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Nurture Life meals may be ready in minutes, but there’s so much more to our kids meal delivery than speed. Though we love giving busy families a more convenient way to refuel, our top priority is always to have a positive impact on the way kids eat.

And to do that, every meal has to be made with a child’s palate, perspective and best interests at heart! We put your kids first to make sure we’re serving up home runs in both nutrition and flavor.

What’s Behind Our Wholesome Meal Delivery for Kids?

Our “secret ingredients” aren’t so secret after all. In fact, we love sharing what’s behind the scenes so that parents can feel good about what we’re cooking for their kids.

Here’s what goes into every kids meal we make:

1. Nutrition

For healthy development, kids need certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Babies have different needs than toddlers, toddlers have different needs than school-aged children, and school-aged children have different needs than pre-teens.

As our registered dietitians and chefs develop our meals, we take into account these varying nutritional recommendations. Though we may tailor our flavors, ingredients and nutrients for different ages, we always promote essential body- and brain-building nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin D and potassium.

2. Balance

Whether in your local diner or down the frozen food aisle, most kids meals today have fallen notoriously out of balance. Popular foods like pizza, french fries and sugary breakfast cereals often serve up little more than sodium, added sugar and saturated fat!

At Nurture Life, it’s important to us to give kids a better balance of nutrition—not only to power their active lives but to keep them feeling full and satisfied. As we develop our kids and toddler meal delivery options, we carefully measure out a balance of protein, fat and carbs at every age.

To support a well-varied diet, we also source these macronutrients from a wide selection of ingredients:

  • Proteins: We serve more than just chicken! We love incorporating diverse protein sources like beef, lamb, turkey, fish, tofu, legumes, tempeh and seitan.
  • Carbs: We focus on whole grains with minimal processing, such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta and sweet potatoes.
  • Fats: All of our meals keep saturated fat in check, and we offer kid-friendly superfoods like salmon, which is full of heart-healthy fatty acids.
3. Kid-Friendly Flavor

As parents ourselves, we understand how challenging it can be to find healthy food that kids will accept. That’s why our registered dietitians and R&D chefs work hard to create ready-to-eat meals for kids that are truly kid-friendly.

From initial brainstorming until the final recipe is approved, we approach our kids and toddler meals from a child’s perspective, adjusting the flavors and textures for younger palates. We aren’t happy until we get a “More please!” from the ones who matter most!

Just a handful of our quintessentially kid-friendly meals include:

  • Chicken Bites with Mashed Yams & Green Beans: A nutritious, oven-baked version paired with fiber-filled veggies
  • Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower: So deliciously cheesy that your kids won’t even notice the pureed cauliflower!
  • Frittata with Cinnamon French Toast: A balanced breakfast-inspired meal that can be enjoyed any time of the day!

Even foods that aren’t classically “kid-friendly” are more approachable with Nurture Life. For instance, in our Citrus Salmon With Mango-Edamame Rice, we enhance salmon with a hint of orange and soy sauce for a seafood dinner that may delight even picky eaters.

4. Fresh Ingredients

When you think “ready-to-eat meals for kids,” highly processed frozen foods likely spring to mind. But we want to change that association!

Our meals are made to order from the highest-quality ingredients with a focus on organic and seasonal foods. We never add any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, and we change up our menu every week so you’ll always know that your kids’ meals have been freshly made with care.

5. Global Inspiration

Part of our mission isn’t just to nourish kids but also to introduce new flavors that they might not otherwise be exposed to. Families love that our kids meal delivery service offers varied, globally inspired dishes with a kid-friendly touch!

Several global highlights include:

  • Madras Curry: A colorful mix of carrots, chickpeas, red pepper and zucchini tossed in a subtle curry
  • Thai Coconut Chicken: Garlic-ginger coconut milk sauce over chicken, brown rice and a trio of colorful veggies
  • Ethiopian Lentil Stew: A warmly spiced stew of quinoa, lentils and raisins, spooned over a bed of brown rice

At Nurture Life, we view our mission as both a responsibility and a privilege, and we appreciate that families trust us to join in at the kitchen table. If you have any questions about our “secret ingredients” or our start-to-finish kids meal delivery process, please reach out to our experts at support@nurturelife.com.

The post 5 Secret Ingredients to Nurture Life’s Kids Meal Delivery appeared first on Nurture Life.

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The first year of a baby’s life is all about change. As soon as you start to get into a groove, your little one is ready for something new!

In terms of diet, one major change is the transition from smooth baby purees to finger foods (also known as “stage 3 baby foods”). And then seemingly right after that, your baby will make another big change—this time from finger foods to “real” table foods, or what we at Nurture Life call “toddler meals.”

This post focuses on that second transition from baby food to table food. We’ll share a few helpful tips to ease the transition to toddler meals, including when to start and how to do so in a positive, healthy way.

When Do Babies Start Eating Table Food?

Many people consider finger foods to be a baby’s first real “table food,” so in that case, most babies start eating table food by 9 or 10 months of age. (For more information on the switch from purees to finger foods, check out our guide on transitioning to finger foods!)

The second table-food transition—from finger foods to toddler meals—has fewer obvious developmental cues, and may occur anywhere around or after 1 year of age.

So how will you know when it’s time to leave stage 3 foods behind? Below we’ll look at a few possible cues.

4 Signs Your Baby May Be Ready for Toddler Meals

The transition from finger foods to toddler meals will be a gradual process. It won’t happen all at once, and there’s really no set timeline. Generally speaking, though, there are a few ways to tell whether your little one is ready to make the change from stage 3 finger foods to larger, more “grown up” plates with more calorie-dense portions.

Here are 4 common signs it may be time:

1. Using utensils.
It’s never too early to supply your baby with utensils so that they understand that they are a part of mealtime. Model how to use spoons and forks and praise your child for trying—regardless of the inevitable mess that’s made! Offer a variety of utensils so they can practice with different sizes and styles.

2. Asking for more.
Even at this young age, kids understand words and know how to point. If your child has finished a portion of stage 3 baby food but still feels hungry, she or he may point to food to ask for more. You can also ask, “Do you want more?” and gauge your child’s reaction.

Asking for more is an indication of hunger and means their body is probably ready for larger meals at a time.

