Monthly Archives: August 2015

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

I just updated my waffle recipe which, after making them for my kids “first day of school, special breakfast”, I realized was not so special. Why? Because, though I got the recipe right in the details of my post and I said I used baking powder, when I wrote the recipe at the end of the post, I accidentally typed baking soda, which I followed  yesterday when I made them, and it made them taste quite bitter and gross. We ended up throwing the entire batch away after a couple people tried them. So I apologize if you did the same thing that I did and just skipped down to the bottom of the recipe and made a waffle that was not edible. I’ve updated that recipe now and you can find it here, and I promise it’ll taste much better this time.

Yesterday, was in fact, my kids first day of school and we have four of our five children in the elementary this year from Kindergarten up to Sixth grade. We loved our long summer that we were able to have because of our out-of-state move and I’m already missing having them around all day.

I don’t load my kids lunch account with money and let them buy everyday, but rather we pack lunches from home and then they have the option to buy once a week, though my sixth grader told me she’s decided she’s not going to buy the entire year because the lunches are gross. We’ll see how that goes, because I know last year they liked having a “day off” when they didn’t have to make lunch. If she follows through, perhaps I’ll offer to give her a ‘day off’ by making her lunch one day each week.

My goal for this post is to give you some healthy, real food lunch ideas, things we’ve done and liked, for some added lunch inspiration :). We try and prep lunches the night before so mornings are less rushed, but I’d say that only actually happens half the time, and the other half the time they just throw together a sandwich and grab an apple and run out the door, so we have some room for improvement. Here are some of the things we like to pack in our lunches:

Apple slices I do the morning of so they don’t turn brown. We’ve tried the orange and lemon juice thing but my kids don’t love that flavor and we find that they still usually turn a little brown. Triscuits are a great whole grain cracker with very minimal ingredients, especially the plain triscuits. Grapes are always a favorite fruit to pack. When we pack cheese, hard boiled eggs or something else that is usually refrigerated, I’ll throw a couple ice packs into their lunch sacks as well.

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Homemade snacks are always fun to bring as well. The kids love when we have muffins or granola bars they can pack. Here’s a banana muffin recipe we love in addition to the honey oat one above. I love that we can freeze the muffins and pull one out in the morning and stick it in their lunch container, and by lunch time, it’s defrosted and ready to eat. I usually freeze our muffins in a big tupperware container but you could also use a freezer gallon ziploc bag.

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Leftovers are great, like this leftover pasta salad and the whole grain crescent roll. Homemade trail mixes are great as well; in the one below we have almonds, cashews and raisins. Sometimes when we’re packing a lunch that requires ice packs, I’ll do a couple of cold foods, so along with the pasta salad we also have hard boiled eggs. If I just had pasta salad, I’d probably stick it in a thermos and that’d work great, too.

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Another homemade favorite the kids like to bring for lunch are taquitos and pizza. I don’t warm those up, they just put them in their lunch sack and eat them at room temperature.

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Here we have another homemade trail mix, triscuits, cheese cubes, cantaloupe and cucumber slices.

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Ants on a log is another yummy and nutritious food to add…we have peanut-free tables at our school but if you didn’t, then this might not be a possibility for you.

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Here we have a grilled cheese sandwich, peach slices, carrot slices, popcorn and cantaloupe.

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Peanut Butter and a ‘fruit only’ Jelly on whole wheat bread, carrots with a little Newman’s Own Ranch dressing, popcorn, peaches, and cheese cubes with a toothpick (for some reason, cheese cubes taste better when eaten with a toothpick, or so the children tell me)

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5 year old Jane found a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut this shape out of her Peanut Butter and Honey sandwich all on her own :). She actually won’t have school lunches for another year, until she’s in first grade, but she likes to pack lunches for picnics on occasion.

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Here we have granola in a dish with a lid, just big enough to pour milk over top once they’re at school, the milk is in a thermos and we have peach slices on the side. If you forget a spoon for the granola and milk, most cafeterias should  have plastic or silverware they can use.  We also do a lot of soups, chili, and spaghetti in thermos containers when the weather cools.

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I hope this post has inspired you with some ideas for nutritious and creative lunches you can pack at home. Have a great week!

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Filed under Lunch

Peach Smoothie

 

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It’s that time of year and our peach tree is overwhelmed, and completely weighed down with the amount of fruit that’s growing from it. We picked about 75 last night after dinner, and it barely looks like we touched the tree!

We love to eat peaches raw and we love cobblers and crisps, but you can only make so many cobblers before it gets old…and that’s too much sugar to have regularly. So we’ve been making peach smoothies! (We’ve also been slicing and freezing peaches for later use in smoothies).

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My older kids can make smoothies all on their own, and my younger ones love to get involved and help put things in the blender so it’s a fun and tasty activity for the whole family.
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Here’s what  you’ll need: almond milk (or another milk), plain yogurt (or another yogurt), ice cubes, honey and 4 large, ripe peaches (can use frozen if fresh are not available, but use less ice).

 

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Combine all the ingredients in your blender, starting with the milk, and blend until smooth.

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Delicious, light and refreshing!

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THE RECIPE:

Peach Smoothie
*makes about 40 oz

12 oz Almond Milk (or other milk)
1/2 c plain yogurt
4 large peaches, pit removed
2 c ice cubes
optional: 2 Tbsp honey

Add milk to blender, then add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

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Filed under drink, Smoothies

Home Made Microwave Popcorn

My husband and I participated in our first sprint triathlon this past weekend and I think we’re hooked! It actually wasn’t a full Sprint, it was 1/4 mile swim, 6 mile bike and a 2 mile run. I loved all the training that Scott and I did together in the early morning hours, but the distances weren’t so long that it took us away from the family for long periods of time. The race started at 7am. That morning I drank a glass of room temperature water right when I woke up to get things moving(others might drink coffee, but warm water does the trick just as well…green smoothies work too but a little too well, in my opinion and I didn’t want that much liquid in me for the race), and then I had a half piece of whole wheat toast with coconut oil spread over top, and half of a banana.

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The month leading up to the triathlon we went on a sugar fast, though we still ate some honey sweetened treats.  I may have made our peanut butter cookies and no-bake cookies more than once :). Smoothies were also a favorite and refreshing treat when we were feeling like we wanted something sweet. This Berry Banana Smoothie and this Pina Colada Smoothie are delicious.

Normally on a weekend night, we might watch a movie and have some popcorn with strawberry Aussie licorice, my personal favorite, but since we’re not doing sugar, we held off on the licorice but still ate a good amount of popcorn. When we’re popping for our entire family, we’ll usually use the air popper as it pops so much and quickly. But when there’s not as many to share with, or when your family just feels like doing something a little different, you can make your own home made microwave popcorn with just popcorn kernels and a brown paper lunch sack.

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All you do is put the popcorn kernels in your  paper lunch bag and fold down the top 3 or 4 times. Place the bag in your microwave and cook for 2 minutes, or until the pops slow down and  there are a couple of seconds in between pops; watch it carefully after the first minute because things can turn bad very quickly. You can eat it plain as is, or you can melt coconut oil or butter and pour it over top and sprinkle it with a little salt. Clean up is a breeze, just throw away the bag, and I love that you don’t get all the additives and fake butter that accompanies the store bought microwave popcorn. Enjoy!

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THE RECIPE:

Home Made Microwave Popcorn
*serves 2

1/4 c popcorn kernels
1 brown paper lunch bag
optional toppings: 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil or butter and salt

Put popcorn kernels in a paper lunch bag and fold down the top 3 or 4 times. Place the bag in your microwave and cook for 2 minutes, or until the popping slows down and there are about 2 seconds in between pops. You can eat it plain as is, or you can melt coconut oil or butter and pour it over top and sprinkle it with a little salt.

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Filed under Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan

Pasta Salad

 

We love having salads for dinner in Summer. This is a great one, very flavorful and fresh, that you can do with or without meat. Since I don’t eat meat sometimes I’ll have some on the side in a bowl for individuals that would like to add it to their plate. 2015-07-26 09.48.02

 

 

I like to prep my vegetables while my pasta is cooking, and then once the pasta is rinsed and drained, it’s just a matter of dumping everything together in a large bowl and giving it a stir to mix it all together. Easy Peasy.
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THE RECIPE:

Pasta Salad
serves 10-12

1 16oz bag pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed with cool water
1/4 c red onion, diced
1/3 c olives, chopped
1 1/2 c or 2/3 of a cucumber, sliced
2 c grape tomatoes, cut in half (not quite all of a 10.5 oz container)
1/2 c Italian Dressing (we like Newman’s Own)
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
optional: 1/2 c shredded chicken or pepperoni cut in half

Combine your cooked pasta (rinsed with cool water; fusili, butterfly, shells are all great shapes for this dish) with your slice onion, olives, cucumbers and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add 1/4 c of the Italian dressing and mix to combine. Add the meat (optional) and cheese and toss gently to combine. Refrigerate at least one hour and add the other 1/4 c of Italian dressing just before serving.

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Filed under Salads