We’ve all been there: unloading the backpack at the end of the day and throwing away half-eaten sandwiches and mushy bananas.
We’re almost there – the home stretch towards summer. It’s the time of year where once-nutritious school lunches become cold pizza and granola bars seem like a good choice for breakfast as you rush the kids out of the house.
May is a great time to revisit the school lunch menu in order to ensure the munchkins finish their year off on a high note. Kids (2-12 years old) should be getting 2-4 servings of vegetables a day, while teens should get 7-8 servings a day to ensure they are getting adequate nutrients through their diet. Not only do we have 12 easy school lunch ideas for you, but another ‘treat’ you can add to their backpack. Adding a multivitamin to compensate for school lunch fatigue ensures that they get the nutrients they need – even when they ‘run out of time’ to eat.
But let’s try to end the year on a great note by coming up with a few easy school lunches they will actually devour!
1. Fruit Kebabs With Yoghurt Dip
2. Quinoa Turkey Meatballs in a Thermos
3. Mini egg and green pea muffins
4. Apple, Chicken and Grape Kebabs
5. Grilled Broccoli and Cheese Panini
6. Cream Cheese, Pear and Honey on mini-bagels
7. DIY Beef and Bean Tacos
8. Chicken Drumsticks with Edamame
9. Brown Sugar Apples
11. Moroccan Chicken Couscous
12. Savoury Muffins
These savoury school lunch muffins can be made in batches and kept in the freezer. You can swap out your child’s favourite cheese and meat.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup finely diced ham or sausage
1 red pepper, de-ribbed and diced
1/4 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
150g butter, melted
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12 cup muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- In a bowl, place the flour, cheese, capsicum, mushrooms and ham.
- In a jug, combine the egg, milk and butter.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
- Pour into liners and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Photo Credit: Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife
One day they like mustard and the next, it’s only BBQ sauce.
And while one kid loves gnocci the other will only eat pasta.
Sandwiches with cheese are gross but macaroni and cheese is a favourite.
Smoothies aren’t real food, but when frozen into popsicles they are perfectly good sustenance.
Dealing with fickle picky eaters can give moms and dads a bunch of extra grey hair, and at times it is hard to remember that fussy eating is a normal stage for kids when learning about themselves. Experts constantly weigh in on methods to ensure healthy eating and Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook about hiding healthy foods within meals sold millions of copies and Elizabeth Pantley’s No-Cry Picky Eater Solution is also a great resource that flies off the shelves. So you’re not alone if you’re a tad frustrated!
Personally, I’m a really (really) busy mom, and while sometimes I cook up a storm, I can’t always guarantee home cooking, nor can I ensure that the kids will eat their painstakingly prepared school lunches. (One with mustard and one with BBQ sauce). When they were babies I knew if they were eating too many carrots and squash because they’d have an orange hue to their skin. Now, I have no idea if their calcium levels are adequate, their iron is ok and in Canada (especially on the East coast this year) I can pretty much guarantee that the kids have a vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that up to 85% of people do not have adequate vitamin D levels and Vitamin D deficiency is at its peak after the winter season.
Our family has been taking Iron Kids and Adult Essentials gummies for a few months, and we are all loving it. With a wide selection of nut and gluten-free options, I give them a few per day based on what their diet has been like recently. The multivitamin is great, but usually I toss them a calcium as well. IronKids Calcium is also fortified with vitamin D to ensure that your kids can absorb and utilize the calcium they need for bones and teeth. Calcium intake can decrease significantly without daily intake of vitamin D
The boys won’t leave the house until they’ve had their vitamin treats, and they compare shapes and flavours with each other in delight. This begins my day knowing that I’ve covered the bases in case they forget to eat their lunch because the school soccer game is too distracting, and my stress level about their nutrition has been dramatically reduced.
We have a summer full of sailing, golf, soccer and tennis so the whole family needs all the nutrients we can get!
You can learn lots more about nutrition and health on the Iron Kids website, and they also have a great bi-weekly newsletter!
Disclosure: I am part of the Life Science Nutritionals blogger program with Influence Central and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.
Adorable and fun to make with the family, these Chocolate Garden cups are perfect for kids parties or an after school snack. Topped with yummy organic Choco Chimps cereal, the deliciously simple, eggless chocolate pudding is light, easy to make, and not too sweet.
