By Michelle Lauer, Certified Nutritional Practitioner
Struggling to find nut-free snack options to send to school? With most school boards now implementing a nut-free policy, it’s more important than ever that you find delicious alternatives to those almond-packed granola bars you used to send to school. As the busy back to school season gets into full swing, we’ve put together simple, handy and allergy-friendly recipes that you can throw together on Sunday night and lean on throughout the hectic week. These 3 ingredient nut-free power balls are just that. Easy to make with your little helper, they pack a nutritious punch, keeping bellies full and minds focused until the next meal.
High in polyphenols, compounds that protect our cells from damage, dates are a fantastic alternative to those empty-calorie sweets we crave. These guys are loaded with fibre to keep our digestive tracts running smoothly.
Did you know that healthy fats from sources like coconuts are essential for growth and development? Quality fats are needed for cell construction, nerve function, digestion and hormone function. We also need these important fats to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, E, D and K. Still not convinced? Our brains are composed of over 60% fat, which just goes to show how important fats are when it comes to our health and well-being.
These little gems are loaded with zinc which is essential to boosting brain function and improving immune systems. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of plant-based omega 3, which is so important for brain development in our little ones. On top of these benefits, pumpkin seeds also contain a dose of magnesium, a mineral used for over 300 functions throughout the body. One of the most studied, is the mineral’s ability to promote relaxation during times of stress. I think we can all agree that we need some assistance in that department during the back to school whirlwind.
3 ingredient Power Balls
- 1 ½ cups pitted dates
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ⅓ cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 tbsp water
- Optional add-ins: cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest, cacao
Combine all ingredients except the water in a blender and blend on high until a dough consistency is formed. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough becomes sticky. Find your favourite little helper and roll the dough into bite-sized balls and store in the fridge for a healthy treat on-the-go! If you’re feeling fancy, these power balls look (and taste) great rolled in unsweetened shredded coconut or cacao powder!
Our new Portion Perfect Prep N' Store containers in Turquoise are a great compliment to the Portion Perfect Weight Loss Plan.
One of the coolest features of the system is the translucent containers. Foods stays fresh, stores well, and is readily identifiable at a glance - even on those dark winter mornings before we've had enough coffee to think about lunch.
The individual containers in the Prep 'n Store set are perfectly portioned so you can fix all your meals in advance and you won't have to give them a second thought.
It's that time of year again! The ghouls and goblins will soon be out in full force, and some seasonal vegetables will be decorating our front steps ...and puréed into pies.
But pumpkin deserves a rethink. It's low in cholesterol and sodium and very low in saturated fat, and loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, iron, phosphorus and other minerals, and dietary fiber. As a winter squash it will keep for a long while after its harvested, making it extremely handy.
- ¼ cup pine nuts, roasted
- 1 Mexican Chocolate disc (recommend Ibarra or Abuelita Chocolate)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 tablespoons condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
Over the past few years, the potential dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) have been made abundantly clear; it’s a known endocrine disrupt-er and has been linked to obesity, reproductive problems and cancer. Commonly found in plastics, BPA has been detected in the urine of 95% of Canadians aged three to 79, so we know it migrates from containers to their contents to us.
Although many plastics are now BPA-free, some people have lingering concerns and would rather bypass plastic altogether. For food storage and lunch options, moms and families want the same convenience and ease-of-cleaning that plastic provides, but without the harmful chemicals. Take a look at these five alternatives:
Study after study has proven glass to be inert and non-leaching. Glass can go in the dishwasher and be used in the oven or microwave. And, it uses less energy to manufacture compared to plastic. Available in every possible shape and size, glass water bottles and food containers can hold warm-hot and cold contents, reduce waste and are a smart choice for litterless lunches.
- Swap out your plastic water bottle for a glass one, like this one from Lifefactory.
- If you have a wee one in daycare, use glass to provide homemade baby food and breast milk.
2. Food-Grade Stainless Steel
This plastic alternative is high quality, sanitary and does not rust or corrode. You’ll find stainless steel in commercial kitchens, hospitals and other food applications as it can be sterilized. Stainless steel is an effective insulator, keeping food or beverages hot or cold. It lasts a lifetime and if it does dent with heavy usage, stainless steel is 100% recyclable.
- Ditch plastic straws and get stainless steel straws instead.
- Tiffins look amazing, keep food hot or cold and are incredibly practical!
3. Bamboo & Wood
Renewable and biodegradable, bamboo (a fast-growing grass) and wood are natural materials with antibacterial properties. When choosing a bamboo or wood product, look for organic, reclaimed or certified as renewable options.
- For kids who tend to lose utensils, use bamboo utensils as an alternative to plastic disposables.
4. Organic Cotton
Organic cotton is grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Sure, cotton reduces your environmental footstep, but when it comes to litterless lunch options like lunch and snack bags, it’s an abundantly practical option as it can be washed and used over and over again.
- Ditch the waste of plastic lunch and snack bags and go for organic cotton.
Many people find it difficult to kick the plastic bag habit. Why not go old-school and switch to renewable paper bags for sandwiches? When free of ink, minimally inked or printed with soy or other veggie-based inks, paper is compostable in just a few short months.
- Use paper alternatives to plastic sandwich bags like these ones from If You Care.
Share with us your favorite plastic alternatives