Tag Archives: school

7 Tips and 2 Recipes for Back to School Lunches

Keep these 7 tips in mind to help you pack a school lunch with a healthy and creative punch.

1. FruitColour is the spice of life. Colour means nutrition, so keep your kid’s lunchbox colourful with all colours of the rainbow. Orange carrot slices, red tomatoes or pepper slices, green avocado on their sandwiches, blueberries on their yogurt or a skewer of pink strawberries. After all, we also eat with our eyes and kids are no exception! (no artificial colours please)!

2. Involve your Kids in the Preparation. Kids are more likely to eat their food if they were involved in the process. Let them help prepare the sandwiches or have them choose from two bowls of veggies and fruit options which ones they want to pack each day.

3. Don’t forget Your Veggies. Kids love eating hand held veggies, especially if there is a dip involved. Add some pureed sweet potato to a store-bought dip or stir in chopped herbs or even pureed fruit. Ants on a log with nut free sunflower seed butter or cream cheese with raisons, currants or cranberries are always a hit with kids.

4. Spice up your sandwiches. Try different breads, flatbreads, pitas, wraps, bagels or English muffins to keep it fresh, and mix and match the fillings with Veg n Dipdifferent cheeses, egg, leftover meat, veggies, chutneys, dried fruit and veggie fillings. Or why not keep the sandwich fillings separate and let them do the building at school?

5. Keep Cool. Skip the sugar laden fruit juice and pack a partially frozen water bottle inside their lunch box to keep their items cool until lunch. If they don’t love water add some berries or a touch of honey to their water to sweeten it. Use partially frozen bread for the sandwiches to keep their lunches cool and their sandwiches fresh and crunchy.

6. Leftovers are your friend. It’s a long year of making lunches and dinners every day so why not you make it easier on yourself and cook large portions for dinners to always have leftovers on hand? Homemade chicken or fish fingers make a great lunch with a honey mustard dipping sauce, or cut up meatballs to put in a salad; try a thermos of warm soup or chili or sliced cold leftover chicken or beef with cheese slices.

7. Packaging is everything. Kids love opening packages and small containers in their lunch boxes are no exception. Purchase some single serving containers for chopped tropical fruit, plain organic full fat yogurt sweetened with honey or blueberries, homemade dips, trail mix of pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and coconut, leftover meat, cheese slices or a healthy mini cookie or two.

Lunch
Home-made Fruit Leathers

Skip the expensive store bought versions and make your own natural version your kids will gobble up!

5 large apples, peaches or pears
1.5 cups strawberries, blueberries, bananas and/or citrus fruit
1 cup water

Directions:

  • Peel and core the apples, peaches or pears slicing thinly.
  • Chop bananas, berries or citrus.
  • Place all fruit in a pot with the water and place a lid on.
  • Cook until soft and then puree with a hand held blender.
  • Line a tray with baking paper and pour the fruit mix onto the baking tray.
  • Spread evenly and thinly.
  • Place in the oven and turn on, setting the temperature to 120°C.
  • Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.
  • This dehydrating process can take anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours depending on the type of fruit and the level of moisture left in the mixture.
  • Have your kids help slice and cut using animal shaped cookie cutters.

Sweet Potato Cookies

Nutrient packed cookies with a natural sweetness you can feel good about giving to yourself and your kids.

½ cup rolled oats
½ cup flour of choice
½ cup ground sunflower seeds
2 tbsp. coconut oil or butter, melted
¼ cup apple butter
¾ cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
2 tbsp. cane sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon powder

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl, shape cookies and lay them on a greased baking sheet or with parchment paper
  • Bake at 300°F for 20-30 min

Size Matters…Backpacks and your kids

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Summer has come and gone and it’s September again. Time for back to school and back to school shopping. Number one on our shopping list this year is backpacks. The array of styles and sizes is staggering, not to mention prices. My boys are going into grade 2 and grade 3 and although they get a ride to school every day, I pick them up either on my bike or we take public transit. This means they will have their backpacks on their backs for a considerable amount of time. 

As a mom I am concerned about just how heavy their packs are, but as a physio, I am concerned about potential, long term damage to their spines. One study (http://newsroom.ucr.edu/868) reported that 64% of students in grade 7-8 had pain, 41% of them when they carried their backpack and 21% had pain more than 6 months. The researchers found reports of increased pain as the weight of backpacks increased in comparison to the weight of the child. Other research shows that adults with severe back problems often had pain as kids.

Here are my tips on how to choose a backpack for your child whether he is going to preschool or she is off to University.

1. The backpack should be the right size for them.
a. The bottom of the pack should be higher than their bum, landing just above the curve in their low back
b. The straps should be wide and padded and worn on both shouldersImage

2. Choose a well constructed lightweight backpack
a. We looked at an ObusFormR backpack that weighed a ton when it was empty! Obviously we didn’t buy that one.
b. Side pockets can help to distribute the weight more evenly

3. Fill the backpack with the heaviest items closest to your child’s back
a. This helps to keep the heavy items closer to their centre of mass

4. The backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the body weight of a child under 10, and no more than 20% for your teens. (this is my rule, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children carry no more than 15 percent to 20 percent)
a. Say your 4 year old starting in JK is 40lbs that means her backpack should not exceed 4lbs. 
b. If your 17 year old is 100lbs, then his back pack can be up to 20lbs

5. Weigh the backpack
a. Throw the pack on a scale and see just how much it weighs
b. My boys have a tendency to collect rocks. This can make for a very heavy pack. We also empty the pack every night so things (aka rocks) don’t accumulate, needlessly adding weight

6. Don’t worry about what they have to bring home. Size matters.
a. At our school the kids get a plastic envelop, called “the mailman” to carry information back and forth from school, i.e. notes from the teacher to me, or notes from me to the teacher. It measures 10×16”. If I get a backpack to fit “the mailman”, my children will need a backpack that is adult size. Instead, we fold the envelop and the papers get crinkled. Oh well. Better to have crinkled notes than a crooked spine

7. Remind older kids to leave heavy items in their locker until they need them
a. In a pinch they could carry some items in their arms to offset the weight in the pack

Image8. The backpack should be easy to get on and off. If not it could be too heavy
a. Be sure they wear both straps on their shoulders
b. When worn incorrectly injuries to the spine can occur and last into adulthood

Size Matters! Getting the right size of back pack for your child is essential to prevent injuries. It is much harder to overload a smaller bag. But even if you do everything right, your child may still complain of a sore neck and/or back. Your pediatrician or a pediatric physiotherapist can assess for minor problems that are treatable and often curable. If there is numbness or tingling in their arms or legs, the pain is severe or is not relieved by adjusting the backpack seek medical attention right away. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 40% of the 24,000 people treated in the USA for backpack-related injuries in 2012 were kids aged 5-18!

Does your child complain of neck or back pain?