Healthy Back to School Snacks

by Jessica Tong, RD

September is just around the corner, which means that it is time for parents to come up with fresh ideas for back-to-school healthy snacks. This year, be a back-to-school champion with snacks that will inspire ooh’s and ahh’s!

The key to preparing back-to-school snacks is to include both protein and fibre while avoiding excess salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Protein and fibre are digested slowly so they provide steady energy and a lasting feeling of fullness. Choosing nutrient-dense ingredients will keep your kids feeling energized and satisfied all day. Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit is a great snack component as it is rich in fibre and vitamin C. It is naturally low in sugar but has a juicy, irresistible taste. By brightening up your kids’ lunchboxes with SunGold kiwis, they will start enjoying fruit from a young age, and onwards!

Chocolate-covered kiwi pops are a perfect hot day treat that will make your kids’ eyes light up. The steps are simple: peel and slice SunGold kiwis into thick rounds, make a small slit on the side of each kiwi round, gently insert a pop stick, and freeze the kiwi pops on a baking sheet until they are solid. Over a double boiler, melt 8 oz of dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Dip each frozen kiwi pop into the chocolate mixture until the kiwi is completely coated, sprinkle chia or hemp seeds on top, and freeze them again until the coating hardens. These kiwi pops are low in refined sugar while high on the yummy scale!

For something nutritious and easily-portable, try a homemade trail mix. The options are endless but try to select ingredients that are low in added salt and sugar. I recommend combining dried apricots, dried SunGold kiwis, coconut flakes, organic popcorn, and raw almonds. This crunchy, chewy trail mix is low in sugar and packed with fibre – qualities that are rare in most school snacks. If your child’s school is a nut-free zone, try dry-roasted chickpeas or edamame beans instead.

To perk up the kids’ back-to-school lunch boxes with something that is both nostalgic and creative, this is for you: homemade fruit roll-ups. The best part is that it is so simple to make! Puree chunks of fresh fruit of your choice until they become very smooth (this is a great way to use up over-ripe fruit), spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper, and bake it at 200 degrees F for 4 hours, or until the centre is set. Once the fruit puree is dried, you can cut it into 2-inch strips and roll them in parchment paper. The kids will love having this as part of their school lunch box – that’s if the parents don’t get to them first!

When the kids are home from school, have them cozy up on the couch with a book in one hand and a cone in the other. Mix plain yogurt, chopped SunGold kiwis, berries, and high-fibre granola and fill mini ice cream cones with the mixture. This makes a fun snack that provides them with fuel to tackle any activity before dinnertime.

The most important part of planning snacks is to get your kids involved. Have them participate in the preparation as they are more likely to eat it if they helped make it!

Back to School Shopping Woes

With September fast approaching, kids and parents alike are feeling the back-to-school blues. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Sears Canada indicated that sixty-six percent of Canadian parents felt financially strained at back to school time. There are tons of items to buy, including pens, pencils, clothes and gear that is required for active and engaged kids.

It’s no secret that kids want to dress to impress when they head in for their first day back in class but it turns out this is a real stress point for parents. Not only do 50% of parents find it tough to keep up with the latest fashion trends for their kids, nearly half believe those clothes come with a hefty price tag and almost two-thirds find them hard to afford. And that puts added stress on what is already a stressful time of year, both for kids and children alike.

With all the items parents have to purchase for the school year – clothes, stationary, supplies – it’s no wonder that it’s a financially tolling time. The average Canadian parent spends $121.00 or more on a single back-to-school outfit which, for nearly one in five parents, results in a bill of $400.00 or more to buy everything they need – for each child!

Luckily Sears Canada is here to help! They’ve custom picked stylish, affordable back-to-school outfits for $65 and under – top-to-toe.

Parents shouldn’t have to compromise to cut costs. For great looks they’ll love at prices you want, check out Sears.ca/BackToSchool.

Back to School Shopping!

Children are buzzing with the thought of heading back to school – excited to see old friends and show off their new look. As the anticipation builds, and before you head over to the mall, mother of four and stylist, Christine Dovey, would like to share a few tips to make back to school shopping fun for all and budget friendly.

Go with versatility. Regardless of your child’s personal style, every wardrobe should include staple items that can be worn multiple ways. While shopping, invest in timeless pieces such as a well-fit pair of jeans. Once the base of your child’s outfit has been cemented, you can jazz things up with some fun, less expensive, accessories.

