Growing up, I never understood why my parents would get so excited when my brothers and I would go back to school.
“It doesn’t make a difference to you if we’re home or not.” – Me to my parents who both worked from home.
Bless my sweet naive heart.
Now that I’m a mom of a busy 3-year-old boy (who runs her business from home)…I’ve been counting down the days to back to school today. I get it.
Have you ever seen those posts “School Lunches Around the World”?
North American lunches are filled with processed food like cookies, chocolate-covered granola bars, chips, and Lunchables.
The rest of the world feeds their children fresh, whole food like brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables. Nourishing soups and chicken or seafood are also prevalent on their plates.
We need to take a hint here.
The food we feed our children is vital to their development. Both their bodies and minds are rapidly developing. When we focus on real food, we are giving our kids the best foundation for growing and learning.
Excess sugar is harmful to your health. And unfortunately, Canadian children are consuming five times more sugar than they should. The Canadian Community Health Survey revealed that the average kid consumes 33 teaspoons of sugar a day. That’s almost ¾ of a cup of sugar every single day.
We know that sugar has a massive impact on the brain — especially when it comes to memory, learning, and attention. It also affects sleep and the immune system while contributing to type-2 diabetes.
Watch out for added sugar in cereals, bars, juice, bread, yogurt, fruit cups, and processed snacks. Instead, opt for nutrient-dense snack options to help fuel your kids’ bodies and brains.
Hummus (or any other bean dip) is great for lunches because it provides your child with protein, fibre, and healthy fats. These three nutrients help build muscle, improve digestive function, and fuel them with a quick energy source.
Opt for hummus that doesn’t use refined canola oil. I buy a local brand that uses sunflower oil. My favourite cracker options are Mary’s Crackers, Nud Food, or Live Organic.
Kids love to dip. It’s fun and adds a ton of flavour to their snack. Ranch is usually a favourite among our little humans but the store-bought version isn’t the healthiest option. I make my own in under 5 minutes.
Yogurt cups are a sneaky spot that refined sugars like to hide out in. Instead, I make Jackson a yogurt dip for his fruit.
Have a salt monster in your house? Me too. Roasted chickpeas are the perfect substitution for salty chips. You can change up the seasoning based on your kids’ palate, too! Just a ¼ cup contains 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fibre. Remember: protein = muscle development and fibre = good digestion.
Optional Seasoning Ideas:
Who doesn’t love opening up their lunch bag to see a creamy chocolate pudding? Jackson devours this. Luckily, it’s made with nutrient-packed avocado. The healthy fats are great for brain health and keep him feeling fuller for longer.
Jackson loves snacking on this right out of the jar but it’s also great mixed with unsweetened coconut yogurt. Make sure to get certified-gluten free oats because they can be commonly contaminated with wheat.
This recipe uses pecans. If a nut-free version is needed, swap out pecans for a combination of sesame, sunflower, and/or hemp hearts.