When we come together as a family to prepare and eat delicious, simple meals, we model our food values. The earlier we begin this modeling the more it will be second nature for our children.
Ideas for Healthy School Lunches
Packing a lunch for your child is the biggest power you have and a huge step toward healthier food choices. You have control over what goes into that bag. And the more you know about food additives and the other ingredients in the food you put in that lunch or on your table, the more truly healthy it will be. (Please see Resources and Recommendations, Chapter 8, as well as Taking Charge: Food and our Children, Chapter 9 in the Dharma Feast Cookbook for more information.)
Here are five categories to keep in mind as a basis for a healthy school lunch:
• Raw vegetables
• Fresh fruit
• A main dish (could also be soup)
• A snack
• If wanted, a healthy treat
Fun and Delicious Recipes
All of our suggestions are easy to prepare and most don’t need specific recipes. Children like food that looks interesting in color and shape. Get creative in how you decorate and present!
• Confetti Rice: In a food processor, chop raw broccoli, carrot, onion, cabbage, and a handful of greens. Sauté this mixture in oil (some good choices: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, palm oil, safflower oil or organic butter.) Add seasonings (salt, pepper, tamari, and/or any others your child may enjoy) to taste. Toss with cooked brown rice, adjust seasonings. Serve warm in thermos or cold.
• Pinwheels: Fill a tortilla with colorful foods your child likes, then roll it, slice it, ad place it in a container so you can see the spiraled contents. Fillings can include: Soft goat cheese, cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, shredded carrots, thin-sliced olives, hummus, or olive tapenade (see Hummus and Tapenade recipes in Sauces, Spreads, and Dips in Recipes, Chapter 5 of Dharma Feast Cookbook).
• Homemade granola and yogurt (pack separately in a small jar). (See Above the Line Granola in Breakfast and Yogurt in Fermented Foods in Recipes, Chapter 5 of Dharma Feast Cookbook.)
• Pretzel sticks and almond butter: Nut butters are quite expensive if you buy them at the health food store. The alternative is to buy a big bag of almonds, roast them, and make almond butter yourself. See Roasted Almond Butter in Nuts and Seeds in Recipes, Chapter 5 of Dharma Feast Cookbook.)
• Roasted sunflower seeds: Heat a dry iron skillet. Add 1 cup sunflower seeds. Roast at medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until brown. If seeds begin to smoke, turn heat down immediately. Pour 1 tablespoon Bragg, soy sauce, or tamari over the and stir rapidly for 30 seconds. Spread on a cookie sheet. Put cookie sheet in oven at 350º for 15 minutes or until seeds are dry. Let cool or serve immediately.
• Date Nut Balls: Toss 1 cup pecans, 1 cup almonds, and 2 cups pitted Medjool dates into a food processor and process until it starts to “ball up.” (This will be obvious.) It should still be a bit chunky, not totally smooth. Form the mixture into small (about 2 teaspoon-sized) balls and roll in coconut, if desired.