A couple of months ago urban harvest asked me to guest blog for them about healthy lunch boxes. As school holidays will soon be over it’s always nice to have some new ideas so thought lots of you munch mummies might find my tips helpful! If you are going to spend time and energy creating healthy lunch boxes for your kids, you want them to come home empty! Here are a few hints and tips that will get your kids gobbling down their lunches and make their lunch boxes the envy of the class.
1. Variety is the spice of life
Try and mix up the foods you give your kid over the week. Just like adults, kids find it boring eating pretty much the same thing every day. Try out different breads (bagels, wraps, pita bread) to make a change from their usual sandwich. For a change from bread based lunches you could swap them for fritters, muffins, sushi, pasties, mini home-made pizzas, Vietnamese rice paper rolls, mini quiches, frittatas or pasta salads.
2. Make it easy to get at
Not only is glad wrap really bad for the environment, little fingers find it really hard to unwrap. Most schools only have a maximum of 15 – 20 minutes of enforced eating time at school before the play bell goes and they rush off to an activity or race around. You want to maximise their eating time so opt for reusable containers or lunch boxes with compartments, that keep the food fresh but readily accessible.
3. Get your kids involved
Kids are much more likely to eat something they have made themselves. It is also a great way to give them some extra independence and help them develop some time management skills. Mornings are a hectic time in most families with everyone busy getting ready for the day ahead but it is definitely worth the time to get a family routine of making lunches together. Your kids will be more likely to eat their own delicious creations and research shows that kids who are involved in preparing healthy food are more likely to go on to be adults who make healthy choices.
4. Make it colourful
By having a range of colours in you kids lunch box you will know you have given them a great variety of vitamins and minerals. Colourful food is also more appealing to kids. Here are some colourful finger food ideas, ideal for morning tea or lunch, that require minimal preparation:
· carrot, cucumber or capsicum sticks with hummus or tzatziki
· grapes (natures lollies!)
· cherry tomatoes
· sweetcorn fritters
· hard-boiled eggs
· fruit slices and yoghurt dip
5. Limit the sugar
All kids want a tasty treat in their lunch box. Just because it is a treat doesn’t mean it needs to be unhealthy. You want your children’s lunch boxes to fuel them for a full-on day of learning and activity at school and you definitely don’t want them having a sugar low mid-afternoon. These banana oat cookies are super tasty and healthy too as they are sugar-free and are also wholegrain. They will stay fresh for a few days in an airtight container or freeze well.
Sugar-free banana and oat cookies
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
100g softened butter
2 cups rolled oats (I use a mixture of Harraways traditional oats and Uncle Toby’s rolled oats)
3/4 cup wholemeal flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup chopped dates
Makes: approx. 30 cookies
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 180⁰C
Combine the softened butter, egg, mashed bananas and vanilla paste in a large mixing bowl.
Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the banana mixture.
Fold in the oats, chopped dates and coconut.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and arrange the mixture in balls about a tablespoon in size on the tray. Gently flatten with a fork.
Bake at 180⁰C for 20 minutes or until golden brown. They are a moist cookie with a similar consistency to banana bread.