School lunches can be a tough; the kiddies need to like what they are having on top of being super healthy to provide them with the energy they need to get through the afternoon at school. I don’t know about you but when I was a child there was often a lot of lunch swapping going on. When you spend the time making your kids a healthy lunch and the money YOU WANT YOUR KIDS TO EAT IT! We also have the challenge of food allergies in schools. Schools are peanut and often nut free along with other restrictions depending on the school your kids go to. All of these factors can make it challenging to make a healthy and allergen free lunch that your kids will actually like. So my intention here is to inspire you to get creative and make lunches the kids will actually like and not want to trade.
When I decided that I was going to write this post, I thought who better to ask what would make a good lunch than kids themselves (I also posted a Facebook question where I got some great answers. If you are not part of the Facebook fun on my fan page, I highly recommend you pop by and click the like button to take part in the healthy conversations Click here to become a fan!). So I asked my nieces and nephews what they would like in their lunches. The first answer I got was from my 5 year old nephew Michael and he said all he wants in his lunch is chocolate. Then he moved on to say a nutella sandwich would hit the spot. My older nieces and nephews liked the idea of pizza, sandwiches and leftover stews/soups. My partner Todd said that his favourite lunch was the pre-packaged Lunchables(please do not buy these). I always liked a good peanut butter sandwich.
So with that information I have put together some ideas that I think would not only be super healthy and help your kids get through the afternoons with their energy levels consistent but also that they will enjoy and actually eat!
So here is some of my top picks;
• Hummus Wrap – Whole grain wrap (I love the Food For Life Ezekiel Wraps) + hummus* (amazing chickpea dip) + veggies (cucumber, tomato, romaine lettuce and/or spinach)
• Leftover Chilli, soups or stews (store in a thermos. Heat before adding to the thermos and it should stay warm until lunch)
• This one is for my 5 year old nephew!! 2 slices of sprouted grain bread + homemade ( and much better) nutella (Get a great recipe here!!)
• Pizza Sandwich – 2 sprouted grain wraps, pizza sauce mozzarella cheese + steamed and diced veggies. Top one wrap with all of your child’s favourite pizza toppings, be sure to add a few more veggies and make sure cheese is on the bottom and top so the wraps stick together. Place 2nd wrap over the 1st one. Heat a pan with a touch of olive oil over medium heat. Heat wrap on both sides until cheese has melted. Cut into triangle shapes and let cool before packing.
• Nitrate free turkey or chicken sandwich served on sprouted grain toast with some veggies and hummus on the side
• Whole grain bagel topped with organic cream cheese + cucumber slices, served with some trail mix on the side
• Tuna salad boats! Served on top of romaine lettuce + cherry tomatoes. Serve along with some yogurt and fruit.
• Homemade Lunchables – Nitrate free turkey slices (Organic if you can afford) or organic pepperoni cut into squares, cheese slices, whole grain crackers (try Kashi TLC crackers) + avocado (sprinkle with some lemon juice to prevent browning) + veggies such as cucumber, tomatoes, carrot sticks, etc.
• Whole grain bread topped with Sunflower seed butter and banana slices. Send with some hummus and vegetables
• Tofu fingers (recipe below), sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli served with some organic ketchup
Snacks, desserts and sides!
• Nut Free trail mixes (make your own with seeds and organic dried fruits or try Enjoy Life Trail Mix found at the health food store)
• Apple slices + pumpkin seed butter
• Organic Yogurt (buy plain yogurt and add unsweetened jam or pure maple syrup so you can control the sugar content or look for yogurt with the least amount of sugar)
• Enjoy Life (company that makes products free of all common allergens including nuts and peanuts) Granola Bars
• Whole grain muffins (homemade made with natural sugars)
• Healthier baked goods such as black bean brownies or teff peanut butter cookies (made with Sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter; try the product Sunbutter http://www.sunbutter.com/)
• Guacamole or salsa with zucchini slices or organic baked corn chips
• Homemade fruit smoothies* (add some Greens+ Kids for an added nutrition boost and flavour)
• Always send your kids with a bag filled with a mixture of vegetables
• Get your kids involved in making their lunches and make it fun
• Get your kids involved in the produce section. Let then choose the fruits and veggies they would like to have in their lunch. Make a game of it, try something new every week.
• Always make sure you add some healthy fats (seeds, avocado, olive oil) and protein (eggs, legumes, meats, yogurt, etc) to your child’s lunches to support blood sugar balance and concentration
• Keep your kids hydrated with good old H2O. Send 1-2 bottles (re-usable) in their bags.
• Try packing lunches in stainless steel containers or BPA free plastic bento box kits http://www.laptoplunches.com/ (check at your local health food store such as Natural Life Health Market)
• Beretta Farms (http://www.berettaorganics.com/) – Lunch Meats OR Presidents Choice Blue Menu Chicken slices
• Sunbutter (http://www.sunbutter.com/) – Alternative to peanut butter, made with sunflower seeds
• Food For Life (http://www.foodforlife.com/) Ezekiel wraps and bread
• Stonemill Breads (http://www.stonemillbakehouse.com/English/010~home/)
• Enjoy Life (http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/) – Granola bars and trail mix
• Greens+ Kids http://www.genuinehealth.com/by-name/greens-kids.html
Get some more amazing lunch ideas at these websites;
• This is great for kids on special diets including wheat and gluten free.
Baked Tofu Fingers
Source - Enlightened Eating By: Caroline Dupont
• 1lb firm or extra firm tofu
• 2 tbs tamari
• 1 tbs of cold pressed olive oil or sesame oil
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Slice tofu in half lengthwise and then cut these two these two halves into ¼ inch thick slices
3. Mix oil and tamari in an 8 inch pan and dip each piece of tofu into sauce, coating it well
4. Arrange tofu in the same pan in a single layer. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes depending on how crispy you like it, turning slices once halfway through cooking time
Brain Healthy Tuna Salad
• 1 can of water packed light flaked (less mercury than white) tuna (170g)
• ½ a fresh avocado (instead of mayo), mashee
• ½ juice of 1 lemon
• A big handful of fresh herbs (I used cilantro because I love it)
• Other options include; chopped onions, celery, bell pepper, add a dash of hot sauce, etc.
Mix this together in a medium size dish and serve on whole grain bread, wraps, or romaine lettuce leaves
Homemade Classic Hummus
• 1 can of chickpeas (I use Eden Organic)
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 small clove of garlic
• 1/2 the zest from 1 lemon
• 1/2 the juice of 1 lemon
• 2 heaping tbsp of tahini
• Sea salt and pepper to taste
Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor, except tahini. When well blended, add the tahini and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Pulse a few times to mix and viola!!
Easy peasy (as my mother would say) and your done!!
• ½ banana
• ½ cup berries
• ½ cup plain yogurt
• 1 scoop of Greens+ Kids
Blend and add to a re-useable container. Great to add to breakfast, enjoy as a snack or packed in a lunch box.
Here is a nice reminder why we need to take the time to make nourishing meals for our children. Even if your child is at a healthy weight their bodies still need good nutrition. We all need vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to live a full and healthy life. As a society we need to teach our children how to live a healthy life and it starts as soon as they start eating.
Gotta love Jamie Oliver!! See this link; http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html