It’s almost time to get the kids back to school! Over summer, we hope your family had the chance to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle filled with healthy, whole foods, exercise, and mental relaxation.
Balancing school, extracurricular activities, other children, and work can often be challenging, so planning ahead and having the right tools can help reduce stress and make living healthier a bit easier! These are our favorite supplies to help us pack a healthy lunch for the kids:
- A great, sturdy lunch box, preferably one that is insulated to keep food cold. There are many colors and characters available. Many parents say they do not want to buy their kids lunch boxes or water bottles as they end up losing them. A great way to teach kids to be responsible with items is to reward them at the end of the each week they did not lose them. Perfect rewards are: stickers, pencils, time at the pool or beach, time in the park, or money for each week (a quarter, dollar, etc.).
- An ice pack to keep foods cold. If you’d rather not give an ice pack, you can always fill a Ziploc bag with ice to put in their lunch.
- A reusable water bottle which keeps drinks cold all day. Fill with plain water or water with fresh or frozen fruit slices and chia seeds to keep kids hydrated all day at school. See our previous blog post on fruit and herb combinations to put into bottles.
- Bento boxes to keep foods separate and ensure things don’t get soggy.
- Reusable salad dressing containers. A well-sealed container will allow kids to take a bit of healthy dressing to keep salads, sandwiches, or wraps exciting.
- Snack containers to pack healthy snacks, rather than pre-packaged processed crackers and cookies.
- A treat. Many parents feel obligated to pack cookies or a dessert in their kids’ lunch. We can treat our kids with more exciting items, which they will love. Some examples are: small erasers, shopkins, stickers, individual crayons/ colored pencils or toys, so they will have a complete toy at the end of the week/ month (Legos are a great example), or anything else your child enjoys.
Though it is more work to pack your child lunch than to send them to school to eat the food there, the piece of mind that comes with knowing your child is consuming nutritious, whole foods makes the extra time spent well worth it!
Chickpea salad wrap
We love this recipe which is similar to tuna salad, as it is a high-protein, veggie-packed lunch. It’s also easy to carry, and has a less bold scent than tuna (which many kids are hesitant to bring to school because of the smell). Serve with 100% whole wheat toast, 100% whole wheat tortilla, 100% whole grain crackers, or on top of a basic leafy green salad. Or just enjoy it all on its own! Pack a fruit and baggie of chopped cucumbers, carrots, and celery and for a complete, hearty lunch!
• 1 (15-ounce/425 grams) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
• 3 green onions, thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
• 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
• 3 tablespoons plain Greek or coconut yogurt
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
• 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill (optional)
• 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher until flaked in texture.
Stir in the celery, green onions, pickles, bell peppers, mayonnaise, and garlic until combined.
Now, stir in the mustard and dill, and season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, adjusting the quantities to taste.
By: Dahlia Marin, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist