{GIVEAWAY} DINNER IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS BY CANADIAN LIVING

Ripleyoutside

We're in that perfect seasonal sweet spot. My favourite time of year.

The colours are bright, the air is crisp, the sun still warm in the afternoon.

Oh, and the kids are back in school. 

It's funny isn't it? How the summer starts to draw to a close and you find yourself longing for the fall and new beginnings and the return to routine. And then it finally comes and you're floundering about, trying to figure out everyone's schedules, pining for the dog days of summer again.

We are in the third week of school now and the second week of extracurricular activities.

And because we like to live dangerously, we added a new puppy to the melee a few days into September.

I'm lucky to work from home and have a lot of flexibility, but it also means I'm the number one entertainer for our tiny furball. Read: I am getting nothing done.

But kids still need to be fed (and oh boy, my kids love to be fed) and I'm still determined to put together wholesome and delicious meals. But time is of the essence these days. And easy-to-make recipes (that can be doubled for lunches) are a must.

Simon & Schuster Canada recently gifted me a copy of the new Canadian Living: Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less cookbook, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Canadianliving

{Photo credit: Simon & Schuster}

Though we a family of tried-and-true recipes, I like to add a couple new offerings to the mix throughout the month. The ones that are a hit, get added to the list. Since everyone in this house is a fan of seafood, I went with a Trout Meunière recipe from the book. It took less than five minutes to prepare and offered a very pleasing (not too fancy, because that never goes over too well) taste to a family staple. I added steamed broccoli and wild rice and the plates were wiped clean by enthusiastic diners. 

Trout

 

Mexican tortilla soup

There are over 90 recipes in this book (and did I mention they take less than 30 minute!?!). Meat, fish, stir fries, soups, curries, pastas, pizzas and much more. 

I am thrilled to be able to give five lucky readers a copy of this family cookbook, compliments of Simon & Schuster. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Just enter below and the winners will be selected randomly.

Happy dinner making, everyone. And good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

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{GUEST POST}: Back To School Bars

Happy New Year! It's good to be back to routine and familiar rhythms, isn't it? Though when it comes to making school lunches, I'm sure there are more than a few of us who want to stay in holiday mode awhile longer. 

Let me help by introducing my very first guest blogger, Maggie Savage. I approached Maggie because I'm not only a big fan of her blog She Let Them Eat Cake, but of her beautiful outlook on family life.

Maggie

Maggie has dedicated herself to cooking and living gluten-free since her husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2004 and later made the decision to raise her two young children gluten-free as well.

Although we aren't gluten-free at our house, we've become more aware of the value of reducing processed elements in the food we eat, which naturally eliminated a lot of gluten.

In the past year, I set a goal of putting less ready-made and more homemade food into my kids' lunches. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying. 

Maggie does a great job of showing us that gluten-free is not only healthy but delicious. Her photos are gorgeous and her knowledge and creativity are plentiful. 

Welcome, Maggie! So happy to have you here. 

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As we head into the new year (I know, I can’t believe it either), I feel like I’m stuck in a lunchbox rut.  My kids seem happy enough with the same old lunches, but I’m ready to switch things up a bit! 

Packing a healthy, delicious, nut-free and gluten-free lunch isn’t always that easy.  I like to make sure every lunch has some sort of a homemade treat.

Here are some tips to help you switch up the lunchbox a little.  

  • Find a good, nutrient-dense cupcake or cake recipe, make sure it’s one that your child has tested and approved. Top mini cupcakes (I use a mini muffin pan) with chocolate avocado pudding instead of sugar-filled icing. Keep a few frozen so you can pull them out on a moment’s notice – they’ll be thawed by lunchtime!
  • Get a good cookie recipe too – I like to make sure my school-bound baked goodies are nutrient dense and nut-free. Baking with grain-free flours and high protein grains will help to balance out the sugar rush and make for optimum learning (and less tummy aches).  I like to use unrefined sugars in my baking too (sucanat, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey).
  • Get your kids into the kitchen and baking with you.  I let my kids pick a recipe from one of my cookbooks, that way I know they’re at least going to try it.  And we always have fun baking together, plus it’s basically science and math in action!  They’ll be proud when they see their baked good in the lunchbox.
  • Instead of buying granola bars, try making your own.  Store-bought granola bars are actually quite high in sugar and oils.  Making your own let’s you choose healthier ingredients, and you can cater the ingredients to your kiddies tastes. 

These gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free chocolate chip granola bars are delicious and nutritious (definitely not taste-free). 

Maggiebars

2 cups certified gluten-free oats (if gluten is an issue)

1 cup pumpkin seed flour (ground raw pumpkin seeds)

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup raw sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ cup coconut oil, liquefied

1 tbsp psyllium husks

½ cup local honey

2 tablespoons ground chia combined with ¼ cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ cup chocolate chips or dried fruit

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper (put a little oil under the parchment to make it stick to the pan).

2. In a large bowl stir together the oats, pumpkin seed flour, pumpkin seeds, sesame or sunflower seeds, sea salt, and cinnamon.

3. In a smaller bowl, combine the coconut oil, psyllium husks, honey, chia and water mixture, and vanilla.

4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine.  Fold in chocolate chips or dried fruit. 

5. Use a wet spatula to press the mixture into the prepared pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (watch them).  Cool ten minutes in the pan and then carefully remove the granola bars (still in parchment).  Cool another ten minutes and then carefully remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.   Cut into desired sizes.  Refrigerate granola bars in an air-tight container or wrapped in saran.  These can easily be stored in the freezer for future use.

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You can also be inspired by Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

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{Giveaway}: love notes

Luvunote
Getting four kids up, fed, dressed, packed and out the door for school each day feels a bit like running a marathon. And I'm doing it five days a week. There isn't a lot of room in our finely-tuned routine for one-on-one chats or extra hugs—even when I know they could use them. 

So I sneak the occasional note into their agendas or lunch bags, to let them know they are never far from my thoughts.  

Bentonotes

To help keep my awesome readers and fellow lunch-makers inspired, I've partnered with Every Day Grace (owned by mom and fellow lunch-maker, Lindsay) to give one lucky reader some Love Notes 4 Lunch Totes.

Your kids already know you love them, but an little reminder never hurts. 

Just leave a comment below, letting me know how the first month of school is going for you and your crew. I always appreciate helpful ideas and tips, too.

I'll randomly select the winner in a couple of weeks and Lindsay will send the love notes to your front door!

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If you want to see what I got up to in the bento boxes the first week, find me on Instagram

Easy not fancy, that's how I get it done. 

 

 

 

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{GIVEAWAY}: let's do lunch

Pizzahearts

 

I see you over there stomping your feet.

Go ahead, get it out of your system.

You have to warm up, after all.

There's 10 months of lunch box filling coming for you, and it starts soon.

Really, really soon.

If your day-to-day life is anything like mine, I know you're getting flogged with words like:

LUNCH! TIPS! IDEAS! FUN!

And I know you're silent screaming every time you see them. 

I did, too. 

Sure, you say, I've seen your Instagram photos. I've read your enthusiastic posts

You're some kind of lunch box fanatic. You seem happy. You seem excited. 

It's true.

I'm a born-again lunch-maker. 

Take a minute, and read my story

I used to be resentful, too.

I would promise myself that I'd make the lunches the night before, and then I'd be standing in the kitchen every morning wailing in despair, while staring into rows of empty containers.  

It wasn't the way I wanted my kids to see me, before sending them to school, and it wasn't the message I wanted to send them about food.

Filling their boxes with good food, giving them healthy choices, being happy to do it—that's what I needed to do. 

Cheesedoggie

 So, let's do lunch. 

Let's start the new school year with a renewed commitment to those lunches. 

I've said it before, your kids will thank you.

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Since beginning my bento journey, I've received countless emails and questions from readers about how to get started. 

I am thrilled (BEYOND!) to be partnering with my go-to lunch-making supplier.

FENIGO is a Canadian business, that offers impeccable customer service, amazing selection, and flat-rate shipping within Canada.

WARNING: You will fall down a rabbit-hole when you click on their site.

ONE lucky Canadian reader will win a $75 voucher to be spent on the bops and whistles of their choice. 

Just leave a comment below. Vent, share, squeal.

AWESOME!

I will randomly select the winner on Monday, August 26th.

If you share this post on Facebook or Twitter, you will gain an extra entry.

Go forth and spread the lunch making love.

We're all in this together.

I can't wait to see what you create.

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Bentolunchsandwich

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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