Monday, September 22nd, 2014

How to Pack a Healthy Lunch that You Feel Good About and Your Children Actually Eat!

Published on September 30, 2010 by   ·   10 Comments Pin It
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Lunches are such a tricky thing…on one hand all of the children are comparing what they got in their lunchboxes (and do you really want them to be the ones with the lame lunch?). And, on the other hand, you want to send them off with something nutritious to fuel them through their day that you feel good about and that they will eat! If this is your conundrum, read on!

Most Mom’s Lunchbox Criteria are that the lunch must:

1)         Be quick and easy to pack.

2)         Be healthy and include fruits and/or vegetables.

3)         Contain foods kids will actually eat.

Insulated Cow Lunch Bag (pvc-free/ ethically made) $30 @pristineplanet.com

This Insulated Cow Lunch Bag (pvc-free/ ethically made and $30 @pristineplanet.com) is a perfect way for your Kid to explain why s/he doesn't eat animals!


Some Healthful Hints to Improve the “Lunch Box Battles.”

1)         Get your kids involved in the shopping and/or preparation and ask what they like. Take them somewhere like Whole Foods or your local healthy grocery shop and let them pick out some healthy options for their lunchboxes. Spend some time in the produce section and let them experiment with some different fruits. If your child normally only eats apples, try the cherries if they are in season! Buy a few mangos, a box of strawberries or some clementines. These make healthy, delicious lunchbox additions as well! Encourage them to make their own decisions on what they want to try- whether it is a new type of drink or treat. They will be much more likely to embrace it if they have chosen it. Do not and I repeat do not take them to a big grocery store where the aisles are lined with potato chips and cheese puffs!

2)         Buy a lunchbox that is easy to use and that your child likes!
My children use the Lands End ones but there are many other fun ones to choose from these days! One of my favorite companies is Laptop Lunches, which has fun bento box style lunchboxes and also a wide variety of fantastic lunchbox ideas!

3)         Include multiple colors & textures into their lunches.
When we are at a restaurant, we like a variety of colors and textures on our plates and kids are like that too! Pack a soft sandwich, crunchy carrot sticks and creamy vegan yogurt for a satisfying combo. For nursery age children, cut their sandwiches into shapes and make fun things like ‘ants on a log’ (celery filled with vegan cream cheese topped with raisons.)

4)         Include condiments in their lunchboxes!
Condiments are not just for grown-ups, and children love, love, love to squirt and dip things. You could include hummus or ranch dressing to dip carrots into, ketchup for a tofu dog, or even maple syrup to dip a grilled almond butter and jelly sandwich into- yum!

5)         Leftovers are great for lunch!
Get out of the ‘grilled daiya cheese and pb&j thinking’ and be experimental with what you include. Did you have grilled tofu the night before? Then wrap up the tofu in a wrap! Have pasta the night before? Include that too! You will be surprised how much more your children will enjoy their lunches, and eat them!   Lunch boxes don’t have to- and shouldn’t- contain the usual sandwich every day! If you do pack a sandwich, vary the bread- serve it on whole wheat one day, a wrap the next, a pita the next and try to add vegetables such as lettuce and tomato when you can.

6)         Last, but certainly not least, remember to always pack a treat!
When your child opens their lunchbox you don’t want them to be the only one without something to look forward to! So, make sure when you are at the grocery store with them that they pick out something that is delicious but not high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat! I keep a variety on hand and just vary which one I throw in their lunchboxes.

Below are some specific ideas for you. Good luck and good packing!

“The Cheat Sheet”

Main Course (choose one):

  • PB&J with a twist- use almond butter & banana grilled on a whole wheat served with a side of agave
  • Smart Dogs- in a bun or rolled up  with vegan cheese in a tortilla
  • Vegan Cheese Quesadillas on corn tortillas with a side of salsa
  • “Perfectly Healthy” Veggie Pancakes (recipe below)- cook it the night before & serve at dinner, then heat it up in the morning and pack it the next day (these also freeze well)
  • Avocado & tomato sandwich
  • “Mexican Sushi” (see recipe below)
  • Vegan chicken nuggets with organic ketchup for dipping

Snacks (choose one):

  • Fruit- bananas, apples, oranges, clementines, cherries, or grapes
  • Vegan Yogurt-   (choose one high in acidophilis and low in sugar)
  • Carrots sticks with hummus for dipping
  • Celery sticks filled with vegan cream cheese
  • Dried fruits (no-sugar)- raisins, apricots, bananas, papaya or mango
  • Trail mix (no-sugar)- try one with Goji berries for iron and Vitamin C
  • Veggie Booty (Roberts American Gourmet)
  • Spelt Pretzels
  • Organic “Cheese” Crackers by Eco-Planet

Treats (every lunchbox must have a treat, right!?!)

