School is just around the corner! It’s time to start thinking about how you will send your kids off to school with healthy lunches and snacks so they can stay sharp in school. Its important to send healthy fat and protein options for optimal brain function and blood sugar control (Read more in my book The Skinny on Fats). Sending them off with a bag of cookies and juice is NOT going to help them get through the day. Don’t worry—it’s easier than you think. You can opt for no-fuss options like raw nuts, fresh fruit, easy-to-eat veggies like carrots, bell peppers and celery sticks with homemade dips, and/or raw cheese slices and snack sticks from grass-fed animals (try these Epic bars)…or you can make a few kid-friendly “basics” yourself. Most of these favorites can be made in a few minutes, and you can get your kids involved, too. They’ll think it tastes even better if they helped make it!
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. (Get my recipe here.) 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. Another great dip and full of healthy fats is guacamole. (Read my post on 8 ways to use avocado.) Dips are great for in lunches and for after-school snacks!
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 grass-fed or yogurt or sour cream. Add a pinch of sea salt and a splash of lemon juice, and you have a dressing worthy of everything from salads to marinades.
Ranch Dip Recipe
1 cup strained whole milk grass-fed yogurt (so it’s thick & creamy) or sour cream
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill (fresh or dried)
½ tsp parsley
Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste
Mix ingredients until well blended, adjust seasonings to taste. Refrigerate before serving. Serve with fresh chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, etc.
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. 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.
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.
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!
6-8 apples quartered
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 Tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
Boil apples in 2 cups of water for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until tender. Place in blender with nutmeg, cinnamon and sweetener and blend until smooth. Chill and serve.
Happy first day back to school!