for my kids. They can keep food hot or cold for several hours.

Finally, these lunch BLOX kits from Rubbermaid are great for holding sandwiches, but they work for just about anything. They have dividers inside to keep food separated if your kids don’t want items to touch, like mine.

I try not to use Ziploc baggies to cut down on waste, so I usually put small items in these little cubes. I have a lot leftover from when I use to prepare and store baby food for the girls.


At first, the most daunting part for me was trying to figure out what to make. Having a list of ideas to choose from can take the guesswork out of what to prepare. I always include a protein and starch along with fruits and veggies. Generally, the girls eat the same thing as one another, but there are a few items that I know Maddie won’t eat (avocados, peas, etc.) so I will only include a little bit in her lunch (I still offer!).


Here are some examples of the lunches I have prepared for the girls so far. Most days they return with empty containers or a small amount of leftovers (good sign!). So far I’ve really enjoyed preparing their meals because it has encouraged me to be a bit more creative with what I make them each day.

A Fit Mess

The meals listed below require a little bit of planning, but they can all be prepared the night before to make things easier in the morning. We usually have either rice or noodles in the fridge so it doesn’t take me long to whip something up. The fruits and veggies can all be washed and chopped in the evening and sometimes I will use frozen fruit since my kids like to eat it that way, too.


Gluten free + dairy free packed school lunches


Lunch 1:

  • beans and rice
  • carrots and cucumber sticks
  • sliced strawberries
  • plantain chips and sunflower seed butter


Lunch 2:


Lunch 3:

  • sunflower seed butter and jelly on gluten-free bread
  • carrot sticks + olives
  • apples + blueberries


Lunch 4:

  • buttered rice noodles + peas
  • applesauce pouch
  • mini box of raisins


Lunch 5:

  • turkey sandwich on gluten-free bread
  • carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli
  • plantain chips
  • clementine slices




There you have it! Hopefully I have offered a few ideas or helpful suggestions. What do you pack for lunches?


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Do you run alone? Stay safe with these 5 tips

February 16, 2017

Hello, there. I hope your Thursday has been amazing so far!


Today’s post is something I hope can serve as a reminder when you are running (or walking) alone. Most of us understand the general safety rules, like “trust your instincts” and “be aware of your surroundings,” however, it’s easy to become a bit lax with our precautions because we feel the odds of incurring danger are low. Unfortunately, the reality is that we should never let our guards down, especially women. Many runners have at least one or two scary moments to share, myself included. So, I hope these five tips will be useful to you or a loved one.


5 safety tips for runners


1.  Try to tell at least one person that you are going for a run, and if possible, where you will be running.

I usually let Matt know where I’m headed and how long I think I will be so he knows around what time to expect me back. Our neighborhood backs up to several winding trails which eventually loop right back to my house. This allows me to easily run long distances yet stay within a five-mile radius of our house. Having quick access to so many walking/running paths was one of the reasons we bought our house!


My Garmin forerunner has a feature called LiveTrack which allows you to connect and pair your watch with mobile devices. Friends and family can easily track my location and workouts in real-time. Most phones are enabled with GPS tracking as well.

2.  Avoid running alone in the dark unless it’s a place that is well lit and you feel comfortable.

I know this can be tricky for people who run early in the morning or at the end of the day. When I was training for my last half marathon, I had no choice but to run at 5:00 a.m. some days just so I could get my long run in before Matt left for work. This wasn’t the best idea since our neighborhood streets are extremely dark and in some spots I was running in total darkness.


If you need to run in the dark, be as cautious as possible and follow these guidelines:


  • Always wear a reflective vest.
  • Do not run on trails or roads with shallow shoulders.
  • Stick to streets you are familiar with.


3. Turn music off or lower the volume in a secluded or dark place.

Your hearing is invaluable and could save your life during a run. Wearing headphones makes you vulnerable not only to attack, but to collision with cars and cyclists. I know how essential music can be while running (Motivator #1!) so you don’t need to forgo music altogether, but be sure to turn the volume off in heavy traffic areas and secluded places. I would also refrain from listening to music while running in the dark.