  • Organic animal crackers
  • Newman’s Own “oreo” cookies
  • Late July peanut butter crackers
Some vegan snacks via vegangirlnextdoor.files.wordpress.com

Some vegan snacks via vegangirlnextdoor.files.wordpress.com

Drinks (choose one):
Always pack them a big bottle of water in a bottle of their choosing as well and encourage them to drink it throughout the day! Opt out of the sports drink route, unless you find some without added sugar!

  • Honest Kids- (fun squeeze packs) comes in Tropical Tango, Goodness Grapeness or Berry, Berry Good Lemonade
  • Apple & Eve All-Natural Apple Juice (box)
  • Vruit Carrot Apple Juice   (box)
  • R.W. Kudsens Spritzers- Lemonade, Red Rasberry or Grape (can- they think it is soda!)
  • Vita Coco Coconut Water (box)
  • Good, Old-Fashioned Water!

Recipes:

Perfectly Healthy Pancakes

  • Vegan pancake and waffle mix
  • Egg replacer
  • Rice (or almond/ hemp/ soy/ oat/ coconut) milk
  • Butternut squash (can also use zucchini)
  • Walnuts- chopped (optional)
  • Olive oil (to coat pan)
  • Flax seed oil
  • Maple syrup

Puree whatever vegetable or fruit you are using (this can be done ahead of time and frozen in tupperware to defrost later). In a bowl mix the pancake mixture, egg replacer, vegan milk, puree, and flax seed (again, this can be done the night before and kept in the fridge if your mornings are as rushed as mine!) Coat a nonstick skillet (or if making “waffles”, a waffle iron) with olive oil and cook.  Serve warm with maple syrup, vegan yogurt or fruit (however your crew likes it!)

Mexican Sushi Wrap

  • tomatos and/or avocados
  • Cream cheese (use Tofutti or Follow Your Heart brand)
  • Tortilla Wrap (preferably whole wheat or sprouted tortillas)

Liberally spread the vegan cream cheese over the tortilla and layer with tomatos and/or avocados .  Roll up the wrap “sushi style” and cut into ¼ inch slices, and you’re done! You can also fill the wraps with other veggies, vegan meats, and/ or grill up some vegan sausages and throw in some sprouts.

Need more recipe ideas?   Pick up a copy of “Vegan Lunch Box Around the World: 125 Easy, International Lunches Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love!” by Jennifer McCann. Have a favorite meal your kiddies just adore?   Please leave it in the comments section below.

Via diet and lifestyle coach, writer, raw food chef and teacher Katherine Pennington from Be in Balance.

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Readers Comments (10)

  1. Kelley says:

    Pack a snack to share! I send an extra portion of edamame in my son’s lunch. It’s so fun to eat – I want there to be plenty to go around.

  2. Alexandra says:

    I send my son to school (which is nut free) with a sunflower seed butter sandwich! I slather Ezekiel bread with sunflower seed butter on one side, and 100% fruit blackberry jam on the other. Good protein and minerals. I also sprinkle in a bit of Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Triple Flake Blend in the middle between the seed butter and jam. He doesn’t know it’s there, but it adds minerals and trace nutrients.

    I usually send cut up cucumbers, carrot sticks, lots of cut fruit, and a little individual box of fortified soy or rice milk.

  3. Zico says:

    Or you can give them bottle of Zico coconut water :)

  4. Susie Moore says:

    I love coconut water. Check out my site on staying healthy and losing weight.

    Beyonce Lemonade Diet, Lemonade Diet, Lemonade Diet Recipe, Master Cleanse

  5. kristen says:

    I like the mexican sushi idea! Kelly, many schools actually forbid children from sharing food due to allergy and food safety concerns.

  6. [...] trouvé cet excellent article sur Girlie Girl armée et j'ai pensé partager ces conseils avec toutes les mamans nature vous! Comment Pack a [...]

  7. [...] whole foods versions—such as waffles, smoothies, muffins, and sandwiches. Her website gives ideas for packing healthy lunches, tips on feeding a vegan toddler, plenty of book suggestions, and ideas for involving your child in [...]

  8. Kim says:

    Make sure you check the label of the Tofutti cream cheese. There is a particular version that contains trans fats. I can’t remember which one it is unfortunately but I know they have a different version without trans fat as well

  9. [...] Since it’s getting close to back to school time, I wanted to remind all you kind mamas and dads about these great tips I found on Girlie Girl Army! [...]

  10. Jess says:

    I always pack two fruits and one veggie, one snack, and the “main dish” (this varies – pasta, rice & tofu, pbj, burrito, amys samosa wrap, veg pepperoni & crackers, veg baloney, Veggie dog, soup) Heat items that kids prefer hot then stick in thermos or wrap in foil.




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