Bake The Cookies

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I was raised in a culture of love-by-the-way-of-food. It comes down from both my mom and dad’s sides, and I’ve gladly inherited that legacy since becoming a parent. Food is made from scratch and piled on plates whenever there are more than two family members gathered in a room. For me, it doesn’t just bring comfort; it’s a call out for togetherness.

We’re nearing the end of a school year and looking forward to the shift in gears and a chance to let our collective guard down. We’ve filled the summer calendar with opportunities to relax and recharge (we’re not used to so many blank squares!). We do love to experience new things and spend time with other people, but being home together is always the favoured choice when we need a break from the rush and hustle.

I can almost see the finish line, but that doesn’t mean I’m not spending a lot of time looking back on the year behind us. I’m wondering if we got it right and what could have gone better, and I also worry about the year that’s waiting up ahead. When I’m feeling untethered like this, I usually go straight to the kitchen and start thinking about which favourites or comforts I can offer up like love notes. Last weekend, I landed on these power-packed breakfast cookies. My older kids are about to enter weeks of cramming and exams, so I’m trying to fill the freezer with quick snacks. This recipe was easy to double batch. And the cookies freeze well in an air-tight freezer bag.

They are actually a variation of a recipe I found here. I substitute the tahini with applesauce and add chia seeds for my own version. Thanks to Erin and Dara for their fabulous recipe (they have many more if you check out their site), which I’ve pasted below with my own twist.

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed and chia seeds (or hemp hearts)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ripe banana (mashed)

½ cup unsweetened apple sauce

⅓ cup maple syrup

½ cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, whole wheat flour, ground flax seed, chia and/or hemp seeds, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk mashed banana, apple sauce, and maple syrup.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well combined. Add chocolate chips and mix again.

4. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop batter about 3 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten cookies lightly with your hand. Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and brown around the edges.

5. Let cool for five minutes on a baking sheet. Remove to cooling rack and let cool completely.


Why Feeding Kids Matters

Why Feeding Kids Matters

It was my middle daughter who first set me on a journey to feeding kids in schools. She'd always been good about packing her own lunch and eating what she brought without complaint. Then, three years ago, I noticed (with alarm) that she was bringing her food home untouched. I wondered how she was making it through the day without any nutrition. She initially gave me excuses about being distracted or not having enough time, but now I know she was trying to figure out how to explain it.

Finally, after I had reached a point of being exasperated and quite worried, she admitted the classmate she sat beside at that time didn't have enough food in his lunch bag. And because of the school policy that prohibits students from sharing food (for allergy safety), she felt unable to eat her lunch beside him. She reached a point that it was so upsetting to her, she would pull out a book instead of opening her bag in front of him.

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Why You Should Say Yes To That Birthday Party Invitation

Why You Should Say Yes To That Birthday Party Invitation

I don’t know your child, and I don’t know you. But I do know there are parents who find this hard. I do know there are parents who lie awake at night wondering if their child will have the courage to hand out the invitations in the morning. I do know there are parents who hope there are other parents teaching their children to have the compassion it takes to show up.

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How To Find Books Your Kids Will Read

Lined up at midnight for the  Harry Potter  release. He finished it the next day.

Lined up at midnight for the Harry Potter release. He finished it the next day.

There is nothing that gets me into my minivan and pulling out of the driveway faster than a refrigerator without eggs or a kid who has "nothing to read".

All four of my kids are readers, but my twelve-year-old son is an avid reader. He's exactly like me and one of his uncles at the same age: buried inside a book whenever possible. When he gets desperate (after he's already re-read his own collection for the billionth time and can't take it anymore) he'll wander into his sisters' rooms in search of anything that has a cover and some words.

He reads the newspaper on the weekends and the back of cereal boxes and yogurt containers in the morning. And as much as I'd like to keep adding to his humongous collection, I haven't been able to find a money or book tree anywhere (we do buy series that all the kids will read and everyone in the family gets books for birthdays and Christmas). So whenever there's a plea for more books, I go from library to library hoping they've ordered new ones.

Today, I stopped in on my lunch hour and it was quiet. There's a humour series a friend of mine had mentioned, and I asked the librarian at the information desk if it was available. I do my best to stay current about what kids are reading, and I also rely on word-of-mouth from other parents. But there is so much out there, and I often wonder if I'm missing out on books that would really appeal to their individual interests. Of course, each of the kids has a preference for book style and it's hard to keep tabs on all those genres.

The librarian looked at me, took in the fact I was there on my own and then asked if I had a few moments to spare. She proceeded to teach me the best way to find books my kids would read. My tried-and-true method has always been to set the kids loose with a basket, so they can choose their own books.

This time, I sat down at the computer with a very skilled librarian and learned about databases and Read Alike lists. GAME CHANGER. See also: RABBIT HOLE.

I'm always skimming articles about best book series and I read the book review section of the weekend paper looking for suggestions, but it all ends up cluttered in my to-do list. Read alike lists are so easy to use and something the kids can do themselves.

I also learned about the hidden resources on our library's web page. Did you know many communities purchase access to specialized databases?

Go over to your library's homepage and look for digital resources. And then look for databases and/or research. Scroll through and look for links related to kids. For example, our library has provided the community with access to the Novelist K8 database, which can be searched by age group, genres, sub-types and (this is the best) categories like "funny & gross". To access the database, you do need to enter through a library or school.

Before I left the library yesterday, I was handed a pile of new books to bring home (already knowing they would appeal to the kind of humour he appreciates) and some lists of other books to explore when he's ready. The librarian also put a hold on the humour series I had originally come in to find, and I'll be receiving a call when they're ready to be picked up.

If you have a reader in your home (or if you are looking for books for yourself), go introduce yourself to a librarian.

Seriously, they are wizards in disguise.