3. Picking up food.
Picking up food is another way of asking for more. If your child continues to pick up food when you offer it, let them! Babies should not be restricted, and extended mealtimes or continued interest in food may be a sign that they need more calories.

4. Reaching for your plate.
As children grow, many will start to show an interest in what you’re eating. So offer a bite and see what happens! Do they like the adult food, or are they spitting it out? If they reach for more, they might be ready for more complex flavors and textures.

5 Tips for Introducing Table Foods to Toddlers

If your child has begun to show a few of these signs, he or she may be ready to graduate to toddler meals. When that day comes, try out these five tips on how to switch from baby food to table food!

1. Start big.
When you’re first introducing table foods, start with bigger finger foods! Nurture Life makes several fun options like chicken nuggets, black bean falafel or lamb & beef meatballs. Cut larger pieces into single bites to demonstrate how to use utensils and make sure there’s no choking hazard.

2. Separate foods.
Now that you’re serving several dishes at once, it’s the perfect time to start using a compartmented plate. Keeping foods separated can help foster an acceptance of different foods; if your child really doesn’t want something, he or she can reject a single compartment rather than the entire meal.

Tip: Toddlers are notorious food throwers, so we recommend trays with suction cups!

3. Encourage utensils (but be flexible).
Even kids who are good with utensils will occasionally balk at using them. Try to choose meals that can be eaten with utensils but are still easy enough to pick up by hand.

If you order Nurture Life’s toddler delivery meals, our Cheesy Zucchini Pomodoro is a great in-between option. The chunky veggies and whole wheat pasta lend themselves to a utensil but are equally finger-friendly.

4. Plate little by little.
Plating everything at once can be overwhelming for your toddler. If you have a three-scoop toddler meal, put just a little down at a time—maybe one chicken nugget, a few green beans and a spoonful of yams. You can always ask if they want more!

5. Serve familiar foods in new ways.
Your little one will already be dealing with many changes in food presentation and eating habits, so it can be comforting to continue serving some already-accepted flavors.

If your baby has been eating Nurture Life’s baby food delivery, our chicken meatballs are the perfect way to re-introduce a familiar flavor. They’ve already tasted it in stage 3 and can now try the “grown-up” version!

Nurture Life’s number-one goal is to have a positive impact on the way kids eat. That’s why both our stage 3 finger foods and our toddler meals offer recommended, age-appropriate nutrients with flavors and textures that truly delight!

If we can help your family make the transition from baby food to table food, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our child nutrition experts at support@nurturelife.com.

The post After Stage 3: How to Switch from Baby Food to Table Food appeared first on Nurture Life.

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Our number one goal at Nurture Life is to have a positive impact on the way kids eat while helping you get food on the table that the whole family can enjoy together.

Our Family Meals serve up the same enticing flavors, diverse cuisine inspirations and wholesome nutrition as all of our baby, toddler and kids meals. The only difference is that they’re crafted to delight everyone!

Here’s how our Family Meals work to provide easy family meal planning:

  1. Order mains, sides or both. Our Family Meal components are prepared individually, so you’ll have complete flexibility with your weekly family meal plan. Order a main and side together for an easy, delicious meal, or get them individually to round out your own homemade casserole or signature veggies.
  2. Adjust for your family size. Our Family Meal mains and sides come in servings of 2–4. Order 2 servings to satisfy just the parents or smaller families, or try 4 servings to have enough to go around.
  3. Feel good about what’s inside! Just like our kid meals, our Family Meal components keep salt, added sugar and saturated fat in check. They provide the simplicity of “heat and eat” frozen meals but with more mindful nutrition.

Nurture Life Family Meals are available as add-ons to existing baby, toddler or kid meal plans. For family meal planning that’s practically effortless, log into your Nurture Life account and add your favorite mains, sides or both! If you’re new to Nurture Life, get started here!

How to Plan Meals: 5 Tasty & Nutritious Combos for the Whole Family

With kids, it can be easy to forget to nourish yourself—but parents shouldn’t have to scarf down leftovers just to get some dinner! For fast, wholesome meals that everyone can savor together, try out our favorite Family Meal combinations of mains and sides below.

1. Sweet & Sour Beef, Roasted Vegetable Medley and Sweet Potato Mash

This Family Meal combination serves up the protein of antibiotic-free, hormone-free beef as well as the fiber, vitamins and minerals of freshly roasted veggies and creamy sweet potatoes. It has everything you need for a mindfully balanced meal!

What makes it great: Each serving of Asian-inspired goodness provides 2 cups of colorful veggies and 50% of your recommended daily iron.

2. Pork Al Pastor, Za’atar Sweet Potatoes & Onions and Southwest-Style Roasted Veggies

Combining a protein, starch and veggie, this meal is balanced in both nutrition and flavor. The tenderly braised pork offers 53 grams of muscle-fueling protein, while the spiced sweet potatoes and bright veggies serve up plenty of dietary fiber to keep you feeling full.

What makes it great: Per serving, this Family Meal combination dishes out 2 cups of veggies as well as 60% of your child’s daily iron needs.

3. Chicken Meatballs, Veggie & Feta Orzo and Cheesy Broccoli & Cauliflower

Light chicken meatballs, zesty orzo and cheese-smothered veggies make for another protein, starch and veggie trifecta. We especially love this Family Meal combination for picky eaters! The meatballs are perfect for fun character picks, and the familiar cheese sauce is always a hit with little ones.

What makes it great: Along with nearly 2 cups of veggies and 40% of your child’s daily iron needs, this Family Meal combination serves up as much calcium as a glass of milk.

4. Veggie Lasagna and Roasted Vegetable Medley

Thanks to hearty Italian flavors and creamy ricotta cheese, even meat eaters will dive into this vegetarian dish! With whole wheat lasagna noodles, layers of pureed veggies and roasted veggies on the side, this meal has a whopping 18 grams of fiber—great for digestive health.

What makes it great: No need to worry about how to plan meals with veggies! Every serving of this Family Meal combination includes 4 full cups of veggies.

