Food is important.
You may have heard the term Functional Food, but you perhaps don't completely understand what it means. Functional Food can be defined as a food that has demonstrated some measurable health benefit. An example would be some fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that omega-3 fats can improve heart health, brain health, and immune health.
All the food at Grand Sparks will have some functional food lesson attached to it. To further our example, Friday's lunch will be fish and veggies in a foil envelope and roasted on a campfire, and we will chat about how omega-3 fats work, and the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids.
The lunch menu at Grand Sparks 2016 was created specifically with functional food in mind. Every meal was met with rave reviews from all the grandparents (and most of the grandchildren too). Here are the recipes we used, all customized for our rustic, outdoor setting which lacked a proper kitchen facility, running water, and electricity. Preparing nutritious meals can be done in a camp setting with a little prep work ahead of time.
monday - make your own sandwiches
Meat - Turkey breasts, Roast Beef
Veggies - Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce
Bread - Various brands of whole-wheat bread, rolls and bagels
Sauces - Mustard, Mayo, Ketchup, Horseradish, Butter
Extras - Cheese, Pickled Hot Peppers
Dessert - Strawberries, Pineapple, Watermelon, Orange, Banana
Prep Work - All meat was cooked and sliced in a proper kitchen, then refrigerated and transported in a cooler to our camp.
On site - Grandparents and grandchildren were given cutting boards and knives, and instructed to slice up the veggies, fruit, and cheese for lunch, just prior lunch hour. Each person created their own sandwich, customized to their taste.
Functional Food for the Day - Water! [PDF of health benefits of Water]
Tuesday - Fajitas (wraps)
Meat - Leftovers from Monday, sliced into strips
Veggies - Peppers (red, yellow, orange), Lettuce, Onion, Avacado, Canned Corn, Canned Beans (rinsed and drained)
Wraps - Whole Wheat Flatbreads
Sauces - Salsa, Sour Cream, Fajita Spices
Extras - Cheese, Lime wedges, Aluminum Foil Trays
Dessert - Protein Balls (prepared day before, refrigerated, transported to site in cooler) we used a modified version of this recipe, adding chia seeds and chocolate chips
Prep Work - Most of the prep work was done previous day (preparing meat)
On Site - Fire up the grill, because these wraps taste much better warm! Grandparents and grandkids got busy opening cans, grating cheese, chopping peppers, rinsing beans and slicing lime wedges (Note: Wash that lime juice off your hands because it makes your skin very sensitive to UV light, and can cause severe sunburn). On a foil tray (one tray per grandparent/grandchild pair) toss together meat, veggies and spices and heat on grill until warm (about 5 min). Take off grill and place directly onto flatbread, add cheese, salsa sour cream and a spray of lime. Wrap up and enjoy.
Functional Food of the Day - Fibre! [PDF of health benefits of Fibre]
Wednesday - Kabobs and salds
Kabobs - Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Onion, Cherry Tomatoes
Rainbow Salad - Red Cabbage, Green Cabbage, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Carrots, Raisins, Dressing (Mayonnaise, Honey, Cider Vinegar).
Spinach and Strawberry Salad - Spinach, Chives, Strawberries (sliced), Candied Nuts, Dressing (equal parts Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup)
Extras - Wood Skewers, BBQ Sauce
Prep Work - Chicken was cooked and cubed in a proper kitchen, then refrigerated and transported to site in a cooler. Ingredients for the rainbow salad were also pre-shredded or chopped. Dressings were mixed ahead of time and poured on just prior to serving.
On Site - Since the chicken is already cooked, we only need to warm it up and soften the veggies. Each grandparent and grandchild assembled their own kabob on a skewer, with some children even using strawberries from the salad. Kabobs were grilled 5 minutes, and splashed with a bit of BBQ sauce as they came off the grill. Ingredients for salads were tossed together in a big bowl with their respective dressing.
Functional Food of the Day - Vitamin K! [PDF of health benefits of Vitamin K]
Thursday - Campfire Nachos
Meat - Ground Beef
Veggies - Tomatoes, Chives, Canned Beans, Canned Corn, Leftover Peppers and Onions from yesterday
Veggies for Dipping - Baby Carrots and Celery Sticks
Veggie Dip - Plain Greek Yogurt mixed with fresh garden herbs (dill, chives, basil) and a splash of cider vinegar
Nachos - variety of whole-wheat, whole-grain, and other nutritious Tortilla Chips
Extras - Cheese, Sour Cream, Salsa, taco seasoning, Extra-Large Aluminum Foil Trays
Dessert - Pineapple and Strawberries with Yogurt Dip
Yogurt Dip - Plain greek yogurt mixed with Honey and Cinnamon to taste. Also, simple Strawberry Yogurt.
Prep Work - Ground beef was cooked with taco seasoning, refrigerated and transported to site in a cooler.
On site - Grandparents and grandkids rinsed and drained the beans, chopped tomatoes and chives. In the large foil trays, a mix of tortilla chips were mixed then topped with pre-cooked ground beef, veggies, and cheese. The trays were cooked on a grill for 5-10min, until cheese was melted and meat was warm. Topped with dollops of sour cream and served family style.
Functional Food of the Day - Probiotics! [PDF of health benefits of probiotics]
Friday - Fish in Foil
Meat - Salmon, Tilapia
Veggies - Onion, Zucchini, Peppers, Chives, Potatoes
Extras - Brown Sugar, Soya Sauce, Garlic Powder, Garam Masala Spice Mix, Lemons, Olive Oil
Dessert - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep Work - Salmon was portioned, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen. Tilapia filets were frozen individually. All veggies were chopped ahead of time.
On site - Frozen fish was allowed to thaw on a plastic-covered picnic bench, carefully monitoring temperature. For a sweet sauce, we combined brown sugar, soya sauce and garlic powder to create a paste which was drizzled on the fish (best on tilapia). Garam Masala spice mix was suggested to be sprinkled on the salmon. Grandparents and grandchildren created their own meals together by combining all ingredients in foil envelopes. Packages were cooked on grill until fish was cooked (it flakes apart with a fork when finished), about 25min.
Functional Food of the Day - Omega-3 Fatty Acids! (PDF on health benefits of Omega-3]
Food is just as important (or perhaps even more important) than an active lifestyle, to promoting good health. Here we have compiled a few documents to provide some meal ideas that appeal to grandparents and grandchildren alike. A lot of these are fun to prepare together. We have have created this collection keeping three values in mind: Affordable. Nutritious. Easy.
Cookbook of Affordable, Nutritious and Easy meals [PDF document, 2MB], by Alanna Roy for Gateway.
Here are a few more books of meal ideas. All created with similar goals in mind:
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has put together some fantastic resources for nutritious meals with budget and time in mind:
Quick and Easy Breakfast & Lunch [PDF document, 0.5MB]
Quick and Easy Supper [PDF document, 1MB]
Budget Friendly Family Meals [PDF document, 1.2MB]
Technology and Nutrition
Below, you will find links to a few smartphone apps that are incredibly helpful in everyday nutrition.
I highly recommend MyFitnessPal (free app) for better understanding your everyday nutrition.
Available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
For customizable meal planning, I really like Yummly, a web service that allows you to explore a lot of food options based on your nutritional goals. Also available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone