What to Pack – Healthy Ideas for Back to School

I put together the following list to give parents a place to start when being overwhelmed by the prospect of packing your child’s lunch.  When packing a lunch I try to pack a variety of colors, flavors and textures to appeal to kids (or really everyone) and be sure the food that packed, gets eaten and enjoyed.  Whether they’re small and just heading off to preschool or daycare or older and expressing their boredom of the same old lunch.  Here are some tasty and healthy food items to quickly make and pack for school, day trips, or anytime on-the-go.  These foods do not require much in the way of preparation.  They are easy to make and don’t need a real recipe – only your imagination and your child’s appetite.  Even kids can help make these.  This is just a start to get you and your family going with their favorites and new combinations.  Feel free to share with us here!

 

Not being able to pack peanut butter (for school and community activities) can be difficult for some children.  However alternatives such as soy nut butter,  sunflower butter, and cream cheese can be a good source of protein and makes a healthy snack paired with the following foods:

  • Spread on chunks of apple
  • Spread on brown rice cake
  • Sandwiched between two waffles or pancakes
  • Spread on wheat tortilla, topped with a banana and rolled up
  • Spread on lavosh with fruit spread and rolled and cut into pinwheels

Vegetables and fruits can make their own snacks with a little extra effort to make them special and appealing to children.  A few suggestions:

  • Celery stick spread with cream cheese and sprinkled with raisins
  • Fruit chunks (melon, pineapple, grapes) skewered on a popsicle stick
  • A cored apple stuffed with granola or cereal
  • Carrot and jicama sticks served with dip
  • Lettuce leaves stuffed with egg-olive spread, then rolled

When the bag of plain old cereal needs a shake up.  A variety of homemade trail mixes make easy to pack favorites.  You can even pop in a few chocolate chips to any of these for a real treat:

  • Favorite low sugar cereal mixed with raisins and coconut flakes
  • Granola mixed with dried apricots, cranberries
  • Dried fruit pieces mixed with wheat pretzels
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) mixed with goji berries and banana chips
  • Yogurt covered pretzels mixed with whole wheat crackers

Something other than typical sandwich bread.  Pita bread makes a handy and healthy pocket to stuff your child’s favorite fillings:

  • Stuffed with lettuce, avocado and cheese
  • Stuffed with spinach and hummus
  • Stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs
  • Stuffed with left-over meats and veggies

Lavosh or flatbread and tortillas make a neat roll-up for little hands.  These rolls can also be cut for a special, colorful presentation – kind of like sushi!

  • Spread with cream cheese and shredded veggies (carrots, red pepper, zucchini)
  • Spread with hummus and sliced cooked turkey
  • Spread with tomato sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella cheese
  • Spread with bean dip and sprinkled with jack cheese

For something creamy and cold, which can also be put in partially frozen to act like an ice pack:

  • Organic plain yogurt (provide berries or granola to mix in)
  • Flavored organic greek yogurt (less sugar than regular)
  • Fruit gel cups (vegetarian)

 

 

 

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Quick Organic Snacks For Kids (with Spring Spread Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

Here are some quick snacks to bring along for day trips, out for a stroll, or have on hand for school. These snacks are easy to make and don’t need a real recipe, only your imagination and your child’s appetite.

If making snacks for school or day care, consult the administration’s policies for appropriate and banned food items. Many schools are now nut and nut butter free due to students with severe allergies in attendance.

Remember, vegetables and fruits can make their own snacks with a little extra effort to make them appealing to children. I recommend that moms always carry a fresh avocado and banana in their diaper bag. They are appropriate for all ages, need no refrigeration (until cut), and need no preparation.

Organic natural peanut butter is a good source of protein and makes a healthy snack paired with the following foods:

◊ Spread on chunks of organic apple.

◊ Spread on toast with a slice of cheddar or Swiss cheese.

◊ Sandwiched between two waffles or pancakes.

◊ Spread on wheat tortilla, topped with a banana rolled up.

Organic vegetables and fruits can make their own snacks with a little extra effort to make them special and appealing to children.

◊ Celery stick spread with cream cheese and sprinkled with raisins.

◊ Zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, spread with Spring Spread (see below), then put back together.

◊ A cored apple stuffed with granola or cereal.

◊ Spinach leaves stuffed with hummus and vegetable sticks.

◊ Lettuce leaves stuffed with egg and olive spread and rolled.

When the bag of toasted oat cereal isn’t enough, or your child needs variety, trail mixes are an easy “to go” snack. Besides the Trail Mix Treat recipe, here are some suggestions:

◊ Handful of toasted oat cereal mixed with raisins.

◊ Handful of granola mixed with dried apricots and cranberries.

◊ Handful of dried fruit chunks mixed with wheat pretzels.

◊ Handful of chopped raw almonds mixed with dried fruit chunks.

Organic Pita bread makes a handy and healthy pocket to stuff you child’s favorite fillings.

◊ Stuff with lettuce, avocado, and cheese sticks.

◊ Stuff with spinach and hummus.

◊ Stuff with leftover meats.

Lavosh or flatbread and tortillas make a neat roll-up for little hands. These rolls can also be cut for a special, colorful presentation, almost like sushi!

◊ Spread with roasted red pepper puree and vegetable sticks, and roll.

◊ Spread with tomato sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, and roll.

Bagels make a good platform for lots of spread and fillings. Broken into tiny pieces, bagels can be dipped into hummus or goat cheese for young eaters. You can even cut them in half and remove some of the bread, so filling stays in better and the bagel is not so filling for little tummies. Here are a few options:

◊ Spread organic tomato sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and chopped veggies, like a pizza.

◊ Stuff with cottage cheese and sliced organic strawberries.

◊ Stuff with omelet pieces.

◊ Spread with nectarine or other fruit butters.

Waffles and pancakes can be good for making fun sandwiches and rolls.

◊ Spread pancakes with cream cheese and any fruit puree and roll up.

◊ Spread peanut butter and all-fruit spread between two waffles.

◊ Layer scrambled eggs between waffles for a breakfast sandwich.
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Organic Spring Spread Recipe

This was a favorite of mine while a freshman at U.C. Davis. On a nice sunny day, I would stop at the coffeehouse and order a wheat bagel with spring spread to take with me to eat on the quad. Years later I was cooking for a two-year-old whose mother was worried she wasn’t eating enough vegetables. She loved cream cheese, so my college favorite became her morning breakfast. Try using different organic vegetables, such as grated zucchini or finely chopped celery, for variety. Besides bagels, this spread doubles as a dip for carrot and celery sticks, or cracker cut-outs listed below.

Makes about ½ cup

4 ounces organic cream cheese, whipped or softened
2 tablespoons grated organic carrot
2 tablespoons finely diced organic red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced green chives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, thyme, or rosemary, or combination
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl with a rubber spatula until creamy.

Tip: You may want to chop the vegetables more finely depending on your child’s issues with texture. For particular eaters, you can process the mixture in a food processor so it’s tougher to pick out the veggies.

Cracker Cut-Outs
For fun and unique crackers, get our your cookie cutters. Cut shapes in soft wheat tortillas and place on a baking sheet. bake the shapes in a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

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Please see also Lisa’s Easy, Creative Organic Dips For Kids
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, and Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Lana Langlois | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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