4.  Always look directly at passer-bys and make a mental note of his/her appearance.

I know it may feel slightly rude to look squarely at a stranger, but try adding a wave or saying “hello” to make it less awkward. Not only does this let the other person know you have noticed them, but it keeps you alert, too. I try to make a short mental note of a person when I run by them, such as “black hair, green shirt, etc.” After you pass someone coming in the opposite direction, be sure to turn around to check that they are still moving in the other direction.


5. Keep your phone with you.

It wasn’t until I became a parent that I started taking my phone with me on my runs. I loved feeling unplugged from the world and I kept most of my music on my iPod. Now I have my phone on me most of the time in case someone needs to reach me about the girls, but it’s also helpful in case I am hurt and/or I need to call for help.


I created this safety tip sheet below for easy reference. Safety should always be our number one priority.

Safety products for runners:

Road ID bracelet

Reflective vest

LED headlamp


What tips would you add?



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A thrilling Valentine’s Day + last week’s workouts

February 15, 2017

Get ready to hear about the most thrilling Valentine’s Day ever! Monday night I got home from work to find some lovely treats from our nanny and some very happy valentines.

A Fit MessThe girls were eager to go through the cards they received from school. They got to enjoy a chocolate and a sucker (I’m a softy!).

 But this girl!

Our Valentine’s Day started early. Ashlyn woke me up at 4:45 am. She had been up all night coughing and none of us got any sleep. Then Maddie got up around 5:30 am and both girls had runny noses and a cough. I made them a Valentine’s Day smoothie (banana + strawberry + kale + cherry juice) and added some First Defense immune support.

We opened some goodies that my MIL sent (so sweet) which perked them up a bit, but for most of the morning they were miserable. My kids are so crabby when they are sick!

By 9:00 am I was spent. Coincidentally, Matt texted me that he had a client cancellation and asked if I wanted him to come home for a bit so I could take a run. As if I even needed to answer, right? I flew out the door as soon as he arrived and went for a 6 mile run. It was exactly what I needed. It changed my whole mood.

So did this 🙂

After my run I showered and played with the girls a bit more before their nap. They were feeling and acting much better by the afternoon.

I managed to make meatballs and bake a spaghetti squash for dinner which was about as romantic as I got. We settled in for Netflix and wine later that evening, which was pretty perfect. So was this card…

Our Valentine’s Day has changed quite a bit now that we have children, but honestly, I would rather stay in with wine, dinner, and a movie (and sleeping children!) then head to a crowded restaurant.

Last week’s workouts


@ home workout

20 minutes AMRAP

  • 20 skaters
  • 15 pick push ups
  • 10 v-ups
  • 20 jump squats
  • 15 dips
  • 10 power push ups


*I got 6 rounds




Orangetheory: Strength Day (lots of lunges, ab work, and incline treadmill work)


@ home strength workout

3 rounds:

  • dumbbell row to push up (16 total)
  • dumbbell curls (10-12 reps)
  • weighted crunch with alternating leg lifts (30, total)


3 rounds:

  • skull crushers (12 reps)
  • lateral raises (12 reps)
  • spiderman planks (30 total)


3 rounds:

  • one arm shoulder press (15 reps per side)
  • high rows (15 reps)
  • weighted sit ups (30 total)



3 mile run


OTF: Strength Day (again!) -> no clue what we did!


5.50 mile run (It was in the 70s and so dang hot I had to keep stopping!)



How was your Valentine’s Day?

Anyone else stay in?

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The trade offs of parenting + our divide and conquer bedtime routine

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you have a sweet-filled day! My kids have a bit of the crud right now so we have been laying low today. I feel like we have been sick this entire season. Here’s hoping it passes soon. Today’s post has been in draft form for weeks, but I just couldn’t get around to finishing it. I would love to know how others split their time or if you’ve made some changes that have worked for your family.


Finding balance when you have a family and work outside of the home can be difficult. I’ve tried it all: full-time, part-time, flextime, daycare, etc. – and in each situation it felt like a trade-off in time, money, or memories. Like a lot of working parents, I’ve struggled with the guilt that often goes along with having a career and not being with my kids all the time. I’d think: I should do it all because I’m the mom. I’ve realized that this doesn’t exactly work for me and it’s not realistic to try to do everything.


