Kindergarden Lunches

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Hello All! I have been eager to write this post for a long time. The boys have started kindergarden. I thought I would have more time to write…I was wrong. The girls have simultaneously upped their activity level and it is virtuously impossible for me to do anything other than play with them while they are awake. That is not such a bad thing though.

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The boys have enjoyed two weeks of kindergarden thus far and everything has gone great! They love their school and really like their teachers! One of my goals when they started school was to maintain a healthy eating pattern. I knew that they would have to take on more responsibility for making good choices than they did in preschool. We were very lucky to have had great preschool teachers who would contact me whenever there was a birthday treat or a food based activity at school. That way I could send in a special treat for the boys. In kindergarden that is different. Birthday treats are handed out at lunch time and I there is no advanced notice. So, my strategy…the birthday bar! I put a store bought Trader Joe’s fruit bar in the boys’ lunchbox every day. If there is a birthday treat handed out, it is their choice whether they eat their birthday bar or the treat. William chose the gummies handed out one day and had such an upset stomach that he realized that was not the best choice. They excitedly come home to tell me that not only did they make a good choice but they politely declined the treat! So, it can be done!!

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Here is a sample menu that I used to organize the boys’ lunches. I typically have everything ready one day in advance which makes it very easy to assemble as soon as they come home from school. If there are leftovers from lunch, they know to eat them as their afternoon snack before dinner. We don’t waste any food in our house!!  :) They have a morning snack before lunch which is written in all caps. Snack is only one hour before lunch so I always pack something small.

I took pictures of almost all meals. Here is a little strategy behind the meals…

Friday: Lunch–Hard boiled egg, avocado, tomato, kiwi and olives; Snack–Plantain chips and applesauce.

This one I did not take a picture of because it actually evolved into egg salad with avocado oil mayo and avocado. They still had tomato and olive salad with olive oil and kiwi for desert.

Saturday: we skipped on the board because it was a hunting land day with Dad. Lunch was a collection of leftovers and fruit salad

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Sunday: Hot ham and cheese sandwich with broccoli and tomato salad with olive oil.

The hot ham and cheese sandwich was prepared on my new buckwheat and teff flour bread. I will post the recipe soon!🙂 I use Costco boiled ham and raw milk cheese from Miller’s Organic Farm. A simple salad alongside a treat sandwich is always an easy meal.

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Monday and Tuesday: Lunch–ham and cheese roll ups with beets, avocado and olives; Snack–new muffins

I had to use up the Costco size package of ham from Sunday so we did roll ups. Beets are simply boiled until soft, peeled, chopped and mixed with olive oil and balsamic. I paired it with a small avocado and olive salad. Their snack were another new recipe of banana teff and buckwheat flour muffins. (recipe to come).

 

Wednesday: Lunch–salmon salad with broccoli and apples, along with cantaloupe; Snack–Plantain chips and applesauce

I use Costco’s wild caught canned salmon and mix in chopped apple, spinach, red onion, fresh basil and avocado oil mayo. It’s super easy and an explosion of flavor for the boys. Cameron chose watermelon instead of cantaloupe. I give the boys 10 plantain chips each, so a bag will last us three snack days.

Thursday: Lunch–fruit salad, olives and carrot sticks; Snack–snack stick and apples

Simple and straight forward, here. I put the protein in the snack  and extra fat at lunch with the olives to keep their tummies satisfied.

Friday: Lunch–mac and cheese with spinach and bell pepper; Snack–banana

This lunch is super fun. The pasta is made wholly from lentils! I simply add sautéed chopped bell pepper, red onion, swiss chard and raw cheese for a super power mac and cheese. The snack turned into a sliced apple and a sea snack instead of banana.🙂

Saturday and Sunday: Lunch–hamburgers and sweet potato fries

This lunch plan was nixed because the boys were on the road again with their Dad. I typically make the organ meat mix burgers and bake them in the oven. I season them with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Sometimes I lightly coat the pan with left over bacon grease for a little infused flavor and it helps to keep them from sticking. Sweet potato fries are baked in the oven for 30-50 minutes on 375. The time depends on how thick I slice them.

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Monday and Tuesday: Lunch–turkey meatballs with raw carrots; Snack–seed cookies

I did not capture the deliciousness of this lunch! I made a garden sauce for the meatballs that was amazing!! I sautéed 6 spring onions (greens and all), 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 2 eggplant and 6 very ripe roma tomatoes in grass fed butter until soft. I let the veggies cool a bit and then put everything into my VitaMix along with a can of anchovies drained of oil. I let the vitamin do its work and presto…veggie garden sauce. For the meatballs, I used Costco’s organic ground turkey and added about 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. I warmed 8 meatballs along with 1/2 cup of sauce on the stove in the morning and it was still hot at lunch!! YAY! The seed cookies are a super yummy treat that is barely a cookie and more a nutrient powerhouse. I found some black grapes on sale over the weekend and added it to the snack.

Wednesday and Thursday: Lunch–Lentils with “hotdogs” bell pepper, onion, spinach and fruit salad; Snack–muffin

I forgot to photograph the lentils😦. I use the colorful lentil blend but you can use any color lentil. I soak them overnight in salted filtered water. Drain and rinse the lentils the next day before cooking. I cooked the lentils in some of the broth I had frozen from a previous batch for added nutrition. To cook the lentils, bring the broth to a gentle simmer and add the lentils. While the lentils are cooking, sauté bell pepper and onion in coconut oil until soft then add in chopped spinach. I had some carrots and two redskin potatoes to use up, so I added them too. Cook the lentils and veggies together in the broth for about 4 hours. I bake 2 pasture raised bratwurst from South Chestnut Farm in the oven and added them to the lentils. To serve, I heat the lentil and “hotdog” mixture on the stove and add to the thermos. The fruit salad was a combo of mango, kiwi, pears and peaches. This snack also evolved into muffin with black grapes and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Friday: Lunch–Tuna salad with lentils, spinach and rice; Snack–applesauce

This tuna salad actually turned into Friday and Saturday lunch. When I make tuna salad, I actually include 3 fishes: tuna, salmon and sardines. I mix them together with chopped apples, red onion, spinach and avocado oil mayo. I chose not to serve them with rice and instead added fruit salad. I also added toasted nuts and coconut to the applesauce snack…big hit!!

Strategies: My goal for school lunches and food in general is to provide my kids with the raw materials their bodies need to grow. The meal plan chalkboard gives me a framework from which I can work. If I need to modify things I can but I have a plan and that makes it a lot easier. The recipes are very simple and can be easily adapted to suit taste preferences. Having a meal plan also allows me to compare the lunch menu to the dinner menu so I can avoid repetition. I also strive to not waste food. That means I have taught the boys to tightly seal their thermos if they don’t finish something to keep it warm or cold until they arrive home. That way it is still safe to eat for a snack. They also know to eat the perishable foods first at lunch time. This stuff works…real, whole food that tastes good! With some planning real food can be done…even for kids!

Please share your thoughts! I love to learn from other awesome Moms out there!

 

 

 

Oat Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sesame Seeds and Coconut

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Our new trail cookies! Here is why you will love these cookies:

  • Super easy to make
  • Freeze well
  • Refined sugar free
  • refined oil free
  • Nutrient powerhouse

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I get most of my ingredients from Thrive Market online. You can adapt the recipe by swapping out the chia eggs for whole eggs. It changes the texture from a chewy cookie to a more crunchy cookie. The coconut is not detectible in flavor but if you really don’t want it, just add more oats. I always make a huge batch whenever I bake, so feel free to cut the recipe in half.

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5 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats

1/2 cup coconut chips

1 Tbsp baking soda

pinch of real salt

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 /4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup chia seeds (or use 6 large eggs)

3/4 cup water (omit if using eggs)

5 large ripe bananas

1/4 cup coconut nectar

 

1/2 cup dairy and soy free chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Grind chia seeds and oats in a high speed blender until they become a fine powder. Place them in a large mixing bowl. Next grind the rolled oats down to a flour and put into the large bowl along with baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mash the bananas fully and add the water and coconut nectar. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Next, fold in the sesame and sunflower seeds. Finally, add the chocolate chips.

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Using a small cookie scoop, drop the batter onto a large baking sheet covered with parchment. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. The cookies will not spread so you can put them close together.

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Conversations

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I cherish so many moments with my children. I wish I could capture them all and save them for later recall. We have shared some hilarious conversations lately. The questions kids ask priceless. On today’s ride, the questions ranged from what are buggers made of to are there still dinosaurs in Africa. My favorite by far is the circular conversation of what is invisible fencing. Have you ever tried to explain that to a toddler? William asked if the fence pops up when the doggy comes out into the yard. Awesome! What creativity! IMG_6445.jpg

One of the many benefits to having twins is the buddy system. The boys always have a playmate. Whether it’s building chair forts with EZ chair booby traps to plotting the best way to cover up someone’s wall art. There is never a dull moment in a house with two sets of twins.

Our summer days start early and stay busy until bedtime. I involve the kids in the household duties as much as I can. Because we are a team and they really enjoy helping out…most of the time. I start my day at 4:30 for a workout. At 6:15 the boys are up and ready for a smoothie. One of my strategies to staying on track with nutrition is planning. Smoothies are assembled the day before and ready to be blended without fuss early the next morning. The typical summer smoothie for the kids includes: swiss chard/carrot tops from the garden, fresh basil and mint, frozen berries, sliced cucumber from the garden and half a banana. I also add hemp, chia or sunflower seeds, greens powder, gelatin, magnesium, vitamin C and probiotic. All I have to do in the morning is add water, blend and put a straw in it.

The boys drink their smoothies while I nurse the girls and get them dressed. Then it’s off for our bike ride! I always have baked pork liverwurst slices in the fridge which makes for a great pre breakfast snack for the girls on our bike ride. I pull the girls in the wagon so I can have a free hand to assist two little cyclist on really steep hills. The boys ride between 3-3.5 miles which takes us 45-60 min, depending on how many stops we make.

Typically it’s Cameron’s keen eye who finds little treasures along the way. Like a box turtle or a giant leaf or a dead worm covered in ants. Then of course as the ride goes on and it starts to get hot there are the inevitable itches that come up. Today for example, William had 3 itches so great that his helmet had to be removed for him to access the itch. Conveniently it was right in the middle of a hill. Now as a parent with two sets of twins I have learned to use my limbs in many ways. For example to accommodate the itch which of course required a sudden stop on a steep hill I had to block the wagon with my left foot and maintain support William’s bike with my right hip while giving Cameron an extra boost with my right hand. Talk about a core workout!! Have you ever tried pulling 50 pounds in a well used wagon while alternately boosting two tired little boys up a steep hill!

After our bike ride, we record our distance. Can you believe these two little boys have ridden over 160 miles since mid April! Next the boy’s get to choose their breakfast which is typically frittata with garden veggies, fruit salad and either pancakes or sausage. Now, it sounds like a lot of work for a kid’s breakfast, why not just have a bowl of cereal or a bagel?  I want to make eating fun and I feel like it encourages them to consistently make good choices. They love fritatta so I make sure to add in a few chopped eggplant, peppers and onions along with fresh herbs. That way they get use to both the texture and the flavor. IMG_6064.jpg

The day before I always make sure to have the fruit salad prepared so it makes assembly easy the next morning. I have a fantastic teff and buckwheat pancake recipe that I will share soon. It’s easy to make and freezes really well. Sometimes breakfasts are olives, avocado, pancakes and yogurt. It all depends on their “mood”.

After breakfast we either have errands or kitchen work.

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The new favorite job is pitting cherries! It doesn’t always work but more often than not, if the boys are involved in their food prep, they are more likely to eat it. I hope everyone out there reading is enjoying your real food prep time with your kids! They are paying closer attention than we think!!

 

The Beach and more

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We are headed back from another great beach vacation. My very generous in laws invited us to the beach again and we had a great time. The days were filled with nutritious food, tons of movement and and sun. I loved watching the girls (now 18 months) move between the dry, deep sand to the dry, wet sand and then into the moving wet sand.

Each time they moved from one environment to the next they would pause, take it in and move forward! So cool! I loved watching them handle the crashing waves getting up each time they would get knocked down. They are so persistent and happy! Could I love them more…no way!
The boys learned how to boogie board.

