To ease your family from lazy summer days into the new school year, here are a few tips from my kitchen and my favorite bloggers. You can find even more great ideas on our Pinterest board dedicated to healthy, kid-friendly lunch ideas.
I’m always searching for ways to sneak broccoli into my daughter’s diet. Although as a toddler she snacked on this cruciferous vegetable with more gusto than a kid at a make-your-own sundae bar, these days more inventive recipes are required. This recipe for Roasted Broccoli Grilled Cheese by Two Peas & Their Pod is a healthy take on a classic lunchtime sandwich that even a picky eater will love. Other creative broccoli-inspired lunch ideas include Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Bites by Alida’s Kitchen and Healthy Baked Broccoli Tots by Gimme Delicious Food.
As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake.” Although I don’t want to encourage a steady diet of pastries, I don’t feel guilty serving Flourless Morning Glory Muffins by Running with Spoons or the Cheese and Veggie Muffins by Learn with Play at Home. These pseudo-pastries are excellent on-the-go lunch options and may inspire your kids to help with some baking!
Luckily, my daughter’s enthusiasm for hummus, or any food made from protein-packed chickpeas, is almost as strong as her hankering for sugar-enriched bread goods. This recipe for Homemade Falafel with Tahini Sauce by Just a Taste is a winner, as are these Veggie Nori Rolls with Hummus by Kitchn. For an extra nutritional punch, substitute Avocado Hummus by Cooking Classy in place of regular hummus.
What child would turn down a chicken nugget lunch? These Quinoa Chicken Nuggets by Crème de la Crumb are a healthful alternative to processed versions. For a new way to introduce chicken to your child’s lunch, try these Chicken and Corn Patties by Food4Tots.
Replace the boring lunchtime sandwich with a dish with pizazz: Spinach Pesto by Diethood is a nutrition-packed spin on the classic pesto recipe. Once it’s prepared, you can easily create a kid-approved pasta salad in minutes.
For top-notch nutrition, consider upping your use of these super foods, all of which are ingredients in the above recipes:
Almonds: Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium and protein and contain healthy unsaturated fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants.
Apples: Apples are packed with vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, fiber, phytonutrients, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Avocados: Avocados are loaded with over twenty vitamins and minerals including beta-sitosterol, lutein, zeaxanthin, folate, fiber, vitamins C, E, K and B-6, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene and omega-3s.
Bananas: Bananas are teeming with fiber and vitamins C and B6. They are also high in potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. A study conducted by the Imperial College of London found that children who ate just one banana per day had a 34% lower chance of developing asthma. Bananas also reduce the risk of cancer, especially instances of childhood leukemia.
Broccoli: One cup of broccoli contains over 100% of the body’s daily need for vitamin C and K and is a good source of vitamin A, folate and potassium.
Carrots: Carrots are an antioxidant-rich vegetable saturated with beta-carotene and phytochemicals.
Chicken: Chicken is a great source of protein. It is also low in fat (when the skin is removed) and is full of selenium and vitamins B6 and B3.
Chickpeas: Chickpeas are a vegan and gluten-free source of protein and are laden with iron, vitamins B-6, C and K, magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, choline and potassium.
Corn: Corn is jam-packed with fiber, folate, thiamin, phosophorus, vitamin C and magnesium.
Eggs: Eggs are one of best sources of protein available, and they are abundant in vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy and balanced diet including vitamin A, B2, B12, D, E, biotin, choline, folic acid, iodine, iron, lutein, phosphorus, protein and selenium.
Oats: Oats are loaded with more dietary fiber than any other grain and are also rich in minerals including maganese, selenium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin E.
Quinoa: Quinoa is gluten-free and contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. It is one of the only a few plant foods that is considered a complete protein and contains all of the essential amnio acids.
Spinach: Spinach is the best source for potassium, even better than a banana, and abounds in iron, calcium magnesium, vitamin K, fiber, phosphorus and thiamine.
Tahini: Tahini, or sesame butter, is rich in fiber, protein, calcium and omega-3s.
Walnuts: Walnuts are saturated with vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega 3 fats and antioxidants, all of which help improve brain health and reduce insulin levels.