Feeding our Families

Dad'sbirthday12 Dad'sbirthday11 Dad'sbirthday10 Dad'sbirthday6 Dad'sbirthday5 Dad'sbirthday4 Dad'sbirthday3 Dad's-birthday1 Dad'sbirthday

I think that I say it with each season, but late spring into early summer is my favorite! As Mother’s Day rolls into my dad’s birthday, and then into Father’s Day, these celebrations mark the beginning of eating out of doors, of long nights spent over simple food and wine. They mark time. Time to be with our friends and their families, time to be together, loud and joyous. Summer is the time to celebrate the bounty of all that we are given, and all that we will need to get through the colder months.

Celebrations are big in our family. We tend to go all out (think months of planning for Emma Jeanne’s 1st birthday). There is nothing more that we seem to love than a full backyard with those that we care for, and lots and lots of food. We seem to look for almost any excuse in these warm months to plan a big meal and a fun evening. A simple sleepover for my older boys turns into an elaborate backyard camp out with friends, as signs are made, camp yard stories are told, and food flows until late in the evening. An impromptu dinner at a friends house can linger for hours, as one family after another brings a dish that they love, and we can’t tear ourselves away from the stories, laughter, and memories that we are creating.

It all sounds a bit nostalgic and dreamy, but the reality is that summer is like that, isn’t it? I am not sure about where others live, but we spend a lot of time in the cold throughout the year, and when the warm weather comes we do nothing but live in it. Fully.

When I was first asked to participate in Feeding our Families, I thought a lot about the role of nourishment within my family. I have certainly talked a ton about the role that food plays in our health, and how that journey has evolved for us, but I have often neglected to go into detail about the ways that food and friends feed our soul. There is true nourishment that comes from spending time breaking bread with those that you love, and so many of the good moments of our lives have been lived in that exact context.

Of course entertaining can become an expensive way to get together, so in our circle of friends and family the potluck has always been a must. Almost every weekend we open our door, or walk through another’s with a dish in hand. It joins a table of other delicious looking plates, and for just a second I want to savor all that is there. Some bring dishes that were a family favorite, and a story begins about a piece of their childhood, or where they first ate it. Some bring dishes that we will only ever experience once, or that perhaps we beg for the recipe for. Some bring dishes that become staples and will grace the table for many gatherings to come. Blessings are made, and the sound of plates, children, and goodness fill the room. In these summer months, we wander outside, eating at that golden hour of the evening that I swear makes the food look even more beautiful. The kids run to and from, taking small nibbles in-between water gun fights, trampoline bounces, or turns on the tire swing. Wine is poured, a good Colorado beer is discussed, and I am sure the same stories are told from the previous week. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Just simply another group of friends getting together on a Friday evening, listening to music, and getting a bit too loud as the clock pushes on. To us, it is tradition. These are the people who I love. I have been at their births, their weddings and baptisms, and they at mine. I have laughed with them and cried with them. Raised my kids with them, and shown almost every side of myself with them. It may look like we are just eating a simple meal, and talking about the same things we always do, but there is a sense of feeding the soul in those meals as well, and that brings a lot more nourishment to my life than any plate of whole foods could ever do.

Feeding our families is not just about what we put on the table, but how. Any meal can be fulfilling on an emotional level, no matter if we are joined by friends or not. Setting our tables a certain way, lighting candles, or playing special music. Making a meal an experience is about all that it takes to turn it from something that we have to do, to something that we enjoy doing. Choosing to engage each other, to talk about our days or something special that has been happening connects us deeply, and is the beauty of any community or family meal. The table is one of the best places to find nourishment in our lives, the kind that fills our bellies, and our souls.

The strawberry frosting on the cake above is made with fresh strawberries, and was truly incredible. The recipe can be found here

Joining other amazing families in their own journey. 

Melanie from Our Ash Grove
Jules from A Little Crafty Nest
Melody from Bespoke
Sarah from Our Island Home
Tonya from Joyful Living
Taisa from Small Wonders
Lisa from Hullabaloo Homestead
Renee from Heirloom Seasons


As avid hikers, we often hear a lot of parents speak of how much their lives outdoors are going to have to change once their children begin to want to walk on their own, and are no longer able to be carried in a pack.

Hiking with children under the age of 12 can seem like a daunting task, but with some creative thought and planning, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you can imagine.

