Toddler Backpack Essentials

When we head out for the day there are certain things that I always like to have packed in Rhett’s bag. Whether we are headed to preschool for him and work for me or to a play date or run errands together, the fact remains that toddlers needs are high! Lol. Rhett has a new back pack from Gabby Box and it truly fits everything perfectly!

Here are some of things we have been taking with us lately.

3FA9231C-0B01-4E61-99A6-70993408CD741) Snacks…all the snacks! I like to take some fresh fruit or veggies to offer first and then have some healthy prepackaged options as back up. Pictured here: halved grapes in a Wean Green container; whole grain chia cookies from My Super Foods, and a box of Sneakz Organic vanilla milk.

2) Spare clothes (and underwear). Rhett does not have many accidents and is a pretty clean eater, but if I don’t have back up on hand then I could be in trouble if anything happens. You just never know! Pictured here: shirt from The Blue Envelope and pants with elastic waist from Gymboree. Not pictured: spare underwear.

3) Indoor shoes. This is for the winter months. When we arrive in wet boots I like him to have a clean shoe option. Pictured here: shoes from StrideRite.

4. Books and activities. I never know when we will need to wait somewhere or if I will need Rhett to be occupied for a few minutes. I like to takes books that he can look at or we can read together, flash cards that we can work on our letters, numbers, and colors with, and a boogie board that he can draw on or practice his writing skills. Pictured here: flash cards from Kindergarten Tool Kit  

I hope that is helpful for you if you are entering into the stage of toddler back pack time. 💙

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Our New “Main Squeeze”!

Did you know that we are all recommended to eat one dark green vegetable and one orange vegetable every single day? I don’t know about you but some days that is a hard goal for my kids to meet. Some days they gobble up their meal and other days they aren’t fussy on it. Smoothies and purees are a great ways to fill that gap. A handful of spinach or the addition of a little roasted sweet potato is easy when blended with other tasty foods. I love to offer them with a whole grain muffin at breakfast or for a refreshing after school snack. I have wanted to send them to school with my twins but up until recently I haven’t had a means to do so.

Over the past few weeks I have been making smoothies and purées in the evening, then filling our Original Squeezes and freezing them overnight. I add them to the twins lunches and according to my son Wes (who would live off smoothies if I let him) “they melt just enough to eat but not enough to be messy”. Yay! That is exactly what I was hoping for. I have included Wes’ favourite smoothie recipe near the end of this post.

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Other days I have been sending various combinations of applesauce/fruit purees including the most amazing apple/sweet potato/date blend which is Clay’s favourite. More on that soon. But first, if you haven’t heard of the Original Squeeze before let me tell you a little more about it. Then I have a few yummy recipes to share with you! 

The Original Squeeze was the first portable Squeeze container on the market. It’s sleek design allows you to pour your choice of smoothie, yogurt, or purée inside for your child to enjoy. I am fascinated by the fact that they stand up straight!!! This was huge for me…no spills! They are freezer and dishwasher safe and free of toxins, BPA, pthalatea, PVC, and lead and are dishwasher safe. Not only are these incredibly useful, they also have a cute design and helped us cut down on the environmentally unfriendly applesauce pouches we had been purchasing. 

I have been looking for something like this for a long time and am thrilled to share it with you. If you have been on the hunt for a way to take veggie and fruit packed purees and smoothies to the park or school, look no further! The Original Squeeze is perfect for the task. The Original Squeeze is available on well.ca and Walmart.ca .

Now, as promised, here are a few of my kids favourite smoothie and fruit/veggie purees that help them meet those goals for green and orange vegetables. Keep an eye on my Instagram page for a giveaway coming soon and over the coming weeks for more smoothie and puree blends my boys love to enjoy from their Original Squeezes.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY COCONUT (aka Black Forest Cake Smoothie when I serve it to adults)

2 cups coconut milk (or less if you want a thicker smoothie)

1 cup chocolate coconut milk yogurt (I use the Yoso Brand)

1 banana

2 cups frozen cherries

1 large handful baby spinach

Blend and enjoy!

APPLE/SWEET POTATO/DATE PUREE

  1. Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes (about 1/4″ thick) and place on baking stone or pan.
  2. Dice or thinly slice 2 apples and place on same stone or pan.
  3. Sprinkle with tumeric and cinnamon.
  4. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until sweet potatoes and apples are softened.
  5. Place in food processor and blend with 1/4 cup pitted dates.

Note: If you have a Baby Brezza or another kitchen appliance that steams and blends, you can steam and blend all at once and skip with roasting process.

The addition of turmeric and cinnamon to this recipe are optional. They add antioxidant and blood sugar balancing benefits in addition to flavor; however, the puree is great without them too if you do not have them on hand.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment here or send me a message through my Instagram feed. You can find out more about these squeezes and other amazing products from Elfe Juvenile Products on their website (www.elfe.com), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/elfejuvenileproducts/), and Instagram feed (https://www.instagram.com/elfejuvenileproducts/).

