A Beginner’s Guide to Bento Boxes

It’s that time of year again where routines are back after a long summer of not worrying about packing lunches, what can or can’t be inside of them, and all the stresses that back to school brings. Keeping your kids excited about their lunches can be hard, but I have found creating fun sandwiches in a bento box style can do just the trick! 

What is a Bento Box?

The ancient Japanese tradition of packing lunch in a bento box, a decorative container with small compartments, is the latest trend these days. The dividers make packing lunch easy and help store different items in a single container (meaning less dishes to wash!)You can easily put these lunches together with the help of a few cookie cutters or creative thinking; bento boxes may just be the answer to getting your child to eat hidden veggies and other healthy items! I love putting things like cucumber, carrots, celery, and other less popular items  into my kids’ fun sandwiches, which then makes them want to eat it 

Easy & Healthy Bento Box Lunch Recipes

My go-to sandwiches always include Maple Lodge Farms ® Natural From The Farm® Oven Roasted Chicken Breast, as it adds such a great flavour while also being gluten-free, full of protein, and made with natural ingredients. Deli meats can be a very difficult thing to add as they are typically packed full of sodium, which can turn your healthy sandwich to a very unhealthy one and fast! Maple Lodge Farms® Natural From The Farm® deli has 25% less salt than the leading brands (Per 55g vs the leading natural chicken and turkey deli brand), which makes them my go-to! I love pairing it with a slice of good cheese in the sandwich as well and swapping chicken out with the Oven Roasted Turkey Breast to change it up from time to time. Their Spicy BBQ Cooked Chicken Breast is also in my mama lunches quite regularly! 

The kids love getting excited to see what sort of shape the sandwich is in, or the note snuck inside, or whatever surprise you add on the side! I love to send quality and healthy food on the sides with these boxes, such as strawberries, grapes, almonds, celery and carrot sticks, etc. and all of these items can be creatively added as well, changing them into little creatures or whatever you come up with! 

Lunchtime is such a highlight of our child’s day, why not make it a highlight for you? Comment below if you’ve tried bento boxes below!

P.s. Download this Back To School Checklist to get organized this back to school season!

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Back To School Guide For Busy Moms

It’s back to school time, which is always exciting yet overwhelming with all the changes, new routines and schedules! It is always chaos in the September month, so nailing down breakfast and lunch making routine is key to get the kiddos out on time and fed well! With all of the allergies and food intolerance’s in kids these days, giving them healthy and clean ingredients is key to keeping them fueled and energized throughout their long days. Our new morning routines involve utter chaos, so having quick and healthy meal options for on the go is a necessity!

Sandwiches are the most loved food group with kiddos, so we’ve made a few different Maple Lodge Farm’s deli recipes to help us get through this busy time. We love their Natural From The Farm deli as it is made with all-natural ingredients, contains 25% less sodium than the leading brands, is gluten-free and has 21% meat protein! It is also sugar-free (for all oven roasted flavours).

We love to add these deli slices to whatever we can, so here are a few recipes we have tried and fell in love with, and will be included in lunches for this coming year!

Rainbow Veggie Pinwheels is one of our family favourites, so much so that we pack them for our adventures, road trips, and make them during the week for our own lunches. We change up the veggies inside from time to time, but we never replace the Deli meat, which adds amazing flavour! It is also an amazing way to sneak all of the vegetables into a meal for your picky kiddos, there is a major mom hack right there.

Our other favourite is the incredibly tasty Apple and Chicken Grilled Cheese – oh my, is this one absolute perfection. The kids love the sweet apple flavour, and the combination of the Natural from The Farm Spicy BBQ Cooked Chicken Breast meat, jalapeno cheese, and sourdough bread brings us so much joy. It is also super easy and quick to put together, lasts great in little lunch boxes, and once again, is a great option for sneaking in a veggie option or two!