5. Miso Mahi Mahi and Soy-Garlic Rice With Stir-Fry Veggies

Packed with healthy fats and 30 grams of hearty protein, our Mahi Mahi is a nutritious addition to any of our meal plans. Its mild fish flavor tends to be well accepted even by non-seafood eaters, while seasoned rice and veggies round out the meal with vitamins, minerals and fiber.

What makes it great: Brown rice is a whole grain with antioxidant vitamins as well as protein and fiber to keep your family feeling satisfied long after lunch or dinner.

Nurture Life Family Meals make it easier to serve freshly made meals for your whole family. Breeze through your next family meal planning session by ordering some of our featured combos, or support your favorite homemade dishes by adding a few mains and sides to your baby, toddler or kid meal plans. Either way, you’ll get mealtime flexibility with flavors that everyone will enjoy!

Have questions about nutrition, our new Family Meals or how to order them? Reach out to the Nurture Life team at support@nurturelife.com.

The post Family Meal Planning Made Easy: Mains & Sides to Mix & Match appeared first on Nurture Life.

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When you have a picky eater at home, any meal can become an exercise in tantrums, tears and untouched food. While too much change tends to draw stubborn refusals, too little change may leave you feeling like no progress is being made.

If you’re stuck in this cycle—wondering why your child is refusing food, how to overcome picky eating, or whether it’s even possible at all—this post is for you! Below, we’ll review 3 feeding strategies for picky eaters to help you introduce new foods with fewer meltdowns and more success.

1. Introduce one new food at a time.

Even for adults, change can be stressful. So for a child who’s used to eating her favorite PB&J—prepared like she wants, on the plate she wants, at the time she wants—even a tiny bit of change can lead to mealtime deadlock.

To minimize stress and increase the chance of acceptance, child nutrition experts recommend serving only one new food at a time. Without making a big deal of the change, try introducing one new food at a time:

  • Substitute a plain baked potato with a sweet potato, changing nothing else about the meal.
  • Pair your kid’s favorite macaroni and cheese with a side of naturally sweet garden peas.
  • Serve a new protein, like superfood salmon or fiber-rich tempeh, alongside a familiar whole wheat pasta.
  • If you order Nurture Life kids meals, select a more adventurous protein and serve it with familiar veggies.
  • Switch up the standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a fun peanut butter alternative.

Like most advice for picky eaters, this technique may sound easier than it actually is. If your child continues to refuse new foods, don’t lose heart! Consistency will win out in the end—it can take as many as 6–15 tries before a child accepts a new food, so it’s important to keep trying.

2. Try the “one day on, one day off” technique.

Even if your child is relatively accepting of one new food at a time, too many new foods meal after meal may become overwhelming. For that reason, it’s often helpful to give kids a break.

Using the “one day on, one day off” method, you can deliberately introduce new foods without pushing your little one too far. With this technique, new foods are only served every other day and only with well-accepted dishes.

For instance, your first week might look like this:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are days off—no new foods at all.
  • Tuesday is a new protein with a familiar veggie and grain.
  • Thursday is a new veggie with a familiar protein and grain.
  • Saturday is a new grain with a familiar protein and veggie.

You’ll repeat this process, both introducing new foods and serving recently introduced foods, for a month or even longer. The more gradually and consistently you offer new foods, the more likely your child is to expect and eventually accept them. You can also support your efforts with fun picky eater tools or even some kid-friendly bedtime stories about picky eating.

3. Blend new and old together.

One of the best picky eater tips is to work with, rather than against, your child’s preferences—at least at the beginning. In some cases, this means getting a little creative!

If your child still refuses new foods after weeks of trying, consider taking a different approach and physically blending foods together. Because you’ll be blending a new food with a familiar one, your little one may not even notice the slight change in color, texture or taste.

This method works for nearly any type of food, allowing you to improve the nutrition on your child’s plate without the protestations. Try these ideas for easy blending:

  • Smoothly blend veggies or lentils into a pasta sauce or casserole base.
  • Mix white rice with brown rice.
  • Mash sweet potatoes and white potatoes together.
  • Puree fiber-rich legumes into any ground meat dish.
  • Chop one new fruit and toss it into your regular fruit salad.
  • Incorporate lean ground turkey into hamburgers, meatloaf or meatballs.

Just like the first two tips for picky eaters, it’s best to add only one new food to your child’s plate at a time, even when blending. It’s also a good idea to begin with small increments and work your way up so that the change is not too drastic. For instance, start with a mix of 10% brown rice to 90% white rice and gradually increase the ratio until you’re serving 100% brown rice.

When it comes to picky eating, every child exhibits different behaviors, preferences and responses. Even with these 3 feeding strategies for picky eaters, it’ll take some trial and error before you see real progress—so just remember that with enough consistency, it will get better! You’re already taking the right steps to a healthier, more varied diet for your children.

If you have questions about how to overcome picky eating at any age, send our childhood nutrition experts a message at support@nurturelife.com!

The post How to Overcome Picky Eating: 3 Techniques to Introduce New Foods appeared first on Nurture Life.

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At Nurture Life, we’re all about making life easier for busy parents through our wholesome, kid-friendly meal delivery. Just because our meals are freshly made, though, doesn’t mean they can’t be frozen too!

If you want a spontaneous date night or have last-minute evening obligations, having your kid’s favorite in the freezer makes for the perfect backup. Just follow these simple instructions on how to freeze meals from Nurture Life and reheat them anytime you need a fast, nutritious meal!

Two Simple Ways to Reheat Nurture Life Meals Method #1: Thaw Before Heating

You’ll need to plan ahead for this method, as it requires up to 24 hours of thaw time.

Step by Step

  1. Place the meal in the freezer before the use by date.
  2. Put the frozen meal in the fridge and let it thaw overnight. (Thaw times vary but may take anywhere from 12–18 hours for baby meals and 18–24 hours for toddler and kids meals.)
  3. Microwave or oven-heat the meal as normal, following the directions on the package.

Important Tip: Don’t have time to thaw in the fridge? Then we recommend skipping to the second method below! Avoid the temptation to speed things up by thawing meals on the counter, as according to the USDA, room-temperature thawing encourages bacterial growth.

Method #2: Heat From Frozen

If you suddenly find yourself in need of a last-minute meal, there’s no need to panic! You can also reheat Nurture Life meals directly from the freezer. (Note that this method only works for meals served in trays, as our baby food jars cannot be heated.)