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Each day they got more brave going out a little further. It was a real joy to see their little bodies learn how to relax and use the water.
Mornings started early…I was up a 5:00 to nurse the girls which does not take long now, only about 20 minutes. I woke up my two little training partners, filled their water bottle, packed up one seed bar for each little and we headed out to the beach with our ViPR.

Each morning the ViPR patterns were different but all were done in the environment of wet, moving sand. Here are some of my observations from beach training.

Training in the water is a huge challenge and a unique load:

Moving sand sinks the feet deeper with every rep slowing down motion from the bottom up and allowing more motion top down. This is a really excellent tweak for increasing internal rotation at the hip.

Tilt patterns combined with outdoor flips load the bottom of the ViPR with wet sand before flipping creating another unique load. The wet sand makes the bottom of the ViPR heavy and one end light.

Moving over moving sand creates a unique visual challenge stimulating the senses.

After about 30 minutes of both loaded and unloaded movement training we headed off for some beach jogging, agility work, or seashell hunting. It was a perfect beginning to our day.


After some movement training we headed back to the house to get our suits on for the beach and make some breakfast.
I had a game plan for all of the food we brought, so breakfast was a breeze. Every morning we had a little bit of each of the following: pastured pork sausage and liver wurst, sautéed Swiss chard, Jackie’s pancakes, banana buckwheat, millet and teff muffins, pastured eggs, blueberries, pears, cantaloupe and peaches.
Once the girls were fed and dressed we headed out to the beach for some seropious beach play. The girls lasted about 2 hours in the morning before we headed back to the house for nap time. It was excellent to have help from my mother in law! Transporting, washing and feeding two sandy and tired babies is not an easy task.

Once the girls were asleep, I headed back out to the beach for a solo jog which was truly divine! What a treat to have the ability to move athletically and enjoy movement…kid free for a half hour!
Next it was time to prepare lunch for the kiddos. We had oyster nachos with plantain chips:

We also enjoyed left over mahi, left over pizza and a seed bread grilled cheese. Traveling is a great way to use up leftovers!
My mother in law kept the girls at the house after lunch while Kevin, the boys and I headed back out to the beach.

This allowed us to have some more free time with the boys. We boogie boarded, built sand castles and dug in the sand for shells. Kevin is such a great Dad! Watching him play with the boys was really cool! Love him!

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The kids had a blast and were big helpers packing up the supplies to head back to the house.
Dinners were great. We enjoyed some great NC seafood from the fish market, grass finished burgers, amazing smoked pork and Brisket from our cousins, organic chicken and tons of fresh veggies. Eating well while on vacation is not pretty easy to do with planning. There is nothing better than feeling good on vacation!


This time I planned a delicious veggie and organ meat lasagna for dinner when we arrived home. So, I can enjoy a little mountain biking with the kids in the afternoon and not worry about fixing dinners.

 

25 years old!

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This week I celebrated my 25th (37th) Birthday! The day started with a fabulous walk to the pool while I listened to my latest audio book, The Power of the Extraordinary Mind. It’s a great book about challenging yourself to look at your life as it is now and assess what you need to change. One of the topics they discuss is how adopting societal rules as absolute truths can really hamper your life. Applying this concept to my own life has been really beneficial, especially when considering situations with the kids. When you let go of some “rules” it’s amazing how freeing it can be.

Next, a 2 mile swim in the outdoor pool while I watched night turn to day. Swimming has always been huge part of my life. Being in the water is truly transformative. Training in the water is a unique load that creates a lovely compression while challenging your body from all angles.

Then a short run home where I was greeted by my little artist, Cameron eager to show me what he had made me. He took an old picture of me and glued it to a folder along with his favorite feathers bordering the picture. Inside the folder he had drawn a stoplight five different arrows in his favorite colors. He also used a closepin to attach a “piece of money” from his piggy bank to the folder, which he promptly took back. Awesome!!!

I went up to greet my little loves and nurse them before heading out on our morning bike ride. The five of us completed a very sweaty 3 mile excursion before heading home for breakfast. I whipped up a breakfast for the kiddos…soaked oats for the girls and eggs, sausage and fruit salad for the boys. Next it was off to Madelyn and Annabelle’s 18 month check up. My Mom joined me for an extra set of hands while the boys hung out at home with Kevin while he worked.

As soon as we arrived home, the boys and I were off to another adventure by car to pick up some ingredients. Next came lunch and then meal prep. The kids enjoyed some soaked lentils and seed bread. After clean up, it was on to the meal prep for dinner, smoothies for the next day, veggie chopping and salad prep for dinner. The boys LOVE playing with their sisters and were great entertainers for 2 hours. I gave the girls a bath and laid them down for nap. I vacuumed the upstairs, put away the laundry, packed the boys for the beach and put away the dishes in anticipation of dinner prep.

Then, the boys and I headed out again to check out a BMX/skate school. As I described in my last post, they have developed strength on the bike. I am eager to encourage further development of that skill! Finally, off to Target for a couple more odds and ends.

The girls were awake when we arrived home and it was time to prep dinner. I had Kevin preheat the oven on the way home so all I had to do was bake the chicken wings and steam the carrots. Everything else was done earlier! As the wings were baking, Cameron and I took out the compost and harvested the ripe berries and veggies from the garden.

Birthday dinner was not my first choice but it’s ok because the rest of the family enjoyed it. Which as a Mom, at mealtime is often more important. After dinner, we all enjoyed some left over coconut milk chocolate fudge swirl ice cream. Super yummy! Overall, it was an awesome day.

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100+ miles!!

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We started logging pedal bike miles in mid April. This week both boys crossed the 100 mile mark. During the last two months we have shared many adventures together during our rides/walks.

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For two months I have lifted William back onto his bike about 30 times every ride. His bike was just a little too big for a push off without a boost. Although he got a little frustrated…he never gave up. This week he finally got it!!

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One moment I saw him off his bike and the next moment, he was going again!! He did not even realize what he did until I said, “William, did you see what you just did?!” He was so excited!! FREEDOM! This meant he no longer needed me to help him as much.

Over the last two months the boys have gotten stronger and more brave. Hills that were once too steep to pedal up without a little boost are now not so bad. They are proud of their time and strength. They have great handling and skill…I see two future racers!

As I stated in a previous post…I am soaking in these days. Training, cooking and playing. I am encouraged every day by my children. Sometimes they drive me crazy but there is not a moment that I am not thankful for that.

I am hugely grateful for everything they have taught me.

In our next post…our adventures in planning for school lunches. There have been several successes so far! The latest “treat” creation lunch box clusters.

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Just hanging out

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Annabelle 17 months

Right now I am on my back deck enjoying an amazing late spring evening. I am trying to soak in every second of the next couple weeks before kindergarden starts. The boys graduated from preschool two weeks ago and start kindergarden in July. I am filled with excitement for them. So, for the next couple of weeks we are do a lot of “hanging out”.

Two weeks ago we brought the kids to the beach. It was the girls’ first time at the ocean. They had a great time.

We stayed at my inlaws’ beautiful beach house which allowed us to cook all of our meals.  This saved lots of money as eating out with a family of six is very expensive. More importantly, it helped protect our family from the harms of restaurant foods. That way we could feel great on vacation and when we came home.

Every morning my buddy Cameron and I enjoyed an amazing ViPR workout on the beach.

What an excellent proprioceptive challenge to both the core and pelvic floor from training on the wet and moving sand. I get tremendous joy sharing my passion for movement and training with my kids.

I know they don’t quite know how powerful it is yet. But, I feel they know the importance of movement and how it goes along with nourishment through food. This year they were excited to learn that they inspired several friends to change their food choices. I too was thrilled to know that our family’s commitment to commuting by foot or bicycle as much as possible had inspired others to do the same. What an amazing gift to know that other’s will be improving their lives because of something they learned from us! LOVE IT!!

As kindergarden grows closer…our adventures will continue. Our mileage chart is growing as these amazing little kiddos continue to surprise me with their endurance and curiosity for the world around them.

Whether it’s finding great adventures hiking at local parks or gardening in the back yard.

I know that all of the hard work and long days are worth it. Please share your family’s inspiring health ventures. I love to learn from others!!

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