– D the Intern
For most families, at this point in the school year, kid lunches are starting to get stale. Well not literally, but I’ll bet a lot of moms are starting to pack the same old boring lunches day in and day out.
I love making lunches for my boys. For me, it’s a work of art. I remember the lunches my mom packed us and they weren’t exciting (sorry Mom if you are reading this). Back in the day when nut allergies were unheard of, I would get a PB and J daily with some slimy fruit and maybe a hard mandelbread. In my opinion, an awesome lunch makes the day. You have something to look forward to and once it’s been eaten you feel satisfied and well nourished ready to take on the rest of the day.
I don’t pack the same lunch for both boys. They are individuals with different likes and dislikes and so I respect that. While preparing for school to start in mid-August, I ordered some lunch supplies online at Fenigo and Noplastic. I asked each boy to choose a lunchbox and a water bottle. Trevor chose this one and Jason picked this. The only criteria were that each lunch box had to be easy to clean. Trevor’s can go in the washing machine and Jason’s cleans well on the top rack of my dishwasher. In the past we had chosen lunchboxes that were difficult to keep clean and had to be thrown out due to the growth of mold.
I believe that kid sized food is the key to a successful lunchbox. I picked up some small containers to hold bite sized food. They are perfect for diced cheese, cucumber slices, a few baby carrots and even berries when they are in season. It’s overwhelming for a child to open their lunchboxes and find large portion sizes of food, even foods they love. Keep the portions sizes to ¼ cup or ½ a cup.
I use tight sealing containers to pack applesauce (homemade or from a jar), yogurt and anything else that could spill out.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my plight with baking. Well, over the Christmas holidays I finally came to terms with my dilemma. A few more baking disasters ensued including a mixer that caught on fire (don’t worry nobody got hurt) but I did it! I am an official baker. I realized I am a mom of 3 boys and I HAVE NO CHOICE. I must bake. So, I bake a cake or cookies or banana bread or muffins every Sunday night. Then I portion everything out and freeze them each individually (this stops the Richard and me from devouring the yummy baked goods). These are high calorie snacks but they contain no preservatives or artificial crap like the store bought Rice Krispie squares or Bear Paws I used to buy. Most of my desserts contain eggs, flour, butter, sugar and chocolate. Eaten in moderation, I am happy to give these treats to my kids.
It’s important to pack some type of protein in your child’s lunch box. Trevor likes chopped egg so I often give him that in a sandwich. Trevor is maturing and so are his taste buds. At 7 years old I can finally pack him leftovers from supper. Here are some of the choices I have given him recently: fish stew, bean burritos, vegetarian meatloaf, carrot stew, meatballs with pasta, tuna casserole and cut up cooked chicken. I heat up his hot thermos with boiling water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I heat up the leftovers in the microwave and then put it in the thermos. I visited his school last week at lunch and the food was warm but not hot.
Jason is in Kindergarten which is a transition in itself. Jason requires comfort food and so I pack him pasta with tomato sauce every day in his hot thermos. For protein, hard boiled eggs, cut up cheese or cottage cheese.
I use a cold thermos for their beverages which is either milk or watered down 100% apple juice.
I have noticed when the weather is warm their lunch boxes come home empty. When it’s cooler they don’t seem to be as hungry. I save any leftovers that come home for after school munching.
It’s that time of year where clients and friends start asking me for tips about holiday eating. Here are my top 10:
I have a friend that I have known since kindergarten. Let’s call him Ernie. As long as I have known Ernie, he has been on the pudgy side. He was never obese but could always stand to lose a few pounds.
Earlier this year he started asking me nutrition questions. He would call me, text me, email me and I started to realize that he was serious about changing his eating habits. Ernie is a bachelor and lives alone. He didn’t used to cook for himself . I am not really sure how he ate. All I know is he had an epiphany and new he needed to make some changes. He was always semi active with golf, tennis and skiing but he suffered from back issues. If his back was out then he was not active at all. Since losing over 20 pounds his back is better and he enjoyed a lot of tennis this summer. Actually, he is now active at least 5 times a week!
Ernie made and continues to make small dietary changes. Each change that he makes is something that is manageable for him. For example, he switched from white refined pasta to whole wheat. He did the same for all breads and other grains like rice. He believes one of his keys to success was cutting out all refined processed white foods. Whole grain is more satiating than white resulting in less calories consumed which leads to weight loss.
Ernie started to scrutinize his portions. This was a significant step in reducing his calories. Ernie started cooking more and learning how to prepare food in a healthier way. He had a few cooking disasters along the way like burnt sweet potato fries but that is part of the learning process. Cooking mistakes always lead to greater success later on.
I guess the biggest change that Ernie made was developing an awareness of what he put in his mouth. I don’t think he ever thought much about it before. He was at my house over the weekend and it got to be supper time but he didn’t want to eat with us because he was expected at his parent’s house for supper. I could tell he was hungry and Richard offered him some homemade wrap pizza he had just made. Ernie took 3 small slices equivalent to one bread serving just to tide him over. In the past, he probably would have eaten a lot more at our house and then gone for supper anyway.
Why is Ernie so successful? You can read about all of his changes here in his own words. But, in my opinion the reason he doing so well is simply because he was ready!
-My LA friend told me about his weight loss experience and I immediately brushed it off as “undoable ” for me
-it helped to have bought a designer shirt that made me look pregnant and kept me motivated.
-One day, I was at a business lunch and people noticed I was eating salad… they said “what are you on a diet?” I said “yes, I just started yesterday”, we all laughed and took it as a big joke, but it committed me to the idea and that day was day one! Announcing your intention to people publicly keeps you committed to the cause (it’s a Tony Robbins thing…)
-My focus was purely on eliminating white carbs and sweets also (not adding) sugars to my food…calorie count, etc… was not my focus.