Step by Step

  1. Place the meal in the freezer before the use by date.
  2. Remove the meal from the freezer.
  3. Heat the meal as normal in the oven or microwave, following the directions on the package.

Important Tip: The time required to heat meals from frozen varies, but 3–5 minutes in the microwave is typically sufficient. We recommend starting at a lower cook time, removing the dish periodically to stir and heating longer as required.

Through these two methods, Nurture Life’s freshly made meals become super easy meals to freeze and reheat. Whichever reheating method you choose, be sure to eat the meals within 90 days of freezing!

Some of Our Favorite Freezer Tips and Tricks

Running out of room between bags of veggies and pints of frozen yogurt? You don’t have to buy a commercial-grade freezer to solve the problem! With a few smart kitchen organization hacks, you can use your freezer more intentionally—meaning less food waste, easier meal prep and enough room for Nurture Life meals if you need it.

Here are four easy freezer tips to make better use of your space.

1. Freeze in portions.

Take some time upfront to freeze more mindfully, and you’ll never have to battle giant blocks of icy food again!

  • Fresh fruit: Lay fruit pieces in a single layer on a tray. Let them fully freeze before bagging so that a few pieces can be added to healthy breakfast smoothies without all clumping together.
  • Broth or stock: Use popsicle molds or bento-style containers to freeze small portions of soups and other liquids. Once they’re frozen solid, place into a zip-top bag.
  • Fresh veggies: Chop your favorite kid-friendly veggies, blanch them to preserve flavor and freeze them on a tray before bagging.
  • Bread: Before freezing a loaf of bread, place parchment paper between slices so that they stay easy to pull apart.
  • Herbs and spices: Chop fresh herbs and spices and then freeze them by the teaspoon in an ice cube tray before bagging.
2. Store flat.

Once you’ve bagged your pre-portioned frozen foods, flatten the bags as much as possible and stack them horizontally on your freezer shelves. You’ll probably fit way more than you imagined!

With the ability to stack so many bags, you may even wonder, “Can a freezer be overloaded?” The answer is yes—but don’t worry about it too much. A full freezer actually helps keep food cold, and you only need to leave a small amount of space for air to circulate.

3. Remove air.

Exposure to oxygen creates the brownish-gray tint and acrid taste of freezer-burnt food. While mild freezer burn doesn’t affect food safety, it definitely impacts flavor, color and texture.

Squeeze out as much air as possible from zip-top bags. For extra protection, wrap meats tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing them into an airtight container.

4. Label your food.

One of the most common reasons for freezer overload is the tendency to “freeze it and forget it.” Labeling is a great way to avoid this issue and can be done with masking tape and a permanent marker. Write what each dish is and its date of freezing, and you’ll turn a chaotic freezer into a well-organized collection of easy meals to freeze and reheat.

Fortunately, when it comes to Nurture Life meals, you won’t have to think about these freezer tips! All of the meals on our weekly menus come pre-portioned, tightly sealed and clearly labeled. No additional prep, packaging or portioning required.

We take food safety seriously, from our ingredient sourcing and meal preparation to our recommendations on how to freeze meals for babies, toddlers and kids. If you have any questions about freezing and reheating Nurture Life meals, please reach out to us at support@nurturelife.com.

The post How to Freeze Meals From Nurture Life appeared first on Nurture Life.

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As a Research and Development Chef at Nurture Life, I develop meals that celebrate interesting flavors and textures while serving up the recommended nutrients for babies, toddlers and kids. With years of experience as executive chef and food service director of a large childcare center, here’s how I help design sophisticated, kid-friendly meals each season.

Most chefs work in a world devoted to adult’s palates. While I have made many meals for this audience, most of my professional life has been devoted to cooking specifically for children—and I love it.

Cooking for kids requires an understanding that when a child approaches a dish, it’s with a fresh palate. They haven’t been exposed to certain flavors or textures, so each dish is an opportunity to shape their perspective of that cuisine.

When developing meals at Nurture Life, this knowledge influences every meal I create. Our goal is to teach children that nutritious, well-balanced and globally inspired meals can also be delicious. That’s why we embrace unique flavors and textures while carefully considering age-appropriate needs.

To give you more insight into the purposeful thought and decisions that go into every dish on our menu, here’s a peek behind the curtain of Nurture Life’s seasonal menu planning!

How We Develop Interesting yet Kid-Friendly Dishes

While everyone else is focused on the season outside, Nurture Life is always thinking a full season ahead. For months before we launch a new menu, our registered dietitians and chefs like me are hard at work designing meals that delight parents and kids alike.

Here’s a step-by-step account of how we develop tasty, filling meals for every age and stage of development.

Step #1: Review Parent Feedback from Past Menus

Before we begin ideation for a new menu, our team takes a deep dive into parent feedback to assess the specific elements that work (and don’t work!) for their little ones. By looking at our meal performance, we can improve every season and use feedback to inspire new dishes, make changes to existing meals and decide which dishes to bring back on our Favorites Menu. Although our menu changes every season, keeping several favorites ensures consistency for less-adventurous eaters and reliability for when parents need a meal they know their little one will love.

Step #2: Brainstorm!

With our Favorites Menu and some aggregated feedback, I then sit down with our chefs, on-staff registered dietitians and co-founders to get the ideas flowing on what’s worked in the past, what our customers like and don’t like, and where we’d like to take next season’s menu.