What seems to work the best for us is a blended approach. The girls are in preschool three days per week, but we also have a nanny who cares for them on certain days. I now work part-time and I’m home with the girls two days per week. And although I still experience guilt that I’m not “doing it all” and occasional jealousy of my friends who don’t work, I honestly feel like this is the best setup for our family.

At school the girls can learn and be exposed to new ideas. They can interact with others and have a variety of experiences. They have a nanny who truly loves them and can care and comfort them just as I would. And I have my own time with the girls. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I no longer feel stressed or pressured about work since I have dropped my hours and the time I have with them is truly OUR time. So for now it works. Will things change? Yes. And then we’ll try to find another routine.


I say this because sometimes it can feel like you have to do one thing or the other. Often the best approach can be a little of everything. I realize not everyone may have the ability to work part-time, or find (and keep!) a great nanny, but it’s worth exploring different solutions for your family. This requires a little give and take, asking for help, and recognizing when you need to change your approach.


Bedtime routine

Matt and I have made some adjustments at home to make managing the girls a bit easier. We call it our “divide and conquer approach.” I thought I’d share a few examples of the ways we partner on the bedtime routine since that seems to give us the most trouble (this is definitely not something we’ve mastered!).


Bath time – When the girls were infants, giving them a bath was unquestionably a two person job. It was impossible to bathe them without two sets of hands. As they got bigger, I began giving the girls their baths on my own. I really enjoyed doing it, too. Then things changed and they started fighting me about taking a bath. It was a battle to wash or rinse their hair and there was a lot of frustration on my part. I began to dread bath nights because I knew it would challenging. Matt kept offering to do the bath, but I hated the idea of giving it up because it was supposed to be “my” thing. More than that, I was afraid that Matt would do it better (which he did!). But it works so much better for us now. And I use the free time to straighten up the kitchen and pack meals for the next day.


Getting pajamas on and combing hair – This might seem like a simple task, but it’s not. The bath revves up my kids like nothing else. They run around half-naked, dancing like lunatics until I force their pajamas on them. And their hair can get really tangled (Pssst. I use this on Ashlyn’s hair and it’s the only thing that works). I let the girls pick out their pjs and then I help them get dressed and ready for bed.

Both of us

Brush teeth and potty – This is one we share, but Matt usually has the toothbrushes set up and ready to go. We let the girls brush (aka suck the toothpaste off) and then we do the actual brushing and cleaning. We also help them floss which is ridiculous. One of us will take the girls to the potty once or twice before bed.


Story reader – I pick out one book and then the girls add about a dozen more. 🙂 So I’ll read a few stories at night and then we’ll play a little bit with the lights low. We also talk a bit and go over what will happen the next day. Once I tuck them in, they usually ask me for snuggles, hugs, and one more story so I’ll make up a super short one that lasts around 30 seconds. It tends to be about a kitty who is lost or a hippo who ate too much. Then lights out.

Lights out continues for another 15 minutes…back and forth…in and out of bed…


Bedtime closer – Matt’s the “El Duque” of bedtime. If it were left soley up to me then our good nights would last an hour. The girls intentionally like to drag out the bedtime by asking for more snuggles, kisses, stories, etc. I secretly love it, but sometimes it becomes impossible to get them settled. So once I feel like the girls are ready I’ll tell them Daddy will be up to tuck them in and bring them a sip of water. He’ll have them out immediately – hah!


The End.


What is your schedule like?

Do you have a specific bedtime routine with your kids?


  1. In Japan, bath time is the dad’s responsibility, so Tony’s always embraced that role. Of course, I help out when necessary (and tackle it all when he travels for work), but he has a great routine and it works for all three kiddos. (My older two can bathe/shower alone now, but we still make sure they’ve washed out all the shampoo, etc. And we still blow-dry their hair.) I don’t know why bath time gets kids amped up, but it seems to be universally true. Argh.
    It sounds like you’ve got some great “plans of attack,” as we call them. Parenthood takes some serious strategizing!! And thanks for the detangler suggestion!!
    P.S. Your bathtub is beautiful!

    1. That’s amazing, Stephanie! Sounds like you both have things covered. It’s nice to know everyone’s kids get hyper after a bath or shower, too! Definitely try the detangler! It’s the best!!

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