As the daughter of an elementary school teacher, I grew up hearing my mom sing that song every August. Now as an adult when I think of that song, I find myself getting a little misty-eyed. Another summer is behind us. I have seven children and this year, my oldest is starting seventh grade. I get sad to think we only have 5 summers left with her. I love the long, lazy days of summer. The days seem to stretch on forever – in a good way. I love not having a schedule and the ability to just pack up and go anytime we feel like it.
During the school year, our schedule gets hectic. Five of our seven are in school, so there are lots of school papers, homework, sports schedules, and extra-curriculars to keep us occupied. Each day is a whirlwind! I have learned that if I want to keep the health of my family on track, I have to be intentional. I have to take time to plan out meals and meal prep when I find some downtime during the week. School lunches are one area where it can be tempting to take the easy way out!
So, before you grab that lunchable, here are my Top 7 Healthy Lunch Tips for your school-aged child!
Hard Boiled Eggs with Salsa paired with Carrots and Hummus:
In our family, we love to pair hardboiled eggs with salsa. The yolk from the egg takes away the spice of the salsa, leaving you with a great flavor combination! For meal prep, hardboil a carton of eggs over the weekend, and save them in the refrigerator for lunches through out the following week. Pair this with a snack pack of hummus and carrots, and you have a healthy lunch that is high in protein and will keep their bellies full for the rest of the school day.
If you’re anything like me, you might have planted one too many zucchini plants this spring, and now you have so many zucchini that you don’t know what to do with it all! One thing I like to do is to combine grated zucchini with sliced green onions, flour and eggs. Form into patties and cook over EVOO until golden brown. Fritters can be made ahead and kept frozen up to 90 days. For school lunches, pop one into your child’s bag in the morning and it will be thawed by lunchtime. Add a small amount of plain Greek yogurt for extra protein and dipping fun!
Fruit Kabobs and Ants on a Log:
I have learned that kids are more likely to eat fruits and veggies if they are presented in a fun way. One thing I like to do is layer fresh fruit, such as berries, bananas, and grapes, on a toothpick to make it fun to eat! With that, I also add celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins for the traditional favorite — Ants on a log!
Homemade Sweet Potato Chips:
Who doesn’t love potato chips! Here is a fun, healthy take on the traditional chip. Simply use a food processor to slice up a sweet potato nice and thin. Sprinkle with some EVOO and sea salt and broil until crisp. Eat throughout the week for a salty snack that is high in key vitamins and nutrients.
This one is a favorite in my house! Strain one can of chickpeas and pat dry – the dryer the better! Place dry chickpeas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with EVOO, paprika, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, and some sea salt. Bake at 425o for 20 minutes. Crunchy, delicious, and healthy!
Protein No Bakes:
If your school allows peanut butter, you can’t go wrong with these no bakes! In a food processor, blend together 1 c oats, 1/3 c flax seed, 2/3 c peanut butter, 2 T honey, and a handful of dark chocolate chips. Refrigerate for approximately 30 minutes and roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator to avoid peanut butter from getting too sticky, and grab 3-4 at a time for a lunch box snack!
Grilled Veggie Wrap:
One way I try to get my children to eat all their vegetables is to challenge them to “eat a rainbow of colors”. To help them, I make a colorful veggie wrap. Simply chop up veggies of all kinds of colors – yellow peppers, purple onions, green zucchini, red cherry tomatoes. Gently sauté over med heat. Meanwhile, spread some pesto on a tortilla. When veggies are soft but crunchy, add to the tortilla. Sprinkle some goat cheese on top and roll the tortilla up. Slice into 1 inch segments to make it easy for little fingers to pick up and eat!
All of these meals can easily be prepped ahead of time. I like to spend my Sunday afternoons meal prepping with my children. I have learned that if I involve them in the cooking process, they are more likely to try healthy foods! But, more on that next month!
Yours in Health,