As we brainstorm, we also consider these key aspects:

  • Balance within dishes: Our dishes balance proteins, veggies and complex carbs. We want to vary texture, color and ingredients to ensure our meals offer nutritious variety on every plate.
  • Menu Variety: In addition to well-balanced individual meals, we want to incorporate variety across the entire menu. We take food inspiration from around the world to ensure children are introduced to globally inspired flavors. Varying cuisine type gives parents the opportunity to give their children new flavor profiles, preparation styles and more.
  • New proteins: Kids love chicken, but it’s not the only option out there! We’re always looking for ways to introduce them to fish, bison, lamb, tempeh or other proteins that maybe aren’t traditionally considered “kid-friendly.”
  • Seasonal ingredients: When we focus on seasonality, we can source better, fresher ingredients. For instance, this spring we incorporated sugar snap peas into our Asian Chicken with Rice & Sugar Snap Peas to highlight their peak natural sweetness.
  • Seasonal associations: The weather and time of year influence the foods that people eat. Seasonal expectations inspire us to make timely dishes like Pot Roast to warm up during colder months or BBQ Pulled Pork with Corn Pudding & Carrots for that backyard summer vibe. We even bring that inspiration to our purees and finger foods! This spring we added a Mixed Berry Oatmeal puree for a bright blend to welcome back the sun.
Step #3: Draft, Test & Refine Our Meals

Once we’ve agreed on meals that meet our requirements, it’s time for me to hop into the test kitchen! I make a first “draft” of the meals to share with the team, adapting our seasonal concepts to be more kid-friendly. The goal is to develop meals with children in mind without losing the essence of the recipe. We respect a child’s diet and perspective on food while encouraging diverse flavors, textures and experiences.

To ensure I delivered on the concepts we discussed during meal planning, we then evaluate each meal through a continuous testing and refining process. Meals are tasted by a diverse set of parents and kids, and I take their feedback and rework the meal until it’s a home run!

Planning in Action: Spring Menu Highlights

To see the results of this lengthy planning process, let’s take a look at one of my favorite new dishes on the menu this spring: Citrus Salmon with Mango-Edamame Rice. Getting kids to enjoy fish can be a challenge, but with its rich Omega-3 fatty acids and high protein content, it’s worth the challenge!

Since salmon is rather oily and strongly flavored, we offset its fishiness with freshly cut mango chunks and a naturally sweet sauce. We also wanted to keep the dish fresh and springy, so we added a bright and citrusy spice blend and edamame for a playful pop of green. I’m proud of this meal because we were able to make it kid-approved without oversimplifying the flavors or adding in tons of sugar and salt!

Nurture Life: A Kids’ Nutrition Revolution

I moved across the country to join the Nurture Life team, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We offer something that parents need—a truly convenient and scientifically backed solution for feeding your kids. I get to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than just lunch or dinner—it’s a nutrition revolution, developing an entire generation of healthier, more open-minded eaters.

The post How Nurture Life R&D Chefs Craft a Menu appeared first on Nurture Life.

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At Nurture Life, we’re all about inspiring creativity, playfulness and independence in our children—and not just at the dinner table! To build up a spirit of inventiveness and get your kids thinking outside of the box, check out some of our favorite kid-friendly DIY cardboard box projects below.

In this crafty highlight reel, we’ve gathered 12 creative ways to reuse cardboard boxes and divided them into recommended age groups. Of course, with just a little imagination, these projects can be adapted to any age or interest.

4 Simple Box Crafts for Preschoolers

During their preschool years, kids are developing hand-eye coordination and refining their motor skills. These easy cardboard box crafts are perfect for helping little hands learn how to interact with the world around them.

1. Easels

With just a single cardboard box and some tape, you can set up a simple easel for drawing, coloring, painting or fingerpainting. Spark some inspiration with a specific theme or idea, or let your little ones come up with their own artistic creations. Who knows…you may have the next Monet in your midst!

2. Shape Puzzles

For toddlers and preschoolers, DIY cardboard box projects—like these matching shape puzzles—can be a wonderful tool for developing visual perception and spatial awareness. Simply cut out one set of shapes from a cardboard box, and then either outline the shapes on another piece of cardboard (for a visual match) or cut them out (for an easier, more tactile match).

3. Lacing Cards

Also known as sewing cards, lacing cards are another fun game for strengthening fine motor skills and visual perception as your child tries to string ribbon through a series of holes. Cereal boxes are perfect for this craft, as they’re thin enough to be cut out and hole-punched easily.

4. Monster Feet

Turn your toddler into a wacky creature of the deep (and help them practice balancing!) with these easy cardboard monster feet. Cut out large feet in any human, monster or bird shape you prefer, and then tie them to your little one’s feet with lace or string.

4 Fun Box Crafts for Kindergarteners

By kindergarten, children are ready for tasks with greater muscle control, more fine motor movements and a lot more imagination. To get your kindergartener thinking about how to reuse cardboard boxes, start by reading Not a Box by Antoinette Portis—a cute book that demonstrates how even a plain old cardboard box can be so much more!

1. Fun-Sized Cars

Kindergarteners are the perfect size for DIY mini cardboard cars. Your little ones can help with the taping or gluing of the car, or they can just have a blast decorating with paint, markers and glitter. To take the excitement one step further, host a “drive-in movie night” with healthy playdate snacks and your kids’ kindergarten classmates!

2. Photo Frames

Why not use your spare cardboard boxes to frame your favorite family memories? For year-round fun, this simple craft can be easily adapted to any holiday. Cut out a heart-shaped frame as a cute Valentine’s Day craft, a soccer- or football-shaped frame for annual team photos, or an adorable snowman for the winter season.

3. Celebration Garlands

These easy cardboard box crafts will add a rustic touch to any birthday, new year, graduation or holiday party. Cut out any letters or numbers you want, and then have your kids add their own creative flair with sequins, paint, buttons or stickers!

4. Gingerbread People

One of our favorite holiday crafts for kids, these adorable gingerbread people can be used as holiday ornaments or handmade greeting cards for friends and family. Use a knife or box cutter to cut out gingerbread men and women, and then let your little ones decorate to their hearts’ content with lace, twine, felt or paper.

4 Creative Box Crafts for School-Aged Kids

Once your kids have reached school age, they’ll likely be craving even more independence, and they’ll be ready to take on more complex crafts centered around their unique hobbies and interests. These DIY cardboard box projects draw inspiration from the people and places around them, allowing them to dream up their own worlds of fun!

1. Cityscapes

There’s a use for boxes of all sizes and shapes with this imaginative craft. Let your kids sketch out their favorite real or fictional buildings and then bring them to life by stacking and painting boxes. Gotham City, Hogsmeade, Peppatown, Ponyville…all of your kids’ favorite settings can be recreated right in your own living room!

2. Kitchen Sets

With our passion for delicious food and healthy eating, it’s no surprise that this kitchen set is one of our favorite box crafts for school-aged kids! Use large boxes to create an oven, stovetop, sink and refrigerator—everything your children need to cook up fantastic gourmet meals.

For a fun touch of realism, choose a favorite from Nurture Life’s kids menu and then have your children invent their own recipe for it. While they’re hard at work in their cardboard kitchen, throw the real plate in the microwave and, in 3 minutes or less, reveal the freshly made dish they’ve created!

3. Yarn Initials

School-aged kids love personalizing their belongings, and these crafty yarn letters will let them cover anything with their initials and favorite colors. Cut out small letters to glue on school notebooks or string onto keychains, or go for giant letters for a creative and colorful wall hanging.

4. Halloween Costumes

Not only can cardboard boxes be transformed into anything—your kids can, too! Cardboard boxes are a budget-friendly way to make DIY Halloween costumes for kids. We especially love simple options like aluminum foil robots and hand-painted juice boxes!

Ready to turn everyday recyclables into personal treasures? Then grab your little ones, sort through that craft bin together and get started on one of these creative ways to reuse cardboard boxes. Happy crafting!

The post Easy Cardboard Box Crafts for Kids of All Ages appeared first on Nurture Life.

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Picky eating is incredibly common in kids, with some academic studies pointing to a rate as high as 22% in children between the ages of 2 and 11. Another survey of 4,000 children found that nearly half of all kids can be described as picky eaters at one time or another.

But the knowledge that your picky eater isn’t the only one probably won’t do much to ease the stress after three, four or five nights of dinner table stand-offs!

If you’re wondering how to overcome picky eating in your household, the solution starts with a deeper look at the root causes behind these behaviors: Why are kids picky eaters in the first place? In this article, we’ll examine the two most important causes of picky eating in kids: 1) biological factors and 2) environmental influences.

Biological Drivers of Picky Eating

The latest scientific research points to a connection between human biology and picky eating, expressed in two main ways.

1. Innate Tastes

Multiple studies across many years have demonstrated that humans instinctively prefer sweet and salty foods—a preference that children exhibit even more strongly than adults, both for sugar and for salt. Given the choice, kids of all ages will naturally reach for what’s most innately satisfying: something salty or sweet over something sour, bland or bitter.

2. Heritable Traits

Picky eating is often associated with neophobia, or the fear and avoidance of new foods. A picky eater may see a new food, or even the same food in a different presentation, and simply refuse to try it.

In one study, researchers concluded that the majority of neophobic traits in kids (up to 75%) can actually be attributed to genetics. Just like eye color or skin tone, neophobia may be passed down within families.

Environmental Factors of Picky Eating

Although human biology certainly plays a role in picky eating, it’s not the whole picture. Our children’s instinctive taste preferences are also strongly influenced, and often exacerbated, by the world around us.

There are four very important environmental influences on the development and expression of picky eating:

1. At-Home Eating Habits

One of the biggest influences on a child’s picky eating is his or her home environment. Simply put, the foods that we frequently serve, both in terms of specific dishes and general food groups, are what become familiar, accepted and comfortable for our children.

For instance, if kids get used to eating salty pasta dishes with little variation in proteins, veggies or spices, they may refuse to try anything that doesn’t look like “normal” spaghetti and meatballs. Similarly, if dessert is offered at the end of every single meal, our kids may come to expect something sugary—potentially ignoring their own signs of fullness in favor of that irresistible sugar rush.

2. Mealtime Environment

In many cases, children may exhibit picky eating behaviors not because of the food on the table but rather the dining setup. They may feel unsettled, dissatisfied or distracted by any number of physical attributes around them:

  • Their chair or high chair
  • Their position at, or distance from, the table
  • The utensils being used
  • Ambient noise or distractions in the room, including TVs, tablets and phones
  • The actions/attention of others around them (e.g. parents eating at the table together vs. doing chores and moving around)
3. Fast/Processed Foods

No discussion of environmental influences on picky eating would be complete without a mention of fast and processed foods. Although convenient, these foods are often loaded with sugar, sodium and fat—even in the so-called “healthy” options.

As a case in point, academic researchers assessed the nutritional quality of 1,146 combinations of kids meals from 10 of the biggest fast food chains in the country. The results found that only 3% of all investigated kids meals met the recommended kid nutrition guidelines set out in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP)!

With excessive consumption of tasty but low-nutrition fast food kids meals, children may develop an increased tolerance for salt, sugar and fat, leading them to reject foods they would otherwise accept.

4. Media Exposure

A final environmental factor that may encourage picky eating is the media. Many children’s TV programs include advertisements for processed foods like candy, sugary cereals and fast food meals. Repeated exposure may encourage kids to push for these foods over healthier, fresher options.

Helping Reshape Your Child’s Taste Buds

As studies have shown, the causes behind picky eating can be quite multifaceted, and the answer to the question, “Why are kids picky eaters?” ranges from biological instincts to the environment around us.

Fortunately, though, it is possible to navigate picky eating! With a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of patience, we can reshape our little ones’ taste buds.

Here at Nurture Life, many of us are parents ourselves, and we recognize that what and how we feed our children is important, starting from the earliest age. That’s why our meals keep salt and sugar in check and why we change up our baby, toddler and kid menus weekly to introduce new ingredients in approachable ways. Our mission isn’t just to feed kids; it’s to help families nourish their children and move beyond picky eating—together.

If you have questions about picky eating at any age, send our childhood nutrition experts a message at support@nurturelife.com!

The post Why Are Kids Picky Eaters? appeared first on Nurture Life.

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Looking for a healthy and family-friendly way to say, “Sláinte!”?

You don’t have to rely on the luck of the Irish (or take on a load of time-consuming work) to host an exciting St. Paddy’s Day for your family. Below, we’ve rounded up nine St. Patrick’s Day treats that are simple, fun and nutritious!

Whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or snack time, these themed green snacks will help you throw a St. Paddy’s celebration to remember.

1. Healthy Shamrock Shakes

Shamrock shakes are probably the most highly anticipated green food for St. Patrick’s Day—but those famous minty shakes from your local drive-thru are also loaded with added sugar, questionable dyes and artificial flavors.

For the same frozen fun with more vitamins and minerals, try out this shamrock shake recipe alternative. All it takes is a quick blend of frozen bananas, baby spinach, avocado, mint and coconut milk for a lightly sweet, well-balanced treat!

