April 27, 2012 06:00 PM

Olivia and James share a snack — Courtesy Kimberly Van Der Beek

Thanks for welcoming our newest blogger, Kimberly Van Der Beek!

Born and raised in Washington, she married actor James Van Der Beek in August 2010 and is mother to their two children — daughter Olivia, 19 months, and son Joshua, 6 weeks.

A proponent of healthy living, Kimberly, 30, advocates consciousness for the Earth and serves as co-chair of Baby Buggy‘s Los Angeles committee.

Husband James’s new sitcomDon’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23, airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

You can find her on Facebook and @KimberlilyVDB on Twitter.

This month, she shares her top 10 nutritional principles.

Growing up, like most kids, I ate prepackaged frozen foods, Hamburger Helper, cow milk and sugary cereals. I laughed at the word healthy. I didn’t need it. I was fine.

Then, while in college, somebody gave me the book Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. After a lifetime of allergies and bad skin, I reconsidered my thoughts on health, read the book and shifted into action.

I ventured into a brief stint working in the nutritional field. The research I did was discouraging. Eggs are bad for you. Eggs are good for you. Don’t eat red meat. Eat red meat. Soy will cure this and cause that.

Information was conflicting and the studies were often conducted with business profits, not families, in mind.

There are, however, universal truths that have stood the test of time. These are some of the lifestyle and budget-friendly nutritional principles my family has adopted. I hope you are inspired to try a few for yourself!

1. Nursing

Nursing is an amazing bonding experience and the purest form of nutrition for a baby. It gets bonus points for being the most effective way to suck your uterus — and yourself — back into shape.

2. Make your own baby food

Once a week we throw fresh or frozen fruits and veggies into the Beaba Babycook. Make extra to freeze. It gets bonus points for being cheaper than its processed counterparts.

3. Eat less meat

Consider adopting a meat-free Monday and experiment with more vegetarian meals. High protein fads have lead to super-sized meat consumption, which has given rise to new, unsavory forms of factory farming. These days, animal protein often carries a host of hormones and antibiotics that have unknown health consequences. There are also significant environmental repercussions from the methane output. Additionally, the welfare of our modern day farmed friends has taken a backseat.

4. Time management

Be armed with healthy options for those times when you need something in a pinch! Reserve a few hours once a week to prepare snacks. Cut up veggies and put them into baggies, make fresh dips, stock dried fruits and flax crackers. And always make extra to freeze while cooking dinner.

5. Read The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder

I cannot stop raving about this book! If you have skin, weight or health issues of any kind, buy it quickly. My sensitive, hormonal skin cleared up beautifully in three weeks and I managed to get a significant amount of my pre-pregnancy energy and body back. My favorite recipes in the book are Ganesha’s Sweet Potatoes, Sally’s Salsa (I love it mixed into quinoa), and Raw Cacao Truffles.

6. Create family traditions

A movie and meal is definitely something my family enjoys, but can quickly turn into a daily habit. Fitting a few weekly traditions into the mix creates a wonderful bonding opportunity for your family.

On Sundays, James is famous for making gluten-free pancakes and Olivia helps stir the batter. (He and Olivia are sharing organic celery and cucumbers with an avocado and oat groats dip in the above photo.)

And once a week James and I make sure to have an at-home date night. We turn off the TV, turn on some music, cook together in the kitchen and light candles. After all the energy we put into our kids during the week, this fun respite is essential.

7. Encourage good decisions

Some of my blog readers shared their family health tips with me on my Facebook page. One of my favorites that I’ve adopted is giving Olivia the opportunity to make her own food decisions. If she’s going to snack on veggie sticks, we let her decide between a hummus or green bean dip. For breakfast we let her choose between a banana, avocado or pear. I love any opportunity to empower her individuality and encourage her to make healthy food decisions.

8. Start a garden

Something as easy as growing a few herbs in your window is a delicious way to add flavor to foods without all the heavy sauces and oils. Plus, kids have fun growing and cutting them. The wider the variety you can grow, the better. Eating minimally processed, whole foods is fundamental to good health.

9. Go dairy-free

Okay, there’s always a new fad out there. Right now it’s going dairy-free. That said, when we get back to the basics, our lactose tolerance naturally plummets around the age of five. And, unless you travel outside the U.S. or farm it yourself, the nutrients milk does offer are minimal due to pasteurization.

10. Take baby steps towards health

Completely altering the way you eat overnight can send your body into detox mode. That’s something that needs medical monitoring and is not a great idea for children and nursing mothers. Take one or two tips at a time and see what works for you and your family.

Please share some of your family health tips and meals with me below! Happy eating!

— Kimberly Van Der Beek

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