“Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It is about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.” ~ Guy Fieri
As an educator, I’ve peeked inside hundreds of lunchboxes, and what I see sometimes is horrifying. Cookies, sandwich crackers, blue yogurt, chocolate milk. Not a single fruit or vegetable, day in and day out.
If you are a parent, I know what you might be thinking, because I’ve heard it. “My kid won’t eat vegetables!” The truth is, your child needs you to expose them to as many fruits and vegetables as possible so they can find something that they do like.
If you struggle with what to send your child to school with every day, here are three tips to help you pack a healthy lunchbox.
1. Let your kids help
Kids enjoy being part of the process. Instead of making all of their food for them, invite them to help with all of the steps. If you take them to a farmer’s market, they can interact with the farmers who grow their food and understand how fruits and vegetables grow. If you take them to the supermarket, they can help pick the freshest looking fruits and vegetables. They might want to try something new, just because it looks cool (Dragon Fruit! Starfruit! Purple Cauliflower!). And if you let your children help you create the food they are eating, they are more likely to eat (and love) it!
2. Keep the sugar monsters away
One major benefit to eating fruits and vegetables is that they help maintain blood sugar balance for your child. This balance will help avoid the all the crazy sugar-rush behaviors from eating all of those cookies and improve their ability to learn. Send your children meals and snacks that contain protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats to keep their blood sugar steady. For a treat, try something like a cup of mixed berries or these Gluten Free and Vegan Graham Crackers with a bit of almond or sunbutter.
3. Make lunches fun
Pack lunches in a bento box with lots of variety so your child can try new things like kale chips, grapefruit, or roasted chickpeas without feeling overwhelmed. Ask them to fill out a “report card” on each food item so you can learn about their tastes. Freeze smoothies in small mason jars and pack in their lunchboxes with a fun spoon to eat at lunchtime. You can also make ‘art projects’ out of food, like these silly face wraps. If food is fun, your child is more likely to try it.
Here is a delicious smoothie you can use to build your child’s healthy lunchbox. It’s easy to prepare, full of nutrients, and much healthier than the chocolate shake from the fast food restaurant drive-thru.
Raw cacao powder is full of magnesium, which helps to calm stress and anxiety. Cinnamon is perfect for stabilizing blood sugar, while spinach is creates energy and improves metabolism. Your child will also get a brain boost from the omega 3s found in hemp seeds.
So take your child to the farmer’s market or the grocery store and ask them to help you pick out the best looking blueberries and spinach. They will love that there is chocolate in this smoothie and this may just become their new favorite shake because they helped to make it.
And who knows, they may just imagine some new smoothie creations of their own in the future.
Serves: 2 servings
- 1 ½ cups almond milk
- 1 cup spinach
- ½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 Tbsp almond butter
- 1-2 Tbsp raw cacao powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 4-5 ice cubes (optional)
- Place all items in your blender and blend until smooth. Freeze in a small mason jar or popsicle mold and pack in your child’s lunch tomorrow.
Smoothie image: iStock/tanjichica7
Lunchbox Image: iStock/gvictoria