2. Green Apple Sandwiches

You can turn fresh apples into cute mini sandwiches with just three ingredients: green apples, granola and peanut butter. Simply slice the apples, spread the peanut butter, sprinkle the granola and close up to serve!

To put your own touch on these bite-sized green snacks, use your family’s go-to peanut butter alternative and homemade trail mix instead.

3. Avocado Deviled Eggs

This recipe transforms traditional deviled eggs into the perfect green food for St. Patrick’s Day. In addition to a serving of protein from eggs and yogurt, fresh avocado adds dietary fiber, heart-healthy fats and a vibrant pop of green.

If your little ones are especially sensitive to heat, try swapping the jalapeños for a more mild “greenifying” ingredient like spinach, sweet peas or parsley.

4. Broccoli Cheese Nuggets

Want a more substantial option than light veggie trays and other green snacks? These broccoli cheese nuggets are easy to make yet filling enough to serve as a main dish in your family’s St. Paddy’s Day lunch or dinner.

Frozen broccoli florets give that lively green color while eggs, bread crumbs and shredded cheese provide the same satisfying bite as everyone’s favorite chicken nuggets.

5. Shamrock Veggie Skewers

Made with broccoli, sugar snap peas, green bell peppers and cucumbers, these all-natural veggie skewers are just as delightful to munch as they are to make.

The best part? These veggie-filled St. Patrick’s Day treats have a job for everyone in the family:

  • Your littlest ones can peel off any stickers and wash the veggies.
  • Older children can slice the veggies (using kid-friendly knives) or carefully skewer them.
  • Teens and older kids can cut adorable shamrock-shaped toppers.
6. Rainbow Fruit Platters

This fruit platter may not be 100% green…but it’s definitely bright and perfectly themed for St. Paddy’s Day! Lay out a rainbow of colorful fruit and encourage your little ones to reach the leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end.

Although the recipe calls for strawberries, oranges, pineapples, blueberries and grapes, feel free to arrange your own rainbow with your kids’ favorite fruits.

7. Shamrock Quesadillas

Whether for lunch, dinner or snacks, shamrock quesadillas are another quick and easy green food for St. Patrick’s Day. Use a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter to cut out spinach tortillas, and then fill them with your kids’ favorite toppings:

  • Throw in spinach, bell peppers or kid-friendly superfoods like kale to round out the “green snacks” theme.
  • Add diced chicken, black beans, tofu or eggs for an extra serving of protein.
  • Serve with a side of salsa verde for extra dipping fun!

8. Parmesan Spinach Cakes

All the fun of a muffin, but savory and green, these Parmesan spinach cakes are a simple yet nutrient-rich green food for St. Patrick’s Day. Just puree spinach, eggs and cheese in a blender and then bake in a muffin tin for about 20 minutes.

These little cakes are also perfect to serve with themed food picks or other fun picky eater tools!

9. Cucumber Leprechaun Hats

These bite-sized leprechaun hats are almost too adorable to eat. Made with cucumbers, cheese and yellow bell peppers, they’re light, healthy and great for a mid-afternoon snack or meal-time side. Serve with parsley hummus, fresh salsa verde or homemade basil vinaigrette for an extra punch of color and flavor.

Put a pop of green on the table this St. Patrick’s Day with fun green snacks that are simple to make, fun to munch and even better than a leprechaun’s pot o’ gold! With these junk food alternatives to classic St. Patrick’s Day treats, you can say goodbye to the sugar high and hello to family fun with just the right nutrition.

The post 9 Healthy and Kid-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day Treats appeared first on Nurture Life.

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The sun is coming out of hibernation, the temperatures are warming up and the days are getting longer—it’s safe to say that spring is on its way!

At Nurture Life, we’re especially excited for spring because that means our new seasonal menu is here. Delivered to your door and ready to serve in 3 minutes or less, our spring dishes serve up wholesome nutrition in a well-rounded mix of ingredients, textures and flavor inspirations.

In addition to our classic baby, toddler and kids meal delivery, we’re serving up a number of family-sized options to make lunch and dinner easier for everyone. Check out some featured highlights from all menus below!

Toddler and Kid Meal Highlights

Our spring toddler and kid meals have something for every taste bud, every age group and every level of picky. These easy meals for kids may be ready in minutes, but they’re packed with mindfully chosen, nutrient-rich ingredients to power your kids’ busy spring days.

Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes

Put a touch of grandma’s homestyle cooking on the table with this lighter twist on traditional meatloaf. Using lean ground turkey, ricotta cheese and fresh veggies, we deliver that familiar, well-loved meatloaf flavor in a light but filling dish.

What makes it extra nutritious: We serve not one but two veggie sides: roasted ratatouille veggies and mashed potatoes with smoothly blended cauliflower.

Cheese Ravioli with Beef Bolognese

Almost nothing is more kid-friendly than a bit of cheese—especially when it comes in the form of adorable, bite-sized ravioli! Your little one will love the five-cheese filling, and you’ll love the beef bolognese sauce that’s packed with a nutritious secret—carrots!

What makes it extra nutritious: The shredded carrots in our bolognese sauce have fiber for healthy digestion and vitamin A to help keep young eyes sharp!

Citrus Salmon with Mango-Edamame Rice

This bright Asian-inspired dish serves up a fun and zesty flavor with our housemade togarashi sauce! Togarashi, a spice blend featuring orange zest, poppy seeds, paprika and sesame seeds, is mixed with a bit of soy sauce and orange juice then spooned over our roasted salmon and mango-edamame brown rice. This dish is a little sweet, a bit savory and a lot of delicious.

What makes it extra nutritious: We rely on the natural sweetness of orange juice for a sauce that perfectly complements Omega-3 packed salmon.

Chicken Noodle Stew

Our Chicken Noodle Stew has been such a hit that we’re bringing it back to the menu this spring. A hearty mix of roasted chicken, whole wheat rotini and colorful veggies, this kid favorite is perfect for cozy family dinners when spring’s unexpected cold snaps hit.

What makes it extra nutritious: Whole wheat rotini gives that pleasant al dente bite with more vitamins, minerals and fiber than refined pasta.