Until next time, stay healthy!

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Promega Banana Muffins

Looking for a breakfast or snack food packed with quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids? Look no further! These muffins are packed with nutrition and flavour AND have no added sugar!!! You can also “dress them up” as I have in the picture above. This mini version of the muffin is topped with Yoso Chocolate Coconut Milk Yogurt and a raspberry. You could also use Greek yogurt and/or any other fruit you and your little ones enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup oats (ideally steel cut quick cooking oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts or Baby Brain Organics

¼ cup chia seeds

½ Tbsp. baking powder

½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup bananas (about 3 large bananas)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or alternate fruit puree)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

½ Tbsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas and beat eggs then add these together along with applesauce, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry and wet mixture together and stir until moistened, but do not over-stir.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 14-17 minutes for mini muffins and 22-28 minutes for “regular” size muffins.

Makes 18 regular size muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Feel free to add dried fruit or nuts for added nutrition and flavor too!

Until next time…stay healthy!

School Lunch and Snack Rotation

Wow! Where did summer go??? It sounds so cliché, but I truly believe that the months go faster with children around. There were moments this summer that I just wanted time to freeze so I could soak it in even more. Alas though time moves on and to be honest, there is something quite refreshing about a season change and a move back into more routine.

This is my first year with “school aged” children. Some moments I feel okay and others I have uncontrolled tears running down my face. There is so much emotional attachment to the move into this next phase of life for them and mom-hood for me.

One of the practical things that has been on my mind all summer is making snacks and lunches. My boys are fairly big eaters and I want to make sure that they have enough food, but also that it is balanced and fairly easy to eat as I know that they will not have a lot of time. I made a 10 day lunch cycle to help me in the day-to-day rush so that I do not have to think too hard about what to make. I will be using the Planet Box lunch boxes for most lunches and the Contigo Thermoses for any portions that I want to keep exceptionally warm or cold. Within the meal plan there is room for choice on some days and I also know that I may send leftovers at times. In addition, if my children as for a particular fruit or vegetable, I plan to just add that in to what I am already making so that they know I value their contribution, but I am also keeping up with offering variety and not just favourite foods….this is a hard balance with young children I am finding.

So, without delay, here is the meal plan that I will be using. It is nut free and for us, will be dairy free as well; however, I have included options with dairy as you may wish to send that instead. Please feel free to add other ideas for meals that have worked for your children in the comments section here or on my IG feed (@mealsformeandmyminis). We are all in this together mamas and I want to learn from you too!!!

Monday

Lunch: Whole grain wrap or ½ bagel with nitrate free turkey or chicken and cheese of choice (Daiya, feta, goat, Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar, etc.) with Cucumber slices and hummus or guacamole, and Grapes

Snack 1: Aussie bite

Snack 2: Applesauce pouch

Tuesday

Lunch: Manicotti with Peas and Diced cantaloupe

Snack 1: Almonds and raisins

Snack 2: Apple slices

Wednesday

Lunch: Sweet potato and Beet crackers with Roasted chickpeas, soy nuts, raisins, and dried blueberries mixed together, and Peppers and hummus or guacamole

Snack 1: Yogurt in a pouch

Snack 2: Pomegranate seeds

Thursday

Lunch: Homemade mac and cheese with Roasted sweet potato cubes and Watermelon chunks

Snack 1: Homemade smoothie pouch

Snack 2: Whole grain fig bar

Friday

Lunch: Homemade muffin with Yogurt, Apple slices, and Baby carrots and hummus

Snack 1: Homemade nut free trail mix

Snack 2: Mango chunks

Monday

Lunch: Whole grain wrap or ½ bagel with nitrate free turkey or chicken and cheese of choice (Daiya, feta, goat, Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar, etc.) with Cucumber slices and hummus or guacamole and Strawberries

Snack 1: Flavoured roasted soy nuts

Snack 2: Pretzel and popcorn mix

Tuesday

Lunch: Tuna salad with whole grain pita triangles or crackers and Peppers with hummus or guacamole

Snack 1: Banana

Snack 2: Sliced peppers

Wednesday

Lunch: Meatballs, rice, and corn with Pomegranate seeds

Snack 1: Grapes

Snack 2: Einstein bite

Thursday

Lunch: Whole grain crackers, Hard-boiled egg and/or rolled nitrate free lunch meat and/or cheese chunks with Carrots and hummus, and Blueberries

Snack 1: Whole grain fig bar

Snack 2: Roasted chickpeas

Friday

Lunch: Breakfast pita cut into quarters with Yogurt, Mandarin oranges (already peeled and sectioned), and Snap peas with hummus

Snack 1: Watermelon chunks

Snack 2: Quinoa cookie (recipe coming soon!)

I also plan to send water to drink. I hope that you find this helpful.

Until next time….stay healthy!