The Art of Making Bread – Overnight

We are taking you on a journey to discover Saskatchewan through your kitchen. The art of making bread has been passed from generation to generation in our family and we are proud to share this beautiful satisfying art with you.

Rosemary olive bread - baked

Olive Rosemary Bread

Olive and rosemary are a delicious pairing of flavours. This bread can be made with ingredients sourced from farmers and producers of Saskatchewan. This recipe is a delicious side for the Minestrone Soup on the ZestyKits menu next week.
  • Prep Time 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time 45-50 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp liquid honey
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh or dry rosemary
  • 3/4 cup pitted black olives
  • 1 3/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Disolve the honey into the water.
  2. Combine all ingredients (water last) in a large bowl. We love using a wooden spoon. Ensure there is no dry flour left. Cover with a tea towel and let rise from 8 to 18 hours.
  3. Once you are ready to bake the bread, turn on the oven to 450F. Place a 3 qt or larger dutch oven in the oven to heat up. While the oven is heating, place the risen dough on floured parchment paper and shape the dough into a ball. Garnish the top of the bread as desired. We used rosemary and finishing salt.
  4. Carefully remove the hot dutch oven from the oven. Lift the bread with the parchment paper and place the dough and parchment paper in the dutch oven. Cover and bake 30 minutes covered. Remove the lid and continue to bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Bon appetit!

Notes

It is very important to heat up the dutch oven before adding the bread. This will create a contrast in temperature that will make your crust crispy. You can make this recipe using ingredients sourced from Saskatchewan farmers and producers. We used flour from R&J milling, rosemary from splendor garden, yeast from Local & Fresh, local honey and  black olives from the Italian Star Deli.

Let’s celebrate mothers

Moms are very specials in our lives and even when we are all grown up we still need them. We love their voice, their supporting presence and everything they do for us. When moms are there, everything suddenly feels better. Moms work hard to make our lives easier and Mother’s Day is a great time to celebrate how much we love them.

As we are doing our best to respect physical distancing, Mother’s Day can be a little more challenging this year as our mother’s arms cannot give us a hug. The challenges we are facing due to physical distancing is an opportunity to be especially thankful for our mothers and to make this Mother Day extra special for the mothers who are so important in our lives. 

Even with social distancing, we have the opportunity to make sure this day is very special for the women we love so much. This year, ZestyKits is here to help you make this day very special eventhough we might not be able to visit with eachother.

Take the Time to Make a Video Call

One thing we have learned in the last few weeks is that we need to make time to connect with our loved ones. Text messages and emails are great. However, for a special day like Mother’s Day, we encourage you to make a video phone call to enrich the quality of communication. Talking allows us to hear eachothers voice. The voice is the connection with our soul and allow us to feel closer even though we still have to stay apart. Viewing each other, even through a camera, makes us feel close and enables us to read eachothers body language. Research shows communication is 93% non-verbal. Non-verbal communication includes: vocal tone, facial expression, fidgeting,  head and hand movement, posture. The more non-verbal attribute a method of communication provides, the richer the quality of interaction. Video calls enables a richer communication and we encourage you to video call the mothers you cannot see in person this Mother’s Day. 

Order the ZestyKits Mother’s Day Brunch

Surprise mom by ordering a special meal toshare on a virtual brunch. Being apart does not means that you cannot share a meal together. Our wonderful Mother’s Day brunch menu let’s dad easily make brunch with the kids to celebrate mom with a delicious and local Sunday brunch.

Make a Card with the Colouring Page in your Brunch Kit

Handmade cards are a sweet reminder of love and appreciation. In your brunch kit you will find a special mother’s day colouring page made by a Saskatchewan artist. You can ask the kids to colour and write personal notes in the card to give a special handmade present to mom.  Colouring and writing in the mother’s day card is a beautiful and memorable activity for children that will warm mom’s heart.

3 Simple Self-Care Practices to Calm the Nervous System

Blog provided by: Bee Bierman
Yoga teacher, Massotherapist, Reiki Level 3
beebierman.com

Through our body, we can lovingly reach in and touch the inner garden of our mind, and often, our mind-garden has many weeds that need pulling, seeds that need sowing and water that needs flowing. 

If there is ever a time to tend to our inner garden, it is now.

With the Covid-19 virus continuously spreading and a global call for all-hands-on-deck (sanitized hands, that is), it is truly an extraordinary time to be alive. Many people are facing some very challenging emotions, thoughts and sensations. With this reality, I am finding that this is the best time to share a few self-care tips that have immensely helped me when I feel overwhelmed. Meditation, breathing and movement practices are three of my go-to’s when I find myself struggling with difficult emotions and feelings of uncertainty.

 

As a collective, I believe that now more than ever, we are being asked to consciously observe our thoughts and the effects those thoughts have on our state of being. With the onset of Covid-19 and its ability to render people feeling helpless in their day to day, the mind then becomes the only thing that one can have some control over. Unless you consciously witness your thoughts, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed by what your mind is telling you and equally so, all too easy to believe your thoughts, even if they are not in your best interest. 

Let’s look at the emotion fear, for example. When we allow fear to sit in the driver’s seat of our everyday experiences, we also enable many other emotions connected to fear to infiltrate otherwise precious moments of our life, such as anxiety, overwhelm, etc. With this being said, fear, anxiety, and overwhelm are all understandable responses to the pandemic that we are facing, and in no way am I suggesting that we should not feel fear – no, not at all. We should feel any emotion that arises, but to what depth we allow our feelings to be explored, and to what degree we allow our emotions to control our state of being, is ultimately a choice. As challenging as it may be, it can also be equally simple to work with when we have the right tools at hand. 

Four-Step Mindfulness and Compassion Meditation

Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach offers a supportive four-step mindfulness and compassion practice called RAIN when confronted with challenging emotions. The acronym RAIN stands for recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture. This meditation is essentially a process of conscious and curious inquiry rather than turning away from the uncomfortable emotion, thought or sensation. 

As with most meditation practices, find a comfortable seat in a quiet space and begin to connect with your breath. Bring to mind the emotion that you want to work with and use the process of RAIN as follows.

Recognize, recognize what is happening. Allow, allow the experience to be there, just as it is. Investigate, investigate with interest and care. Nurture, nurture with self-compassion.

I have found this practice to be incredibly useful during times of overwhelm and stress. For more information about Tara’s work and many free guided meditations, please visit https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/.

Simple Breathing Practice to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System:

In addition to observing your thoughts and practicing meditation, various breathing techniques can support the activation of one’s parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. In particular, lengthening one’s exhaled breath is known to combat stress and feelings of overwhelm. By elongating your exhale, you are signalling to your body to calm, which means the vagus nerve is stimulated, heart rate variability (HRV) decreases, cortisol levels drop, and the mental fog that creeps in when in fight or flight, clears. 

For more information about the science behind the vagus nerve and elongated exhales, please visit https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201905/longer-exhalations-are-easy-way-hack-your-vagus-nerve.

Breathing Practice: 

The Breathing Formula:

  • Inhale 4 count (4, 6, 8)
  • Pause 1 count (or skip)
  • Exhale 6 count (6, 8, 10)
  • = 1 breathing cycle

Complete 7-10x

Guided Practice: 

Find a comfortable seat on a cushion or in a chair, or find yourself lying down with knees propped up under a bolster to give support to your lower back.

Next, begin by simply noticing the consistency and natural rhythm of your breath without changing it. Feel the rhythm of breath fall and fill beneath your clothes. Soften your brow, the creases of your eyes, your tongue, throat and the entirety of your upper and lower body.

Briefly continue this body scan as you move through feeling the intricacies of inhabiting your alive and healthy body. 

Next, come back to the awareness of your breath and begin to exhale completely — pressing ALL of the air in your lungs and chest cavity out. 

Then begin your next inhale for a count of 4. 

At the top of your 4 count inhale, pause and hold your breath for a count of 1, then exhale for a count of 6. Pause and hold your breath for a count of 1, then inhale for a count of 4 and continue the cycle as instructed.

Continue this inhale (4 count) pause (1 count) and exhale (6 count) for 7 to 10 cycles. If you feel that you would like to deepen the length of inhaling and exhaling, add 2 counts to both inhale and exhale.

For example:

Inhale 6 count, pause 1 count, exhale 8 count for 10 cycles of breath.

Inhale 8 count, pause 1 count, exhale 10 count for 10 cycles of breath.

You are welcome to skip the 1 count pause altogether as you do not need to pause to receive the benefits of relaxation. The pause is there to increase your awareness of breath. 

Movement as Medicine

Humans have been moving, dancing, rhythmically celebrating and expressing since the beginning of recorded time (and probably earlier), so for most of you reading this, it goes without saying that movement is so vital for optimal and thriving health. In truth, it doesn’t particularly matter what kind of movement you do as long as you enjoy it. Walking, running, dancing, yoga, biking, hiking, rowing, climbing, swimming or pole dancing! Anything to get you feeling inspired and up and moving is the key. The more that you enjoy the movement, the longer and more likely you are to stick with it, which promotes a fuller dose of happy hormones, such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. 

If I’m not able to go outside, due to weather or, more recently, the outbreak of Covid-19, my go-to forms of movement are either yoga or dancing. 

For my latest movement playlist, click the link below and happy shimmying! https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6jJRrWJYtvtPumGODNcgut?si=XrsWvgzFQOCg3Q4KlAVHBg.

For more information about hormones and boosting your mood, check out this article: https://www.healthline.com/health/happy-hormone#massage.

Sometimes it feels incredibly difficult to take the first steps towards self-care, and this I say this from experience, but in all honesty, it simply begins with one step. May this article be the first step in planting a nutritious seed in your self-care garden. As with all seeds, each needs a little of this, and a little of that; ultimately, it is up to you to decide when to water. 

I wish you a fertile Spring Season full of new growth and abundant opportunities.

May your garden grow full and lush with these new and familiar tools.

Some Questions to Ponder

Can you feel an emotion such as fear, observe it, accept it and then let it go? 

Can you practice self-compassion and loving acceptance towards yourself and others, especially during times like now? 

Can you see this as an opportunity to turn our attention inward with a loving child-like curiosity?

Can you take this time of social distancing not as something that is happening to you, but something that is happening for you? 

Recap with Actionable Steps:

 
  • Four-Step Mindfulness and Compassion Meditation: RAIN recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture.
  • Simple Breathing Practice to Activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System: Elongating exhale by two counts.
  • Movement as Medicine: With a curious mind and in any way that you enjoy, get your body moving! 

10 questions you always ask yourself before cooking

What's for dinner?!

That familiar question may make you feel overwhelmed and fill you with dread. The effort required to prepare a home-made meal is one of the most underestimated!

We know that overwhelmed feeling that comes with the thought of preparing meals! As busy professional, the weight of preparing nutritious meals became heavy. When looking for a healthy and local solution, we quickly realized none were available and that’s why we created  ZestyKits.

