Are you dreading the words “I’m bored” come March Break?  Before your kids even attempt to go into: hand held device oblivion, grab those rascals and head for the kitchen!  I truly believe one of the healthiest activities we can do with our children is cook. I realize this may sound daunting if you’re not kitchen savvy yourself, but preparing meals with your children can be a fun, and very satisfying family activity.  Cooking with your children will teach them a basic, and underrated life skill.  The following recipes are nutritious, use pantry staple ingredients, keep budget in mind, and use methods of cooking that will have you and your family confident in the kitchen.  Grab the kids, get messy, and have some fun in the kitchen this March Break.  Click here to watch my live March Break cooking segment on Breakfast Television.

Crab, White Bean & Dill Dip 

A flavourful and nutritious (*this is my oldest son’s favourite snack!!) mid-day or after school nosh.

This dip is a favourite after-school snack in our home.

This dip is a favourite after-school snack in our home.

1 can (540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (120 g) Clover Leaf Chunk Premium White Crabmeat, drained

½ tsp (2 mL) finely grated lemon zest

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt *or to taste

1/8 tsp (or hefty pinch) each; ground nutmeg and cayenne pepper

¼ cup (60 mL) roughly chopped fresh dill

Place all ingredients (except for dill) in a bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until combined, scraping down sides of bowl when needed.  Add dill and pulse until just combined.  Place in serving dish and serve with a variety of vegetables, flatbreads and crackers.  Makes 1 ½ cups (375 mL). For more tasty Clover Leaf recipes, click here. 

Almond Berry Smoothie

Start each morning of March Break (*or school day!) with a delicious and good-for-you smoothie.  Click here for the recipe featuring one of my favourite go-to beverages: So Nice Organic Almond Beverage.  I use So Nice Organic Almond Beverage in place of milk in all my recipes, from soups to hot chocolate.

Kale & Almond Pesto Pasta

As a mom of two active and very hungry boys, I’m always whipping up dishes of pasta.


Healthy & delicious, ready in 15 minute family supper.

Homemade pesto is a cinch to make.  If you don’t have kale on hand, use: fresh basil leaves, spinach or arugula.  This pesto also makes a great “sauce” for grilled fish, or slather on a sandwich instead of mayo.

1/2 cup (125 mL) whole natural almonds

3 cups (750 mL) packed baby kale, or chopped kale

2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tsp (5 mL) minced fresh garlic, or to taste

hefty pinch of salt and chili flakes (optional)

1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil or canola oil

2 tbsp (30 mL) water

1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lemon zest

3 cups (750 mL) dry rotini pasta shape of choice

Place almonds in food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add kale, cheese, garlic and spices and pulse until chopped. With motor running, drizzle in oil and water.  Scrape down sides of bowl when needed.  Stir in lemon zest.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.  Makes 3/4 cup (175 mL). Cook pasta according to package directions.  Toss warm cooked pasta with pesto.  Makes 4 cups (1 L).  For added nutrients, add steamed vegetables and lean cooked protein (such as chicken, flank steak, white kidney beans or chickpeas) to prepared pasta.

March Break Banana Muffins 

Homemade lunch box treat.

Homemade lunch box treat.

A perfect post skiing, tobogganing, or lunch box snack.

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (125 mL) softened butter

2 eggs

1 tbsp (15 mL) pure vanilla extract

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) mixed seeds *see note at bottom of recipe

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

½ tsp (2 mL) each; salt, ground ginger and ground cinnamon

3 small to medium overripe mashed bananas (or 2 large)

1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated orange zest

½ cup (125 mL) orange juice

Topping: Stir together: 2 tbsp (30 mL) each: rolled oats and brown sugar, 1 tsp (5 mL) melted butter, and hefty pinch cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with large liners.  Beat together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Stir in bananas, orange zest and juice.  Divide batter evenly between muffin cups (cups will be almost full to the top).  Sprinkle topping evenly on each muffin.  Bake in center of preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins. 

*Note on the seeds:  Once every few weeks, I go to the Bulk Barn and buy equal amounts (approx 1 cup (250 mL) of each): flax seeds (I grind them at home), chia seeds (whole; they are porous = no need for grinding to absorb nutrients) and hemp seeds.  I put them in a large mason jar and shake (to combine), I then use/add my seed “mix” to our morning oats, smoothies and baked goods.  I am a huge believer in quality plant protein and healthy fats.  I find this is a super easy way to incorporate these nutrients into our diets.

Super Supper Sandwich  

Dinnertime never tasted, or looked so good!

Dinnertime never tasted, or looked so good!

A cottage loaf is commonly used to make “party spinach dip”.  This loaded sandwich is a perfect way to use up any leftover vegetables you may have in your crisper. This sandwich takes about 5 minutes to whip up, and because there is no “cooking” it is a great recipe to have children prepare on their own!

1 large (500 g – approx.) pumpernickel or whole grain cottage loaf

1/3 cup (75 mL) prepared hummus (*or homemade) OR, stir together: 1/4 (60 mL) mayonnaise + 3 tbsp (45 mL) Dijon mustard

2 cups (500 mL) lightly packed baby spinach leaves or mixed salad greens

½ lb (250 g) thinly sliced deli style ham (or other deli style meat of choice)

1 cup (250 mL) grated cheddar cheese

½ cup (125 mL) thinly sliced cucumber

½ cup (125 mL) grated carrot

1 small red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced

Cut a round cap off the top of the cottage loaf.  Reserve top.  Hollow out the inside and top of the loaf to make a bread bowl, leaving about ¾ -inch of bread inside the crust. Spread hummus all over inside of bread bowl and inside the cap.  Place spinach leaves at the bottom of bread bowl and layer with meat, cheese, cucumber, grated carrot, red pepper and avocado.   Place cap back on sandwich and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.  To serve, remove plastic wrap and cut into 8 wedges.

More Fun March Break Recipes:

Coconut Lindt White Chocolate Cheesecake   *a decadent Easter or springtime (or anytime) dessert ~ and why I’ll never be a size 2, oh well.

Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies *perfect after-school snack, or lunch box treat ~ I whip up at least one batch of these cookies a week.   

Peanut & Beef Slow Cooker Stew  *a flavourful and nutritious one pot meal ~ a family favourite in our home  

Sunshine Salad *my youngest son eats this salad like it is candy!  Who knew arugula could be considered candy?!

Are you looking to add more greens into your diet?  I encourage you to check out A+Customizable Green Smoodees (that’s not a typo!) click here to learn more about this delicious and good-for-you sip!  And I forgot to mention, they are 150% kid approved too!  My youngest son prides himself on his “Smoodee” mustache.

Join me, Sunday, May 3rd, 2015: Cottage Baking and Cooking Cooking Class at Baker & Scone, Toronto.  Click here to register.


Photo Credit: Nickolas Kulchar  @aNRKyCollective

All recipes written and developed by Charmaine Broughton.

Charmaine is a chef and recipe developer.  She is a regular guest on Rogers Daytime York Region, and food writer for Running Room Magazine sharing her love and enthusiasm for all things food and cooking.

Most importantly; Charmaine is the mother of two active boys, Tyler & Colgan.  Charmaine understands the importance of preparing healthy, wholesome dishes all while keeping budget and time in mind.

For more tasty recipes visit

Twitter @runnercharb #RunCookSmile

On Sunday, March 29th I’ll be running: Around The Bay Road Race in Hamilton (30 glorious K’s!!) raising money for St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton.  To make a donation click here.    Huge THANK YOU!!