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9 Tips For Raising Healthy Eaters

by: Stephanie Merino

We live in a country saturated with fast food restaurants and junk food commercials.  Thankfully, with the increase of these “convenience foods” has come an increase of awareness on what it means to be a healthy eater.  And for most with that raised awareness, we understand that convenience doesn’t always mean healthy.  Everyday can be a challenge when it comes to health, nutrition and raising my family, so I do my best to stay current, yet mindful of this busy life we share.

I’m an engineer, wife, and mother of two young children.  I’m not a nutritionist and I don’t obsess about my health but I do take it seriously.  Here are some tips & ideas our family has used to keep our kids eating healthy.  If I can do it, you can too!

1.  Talk about it!!
Never underestimate a kid.  Even the littlest of littles can understand what a good food is.  In our house we don’t talk much about foods “that will make you fat” but more about what foods are healthy and why.  They have learned that sugar cereal is a treat, not a meal.  And from experience with different people in their lives, they even know about heart disease and diabetes.  Vitamins are more than just a Flintstone chewable treat, they are in everything!  Adding a supplement to their diets is important to us, we like Animal Parade Children’s Chewable Children’s Dietary Supplements. And your kid can learn that too.  Mine are constantly asking us, “what’s this good for?”  Whether it’s protein, vitamins, calcium they get it!  Of course serious subject matter is hard for kids to understand at young ages, but by taking baby steps and slowly introducing simple topics, you will prepare them for a lifetime of knowledge and understanding.  What food conversations do you have with your little ones and what age did you start?  Was the process, and their understanding different with your 2nd or 3rd child?  Post a comment, we would love to hear from you.

2.  Balance meals!!
We all do the best we can to make sure our kids’ plates are loaded with all of the right things. My husband and I have a rule for the two of us to fill up on our protein & veggies first that our kids have kind of adopted, as well.  It works!  My daughter detests mac & cheese and pasta is only eaten with a protein and veggies.   It is important to get an honest full belly, not a belly full of food that will burn off as sugar and make a starving kid an hour later.  Try a couple years of this eating pattern, and maybe it will help ensure your kids choosing foods that keep them fuller, longer and give them proper energy.

3.  Variety!!
Where I grew up we didn’t have the luxury of having fresh, local produce year- round.  We were stuck in the winter time in Montana, with canned or frozen vegetables on a 3-5 day rotation.  And the meat was whatever my dad hunted or fished that was sitting in the freezer.  Fortunately, I now in southern California I can get fresh vegetables whenever I want as well as a variety of meat and fish!  I, personally, would be perfectly content eating the same thing over & over if it tasted good but we all know how easy it can be to bore a child.  Instead of the same three things in their lunch each day, how about a little bit of several different things?  They make some great compact containers with separators that are perfect for variety.  Reusable snack bags we use so you can pack a variety of items but not harm environment (too many plastic baggies). Or you can try bento box containers for variety. Try something new as often as possible!

4.  Healthy snacks!!
Simple.  If the kids get hungry between meals, make the snacks healthy so they don’t ruin their appetite.  Some favorites in our house are: avocados, dried fruit (unsweetened), and mixed tree nuts.  Do they ever eat chips & crackers? Sure!  But, I do my best to offer snacks with a nutritional value.  In addition to providing the best balanced meals for your family, you should try and do so with snacks as well.  Forgive yourself parents, there is NO perfect way to do this, but just a little research and prep into what makes a tummy fill up and stay satisfied can do the trick. Visit the Food Network Blog to find some healthy food tipsWhat are your favorite snacks and do you have rules about “snacking”  between meals?  Post a comment for us,  families LOVE to share!

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So, I’ve been keeping a little secret from most of you~

I’m Pregnant and Raising a Toddler!

So some of you may say….”Um are you crazy?”  While others might say, “Been there and done that..good luck, tell me how it goes!” Haha, well I say bring it!

I’m not saying that I’ve got this thing completely covered with no problems, but I am saying that it’s not impossible.  My mother did it, as well as my sister, aunts, mother-in-law, not to mention many of my friends, and Ut umm both my Grandmothers (one of whom even had twins and managed to pull it off!).  Oh yes, and I’m forgetting about the rest of you daring Mommies around the world.  That’s not say that we all planned this, although I’m sure some of you did.  You know who I’m talking about, the Type A’s who knew EXACTLY when your 24 hour window of conception is… ring a bell anyone?  But for me, well, it just happened. One night of loving and now I have One in the Oven.

I remember when I found out I was expecting my little angel Linda Elle, I never thought I could do it without the guidance of my own mother, whom I sadly lost a few years prior to getting pregnant.  But I found out that as mother myself now, I can do many things I never thought I was capable of.  And, even though each day brings so many new challenges to overcome, I’m here to help you by sharing my story.

Click here to read the first of many posts documenting my journey through life being pregnant and raising a toddler!

I would say that so far, being pregnant and raising a toddler has been challenging.  Not so much the toddler part I’m quite used to that, but the pregnancy part. I’ll admit it, I forgot how uncomfortable being pregnant can be.  Yes you heard me correctly, this maternity expert is admitting that I have issues, and many of them both physical and emotional.

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From Bump to Breathe Campaign to Raise Awareness for Cystic Fibrosis

Support the Cody Dieruf Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis

Real Moms Have Curves Maternity T Shirt to Support the Cody Dieruf Foundation

In designing for Maman Jolie, I have combined my passion for design with my passion for helping mommies, soon-to-be’s, and babies. But as much as I love seeing a woman find poise and confidence in the right maternity wear, I know there is nothing more pressing on a mother’s mind than the well-being of her child. And nothing empowers a parent more than information. That is why I decided to work together with the Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation For Cystic Fibrosis so I can help reach out to mothers and families to help build awareness about this devastating disease. We hope you will share this information with your friends and family to help us spread the word about Cystic Fibrosis.   With awareness, community support and continued research and development, a cure is possible.


Bebe a Bord Maternity T Shirt Dress

Bebe a Bord Maternity T Shirt Dress to support the Cody Dieruf Foundation

Yes, in fact as of 2010 every child born in the United States is screened for Cystic Fibrosis. Early detection and treatment greatly can increase the average life-span and quality of life for those living with Cystic Fibrosis and their loved ones caring for them. A combination of antibiotics, diet, and physiotherapy the average life span can increase to the second decade or in some cases into the third. Even though screening is mandatory mothers should include testing in their birth plan.

Help Us Spread The Word!  FREE shipping until the end of NOVEMBER! Use couponcode: MJlovesCDBF at checkout.

Follow the Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation on Twitter and Like Us on Facebook 



Why Use Organic Body Products?

Information for Pregnancy and Beyond~

By Hillari Ladd: MH, NC, HHP, CMT, CIMT

When a woman first sees that little pink plus sign or has the first inclination that she may be pregnant her world vastly begins to change.   Filled with anticipation, she has the desire to make the best possible choices for herself as well as the new little being rapidly growing inside of her body.

Many of us start thinking about eating better (albeit the cravings that are sure to come), the occasional alcoholic drink is replaced with sparkling water and fruit juices, and the word organic becomes a household title word. Exercise routines are implemented and modified due to the rapid changes we see and feel taking place within our body.  Yet how many of us extend that little iconic word “organic” to body care products as well?  We slather a plethora of products onto our skin in hopes of reducing the risk of stretch marks, we wash and rewash our lustrous locks, take bubble baths to relax and pamper our ever growing selves– but how often do we read the labels and find out exactly what we are putting on our fabulous womanly physique?

If we begin to think of our skin as the layer between our external world and internal selves we truly start to see the importance of this magnificent organ. Yes, organ!  The dermal and epidermal layers of skin along with all of its components is the largest organ in (and about)  our body.  It not only keeps the external world on the outside where it belongs, it helps regulate most of our internal condition as well. Anything that we put topically onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream where it has the ability to affect other organs and internal systems as well as a growing fetus safely tucked within the womb.

There are countless products out there that are touted as “amazing, all natural, and will do wonders for your pregnant body”.  We want to hear from you, please leave comment. What are your favorite, “can-not-live-without” products?  Do you read their labels?

Reading the back labels of these “astounding” purchases will often times leave one stunned to say the least.  One tends to find unpronounceable words, that have little to no meaning within our realm of vocabulary. Commonly seen are words such as: Alkyl-phenol Ethoxylades, Benzyl, Coumarins, DEA, Elastin, Isobutylparaben, PGE, Phthalates, SLES, and TEA. Let me go into what a few of these common yet stupefying words truly are.
Benzoic/Benzyl/Benzene: Contains known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, may cause birth defects. Found in shower gels, shampoos, bubble baths.

DEA/diethanolamine: A chemical used in wetting or thickening agent in shampoos, soaps, hairsprays, and sunscreens, blocks absorption of the nutrient choline, which is essential to brain development in a fetus.

PGE (Polyethylene, polyetheylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, oxynol, {any ethoxylated compound including SLES}: May contain ¼ dioxane which is a possible carcinogen, estrogen mimic and endocrine disruptor. Avoid all ethyoxylated products as a precaution. Found in food and body care products.  side note: any chemical that has the ability to mimic estrogen makes the pregnant bodies job of producing progesterone (very necessary for development of a growing fetus, as well as our ability to maintain a vital pregnancy (ie: not miscarry) a much more difficult task).

Phenoxyethanol: Possibly connected to reproductive or developmental harm to fetus, potential for reduced fertility, classified as a toxic and an irritant.  Found in cosmetics and body care products.

Phthalates: Potential breast cancer risk and endocrine disruptor raising concern for impaired fertility or development of fetus, and increased risk for certain cancers. Gastrointestinal and liver toxicity hazard. Found in body products. (side note: anything that has potential toxicity to major organs are especially potentially detrimental during the developmental stages of these said organs.)

SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate): Ether mixtures may contain carcinogenic nitrosamines.  estrogen mimic, endocrine disruptor that allows other chemicals to penetrate skin more deeply and have better access to blood stream.  Found in shampoos, toothpaste, bubble bath, body wash and soaps.

Though this list is short, and yes unfortunately there are many many more that I could add, we begin to grasp the importance of the quality of products that we choose to use during pregnancy and beyond.  By no means is this list meant to scare the reader, it is simply information that I deem worthy of being shared. The long archive of scary potentials by no means is a definite to any of the above mentioned illnesses and yet we can not begin to change or world or make better choices without information.

Hillari is a mother of 1 soon to be 2 children, wife, business owner, master herbalist, holistic nutrition consultant, massage therapist, international massage therapy instructor, and teacher of urban fusion style belly dance. Her  businesses include an herbal product line (Eaglewood Herbs LLC) as well as a newly formed organic body care line called Recherch’e.

About Recherch’e Products:
The name Recherché is a French word finding its way up the literary ladder from the early 1700s.  Its etymological background refers to a very rare item being sought out with care: exotic, of studied refinement and elegance, pertaining to obscure excellence. Now why would one choose to bring back a literary fossil as the precise descriptive wording for a company name?  It is because within the boundaries of this era things of want and desire have become so easy to find, easy to substitute with something of subordinate quality for a bargain price.  And this word Recherché brings back to life something of the mysteries of what it means to be alive, to have want, to have desire, to seek out.  This natural & organic line of body care products has been created to help one tend to the daily litany of total body devotion.
Love yourself, heal yourself, naturally~

Maman Jolie Maternity is pleased and excited to announce that Recherch’e Organics will be available for purchase at beginning June 1st – Stay tuned!

DIY Non-Toxic Home Cleaning Recipes For The Whole Family

I distinctly remember my father telling me as a young girl that the air inside of our home as equally as polluted if not more polluted than outside from chemical cleaners and household products.  My father also insisted that I use natural lotions, soaps and cold remedies.  My father was full of little gems of wisdom, gems that I didn’t appreciate until I had children of my own. I would have loved to use this knowledge during my pregnancies, but what matters most is what I am doing differently now.

I began to research the benefits of making household cleaners, soaps and natural remedies about 3 years ago when my youngest daughter turned two, and since then I have become a DIY maniac.  I’ve often peeled my eyeballs off of the countertop after long nights of experimenting with hand soap consistency.  I was skeptical at first, thinking that making cleaners, lotions and soaps would take too much time, effort and money. (I am a student and a full-time mother of two with a part-time job and a crazy schedule).  I also bought into the hype of commercial cleaning products with natural ingredients, believing that the label meant it was better.  They were not, in fact, they basically placed a sprig of thyme into a bath of deadly chemicals.  To date, since February of this year, I have saved over $200 by making my own products.  I busted through the roadblock and I’m here to tell you that you can do it too!