Why does meal preparation feel so overwhelming?

Examining the pre-work required by cooking helps us gain a better understanding and appreciation of the efforts required to serve a meal. 

This list of 10 questions you ask yourself everytime you cook helps understand how much the mental load of cooking is underestimated.

Reading this list, you will quickly realize… It’s so much more than cooking!

10 questions we ask ourselves before we begin cooking

We often think of cooking as choping and mixing. Cooking requires a lot of additional effort that is often ignored.

This list will help you become conscious of the numerous questions we ask ourselves before cooking and will illustrate why bringing meals to the table can feel overwhelming.  

Who is eating?
  1. How hungry will they (I) be? 
  2.  What do they like?
  3. Do they have any allergies or intolerances?
INGREDIENTS

4. What do I have in the fridge? How much?
5. Which ingredient(s) is about to go bad?

6. What receipe can I make with what I have?
7. Do I want leftovers? How long will the leftovers last?
8. What do I need to buy?

Cost

9. How much do I want to spend?

Time

10. How much time do I have available to shop, cook, clean?

Life can be difficult, dinner doesn't have to be

Isn’t it unbelievable the amount of questions we routinely ask ourselves before cooking even begins? No wonder you can feel overwhelmed when asked: What’s for dinner?  No wonder you are tempted to order in more often. 

We are here to let you know there is an other option.   ZestyKits takes the weight off and help lighten your mental load. Take a look at our meal plans which are not only easy and delicious but also sourced locally!

Life can be difficult, dinner doesn’t have to be!

Let us simplify your life!

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6 Comforting Pantry Recipes

Catherine Beaudoin
Co-founder ZestyKits

During difficult times, I turn to comforting dishes from my childhood. These classic dishes fill the house with nostalgic smells that bring me back in time, and for a moment, I feel the joy and peace of childhood. 

Growing up, my sisters and I spent countless hours in the apple orchard behind our house. I remember coming back home on cold spring afternoons after spending hours with my sisters in the apple orchard. As soon as we walked in, the smell of these dishes welcomed us home, as if to say – you are safe, you are loved.

These recipes use pantry ingredients and are easy to prepare. To learn how to fully stock your pantry check out the Ultimate Guide to Pantry Essentials.  These easy and comforting pantry recipes will help you get a delicious dinner on the table quickly using everyday pantry ingredients. I hope these classic recipes bring joy into your home as they do in mine.

Crusty White Bread

Raising time: 12 hours
Makes: 1 loaf
  • Prep Time 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. dry yeast
  • 1 ¾ cups cold water
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, combine the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water. With a fork, stir until the flour is completely moistened, but not necessarily smooth. Cover and let rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight.
  2. In a large bowl, place the whole wheat flour. Set aside.
  3. With your hands, directly in the pot, fold the risen dough onto itself until smooth (about 6 times).
  4. Transfer the dough into the bowl with the whole wheat flour and turn to coat the entire surface of the dough. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes at room temperature or until it has doubled in volume.
  5. Meanwhile, with the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a 3 litre Dutch oven or ovenproof pot with its lid (not glass) in the oven, and heat for about 30 minutes.
  6. Drop the floured bread dough in the centre of the hot pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 30 minutes.
  7. Let the bread cool on a wire rack or in the pot.

Tomato Soup

Serve with: Grilled cheese
  • Prep Time 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time 35 Minutes
  • Total Time 50 Minutes
  • Serves 6 People

Ingredients

  • 2 onions - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans (28oz, 796ml) whole tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • Sliced chorizo - optional
  • pesto - optional

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, soften the onions and garlic in the oil.
  2. Add the tomatoes, broth, brown sugar and oregano. Bring to a boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
  3. With an immersion blender, purée until smooth. Garnish and serve with grilled cheese

Meatloaf

Serve with: Mashed potatoes, green peas, salad
  • Prep Time 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time 90 Minutes
  • Total Time 100 Minutes
  • Serves 6 People

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion - finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. relish
  • 1 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. dry parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard

Instructions

  1. Turn on the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine the egg, diced onion, relish, ketchup, parsley, salt and pepper. Add the ground beef and oats. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine.
  2. Place the meat in a loaf pan 23cm x 13cm x 6cm (9” x 5” x 3”).
  3. Combine all the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Place the topping evenly on top of the loaf.
  4. Bake about 1 hour 30 minutes or until fully cooked.

Beef Stew

Serve with: Bread
  • Prep Time 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time 120 Minutes
  • Total Time 135 Minutes
  • Serves 6 People

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef cubes
  • ⅓ cups flour
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 3 carrots - in 1 cm slices
  • 1 cup - rutabaga - dices
  • 2 cups - potatoes - diced
  • 12 oz - frozen peas
  • Fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Coat the beef cubes with flour.
  2. Add the oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Roast the beef cubes about 4 minutes per side until browned. Do not over crowd the pot - ensure there is space between each cube to promote browning.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, parsley, thyme and tomato juice. Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour. Stir a few times while cooking.
  4. Add the carrots, rutabaga and potatoes. Cover and let simmer an additional 50 minutes.
  5. Add the frozen peas and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with bread.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Serve with: Rice
  • Prep Time 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time 60 Minutes
  • Total Time 80 Minutes
  • Serves 6 People

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 540 ml can pineapple - dice the pineapple
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin

Instructions

  1. Turn on the oven to 350F. Cut the pork into bite size pieces.
  2. In a large pot that goes in the oven, add 1 tbsp. oil and pork. Cook about 4 minutes on each side to brown the meat. Add the diced onion.
  3. Combine the cornstarch, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, in a small pot. Cook on medium heat, until the sauce is transparent. Add the sauce to the pork.
  4. Add the soy sauce, green pepper, pineapple and juice to the pork.
  5. Cover and bake at 350F for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Serve with rice.