Shop where there’s variety. The mall is your one-stop-shop for back to school shopping. Not only is shopping at the mall convenient, but it is full of style inspiration for you and your child. Shop the sales and compare retailers to get the best value for your money. Visit cfshops.ca to find out what stores are available at Pacific Centre and Richmond Centre to plan your trip and make your back to school shopping day an exciting experience.

See what you already have. Before heading out to shop, scan through your child’s closet to see what they already own. Many items, especially versatile staples, can be incorporated into a new wardrobe keeping things budget friendly yet still fresh. Not everything worn during week one of the school year needs to be hot off the rack.

Finally, if there is one true rule to back to school shopping, it is to let your child be themselves. Your child is the best judge of his or her own personal style – embrace what is new and exciting!

Christine Dovey is a published stylist, decorator, and artist whose signature aesthetic can best be described as a blushy cocktail of delicate pretty mixed with a dash of modern edge. When she’s not immersed in writing her blog, creating design plans, or covered in paint, Christine spends her days in Oakville, Ontario with her husband Ian and children Natasha, Scarlett, Malcolm, and Jasper.B

Guest Post: Surviving 68 Days of Hard Labour (aka Summer Vacation)

Image © Hixson | Dreamstime.com

(This is a letter from one of our readers we thought you all might enjoy and relate to. We know we did! ~ WCF team)

From One Burnt-out Mom to Another

School is back in session (!) and I for one am proud that my family and I are still alive to see it. Surviving 68 days of summer vacation was a challenge, to say the least.

Most days of “vacation” went a little something like this…It’s 8:17 pm and I have put my boys in the small room they share in our East Vancouver apartment. My husband is, of course, at work, where he animates video games, but more importantly, gets to enjoy conversing with adults 60 hours a week. Because I am a stay-at-home mom, I bask in the bevy of luxuries associated with raising two boys, who this month will turn six and eight years of age.

The older one has ADHD. He wakes up vibrating and shouts as if he is Sam Kinison on fire. Just now he put a pushpin on the end of a Nerf Gun “bullet” (sharp side out) and was threatening to shoot his little brother with it. His medication has worn off and when that happens he gets evil ideas. An added bonus: the medication also prevents him from going to sleep at a normal hour so his little brother and I get to savour the joys of ADHD.

The little one is no angel either. His life appears to be a series of minor accidents and injuries, which he responds to with off-Broadway melodramatics. I must go through a carton of band-aids a week, which I hold at the ready in my purse. The only other thing I go through as quickly is red wine. His voice can reach a unique decibel that penetrates my ear canal and goes straight to my brain’s panic centre. This is why I have begun to wear earplugs at home.

I am a 44-year-old peri-menopausal woman who, like many of my peers, had kids in my late thirties. It seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight however, I should have predicted the collision of my pissed-off hormones and the “rambunctious” energy of two boys under eight. I have no patience anymore, no sense of humour, no joie de vivre. Some amateurs call it “Motherhood Burn-out.” Now that I have lived through eight long summers with my boy(s), I can honestly say that I don’t think it is natural or healthy for an adult to spend this much time with children. This is why I have already booked multiple summer camps for 2012!

At this juncture in my life, I actually daydream about having a job. A job outside this house. Any job. Any job with lots and lots of hours. And grown-ups. And no kids! A job that I would be paid for and thanked for and, maybe even… respected for. I would get a lunch break where I could actually sit alone in silence for a full hour! Perhaps even a job which would pay me to take a vacation! (Vacation defined as a leisurely adult trip without kids to take care of).

I am now checking out the job listings on Craig’s List and imagining what my updated resume would look like now after taking eight years off from the work force…

Objective: To get the f*%# out of my house and talk to grown ups!

  • Middle-aged, depressed, mom seeks missing identity (and a quiet position in serene adult office).
  • Has state of the art computer skills (from 2003).
  • Outspoken.
  • Dynamic (mood swings).
  • BA Degree in Communications (from before you were born).
  • Needs 4 pm nap and chocolate break.
  • Was smart and hip at one time.
  • Concise
  • No cleaning, cooking, nursing, teaching or wiping anyone’s ass.

Desired Hours: 7 am until just after the kids’ bedtime.

Did I mention that I am overjoyed that school is back in session…?

Lisa Doucette

Deuce4@shaw.ca