Back-to-School Healthy Snacks and Superfoods

Where did the summer go? In the frenzy to get the kids ready for the new school year, we’re going to spend an absurd amount of money on clothes and supplies. But we often forget about healthy snacks and lunches. Here are some of our favorites.

kuli kuli morengaKuli Kuli
Move over, kale, there’s another superfood in town, and it’s called moringa. What, you’ve never heard of it? Well, you will soon, because moringa (leaves of the moringa oleifera tree, which grows in South Asia and West Africa) may very well be the world’s most nutritious green. Moringa has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and it may cure or prevent as many as 300 diseases. But it also packs a serious nutritional wallop. According to the good folks at Kuli Kuli (the Oakland, Caliornia-based importer), gram for gram, moringa has twice the protein of yogurt, 4x the vitamin A of carrots, 3x the potassium of bananas, 4x the calcium of milk, and 7x the vitamin C of oranges. Kuli Kuli has moringa as a powder, as a tea, or mixed with other ingredients into delicious, gluten-free, high-fiber, filling-and-satisfying vegan bars. https://www.kulikulifoods.com/

crispy fruit freeze dried Crispy Fruit freeze-dried fruit (Crispy Green)
Snack foods don’t get a lot simpler than this. Each bag of Crispy Fruit contains exactly one ingredient: tangerine, apple, Asian pear, banana, cantaloupe, mango, or pineapple. That’s it. The fruit itself tastes exactly like what it’s supposed to, is pleasantly crunchy, and kind of melts in your mouth. Your kids will love it—and so will you. Plus, it’s easy to pack and doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Buy it at Amazon and other retailers or at http://www.crispygreen.com/

mamma chiaMamma Chia
Mamma Chia has a wide range of, you guessed it, chia-based products that are gluten free, nutritionally dense, mostly vegan (some products contain a little bit of honey or milk), and non-GMO. Best of all, every one of the products we tried was really, really good. The granola clusters are great by themselves or sprinkled onto something else (yogurt, for example). If you’re new to chia, it’ll take you a few seconds to get used to the texture of the squeeze pouches and energy drinks. Available at many grocery stores or at http://www.mammachia.com/

chine chia organicsShine Organics
Shine has four nutrition-packed superfood pouches, each with a self-explanatory purpose: calm, elevate, purify, and revive. The ingredients are certified organic, gluten free, vegan, and kosher, and the chia seeds are milled so you’re less likely to get them stuck between your teeth. The pouches themselves are BPA-free. Shine pouches are technically for adults, but kids can certainly eat them, although they taste so good that you won’t want to share. Available at Target. http://shineorganics.com/

element rice cakesElement rice cakes (Element Snacks)
Being a gluten-, dairy-, and sugar-free household, we eat a lot of rice cakes. Unfortunately, aside from not having much taste, rice cakes also tend to fall apart, which means that the dog gets more of it than he deserves. Element rice (and corn) cakes have solved both of those problems by coating thin hard-to-crumble wafers in a layer of deliciousness: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, strawberries and cream, and sweet vanilla and orange. They’re free of gluten, GMO, preservatives, and corn syrup, and contain only 5 grams of sugar and 80 calories. Available at select retailers or http://www.elementsnacks.com/

juicy juice Juicy Juice
100% fruit juice, in moderation, is great. But kids sometimes drink too much of it. Juicy Juice comes in 12 mouth-watering, no-sugar-added flavors and are available in 4.25-ounce boxes (the equivalent of ½ cup of fruit), which makes them great for lunches. At retailers everywhere or http://juicyjuice.com/

Let’s All Cheer for Team Spirit

A and Z
Photo credit: Steve Baker/Flickr

Photo credit: Steve Baker/Flickr

Two, four, six, eight
Who do we appreciate?
The [opponents’ team name] !!

 

Anyone who’s played, or coached, or just watched youth sports has heard that cheer. The idea behind it is a good one: the winning team is thanking the opponents they just beat for having playing hard and done their best.

It’s also a subtle reminder to winning teams that how you win can be as important as whether you win. Insulting or humiliating your opponents simply isn’t acceptable, and neither is cheating or playing dirty. Being on a team that plays with integrity makes players feel good about themselves, helps bring them together, and builds team spirit.

That last part, building team spirit, is easier said than done.

A and ZWhen kids are very young, one of the primary goals of youth sports is to make whatever they’re involved in so much fun that they want to come back and do it again next year. Sure, people talk about winning, and the majority of coaches and parents support that goal by emphasizing sportsmanship, skill building, self-improvement, and teamwork. One of my favorite things about my daughters’ swim team is the emphasis on best times. There have been a number of instances when she’d ask me right after a race what place she’d come in, and I’ve had no idea. But I could always tell her whether she’d made a new best time.
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Mythical Childhood Characters: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Truth

Spoiler alert: Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real.  However, millions of children the world over take delight in believing such things.  When is the right time to align their beliefs with the truth?  Such is a tough question for moms and dads who are joyful about seeing their children excited yet feel guilty about fibbing to their kids, especially while teaching them that telling lies is bad.

When is the right time to tell them and how should you break the news?

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Small Steps Make a Blended Family

potted plant-sm

potted plant-smDear Mr. Dad: I’m engaged to an amazing man with a 9-year old son who’s with him every other weekend. When I first started going out with his father, the boy and I got along great. But the closer we get to the marriage, the worse things get between us. I’ve tried to talk with him about it, but he just screams at me that, “you’re not my mother!” and runs to his dad, whose usual response us to take his son’s side and spend more time with him. That leaves me feeling completely left out and unheard. I’m not trying to replace my fiancé’s son’s mother or interfere with his relationship with his dad. At the same time, I need more attention and understanding from my fiancé. How do I have these conversations?

A: The dynamic you’re describing is incredibly common, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant for anyone involved. Think about this from your boyfriend’s point of view: He’s trying to balance being there for you and being a good dad. Because he sees his son only every other weekend, he wants those precious days to be as conflict-free as possible, which may explain why he seems to be taking his son’s side over yours (although there really are no “sides” here). He may also be feeling guilty about not being able to be more involved, which may explain why his response to conflict is to spend more time with his son. Unfortunately, that leaves you out in the cold.
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How Our Microbiota Affects Our Health

Justin Sonnenburg, co-authhor of The Good Gut.
Topic:
Taking control of your weight, your mood, and your long-term health
Issues: The relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms that live in our gut; the ways those organisms (called “microbiota”) determine whether we’re sick or healthy, fit or obese, sunny or moody; why our microbiota is facing a “mass extinction event.”