So by now you guys know, I am wicked passionate about feeding my kids healthy, clean food and living an organic, toxin-free lifestyle. And I especially love packing them a healthy lunchbox! Well to be honest, I don’t actually love packing lunches but I prioritize it because it is important to me that my kids eat real food.
Every day is a learning experience as we try new things. Some are a success and some are big time failures. But the biggest takeaway here is to just keep trying. Even the pickiest of eaters in time may surprise you. My younger son wouldn’t even look at a scrambled egg for the first two years of his life. I made them a couple of times a week for my older son and would always put a bite on my 2-year-old’s plate. One morning I turned around and the bite was gone. TWO YEARS of no movement and then one day…one day.
I understand the frustration of kids not eating, I really do. My oldest will try anything but my youngest is pretty picky. When I start to feel down about it I tell myself that we are giving these boys healthy, non-processed, organic options and if he is being selective from these options he is still getting really great food. So keep doing what you are doing mamas and here are a few ideas to help even the pickiest of eaters get their veggies in. These are all photos from my nut-free school lunchbox gallery.
Homemade pesto is a great way to get some greens into your kids! Pesto is super versatile and you probably have everything to make a batch right now!
The skeleton recipe is:
2 cups any greens
1/2 cups nuts
1/4 cup cheese
1/4 cup oil
salt and pepper
Blend all ingredients in a food processor adding more oil until desired consistency.
You can make this nut-free by leaving out the nuts or dairy-free by leaving out the cheese. For greens you can use broccoli, spinach, kale, basil, peas, beat root greens, chard -anything really! The same for nuts and cheese, you can try walnuts, pecans, cashews, any hard cheese or even ricotta. And for oils I tend to use olive oil but you can sub any unrefined oil. Try avocado oil or sesame oil…the possibilities here are endless. The great thing about pesto is that you can use it on noodles, in grilled cheeses, on omelets, as a veg dip, in sandwiches, quesadilla, on pizza – its a great way to boost greens consumption in kids because it is usually pared with something they love and and tastes damn delicious.
Shown above is: roasted chicken and spinach pesto bow ties, cubed sweet potatoes and steamed cauli. Snacks are apples and sunflower butter sammies, Mary’s Seed Crackers and sliced cheddar.
I try to choose organic whenever possible to avoid chemicals, pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, hormones and all of that junk BUT I realize that is not economical for everyone. Check out this list of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists. The Dirty Dozen list is a list of the top 12 most heavily treated fruits and vegetables and ones that are recommended to buy organic. The Clean Fifteen is a list of fruits and veggies that have tested with the lowest amount of pesticide residue and are the safest options to buy non-organic. These lists are updated annually.
Another great trick is adding purred veggies into everyday meals like meatballs, pancakes, and mac and cheeses.
This lunch above is: homemade mac and cheese with pureed cauli, meatloaf with pureed carrots and onion, topped with bacon and corn on the cob. Snacks are homemade hummus with carrot sticks, hardboiled eggs and red grapes.
I love using the Barefoot Contessa’s mac and cheese recipe with a few substitutions (EVOO for vegetable oil, almond meal for breadcrumbs, gluten-free pasta and flour).
In my meatballs (or meatloaf) I tend to add pureed carrots and onion or even pesto. In the kids pancakes I sometimes blend in spinach to make green pancakes. Some bland veggies you can sneak into smoothies are: cauli, zucchini and sweet potato. These are even better steamed and then frozen in chunks to use in lieu of ice.
Also homemade hummus is another nutrient dense dip and the kids love it. You can add any kind of purred veg to beef it up like red pepper, cauliflower, peas, carrots, beets…and it is a great way to get your kids to eat a veg that they would typically not eat straight up.
Here is my hummus recipe:
28oz cooked chickpeas
juice of two lemons
4 garlic cloves
1/2 c good olive oil
4 T tahini
1/4-1/2 c bone broth
1/4-1/2c veg of choice
Blend all ingredients in a food processor and add more bone broth if needed to reach desired consistency.
This lunch is organic spinach ravioli, fresh mango chunks and frozen peas. Snacks are some pastured bacon, homemade hummus with carrots and cukes and some 100% grassfed yogurt with a local raw honey drizzle.
I also LOVE making no-bakes or power balls. All natural ingredients, no fillers or preservatives, they taste like cookies, are filled with protein and the kids love them. The only problem is a batch won’t last more than a day. They go quick!
My favorite no-bakes are by Lee From America (shown left):
1 cup dates
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp almond butter
dash of sea salt
Blend all in a food processor, roll into balls then roll them in coconut and store in the fridge.
Again you can make any substitutions for allergies or restrictions. If you are allergic to pecans, sub walnuts etc. I make a nut-free lunchbox so the ones I pack are shown here in this pic (below):
10-12 medjool dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
4 T water
Blend all ingredients in a food processor and roll into balls. Keep refrigerated.
This lunch is cheeseburger patties on romaine, baked sweet potato fries and edamame. Snacks are orange slices, no-bakes, a banana and full fat Greek yogurt with local raw honey.
For more school lunch inspo check out my nut-free school lunch gallery!
Now get packin’!
Cover photo by my faves: Viera Photographics