February 13, 2008

Boxed Lunch Meals Made Interesting

Think outside the box... the lunchbox that is! Kids love the ingredients that go inside sandwiches, why not give it to them in containers without the bread for a change? Some kids like to be surprised, others like routine, so experiment according to your child’s comfort level. I always make my daughter’s lunch in the morning with her input, so there are no disappointing surprises at lunch time. Of course surprises that you know will be pleasant are always ok to sneak in!

Keep lots of little containers on hand for small amounts of foods: raisins, nuts, dips for raw veggies, small chunks of cheese, dried fruit, etc. as an alternative to sandwiches. Many health food stores* have a variety of sulphite-free dried fruit such as blueberries, mangoes, bing cherries, strawberries and of course raisins.

Nitrite free sandwich meats - also found in health-oriented stores.

Nut butters* – Try cashew, macadamia, almond, sesame. They are great on apples, pears and carrots and of course celery. My daughter mixes nut butters with butter and a bit of honey and dips carrots and apples into it.

Mini carrots with a container of salad dressing for dipping. Raw or lightly steamed broccoli, cauliflower and green beans may also be appealing.

Applesauce, perhaps with toasted almonds* and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Plain yogurt in little containers with a little jam or honey or maple syrup for sweetener

Small salads or raw veggies with little containers of salad dressing or hummous for dipping. We love Annie’s natural salad dressings for dipping*.

Apple or pear slices to dip in nut butters

Cheese quesadillas made with whole grain, rice or corn tortillas (to be reheated at lunch time)

Healthy cookies (see Ellery's Peanut Butter Cookies)

Hard Boiled Eggs

Avocado or bell pepper slices

Nut butter-apple-raisin sandwiches, or nut butter-banana-honey sandwiches on whole grain bread

Nuts – cashews are great because they are not technically a nut, but rather a seed. They can be easier to digest and softer to chew than other nuts.

Rice cracker and nut butter sandwiches, or mini-pancake sandwiches(see Gluten-Free Pancakes)

*If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joe's in your vicinity, get in there! They have a great variety of dried fruits, nuts and nut butters, as well as high quality butter, local eggs and an ever-increasing supply of organic produce and products, all at a reasonable price. They also publish a list of all their gluten-free foods that you can request. http://www.traderjoes.com/

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