As the school year gets under way, I find my days much fuller than they were a month ago. Since I teach our six kids at home, I really have to hit the ground running. My days are full with lessons, chores, and writing projects. It can be extremely tempting to shrug off good nutrition in exchange for getting something done.
Yet, I know that it’s better to invest some time in wholesome snacks and meals for my family – and for me!
I know that the first cold of the season is just waiting to strike. If I limit our added sweeteners, increase our whole grains, include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and make ice water the more frequent option, we’ll all be healthier and happier.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of having a plan and setting yourself up for success. Here are some ways you can easily add more whole grains into the back to school diet — for your health and for your kids’:
1. Bake up some granola.
I regularly bake up big batches of granola. Kids of all ages (husbands included) have been known to start eating it up before it’s had a chance to cool. Sometimes I can’t even get it to the container before it’s half gone.
Making homemade granola allows you the option to customize sweeteners and avoid allergens. Plus it tastes great!
Serve granola for breakfast with milk, in parfaits, or for snacking. My husband has even started taking cereal and a container of milk to work for an easy and economical lunch. You can easily pack granola and a small container of milk in the lunchbox.
2. Pop some corn.
I grew up in the age of the air popper, so it’s no surprise that my 7-year old daughter knows how to pop corn. We keep a regular supply of Bob’s White Popcorn on hand, for snacking. It’s easy to pack which makes it a fun thing to take on the road.
3. Bake with whole wheat pastry flour.
One of my favorite baking products under the sun is whole wheat pastry flour. It offers the light texture of all-purpose flour yet it has the whole grain without tasting too wheaty.
I use whole wheat pastry flour in most of my quick breads and even in our family’s favorite apple pie. No one notices the difference, except I know they are eating a little more healthfully.
One of my recent concoctions with whole wheat pastry flour is a redo on my mom’s poppy seed cake. I found it years ago on an index card in her recipe box. The original was a bit more complicated with beaten eggs whites and shortening. I tweaked to make it simpler and healthier.
My kids and husband give it rave reviews. I bake it in muffin papers, like a sedate cupcake, packed full of power. Already individually portioned, these cakes are perfect to take on the road or to brownbag.
Whole Wheat Poppy Seed Cakes
- 1-1/4 cup Milk
- 1/4 cup Poppy Seeds
- 1 cup Demerara Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Sunflower Oil
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk and poppy seeds. Allow the seeds to soak for about five minutes.
3. Add the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk again until smooth.
5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans, just a tad less than 1/4 cup batter to each muffin cup. Bake for 20 to 25 minute or until a tester inserted comes out with a few crumbs attached. Cool on a rack.
Jessica Fisher is a mom of six children, aged 5 to 16. Homeschool mom by day, writer and blogger by night, she writes two blogs, LifeasMom and GoodCheapEats. She is the author of Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze, Organizing Life as MOM, and Best 100 Juices for Kids. Keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter.