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Jenn Pike
August 24, 2015
Jenn Pike
7 Simple Steps to Healthy Back-to-School Lunches
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Your children average 6.5–8.5 hours away from you each day, which makes it very hard to ensure that they are getting a properly balanced diet and are making the healthiest food choices. As parents we set out with the best intentions of making nutritious lunches but often find ourselves bored with the daily task of finding or creating fresh ideas that are both safe for school (nut-free), and that your children will actually eat.

Children who eat healthier, balanced snacks and lunches and who stay hydrated throughout the day experience less fatigue, have lower obesity rates, and have better focus, engagement, and fewer meltdowns.

Here are seven simple steps to a healthier lunch and more nutritious day for your little ones:

1) Breakfast starts with a capital B for BEGIN here.
It may sound cliché, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day—the main reason being that it helps to better regulate your blood sugar and sets the tone for sugar cravings and energy throughout the day.

Some quick and delicious breakfast ideas for a healthy start to the day:

  • Chia Oat Jar Parfaits (see recipe below)
  • Smoothies (See recipe below)
  • Oatmeal Protein Pancake (See recipe below)
  • Oatmeal with fresh berries and hemp seeds
  • Sprouted English muffin with nut or seed butter and cinnamon
  • Fruit salad topped with coconut yogurt
  • Eggs and sprouted toast

2) Fully embrace your school’s no-waste lunch policy and invest in a great quality lunch container.
Did you know that it is estimated that the average school-aged child using disposable lunch containers and bags generates 67 pounds of waster per year? That adds up to 18,760 pounds of waste for the average-size elementary school! I have two lunch boxes that are my absolute favorite for my kids (and they love them too).

Laptop Lunch Boxes and Planet Box My children ages 7 and 9 have each had of both these containers since their first birthday and they are still in fantastic shape!
What makes these containers so incredible is that everything is portioned out in compartments just like a bento box and you know kids – if it looks like something fun and is organized in a cool way they are way more cooperative to be on board for actually eating the food within the compartments.

3) Focus on adding in more fresh fruits and vegetables to their lunch and sprouted grains (or those that are naturally gluten free such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat and millet). Choose breads and wraps that are sprouted and or have true food ingredients that you can understand. Add in more plant-based foods like beans and lentils and small portions lean protein like organic eggs, lean chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef. Opt for healthy fat sources such as seed butters, and avocados, and when dressing for pasta and quinoa salads choose healthy oils like olive oil or pumpkin seed oil. Work hard at limiting their intake of processed foods, deli meats, canned fish more than 1x weekly, white pasta or processed breads, sodium, sugar, anything with artificial colors, flavoring or additives and especially tartrazine.

4) Balanced morning and/or afternoon snacks.
Some of my favourite balanced snack ideas:

  • Fresh fruit with sunbutter for dipping
  • Fresh fruit with cinnamon
  • Veggies and hummus
  • ½ sandwich or wrap from their lunch
  • Smoothie in a no-spill container
  • Applesauce with hempseeds
  • Edamame with sea salt
  • Salsa with organic nachos or guacamole
  • Homemade granola with coconut yogurt
  • Homemade muffins or bars
  • Low-sugar store-bought granola bars
  • Goat cheese and sprouted crackers
  • For fun, occasionally offer one ‘air-snack’, like veggie stick chips or 100% organic non-gmo popcorn.

5) Pack lunches they will eat…and that will satisfy them.
Here are my top five go-to lunches that I know my kids will gobble up:

  • Quinoa Salad (with or without beans)
  • Chickpea Smash Wrap * see recipe
  • Vegetable Pasta Salad
  • Grilled Chicken Greek Salad
  • Goat Cheese, cucumber, tomato, hummus wrap

6) Make two meals at once. Probably hands down the easiest way to take an extra job off of your hands and get lunches made quickly and easily is to make enough at dinner that you can automatically have enough for leftovers. I place the kids’ lunch boxes behind their dinner plates and as I serve up their meal, I also serve up their lunch!

7) Keep them hydrated. Make sure your children are hydrated throughout their school day by sending them with a stainless steel or covered glass water bottles of at least 750 ml.  I can’t stress enough how very important this is.

