September has always been a bit of a rollercoaster for me. As a kid, it marked the end of summer holidays, those lazy, freeform days of bike rides and lake swims. But it also meant the excitement of new pencil crayons and notebooks and seeing my friends after a two-month hiatus. I was totally that nerd who loved going back to school. I actually used to get so excited that I would consistently throw up on every first day of school. Just ask HPA editor Dana about the time in Grade 5 when she failed to notice that I barfed my blueberry yogurt onto a desk moments before she dragged her hand through it. Oh yes, September is exciting.
Working at a university means I never really lost touch with that back-to-school feeling every September. Even though I work all summer, the campus has a different, quiet vibe from May to August. Then the students return and things are bustling; there’s a whole different kind of energy. I really like that new-beginnings feeling that comes around after Labour Day.
This year, September represents a whole new change in my life. Little E (oh my gosh, getting not-so-little by the day) was born in September which means we’re coming up on her first birthday. Which means the end of my maternity leave and a return to campus and that particular part of my adult life. I knew it would be hard to leave my baby with someone else all day but I really thought I would be excited to go back to work, to re-embrace my career, participate in adult conversations, use my brain for thoughts other than ‘well, that’s a new poop texture I haven’t seen before…are those blueberries? I don’t remember her eating blueberries.’ But it turns out I’m dreading it. Like, DREADING it. I did not expect this.
My deep thought for the day? As soon as your baby is born, she begins a slow process of moving away from you. At first it’s little things – she doesn’t need to be held every minute of the day. And starts eating real food so she doesn’t depend on you as her sole source of nutrition. And starts crawling so she can get to things that she wants without your help. Then suddenly, you are faced with not spending every hour together and soon, you won’t know every little thing that she has done and seen and felt during the day. There will be giggles I didn’t join in with and tears I didn’t dry. And this is a good thing. I want my daughter to be strong and independent and not need her mommy (while knowing that her mommy will always be there just in case she does need her). But goddamn it’s hard to accept. So I’m just going to suck it up and focus on the things I can do to make this September’s return a little easier. Like planning my lunches ahead of time. I need to throw myself into something.
I am already a hardcore brown-bagger. The campus I work at has a crappy, overpriced cafeteria and very little else beyond a vending machine in the way of snack options so I’ve long accepted that I need to brown bag it. Every once in a while, I get lazy and think I’ll “treat” myself to buying my lunch, which results in spending $10 on some limp and oily rotini pasta salad or a mummified pizza slice. I always regret it. My packed lunches, while healthy, tend to lack pizzazz, or imagination. I think I managed to eat a hummus sandwich (seriously, hummus spread between two slices of bread) everyday for about eight months in 2012. So now I’m researching quick, tasty, healthy lunch options to keep myself inspired. And distracted from the impending life changes happening this September.
Here’s an awesome one I came across for a morning snack:
From the September 2013 issue of Fresh Juice
A new take on the ol’ PB and banana standby:
- Whole grain wrap
- Almond Butter
- Honey (I found the almond butter a bit dry so a little honey helps!)
- Cacao nibs (the Fresh Juice recipe calls for hemp seeds instead but I didn’t have those in the house)
Spread the almond butter (protein) on the wrap (fibre). Drizzle a little honey and sprinkle the cacao nibs (antioxidants) on the almond butter and roll the whole thing around the banana (potassium and complex carbohydrates). Slice your “roll” width-wise to create little maki pieces.
Next up, for lunch, I’m going to pack this (yeah, yeah, it’s “breakfast food”, but I love it and it keeps me full!)
Coconut Quinoa Granola
Modified from Brooklyn Atlas
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (I used minute oats because that’s what I had)
- ½ cup chopped almonds
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- ¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I actually bought sweetened by accident so that’s what I used. I’d stick to the unsweetened in the future for more healthiness)
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey (I used honey)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and honey and mix until everything is evenly coated. Spread in a thin layer onto a large baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once about halfway through, until granola is golden. Remove and cool to room temperature before storing.
My fave way to eat this is with a dollop of plain yogurt and a chopped up peach. It is SO DELICIOUS. I burned the ever-living crap out of the first batch (so watch it closely once it’s been baking for 20 minutes) and I still scarfed it down by the bowlful.
Look at this one I picked up at Winners the other day. I am SO STOKED to use it – it will fit my “main course” and two snacks and comes with its own utensils. It collapses when you’re done so you don’t end up with a bunch of empty tupperware rattling around in your bag. So on my first day back, I plan to cram banana sushi and tasty coconut granola in there, plus some of my usual packed-lunch staples (salad, baby carrots and hummus, apples, cheese and crackers…).
Armed with my new lunch container and inspired by these new ideas, I will at least be missing little E on a full stomach this September. It’s going to be hard, harder on me than her, I am sure. I will not, however, miss finding a stray Cheerio in my bra. How does that even happen without me noticing? Baby mysteries.Add to favorites