Chocolate Garden Cups Ingredients
Easy Chocolate Milk Pudding
1 ¾ cup chocolate milk, room temperature
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. corn starch
1 tbsp. maple syrup or sweeten to taste
1/2 cup Choco Chimps Cereal
crushed Sprig of mint
Directions 1. Combine cocoa powder and corn starch in a small pot. 2. Gradually stir in milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in maple syrup. 3. Stirring constantly, bring to slow boil. Whisk for 1 minute until pudding thickens. 4. Remove from heat and pour into small mason jars or jam jars, leaving space for topping. 5. Chill for 1 hour until cooled and thickened. 6. Top with crushed Choco Chimps Cereal and garnish with sprig of mint and popsicle stick.
We all want to be healthier, stronger and hit the ideal ratio of body fat to muscle. But since when have we actually been ‘rewarded’ for being healthy? Sure – you feel better within yourself and may get a few more whistles when walking past a construction site, but it is typically pretty challenging to become healthier. Personal trainers are expensive, deep-fried in restaurants seems to cost less, and finding a healthy meal on the go is a challenge. But being healthy has its rewards.
As many of our readers know, I have been training for a Run Disney event. Not having run more than a few feet and only when necessary (like being chased by a rabid dog), this was a huge challenge for me. Sure it was personally rewarding when I completed the run, but it took so much mental strength to force myself to train and be healthier. Perhaps I shouldn’t need a reward other than feeling good or personal satisfaction, but….
Part of becoming healthier has been my diet, and as a busy entrepreneur and Mom, washing lettuce leaves and chopping veggies is not always in the cards. I’ve always loved to stock my freezer with Lean Cuisine meals so I have something well balanced, filling and healthy when I need to eat in a hurry. Only now have I discovered that I can get rewarded for pulling this healthy trick out of my back pocket.
The Lean Cuisine Rewards program allows you to pop onto the internet and enter a PIN number found inside your favourite Lean Cuisine meal. The more you enjoy, the more you earn. Rewards range from coupons for free Lean Cuisine entrées to exercise balls, weights and home appliances.
Embarking on this new way to feel rewarded, I pulled a Thai Peanut Chicken out of the freezer. (This is where I admit that I didn’t eat breakfast and ate it at 9am after dropping the kids to school.) After four and a half minutes in the microwave, the veggies were still crisp and the chicken was tender. There seemed to be a ton of chicken for a meal that only has 300 calories, 6g of fat and 40% of my daily vitamin A. I was delighted. And energized. I think I may actually go for a run! Ha!
Excited to check out my rewards, I went to the Lean Cuisine website and registered. There are healthy lifestyle tips, a rewards catalogue and you can also create a meal and exercise plan in order to reach specific goals. I, of course, got sidetracked by the rewards and made a wishlist: a Spafinder gift certificate, iTunes music credits, Best Health Magazine and a Hamilton Beach blender. Not that personal satisfaction isn’t enough (ahem) but that makes me want to get healthy.
How do you reward yourself? We can help out a bit – want to enter to win a free Lean Cuisine BONUS PIN code (good for one entrée or to start you off for larger rewards)? Just use this handy rafflecopter form. Canada only, ends 30. May, 2014. Good luck!
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Stouffers Lean Cuisine Rewards, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit Lean Cuisine Rewards.
This spring, the UrbanMommies team has been focusing on health. Jogging, extra water and vitamins have all been part of the routine. With the gardens not quite in bloom and stores of frozen fruit and veggies depleted, I started doing some digging on other options for getting nutrients through food. Canned cling peaches. Who knew? They are actually better canned than fresh and are readily available in stores – even in school lunch snack sizes.
Myth: Canned peaches are less nutritious than fresh peaches.
Fact: Canned peaches are actually more nutritious than their fresh and frozen counterparts. Canned peaches have 3.5 times the vitamin C, 10 times more folic acid and 1.5 times more antioxidants than their fresh counterparts. (And they are in stores all year round when there is nothing growing in your orchard!)
Myth: Canned peaches are full of sugar.
Fact: Canned California cling peaches have no added sugar in the juice or water that they are packed in, other than the natural sugar in the raw product.
Myth: Canned peaches lose their flavour and colour through the canning process.
Fact: Canned peaches retain their flavour, colour and firmness even when cooked or baked in entrees, appetizers or desserts.
Because California cling peaches are picked and packed usually within 24 hours, they retain their appearance, texture, flavour and nutritional content.
So… I need snacks after my runs. I need some great family meal ideas, and after 6 months of making school lunches, they were getting rather boring. Enter California Cling Peaches to remedy all of these situations!
Disclosure: This article was sponsored by California Cling Peaches. And we bet you learned a thing or two!
I had a panic attack last week about the kids going back to school. Our summer has been hot and full of learning. Also a fair bit of goofing off. And now I must think about fall clothes, proper shoes and (ugh)… school lunches. Healthy school lunch ideas for picky eaters are hard to come by, so we’ve scoured our resources and assembled a comprehensive list for you.
It includes store-bought snacks as well so you don’t have to make everything from scratch!
I did a few things this year to prep for back to school, and one was acquire sectioned Planet Boxes for each child. The only issue now is filling them with healthy snacks and meals that the kids will actually eat. At a local dollar store I found fun stickers and animals to add charm and smiles to lunchtime. And of course picked up Funkins cloth napkins to remind the boys to take their manners to school.
Make it Yourself:
1. Pesto cream cheese pinwheels.
2. Ham and Cheese sandwiches cut with a favourite shaped cookie cutter.
3. Place a temporary tattoo on a banana. Who could resist?
4. Hot buttered corn on the cob in a thermos.
5. String blueberries or grapes on fun toothpicks.
6. Shaped chicken nuggets in a thermos.
7. Mini Muffins
8. Perogies in a thermos with a side of sour cream and cheese.
9. Nestle a chocolate chip into the hole in a raspberry.
10. Bake cut-up pita in fun shapes and send with hummus or tzatziki.
1. Mott’s Fruitsations + Veggies Medleys are packets of fruit gummies that have great nutritional benefits. They are only 80 calories per packet and give 100% of vitamin C and 4% of daily vitamin A. There are 9 in each pack and are flavoured with real fruit juice. We tried some and my kids were obsessed. They kids think they are an appropriate dessert. Win.
2. Packaged seaweed snacks are a huge love in our household and are filled with antioxidants. They come in wasabi, sesame, plain and sea salt and are available at most grocery stores as well as Costco.
3. Leftover Sushi. The cucumber, tuna and avocado are always a hit (the other kids will want it too). Ensure that you place a freezer pack in the lunch bag to preserve freshness.
4. Vita Coco Kids is a great new brand of coconut water with flavour that will leave them completely hydrated. We tried apple and fruit punch and it was a great product.
5. President’s Choice is making new U.H.T. chocolate and white milk that does not need refrigeration. They come in packs of three and include straws.
6. Microwave popcorn is a great easy snack to prepare in the morning!
7. Chocolate covered goji berries are a fabulous healthy addition to the lunch box.
8. Last night’s leftover pasta with butter and shaved parmesan in a thermos is one of my last-minute tricks.
9. Organic Rice Thins are healthy, filling and gluten-free.
10. Larabar Apple Energy Bars are great for kids!
Be sure to visit the Life Made Delicious Facebook Page to enter a contest that could make back-to-school shopping much more affordable! They’ll have three $500 gift cards up for grabs until September 8th, 2013.
“Disclosure – I am participating in the Mott’s Fruitsations & Veggie fruit snacks Blogger Campaign by Mom Central Canada. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.”
If you’re used to picky eaters or chicken finger lovers, kid friendly crab cakes make a great healthy snack. And it’s not necessary to catch the crabs and shell them like we did (for authenticity). You can grab the cans. You also have the option of frying or baking. The baked version is of course healthier, but you could do a flash fry at the end using olive or grapeseed oil (which has a higher temperature threshold to prevent burning). Served with veggies or a robust salad they make a great dinner as well.
Kid Friendly Crab Cakes Ingredients:
4 T. finely crushed whole grains (kamut, wheatgerm, wholewheat flour – whatever you have)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning/cocktail sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg, beaten
salt to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pound fresh crabmeat, well drained
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (try to use whole grains seasoned with just salt and pepper)
2 tablespoons butter
3T cut chives
6 T finely diced apple (optional)
- Mix grains, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, seafood seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, egg, salt, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl.
- Stir in crabmeat until mixture is combined but still chunky. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs on a plate.
