Welcome to Plugging Into Your Kids from Direct Energy. In this series, we will share ways you can spend focused time with your children – specifically by unplugging from technology. We want to help your family make a conscious effort to connect with each other by avoiding electronic devices and enjoying some real-life interaction
It’s back to school time, and life seems to transition out of the heated days of the summer doldrums into a fiery-paced return to school. As working parents, or parents with full plates, we need all the help we can get to make those early starts to school easy and stress free.
How often is your child in the kitchen with you?
In this installment of Plugging Into Your Kids by Direct Energy, we take you away from the distractions of your cell phone, work and all things electronic, and into the world of preparing nutritious school lunches that your child can help with.
Even young children can get involved. Not only does this teach your child about nutritious food prep and help you with busy mornings, but you’re spending quality time with your child in the process, away from screens and electricity.
Follow along as we share our favorite recipes to get you in the kitchen with your child, chatting it up, and making school lunches in the process.
With schools banning peanut butter and most nuts in general, a great way to send your kid to school with a snack is by making your own homemade toasted granola. This way you control what goes into the snack, and you can add nutrition while you’re at it!
Small glass jars are a great way to store the granola, rather than storing the snack in disposable zip lock bags.
Have your child as young as 4 years of age help you spread one cup of oats thinly onto a baking tray with a rim, and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
Stir in quinoa, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, shredded coconut, or whatever other crunchy nutrition you can imagine. Continue baking for another 10 minutes until the granola is a nice, golden brown. Allow to cool before adding into the jars. Add fun labels and let your child decorate them.
Local Fruit Salad
A great accompaniment to a main lunch meal is a little bowl of fruit salad. Start the journey into the kitchen by hitting the Farmer’s Market that morning and picking up what organic local fruit is in season.
Allow them to choose the fruit and take the lead. See how they talk with the farmers, and enjoy these precious moments!
When you return to the kitchen, have your child wash the fruit, and show them how to use a knife if they are older and more capable to do so. A serrated knife is preferable. Show them how to remove a stone from a peach or nectarine if they’ve never done so. Chop up the fruit, and remove grapes from stems. Drizzle with a little lemon juice to keep fruit fresh.
One large bowl of fruit salad will be plenty for an entire week of lunches, and maybe enough for an after school snack.
Homemade Fruit Roll Ups
These fruit roll ups are so delicious, you’ll be challenged not to bring them into work yourself!
Start by lining a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mats. Place fruit that didn’t make it into the fruit salad, and is now extra ripe, into a blender or food processor.
Stick with fruits such as mangos, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Blend evenly until all lumps are removed. Add the juice of half a lemon, and 1/2 a cup of honey, maple syrup, or dates to added sweetness. Continue to blend so the mixture is smooth.
Spread mixture across the tray. This is a great job for a younger child to do.
Place into the oven at 170 degrees F. Bake for approximately 3-4 hours. When the fruit mixture is dry to the touch, remove it to cool. Roll wax paper onto the top of the mixture and then peel them off together. Cut them into strips, and roll them up!
This is easy for the young ones to make, and can replace a sandwich a few days a week. Include crackers for some carbs.
Simply pick up a block of cheddar cheese, and if your child is old enough, have them cut it into cubes. Together, thread slices of salami, ham or turkey, along with the cheese onto kabobs.
Store them in an airtight container, and they’ll be fresh enough to place into lunch boxes each week.