Ideas for Packing a Healthy Lunch

Kids are back to school, which means its time to get in the habit of packing those healthy lunches again! Here are some tips and ideas for kid friendly snacks and dips.  Get more kid friendly recipes in my book The Guide to Healthy Eating.  Or download some FREE recipes and resources HERE.

Dips

Lots of kid-favorite dips are made of beans + spices. Hummus is simply chickpeas pureed with lemon juice, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, cumin, and extra-virgin olive oil. Blend in roasted red peppers or fresh cilantro to give your hummus a fresh twist. Or blend black beans with garlic, chili powder, and lime juice for an almost-instant version of refried beans. Dips are great for after-school snacks!

Dressings

What kid doesn’t like Ranch? You can make your own creamy dressings by stirring herbs like fresh basil, dill, and chives into whole-milk plain Greek yogurt. Add a pinch of sea salt and a splash of lemon juice, and you have a dressing worthy of everything from salads to marinades.

Nut Butters

Almond butter, peanut butter, hazelnut butter…the list goes on and on. If you have a high-speed blender or food processor, making nut butter is as easy as blending your choice or raw or toasted nuts with a dash of sea salt and just enough unrefined oil to make a smooth butter.   I like coconut oil but you can expand your tastebuds.  For instance, if you’re making almond butter, add unrefined almond oil; for peanut butter, add unrefined peanut oil. (Look for the word “unrefined” on the oil label.) If you don’t have an oil to match your favorite nut, use unrefined avocado oil. It’s the most mild-tasting of all unrefined oils and will add a rich butteriness to your nut butters.

Jams

Wish you could find jam that wasn’t chock-full of high-fructose corn syrup? Make your own! Choose a fruit (or a combination of fruits) that naturally contains high levels of pectin—the pectin is what makes jam get sticky and…well…jam-like. High-pectin fruits include apples, cranberries, currants, and plums. Citrus zest also contains high amounts of pectin, so you could include orange or lemon zest in your jam, too. Try pairing cranberries with strawberries or apples with peaches. Just place the freshly cut fruit in a medium saucepan, barely cover with water, and cook gently on low heat until the fruit is soft enough to mash easily with a potato masher (start checking at 15 minutes). Mash well, add citrus zest if you like, and continue to simmer until the fruit has reduced to a thick jam. You can sweeten it with a little raw honey or maple syrup if you like. Store your fresh jam in the fridge, and use it within a week.

Applesauce

Making applesauce (or pearsauce or whatever else you like) is pretty similar to making jam, except the fruit is cut into rough chunks and not mashed as thoroughly as it is for jam. Usually applesauce contains spices, too, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and/or ginger. Try different combinations to see which ones the kids like best!

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