Black Bean Falafel with Sweet Potatoes & Onions

Fun to say and even more fun to munch, our falafel incorporates traditional garbanzo beans as well as a generous helping of black beans and quinoa. We balance the dish with roasted sweet potatoes and red onions flavored with a hint of za’atar, a Middle Eastern herb and spice blend.

What makes it extra nutritious: The powerful trio of black beans, garbanzo beans and quinoa provide protein and fiber to keep your kids energized and full.

Asian Chicken with Rice & Sugar Snap Peas

In our take on Chicken Adobo, a popular dish in Filipino cuisine, we roast antibiotic-free chicken until delectably juicy, then coat it with a tangy sauce of soy, vinegar and garlic. We serve it all over brown rice with a side of sugar snap peas for a perfectly balanced plate.

What makes it extra nutritious: Sugar snap peas are a favorite kid-friendly vegetable, offering fiber, potassium and vitamins with a natural sweetness that kids love.

Lamb & Beef Meatballs with Veggie & Feta Orzo

This dish is our nutritious take on one of the world’s most ubiquitous street foods: juicy, hot-off-the-spit gyros. Instead of the classic pita sandwich, we pack the same Mediterranean flavors into bite-sized lamb and beef meatballs—served with a bright mix of feta-topped orzo, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant and spinach.

What makes it extra nutritious: These little meatballs are way more than just meat! A quarter of each meatball is made from a veggie-rich blend of mushrooms and onions.

Southwest Chicken Tacos

Add a little ¡Olé! to the table with these Southwest-style braised and pulled chicken tacos. Your little ones will love getting to roll their own handheld tacos, which are thoughtfully balanced with vitamin-rich veggies and lightly spiced black beans and brown rice.

What makes it extra nutritious: Our corn tortillas are just five simple ingredients—no added sugar or salt and perfectly sized for fun, tiny tacos.

Sloppy Joes with Carrots & Beets

Our sloppy joes mix antibiotic-free ground beef, carrots and bell peppers with a housemade tomato sauce for a nutritious take on this American classic. We serve them with perfectly handheld whole wheat slider buns and glazed carrots and golden beets for a naturally sweet side dish.

What makes it extra nutritious: Our sloppy joe meal has a double dose of carrots—both in the sloppy joes and on the side!

Chickpea Paella

Your kids don’t have to be adventurous eaters to fall for this vibrant paella. Brown rice, chickpeas and a five-veggie medley are mixed with classic paella spices and topped with freshly grated lemon zest. The rich tastes of Spain have never been quicker or easier to serve at home!

What makes it extra nutritious: Chickpeas are full of fiber as well as vitamins A, C and E—all of which contribute to recommended kid nutrition for brain and body development.

Baby Meal Highlights

Our chefs love coming up with innovative ways to introduce new flavors into your baby’s diet. That’s why this season we’re mixing up two new baby stage 2 purees, packed with a balanced mix of nutritious ingredients.

Mixed Berry Oatmeal

Playing on our popular Banana, Raisin & Oatmeal, we developed another fruity oatmeal mix your little one will be berry happy to gobble up! This time we’re blending up blueberries, strawberries, raisins and oatmeal in a vibrantly colored and hearty puree.

Beef, Blueberry, Peach & Allspice

We took inspiration from the Caribbean in this punchy new puree with a blend of lean, antibiotic-free beef, bright blueberries, peaches and a touch of allspice. Your little one will love the sweet touch of fruit but stay satisfied with the beef’s protein punch.

Family Meal Highlights

Why stop at easy meals for kids when you can get easy meals for everyone?

Nurture Life’s Family Meals have the same wholesome nutrition and delightful flavors from around the world—only they come in main and side dishes you can serve up for the whole family! Add on Family Meals to your current toddler or kid meal plan for an easy meal that satisfies all.

Check out our highlights from the season, all available in servings of 2–4.

Main Dishes Sweet & Sour Beef

Put the brightness of spring on the table with this tart, tangy and wholesome version of Asian sweet and sour beef. Diced beef is tossed in a housemade sauce of pineapple juice, soy, ginger and agave for a well-balanced blend of flavor sensations.

Veggie Lasagna

No one will miss the meat when our flavor-packed Veggie Lasagna is on the menu. The lively colors of zucchini, eggplant, squash and bell peppers are complemented by our housemade tomato sauce, creamy ricotta cheese and whole wheat lasagna noodles. It’s fiber-rich, freshly made and ready in minutes!

Miso Mahi Mahi

Mahi Mahi is light in flavor yet hearty in protein, making this fish a perfect vehicle for bold flavors. We coat our Mahi Mahi in an inviting mix of miso, soy, agave, sesame oil and rice vinegar and roast it to fully absorb the savory glaze.

Pork Al Pastor

We’ve taken extra steps to make sure our pork al pastor is tender, tangy and unforgettable. Marinated in rice vinegar and pineapple juice with a classic seasoning of chili, garlic, onion and herbs, our pork is braised and hand-pulled for a mouthful of flavor in every tender bite.

Side Dishes Cauliflower Rice & Veggie Medley

Instead of plain white rice, we up the nutrition with a blend of steamed riced cauliflower, zucchini, yams and peas. Seasoned with aromatic garlic and ginger, this light side dish is yummy on its own but also great for soaking up every last drop of mouthwatering sauce or stew.

Veggie & Feta Orzo

Bring a ray of spring sunshine to your family’s lunch or dinner table with these light and fresh flavors! Inspired by classic Greek cuisine, we mix orzo pasta into a medley of squash, zucchini, eggplant, spinach and sumac tomato sauce—finished with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of feta.

Southwestern Black Bean Rice

Serve up the tastes of the Southwest with this rustic yet delicious black bean rice. Cooked with savory, full-flavored ingredients like red onions, bell peppers, garlic and tomatoes, our black bean rice makes a homey, lightly spiced complement to any main dish.

Whether you’re cataloguing new flower blooms in the backyard, taking your furry friends for a sunny walk or gearing up for little league season, Nurture Life’s ready-to-serve dishes give you time to soak up spring with the most important people in your life. Which of our easy meals for kids and families will be your springtime favorite?

Explore this week’s toddler and kids meal delivery menu, or

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