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5 fun and creative back-to-school lunch ideas

Making back-to-school lunches can be tedious business. Who wants to eat the same sandwich every day? Instead of falling into those bad (yet speedy) habits, why not start the year with a kick and make fun lunches for your kids can brag about at school. On the first day of school today, my daughter was expecting a sandwich and when I told her on the way to school that she as going to be eating soy chicken nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs, she was so excited. Seeing her smile — that’s what makes the effort worth it.

Pizza Quesadillas
Pizza Quesadillas
  1. Lunchbox Quesadilla Pizza

The homemade quesadilla pizza is an easy meal that kids will love. It is also a simple way to conceal vegetables in your child’s food. Simply fry a tortilla with cheese (or vegan cheese), spread on some pizza sauce, and then place cheese and the desired toppings. Cover with another tortilla. Make sure to flip it and brown on both sides. Pitas or tortillas work well enough for these pizzas (or pizza sandwiches), but homemade dough is also a tasty option enjoyable.

By Evan Amos.
By Evan Amos.
  1. Kid’s trail mix

If you are having a tough time cramming all of the snacks into one single lunchbox (and wasting Ziploc bags), why not mix them all into one container? A kid’s trail mix can be made up of several different options including yogurt raisins, goldfish crackers, grapes, nuts and crackers. This is a fun snack option because you can change it daily, which always makes it a surprise for your child.

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  1. Lunch “fun due”

If your child is getting bored of sandwiches (and it is still too hot for warm lunches), a “fun due” is another way to make a creative meal. By tearing up bread into pieces and then providing a variety of dips, it makes a kid-friendly version of a fondue. It is important to make healthy and filling dips, including blending fruits and veggies with almond milk to make a thick sauce that can be dipped into. Include cheese cubes and other finger foods to complete the meal.

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  1. Lady Fruit Face

When I was a child, I loved playing with my food. I even went so far as to melt marshmallows into little statues. For this creative snack idea, take different fruits and make fun fruit faces with them. Using an orange slice as the face, take an carrot stick for the mouth, grapes for the hair and raisins for eyes. Kids love seeing the various creations and it will make them excited to eat fruit and vegetables every day.

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  1. Mini Pancakes with vegetables and fruit

Instead of using lunch foods to make a meal, try a breakfast option instead. Make small pancakes and freeze them. They pair well with fruit. Include a little bit of syrup and several different types of fruits for a well-rounded and yummy meal. Pancakes are also another food that is easy to hide healthy ingredients such as flax seed, zucchini, or chocolate hemp protein powder.

Getting kids to enjoy food can be a difficult task sometimes and making creative lunches helps keep them interested in eating well. Using fun foods as a way to conceal healthy items in lunch is another way to ensure your child keeps their energy up and is excited to eat something fresh every day.

What are you packing in your child’s lunches? Let us know in the comments below!

How to rock a music festival with a five-year old

Bringing my daughter to her first music festival seemed like a daunting experience. I stressed over what snacks to bring and what type of sunscreen would be appropriate. Once we were out the door though, our excitement grew as we headed to hear some great music.

Upon entering Field Trip, a music festival that was held at Fort York (250 Fort York Blvd) on June 4-5, we were flooded with the sounds, smells and sights of festival culture. People were milling about everywhere, and there were food trucks bordering the sides of the venue leading to the main stage. We decided the best way to begin our adventure into the festival was to take care of the necessities first; a bathroom break and water.

We headed to the outdoor washrooms and it took a great deal of convincing to get my daughter to go in. I had to tell her it was a spaceship and promise to hold her hand because she was afraid she would fall in. Water was surprisingly difficult to track down at the event, and more H20 areas would be a smart addition to the festival. Once we had our bottles filled, we headed into the circus.

Fieldtrip with my daughter and I.
Fieldtrip with my daughter and I.

One of the most noticeable and comforting things I noticed right away was the fact that there were several kids wandering about with 30-something hip parents holding ciders. The event created a symbiotic relationship between snotty-nosed three-foot nature lovers and rock n’roll parents who weren’t quite ready to give up their love for music. I naturally felt right at home with my little tyke.

We settled in to watch Boy & Bear, a great indie band that played a stellar live show. My daughter was swaying to the music and we pulled out our refreshments to combat against the sun. Disclaimer: Bring fresh fruit. It is refreshing, cool, easy to pack and will provide a good snack. I also brought vegan muffins, but found the baked goods didn’t hit the spot in quite the same way as cooling grapes. Bringing a blanket to sit on and a hat for my daughter was also a lifesaver in the heat.