Chia Oat Jar
You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond, rice, cashew or coconut milk
  • 1/4 medium banana, sliced (freeze the rest for smoothies!)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped nuts for topping

Prep and Cook:

  • Place all the ingredients in a jar, shake, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • In the morning, add your favorite crunchy toppings such as nuts, granola, etc. and enjoy

Chocolate Monkey Smoothie
You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 3 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tsp cacao or cocoa

Prep and Cook:

  • Blend and enjoy

Oatmeal Protein Pancake

  • ½ cup oats
  • 3 egg whites + 1 whole egg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ cup berries

Prep and Cook:

  1. Blend or mix oats, eggs and cinnamon and cook as pancake.
  2. Top with berries and 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Chickpea Smash Green Wrap
You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup organic chickpeas (Eden organic is the only company that states they use no BPA in the lining of their cans), rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 – 1 small garlic clove
  • 3 Tbsp goat cheese or feta
  • 1-3 collard leafs
  • sliced cucumbers, orange peppers and tomato slices
  • 1/2 avocado, smashed
  • whole-grain wrap

Prep and Cook:

  1. Add all ingredients together in a food processor and blend until combined. Adjust seasoning, adding some paprika, salt and pepper if desired.
  2. Layer a couple of collard leafs and spread the mixture down the center, layering a few cucumbers, orange peppers and tomato slices on top. Roll up the leafs into a wrap.
  3. Lay down a whole-grain wrap and smear the smashed avocado on top. Put the collard wrap in the center over top the avocado and roll the two together.


Jenn Pike is a mom of two, nutritionist, master personal trainer and author. For more quick and healthy tips and to learn more about Jenn, her best-selling book The Simplicity Project and more, visit 'The Simplicity Project' and follow her on Instagram @jennpike and Facebook under The Simplicity Project.
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Topic —  Health Ages & Stages — School Age,

How Should Sex Education Begin?

Sara Dimerman
March 09, 2015
Sara Dimerman
Where and How Should Sex Education Begin?
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Sex. It’s a topic I’ve become increasingly comfortable bantering about—especially since the writing and release of my latest book on the topic of why married couples don’t have sex. As a result, I have spent countless hours discussing this subject with the media as well as others. All this at a time when the province in which I live has produced a document detailing their new curriculum for Health and Physical Education for students in grades 1 to 8, within which they discuss changes to sex education.

The new changes, set to take place in September, 2015, have stirred a big pot of controversy among critics who feel strongly about children being exposed to certain topics at too young an age or hearing things from teachers that go against their religious beliefs or moral code.

The way I see it, there’s a power struggle as to where sex education, and in what form, should begin. In the home? At school? The new document does acknowledge that ‘parents are the primary educators of their children with respect to learning about values, appropriate behaviour, and ethnocultural, spiritual, and personal beliefs and traditions and they are their children’s first role models’. So, we may be the first but does that mean we have to be the only?

I believe that we need to work with and trust the people who we have given the responsibility of helping to educate our children. We have to assume that they haven’t just come up with a new curriculum overnight or that they have pulled ideas out of a hat. We can safely believe that they have done research and consulted with many respected educators about the development of children and what they are safely able to absorb at any given age, and how to share that information with them.

For some children, this may be the only sex education they get. I know many parents who have a very difficult time broaching the topic of sex and sexuality. They blush and stutter at the thought of even doing so. Some may even have been raised to believe that sex is dirty and bad and may therefore have a difficult time looking beyond what’s ingrained in their minds as they guide their children through their formative years. So, instead of feeling afraid of passing on shame and embarrassment, they may actually welcome having their child’s teacher initiate a discussion that they can then expand upon or even enjoy the opportunity of having their child share with them what he or she has learnt. 

For those who may have concerns about their children being exposed to material that will encourage them to experiment before they are ready, I urge you to open your eyes to what your children are already being exposed to on social media and television. I see and hear about too many children who are sending crude messages to friends and strangers at the age of 10 or 11, and of children who are watching pornographic images on YouTube before they are even teenagers. So I am not concerned that children will be negatively influenced by what at they are being shown or taught by people who are trained to understand children and their development.

After looking over the 244 page document, the Ministry is quite clear that they recognize ‘some topics need to be approached with additional sensitivity, care and awareness because of their connection to family values, religious beliefs or other social or cultural norms’. I’ve even heard that students may have the option to opt out of classes in which specific topics are being addressed.

The ideal situation is for parents and educators to work together. Knowing in advance what the teacher is going to teach your children and then working alongside him or her can only benefit your children and prepare them for the realities of the 21st century. Religious and cultural beliefs aside, human beings are all the same when it comes to basic fundamental needs and wants. By recognizing and accepting this, we can work together at raising a generation of people who are comfortable in their own skin and less vulnerable as a result of being more informed.

Images from Shutterstock.

Sara Dimerman is a psychologist and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is one of North America's most trusted parenting and relationship experts and the author of three books: Am I a Normal Parent?, Character is The Key and How Can I Be Your Lover When I'm Too Busy Being Your Mother?: The Answer to Becoming Partners Again. Learn more or listen to advice from Sara and her colleagues by searching for 'helpmesara' podcasts on iTunes or visiting Follow Sara on Twitter @helpmesara.
Comments | Tagged under health, school, educational, sex
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