Derval O'Rourke: Top tip for the new school year

Recipe-wise it’s my smoothie cubes and three delicious salad dressing ideas.

Derval O'Rourke: Top tip for the new school year

This week I’m sharing my top tips for the new school year. Recipe-wise it’s my smoothie cubes and three delicious salad dressing ideas.

The start of a new school year is an exciting time but it can also be a daunting one when you have lots to organise and a to-do list the length of your arm.

To any parents reading this I know how hard it is to juggle everything, and back to school can be a mad busy time. But this is your chance to re-set and get into a good routine.

Why not look at back-to-school time as an opportunity to create new healthy habits? Here are my favourites:

1) Start the day right

Eating breakfast is one of the first habits I tell anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle to adopt. Research has linked it to better concentration, energy levels and maintenance of a healthier body weight. A balanced breakfast provides an opportunity to get in valuable nutrients like calcium, fibre and protein. My favourites for busy mornings would be overnight oats with mixed seeds and berries or wholegrain toast with nut butter and banana. My three-year-old Dafne eats overnight oats most weekdays.

2) Build a balanced lunchbox

When I am making up Dafne’s lunches for creche, I aim to include a source of carbohydrates (wholegrain pitta bread, leftover pasta and oatcakes), protein (leftover roast chicken, tinned tuna or a lentil soup), fruits or vegetables and dairy (pot of yoghurt, cheese or milk carton). This helps to fuel their growing bodies and give them the energy to focus and learn. I try and ensure that my portion sizes are appropriate for her needs, children do not need adult- sized servings. Try to keep their lunchboxes varied to avoid boredom and get them involved in the food shopping and preparation to encourage an interest in healthy eating. Also don’t get discouraged if your kids reject certain foods. Keep giving them varied options and eventually it will click.

3) Get some good rest

This is so important for children and adults alike. We are all different but 8-10 hours is a good guideline. To achieve this try to set a bedtime routine and stick to it. In addition, reducing screen time in the hours before bed, having a hot bath or reading a bedtime story can also help. If you are looking for more information on sleep and it’s importance I would highly recommend checking out Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep.

4) Move your body

Being physically active is so important for children’s physical and mental well-being. It helps to build strong bones, healthy muscles, form new interests and create new friendships. The current guidelines recommend 60-plus minutes per day.

Remember, children often do as they see so try to set a good example for them by being active yourself.

Another great tip is to try and swap screen time for exercise time. I try to get Dafne moving in the few hours between creche and bed time. To be honest it’s really good for my head to get outside at that point of the day.

5) Be prepared

I know how difficult it can be balancing work with school or creche runs and extra curricular activities. The things that can help make this a little bit easier include laying out the

uniforms the night before or cooking extra portions at dinner to use for lunch the next day. Sitting down at the weekend to roughly plan out your food and activities for the week or writing a to-do list in the mornings can also help to take some of the pressure off.

Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t try to change everything at once. Start small and introduce one new habit each week because if done consistently, these small changes can pay huge dividends long term.

Fitspiration

@thegetoutmommy

Mairéad is a Cork -based mum of two little boys. She loves exploring all there is to do locally with them and documents their adventures as they go. She has compiled a number of lists to help mums and dads entertain their kids and covers everything from child-friendly hotels to breastfeeding-friendly cafes. Be sure to check her out.

Salad Dressings

When you are throwing together a super quick salad you need super quick salad dressings to go with it.

These three recipes are no-fuss dressings that you can put together in no time. The key to any salad is a great dressing.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Apple cider is quite a popular health ingredient. When you are shopping for it look for one with ‘the mother’ as the best option. This recipe is sure to liven up any salad. It goes particularly well with grated carrots and apples.

Prep time: 5 minutes Makes: 1 jar

Nutritional information:

Protein – 30g

Fat – 147g

Carbohydrate – 6g

Calories - 840

Ingredients:

6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a glass mason jar, then seal the lid and shake until the ingredients are well combined. Adjust flavour to taste, if necessary. For best flavour, allow the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving over your favorite greens.

Asian Slaw Dressing

It’s great to liven up salads with a burst of Asian flavours. This recipe is great on shredded white cabbage, spring onion and mange tout.

Prep time: 5 minutes Makes: 1 jar

Nutritional information:

Protein – 4g

Fat – 84g

Carbohydrate – 13g

Calories – 810

Ingredients:

6 tbsp. sunflower/rapeseed oil

2 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp maple syrup

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a glass mason jar, then seal the lid and shake until the ingredients are well combined. Adjust flavour to taste, if necessary. For best flavour, allow the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Avocado Balsamic dressing

This pairs really well with a tomato salad.

Prep time: 5 minutes Makes: 1 jar

Nutritional information:

Protein – 0g

Fat – 84g

Carbohydrate – 20g

Calories – 833

Ingredients

6 tbsp. avocado oil

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Method:

Combine all of the ingredients in a glass mason jar, then seal the lid and shake until the ingredients are well combined. Adjust flavour to taste, if necessary. For best flavour, allow the dressing to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

When you are throwing together a super quick salad you need super quick salad dressings to go with it.

Smoothie Cubes

These are so handy to have in your freezer. They are frozen cubes of goodness. I use extra big cube trays (they are the ones you find when looking for baby weaning products). I take them out of the freezer and add them to milk and yoghurt to make smoothies.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Freeze time: 3-4 hours, will keep up to 3 months in the freezer

Nutritional information:

Protein – 16g

Fat – 29g

Carbohydrate – 61g

Calories - 544

Ingredients:

1 handful raspberries

1 handful blueberries

1 handful strawberries

1 handful baby spinach

1 avocado, remove core scoop out the flesh and chop Cow’s milk or almond milk to top up the cubes

Method:

In an ice cube tray layer up your spinach, berries and avocado.

Carefully fill the moulds to the top with milk. Place the tray in the freezer.

To use these to make a smoothie: I like to take out 1-2 cubes (depending on the size of mould used) add 200 ml milk and 1 tbsp. of natural yoghurt.

Blitz in your smoothies maker until smooth.

These are so handy to have in your freezer. They are frozen cubes of goodness. I use extra big cube trays (they are the ones you find when looking for baby weaning products). I take them out of the freezer and add them to milk and yoghurt to make smoothies.

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