HEALTHY BACK-TO-SCHOOL LUNCH IDEAS

Lunchbox

My Top 5 Kid-Friendly Lunchbox Recipes –
from Healthy Snacks, to Gluten-Free Bites, and Nut-Free Protein Balls

The social aspect of eating has always been an integral part of my upbringing. I have great memories of sitting around the kitchen table for hours with my family laughing and enjoying the meal prepared for us.

When going to school as a young girl, I had the same enjoyment of opening my brown paper bag (yes, I am dating myself☺) and eating healthy snacks in the cafeteria with my friends. Although I will admit, there were times when I wanted the cakes and cookies that some of my friends got in their lunch bags. Sometimes my parents gave in to my pleas for the treats, other times they did not. But regardless of what I was given, I still recall comparing my lunch to that of my peers.

As an adult, I had begun to think that times had changed, but now as the mother of two boys I see the same lunch bag comparisons coming up much like those of years ago.

My first experience with lunch bag envy on the part of my own kids was when my eldest son came home from kindergarten asking why he didn’t get cookies in his lunch like his friends (up until that point his sugar intake was pretty minimal). I knew what he was getting at – those multicoloured sprinkle cookies that attract kids like magpies to a shiny object. He wanted the treats like his buddies. I quickly realized that my school time focus should not only be on the nutritious components of his lunch but also the presentation and yummy factor. It was then that my quest began to maintain our dietary standards while not leaving my kids feeling deprived or left out.

My sons are now 9 and 7 and the lunch table has become a round table of lunchbox show-and-tell. Sugary/salty treats are what “everyone cool has” and the healthy snacks are left for last when it comes to choice. With time and communication, our family has embraced the healthy lunchtime snacks I like to create for them, which are similar to those of their friends but much lower in salt, sugar, GMOs, and refined fats. I have named these my “relatable lunchbox” recipes.

To this day, we continue to discuss our food and lifestyle choices with the boys. As parents, we do make some compromises and now keep the treats they want stocked at home for times when the family can share them together (thus maintaining our healthy stance but not depriving them of the things they would like either).

For us, it’s a continuous dance of give and take, information and discussion, decision and choice that keeps us on this path that suits our family best. It’s no longer the battle of what someone else has, but the embracing of what we do have… different yet the same.

GLUTEN-FREE QUINOA PIZZA BITESOrganic Quinoa Bites

These are a great alternative to pre-packaged lunch kits, and who doesn’t love to dip their food!

1 cup cooked organic quinoa

Italian seasoning to taste

1 egg (or vegan egg substitute)

½ cup tomato sauce

Chopped veggies of choice (mushroom, pepper, olives, etc.)

1 cup shredded cheese (or vegan cheese) plus more for topping

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºC.

Line muffin trays with silicone liners, or use a little oil to line pan.

In a bowl, combine quinoa, seasoning, and egg, and mix thoroughly.

Add 1/3 cup of sauce or more and veggies of choice to the mixture. Use remaining sauce for dipping later.

Add cheese, mixing thoroughly.

Spoon into liners and bake in oven until firm – about 20 minutes (ovens vary).

Remove and let cool.

Top with more cheese and serve with remainder of dipping sauce.

HEALTHY GOLDFISH CRACKERSHealthy Goldfish Crackers

It’s easy to make your own Goldfish Crackers. Simply take a toothpick and make an eye and smile prior to cooking.

8 oz of organic Cheddar cheese (or vegan cheese)

4 Tbsp of grass-fed butter (or vegan butter)

1 cup cassava flour (or any wholegrain flour)

¾ tsp of Himalayan salt

2 Tbsp of turmeric (without it the crackers are more brownish and not the familiar orange color, but just as tasty!)

2 – 3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast

1 tsp of olive or avocado oil

5 Tbsp of water

Directions:

Grate cheese and put in a food processor.

Cut butter into small cubes and add to processor.

Add flour, salt, turmeric, nutritional yeast, and olive oil.

Blend all in food processor until a dough starts to form.

Slowly add water while continuing to blend.

Take dough out, cover and place in fridge for 20 – 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºC.

Take dough out and roll to 1/8-inch thick.

Cut into squares or use a mold (fish cracker molds can be made by cutting a strip from a tin can and bending it to a fish shape).