After a couple shows, we hit the kid’s zone known as the TD Day Camp. It had a bouncy castle that my daughter loved and ping pong tables. It was a nice break for her from the sun, but I do feel more events could’ve been offered for the kids. My daughter spent more time rolling down hills than enjoying the activities offered.

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We returned to dance to Santigold, chasing bubbles along the way. Santigold is fronted by lead singer, Santi White, who has a reggae-infused electronic rock feel and a great on-stage presence. She uses props and colourful backgrounds that attracted my daughter’s attention wholeheartedly. After Santigold, we had worked up quite an appetite and went on an adventure to find food.

Food is always a dilemma because I am vegan and my daughter is vegetarian — and she also happens to be extremely picky. I’m saying PB & J sandwiches every single day of her life. I was pleasantly surprised with the vegan options at the festival. We managed to find a delicious quinoa salad (of which my daughter refused to try), a Portobello vegan burger (of which my daughter again refused to try) and a grilled cheese for the little lady. Before we had successfully found the grilled cheese, a colossal tantrum ensued over the possibility of having to eat quinoa salad and this resulted in a time-out on the back of a food truck. She had her arms crossed, lip pouting, and people were sufficiently amused.

After eating, my daughter made some friends by playing in what I assume was supposed to be an art piece, but quickly became a jungle gym for the kids. I allowed her to play for a bit (desperately needing a break for a moment) and then we went on our merry way. We received free drinks from David’s Tea out of sheer luck because they were closing and we were passing by, and after dousing it with sugar, my daughter was happy to have her herbal tea “juice”. Unfortunately, when we were waiting for The National to come on, the drink was crushed by a passerby, resulting in a few quick crocodile tears.

Once The National came on, everyone was happy again. My daughter was getting quite tired so I wrapped her in the blanket, and swayed her in my arms while belting out the lyrics to one of my favourite bands. She actually fell asleep about 10 metres from the stage, which amazed me considering it was a live concert. I knew it was time to pack it in and we headed home, happy and exhausted from our field trip.

Overall, I learned a lot about how to take my daughter to a music festival. Bring headphones to cover their ears. It is imperative for their sensitive hearing and it looks adorable. I also will bring activities for our next venture. Waiting for bands to come on can be tedious and dull for kids and some colouring or a Frisbee can help pass the time. Always bring fresh snacks and a map in case they don’t have printed guides available. It also helped that I made a schedule in advance to make the day as smooth as possible.

I loved Field Trip, and its family-friendly vibes. It is a lot of fun to share my love of music with my kid in a safe and fun environment. We will definitely be going next year, and to many more festivals ahead in Summer 2016!

Relationship deal breakers

Recently one of my closest friends has been arguing with her manfriend of two years. She doesn’t want babies and he does; is that a deal breaker? They seem to think that it might be and I don’t blame him or her because how can she be the girl that stops him from being a father? The resentment and the guilt would ruin whatever love they have for each other, maybe not today or even a couple years from now, but eventually they would hate each other.

I don’t know if I want babies, I don’t think I do, and I’ve told Boyfriend that from day one. Children are not in my plan and he seems to be okay with that. But every once and a while I worry that maybe one day that will be a deal breaker for him. Maybe one day he’ll want to be a dad and it will feel like it’s too late to make that decision.

It’s strange that I’m in this place now, that at 25 I think about the wedding and the babies and I wonder what I want ­five years from now. Do I want to be a mother or a wife? Or will fur babies and common law do for me?

I think about a future with Boyfriend a lot; he’s my person and a future without him seems impossible to imagine, but I could do it if it meant that he got what he wanted or needed out of life, if it meant that he was happier then I could do it. But I wonder what his deal breakers are. Is there something that he needs as much as my friend’s man needs to be a father? I like to think that we’ve been honest enough with each other these past nine months, that if there was something he needed that I couldn’t give that we could end it rather than stay together and hurt each other.

When I imagine our future I think about the little things: moving in together, getting a puppy and enjoying the day to day. I’m not excited to walk down the aisle because who knows if I’ll ever make it there but I’m excited for the day when we wake up together and neither of us have to rush home. I’m excited for the day when we do the IKEA trip — partially because we need furniture and partially because testing your relationship in the hell that is IKEA is fun in a sick and twisted kind of way.

Maybe we don’t have any deal breakers, maybe we won’t have to worry that we love each other but want different things, but if that day comes I hope I’m strong enough to say goodbye. I won’t lie though: I think Boyfriend and I have a bright future ahead of us, many stupid IKEA arguments, late night conversations about nothing and breakfasts in bed. We can do anything and we have all the time in the world to figure it out.