Monday, April 20, 2015

Park It!

by Dale Ho

Explore sounds, rhythms and language structures with this fun and very easy to set up word game called “Park It". Ideal for all learners.

What you need:
Create several parking lot sheets like the one pictured on your left using various sight words or vocabulary, you'll also need some toy cars.

How to play:
Take turns with your child reading the words and parking the cars. One partner reads while the other parks, then switch! This activity is also ideal for practising new vocabulary, spelling words, match the word or letter, word families and more!

Do you have a preschooler? Instead of words use letters and have your little one say the letter and then sound it out.  Best of all...have FUN with it!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Are You Drinking Smoothies Yet?

Some of our favourite ingredients.
by Arja Pennanen Lytle

Shakes, smoothies, no matter what you call them, these blended liquid meals continue to grow in popularity, and with good reason!  They’re portable, easy to make, and a great way to get a little extra nutrition into your day.  In order to make a shake a balanced meal, however, and not just a sweet tasting drink, you need to do more than just blend up some fruit and yoghurt. 

A well-balanced meal or snack is made up of protein, good quality fat, and complex carbohydrates.  All of these components keep your blood sugar levels stable and keep you feeling full for much longer than just eating something like fruit on its own will.  You don’t need fancy (and expensive!) protein powders, though if you’re making a recovery shake for after a good workout you may want to consider a good quality, clean protein from companies like Genuine Health, Sunwarrior, Manitoba Harvest, or Progressive (to name a few).

You can use whole foods to build a filling, balanced shake that still tastes great!  Here are some of my favourite ingredients:

A well balanced snack!
Liquid (base):
-nut/seed milk (almond, hemp, coconut, etc)
-coconut water

Fresh vegetables:
-spinach, Swiss chard, kale or other leafy green
-celery (if you don’t have a high speed blender it may stay a little stringy)

Fruit (fresh or frozen):
-banana (I prefer to only use ½, and definitely don’t add it to every shake)
-citrus (orange, clementine, etc)

-pumpkin seeds
-sunflower seeds
-hemp hearts
-cooked chickpeas
-good quality protein powder (no sugar or artificial flavours, from a clean source)

-cinnamon (helps balance blood sugar)
-fresh ginger (anti-inflammatory, and tastes great with things like pears and blueberries)
-turmeric (fresh or dry – powerful anti-inflammatory) 

Fat/fibre (especially high in Omega 3 fatty acids):
-flax seeds
-chia seeds
-hemp hearts

Fun add-ins:
-raw cacao
-goji berries

If you’re new to making shakes I would suggest keeping it simple to start; almond milk, baby spinach, strawberries/bananas/oranges, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and some chia seeds.  You’ll need to play around with ingredients and amounts as time goes on, but don’t be afraid to experiment!  As your taste buds adapt, add more greens and other add-ins, and use less of the sweet fruits (banana, mango, etc).

Shakes make great snacks and meals for kids too, especially kids on the go with a lot of activities!  They provide a hit of balanced nutrition, but are easy to digest.  Perfect for sipping in the car after school on the way to an activity.

As far as blenders go, there are so many to choose from.  Lots of people just use a simple one like the Magic Bullet, though blending tougher greens like kale, and even some nuts and frozen fruits might leave you with a shake that needs to be chewed.  I’d recommend going with a blender that has a stronger motor, but you don’t have to get a Vitamix or BlendTec if that’s not in the budget!  Oster Versa has a new high speed blender that might be worth trying, and Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid also have models with slightly more powerful motors too.  I made the switch to a BlendTec a few years ago and can definitely tell you it was worth every penny I spent.  When you’re ready to make the jump, you won’t regret it!  You can often find Vitamix and BlendTec on sale through Costco.

Even if you’re already a seasoned shake maker it might be time to switch up your routine and try some new ingredients.  You’d be surprised how yummy fresh turmeric can be with some ginger, pineapple, clementine, and Swiss chard!  Give it a try!

Happy blending!

Learn more about Arja of  Balance Body and Soul!

"I'm a holistic nutritionist & mama to a busy kindergartner with a passion for teaching people how to eat to feel good!  I love to help people sleep better, think better, feel sexier, and just generally more balanced by putting the focus on eating foods that make you feel your best.  I use whole foods, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and some supplements to help people correct imbalances and achieve their health and wellness goals."