Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Feed your Kids a Healthy Lunch...that they'll actually like!

Yes, we are still a few years away from having to decide what our daughter will get for her school lunch.

Even though Aileen and I are both practising Naturopaths, we still have differences in our own tastebuds and our own likes and dislikes, and what we will potentially feed our kid(s) when they get to school age. We are major plan-aheaders, so discussions have already started about what we are each going to contribute to our childrens' packed school lunches.

We have fun times reminiscing about our own good/bad/ugly experiences with our lunches as kids...although living in this decade in downtown Toronto has a completely different set of rules from growing up in the 1980s.

My hippy lunches were packed full of nutrition, but were very low on the cool scale (I actually loved my lunches until a lunch-lady made fun of my lunch in grade 3 "What are you eating? Maggots?", after which I became very self-conscious of what I was eating compared to other kids). Here was my typical lunch:
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • 1-2 rice balls, wrapped in nori (seaweed), stuffed with umeboshi (fermented plum)
  • an apple or orange
  • small fruit yogurt
  • on a rare occasion, a treat of natural fruit leather
Aileen's lunches were extremely high on the cool lunch scale, but nutritionally lacking. She loved her lunches, and I'm sure the other kids often tried to trade her for her bounty of delectables. (note that Aileen's mom is an amazing cook, with her specialty being very healthy Korean cuisine, but tried to integrate Aileen's lunches to the North American standard, not realizing how unhealthy the norms are here)
  • wagon wheel
  • bag of chips
  • nutella sandwich
  • juice box
  • on a rare occasion, a surprise mom-delivered Happy Meal 
This being said, Aileen tells me about her frequent childhood ear infections, allergies, nasal congestion and her "cute, but robust" physique. I was a scrawny kid, but, sadly (from my childhood perspective), never got to miss a day of school thanks to my overly healthy lunches.

High-maintenance gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, food-dye-free, sugar-free kids seems to be somewhat the norm these days....which is great news for us soon-to-be overbearing naturopathic parents! However, being a kid is still being a kid so the key is trying to find a balance between our nutritional ideals, their tastes and not being social outcasts. I think a healthy balance between our childhood lunches would be a perfect compromise.

Here are some ideas for healthy, kid-tastebud-friendly, and not too uncool lunches:

  • dinner leftovers (who doesn't love leftovers?)
  • Brown rice pasta with peas/carrots
  • Dimpflmeier or Stonemill bread sandwich with nitrite-free meats, avocado, sprouts, 365 Brand Ketchup/mustard
  • Wraps (rice paper, tortilla) with salmon/turkey/chicken and vegetables 
  • Brown rice balls with nori (these have come full circle and may actually be cool to have in Toronto)
The all-important Snack:
  • Larabars (who needs fruit roll-ups when you have these?)
  • Sweets from the Earth gluten-free Cashew Cookies
  • Celery sticks stuffed with almond butter (hummus, if nut-free) and raisins
  • Oskri coconut bars
  • Sheep yogurt
  • Cut up veggies (red peppers, carrots, cucumbers)
  • Trail mix (seeds instead of nuts)
  • Apple, berries, orange, pear, banana, etc..
  • Water bottle
  • Boxed unsweetened brown rice/almond milk
  • Coconut water
  • as a treat, Blue Sky natural rootbeer
Disclaimer: Of course, these are all in the very early planning stages and have not been tested first-hand...we'll keep you posted on what we actually settle on a few years down the road. :)

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