Wednesday 19 December 2012

Breakfast Smiles

Today I am highlighting some wonderful volunteers over at Prince Charles Public School. Their breakfast program runs every morning, Monday to Friday from September to June from 8:30am to 9:00am. This is their 7th year in operation and it is so fantastic to see the community take part in serving nutritious breakfast and lunch to over 80 students. This year already they have served over 4500 meals to deserving students.

Dillon Consulting Group brings supplies and prepares breakfast twice a month. Rotary Club of London also prepares delicious pancakes once a month. 

Kudos to Martin, Muriel and Braam from Dillon Consulting for bringing breakfast smiles to students at Prince Charles.
Keep up the great work!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Brain Food

Health promotion is an important part of any nutrition program. Parents, teachers, volunteers and all those in education know how crucial it it to not only offer nutritious choices but to educate young minds about a healthy lifestyle.

The most recent issue of Professionally Speaking, the magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers featured 6 great resources called Appetite for Learning you can use in your school. These resources are highlighted below, along with some local suggestions you can use in your classrooms or schools.

This website features many tips and tools for teachers with K to 8 students. Sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, you can book free workshops, download resources for your classroom or find online games for students.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada offer free and ready to use presentations and resources for teachers you can download or order. Who doesn't love free stuff?

Teaching kids how to grow and prepare food for themselves is an important part of healthy eating. There are organizations that will come into your classroom free of charge to get kids excited about cooking and eating healthy foods. 
Active Chefs - this program is for students in Hamilton, Peel and Halton.
Growing Chefs - this program is based in London and offers a variety of programs for different grades.

The Ministry of Education offers tips and tools to help make your school healthier. There is also information on a pilot project called Eating Well Looks Good on You. In partnership with the Food Network's David Rocco, Real Food for Real Kids and Foodland Ontario, this program delivers nutritional recipes using fresh locally grown food. Check out some of the recipes here.

Eat Right Ontario has developed Bake it Up - a collection of healthier recipes for bake sales. Use these recipes for fundraisers or try them at home.

Andrea Curtis, a Toronto based writer has written a book titled What's for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World. Her website also features teaching tools within the Ontario curriculum.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Food of the Month

This month Apples for the Teacher, is highlighting a "Pearfectly" delicious fruit. This fruit is in season right now and the most popular in Ontario is the Bartlett. Have you guessed it yet?

That's right, it's the pear!

Pears are a great fruit to eat raw but also cook or bake nicely. If you don't like the skin, don't peel the pears until you are ready to eat or use. Here are some pear themed recipes I've rounded up that would be great to use to introduce students to trying pear if they haven't before.

Taken from:
 Try slicing a pear and serving it with cottage cheese for dipping. The cottage cheese or soft cheese can also be spread on a cracker and topped with a pear slice.

Taken from:
Halve a pear and core it.
Mix together chopped nuts, seeds, cereal or trail mix with honey.
Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out pear.

Taken from:
Thinly slice the pears. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 2.5 or 3 hours at 200 degrees F. Feel free to season the pear slices with your favourite seasoning like cinnamon or nutmeg.

Taken from:
 Using a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle your favourite kind of cheese. Cover the cheese with pear slices. Roll up the tortilla and eat as is, or microwave until the cheese melts. Cut the rolled tortillas into slices to serve.

Pear Salsa
Recipe adapted from: Foodland Ontario

  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced
  • 1 Sweet Orange Pepper, diced
  • 2 firm but ripe pears, cored and diced
  • 2 tbsp Red Onion, minced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (approx)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In bowl, combine tomato, orange pepper pears, basil or cilantro, red onion, oil, vinegar and seasoning. Serve with pita chips or on top of crusty bread for bruschetta.

Friday 30 November 2012

Fundraiser Friday

There are some great things happening out there at different schools. Today I'm highlighting a fundraiser idea from Princess Elizabeth Public School. This is such a great idea especially around the holidays but can really be used any time of the year.Thanks to Nancy Moseley for sharing this great idea! I know this year's fundraiser will be very successful. All of the funds raised go back toward the Breakfast Club and can be used to purchase equipment needs.

Basket Draw Fundraiser

Each classroom is given a theme for which students, parents and staff donate small items related to this theme. As items are brought in, they are put into the designated boxes in each classroom. Once everything is collected, the gift baskets are assembled and put on display for all staff and students to see. Tickets go on sale for $0.50 each or 3 for $1.00. The ticket buyer decides which basket they would like to place their draw tickets.

Theme Ideas:
  • Baker's Delight
  • Babies Own
  • Pamper Me
  • Chocolate Lover's
  • Fun Night
  • Craft Basket
  • Sports Lover
In addition to baskets, there are single draw prizes for such things as gift certificates or tickets to an event happening in the area.

It is very important to have staff support this fundraiser in order to communicate to students and parents and keep them reminded. Two weeks is a good amount of time to have students bring in items and another two weeks is sufficient for the ticket selling. If you would like more information on this fundraiser idea or letter templates for the school, please contact me or leave a comment.

Monday 26 November 2012

The True KitchenAid - Children

Kids Recipe Challenge: Eat Right Ontario has a great contest happening now until December 16, 2012. Ontario students in grade 1 - 6 can enter this and send in recipes to be featured on Eat Right Ontario's webpage at and other fabulous prizes!

Create an original, kid-friendly recipe for either school day breakfasts, school day lunches or after school snacks. Recipes will be judged on:
  • Nutrition – School day breakfast and lunch recipes should include THREE food groups from Canada’s Food Guide.
  • After school snack recipes should include TWO food groups from Canada’s Food Guide. For more information on Canada’s Food Guide click here.
  • Taste
  • Originality
  • Easy preparation: Points will be awarded for using commonly available ingredients and Ontario fruit, vegetables and other products (no brand names please).
  • Response to the question, “Why would kids like this recipe?” (100 words or less.) 
For more information on this contest visit the Eat Right Ontario webpage here.

