I am so excited to have another guest contributor on the blog today! I had my first guest contributor recently, and I think everyone enjoyed it, so I asked Tammi from GMO-Free Girl if she’d like to write a special post to give you some suggestions for kids’ lunches, and she said yes! Yay! I think all of you moms and dads of young kids will really enjoy this post, and might even get inspired to spice up your own lunch for work! 😉
Here she is!
Hi! I’m Tammi, I write a healthy vegan food blog at GMO-Free Girl. When Eyecandypopper asked me to do a guest post on kids lunches I was so excited!!! First, I just adore her and we have been great blogging friends for quite some time now. But most of all, we have so much in common and going green is one of them. Green + Kids you ask? Of course, why not? Everything kids eat today doesn’t have to revolve around the Standard American Diet of cheese pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, mac n cheese and ketchup. I could make a dozen yucky faces at those menu choices, but it’s better if you teach your kids to make the yucky face and choose healthier options.
I have 3 kids of my own and I consider their eating habits a work in progress. Everyday is an opportunity to teach them, and trust me – you want to do this when they are young and teachable. By the time they get to high school, they will be more influenced by their friends choices rather than your choices. I want my kids to be the influencers in their group – to share the love of real food – to inspire their friends to eat things like ginger beet sauerkraut, umeboshi plums, and arugula. That dream of mine is slowly turning into a reality thanks to the power of sticking to my guns and tolerating every scrunched nose face and “ewww, gross” comment. It has been 5 years, but I have persisted through it all and let me tell you, today my kids gladly drink hardcore green juices, chug down ginger shots when they are sick, and yes, they not only request arugula in their salads, but they love it!!!
If you are reading this and your kids are horrible eaters, don’t panic! I was you…5 years ago. We all have to start somewhere, right? Why not start today and make a few changes. When I first started out with these dietary changes I created a “New Foods Chart” and taped it to the fridge. Everyday for 2 weeks we ate a new food and wrote it down. Most of those foods consisted of vegetables or meals we were not accustomed to. In order for the new food to count on our chart, the kids had to take 5 bites. I hope you can visualize the faces my kids made with every bite. It was like death was going to strike them some nights. The food wasn’t bad either, trust me, my husband and I were really enjoying these new meals, but kids have immature taste buds. It actually takes the brain 21 days to adapt to any new changes. It takes the taste buds 14 exposures to new foods before you begin to like it. Combine those two together and give yourself 3-4 weeks to be successful. After the 2 weeks of the “New Foods Chart” was over, my kids were so excited to do another one. SO, what is any good mother to do but to say YES!
Here are my top 5 Rules to Healthy Eating In Kids:
- Kids menus are OFF limits (unless you are eating at a stellar restaurant with healthy choices).
- Let them help you in the kitchen. Kids will more likely eat what they helped make.
- Compliment them when the choose healthy foods. Don’t let it go unnoticed.
- Give them choices – NEVER ask “What do you want for lunch?” – Instead say “Would you rather have a veggie sandwich or a big salad with apples and hemp seeds?”
- Start a garden in your backyard where you grow your own lettuce. Lettuce is one of the easiest things to grow and it will encourage the kids to eat more of it!
So, now we come down to the lunches. What does a green kids lunch look like? Well, here are a few pictures of what I typically pack for my kids. I also LOVE to include smoothies in a Thermos container (it keeps the smoothie cold) as part of their lunch. Dark berry smoothies are a great way to sneak in a greens supplement without compromising on taste (cherries, raspberries and blackberries are the best).
Whole Wheat Organic Bread Sticks, Sliced Carrots, Ginger Beet Sauerkraut, Freshly Diced Peaches, A Cabbage & Mango Slaw Salad (see recipe here) for the main course, and some 5 minute homemade oatmeal cookies. Or you can try something a little bit more “normal” to start out…
A Veggie Sandwich (cucumber, spinach, avocado and pepper) on Whole Wheat Organic Bread, Blueberries, Diced Strawberries, Half of an Avocado sliced, Date Rolls, a homemade Chocolate Treat (see recipe here) and a package of Organic Apple Clusters (these can be found in bulk at Costco).
NOTE: Everything you see here is Organic, but I have written “organic” in front of the the foods that are more commonly genetically modified. Not everyone can choose organic all of the time, so if you’re on a budget, try to stick to the Dirty Dozen list and always include Organic wheat and dairy if you can.
Real food (AKA – plants) can provide all the nourishment your kiddos need to grow into healthy, strong consumers. I do supplement with daily probiotics and a weekly liquid B12 supplement, but other than that, all the vitamins and minerals come from real food. I hope I have given you some great tips to start making your kids lunches a little more green. If you want more resources, The Engine 2 Diet has an entire week revolving around Kids Lunches. It’s not just a menu plan and recipes, although those are included, but activities you can do with your kids to help them get interested in healthy foods! This is an AMAZING resource I know you will enjoy.
Have a great week everyone! And thanks again to ECP for allowing me to take over your blog for the day!
Tammi – GMO Free Girl
Here’s a quick and easy snack recipe for the kids: 3 minute vegan brownie balls!
Special Meatless Monday Kids' Lunch Edition! Vegan, Gluten-Free, Raw
Some simple and delicious ideas for kids' lunches that are balanced without having meat, dairy, or eggs in them.
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Blend all ingredients into a high powered blender. I use a Vitamix with the tamper. You will need something to press the ingredients down into the blender because the raisins do stick!
- Place the mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and scoop out a tablespoon at a time into mini baking cups.
- These taste best when eaten right away, but if you do have leftovers they can be stored in the refrigerator (covered) for up to 3 days.
- NOTE: There will be a greasy-like consistency because of the raisins - this is normal. Once the mixture sets and is exposed to air, the greasiness goes away. You can always use less raisins, but in the past when I have tried, it didn't work out as well
Note: I do not believe anyone should worry about counting calories, but here is the nutritional information for one serving
Calories: 113kcal | Fat: 6g | Saturated fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 105mg | Carbohydrates: 13g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Protein: 2g | Vitamin A: 20% | Vitamin C: 0.4% | Calcium: 34% | Iron: 0.6%
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Very healthy choices!!! I love the brownie balls idea. I am with you on organic dairy and wheat and dirty dozen. I should be well prepared for kids lunches though. Ugh…balance.:)