Slow-Cooker Chicken-Tortilla Soup

Cook 4 hours on high OR 8 hours on low
  • Prep Time 20 Minutes
  • Serves 8 People

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion - diced
  • 2 red bell pepper - diced
  • 4 garlic clove - minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can (28oz, 796ml) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 200 gr green beans, halved
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro - optional
  • sliced jalapenos - optional
  • sour cream - optional
  • tortilla chips - optional

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, onion, bell pepper, garlic, stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chiles, chili powder, brown sugar, oregano, and cumin in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook, covered, until chicken is cooked through on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours. Add zucchini and green beans and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, shred meat; return to slow cooker. Stir in lime juice.
  3. Serve and garnish with cilantro, jalapeños, and sour cream, with tortilla chips.

Enjoy Your Little Kids

11 Survival Tips from a Home-school Mom of 7

Jane Flannery
Home-school Mom of 7
flanneryjane@hotmail.com

Schools are closed, and the panic of even thinking about taking on home-schooling your kids has set in. So I asked a long time home-school pro, Flannery Salkeld, mom of seven to share some survival tips with us so we can actually enjoy our little kids during this extra trying time.

A quick perspective change

Before we dive right in to the 11 tips here are two really, REALLY important perspective switches Brett, Flannery’s husband, suggests:

  1. Realize that most days you can probably get the content you’d get in a school day in about 2 hours, though that number is a little higher in the higher grades. So don’t worry about keeping them busy for 7 hours a day.
  2. Everything you do is education. Don’t panic about the curriculum. Enjoy your kids and work on them enjoying their time together and with you. That is priority number one. That will pay dividends for years. Your kids aren’t going to end up adults not knowing the ONE IMPORTANT THING that everyone was supposed to learn in grade whatever.

And remember, this is a great opportunity to get to know your kids better.

When COVID-19 is over, you have succeeded if you have done that.

Make that your goal!

11 Tips For A Home-schooling Newbie

1. Structure

Map out a structure or routine for the day. Keep it simple and incorporate things like meal and snack times (more on that later), outside time, higher and lower-key activities (including naps if applicable), tidy up times, and books or audiobooks.

Having a routine shifts responsibility from you to the routine. When your kids are resistant, hang on to your vision of the routine but at the same time expect things to be bumpy at first. Remember, everyone needs time to adjust.

Pro Tips:

  • Save screen time for when you need it most (more on that later).
  • Consider your and your kids’ times of naturally higher and lower energy when planning.
    • Sandwich pleasant and less pleasant activities.
      • For example, if your kids are reluctant to go outside, you could say “It’s outside time and then hot chocolate time.” (It’s not a bribe, it’s just on the schedule!)

Here is an idea of what you COULD include when mapping out a routine for your kids:

Keep in mind:

  1. Start building your schedule off of what is already going well, or working day to day.
  2. You don’t need to have every 30 minutes of the day planned.
  3. Follow the natural rhythm of the day with your kids, and pivot when they need something fresh to focus on.
  4. Build moments of connection early on in the day and throughout the day. More on this below.
  5. If your mind is swirling with all the things you “should” do and teach your kids, choose one! More on keeping it simple and dealing with the “shoulds” below.

2. Connect early in the day

Try to connect with your little kids early in the day with a small amount of focused attention. Great examples of this are reading a book or playing a short game.

They will be less likely to be clingy or whiny when you have to get things done.

Why?

Because you’ve invested time in connecting with them, reaffirming that bond and love.

This same idea can work when you are trying to get your kids to play independently. You can sit down with them and play for a few minutes to help them get engaged, and then drift away.

3. Simplify

A calm and uncluttered environment will make it way easier for you to do your routine and feel good at home.

Step back and envision the flow of the day that you have planned, the activities, the meals.

Ask yourself:

  • Is everything accessible?
  • What’s in the way?
  • What’s overwhelming?

Pro tips:

  • Boxing up things and storing them out of the way.
    • You don’t have to worry about whether you will be getting rid of anything permanently at this point. Just clear away things that are stressing you out and getting in the way of a peaceful home life.
      • Include:  Anything you aren’t using now, excess supplies and toys, and even excess clothes.
  • Consider rotating toys
    • Having too many decisions to make is overwhelming, especially for kids.
      • It’s easier for kids to focus if they have fewer toy options.
      • They will play better and for longer periods at a time.

A good book on this topic is:
Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.

There is a special audio series at simplicityparenting.com in response to today’s situation.

4. Meals and Snacks

Keep meals and snacks really simple and try to plan ahead.

We do breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, supper, and maybe a very small evening snack. They are at around the same times every day. If your kids get up early they may need a morning snack. Have water available in fun cups if it isn’t time to eat yet.

When it’s time to eat, feel free to only offer what you are comfortable with them having. Again, limit options.

I am happy to share my meal and snack ideas on request. I could go on, but instead I will recommend a great article by my Registered Dietitian friend Lacey Engel, called “How Do I Stop My Kid Asking for SNACKS All Day?”

5. Screen time

As much as you can, try to save screen time for later in the day and times when you most need it.

