(Photo : Happiness Of Anna on Unsplash)

When the pandemic crisis struck, Breakfast Club of Canada quickly set up an Emergency Fund to ensure children and their families had access to healthy meals amid widespread school closures and breakfast program interruptions. Three months later, we are still receiving messages that speak volumes about the difference these efforts have made.

Here’s what one mother had to say about the help she has received from Regroupement Jeunesse en Marche du Québec, which was awarded a special grant by BCC:

“Hello,

I’d like to take a moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your donation. I have three young children, each with a different diagnosis (autism, severe language delay, behavioural disorder). On a regular day, my routine is already a challenge, but right now, in the middle of all this uncertainty, the word ‘challenge’ doesn’t quite cover it.

I’m writing this note so you understand how much your gift means to me. The food hamper was full to the brim with good things. There was nothing to sort through, clean or throw out. And there was respect, selflessness, compassion and love in every bite.

I thought it was IMPORTANT to share this with you.

Thank you for your generosity and your support.

F.”

Thanks to the combined efforts of many people, the donations we have received to date and the support of a number of partners who have joined with us to help the most vulnerable members of our society, we have been able to distribute special grants to organizations across Canada. Recently, the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation also contributed a generous $100,000 donation to help with this initiative. On behalf of children across the country, thank to the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation and all our partners for their ongoing support during this crisis!

You want to help make a difference?

MAKE A DONATION

A refreshing and nourishing fruit smoothie might be a perfect way to cool down at home. Smoothies are a magical food as they are both delicious and nutritious. They are also an excellent way to increase our fruit and veggie intake to ensure we are getting lots of vitamins and minerals in our diets, and are a great way to use leftover produce like ripe bananas. There is one downfall to the fruit-only smoothie, and it’s this: although they are initially quite filling, sometimes they leave us feeling hungry and unable to focus again within a few hours. Let’s dive into why this happens, and look at ways we can make sure our smoothies are satiating brain-power enhancers.

As previously mentioned, fruit is full of essential vitamins and minerals that are hard to find in other food groups. They are definitely part of a healthy diet and should be eaten daily. With that said, when fruit or any added sugars are eaten and digested, our bodies break it down into carbohydrates (or glucose, or sugar). Although carbohydrates sometimes get a bad reputation, they are essential for growing children as they are the body’s first source of energy. In saying that, moderation is key and it is easy to overdo the amount of natural sugars in a fruit smoothie. An excess of glucose, even in natural sugars from fruit, causes blood sugar levels to rapidly rise, and then quickly drop – think of a roller coaster. How does this manifest in a child’s behaviour? Think hyperactivity and potential behavioural problems initially, followed by the need for a nap or snacks soon after. When the body is experiencing a spike in blood sugar, studies report an increase in brain fog and an inability to concentrate, as well as behavioural problems. When the crash happens, fatigue sets in and it becomes challenging to stay on task.

So, how can we ensure our kiddos get the delicious breakfast smoothies they love while making sure they don’t fall victim to the blood sugar roller coaster and become hungry again right away? The answer is simple: mix up the fruit with sources of healthy fats, add sources of protein, and increase the fibre in your smoothies. Healthy fats, protein, and fibre all slow down digestion, meaning blood sugar levels rise and fall slower and with more stability. This ultimately allows students to maintain focus and stay full for much longer than when given a fruit only smoothie. So what can you add to your smoothies for blood sugar balance?

Delicious and affordable additions to your smoothie that contain both healthy fats and protein (a 2 for 1 special) include foods like 2% milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and seeds (chia, flaxseeds, any seed), Nuts and unsweetened nut butters can also do the job, and unsweetened seed butters (try sunflower or pumpkin seed butter) are great for nut-free alternatives. For an extra bit of fibre, spinach or any green leafy vegetable, the chia and flax seeds mentioned above, and even whole grain oats can be an easy addition. Try adding any of the above to your next summer smoothie and you will be sure to both see and feel the difference of a well-balanced breakfast smoothie.

Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  •     1.5 cups milk (any type, can be dairy free milk or 2% milk for extra healthy fats and protein)
  •     1.5 cups frozen blueberries
  •     1 large extra ripe banana (riper bananas make sweeter smoothies. Bananas can also be frozen!)
  •     2 large handfuls of greens (spinach, baby kale, romaine – whatever!)
  •     1 tbsp chia seeds
  •     1 tbsp unsweetened nut or seed butter
  •     1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Combine in a blender until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Green Smoothie

Serves 2 – Scale up or down as needed

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk (any type, can be plant based or dairy)
  • 5 cups frozen mangos
  • 1 large extra ripe banana
  • 2 large handfuls of greens (spinach kale- whatever!)
  • ½ cup of oats
  • ½ avocado
  • A few mint leaves

Instructions

In a blender, combine the oats and the milk. Let soak for 10 minutes.

Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy!

by LAU À LA BOUFFE
BSc Nutrition // ITHQ DVS CUISINE

A classic cookie with a colourful, flavourful twist.

SERVINGS
20 cookies

TIME
Preparation: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Baking: 12 minutes per sheet
Total: Approximately 2 hours

DIFFICULTY
Intermediate

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ c. (100 g) salted butter*
  • ½ c. (100 g) white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ c. + 1 tbsp (110 g) bread flour
  • 2½ tbsp (15 g) matcha powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
  • ¾ c. (105 g) almond flour (ground almonds)
  • 2 tsp (8 g) baking powder

* If you use unsalted butter, add ¼ tsp (1 mL) of salt to the recipe in step 1.

PREPARATION

There’s no need to preheat the oven right away. Your cookie dough will have to be refrigerated for an hour before baking.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.
  2. Gradually beat in the egg yolks, one after the other.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth, homogeneous dough.
  4. With a rolling pin, roll out your dough between two sheets of parchment paper to flatten (it should be about 0.5” or 1.5 cm thick when you’re done). Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  6. Cut out your shortbread with a cookie cutter and place on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until the dough is used up.
  7. Bake for 12 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.

NUTRITION

  • 81 calories
  • 5 g fat
  • 8 g carbohydrates (0 g fibre)
  • 1 g protein

TIPS FROM LAU

If your cookies are crumbly and melt in your mouth, they’re a success. That is how shortbread should be. This recipe can also be used for pie crust or as a base for your favourite squares. The possibilities abound!

by LAU À LA BOUFFE
BSc Nutrition // ITHQ DVS CUISINE

A tasty dessert perfect for fall, this loaf is loaded with fibre and sweetened with maple syrup.

YIELD
1 loaf (10 slices)

TIME
Preparation: 10–15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Total: Approximately 1 hour

DIFFICULTY
Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 grated apples*
  • ⅓ c. (75 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. (125 mL) neutral oil (canola, etc.)
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 c. (500 mL) whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2.5 mL) ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp (1.25 mL) nutmeg
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped walnuts**

*You can also garnish the top of the loaf with additional apple slices before baking.
**Optional if nut allergies are a concern.

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat the oven to 350oF (180oC) and prepare a loaf pan.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients (apples, syrup, eggs, oil and vanilla) in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices) to the wet, mixing until just combined.
  4. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  5. Sprinkle the nuts over the batter.
  6. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

NUTRITION

Nutrition information for one serving.

  • 234 calories
  • 14 g fat
  • 22 g carbohydrate (4 g fibre)
  • 5 g protein

TIPS FROM LAU

For a fancier twist, whip up a little maple glaze: Mix 1 c. icing sugar with 1 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tsp milk of choice. Drizzle over the top of the cooled loaf.

A few months ago, a school in the Aroland First Nation community in Ontario received a special grant from Breakfast Club of Canada’s Emergency Fund. Bill Beaucage, the school’s principal, sent us a moving letter to express his gratitude. A must-read!

