What’s in Mom’s Lunch Bag: 5 Quick & Healthy Lunch Ideas

Posted by

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Mom - Sprout Right

So, you are in the swing of back to school and how’s your lunch looking? Not as good as the one you packed for your kids, I bet. Us moms (and dads) can be guilty of putting loving energy into our children’s lunches – packing nourishing, brain-boosting munchies – and then grabbing any old thing for ourselves.

You’re a busy mom – I get that – so here are 5 quick and easy lunch ideas that put your health first. 

1. Leftovers – Use What You’ve Got for a Balanced Meal

Fish Cakes by Sprout Right - 5 Healthy Lunches for Moms

This is a simple way to make sure you have something nourishing to pack easily in your lunch: make extra supper and pack up a serving even before you eat. It could be leftover stir fry, a slice of lasagna, or a fish cake with a side of steamed veggies.

2. The Updated Ploughman’s – A Plate of Nourishing Small Foods Really Adds Up

Love this easy, breezy lunch that typically features an assortment of cold plate favourites. Make your own combination, or try our lightened-up suggestion: a hardboiled egg, hummus with carrots, organic gluten-free crackers with your favourite nut butter (try walnut), a sliced honey crisp apple.

3. Salad in a Jar – Layer a Salad for a Perfectly Pack-Able Nourishing Meal

Salad in a Jar on Sprout Right - 5 Healthy Meal Ideas for Mom

Your mason jars aren’t just for canning! Layer your favourite salad ingredients and carry the whole shabang to work in this totally totable jar. Start with your dressing along the bottom, add heavier ingredients like chickpeas. Layer in some quinoa for a protein boost and then add your lettuce on top. Top with cut vegetables and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds or sunflower seeds. Tip the entire jar into a large bowl at lunch.

4. Hummus and Veggie Wrap – Pack the Veggies into a Whole -Grain Wrap

Reach for a sprouted grain wrap and spread it with your favourite homemade hummus. Add as many veggies as you can find in your fridge – try red pepper, cucumber, sprouts, carrots, zucchini and lettuce. Add nuts and seeds for an extra heart-healthy crunch. Wrap up and enjoy.

5. Easy Quinoa Salad – Add Every Vegetable You’ve Got for a Big Fibre Boost

Quinoa is a great cook-ahead grain; prepare a batch on a Sunday afternoon and add to salads (even enjoy it with berries for breakfast) all week long. Create a big bowl salad by adding all the veggies you’ve got in your fridge – cauliflower, broccoli, beans, snap peas, sprouts, cucumbers, tomato, peppers – and top with a good scoop of quinoa. Dress this with a simple balsamic vinaigrette.

If you aren’t on top of your game, home or work, the family starts to crumble. You’ve got no more excuses! We’ve given you 5 easy, and yummy, lunch ideas to fill your work week.

What’s your fave and what will you try?

Celebrating Bonds Through Cooking: Family Pizza Night with Recipe

Posted by

 

Pesto on Sprout Right - 1, Pizza

Some of my favourite dinner-time memories involve occasions when my daughters have helped me to make supper. That’s the thing about cooking; it is a chance to make memories. Think about the way a comfort food makes you feel, and why we turn to it when we are feeling low. Memories of pleasure and enjoyment are wrapped up in the taste, texture, smell and eating of a particular food.

An afternoon cup of tea still always reminds me of my grandmother.

When we talk of how we want our children to grow up with a healthy relationship with food, that also involves cooking it. Establishing strong, solid memories around food doesn’t always come from the dinner table, but from in the kitchen. Cooking with your kids can be a gift for both them and you. Watching and guiding your kids through a recipe gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride. That dish coming to the table to nourish the family imparts a simple pleasure: turning a few wholesome items into an impressive taste adventure (no matter how it turns out!).

Why don’t we cook with our children more often? Maybe it’s time. Or how frustrating it is. I know what it’s like! At 6pm, we’ve just got in the door! Everyone is immediately starving. Maybe the cupboard is almost bare and you have several anxious voices crabbing at you, including your own tired nagging voice. It seems that now is not the time for a cooking lesson.

Or maybe it is. What’s the help worth? Pizza night? You may have just got their attention.

Pizza gets a bad rap; pre-packaged, full of salt, whiteness, preservatives and unhealthy fat. From your local pizzeria, it may be dripping with grease and topped with nitrate-filled meat. But pizza can be healthy! It’s just a vehicle for vegetables as far as I’m concerned. And so a perfectly yummy family meal.

This coming Saturday night declare “family pizza night.” Get your kids to help whip up a batch of your favourite whole wheat or spelt pizza dough, or buy ready-to-rise dough at the supermarket. Kids are really good at spreading sauce and cheese, and can be empowered to make their own healthy choices by choosing their own toppings.

Here are a few healthy toppings my girls love (and ones you may not have thought of):

Green beans

Corn

Asparagus

Shiitake or button mushrooms

Onions

Broccoli

Red or yellow peppers

Tomatoes

Sweet potato

Spinach

Raisins

Apple

Walnuts

Put out tomato sauce or a homemade pesto sauce (recipe below)! Or maybe a bit of both. To create the pizza pictured above, spread the base with tomato sauce, add cheese and toppings then spoon dollops of pesto on top.

This pesto is perfect at this time of year.. if you are like me and have a garden overflowing with basil.

Pesto on Sprout Right - 3, Basil

 

Pesto

2 cups Packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup Packed fresh cilantro leaves

2 tbsp Sunflower seeds

2 tsp Capers

4 Kalamata olives, pitted

4 Sundried tomatoes

2 Garlic cloves

⅓ cup Extra-virgin olive oil

Pinch Sea Salt

In a food processor, combine basil, cilantro, sunflower seeds, capers, olives, sundried tomatoes, and garlic.

Pesto on Sprout Right - 4

 

Pulse a few times. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is running. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add a pinch of salt to taste.

Keeps well for over a week and can even be frozen.

Let’s see some snaps of your pizza night. How did it go?

Your Ultimate Guide for Back-to-School

Posted by

Guide to Back to School with Sprout Right Summer is so fun and exciting, and full of relaxation, but there is something about back to school that feels more like New Year! Maybe it’s the back-to-it-ness after having a long break.

As the kids go back to class, with excitement to be starting a new grade (or starting school), routine resumes in your household. But let’s face it, it has some challenges. The novelty of  what to pack for school lunches, how to whip up fast weeknight suppers, and what to feed your kids after-school to keep them going until supper-time, wears off fast.

We’ve posted a few things here to help you with back-to-school, from brainy breakfasts to some popular snack ideas and recipes. Here is a round-up of some of the things we’ve featured over the years.

Breakfasts

A Better Breakfast

Back to School Meals – Don’t Forget About Breakfast too!

Amazing Almond Flour, With Gluten-Free Recipe

5 Best Breakfasts for Smarter Kids

 

Lunches
Top 5 Lunch “Mains”

Kids Eating Healthy – Radio Interview

Back to Routine, Back to Lunch

Back to school lunch. How about this year, your kids make it for themselves?

My kids eat their lunch, NOT!

Eat more than your greens… Make it a rainbow!

My Daughter’s Advice on School Lunches She’ll Actually Eat

5 Immune-Boosting Foods to Fight Back-to-School Germs

What Food Can I Pack For Lunch to Keep Kids With Allergies Safe?

 

After-School Snacks

Your Best 8 After-School Eats

Best Snacks for Kids

DIY Fruit Gums or Roll-Ups

School-Safe, Seed-Based Snack Ideas and a Yummy Rice Crisp Square Recipe

Healthy After-School Snacks Your Kids Will Love

 

Quick Weeknight Suppers

A Fast Dinner When Low On Ingredients

Five Healthy Weeknight Suppers

Recipe: Lasagna
There you have it! I hope some of these ideas inspire you to create fun and delicious snacks and meals for your little ones this fall. For even more inspiration, take a look at our meal plans.

Copyright: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo

Back to School Lunches with Healthy Eating Tips Featured in Metro

Posted by

Back to School Tips featured in Metro, Sprout RightIt’s time to head back to class and you want to pack only the best, and most nourishing food for your little Einstein. Lianne shared some healthy eating tips recently in an issue of Metro.

Click to access the article: Back To School in Metro

Top 5 Lunch “Mains”

Posted by

Lettuce Wraps on Sprout RightWe’ve been talking a lot about back-to-school, trying to get you ready for the first day and the start of a brand new year. We hear from parents all the time that making school lunches is a huge challenge, especially after the novelty of the first two weeks wears thin. Last week we shared some snack ideas, so this week we thought we’d focus on some “mains.” Throw this list on the fridge and start adding your own ideas! Oh, and it’s not just for you – learn how you can get your kids involved in making their own lunches! Click here for more lunch ideas.

Packing just got easier with these mains,

1. Lettuce Wraps with Ground Turkey and Veggies

This is a low-carb alternative to a sandwich and surprisingly easy to whip together the night before. Saute ground turkey with diced carrots and celery, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1tbsp tomato paste and ½ clove of garlic (or a sprinkle of garlic powder).

For packing, put some meat mixture into one container, lettuce leaves from a firm lettuce like romaine into another, with some chopped fresh tomatoes and cucumber. You can include a small container of plain greek yogurt with herbs for a dressing.

2. Not Your Mother’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Kids love chicken noodle soup and it’s easy to pack in a thermos. But those canned and boxed varieties pack a lot of excess salt so I prefer to make my own. Before you think, “Oh no, I don’t have time to make homemade chicken noodle soup” let me tell you a little secret: it’s so easy! Make an extra portion (or two) of chicken at dinner the night before. After dinner, simmer your extra chicken pieces in a carton of sodium-free organic chicken broth. Add cooked brown rice (or some cooked and rised brown rice noodles), frozen peas and corn. Let simmer and then pour into a thermos. Easy peas-y!

3. Egg Muffins

Eggs are an excellent protein source and because they are so portable, a perfect lunch idea. Hardboiled eggs are a good option, but to mix it up try egg muffins! Simply grease a muffin tin with olive oil. Beat a few eggs in a glass measuring cup, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. You can add cheese, tomato or diced green pepper. Pour a little bit of your egg mixture into each muffin cup and let cook in a 350 degree oven until the eggs set. Use a knife to cut the egg muffins out of the muffin tin.

4. PSB, B and J

Gone are the days of PB (aka peanut butter) and J lunches, and that’s ok! There are so many other combinations to explore. If your lunch or daycare allows seeds, why not use pumpkin seed butter to make a delicious sandwich? Spread one slice of whole grain bread with pumpkin seed butter. Spread a second slice of whole grain bread with some fruit puree (look for an organic, low sugar fruit spread). Place banana or strawberry slices on top of each slice and there you go!

5. A Pizza Quesadilla

Pizza is a lunchbox favourite but all that white flour crust and cheese can give it a bad rap. So let’s bring pizza up a few healthy notches. Grab a sprouted grain wrap and spread it with low sodium pizza sauce. Add leftover diced chicken, chickpeas, green pepper and cheese. Fold over to make a quesadilla and pop it in the oven until the cheese melts.

What are some of your healthy lunch ideas? Share them on our Facebook page!

Your Best 8 After-School Eats

Posted by

Sneaky Little Muffins by Sprout Right

Sneaky Little Muffins

With the start of a brand new school year just around the corner, many parents are looking for meal and snack ideas to keep their hungry Einstein’s well nourished. We are on a mission to give you healthy choices to fill their bellies with really yummy, whole food.

The after school snack is key. Many children come home from school, or head to an activity, absolutely ravenous! Use this as an opportunity to fill them up with wholesome foods they are less likely to turn down (because they are so hungry!) You want to reach for snacks that are low in sugar, and rich in protein (which will stabilize blood sugars and fill the belly enough until dinner time).

Here are a few suggestions,

1 Fruit, pair with a dip made of protein-rich greek yogurt and honey;

2 Vegetable sticks or crackers with guacamole, or fibre-rich hummus;

3 Crackers and cheese, either slices of cheese or a dip made of cream cheese with a drizzle of maple syrup! Reach for whole-grain crackers like Mary’s brand crackers, which are made from wholesome seeds and are gluten-free;

4 Homemade muffins or squares;

5 Sprout Right’s Go Faster Granola bars (so much better than the sugar-filled store-bought variety);

6 Nuts and seeds mixed with dried fruit (if nuts are allowed at after-school programs, or if your child is home with you);

7 Hardboiled eggs (perfectly pack-able!);

8 A fruit smoothie made with greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, hemp protein, your child’s favourite frozen fruit and a banana (sneak in some greens for a nutritional kick!)

And if you have memories of milk and cookies after school, and want to pass that along to your children, try a healthy low-sugar cookie recipe paired with some fresh almond milk.

Which of these snack ideas will you be trying this school year? Share here or on our Facebook page!

For more snack ideas, and meal ideas for back-to-school, take a look at our Smart Kids Meal Plan.

5 Most Beneficial Nutrients for Mom-to-be & Baby

Posted by

Prenatal Nutrition - Must-Have Nutrients by Sprout Right

During pregnancy, the body’s requirement for certain vitamins and minerals increases well above the usual recommended dietary intake. And at times, supplementing and increasing food sources of certain nutrients is necessary to ensure baby’s best development. Key nutrients like folic acid and B12, vitamin D, the essential fat DHA, calcium and magnesium, zinc, and iron may have lifelong benefits in decreasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, and developmental delays.

Here are these top five nutrients in more detail:

1.  Folic Acid

Why you need it: Folic acid is a synthetic vitamin that decreases the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and other birth abnormalities, including congenital heart disease, urinary tract problems, oral facial clefts, limb defects, and some pediatric cancers.

Best way to eat it:  Food source folate – from dark-green leafy vegetables, beans, chickpeas, lentils, wheat germ, nuts, and seeds – is surprisingly not as absorbable as a folic acid supplement. A supplement of 400 to 1000 mcg per day should be taken before and during pregnancy, to beyond breastfeeding if planning more children.

2.  Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA

Why you need it:  DHA provides the fuel for baby’s developing brain and retina, it improves vision and increases intelligence. It also can reduce the risk of developmental and behavioral disorders, increase gestation time and birth weight (this is a good thing, even though you may want your baby out sooner by the end of the third trimester!), and may reduce the severity of allergy. DHA deficiency has been strongly linked with postnatal depression, poor concentration and memory, and learning difficulties in the pre- and postnatal period for mom.

Best way to eat it: Oily fish like herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna (in moderation due to higher mercury content), anchovy, and trout. Vegetarian sources include nuts and seeds; walnut, almond, brazil, hazelnut, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flax and hemp seed, but DHA absorbability is poor from these sources. While pregnant, DHA intake should increase, but with requirements equivalent to about 3 lbs of oily fish per day, a supplement may be an easier way to go.

3.  Vitamin D

Why you need it: Vitamin D supplementation has been linked to a decreased risk of pre-eclampsia, type 1 diabetes, asthma, and schizophrenia, and to improved growth and bone strength. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, your baby may be also.

Best way to eat it: Early morning and late afternoon sun exposure is the most natural and safe way of absorbing Vitamin D. Naturally occurring food sources include salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and cod-liver oil, liver and egg yolk.  Fortified dairy, cereals and alternative milks, such as almond, rice, and soy are also a source of vitamin D.

4.  Calcium

Why you need it: Your baby accumulates a total of about 30 g of your calcium during pregnancy, mostly during the third trimester, nabbing between 200 and 350 mg a day. Mainly for bones, calcium is also used for calcifying teeth as baby’s are born with teeth already developed under the gums.

Best way to eat it: Dairy products are only one source of calcium. Other foods, including nuts and seeds, deliver more calcium than milk (and in a more absorbable form when raw), with one and a half tablespoons of sesame seeds or tahini (sesame seed paste) offering the same amount of calcium as in a cup of milk. More sources include almonds, salmon and sardines (with bones), soy, navy beans, blackstrap molasses, amaranth, broccoli, and kale. In fact, almost any green leafy vegetable is high in calcium. Milk, however, loses about 50 percent of available calcium in the pasteurization process. Low-fat and skim milk offer even less because the milk fat is used for transportation and absorption of calcium.

5.  Iron

Why you need it: During pregnancy, a woman’s iron requirements more than double to build new red blood cells in mom and the developing fetus. This essential mineral supports the development of baby’s brain for cognitive and behavioural maturity and makes hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to the body’s organs, muscles, and tissues.

Best way to eat it: Amazingly, our bodies increase the uptake of iron from foods when our levels are low. For maximum absorption of iron, Vitamin C should be consumed with iron rich green leafy vegetables, kelp, beets, asparagus, carrots, cucumbers, watercress, parsley, grapes, bananas, figs, dried fruits, beans, soybeans, sunflower seeds, meats, fish, poultry, peas, eggs, whole grains, parsley, turmeric, seaweed, lentils, millet, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and blackstrap molasses.

With the extra cravings and food usually consumed during pregnancy, add as many foods as you can from the lists above for the healthiest pregnancy possible.

yanlev / 123RF Stock Photo Copyright

Stay Hydrated this Summer!

Posted by

Stay Hydrated this Summer with Water Hydration is so important in the summer months, when the extra heat causes more water loss. So we are re-visiting a post Lianne wrote for iVillage on the importance of staying hydrated. Grab a tall glass of water, and sit down to read.

I drink water.  A lot of water.  It’s all I drink, all day long.  I carry around a 40 oz bottle (can we link to a water bottle you love?) with me everywhere I go and drink at least one full bottle by the end of the day.

Water gives instant energy, helps flush toxins out of the body, allows the body to retain water soluble nutrients, regulates body temperature, gives moisture and fluidity to lungs and joints, and hydrates the brain and all tissues.  It’s essential for life.

With such tempting sweet and filling fluids like juice, coffee, tea, pop, milkshakes, slushies, milk, and others, most head straight to the cooler in the store for refreshment.   However, these drinks in fact are dehydrating you.  Sure they give an instant boost, but it’s short-lived.  After drinking any of the above, double up on your water intake so you aren’t left low and dry.

I try to drink water before I eat.  Or when I’m hungry.

The signal of hunger (other than at meal times) is sometimes confused with dehydration, so I have a glass of water before I tuck into a sweet something or sit down to dinner.  I eat less when I do, and feel better for the extra glass.

Lack of energy, headaches, tiredness, dry skin, muscle cramps, constipation, wonky blood pressure, a bad mood all may be a result of dehydration.  Oh and a 20% level of dehydration may lead to death.  Not a good situation to be in.

Coconut water is my drink of choice when I’m heading out for a run, long bike ride or hike in the summer, and my kids love it too.  It’s a natural sports drink alternative offering minerals and antioxidants and fantastic for keeping my energy level up so I don’t run out of steam on the trail.

Ever wondered how you can tell if you are drinking enough water?  Not to get too up close and personal, but you can tell by the colour of your pee.  Yes, I said check out your urine.  Is it dark, or smells?  If so, drink more.  Drink more until it changes to the ideal colour of light straw or yellow without odor.

Now off you go to the bathroom, and report back.  Then tell us how much extra you drank to change the colour to light yellow.

And by the way, if you are thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.  Bottoms up!

Camping with a Baby or Toddler: What’s for Dinner?

Posted by

How to Feed Baby While Camping by Sprout RightWhile hot dogs and mac and cheese in a box may have been a staple of our childhood camping experiences, it isn’t the food of champion babies. When you have a wee little eater, you may be turned off of camping because the whole food ordeal can seem overwhelming. How will I offer him his favourite blueberry puree? Here we are to tell you that camping with baby is not only possible, but easy and an adventure every member of the family will enjoy.

What to Eat While Camping with Baby
Early eaters will likely be concentrated mostly on purees, some with chunkier textures or small finger foods. Easily transport a favourite puree by making it at home ahead of time, and freezing individual portions in an ice cube tray. As you are packing for the big trip, pop out a few cubes into a widemouth mason jar and store this in your cooler. As your days in the outdoors wear on, your puree will slowly melt making it ready for baby. You can also warm the puree in a pan on a camping stove if need be, but be sure to let it cool well before serving.

Bring a variety of purees in mason jars, to give baby the same kind of variety he enjoys at home.

Another way to go, is to purchase a Wean Machine (now on sale!). This is a wonderful little gadget that makes serving baby on-the-go super easy. Just place a piece of soft fruit or vegetable (steam first if necessary) into the opening and squeeze. Need a little more info? Watch the video here. The Wean Machine will allow you to serve baby what you are eating. See our camping meal plan for ideas for the bigger members of the family.

If you are looking for a grain option to serve at breakfast or snack time, grind some old-fashioned oats into a textured flour and store in a mason jar. When camping, heat on the stove with a little water (boiled or bottled), formula or breastmilk.

As at home, offer baby the bottle or breast first before offering food. If your child is 1 year old or older, offer milk with a meal. If you are concerned about packing too much goat’s or cow’s milk, try canned coconut milk mixed with rice or almond (bought in a tetra pack) for the trip.

Camping with your baby doesn’t have to mean fake food, jarred food or unhealthy choices. Even without a kitchen in the great outdoors, you can still give her what she needs – wholesome foods that nourish.

Image:
monamakela / 123RF Stock Photo

What to Eat While Camping: 4-Day Meal Plan

Posted by

4-Day Meal Plan for Camping from Sprout RightYou love to go camping with your family, but you don’t love feeding your kids bright orange cheesy-pasta out of a box just because it is simple to pack and easy to make. Eating well while out in the woods can seem quite challenging. You probably don’t have much of a working kitchen, and storage and frozen/fridge space is as at a premium.

Because we are always up for a challenge (!), we put together a 4-day healthy eating plan for you and your family to enjoy while out in the woods. Reconnect with nature, and with the energy you’ll feel from these nourishing foods, and know that you are living life in balance. This plan is also great for inspiring picnic ideas, if overnight camping is not your thing!

Download this Camping Meal Plan