Feeding my kids healthy foods has always been important to me. It’s hard work to keep everything on our table made-by-me (and I fudge every now and then) but it is also very rewarding to see my kids enjoy all of the fresh and healthy foods we eat.
Things got a little dodgy when the girls started preschool and I had to pack their lunches twice a week. For starters, they were still learning good eating habits and it was hard to relinquish my role as Table Ruler and simply hope that they could remember that the Hershey Kiss in the lunch box was fair game only after they’d eaten their salad. However, the whole point of educating them about food and teaching them good eating habits is so that when they are lucky enough to escape from the food nazi (me), they make smart choices about what they eat, so I had to look at preschool as a sort of test-run. The other issues included but were not limited to: something that would be good at room-temp, not too messy, could fit in a lunchbox, could stay ‘assembled’ for 4-5 hours and still taste good, etc…
I found a wonderful blog called French Kids Eat Everything recently and that led me to another wonderful blog entitled 100 Days of Real Food. Both of these blogs have some great resources- not to mention they are a veritable buffet of food for thought if you’re interested in cooking for your kids- but my favorite resource by far is Lisa’s (100 Days) School Lunch Round-Up post. She posted pictures of her kids’ lunches so its a quick and dirty way to get ideas for healthy things that pack well. I appreciate her efforts so much (and I do plan to borrow more than a few of her fantastic ideas- freezie pop molds on order to arrive with YiaYia and Poppy next week, I hope!) that I thought I would try to pass-along what I’m doing, as well. Lisa’s standards are a little more stringent than mine but we do have similar methods. I make only things that I can cook ahead of time, re-use leftovers, cook and freeze, etc…
So here’s how we started and rounded out the week in the lunchroom:
Monday: turkey/Swiss/spinach wrap, beet & apple salad, and popcorn (not pictured)…this was the made-with-love lunch that earned me the comment “Mom, you’re supposed to pack something else in your kids’ lunchbox. Its called ‘snack'”. Henceforth, the other lunch pictures look like I’m feeding a teenager. Nora Ruth eats like one already.
Tuesday: black bean burger w/spinach and cucumber-yogurt dressing in a pita, grilled vegetable salad w/feta and mint, a clementine
Wednesday: Indonesian ginger chicken (leftover!), mango-cucumber rice salad, a banana, apple slices
Thursday: Salmon/caper/cream cheese spread on a half of an onion roll, a banana, broccoli salad, and quinoa plantana muffins (yay for finding something else to do with my plantanas!!)
Friday: turkey/Swiss/spinach on WHEAT-FREE, Flaxseed (made-by-me!, more on that in a sec) Wrap, broccoli salad, apple slices, quinoa plantana muffins
Alright, so back to wheat-free….a friend recently gave me a book called Wheat Belly. The premise is that the hybridization of wheat over the last 60 years has changed the genetic structure of modern wheat to the extent that it is jeopardizing our health. The cardiologist who wrote the book claims that wheat is primarily to blame for the rise in obesity because of your body’s unique GI response to the complex carbohydrate in wheat containing the glucose units amylopectin and amylose. Guess what. This scientific stuff is a little over my head, but most of the book is very accessible. Wheat Belly also claims that our bodies have unhealthy neurological responses to wheat one of which is…wait for it…craving! ha! who can argue with that?! And all of this is on TOP of the numerous health problems that gluten has been causing a large number of people as of late and Wheat Belly contends we have just barely scratched the surface of gluten-allergy-related health issues.
I have never liked how heavily-weighted the traditional food pyramid is towards “whole grains” and my gut has always told me to feed my children more green, yellow, red, and orange (and purple!) than brown so I don’t feel like we have very far to go to be wheat-free. Anyway, I’m not saying I’ve had the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid yet, but I’m definitely a couple of glasses down and trying to be creative about what I can feed my kids in lieu of wheat products. Sandwich bread is such a hard thing to cut out (so are crackers for my cheeseball and piecrust for my pecan pie) but I finally tried the Flaxseed Wrap recipe in the back of the book and these wraps are so easy and delicious! I had a hard time getting them to “wrap” because they wanted to split, so I halved them and made sandwiches. I might try using 2/3 of the recipe to make the wrap a little thinner so that it wraps better. Also, I used olive oil instead of coconut oil- no problems here.
Links to other recipes I used are below. And if you feel inspired to share your packed lunch experiences, please let me know so that I can follow along!