HIking1 HIking2

Children are naturally curious beings, and hiking with them can be the ultimate experience in discovery. The natural world is a playground with an abundant amount of possibilities for children to seek out, and part of the experience of hiking with them should include the time to do just that. If hiking was a part of your life before you had kiddos, the one thing to remember is that the experience will never look the same as when walking with adults or by yourself. Children may walk too fast, too slow, or off the trail altogether. Some hikes may go just the way you envisioned them, while others may look so different, you cannot  even remember what you originally set out to do.

The key for many parents is to be prepared with as much as they can to ensure that any issues that may arise are easy to take care of.

What To Pack


Sun hats

Water bottles


Nature journals

Colored pencils or pens

Trail maps

Trail snacks (small bites of energy can do wonders to keep children going)

A first aid kit that includes travel size containers of antihistamines and ibuprofen, bandaids, antibacterial wipes, and ointment

Tweezers (trust us, just throw them in there!)

A hiking/explorers pouch (have your children wear this on their belts)

Magnifying glass

Plastic bags for collecting goodies that you might not want to throw in a backpack

Extra clothes

Bug spray

Once you have what you need packed, it is time to get on the trail and start exploring. Encouraging children to seek out answers to what they see, to follow a trail of an animal, or to stop and examine anything from a pine cone to a scat track is the perfect way to ensure that they will want to hike with you each and every time.

Letting children keep a nature/hiking journal is also the perfect way to use your time hiking for teachable moments. Taking time to sketch, write, eat, listen, and just simply be in nature are natural energy stops that will let children rest, encourage them to take in what is around them, and give them the space and time that they need to process what they see. As kids get older, using a digital camera can also be a very neat way to encourage time outdoors.

Hiking in a group, and with other kids, can also be a fantastic way to get your children onto the trail. It makes for a wonderful playdate, there is nothing to clean up afterwards, and everyone goes home tired and happy.

Of course, checking out the trails ahead of time, keeping the hike as simple as possible as children are just starting out, and finding a trail with a ton of neat stuff for children to explore makes for a good day as well. Water play is by far what most kids love about hiking, so if there is a lake, stream, river or falls somewhere accesssible and safe, that is a pretty sure bet.

Above all else, have fun. Kids make wonderful hiking companions, and if they feel as though this is special time with their family, and a great moment to get outdoors and explore, they will be willing participants. Summer is a wonderful season to explore the joys of hiking, and to help kids learn to love being on the trail.

Hiking Snacks

As a mother of three boys who love to hit the trail, I have learned that if I only ever had one thing to bring with us when we hike, it would be food. My children are always hungry, but more importantly their ability to enjoy a long hike is dependent on their nourishment. High protein and yummy snacks are the cornerstone of our active lives, and a major reason that we are able to enjoy the outdoors with our kiddos the way that we do.

The following are two snacks that are staples in our kitchen. They are quick and easy, and are a proven way of nourishing us through just about any trail we seem to take.

Strawberry Almond Energy Bites

Every hike requires those small bites of energy to keep us going. These protein bites are the perfect easy treat for the entire family to enjoy, and can easily be made ahead and stored in the fridge.

1/2 cup almonds

6 dates

1/4 cup coconut

1/4 sunflower seeds

2 T almond butter

1 T coconut oil

1/4 cup dried strawberries – diced

Process the almonds in a food processor until chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients through the almond butter, and process until finely combined. Add the diced dried strawberries, and process only until incorporated.

Roll into balls and refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 8

Frozen Banana Protein Smoothies To Go

This is a family favorite that is never out of stock. We use BPA-free freezer jam jars to hold the smoothie, and simply pop them in our backpacks on the way out the door for a hike. By the time mid-day comes and we are ready for a cool down, they make the perfect soft frozen treat.

2 bananas (we freeze our bananas to keep for smoothies, but frozen or not are fine)

3 cups milk (we use almond)

2 tbsp cocoa nibs

1 tbsp honey

1/3 cup dates (pits removed)

1 tbsp ground chia

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 cup raw almond butter

Add all ingredients into a high powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and process until smooth and creamy. Pour into freezable containers, and allow to set over night. In the morning, simply throw into a lunchbox or hiking pack, and enjoy whenever you need a cold break.