Monday, July 13, 2009

Just don't tell them its HEALTHY

The lunchbox is always a bone of contention in our household. Wars are waged daily over it, why didn't you eat that? You need to eat that ?... So in desperation, I have needed to become a little more creative in my lunch box culinary ventures, which is always a bit challenging when you wake up 15 mins before the kids need to go to school. Nutrition is the forefront of my food preparation, so not only does the food need to look good, and taste good, but it has to be good. Eating organic is a great start, but not all organic packaged foods are healthy foods. So for me, its most important that my kids get as many fresh real foods into them.

So everyday, the lunchbox is broken up into 4 sections, morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea and snacks.

VEGETABLES: Lunchboxes are a great opportunity to get kids eating vegetables. Cut them as creative as you can. Stars, suns, flowers, swords, call them what you will, just make sure you dont call them vegetables. Kids love to dip, so add some dip, maybe some hommus, some tzatzki, or pesto. Package in small, kid friendly containers. Try carrots (cut up), corn, raw off the cob (its pirates gold in our house), cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery etc.

FRUITS: Every child has their favourite fruit, so be sure to include at least one of these daily in their lunch box. If you can, chop these up, make it easier for their little hands to enjoy. I swear fruit always tastes better when someone has cut it up. Make a fruit salad, cut the orange into rounds, apples into stars.

PROTEINS: We always pack a small container of nuts, depending on what we have in the house, we usually do a trail kind of mix, we mix almonds, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, apricots, etc.

CARBOHYDRATES: Some sandwich ideas, call them crazy names:

Far far away felafel's
Cut a pitta in half, spread with cream cheese, hummus and baba ghanouj, add thinly sliced cucumbers and tomato and if you can a falafel.

You are nuts
Spread cashew or almond paste on the inside of a pita. Add fresh sliced pear (dip into some lemon water to prevent browning) or use a sugar free jam.

Orange Nut
Raw Nut butter** and grated carrot.

You get the idea, use the ideas below and make up your own names, that you kids would find funny.

Avocado, bean sprouts and tomato
Baked beans (drained) and grated low fat cheese
Bananas mashed with ricotta cheese
Chopped egg, lettuce
Hummus, sliced tomato and sprouts
Cream cheese, grated carrot and sultanas
Cheese, pineapple and lettuce
Peanut butter and honey
Peanut butter lightly spread, topped with chopped dried fruit (apricots and sultanas)
Tabouli salad, lettuce and fetta cheese

WATER: Sweet hydration, is so important for every body.

I think its paramount to be creative in all your endeavours with kids, allow them to be involved where you can and give them a passion for good food.

Kids love making their own food, so encourage them where you can, a  burrito or a pita pocket they make themselves can be a fun and healthy lunch option. Prepare shredded vegetables, sauce, and let the kids assemble their own lunch at school. You control what goes in it and they choose what they like!
Kids love surprises, so I try to include something that will surprise them in their lunchbox, so that they look forward to opening it. This might be a note on their paper bag, or a 'treat', like some cranberries with raw cashews (sooo good). If these don't appeal to your child, you will know what does.
Make some muffins, some healthy biscuits

Try to mix things up a bit, use different breads (avoiding white breads, where possible), expose them to different flavours, different packaging and hopefully you'll get different results.

**Place nuts of choice in a blender and grind till a butter like consistency is formed

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