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Easy Healthy School Snack: Pumpkin Packed Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Easy Healthy School Snack: Pumpkin Packed Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

 

Easy Healthy School Snack: Pumpkin Packed Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Fall is in the air! Back to school for our kiddos. Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin spice everything.


Baking always makes comforts me in the busyness of life, and I wanted to make something healthy for my kids for a quick grab and go for school mornings.
My kids do not like to eat breakfast on school days. Argh. 
But who could refuse some bite-sized chocolatey-chip stuffed pumpkin mini muffins?

Aiming to go for a win-win.  Eating breakfast and eating healthy. 
Making sure that the little bit of breakfast they might pop into their mouths are packed with brain-food goodness!

To begin with...
- Dark chocolate and walnuts are both good brain food! 
- Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and good for gut health. 
- Dark chocolate contains antioxidants called flavonoids which is good for brain development, and is also rich in minerals such as zinc, iron and magnesium.
- Pumpkin puree is packed with potassium to lower blood pressure, high in antioxidants and Vitamin C to help fight diseases and build immunities, and Vitamin A for eye health!

You are welcome to check out the recipe below.

This mama needs it too!
What do you like to make for back-to-school snacks?

  

Pumpkin Packed Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

COMBO ONE:
1 can pumpkin puree

½ cup melted coconut oil

1 egg

1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda 

2 teaspoon milk

 

COMBO TWO:

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon of each nutmeg, ground ginger, fine sea salt 

 

COMBO THREE:

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

1 cup crushed walnuts

 

Easy Steps:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 24 mini-muffin pan.  

Step 2: Combine “COMBO ONE” ingredients in a large bowl.

Step 3: Combine “COMBO TWO” in another bowl.

Step 4: Add combo two into the pumpkin mixture, stirring gently.

Step 5: Gentle add in “COMBO THREE”. Do not over mix.

Step 6: Use two teaspoons to scoop and drop mixture into each of the greased mini-muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes until edges are golden and toothpick comes out clean.

 

Let the pan cool for about five minutes before removing on to a rack. Then enjoy!

 Warm Smiles,

Elaine

 

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5 healthy homemade snacks for preschoolers

5 healthy homemade snacks for preschoolers

As a parent, it can be challenging to find healthy snacks that your preschooler will enjoy. With so many processed and sugary options available, it's important to provide nutritious alternatives that will keep your child energized throughout the day. Here are five easy and healthy homemade snacks that your preschooler will love:

1. Fruit Kabobs

One of the simplest and most fun snacks for preschoolers is fruit kabobs. Simply chop up a variety of colorful fruits such as strawberries, grapes, pineapple, and melon into bite-sized pieces. Thread the fruit onto skewers and serve them as a colorful and tasty snack. This snack is not only visually appealing but also packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

fruit

2. Veggie Sticks with Hummus

Another great option is veggie sticks with hummus. Slice up crunchy vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers into sticks. Pair them with a creamy and nutritious hummus dip. Hummus is rich in protein and fiber, making it a filling and healthy snack for your little one. This snack is a great way to introduce your preschooler to different vegetables and encourage them to eat more greens.

veggies

3. Yogurt Parfait

A yogurt parfait is a delicious and nutritious snack that your preschooler will enjoy. Layer Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a sprinkle of granola or crushed nuts for added texture. Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium, while berries provide essential vitamins and antioxidants. This snack is not only tasty but also helps to support your child's growth and development.

yogurt parfait

4. Homemade Trail Mix

Trail mix is a versatile and portable snack that is perfect for preschoolers. Create your own mix by combining a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and whole-grain cereal. This snack provides a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates, keeping your child satisfied between meals. Also, it is easy and fun to eat! Be mindful of any allergies and choose ingredients accordingly.

5. Mini Whole Wheat Pizzas

Who doesn't love pizza? Create a healthier version by making mini whole wheat pizzas at home. Use whole wheat pita bread or English muffins as the base, and top them with tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and a variety of colorful veggies. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. This snack provides a good source of fiber and essential nutrients while satisfying your child's pizza cravings.

mini pizzas

With these five healthy homemade snacks, you can ensure that your preschooler gets the nutrition they need while enjoying tasty treats. Remember to involve your child in the preparation process, as this can help them develop a positive relationship with food and encourage them to try new things. Happy snacking!