Place each cracker onto parchment paper and bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDINGChocolate Avocado Pudding

These puddings can be made ahead, and stored in the fridge for several days. Simply portion them into containers ready to grab and go into the lunch box.

2 ripe avocados         1 ripe banana

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 Tbsp organic honey or maple syrup or 2 dates soaked

½ tsp of vanilla bean or vanilla extract

Tiny pinch of Himalayan salt

¼ cup coconut milk

Directions:

Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into serving sized containers, and pop them in the fridge.

Note: Top with Gut Healing Gummies, made in a worm silicone mold, for a healthy version of Dirt and Worms!

 

GLUTEN-FREE, NUT-FREE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE PROTEIN BALLS

These days, all elementary schools are peanut-free and some are nut-free, while others have additional allergen concerns. Therefore be sure to use school-safe products. Keep these cookies on an icepack until snack time. Many reusable containers have an ice pack for a lid – genius!

1 cup gluten-free oats

½ cup sunflower butter

Vegan chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is a great brand)

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp flax seeds (ground not whole)

2 Tbsp hemp seed

2 Tbsp chia seeds

Maple syrup or honey if desired for more sweetness

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

If batter is too wet, add a bit more oats.

Fill a plate with cocoa powder.

Roll mixture into one-inch balls, then flatten.

Place each ball on powdered plate, dusting both sides and then place onto lined baking sheet.

Once filled, place baking sheet into freezer until the balls are set.

Place in an airtight container and keep in fridge.

 

GUT HEALING GUMMIEShealthy gummy bears for healing the gut

There are no preservatives or additives in these gummies, so they should remain in the fridge or be kept on an ice pack. For a firmer gummy, add 1 extra tablespoon of gelatin.

Option 1:

1 cup elderberry juice (unsweetened)

2 tsp pomegranate juice (unsweetened)

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp Great Lakes or Vital Proteins gelatin (or vegan gelatin or agar-agar)

Option 2:

1 cup unsweetened orange juice

3 Tbsp mango juice

Pinch of turmeric (just for colour)

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tbsp Great Lakes or Vital Proteins gelatin (or vegan gelatin or agar-agar)

Directions:

In a small pot, bring juice, honey, and vanilla to a low boil.

Whisk in gelatin slowly and one tablespoon at a time. Be careful not to add more before it has dissolved.

Once dissolved, remove from heat.

Use a dropper to fill silicone molds or baking sheet.

Place in fridge to cool.

Once cooled, pop gummies out of molds, or if using baking sheet, cut into squares.

Tried-and-True Tips for Success

  • Just like we eat with our eyes, so do children. Make it interesting. You can keep lunches healthy but remember kids are kids. Cookie cutters are a fun way to cut fruit and vegetables into interesting shapes.
  • Children will always compare their lunch and snacks to that of their peers. Communication is so important during this time to let your child know why the lunches are prepared the way that they are. Often parents have the greatest of intentions but forget to let the kids in on the process. Have them describe what their friends are having, then put your own spin on requests that doesn’t compromise the family’s ideals.
  • Bento boxes are a fun way to fill a lunchbox with treasures that children can use to create their own meal.
  • Bring your child shopping! It doesn’t need to be a chore to have them in the grocery store. Use this time to educate them, teach them what is more healthy and less healthy. Let them pick one fruit or vegetable they want to try and have them prepare it. Kids like to be in charge, so let them take the lead once in a while.
  • Avoid nitrates and sulfates, refined foods, processed and excess sugars. If it comes in a package, read the label. Education for us parents is super important. Lead by example and have open discussions with your kids – they are more open minded than you think they are!
  • Spiralized veggies can be your best friend. A pile of beets, carrots and zucchini can make any meal feel like spaghetti.☺
  • Kombucha is a tasty, gut-healthy fizzy drink that tastes like pop. Say no way to regular soda pop and other sugary drinks!

Upcoming Event:

– Catch Kerri Lambie at her upcoming public seminar: Sept. 19, Healthy Lunchbox, 7 – 8:30 pm.

https://education.goodnessme.ca/event/6046

The seminar takes place at: Goodness Me Natural Food Market, 720 Bristol Rd., Mississauga, Ont., (647) 804-2273.

Kerri is a passionate practitioner, and mother of two boys She is an advocate for healthy living and loves to interact and participate within the community. See more at: https://kerriannehomeopathy.com/ Would you like to have her speak at an engagement? Contact her at: klambie38@gmail.com

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