Farmers Market Challenge: Market Fuels Back to School

Week Eleven of Our Series

Last week Facebook was chock-a-block full of back-to-school pics: first day of preschool; first day of kindergarten; first day of Grade 1, 2, 3, you name the grade, the kids were representing. Mostly littles, some crying, some pouting, some high-fiving the sky with extreme excitement.

And then there was me.

Katie’s First Day at UBC
Katie’s First Day at UBC

Yes folks, last week was back-to-school for me too, and the first day at UBC. It was a big day, an exciting day, a day I’ve been waiting for for years – years!  But it was also a stressful, unsure, somewhat bordering on sad day.

Living in New Westminster, last year’s 10-minute walking commute to Douglas College has now become a one-hour (if I’m lucky) transit commute to UBC. That means crazy early mornings (three days start at 8 a.m.!!!), some late evenings, and a whole lot of time away from my family.

It means a lot of time grabbing breakfasts to-go. A lot of time eating on transit. A lot of time eating in class. A lot of time eating out of my backpack.

I need quick, easy-to-prepare, grab-and-go, transportable snacks and meals – all without compromising taste and nutrition. I am not going to be your stereotypical frosh wasting away at the nearest McDonald’s.

How could the farmers’ market help?

At the market two weeks ago, I met James Lewis, a Red Seal chef that is the mastermind behind Active Granola. When I first approached him, I thought for sure these bars were strictly for heavy-duty activity. I mean, one bar alone is upwards of 60-70 grams of carbohydrates. If I were regularly hiking for hours and hours, or on some crazy, long trail run, or bike ride, I wouldn’t think twice about gobbling one up. But, currently injured, with minimal energy being expended, and with diabetes always at top of mind – that is a LOT of insulin.

But then I got to talking to him. Lewis showed me the ingredients, all clean and wholesome, all things I could pronounce, all things I knew. Throughout the conversation, he had me sample the three flavours, small, bite-size samples. I kid you not, my stomach started to feel the effects of fullness with just those three bites. I had eaten a quarter cup of almonds 1.5 hours prior to the conversation; my stomach was nowhere near full state before those bites.

Wow.

With a protein content of 10-11 grams and fibre of 6 grams per bar, not all that surprising really.

These bars do NOT taste like most other marketed bars; no unnatural, chemical taste, no lingering, ugly aftertaste, just pure goodness. (Ps. my favourite is the Day Tripper)
These bars do NOT taste like most other marketed bars; no unnatural, chemical taste, no lingering, ugly aftertaste, just pure goodness. (Ps. my favourite is the Day Tripper)

And then it hit me. Early mornings. Long days. These bars, even at half their size (which is how I personally would consume them) and mixed with Greek yogurt or a banana or some other fruit, could be a student life/belly saver!!!

Bam! Ten dollars later and I had the start of my back-to-school fuel program.

THIS WEEK’S LOOT

Active Granola

  • 3-pack granola bars: $10

Zaklan Heritage Farm:

  • Bag of arugula: $4
  • Mustard greens (tatsoi and amara): 2 for $5
  • 3 roma tomatoes: $1.40

Bose & Sons:

  • 2 ears corn: $1
  • 1 head red-leaf lettuce: $2

Ripple Creek Organic Farm:

  • 1 cucumber: $1.25
  • 2 bulb garlic: $3.50

Harvest Direct Farms:

  • 5 gala apples: $5

Ossome Acres:

  • Bag of dragon tongue and red swan beans: $3.10
  • Bag of sunflower shoots: $4

Total spent was $40.25.

Full disclosure: I purchased the bars two weeks ago, not last week. Lewis mentioned he wouldn’t be at the market this past week, and those three bites had me completely sold, I needed these bars. So I technically went $10 over budget last week, but counted it towards this week, giving me $30 left to spend.

Next up.

Apples! Apples! Apples!

It is apple season my friends, have you been stocking up?

Yum!!!
Yum!!!

Harvest Direct Farms has galas, Jonagolds, Macintosh, red delicious, ambrosia, etc., etc.. I’ve tried the galas and Jonagolds to date; the galas have become a family favourite.

If you’ve been keeping up with these posts, you may recall me saying at the beginning of this challenge that the market fruit was a bit too pricey for my fruit-loving family to take advantage of given how much we eat. But here’s the thing, my husband doesn’t eat apples, leaving just the boy and I to share. And frankly, in-season apples, how can we not indulge? They are 5,000 times tastier than store-bought. Even now, when apples everywhere are local, you still have to factor in transportation and storage time and storage atmosphere for store-bought apples. But at the market, these apples are either freshly picked that morning, or the day before. They are not uniform in shape, texture or size; they have actual character, which in my opinion adds to their quality.

Snackwise, they are super easy: cut them up for no waste, or throw a whole one in your bag if low on time. Taste-wise, they are intensely sweet, super juicy, crazy crisp, and the majority are huge in size too, often the equivalent of two apples in one.

No guilt chomping on one of those whatsoever.

Lunches: salads, salads and more salads.

this week’s salad featured amarra greens which are an Ethiopian kale that added a nice like kick a few seconds after the first bite, tatsoi mustard greens, which are very similar to spinach, sunflower shoots, that added a fresh crunch, and dragon-tongued beans – look at that colour!
this week’s salad featured amarra greens which are an Ethiopian kale that added a nice like kick a few seconds after the first bite, tatsoi mustard greens, which are very similar to spinach, sunflower shoots, that added a fresh crunch, and dragon-tongued beans – look at that colour!

And let’s not forget dinner. I’m getting home a lot later than I was prior to UBC. We need meals that are going to be easy to reheat, easy for my husband to prepare with a four-year-old under foot, and good for leftovers. A lot of our market-discovered meals have come in handy this week: Mexican stuffed peppers; chicken and bean sauté; and shrimp and chard quinoa. Plus, a little market-fresh pizza indulgence too!

Market ingredients: Arugula, roma tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Beyond the market ingredients: prosciutto, roasted red pepper, fungi, mozzarella and parmesan.
Market ingredients: Arugula, roma tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Beyond the market ingredients: prosciutto, roasted red pepper, fungi, mozzarella and parmesan.

How have you been handling foods for back to school?

The full series. 

Jen Arbo

Jen Arbo is the editor and co-publisher of Tenth to the Fraser. She's been writing for the site since 2007 and lives in Sapperton with her family. A project manager at heart, she also operates Hyack Interactive, a digital communications company. Find her on Twitter or Instagram.

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