We have made a lot of goals this year to spend more quality time together and be the healthiest and happiest we can be. So spending less time meal prepping food and more time together is a huge win for us, and these recipes allow us to do both!

Check out the Maple Lodge Farms website for other quick and delicious recipes for your school year, and enjoy every bite!

Looking for more ways to make the back to school season easier? We’ve put together a handy checklist to help make this the start of a great school year! Download & Print this Back To School Checklist to get ready for the big day!

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A Tale of Two Regions: Local Spots, Eats & Attractions

Part of what makes being a Canadian company so great is that we can take inspiration from the various unique landscapes, cultures and cuisine around us. 

To celebrate the launch of Fresh From The Farm®, a line of locally raised fresh chicken from local Ontario and Atlantic family farms, we recruited two of our favourite bloggers to create locally inspired recipes and give us the 411 on what some of their favourite regional hot spots are. 

Whether you are looking to try out a new recipe incorporating some in-season ingredients, or are looking to travel through Ontario or Atlantic Canada, our guide has you covered. Read on to discover all things local!  

Local Ontario

If The GG Sisters Honey Garlic Air Fried Chicken Wings & Surprise Salad left your mouth watering, like it did ours, allow us to take you through some of the local produce that inspired their recipe. 

The Dubeau Family Farm, like Maple Lodge Farms®, is family owned and operated. Located just north of the Settlement of Perkinsfirled, in Tiny Township, Ontario. The Dubeau family has been growing delicious and sustainable produce since April 2000. Their maple syrup, honey and strawberries became one of the key ingredients in The GG Sisters’ wing and salad recipe upon discovering this amazing farm on their latest trip to the cottage. 

Some of you may not know this, but the summer is garlic season in Ontario. August and September are optimal harvesting time periods. All across the province, you can find festivals dedicated to the famous vegetable. So, it’s no surprise that the GG Sisters chose this as one of their main ingredients for their locally inspired Honey Garlic Chicken Wing recipe. The GG Sister’s sourced their garlic from Bulbs of Fire, a local farm located in Tiny Township, Ontario. They turned to our Fresh From The Farm® line for their wings picked up from their local grocery store. You can find it at any Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, Your Independent Grocer, Zehrs or Food Basics.

Tiny Township, Ontario has become a summertime oasis for The GG sisters. Not only was it the inspiration behind their recipe, but Tiny Beach, Ontario is one of their favourite family summertime hangouts. When they’re not at the beach, The GG Sisters enjoy taking their kids to their local Splash Pad Park in York Region at Lake Wilcox Park, or taking a day trip to the famous Ontario destination; Niagara Falls! 

Local Atlantic

In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the end of August is the berry best time to pick up some deliciously ripe berries. Local Atlantic and Cape Breton native, Short Presents, says this local tradition inspired her Blueberry Balsamic Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad. 

Memories of picking and cooking with these local and wild produce during the summer months made this berry the obvious choice as the star of her local Atlantic recipe. Short Presents sourced her delicious berries from Tantallon Village Farmers Market, located in Tantallon, Nova Scotia. 

Summers in Nova Scotia for Short Presents are more than just berry season. Now, a Halifax resident, Kayla of Short Presents shares with us some of her favourite local spots to visit during the summer months. 

If you have access to a car and love a hike, Kayla recommends checking out Peggy’s Cove and Polly’s Cove hiking trail. Be sure to bring a light jacket, we’re told it can get a bit windy! If you’re downtown, but still want to see some gorgeous scenery, Kayla recommends a picnic in the Halifax Public Garden. Can you think of a better way to enjoy your delicious Blueberry Balsamic Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad al fresco? 

P.s you can pick up Fresh From The Farm® chicken for this recipe at Real Atlantic Superstore, Your Independent Grocers Atlantic or Valu-Mart!

Whether you’re from Ontario or Atlantic Canada, Fresh From The Farm® brings you fresh, local ingredients from a farm you trust to your table. Try it today!