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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hot lunches making your kids pudgy? Healthy ideas that even picky kids will like.

I am the step-mom of two wonderful girls.  One is a tween at age 12 and the other is 9. They don't live with us full time. We have them once per week and every other weekend and other times too, but that is the general arrangement. It is really difficult to monitor what your kids eat when they don't live with you. All we can do is ensure that when they are with us, we set a good example for healthy living and expose them to foods they wouldn't ordinarily try.  Emmy is a very adventurous eater and loves spicy foods, sashimi, raw oysters, anything. We can take her to a chef's tasting at a high end restaurant, and she will enjoy every meal and the mystery of what will be served next. Our 9 year old is the total opposite. Pizza, pasta, bread, butter, soda and *gasp* diet soda and it stops there. Introducing new foods has been a challenge with Ava. She will taste things, but will give you disgusting face. They usually eat the school lunches during the year which are brought in from a caterer.  They are things like: fettuccine alfredo, pizza, mac n cheese, you know, all the junk. Well, childhood obesity is an epidemic and following this trend is the shocking prevalence of Type II diabetes in children. There are the obvious culprits: Soda, baked goods, junk food, chips, basically anything with high fructose corn syrup including all your simple carbs.  On the day following their stays with us, we send them to school with a bagged lunch.  It has taken some tweaking and experimentation to find what they will be excited about eating that doesn't "smell like farts" when they open their Tupperware. Emily jokingly said that sometimes what I pack smells that way, mostly because it's broccoli or eggs. I still think it's funny.  These are some great alternatives to packing " a sandwich" which can get boring after a while.
All of these are nut free as per school rules. I am the only one in our house that is totally dairy free. I just make sure that the cheese eating is in moderation for the kids. You will notice that none of the lunches involve bread. I make sure they have a protein, a complex carb ( can be veggies, fruit or ancient grain) and a healthier fat ( drizzle of olive oil, avocado, egg, fish)

Emmy's Favorites (adventurous palette girl) avocado added to almost everything below.

1. Chickpea salad ( red onion, olive oil, squeezed lemon, fresh parsley, red bell pepper, salt and pepper)
2. Black bean, corn and mango salsa with avocado ( same as chickpea salad)
3. Egg salad
4. Caponata
5. Smoked trout with mixed greens
6. Smoked salmon with mixed greens
7. Mozzarella and tomato caprese with fresh basil
8. Quinoa salad with red kidney beans
9.Cucumber tomato salad

Ava's Favorites ( non-adventurous palette girl)

1. Steamed broccoli and beet salad ( lightly steamed, olive oil, fresh lemon or vinegar, red onion, quinoa spiral pasta, salt, pepper, red onion, roasted beets)
2. Egg salad
3. Mozzarella and tomato caprese with fresh basil
4. Mixed green salad with oil and balsamic
5. Cucumber and tomato salad ( Cucumber, tomato, olive oil, olives, fresh basil, sprinkle of fresh goat cheese or feta)

As I make them, I will post full recipes for all of these.

I also include snacks for them. Here are some of the snacks they love:

1. Melon
2. Berries or any fruit
3. Homemade hummus and celery or carrots
4. Olives
5. Boiled egg
6. Homemade guacamole with celery or carrots
7. Dried chickpeas

All of these foods only contain natural sugars. They each have a very large and insulated lunch bag for all of these goodies and they each have a thermos filled with WATER. Just eliminating fruit drinks alone, is a huge step in the right direction.

Please share some healthy lunches that your kids love!


  1. Really love this post and it has been great to see them enjoying more and more foods. Can you make my lunches? Actually, these are great ideas for mixing it up - teachers - we fall into routines - these help me think of some more salad ideas and other snacks. Thanks!


  2. Thank you. I will post photos with full recipes as I make these. There will be others as well.