For example:

  • When making supper, or meals.
  • Trying to get work done where you can’t be interrupted.
  • When your energy is particularly low.

I struggle with screen time getting out of control when I am stressed out; however, using the screen too much always backfires. The kids are whinier and don’t play as well!

Pro tips:

  • Think about what your personal criteria is for what your kids watch and have some ideas for options you are OK with.
  • To keep my stress low and the atmosphere pleasant, I try to pick audiobooks, kids’ shows and nature documentaries that I personally enjoy or at least don’t mind!

Need some more ideas on keeping kids entertained? Check out this post, What to do with kids when you’re stuck at home – The Ultimate Guide.

6. Social Media

You might find you need to make a screen time schedule for yourself, too. Especially nowadays with new information coming in all the time about the pandemic. The news and social media can be extremely distracting.

Pro tip:

  • You might want to practice “social media distancing”
    • Set certain times or a certain number of times per day that you will check in.
    • This allows you to stay present in your day the rest of the time.

7. Perspective

These last few tips are mostly about your mental game. When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try to observe your situation without judgment.

Pro tips:

  • Mentally step back and take a bird’s eye view of your day and of your problem.
  • Brainstorm how to solve problems and alleviate pain points.
    • Since you can’t do everything, choose where to cut corners.
  •  Pick your battles and figure things out gradually.
    • You don’t have to respond to every misbehaviour right away.

8. Juggling is an art form

Not everything will be done – or done well – every day. Not everything will be perfect all at once.

For example:

I might make my kids a great lunch and congratulate myself on the enriching preschool activities I provided that morning.

BUT…. Realize I have eaten and drank nothing and have forgotten to make an important phone call.

I am dressed and all ready for the day. Have precooked a bunch of chicken and made soup. The baby is napping for an extra-long time.

BUT…. I look up and realize that the twins are on their second hour of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom.

The more purposefully you can juggle, the more peaceful and in control you will feel!

I can walk by a particular mess and say to myself, “Not now. That will get cleaned up at clean-up time.”

I’ve experienced that it is possible for me to spend literally all day in the kitchen, or all day trying to clean up, if I don’t intentionally structure how I will spend my time.

9. Eliminate “should”

I think that “should” is almost never a helpful word.

Listen to your thoughts. If you hear “should,” try to replace the word with something more specific to see what you actually mean by “should.”

For example:

“I should be dressed by now”

Could mean….

“I would feel better about myself and more energetic if I were dressed.”

In this case, you might decide to prioritize getting dressed because you want to take care of yourself.

Or it could mean…

“If my neighbour sees me, I worry she will judge me for not being dressed.”

In this case, you might just say “Pffft” and not worry about it any more.

10. Notice the positive

There will be both predictable and unexpected benefits of having your whole family staying home together.

Looking for all of the benefits and commenting on them out loud to your kids will help everyone’s outlook! You can notice more time to sleep in, the option to eat peanut butter, to reheat leftovers for lunch, to not have to rush out the door.

Pro tips:

  • Talk up how lucky you all are to get the chance to spend more time together.
  • Interpret and explain situations to your kids on how their energy and actions are being helpful, or could be used.
    • “Look! She’s smiling because she hears your voice and is excited you are here!”
    • “He’s crying; how can we help him?”
    • “Wow, you are a great big brother; he really loves when you play with him!”
    • “Look, he wants be like you! Can you show him how to do it?”
    • “She will learn to talk by listening to us!”
    • “I need your help. Can you please bring a diaper from over there? She needs a new one.”

You get to create the atmosphere in your home!

11. If Mama Ain’t Happy…

Finally, paying attention to your needs and preferences wherever you can is great for you and great for your kids.

They’ll learn from your example and, overall, they will be happy if you are happy.

Ask yourself:

  • What do you need to do in the morning to feel ready for the day?
    • If you are not used to staying home, consider what kind of clothes you enjoy wearing that are comfortable and practical for your new situation.
  • What really bothers YOU and is worth your attention?
    • For example, if you can’t handle whining, but don’t care if the kids jump on your couch, spend your energy training them not to whine.
  • What kind of a break do you need to recharge?
    • Read or listen to a podcast by yourself?
    • Talk on the phone with a friend?
    • Leave the house?
    • Be alone in the house?
    • Have music on in the background, or silence?
  • What are you interested in doing with the kids?
    • If you like having kids “help” you in the kitchen, do it. If the idea makes you want to scream and run away, don’t do it.
    • Choose something else that is more sustainable for you.

It’s a challenging time right now, and there are so many great choices you can make for your kids. It’s perfectly fine to pick the ones that suit YOU.

 

I hope these suggestions help give you the space to enjoy your extra time with your children!

Feel free to comment if you have questions or want more examples for any of the points I mentioned. If you want to get in touch with me directly, you can email me at flanneryjane@hotmail.com

Jane Flannery
Home-school Mom of 7
flanneryjane@hotmail.com

Feed fear? Or find hope?

Blog provided by: Melanie Boldt
Owner of Pine View Farms.

 

Over the past few days, we have been bombarded with Covid-19 information. I fear we may have two outbreaks going on — a fear pandemic and a flu pandemic. Oh yes, there might be a third — a misinformation pandemic.

In these times of uncertainty, it’s critical we keep our wits about us, lest we worry ourselves sick — and I mean that quite literally.

So I ask myself hourly, “what is within my control?” The answer? Our reaction is 100% within our control.

In marketing and advertising, I know that two things sell products best: fear and sex.

At Pine View Farms, we have deliberately steered away from fear-based selling. Rather we talk about moving towards better things. And as for sex? Well, neither Kevin nor I are that sexy and somehow, I think that strategy would scare y’all away! Not a good strategy at all!

As humans, we are innately wired to respond very quickly to fear. Our fight or flight response saved our butts as Neanderthals.

We are hardwired for negativity. It’s called negativity bias. “Bad” things grab our attention and they tend to influence our decision making more than “good” things of equal magnitude.

Our brains perceive negative news as more truthful, drawing more attention and hence, having greater validity. Now we know why fake news runs rampant and has become a slick tool of nefarious politicians.

Covid-19 is the latest opportunity to feed fear to the masses. Now more than ever, the diet you consume every day — what you eat, read and watch matters.

(Writing is cathartic for me, and so be aware, I’m preaching to myself here.)

I’m not gonna lie. For the past week, I have vacillated between gut wrenching panic and heroic stoicism every hour, depending on where my mind dwells.

As a business owner, I feel the weight of responsibility for our staff’s health and economic stability. I feel scared for our farm’s economic future. Everything is on the line here and we have no safety net. And, we want to care generously for our parents, children and surrounding community.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence says “The longer the neurons [brain cells] fire, the more of them that fire, and the more intensely they fire, the more they’re going to wire that inner strength – that happiness, gratitude, feeling confident, feeling successful, feeling loved and lovable.”

But on a daily basis, most of us dwell more on the negative than the positive. We need five times more positive interactions than negative reactions to thrive as a species! Those feel hard to come by these days.

So, what can we do?

  • In all things, remember that our reaction to events is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT within our control. We cannot control much in this life, but our personal reaction is a big one. Keep your head screwed on!
  • Don’t fall prey to the 24-hour news cycle. Find trusted, reliable news sources, get good science, and turn off the TV and/or put down your phone. Otherwise, you are feeding fear and soon your stomach will be churning like mad.
  • Nurture your mind, body and spirit. Do the things you always do to stay healthy. Eat well. Sleep well. Exercise. Get outside in nature. Meditate or pray. Find connection and community. These are the things that build resilience in your body and brain and will enable you to fend off sickness if, and when, it comes.
  • Feed your brain daily goodness. Be present in the moment. Breathe deeply. Try to affirm the positive moments you experience every day. Start a gratitude list. You will find joy.

There is one last thing I need to ask of you. You might think it’s self-serving, but this isn’t just about us. Wherever you can, support locally owned small businesses for your purchases. Now more than ever, it’s critical to have local production and supply chains for essential items like food, so that we have the economic resilience and capacity to take care of ourselves. We believe a creative, robust, local economy is critical to our recovery.

I remain resolute in hope — does that make me crazy? Maybe. Is it possible that that through this pandemic, we might realize that all of humanity is connected on this little ball of a planet, and that now more than ever, we need to work together and be very, very kind to one another? That would be the best thing ever.

No matter how you’re feeling this week, those emotions are valid. Let’s be cautious and calm, .Let’s be gracious to our neighbours, especially those who are vulnerable. Let’s find hope.

Blog provided by: Melanie Boldt
Owner of Pine View Farms.

 

What to do with kids when you’re stuck at home – The Ultimate Guide

Blog provided by:
Lacey Engel, Registered Dietitian 
BSc. Nutrition, BSc. Kinesiology.
Owner of Beyond Baby Nutrition

The current COVID-19 pandemic is wild to say the least. One minute you’re planning birthday parties, St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Easter feasts, and going on vacations, and in the next minute school is cancelled and you’re being told to “social isolate.” You’re overwhelmed, anxious, and uncertain of what’s to come to say the least; and you’re definitely not alone in those feelings. 

 

One of the major concerns I keep hearing from parents is “what the heck am I going to do with my kids?” It’s totally understandable if the idea of having to stay home leaves you feeling a little… or a lot overwhelmed. For many families, this may be the first time kids are all at home for an extended period of time without major travel plans or celebrations involved.

 

So I scoured the internet and found some pretty incredible resources to share with you to help you have fun as a family, take some extra stress off you, and provide some much needed distraction.

And hey, when the world gives you COVID-19, you could always turn it into a second Christmas!! Being stuck at home with your kids may not sound like a dream, but with a little perspective shift social isolation can easily be changed into a family, fun stay-cation (or at least we can try to pretend, right?!)

Let's plan your stay-cation!

It’s no secret that kids thrive with routine. But, and this is a BIG BUT….. if it takes you some time to carve out a new routine for your family that’s OK too!  And remember, you don’t need to plan every second of the day. You may want to have a few activities in your back pocket, so to speak, in case things start to go downhill fast.

So we’ve rounded up some incredible resources for you to access at your fingertips to make this stay-cation memorable in a good way!

Arts & Crafts

You don’t need to head out to a craft store and drop a ton of cash to be able to create fun, enticing things with your kids. But a little glitter, googly eyes, and paint never hurt either.

Here’s 50 + Quick and Easy Kids Crafts anyone can make, from Happiness is Homemade

More Indoor Fun

All crafted out? No problem. Put the glue and glitter away and check out 100+ ideas from The Best Ideas For Kids

Some of our families all time favourite indoor activities are:

  • Hide and seek
  • Lego building
  • Dinosaur imaginative play
  • Puzzles
  • Drawing, colouring, or painting
  • Building with blocks or Magniformers
  • Reading the same book a dozen times in a row
  • Obstacle courses with furniture
  • Building forts

Outdoor Fun

Nothing makes me happier than taking my kids outside. With social distancing being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, being outside has gotten slightly trickier but NOT IMPOSSIBLE!

The key to being outside is….. Stick with your family.

Play dates, a good ol’game of shinny with the neighbour kids is out. So what’s left? And where exactly can you go?

The good news is you can go pretty much anywhere you want (right now), so long as you’re trying to stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This means running, going for a bike ride or a stroll on a path isn’t out of the question.

Not interested in venturing that far out? No problem, check out these 50 Fun Things to Do Outside with Kids as a Family from Very Well Family.

Virtual field trips

So many INCREDIBLE places around that world have opened up virtual doors for us to explore from the comfort of our own home. Here’s a great link I found from Adventures in Familyhood that lists 20 different virtual tours.

Educational Apps, Websites & Print-Outs

This…. this is where things can get a little overwhelming, at least for me! So many resources exist online to help make learning fun and easy to access for kids of all ages.

Worried about limiting screen time? I hear ya! We’re not a huge screen time family, BUT you need to do what you need to do to get through each day.

So here they are a few links:

So many more options

This definitely isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. If you’ve been using any other resources, or you’ve created some yourself that you’d love to share we would be so grateful and thrilled to add them to our list!!

If you’ve found this helpful, please comment below AND share, share, share!!

~Lacey

Lacey Engel is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Beyond Baby Nutrition. She works with families of picky eaters to help them fix meal times for good. Lacey strongly believes that HOW
you deal with picky eating has HUGE and lasting impacts on how your kids eat for the rest of their life. There isn’t bad food, but there is a bad way to teach kids to learn to love and eat food. To learn how to help your kids develop a healthy relationship with food, visit beyondbabynutrition.com

Make the Best Sugar Shack Feast

Sugar shack

You probably heard of sugar shacking, this mysterious springtime activity Canadians from Eastern provinces partake in every year. If you ever wondered what a Cabane à Sucre (sugar shack) is all about, what really happens at these festive gatherings, and how to experience it DIY, read on.

The romance and nostalgia of sugar shacks is unmistakable. Traditional feasts, wood fires, maple taffy on fresh snow, sleigh rides, and energetic folk music are woven into the fabric of a northeastern Canadian springtime.When the sugary sap begins to flow during le temps des sucres, friends and families head to their local sugar shack for a day of family-friendly activities and a feast of maple-soaked delicacies designed for sharing at long communal tables.

Did you know?

Cabane à sucre (sugar shack) is a small building built in a maple grove where maple products like maple syrup, maple butter and maple taffy are prepared.

Maple Taffy

Making your own maple taffy is super easy, fun and DELICIOUS!

What do I need?

  • maple syrup (about 1/2 cup for 4 people)
  • candy thermometer
  • metal spoon
  • pot
  • popscicle sticks
  • snow 

Preparation

  1. Place the maple syrup in a pot on medium heat. Stirting constently with a metal spoon, bring to 238F.
  2. As soon as the maple syrup reaches 238F, remove from the heat – the syrup will be bubbly. 
  3. Spoon the hot syrup in lines on the snow. Using a popscicle stick, turn the taffy on the stick.

An Indigenous tradition lives on

Settlers observed Indigenous making maple sugar every spring that would be used to get them through the tough winter months. The sugar was then broken down into slices or shaved directly over dishes.

The sugar shacks and maple syrup are of great importance in the cultural identity of Canadiams, it is to the Indigenous

An Iroquois legend describes the piercing of maple bark and the use of its sweet sap to cook game, which is said to be at the origin of the culinary tradition of cooking with maple. Maple syrup is so central to traditions,  the Ojibway also call the sugar season “maple moon” or “sugar month”, since it lasts 4 to 6 weeks, from March to April.

In the 17th century, the French, who began to have permanent installations in North America, in turn began to collect maple water. 

The romance and nostalgia of sugar shacks is unmistakable. Traditional feasts, wood fires, maple taffy on fresh snow, sleigh rides, and energetic folk music are woven into the fabric of a northeastern Canadian springtime.When the sugary sap begins to flow during le temps des sucres, friends and families head to their local sugar shack for a day of family-friendly activities and a feast of maple-soaked delicacies designed for sharing at long communal tables.

Bring the cabane à sucre home

Come on a journey with us as we bring the cabane à sucre home with rich, indulgent sugar shack feast recipes.

Did you know?

Canada accounts for 72% of the globe’s maple syrup output. Québec produces 91% of Canadian maple syrup.

The traditional cabane à sucre meal includes pea soup, thick-cut ham, sausage links, bacon, omelet, fried pork rinds called “oreilles de crisse,” roasted potatoes, pickles, pickled beets, baked beans, fresh-baked bread and, most importantly, lots of maple syrup. 

Maple syrup is central to sugar shack meals. It’s basically the law: Everything — we mean everything — on the table must be doused in sweet sticky maple syrup. That includes all the savoury items! Every dish either contains or is bathed in maple syrup: thick-cut ham, baked beans, sausages links, omelet, pancakes… Savoury dishes like: Pea soup and bacon rinds (colourfully known as oreilles de crisses) balance out this sweet extravagance. To cover your bases, you should probably stock up on a few bottles of maple syrup. Dessert is the pièce de résistance of this feast. Traditional desserts include maple sugar pie, pouding chômeur “poor man’s pudding” — a Depression-era sweet treat served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream. At the end of the meal, you always have a little room for maple taffy, poured warm on fresh snow.

