One of my first jobs as a teenager and young adult was working as a salesperson at our family's furniture store. It was a really meaningful experience for me to work with my dad, uncles, and cousin. There was something truly special about working with family at something that was started by my grandfather when he immigrated to Canada from Holland when my dad was just 3 years old.
Maple Lodge Farms knows that every family has a story. They're into their third generation of family ownership and have stayed true to their family first vision for 60 years! Their motto has always been "Family First" which is how I (and I'm sure many of you) approach life as a mom. My husband and kids are the most important things to me!
If you follow me on social media, you may have seen some fun pictures a few weekends ago from the Maple Lodge Farms Family First event . We learned about their new fresh from the farm products and had a fun sandwich-making competition between families!
This couldn't have come at a better time for us! We had been finding ourselves in a rut with school lunch-making. The girls were getting tired of the "same old" sandwiches and we were low on new ideas! I always want to use ingredients that are fresh and natural as much as possible so I can feel confident that my kids are getting the nutrients they need, but as we near the end of the school year, it seems to get harder to keep the kids interested in what I'm sending for lunch. This was the perfect opportunity to get new ideas and to involve the whole family which made it a lot of fun!
We started the day with a drive to Toronto where we met the Maple Lodge Farms team at Liason College (a culinary arts and chef training facility). This was legit! There was no question that we were in for a fun time when we were given these awesome chicken hats to get us in the right mood for a day of family fun!
As the other families arrived, we gathered outside the building to meet Rock the chicken and try some tasty hors d'oeuvres made with Maple Lodge Farms' products!
Once inside, we got a look at some of the delicious ingredients available for our sandwich-making competition. It didn't take long for Katrina to spot the gummy bears!
It was a pleasure to meet Erica Ehm of YummyMummyClub.ca who gave us the rules for our competition. We had 30 minutes to create our sandwiches and then we would present them for judging! We felt like we were on one of those T.V. cooking competition shows!
On "Go!", we were off to collect our ingredients and here's what we ended up with at our table.
It didn't take long to decide that we would be including the Hickory Smoked Chicken Bacon on our sandwich! That was probably our favourite product of the day! We also included some Oven Roasted Chicken, unsure of whether our kids would be fans of the Jalepeno Chicken Breast (although that's definitely Ken's favourite!) or the Black Garlic & Peppercorn. I'm happy to report that we have since tried the Black Garlic & Peppercorn in their school lunches with success!
I grabbed a photo of Katrina (my 7 year old) opening the package because I love that they're easy-open and easy to seal up again to keep everything fresh for next time!
Katrina's Shopkin SandwichIt didn't take long for each girl to come up with her own idea for a sandwich. Katrina wanted to make a "Shopkin" sandwich. She got to work flattening her bread and then shaping it with a heart-shaped cutter, baby carrots for legs and arms and gummy bears for feet! Almonds became eyes and sprouts for hair. On the inside were the Oven Roasted Chicken and Hickory Smoked Chicken Bacon with cheese. This girl likes her sandwich fillings simple!
Talia's Edible Emoji SandwichTalia's vision was to create an edible Emoji! She got a little more adventurous with her fillings, using the Hickory Smoked Chicken Bacon with cheese, lettuce, sprouts, and mayonnaise. She used a circle cutter to get her sandwich face shape and created heart-shaped strawberry eyes with a slice of mango for the smile. She later added little circles of brown bread for cheeks, held in place with a tooth pick.
This was such a fun family activity and the creativity all around us was huge! Other families created sandwiches that looked like dragons, angry birds, boats, Lego, and more!
We plated the girls' sandwiches together, naming them the "Super Sisters" because we wanted them to represent keeping family first as well as a "super combination of healthy and fun"!
Here I am posing for a photo with the super sister sandwiches and the super sisters themselves! This was right before we went upstairs to present our final sandwich creation!
What better way to finish a day of family fun and sandwich-making than with delicious chicken for lunch?!
Here they are: The Super Sisters! We were pretty proud of our little sister sandwiches and we had a lot of fun making them together.
I think being a part of the sandwich creation process really got the girls more interested in making their own lunches and we've had some creative school lunch creations ever since! It just goes to show how important it is to get your kids involved and working with you! It's good to know we've got some new lunch ideas to keep us going right to the end of the school year. I can put my mind to rest, knowing that they're still getting fresh, natural foods and we can have fun working together to come up with new ways to put lunches together.
How do YOU keep school lunches healthy and appealing to your kids?
Let's talk about it in the comment section below!