-I think by focusing on one thing (in my case 2 ) I was able to keep disciplined.
-I have never been a “scale ” person, but did a weigh in every 2-3 months….good things were happening and undoable became achievable
-Over the summer, I was very motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle, the goal was 4-5 activities / week (tennis, swimming , hiking , walks…keep it fun & light )
– I lost 20 pounds between Jan-June, then put on 7 pounds in the summer….and since September that weight is off !
-the weight loss was steady, nothing drastic, and except for the summer glitch (which was due to mom’s pasta, which I have since got her to buy whole wheat) everything is back on track.
-another friend recently came over and warned me about the dangers of sodium. He went through my fridge and cupboards and told me how everything was a killer! Now I can spend 5-10 minutes in a grocery store comparing sugars & sodium content in granola cereal!!!!
-As you take the first step and get a comfort zone with it, you will be ready to add to the mix…first sweets then carbs, then sodium, then calories…until eventually I’ll be a pure vegan one day, Never !!!
-I am reading more articles and more keen to learning about nutritional/ health….and slowly you try to implement those lessons learned
-I’m not that obsessive, nor consider myself a detail oriented person, but I started to get it
-nutrition is also a great ice-breaker conversation topic…I find people latch on to the topic and more often than not people are concerned and taking steps to improve their health through nutrition & fitness. People want to let you know what they’re doing and want to talk about it…
-cheats: at first I went “cold turkey , but came to understand that the body can take small doses and restrictions are negative, so on the odd occasions a slice of cheesecake or tiramisu is in order, but a small piece !
-success leaves clues….people have noticed a change and are impressed, they want to know what I did , how I started and hopefully they find their own motivation and their own tricks for getting into better shape, for their reasons…
Keeping on top of social media, I follow many nutrition blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook groups. It keeps me up to date in the world of healthy eating. Through this amazing cyber world I met Aviva Goldfarb who works and lives in Maryland. She is the author of the new cookbook SOS! The Six O’clock Scramble to the Rescue. I was trying to win a copy all summer but ended up heading over to Amazon. It sounded like the ideal book for me. It was described as being the perfect tool for busy health conscious moms. Hey that’s me! The majority of the recipes take about 30 minutes from prep to table. That’s impressive. The book is divided up by seasons to maximize seasonal produce. I have been telling clients for years that this is the best way to cook.
The cookbook was deliverd in August but I didn’t read through it until a few weeks later. I read cookbooks like other people read novels. I take my time and go through every recipe. I fold over the corners if it’s a recipe I intend to make. By the time I had finished reading this book I had folded over more than half the pages in the book and there were a lot of recipes in this book. The recipes have codes for vegetarian, Kosher style, extra speedy and make ahead.
Here is where it gets interesting. Aviva has a website that contains all the recipes in the book plus hundreds more. If you are a subscriber, you get a meal plan in your e-mail box every Wednesday. Each meal plan contains a variety of 5 recipes plus a grocery list. All of these recipes are tested by Aviva and 5 other families. Now if you like living on the edge than this is a no-brainer easy way to cook for your family. However, if you are picky like me and always feel like cooking what you want to cook then someone telling you what to cook is not an option. Guess what? You can customize your weekly plan with Aviva’s site. The first week I chose 6 recipes from her book that I liked. Then I added them to the create my meal plan section and then (here is the best part) I clicked “print grocery list”. It was stupid easy. I used this method the week I got my new fridge so I needed to replace a lot of food. The grocery list contained every single item I would need to make the 6 recipes I chose. I had to replace a lot of staples. The next week I typed in the protein I wanted to make and chose another 6 recipes but from the website list instead of the book. I clicked the easy button again and voila my grocery list was printed. The third week I tried a few web based recipes plus a few from the book.
I really don’t like following rules so the benefit to meal planning this way is that I can decide every night which of those meal I will make. I know I have all the ingredients so it doesn’t matter which I order I cook them in. In the past, I tried chicken Mondays and pasta Thursdays but I got bored pretty quickly with this type of meal planning. I need variety and spontaneity. I am not saying this is a bad method because it works very well for many people. I just know myself and cannot commit to Fishy Friday.
Aviva has generously donated a 3 month subscription to her awesome website. If you are interested please leave a comment on this post and follow Aviva and me on Facebook. I will randomly select a winner on October 26th. Thanks!
I was grocery shopping at the IGA
in Cote St-Luc last week when I found myself in the frozen foods section. I was standing there daydreaming at 9:30 at
night when I turned around and was confronted by the RYVITA shelf. I thought to myself, hmmmm these crackers are
known to be healthy why haven’t I ever tried them? I am not a big fan of the flavour of rye
which is probably why I have overlooked these gems for so long.
I am always on the look out for
healthy portable non-perishable snacks.
I don’t usually buy granola bars, which is a popular choice for most,
because they are mainly filled with sugar and other garbage. Most crackers are over processed too.
The muesli on the box appealed to
me (as did the color) so I picked up the box and scanned the ingredients and
the nutrition facts label. 2 slices of
Muesli Crunch gives about 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 grams of fibre and 2 grams of
healthy fat. 2 slices are equivalent to
1 serving of grain product (1 slice of bread for example) according to Canada’s Food
While I was spending way too much
money at the supermarket I picked up some almond/hazelnut butter and macadamia
butter and some superfruit spread. I use
these delicious spreads over the Ryvita and it is killah! Couple this flatbread with a protein like nut
butter, cottage cheese, a cheese slice or even some tuna. It’s a good combination rather than eating
the flatbread alone because it makes you feel full.
Listen to you hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are