Let’s break down the 3 main categories of food required for a truly traditional sugar shack meal.

Breakfast foods

Sugar shacks feature plates upon plates of everyone’s favourite breakfast foods.

Serve your guests the classics: 

Don’t forget to keep your guests happy with warm coffee and juices.

Salty foods

What goes better with sweet than salty? Nothing, that’s what! Supplement your breakfast spread with a few salty dishes. The traditional savoury dishes include:

The star of the show: Dessert

Sugar shack begins and ends with maple. Classic sugar shack desserts include:


La crème de la crème of any sugar shack experience is none-other than maple taffy “tire d’érable”. Kids and adults go crazy for the sticky, chilled delight that is maple taffy. No worries, it’s a lot easier to make than it looks!

What to do other than eating?

Other than eating, what creates a traditional sugar shack experience? That answer is simple… music! Nothing brings us to the romantic world of traditional shacks like folklore Quebec music. We created a spotify playlist to share with you the joyful soul of the Cabane à sucre tradition.

In Québec, many sugar shacks offer horse sleigh rides to visit the property, walk or hike in the woods, traditional music and dancing, petting zoos and snowshoeing. 

When we host our sugar shack meals we love to go for a walk around Wascana lake and dancing to traditional music.

Did you know?

Canada produced 13.2 million gallons of maple syrup in 2019 which contributes $750 million to Canada’s GDP

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6 unexpected reasons you should eat breakfast

Breakfast is the meal most often skipped by Canadians. In a cross Canada study, the most common reason to skip it is the lack of time. 

Many under-estimate the value of a balanced breakfast. With the rapid rythm of life and the growing popularity of intermittent fasting, breakfast is often not given the attention it deserves or is completely skipped.

Most health professionals agree: Breakfast is foundational to a healthy lifestyle. 

Whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables, and good fats are all components of a balanced breakfast. No one should face the day without a good balanced breakfast! Here are six reasons to fully enjoy breakfast every morning.

Breakfast is an easy meal that can be prepared and eaten in a few minutes and provide many hours of productivity.

6 unexpected reasons you should eat breakfast
1. Support brain health

Carbohydrates are essential for healthy brain functioning. A number of studies show kids who eat breakfast tend to have improved cognitive skills and perform better at school. Eating a balanced high-fiber breakfast, promotes memory and concentration levels, as well as improve mood and lower stress. Who doesn’t want that? There is no better time than breakfast time to replenish our carbohydrates. High-fiber carbohydrates are found in oats, whole grain bread and fruits.   

2. Support Healthy Weight

Sometimes we may be tempted to skip breakfast to avoid extra calories. Skipping breakfast to lose a few pounds is a bad idea. Eating breakfast tells our body that we are not in starvation mode and will eat again during the day. Breakfast gets our metabolism started and helps us burn more calories throughout the day.

Studies have shown that eating a high-fiber, nutrient-sense breakfast greatly decreases hunger and cravings throughout the day.There is a correlation between skipping breakfast and having difficulty maintaining a healthy weight Studies even show this correlation with children. Children who skip breakfast tend to have a higher body Mass Index (BMI) and are up to 200% more likely to be overweight than children who eat breakfast regularly.  Eating three balanced meals a day contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.  

3. Family time

We often discuss the importance of eating dinner as a family. Breakfast is also a wonderful opportunity to connect as a family around the table. Are you ready for your volley ball game? What are you excited for today? We can enjoy the early morning hours to connect and spend quality time with our family.  

Are you thinking you won’t have time? No excuses! Let’s set the alarm a few minutes early and create beautiful memories with our loved ones. 

4. Skip that 2 pm feeling

Skipping breakfast has significant impact on the quality of our day. Are you familiar with that 2 pm feeling? There a good chance you can notice a correlation between skipping or eating an unbalanced breakfast and the 2 pm feeling. 

Balanced breakfast are filled with fibers which contribute to stabilize blood sugar. Sugar drops cause a number of symptoms: difficulty concentrating, head aches, sugar cravings, and low patience.  Test it out! Tomorrow morning, treat yourself to a balanced breakfast and see how you feel throughout the day. 

5. Reduce snacking

The 2pm feeling is often associated with cravings. The lack of nutrient provided by a balanced breakfast always catches up with us.  By skipping breakfast, it is highly likely that you will have cravings for chips or cake during the afternoon or evening.

To prevent these cravings, ensure to have a balanced breakfast high in fiber and proteins. When you have a hectic morning, plan a super quick breakfast you can eat on your way to work or at your desk. An example of super quick breakfast is overnight oats. You make them a few days ahead to just grab it and go in the morning. You will find a FREE breakfast recipe pdf at the bottom of this blog which includes a number of overnight oat recipes. 

6. Develop healthy habits

Most health professional recommend to eat more fruits and vegetables. Breakfast is a good opportunity to add fruits and vegetables to our diet and to support a healthy life style.

When we have time to treat ourselves with a nice breakfast we can spend time with our loved ones preparing a more elaborated breakfast filled with vegetables and fruits. Some examples include: Omelettes, frittatas, blueberry pancakes, and breakfast burritos. 

FREE breakfast recipe book

Are you sick and tired of the 2pm feeling?

Do you want to optimize your productivity throughout the day?

We got your back! Here are super easy and quick breakfasts that can be assembled a few days ahead. These breakfasts are so easy and delicious you won’t even want to skip breakfast again. Download this FREE pdf to learn how easy your next breakfast can be. 

Happy breakfast!

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