My family began to think I was insane, and yours may too, when the kitchen became overrun with castile soap, vinegar, orange peels and essential oils.  When my six-year-old grabbed my hand and said; “Ok, mama, I think you need to sit down because you are just making a huge mess for no reason, we can buy more counter stuff”, I decided it was time for an intervention.  I sat my girls down then and there to explain to them why mama was doing this.  Needless to say, I now have two of the prettiest co-chemists a girl could ask for because ALL of the recipes I have used are kid safe.  If you lack the “gentle” words to explain to your babies how unhealthy things are, just take my advice and be searingly honest, trust me, they will understand and appreciate your explanation and will be willing to participate.  That said, if you are an expecting Momma, or have little babies you can just do what you have to do and of course explain it them later when they will really understand and appreciate it.
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Enjoy Cinco de Mayo And All The Holidays With These Yummy DIY Mocktails

Soon-To-Be Momma-Rita

There are many ways to mix-it-up. Play around and have fun!


  • 1 package (10 oz) frozen, sweetened strawberries, thawed

Substitute any frozen, fresh berries or fruit depending on what you’re craving. For fresh berries or fruit just add sugar (to taste) to give them that sweet to contrast with the sour.

  • 1 cup lime concentrate

For a healthier option substitute lime concentrate for fresh squeezed limes. You can get a bundle pretty inexpensively and squeezing limes is a great little workout.

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 bottle (20 oz) lemon-lime soda

If you’re worried about avoiding high fructose corn syrup and additives try substituting the soda with chilled sparkling water + fresh 100% pomegranate juice

  • 3 cups of crushed ice or small cubes

Blend it up or serve it on the rocks, the choice is yours!

  • Twist of orange, lemon or lime

Lemon and lime can give you heartburn sometimes, so you can always use a twist of lime to tickle your palate and enhance the sweetness of the drink.

  • Fresh strawberries and oranges for garnish (optional)
  • Powdered Sugar (optional)

Who needs salt? How about a yummy sugar rimmed glass. Don’t forget to use your citrus to rim the glass prior to dipping in sugar.

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May is for MOMS

Photography by Sarah Gless

Maman Jolie Maternity is excited to be a part of Pregnancy Awareness Month this May.  We have a lot of special content planned this month in addition to our regular fashion, health, beauty, wellness, and family related topics. We’re putting together some amazing tips for expecting mothers and we have teamed up with some beautiful and insightful moms from around the country to share what they are most passionate about. We’ll also be featuring many DIY projects to inspire expectant moms, dads, and kids of all ages.

Whether you struggle to balance your life with your family needs or struggle to eat healthy, find time to exercise, find what to wear when your mirror is obviously broken, de-clutter your closet or manage that pesky 401k, don’t fret Maman Jolie Maternity is here to help! We’re dedicated to providing all of our soon-to-be mothers, fathers and their families the best information to help raise healthy minds, bodies and babies!  We’ve got you covered.

Stay tuned this month, for some fun topics, great tips and inspiring DIY projects from Maman Jolie Maternity and our special guest bloggers.

Please look forward to our new posts and products we will be launching this month, we know we are! Also, don’t forget that in addition to Pregnancy Awareness Month, May is also Cystic Fibrosis Month. Maman Jolie has teamed up with our loved and favorite  Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation, and has created a few amazing items for our From Bump to Breathe campaign.  Proceeds to benefit CDBF.  We hope you enjoy your very special May, with all its wonders and possibilities.  Happy Mothers Day Moms, you deserve it!

Personal Heroes Inspire Us All, Who Inspires You?

Most of us are inspired by terrific acts of heroism; those who save lives in the aftermath of a fiery accident or a natural disaster or strive to save our planet from distress. Many of us are inspired by people who make a positive impact in our lives, like that special teacher from elementary school who took extra time to make sure you learned your multiplication tables or the coach who pushed you to keep training when you wanted to quit and that year you placed at the State track meet.

Inspirations and personal heroes come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Some are simple like the sound of baby birds chirping outside your window. Some challenge us like the Raw Cookbook that your sister gave you for Christmas.

One thing’s for certain, heroes inspire us in our everyday lives and touch us in ways we can’t always explain. As a mother now, I find I often think of my personal heroes, people who inspire me to do more, be more, and love more.

Here are a few of the heroes that inspire me everyday:


“My Friend Marion”
My friend Marion helps me out every day since I’ve become a mother. Her instinct, drive, and ingenuity made child rearing quite a bit easier. Marion is not my nanny (I don’t have one), she
is Marion Donovan, the woman who invented the disposable diaper. Not only did she save my life and my daughters tortured rashy little bum from the dreaded cloth diaper experience. Her story also inspired me as a career woman. With little money, and a little skill she persevered and changed the quality of life for many children and their parents. Marion is a prime example of “give them wings and they will fly”. Maybe someday by following her example, I’ll have the opportunity to help women feel beautiful, sexy and comfortable during their pregnancy.
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5 Things a Father-to-be Should Do During Her Pregnancy

5 Fail-Safe Methods for the Expectant Father to Survive Her Pregnancy!

We all know the phrase, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” I suspect the fathers-to-be out there are suddenly getting a crash course in this reality. Don’t worry guys, we’re here to help you get through this pregnancy with your manhood intact!