Warmly,

Top photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash
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How to make dinner time at the family table fun

How to make dinner time at the family table fun

Dinner time at the family table is an important moment to connect with your loved ones after a long day. However, it can be challenging to make it fun and engaging for everyone. Here are some tips to make dinner time more enjoyable and memorable:

Get the kids involved in meal planning

One way to make dinner time more exciting is to involve your kids in the meal planning process. Ask them what they would like to eat and let them help you choose the ingredients. This will make them feel more invested in the meal and excited to see the final result.

family dinner

Encourage conversation

Dinner time is a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations with your family. In fact, it is one of the best reasons to eat dinner together, screen-free. Ask open-ended questions about your child(ren)'s day and listen to their answers. This will help you connect with your loved ones and create a stronger bond.

My favorite question to ask my (school-aged) kids is, "What did you do at lunch today?" Their answer tells me which friends they are hanging out with, and if they are having fun at school. They also remember this information more readily than what they did in class!

Make the table setting special

A beautifully set table can make dinner time feel more special and festive. Use colorful plates, napkins, and tablecloths to create a cheerful atmosphere. You can also add some fresh flowers or candles to the table to make it more inviting.

Play some dinner games

Playing games during dinner time can be a fun way to bond with your family and create some laughter. Try games like "I Spy" or "20 Questions" to keep everyone engaged and entertained.

family dinner games

Have a theme night

Choose a theme for dinner and decorate the table accordingly. For example, you could have a Mexican night and serve tacos and margaritas. This will make dinner time more exciting and give your family something to look forward to.

Make cooking a family activity

Get your family involved in the cooking process by assigning tasks to each person. This will make dinner time more interactive and fun. You can also try new recipes together and experiment with different flavors.

Make dessert special

End dinner time on a sweet note by making a special dessert. You can try a new recipe or make a family favorite. This will give your family something to look forward to and make dinner time more memorable.

With these tips, you can make dinner time at the family table fun and enjoyable for everyone. Remember to be creative and have fun!

Warmly,

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As parents, we all know the struggle of trying to find healthy and tasty lunch options for our kids. But what if we could empower our children to make their own lunches? Not only would give them a sense of independence, but it would also ensure they are eating something they enjoy. Here are 5 easy lunches that kids can make themselves:

(note: I recommend tortillas because they are easy and fun to work with, but two pieces of bread can always be substituted.)

1. Peanut Butter and Banana Wrap

A peanut butter and banana wrap is a classic lunch option that is both delicious and easy to make. All your child needs is a tortilla, some peanut butter, and a banana. Have them spread the peanut butter onto the tortilla, slice the banana, and then roll it all up. This is a great option for kids who love the combination of peanut butter and banana.

peanut butter banana

2. Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups

Ham and cheese roll-ups are another simple lunch option that kids can make themselves. All they need is some sliced ham, cheese, and a tortilla. Have them place the ham and cheese onto the tortilla, roll it up, and then slice it into bite-sized pieces. This is a great option for kids who love savory flavors.

ham cheese

3. Greek Yogurt Parfait

A Greek yogurt parfait is a healthy and delicious lunch option that kids can make themselves. All they need is some Greek yogurt, granola, and fruit. Have them layer the Greek yogurt, granola, and fruit in a jar or cup. This is a great option for kids who love sweet and tangy flavors.

greek yogurt parfait

4. Turkey and Cheese Kabobs

Turkey and cheese kabobs are a fun and easy lunch option that kids can make themselves. All they need is some sliced turkey, cheese, and skewers. Have them alternate between threading the turkey and cheese onto the skewers. This is a great option for kids who love finger foods.

turkey cheese kabobs

5. Hummus and Veggie Wrap

A hummus and veggie wrap is a healthy and tasty lunch option that kids can make themselves. All they need is a tortilla, some hummus, and their favorite veggies. Have them spread the hummus onto the tortilla, add their veggies, and then roll it all up. This is a great option for kids who love veggies.

hummus veggie wrap

These 5 easy lunch options are perfect for kids who want to take control of their own meals. Not only are they simple to make, but they are also healthy and delicious. Encourage your child to try making these lunches themselves and see how proud they are of their culinary skills!

Warmly,

Top: Photo by Sara Cervera on Unsplash

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Chinese New Year Food Traditions

Chinese New Year Traditions and the Easiest Yummy Chinese Stirfry Noodles

Chinese New Year Traditions and the Easiest Yummy Chinese Stirfry Noodles recipe!

For many years I would go into each of my three children’s classrooms each year and share about Chinese New Year Traditions and making the Easiest Yummy Chinese Stirfry Noodles for the entire class!  I always loved how the my children’s classmates would see me in the school yard or on fieldtrips and they would beg me to come and make those Chinese Noodles! I would even have parents email and text me asking for the recipe every year! Keep reading for some quick fun facts about Chinese New Year Traditions and the Easiest Yummy Chinese Stirfry Noodles recipe!

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Food for Healthy Brains and Growing Bodies

Food for Healthy Brains and Growing Bodies

Click above to see these tips presented on CTV Morning Live!

Let’s Talk Easy and Healthy School Snacks for Brain Development and Healthy Growth

Our family is a definite foodie family! We get excited about food, new and delicious food, foods from different cultures, and eating snacks too. 

When it comes to snacks for our kids, it is easy to just grab snacks that are prepackaged and most often processed.  We all do it and it is okay!

With back to school around the corner, I wanted to take the time to discover and share some of our family favourite easy and healthy school snacks for brain development and healthy growth! Once we know the benefits of certain foods, it is easy to create yummy and healthy school snacks for brain development and healthy growth!  Please do let me know if you try some of these ideas here below.  I would love to know what you think, and please do share your own yummy and healthy ideas!

I am a BIG fan of feeding kids with foods that are not only DELICIOUS but will help promote the healthy growth of their bodies and their brains.  So let’s start with a quick refresher for all of us remember some of the best foods for healthy kids’ growth and development.

During childhood and adolescence, good nutrition is key to healthy growth and development.  This is the age that research advises is vital in helping kids reach their full potential in height and brain development.


Brain Food

As parents and child care providers, we try to do our best to help our children have healthy, developing brains.  We get them to do puzzles, exercise, watch less television, have less screen time, help them with homework, and get to bed at a decent time, most nights, at least.  However, what we feed them is so important for developing healthy brains and growth.  Here are just a few foods to consider for meal and snack prep this week, and help us prepare easy and healthy school snacks for brain development and healthy growth.

Leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale, are jam packed with nutrients our brains craves, like: folate, beta carotene, and vitamin K.  Leafy green foods help slow cognitive decline.

Fatty fish are rich in omega-3, which are healthy unsaturated fats that help build healthy brains and protect against Alzheimer’s.

Berries, have natural plant pigments (called flavonoids), that give them their bright colours, help improve memory.

Nuts are an excellent source of protein and good fats to help build healthy brains. For example, walnuts in help improve one’s memory.  This mama needs to eat more walnuts!

And let’s not forget chocolate.  Dark chocolate improves cognitive function and improves brain function by increasing blood flow.


Growth Food

Here are some foods to remember to include when preparing easy and healthy school snacks for brain development and healthy growth this week:

Eggs – one egg is full of nutrients that are vital for healthy growth and development.  Packed with calcium, over 6 grams of protein, vitamin D, folate, and vitamin B12. Studies show that deficiencies in vitamin B12 amd folate may lead to poor growth in kids.

Almonds – are an excellent source of Vitamin E- Vital for children as a vitamin E deficiency can cause stunted growth in children.

Fruits – Vitamin C is important for bone health and helps produce collagen which is vital in bone strength and repair.

Fish – provide vitamin D and Calcium, which aid in bone development and growth

On a side note, good sleep and regular exercise are important in healthy growth and development of our children’s bodies and brains. Making sure our children have regular physical activity is important because it helps strengthen muscles and bones. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (aka CDC) recommends that 6–17 years old kids should aim to get a minimum of 1 hour of exercise every day.

Many studies show that a lack of sleep can affect a child’s growth and development.  According to the CDC, here are three ways to tell if your child is getting a good amount of sleep:

  1. They fall asleep easily, usually in less that 30 minutes.
  2. They wake up easily at the same time each morning.
  3. They are awake and alert throughout the day.

So, if you are wondering how much sleep they need, the Centres for Disease and Control Prevention recommends:

Age

Hours of sleep

4–12 months

12–16

1–2 years

11–14

3–5 years

10–13

6–12 years

9–12

13–18 years

8–10

Here are some Easy and Healthy School Snacks for Brain Development and Healthy Growth!

Remember, the best and easiest way to get kids to eat healthy is to have it ready and right in front of them!  For example, prepare a kid-friendly charcuterie! Add a cheese fondue to it and you now have a fun dinner!

When packing snacks for school, make sure to use fun, leak-proof containers to put them in and the kids will be excited to use them too!  Here are some from Staples: https://www.staples.ca/search?query=sistema

Here are some easy and healthy school snacks for brain development and healthy growth.  Make these for breakfast or after school snack time.

