Fall is coming upon us in full force. I don’t know about you, but for me and all my clients, the first couple of weeks of school are stressful— trying to figure out new schedules and dealing with mishaps along the way. Fuel your children (and yourself) with hearty lunches and all will be well in the world. They will be able to focus at school and you will not be experiencing the 2-3:00 pm sugar cravings!
When planning lunches, think about the power of five: veggies, fruit, protein, whole grains, and hydration. You want your lunches to incorporate all of those five powerful fuels.
One way I like to incorporate many of the groups is through grain-based salads. On my website, I have two particular salads that are big hits, even with kids: Tabbuleh Salad and Quinoa Salad with Black Beans. Click here to check them out. With the Tabbouleh Salad, you get the veggies and whole grain components. With the Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, you get the whole grains, protein, and veggies, all packed together! You can make these salads on a Sunday evening and they will last through Wednesday, refrigerated.
Making sandwiches is another great way to incorporate multiple food groups. I love making my girls Turkey & Swiss Sandwiches with Sliced Tomatoes and Romaine Lettuce. I first select a whole-grain bread (when you purchase bread, make sure it has a few grains of fiber and NO high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS); some bread brands market their bread as healthy when a closer look at the label reveals that they have harmful chemicals like HFCS). I then choose a nitrate-free lunch meat; the brand I trust the most when it comes to nitrate-free meats is Applegate. All of their meat is natural, antibiotic-free, nitrate-free, and there are organic options as well. I turn to Applegate for the cheese I use on my girls’ sandwiches as well. For the final touch of the sandwiches, I add sliced fresh tomatoes (they’re in season locally right now so they’re especially delicious) and romaine lettuce. A dollop of mustard and voila! My girls’ sandwiches incorporate three of the five power-foods: whole grains, protein, and veggies.
We haven’t talked about fruit yet. I sometimes make salads with fruit. Check out my Pomegranate-Citrus Salad or my Strawberry-Kale Salad on my website.
Don’t feel as though you have to stick to the traditional by packing sandwiches or salads. Get creative. Here are some ideas to fulfill the protein, fruit, and veggie groups without having to prepare anything.
I turn to Kind Bars often for protein. They’re so delicious, packed with protein, and contain less than five grams of sugar. Turn your kids onto them and they’ll rarely, if ever want candy bars—Kind Bars taste just as yummy. They have awesome new fall flavors too.
Another unique protein option is Beanitos Chips. Yes, chips packed with protein because they are made with beans! They’re so tasty when dipped and guacamole. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make guacamole—you can get it pre-packaged buy buying Wholly Guacamole.
Some other quick protein choices include:
- Raw nuts and seeds
- 2% or Skim milk
- Cheese Sticks
- Nut butter (a little Tupperware of almond butter to dip sliced apples in—yum)!
Here are some easy fruit choices:
And some easy veggie options, that can be dipped in hummus
- Grape tomatoes
- Sliced peppers
Last but most important, let’s talk about hydration. Move over juice boxes, hello Motive Pure! Motive Pure is a little electrolyte drink that you mix with water. Dehydration harms your brain—when you are dehydrated, concentration goes through the window. Don’t reach for a soda, you may be tricked into thinking you are fulfilling your thirst, but really, you are dehydrating yourself even more because of all of the sugar or artificial sweetener. Fruit juice can be dehydrating too. Motive Pure has a wonderful selection of flavors and is sweetened with a natural sweetener called stevia. Hydrate yourself with an awesome, flavorful calorie-free drink—choose Motive Pure. Your kids will like it too!
Let me know about your favorite healthy lunch ideas in the comments section below!