Kids in the kitchen

pasta shellsCooking with kids can be a lot of fun. Two weekends ago, I spent an afternoon with my nine-year old making a ground beef recipe with lentils, mushrooms and spinach. This was going to be the filling for a stuffed pasta shells recipe. We also slow simmered a simple tomato sauce for the topping.

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Connecting kids to Ontario foods

Nibble on this: Ontario asparagus is ready to eat in May and June. And the word asparagus means “spout” or “shoot” in Greek. Ready for a brain teaser? The asparagus is related to which flower?

a) Rose

b) Iris

c) Lily

Answer: c

Carol and I were soooo excited to be given the opportunity to revamp the content on the kids section for Foodland Ontario. Packed with fun food facts, brain teasers and recipes, the idea is to engage kids with foods grown/produced in Ontario.

This project was a partnership where we wrote the content and Foodland Ontario uploaded it using their web creative.  Bottom line: We’re hoping kids get excited by the ideas to touch, smell, grow and taste Ontario foods.

– Zannat

Back to school lunch ideas

I got a “summer’s almost over” reality check this morning when I did a seminar on back-to-school lunches. I have to admit that on some days I, too, dread making lunch. There are many things to juggle — nut/peanut free options, is my kid going to eat it today, is there a fruit/veg item, what about some protein to get them to the end of the school day… the list goes on.

I’m not one of those moms who relishes the idea of whipping up art-worthy bento box creations. I don’t have the time or, frankly, the inclination. So I try and keep things simple. Lunch doesn’t have to be a gourmet affair. And there’s no need to test out a new food. Check out these tips and tricks that may help you find your school lunch zen. Tweak the ideas so that they work for your kids. Cross out the ones that won’t work, and add on your own ideas. The big idea is to keep it as unprocessed as possible, but still tasty.

Get your kids involved. Ask them to help choose from a short list of healthy choices (approved by you!). Older kids can pack their own lunch — it gives them a bit of ownership. And it might save you the frustration of dealing with uneaten lunches.

Also, if you live in Ontario, you might like to know that starting this September the Ontario Ministry of Education is mandating a policy on healthy foods and drinks that can be SOLD at schools. This will affect pizza days, fundraisers and lunch programs. If you’re looking for ideas for bake sales (healthy, peanut/nut-free), then you’ll want to check out a great resource called Bake It Up!

Btw, if you’re in the market for a stylish lunchbox for your kids (or yourself!), then Catherine Choi has just the thing for you (see picture). I love the extra strap so kids can carry the lunchbox messenger bag style, or snap it on to their backpacks. The lunchboxes come in a variety of colours and designs. They are also PVC-free, phthalate-free and lead safe. And did I mention they look really cool?

– Zannat