Dear Breakfast Club of Canada,

Aroland’s Breakfast Food Hamper Program is extremely essential for the children and families in our community. Volunteers from our school and community are assisting us with packing hampers and delivering them to all 114 homes in Aroland. In my eyes, these volunteers, hamper packers and deliverers are the true heroes that are the reason why this program is and continues to be a success in our community.


“I feel awesome because now people get to have things to cook on, fruit to eat, breakfast.” – Melissa Megan (Volunteer Packer)

Every second Friday, a food order is delivered from Daneff’s Food Market in Geraldton, Ontario, to Aroland. These hampers are providing the essential breakfast food items families need in our absence. Grill/griddle combination sets, frying pans and spatulas were also delivered to all our homes.

It has been gratifying reading all the “thank you” comments that families and households are sharing with us. One comment in particular this past week said, “Thank you so much. This was over the top.”


“I am happy to deliver to my community. It just helps everybody in living properly here.” – Rolland Towedo (Volunteer Delivery Driver)

Please know that every dollar that your organization has provided Aroland First Nation from your very generous donors is making a huge difference and impact at the very doorstep of every household in the community.

Thank you to Breakfast Club of Canada for your financial support and the generosity of your donors during these unprecedented times. Thanks to all of you, great work is taking place in small communities like Aroland, Ontario, and across our great country.

Stay safe, stay well.

Bill Beaucage
Principal
Johnny Therriault School, Aroland

With our back-to-school campaign at Breakfast Club of Canada now in full swing, there’s no better time to check in with the two wonderful and big-hearted women who have stepped up to serve as our campaign spokespeople. Read on to find out more about what makes them tick.

Jessi and her lovely twins. Follow her on Instagram!

JESSI CRUICKSHANK

We are delighted to welcome Jessi Cruickshank to the Breakfast Club of Canada family, as the English spokesperson for the #StopChildHunger campaign.

Jessi’s career kicked off with MTV Canada, where she appeared in a number of successful programs, earning a slew of accolades and a faithful fan base along the way. She then turned her on-screen talents to CTV, E!, The CW and CBC as the host of a number of highly popular shows.

She recently created a new Facebook Watch series, New Mom, Who Dis?, which takes a fun, refreshing look at various aspects of first-time parenthood. As the mother of two twin boys, she is keenly aware of the importance and benefits of breakfast on early child development.

“Making my kids breakfast in the morning is a privilege. This year, because of the repercussions of COVID-19, 1 in 3 children will go to school on an empty stomach. When I heard that, I wanted to do anything I could to help.” – Jessi Cruickshank

We are proud to have these two remarkable women on board to shine the spotlight on the work we do and to raise public awareness about the problem of food insecurity as the school year gets underway.

Valérie and her stepdaughters. Follow her on Instagram!

VALÉRIE ROBERTS

Valérie Roberts was a natural choice to front the #StopChildHunger campaign within the French-speaking community. Valérie has been a familiar face on the small screen since 2007, when she won the coveted “VJ recherché” contest at Musique Plus. She has since appeared in numerous programs on V Télé, ICI Radio-Canada and Vrak TV. Her radio work includes stints with 96.9 CKOI and as a cultural commentator at 98.5 FM. She is also a writer and a regular contributor to such magazines as Clin d’oeil and Cool!, as well as enVedette.ca and lookdujour.ca.

“I can’t bear to think that there are students out there whose ability to learn is being compromised by a lack of food in the morning.” – Valérie Roberts

As a stepmom to two girls, and having recently written a book on the topic, she was the ideal person to team up with Breakfast Club of Canada for the back-to-school campaign in order to make sure even more children across the country start their day with a healthy breakfast.

Add your voice to ours and become a BCC ambassador!

Does our campaign resonate with you? Would you like to show your support for Breakfast Club of Canada and help fight child food insecurity? Contact us about becoming an ambassador: Janic.Aubin-Bergeron@breakfastclubcanada.org.

You would like to make a donation?

Please give online or text CLUB to 20222. Your generosity means the world to us – and to them! THANK YOU!