- Shape chilled crab mixture into 4 small thick patties; coat completely with bread crumbs.
- Grease a cookie sheet and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Flip crabcakes at 10 minutes.
- Optional: flash fry for 30 seconds/side in a skillet before serving.
This kid friendly crab cakes recipe is also great for making shapes – the letters in the kids’ names, hearts, stars and geometric shapes. Have fun!
When you meet Anne Parks the first thing you notice is the sparkle in her eyes. Easy-going and in love with life, she infects you with curiosity. And then she talks about her vegetable gardens and beekeeping, her gourmet cooking and passion for finding new food trends when she travels. You would never guess that this vibrant, youthful woman with a phenomenal mane of blond hair has worked with McDonald’s Restaurants for 34 years and is now the Director of Menu Management for McDonald’s Canada. But then again, every executive I’ve met with at the company has been there for at least 30 years. Listening to Anne talk at the Vancouver picnic-style launch of the newly developed Signature McWrap® gave us all a window into her passion and the reasons why McDonald’s Canada retains the great people who work there.
UrbanMommies ran a contest inviting readers to share their favourite must-have picnic items, and ten lucky parents attended the special lunch. We learned so much from Anne about what goes into the process for choosing menu items and we were intrigued to hear about the Canadian palate. In coming up with flavours for the new grilled or crispy chicken McWrap, she took into account Canadians’ penchant for spicier foods, and also our love of different textures within each bite. (Think: crunch with a bit of bite and smoothness in the same mouthful). The sandwiches also come with a whole wheat wrap – a first for McDonald’s globally and only the second whole wheat item apart from the bun of the Premium Chicken Sandwich.
Anne Parks and her team travel to different parts of the world to explore fresh street markets, flavours and trends, and then bring their findings back to the McDonald’s test kitchen. Working with dietitians and specialists in areas of pastry and baking, the team comes up with items that are tested for taste, quality, nutrition and consistency. With the Signature McWrap, I loved the diversity that made me feel as if I were travelling. I get in different ‘food moods’ so being able to pick Asian, Mexican or North American-themed flavours is a bonus. The Signature McWrap comes in three flavours Fiesta, Sweet Chili, and Chicken and Bacon.
The luncheon was special in that guests got to ask very specific questions, and Anne was incredibly receptive to suggestions. Comments about lower-sodium ketchup and options for healthy Happy Meal side dishes started to flow, and the lunch whizzed by. We drank frozen Chai Iced Frappés and Iced Frappes that were also developed by Parks.
In an interview about her job and life, Parks clearly shows her love of food, people, and bees!
So for our picnic-loving readers, the contest was an incredible opportunity to gather and curate a ton of ideas about summer lunches. We have compiled the ideas to help you plan your own picnic basket and make beautiful memories with your kids. As much as I love making sandwiches, though, I’m personally counting on picking up a bagful of the grilled chicken Sweet Chili Signature McWraps, as they are certainly better than anything I can produce at home. Thanks Anne!
20 Picnic Basket Essentials
1. Baby Wipes (almost everyone included this!)
2. A game like ‘Spot it!’
3. Celery sticks in a lidded jar with peanut butter or cream cheese at the bottom
4. Cloth napkins in fun colours cut with pinking shears – fun and great for the planet
5. Extra bags and ziplocks for treasures the kids find during the picnic
6. A blow-up ball. It’s lightweight and great for encouraging activity
7. Afterbite, bug spray and a first aid kit
8. Old quilts and soft sheets
9. A small vase for found flowers
10. A jambox to connect to your smartphone for music
11. Microwave popcorn cooked still in the sealed bag
12. A blank book and pen for the family to write memories and share ideas
13. Lemons and limes already cut up with ice water (we use frozen water bottles that you can drink as they melt)
14. A scavenger hunt printable (we found one HERE).
15. Tin dishes. You can often find them at yard sales or camping supply stores
16. Old-fashioned games (think: etch-a-sketch, cards, cat’s cradle)
17. A trash bag
18. Loveys for the kids in case the picnic sneaks into nap time
19. Vintage mismatched silver plate cutlery
20. Candles in tall jars
We’re looking forward to hearing picnic tales throughout the summer and having photos sent to us too! Enjoy the memories and make sure that your meals have some crunch and some spice!