Power Your Lunchbox

It’s back to school (and tutoring and soccer and football and piano and lacrosse) time!

Even though my kids start school in mid-August, I don’t really take the school year seriously until September. Probably not great, but I just can’t get my mind around dealing with homework, bus schedules and tests when it’s 100 degrees. So now that we’re into September and the mornings are cool (at least here in Colorado!) I’m thinking about how to prepare healthy meals and snacks for my family. And (maybe more importantly) how to help them make healthy choices for themselves.

This year I’m partnering with Produce for Kids and taking their Power Your Lunchbox Promise. Check it all out here:

Basically, Produce for Kids provides lots of easy, yummy ideas for lunches (and snacks!), you make the promise, and they and their partners donate to Feeding America. It’s a win-win-win!

So as I made the promise this year, I again focused on snack foods rather than lunch foods. My kids all buy their lunch at school, so what we really need to focus on is a healthy, easy snack time. Here’s what we came up with this year:

Energy Bites

I don’t have a formal recipe, but I’ve been making these yummy snacks for years. I determine what goes in them based on what’s in my pantry. Here’s what I gathered today:

Sun-Maid Raisins, almonds, oat bran, oatmeal, a few mini chocolate chips I found in the way back, and peanut butter. In the past I’ve also added dried peaches, coconut, cereal and yogurt-covered raisins.  Anything goes as long as it’s small:

Once you’ve gathered all the odds and ends, simply dump everything (except the peanut butter) into a bowl:

Mix that all up, then slowly add the peanut butter:

Stir the mixture around until it is combined. Test the mixture to see if you can roll it into a ball that will stick together. Does it come apart? Add more peanut butter. Go overboard on the peanut butter? Add more dry ingredients. Here’s what mine looked like:

It’s ready to roll!

Grab a sheet pan and cover with foil. You will also need a scoop of some kind:

One down, about 100 more to go! The nice thing is, the kids can help:

I usually store these in the freezer, they stay nice and firm that way. And when the kids are ready, they can pack them up for a healthy, energy-filled snack on the go:

They’re easy to eat, and actually fill them up until dinner – which seems to be getting later and later as they get older!

Check out more recipe ideas and make the Promise:



Back To School Lunches

My friends over at Produce for Kids have a really cool thing going as we head back to school.  Here’s the scoop:

The new Power Your Lunchbox Pledge by Produce for Kids®, launching August 11 and running through September 15, encourages parents to pack healthier lunchboxes for their kids this back-to-school season. Visitors to poweryourlunchbox.com can pledge to pack healthier lunchboxes; get RD-approved, kid-friendly lunchbox ideas and tips; and download coupons from companies supporting the program.
For every pledge that families or individuals take, participating produce companies will make a 25 cent donation to DonorsChoose.org to fund health and wellness classroom projects around the country. Additionally, Define Bottle will be providing DonorsChoose.org with 20 percent of each sale during the pledge time frame.

Check out some of these yummy-looking lunch ideas:

Need more lunch ideas? Check out Produce for Kids. Want to take the pledge for healthier lunches? Click here.

Happy eating!

New (School) Year Resolutions

photo credit

photo credit

“I’m so sad summer’s over!”

“I can’t wait for my kids to go back to school!”

“Why did you even have kids if you’re so eager to get rid of them?!”

“I’m dreading homework, soccer practice, and the routine of school!”

Every family is  different and summer means unique things to all of us. While I’m not sure that looking forward to our kids’ going back to school means we’re bad parents, I do think that being somewhat ambivalent about summer’s end is pretty normal.

For many families, the start of the school year also means a chance to start fresh: eat healthier meals, stick to earlier bedtimes and reinforce chore charts. It can be a perfect time of year to consider what changes might be helpful around the house. Even if your family doesn’t include kids, many of us see August/September as a time to start anew, buy some new pens and hope for better days ahead.

What are your “new year’s” resolutions for this school year?



Summer’s Over – Emotions are Mixed

I guess it depends where you live, but in this neck of the woods summer is over! Kids headed back to school this week and I am seeing (and feeling!) mixed emotions all around me.

Kids are excited to see friends, nervous for new teachers and classes, and dreading homework and morning routines. Parents are filled with similar emotions – dread, relief, and happiness. These feelings (and lots of others) are normal and to be expected.  They may also change rapidly over the next few weeks as we get settled into new routines and say goodbye to summer for good.  Plenty of sleep, healthy foods, and physical activity can ease the transition, as can sharing your feelings.

For more information on dealing with the back to school blues, check out the American Psychological Association’s article here.