Pizza pita recipe

PITA PIZZAS or English Muffin Pizzas

Make it GREEK!

INGREDIENTS:

Whole-wheat pitas (or English Muffins)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz feta cheese, roughly chopped

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 tsp lemon juice

Cucumber-Tomato Salad:

1 cucumber, diced

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 Tbsp each olive oil and red wine vinegar

A pinch of each chili flakes and salt

2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and place pitas on a foil covered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake in oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine the feta, yogurt and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Toss the Cucumber-Tomato Salad ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Spread each pita with the feta-yogurt mixture and then sprinkle the cucumber-tomato salad on top and add a dash or chopped walnuts for extra brain food power!

Slice and enjoy!

Make it ITALIAN!

INGREDIENTS:

Whole-wheat pitas (or English Muffins)

2 Tbsp pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, per pita

1⁄4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, per pita

1 pinch of spices (e.g. Italian seasoning, garlic salt)

Toppings: pepperoni, red peppers, any other favourites

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brush on a little olive oil on the pita.
  2. Spread sauce on top of the pita.
  3. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.
  4. Sprinkle on pinches of desired herbs and spices, and add any toppings you’d like.
  5. Place on baking sheet, bake for 5-7 minutes at 400°, or until cheese is melted (times may vary).
  6. Slice with pizza cutter and enjoy!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Brush pitas with olive oil.
  2. Spread sauce on top of the pitas and sprinkle on the cheese, spices, and any other toppings you desire.
  3. Bake them on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
  4. Slice and enjoy!

Make it SWEET!

INGREDIENTS:

Whole-wheat pitas (or English Muffins)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup whipped cream cheese

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup strawberries, sliced

¼ chopped walnuts or chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and place pitas on a foil covered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake in oven for 5 minutes.
  2. Spread each pita with the whipped cream cheese mixture and then sprinkle the sliced strawberries on top and add a dash or chopped nuts for extra brain food!

Slice and enjoy!

One bowl power cookies recipe

ONE BOWL POWER COOKIES:

Everything Cookie (All the yumminess plus nutrition!) for a Quick Grab & Go Breakfast or Afterschool Snack

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick whole oats
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup (helps your child build up immunity to allergens from local pollen)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 large banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips (I add them all!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup each of ground flax, and hemp hearts (Hemp hearts are jam packed with vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, essential fatty acids, plant protein and fiber!)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer). Mix until all of the ingredients are combined. The dough is thick and heavy.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion 1/4 cup mounds of cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Use the back of a spoon to slightly flatten out into a cookie shape. (The cookies will not spread in the oven.)
  4. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the edges are slightly brown. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Cover leftover cookies and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Freezing Instructions: Cookies can be frozen up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter or in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature or warm in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.

 

ENERGY BALLS

 

Great for some extra protein in a little yummy peanut butter ball! Check out this easy three step recipe here: https://www.easydaysies.com/road-trip-snacks/

Check out more yummy and easy back to school treats like: Yummy Make Ahead Pumpkin Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins, Make Ahead Mini Pizza Muffin Bites, and Quick and Healthy One Step “Good Morning Sunshine Smoothie” Recipes all here:  https://www.easydaysies.com/three-quick-and-delicious-easy-healthy-make-ahead-meals-for-busy-families-for-breakfast-and-lunch/.  Also, check out Make Ahead – Not Your Average Croissant here: https://www.easydaysies.com/quick-and-easy-make-ahead-camping-meals-and-snacks/

EveryThing CHEESE FUN-Do!

So yummy and so easy that kids can make this cheesy fondue any time after school or for dinner!

 INGREDIENTS:

1 pound shredded Gruyere cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 cups apple juice

½ tsp country-style Dijon mustard

Salt and black pepper, grounded

YUMMY FOODS TO DIP:

1 (bite-sized chunks) loaf of bread

2 sliced apples or pears

2 cups broccoli florets or cauliflower florets

1 cup grape tomatoes

Whole grain Crackers or pretzels

½ lb(s) salami, cut into chunks

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the apple juice over medium temperature. Combine the Gruyere and cornstarch in a bowl and carefully whisk it into the juice until it is boiling.
  2. Turn off the heat and remove the saucepan. Then, stir in the Parmesan and mustard. Add salt and pepper to your preference.
  3. Carefully dip your choice of dippers and enjoy this hot yummy snack, filling enough to be a meal!
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