Backpack Buddies in Your School?

We are so fortunate to live in an area with access to locally grown foods to maintain healthy and active lifestyles. But for some in poverty, access to nutritious food is far out of reach, meaning too many children are going hungry. With more than 20 per cent of BC children living below the poverty line, how can we expect them to concentrate in the classroom with growling bellies? Backpack Buddies looks to eradicate childhood hunger by providing a weekend worth of meals to those in need.

This charity helps the Metro Vancouver area fill the weekend hunger gap by providing stocked backpacks for children to take home and share with their families, breaking the cycle of poverty. The program works with local partners and communities to distribute the backpacks through local schools. It was started in 2012 by mother and daughter duo, Joanne Griffiths and Emily-Anne King, and today they have helped deliver more than 8,000 backpacks in the 2015/2016 school year alone. Currently there are nine schools in the Lower Mainland who are part of the program, but you can help! Donate money, food, or time and be a part of the solution to child hunger.

Food Guide Changes

Staying healthy is about more than visiting a doctor. It is the result of the choices we make every day. The Government of Canada is taking action to help Canadians make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced that Health Canada has started a process to revise Canada’s Food Guide to reflect the latest scientific evidence on diet and health, and to better support Canadians, including Indigenous peoples, in making healthy food choices. The announcement was made at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

As part of the Food Guide revision, Health Canada today launched a consultation with Canadians, which will run to December 8, to determine how Health Canada can provide better dietary guidance that meets the needs of Canadians.

This revision is part of a multi-year Healthy Eating Strategy. As part of the Strategy, Health Canada will use every tool at its disposal—legislation, regulation, guidance and education—to create conditions to support healthy eating. In addition to revising Canada’s Food Guide, the Healthy Eating Strategy outlines how Health Canada will achieve the commitments set out in the Prime Minister’s mandate letter to the Minister of Health related to sodium, trans fat, sugars, food colours, marketing to children, and the Nutrition North Program. Health Canada will continue to engage with stakeholders and experts to further refine the strategy as it moves forward.

Quick facts

  • In Canada, four out of five Canadians risk developing conditions such as cancer, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes; six out of ten adults are overweight and one-third of youth are overweight or obese.
  • Poor diet is the primary risk factor for obesity and many chronic diseases, and places a significant burden on the health of Canadians and our health care system.
  • The annual economic burden of obesity in Canada is estimated in the billions of dollars.

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!

Project Empty Bowl

Since its inception in the early 1990’s Project Empty Bowl has fed thousands of individuals with HIV/AIDS locally and tens of thousands globally. It began when John Harton, a teacher in Bloomfield, MT, asked his high school ceramic students to make enough bowls to give a luncheon for the school staff. For $5 each, the guests received a simple meal of soup and bread, served in one of the handmade bowls. Guests were asked to accept their now empty bowls as a gift and to keep them as a reminder of all the empty bowls that still need filling. The money raised was donated to the local food bank.

The energy of those young potters, their teacher, and their guests breathed life into what has become the Empty Bowls Project. Since then, groups of potters have raised and donated millions of dollars to organizations like A Loving Spoonful that fight hunger the world over.

The premise of Empty Bowls is profoundly simple and has been repeated thousands of times by small groups and large. A few people get together to create bowls. They invite guests, as many as they have bowls, to share a simple meal and to donate a small sum, which provides food to those in need. In return, guests take home their empty bowl as a reminder of the continuing hunger within their own community.

In 1997, Rachelle Chinnery and Linda Doherty of Mudslingers Clay Studios brought the concept of Empty Bowls to A Loving Spoonful. They had the blessing and enthusiastic participation of the Potters Guild of British Columbia and the Canadian Craft & Design Museum. Together, they created Project Empty Bowl as a benefit for A Loving Spoonful.

Project Empty Bowl has become an annual signature fundraising event for A Loving Spoonful. The sole purpose of Project Empty Bowl is to raise funds so that A Loving Spoonful can continue delivering free meals and nutritional counselling & education to men, woman and children fighting HIV/AIDS.

Attend the latest event, to support this great cause, Thursday June 2, 2016 at 6:30pm at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Tickets are $100 and go to an amazing cause.
Buy your ticket today !

Pugly Potatoes from Fraserland Organics

In an area that offers endless options for freshly grown produce, Lower Mainlanders are becoming more aware of how their food is grown and where it comes from. But we’re also a nation famous for wasting food, a statistic that doesn’t only hurt our planet but damages our pocketbooks as well. And the waste doesn’t start at home. Did you know that 26 per cent of all produce doesn’t make it to grocery stores? That’s because we’ve grown up in a world of genetically modified foods, and when our fruits and veggies don’t meet our aesthetic requirements, we discard them. But no longer! Fraserland Organics is a fifth generation family farm in Delta, growing certified organic crops since 1995. Their potato production is generally quite hardy, but many are cast aside by grocery stores for shape, size and skin defects that do not affect the quality of the vegetable. To put an end to waste, Fraserland started the Pugly Potato, a program that offers No. 2 grade organic potatoes in local grocery stores near you. Stop in and buy some long-lasting potatoes today!

Top 5 Food Trends

The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is Canada’s largest trade association dedicated to natural health and organic products. In 2015, the CHFA released the top 5 food trends for 2015. Thankfully, the Lower Mainland offers countless locations to pick up healthy, local foods while also swinging with the new food trends! Check them out below!

New and interesting oils – Avocado, camellia, flaxseed oil, walnut oil and almond oil, all of which provide variety and new flavours to experience in the kitchen.
Digestive health -In 2015 consumers can expect to see new natural health products focused on supporting the health of the digestive tracts.
Fermentation – The trend of supporting digestion and immunity is also extending to fermented foods, which are no longer limited to last year’s trendy kimchi, tempeh and sauerkraut.
Pumpkin – There is a new superfood to look out for in 2015: pumpkin. Pumpkin flesh is rich in nutrients including beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; crucial for healthy reproduction, immune system support, and vision.
Product certifications – These days, we want to know where our food comes from and how it was grown to ensure there are no GMOs and that the food is fresh and free of chemicals.

When in doubt, visit Choices market to learn how you can use these ingredients to make healthy, sustainable and nutritious meals for your family. They offer a wide range of organic and local fruits and veggies along with responsibly sourced meats and grains. Yum!