Encourage students in your school to enter this contest and get them excited about cooking and eating healthy.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Get Involved!

While visiting programs over the past month, it is obvious that the schools that are able to involve the students in nutrition programs are always very successful. Students have great ideas and are enthusiastic about getting involved in their school. When students take ownership and responsibility for their own community, the results can sometimes be astounding. So why not use those eager students and have them help with your nutrition programs.

Having students assist in some way also helps eradicate the image that only 'poor and needy' students need snacks or breakfast. Everyone needs food and proper nutrition in order to feel ready for their day and participate.The stereotype that nutrition programs are only for those 'high risk' areas needs to disappear. This is a universal program.

I've listed some ideas on how you can get your students involved and have them assist you promote healthy eating and living.

  • Start a Healthy Foods Committee: students can help chair this and complete initiatives throughout the school.
  • Students can help you during the program: they can deliver snacks to classrooms or help with the preparation of food - depending on what it is. 
  • Nearby High School students need volunteer hours. Take advantage!
  • Have students come up with fundraisers and help make posters to promote it.
  • Students can help come up with fun themes or menu ideas they would like to try.
  • Have students do daily announcements with fun trivia or nutrition information.
 I would welcome any other suggestions or ideas if you'd like to leave a comment below!

Monday 12 November 2012

Whole Kids Foundation

If you would like to start a garden project for your school, the Whole Kids Foundation provides $2000 grants to schools that would like to apply.

Whole Kids Foundation is charitable organization that will provide children with access to healthy food choices through partnerships with schools, educators and organizations.Their mission is to improve children's nutrition and wellness with the goal of ending the childhood obesity epidemic.

You will find more information here. Hurry now and apply. Applications are due November 15th!

Friday 9 November 2012

We Remember

I'm sure there were many schools that held assemblies and moments of silence today to honour and remember those that fought for our freedom. The poppy is a long standing symbol for Remembrance Day all over Canada. Why not use your snacks to remind students and children how important of a day it is.

I stumbled across some great ideas and came up with my own as well.

Taken from Canadian Family.
Red bell pepper, cut into segments
Black olives, sliced
Cucumber, sliced into thin strips
Vegetable Dip - optional

Arrange the ingredients in the shape of a poppy as shown in the picture above.

Picture taken from Happy Canadian Home
Cherry Tomatoes
Black Olives or raisins
Cream Cheese
English Muffin

1. Spread cream cheese on both sides of english muffins.
2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange in the shape of a poppy (refer to picture above).
3. Place a raisin or black olive in the centre.
Note: The picture above is not the ingredients listed for this recipe. It is simply to help you visualize. 

Thursday 8 November 2012

Crunch Pictures

I was able to visit 4 schools this year that held The Great Big Crunch. Each school had it's own style to the event but each one was a great success and it was so great to see all the students crunching into apples and enjoying eating healthy!

JP Robarts Public School

Bright and early in the morning, students were given apples to crunch in their own classrooms after an announcement was made. One, two, crunch!

Northbrae Public School

After their morning recess, students came back into their classes eager to crunch on the apples waiting for them.

A great literacy activity as well. Sensory descriptions as you eat the apple.

Victoria Public School

All the students gathered in the library and were given crunchy, shiny apples to bite into. 220 students chanted together their "Apple Rap".

One, Two Apple Crunch
Three, Four Apple Munch
We crunch and munch, and munch and crunch
Until we have no more!

Ecole Elementaire Academie de la Tamise

In the afternoon, the entire school gathered in the gym for The Great Big Crunch. Skits, songs and dances were performed in honour of the event. After they celebrated the apple, all the staff and students crunched in unison
Students really got into "apple mode" by using body paint and stickers to decorate themselves!
Teachers show students how to 'bust a move'
Before they bit into their apples. 
After biting!

Madame "Pommette" for the day!
 See you next year!

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Food of the Month

I wanted to highlight Cauliflower for this month. It is in season this month and it is such a versatile vegetable. Not only is it a great raw snack on it's own, but it can be cooked and used in so many different ways. Before I share with you some of my favourite ways to enjoy cauliflower, here are some fun facts you may want to share with your students if you are featuring this veggie anytime this month in nutrition programs.

Cauliflower has such a mild flavour you can easily 'hide' the vegetable in your favourite dishes to amp up the nutrition value. For example: add chopped cauliflower to Macaroni and Cheese. I mean who doesn't love a great cheese sauce on their vegetables? Or, when making mashed potatoes, throw in some cauliflower - the kids will never know the difference!

A great recipe to try, would also be using cauliflower in place of potatoes.

Picture taken from I Breathe, I'm Hungry
Mashed Cauliflower Recipe:
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup milk or cream (may need more or less)
1 tbsp butter (again, use more or less depending on taste)
Optional Items:
Any other spices - chives, salt and pepper, paprika, etc

Boil the cauliflower in water until soft. Mash the cauliflower until desired consistency is met. Add milk, butter and any other spices or ingredients you wish to flavour with. Mix until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

A treat all kids love is popcorn. Why not try this healthier take on popcorn.

Picture and recipe adapted from A Health Foodie

Cauliflower Popcorn Recipe:
1 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp olive oil
Other spices or seasonings - paprika, turmeric, curry powder, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, onion powder, etc.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Combine all ingredients you are using in a bowl. Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes. Be sure to turn and flip the cauliflower a couple times while roasting.
*You can also season and enjoy the 'popcorn' raw without roasting.

Surprisingly, you can even make a pizza crust from cauliflower! Add all the right ingredients and you can have a true veggie pizza! You can find the recipe here.

Happy crunching!