First things first, we women are extra sensitive during pregnancy. We cry, we argue, we cry, we laugh, and then we cry again. We experience every possible emotion all at once, and no matter how good we look or feel we’re a tangled web of emotions inside. That being said, here are 5 things you can do to maneuver your way through her minefield of emotions:

1) Engage her Pregnancy as if You Were Pregnant

  • Do read a book about becoming a new father and child birth.
  • Do clean the house on occasion.
  • Do make sure she’s taking time out for herself.
  • Do help her write the birth plan, because you care.
  • Do take a prenatal yoga class with her (and look cool and hip at the same time, as you rock a “REAL DADS DO YOGA” tee by Maman Jolie) She will love that you’re feeling the flow and Going with your Glow, right along with her.
  • Do stock up on diapers the next time you hit the store for a case of beer (Dads, this purchasing pattern has been followed for many years, and stores even strategically stock diapers at the end of the beer aisle now to make it that much easier for you).
  • Do remember that this is your child too and your opinion is important!

Basically, stay active, present and on the same page with her. She wants you to be engaged even if you both disagree now and again.
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Maman Jolie Teams Up with The Cody Dieruf Foundation

Fashion Finds A Cure: Cody Dieruf Foundation Benefit Event


“On behalf of The Cody Dieruf Foundation, myself, and Maman Jolie Maternity, we would like to thank everyone involved in helping us put on this fabulous event.  Our Bozeman, MT community was amazingly supportive and generous, we are ever so thankful for all of you!

Our beautiful models, both pregnant and our little girls from the Bozeman area, did a wonderful job representing our cause and literally turned my clothing into Fashion.  We salute them, their beautiful bodies and courageous spirits in supporting our 1st Annual Fashion Fights for a Cure.

Maman Jolie aspires to be lifestyle brand that specializes in providing many possibilities for women who want to embrace their curvy and sexy silhouettes.  I have combined my passion for design with my passion for helping mommies.   I also know there is nothing more important on a mother’s mind than the well-being of her child. Nothing empowers a parent more than information. While there is no cure yet for Cystic Fibrosis, new advances have made it possible to screen newborns for the disease, meaning families don’t have to wait to begin treatment until symptoms appear.

One thing I am absolutely sure of—whether you are a mom or dad, raising teenagers or awaiting your first baby—we are united in our desire to raise healthy children. Please join us in Fighting for a CURE for Cystic Fibrosis.”

~ Melissa Botten Hickok, Maman Jolie Maternity


“On February 18, 2012 Maman Jolie Maternity from California came to her hometown, Bozeman, MT to do a Fashion Runway Show featuring maternity and childrens apparel. Melissa, of Maman Jolie chose to do a fund raiser for a local charity for her event.  The Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation for cystic fibrosis was chosen, and excited to be a part of this program.  Maman Jolie felt that it was her way of giving back, and helping those children with Cystic Fibrosis, by raising funds to help the families who have this disease.

The mommies and kids that participated in this fashion show were having so much fun as was the audience.  This was Bozemans first time of such an event, and it will be remembered and anticipated for next year.  The planning showed a nice variety of beautiful models to show Maman Jolie’s exclusive and stunning maternity and kid wear, and the clothing was exceptional.
The foundation, whose tagline is ‘Breathin is Believin, is committed to supporting families, both financially and emotionally, who have children living with Cystic Fibrosis.

The Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation, along with the families of Cystic Fibrosis thank Maman Jolie Maternity and are so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful event. This is a perfect example of what happens when a team is created for the better of our communities.

We salute Maman Jolie Maternity.”

~Ginny Dieruf, ,The Cody Dieruf Benefit Foundation

Watch the introduction to the event here:

Fashion Fights for a Cure: Maman Jolie and Cody Dieruf Foundation Event Introduction from Melissa Hickok on Vimeo.


Want more? Watch clips of the whole event below:

Fashion Fights for a Cure: Maman Jolie Maternity Fashion from Melissa Hickok on Vimeo.