Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lunchbox 101

As school starts tomorrow in my area (YAY!) I thought I'd post some more things on school lunches. Originally this was a food and entertaining article in Review It (The Woodlands) magazine. This will help you create balanced meals for brown bag or lunch bag.

For fruit consider these:
sliced apples * grapes * raisins * pears * blueberries * melon chunks * bananas * kiwi * mandarin oranges * strawberries * cherries * pineapple * peaches/nectarines * plums * watermelon chunks * dried fruit

For veggies:
sliced cucumbers - zucchini - bell pepper slices - broccoli - carrots - green salad - baked sweet potato - celery with peanut butter and raisins - green beans - edamame - sugar snap peas - 3 bean salad - black beans and rice - cherry tomatoes

For grains:
whole grain bread * English muffins * thin/mini bagels * baguettes * rolls * muffins * mini muffins * waffles/pancakes * crackers * rice cakes * pita * tortillas * croissants * bread sticks * whole wheat pasta * granola (if low fat, check that there isn't too much sugar. I usually try to stay around 5-6g per serving) * homemade mac & cheese

For sandwich stuffers:
peanut butter - almond butter - deli meat (ONLY occasionally! Remember the bad guys nitrates and nitrites that turn carcinogenic in the body!) - tuna salad - chicken salad - egg salad or hard boiled eggs - grilled chicken - hamburger made with ground turkey - hummus

For dairy:
cheese sticks (but check the sodium, some of them have a lot!) * yogurt (watch the sugar) * drinkable yogurt (again, watch the sugar) * single serve reduced low fat milk or chocolate milk * spreadable cheese (skip processed and go to the deli counter for healthier options)

For snacks:
graham crackers - granola bar - whole grain crackers - applesauce - baked chips with salsa - honey wheat pretzels with a dip - organic cookies - dry cereal - fruit leather - whole wheat fig cookies - nuts - popcorn - trail mix - homemade cookies

For drinks:
Water (always the best option) * 100% juice (occasionally) * almond milk (40 calories per serving, even milk can't beat that) * green or fruit smoothie with water

Here are 3 recipes for dips:

Fruit dip
1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
Sprinkle with cinnamon

Peanut dip
1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp dark brown sugar or coconut palm sugar
Combine everything and blend in a food processor or blender.

Honey mustard:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp orange juice
Use the orange juice to thin the dip to your liking.

Remember that organic is always better than natural or regular food. It may seem like a big deal to have to make lunches from scratch vs buying lunchables for example but remember this: it is worth the effort to get your children the better nutrition their growing bodies need. Besides, if you prepare ahead of time, it won't be such a big deal in the morning.

In the next day or two I'll repost a recipe of the "no knead" bread. The good thing about this bread is of course the "no knead" part but also that the dough will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks. All you have to do to have fresh bread, tortillas or English muffins for example, is to pull some dough out and bake. I use it a lot for English muffins, which by the way can be prepared on a frying pan with just a bit of olive oil. HUGE time saver!

Enjoy the first day of school tomorrow!

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