HOW TO PACK A HEALTHY LUNCHBOX
School is BACK as is the routine of packing lunches each day and wondering what’s going to get eaten right? To give you some inspiration we turned to some of our favourite foodie parents and carers to get the scoop on what’s going into their kids lunches and snacks AND (the big bonus) they’re handing over their secret recipes too!
AMANDA’S WHOLESOME KITCHEN (@amandaswholesomekitchen)
Amanda…”a former lawyer and Qld Firedbirds player and now a very busy mum to 3 gorgeous girls, Gracie (7) Stella (4) and Milla (2). I’m a passionate wholefoods cook, with a focus on delicious plant based food. Through my business, Amanda’s Wholesome Kitchen, I offer healthy catering in Brisbane as well as wholefood pantry makeovers, where I helps client wanting to transition away from processed food and to introduce more wholefoods into their diets”. www.amandaswholesomekitchen.com.au
What’s in her kids’ lunchbox… (epic lunchbox featured is Amanda’s too!)
- Avocado sushi
- Fruit (strawberries and pomegrante)
- Cherry tomatoes and veggie sticks (cucumber, carrot, capsicum)
- Corn on the cob
- Apricot, coconut and chocolate bliss ball
RECIPE : Apricot, coconut and chocolate bliss balls
+ A healthy, nut free kids lunchbox snack
2 cups (380g) preservative free dried apricots
½ cup (80g) preservative free desiccated coconut, plus a little extra for rolling
¼ cup (25g) raw cacao powder
½ cup (40g) rolled oats
½ cup (70g) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1. Soak the apricots in hot water for 15 minutes (this will help soften the apricots and make them easier to process) and then drain them.
2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz for a a few minutes until the mixture comes together.
3. Sprinkle a little extra desiccated coconut on a plate and then, using wet hands, shape the mixture into small balls (I use about 2 tablespoons of the mixture per bliss ball) and roll them through the coconut to coat them.
4. Store the bliss balls in the fridge or freezer.
Makes approx. 24 bliss balls.
THE SIMPLE PALATE (@thesimplepalate)
Jehan is the founder of The Simple Palate, which is an organic lunch delivery business based in Sydney and focused on making it easy for those that are busy to access healthy and nourishing food that is also filled with a lot of flavour. “I want people to appreciate that ‘healthy eating’ isn’t boring, doesn’t lack flavour and doesn’t mean starving yourself. After all, food is made to be enjoyed.”
“I have has 2 beautiful nieces (Isabella – 12 and Sarah – 8) that are at school and my sister is always on the lookout for quick, yet nourishing lunches to pack for them. This chicken quinoa is one of their favourite lunches and one that my sister can prepare in no time.
What’s in her kids – nieces, nephews and friend’s kids – lunchbox…
- Quinoa with chicken, mixed herbs and a nut-free pesto (Nut-free pesto is simply basil, avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper all blended together. Chicken is poached, as I find this the quickest and with the least amount of mess to clean up. If you have any leftover chicken from dinner, you can use that). This can all be prepared in 30-40 minutes on a Sunday but will easily cover 3 lunch days.
- Veggie sticks – carrot & cucumber + eggplant dip
- Fruit salad (chopped apples & nectarine with some lemon juice to prevent the fruit turning brown)
- Slice of bread toasted (gluten free from Nonie’s)
RECIPE : Banana coconut and teff bread
Makes 1 loaf (approx. 8 – 10 slices)
+ I don’t know too many kids that don’t enjoy a slice of banana bread, so this nut-free recipe is great for a lunchbox snack or as an after school treat. The teff flour gives it a nutty flavour without the nuts.
What you will need:
• 3 ripe bananas
• 6-8 medjool dates (or sweetener of choice – you can use 2 TBSP honey, 2 TBSP syrup (maple or brown rice) or stevia)
• 3 eggs
• ½ cup coconut milk
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon (you can leave this out if your kids don’t like cinnamon)
• 1 cup teff flour
• ½ cup coconut flour
• 1 tsp sugar free vanilla powder (or one vanilla bean)
• ¼ cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
• 2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminium & gluten free)
• 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
What to do:
• Preheat oven to 170°C and line a bread/loaf tin with baking paper
• Using a blender or food processor, blend/mix bananas, dates, eggs and coconut milk together until smooth
• Transfer to a large bowl
• Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, except the coconut oil, and mix until everything is well combined
• Add the coconut oil and stir until combined
• Pour the mixture into the tin and place in the oven
• Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean – approx. 45 to 50 minutes
• Let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack for slicing
• If you’re using honey, maple syrup or stevia, you can avoid using a blender or food processor. Simply start by mashing the bananas in a large bowl, and then add the honey/syrup/stevia as well as the eggs and coconut milk before adding the other ingredients.
• Banana and chocolate are also a great flavour combination. To make this a banana & chocolate bread, add a couple of tablespoons of cacao powder or cacao nibs at the same time as the teff flour
LAUREN BLAIR : THE GOODNESS GROUP (@thegoodnessgroup)
Lauren… “I’m a mum of 2 (mostly) divine treasures- Evie 4y and Grace 2y. I’m an APD (Accredited Practicing Dietitian) working in corporate wellness. Sometimes I am super organised and in control, but mostly I feel like I am flying blind in many aspects of parenting. In transitioning back to work, I am trying to pair back my everyday decisions so effectively I have a formula for food, clothes, and general logistics that fit into our little routine quite well. It sounds very boring but it keeps me sane, knowing that when stuff hits the fan, I can be ready for it! Having kids has taught me that every phase is just that- a time that is temporary and fleeting, so this approach really helps me make the most of the younger years with my family.”
What’s in her kids lunchbox….
- Leftover dinner veg with hummus.
- Sambo on grainy bread with cream cheese.
- White peach and blueberries
RECIPE : Hummus with whatever you are trying to get your kids to eat- sneak extra veggies into it, blend with white bean or chick pea, lemon, olive oil, tahini, paprika. Call it something crazy that they might love (like ninja turtle dip) and who knows, they just might eat those veggies!
KIM HOLMES : THE HEALTHY LITTLE B (@thehealthylittleb)
Kim… “I am a nutritionist, healthy food lover and mum to Billie, 6 years and Baxter 4 years. I have been running my nutrition business The Healthy Little B for just over 5 years and love what I do – educating mums, parents, carers and kids on how to live healthy happy nourished lives.”
What’s in my kids lunchbox…
I always have a mixture of healthy, fresh, real food. There will always be good fats, protein, fibre, healthy carbohydrates and a homemade healthy treat to meet their nutritional requirements and nourish their growing bodies. I try to avoid package foods and provide seasonal foods.
- Buckwheat penne with pesto in the thermos
- Mandarin + grapes
- Cucumber, carrot sticks + chick peas
- Free range, preservative-free turkey breast
- Popcorn + mary’s gone crackers gluten-free crackers
- Home-made bliss ball
RECIPE : Nut free Bliss Balls for Kids
“I have been making these for years for my kids + they are still a hit. Packed full of fibre, good fats, zinc and protein – all your nutritional bases are covered!”
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds and or peptias
- 1/3 cup cacao
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 cup medjool dates (soaked for 10 mins to soften)
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- Desiccated coconut to roll in
- Place sunflower seeds & pepitas in a food processor and blitz till they resemble a chunky (or finer) crumb – this will depend how much crunch you like
- Add dates (remember to remove seeds), cacao, tahini & blitz
- If mixture seems dry, add the coconut oil
- Blitz until the mixture sticks together
- Roll with wet hands into desired ball size in coconut
- Place in sealed container in fridge and allow an hour or so till eating
- They should last at least a week in the fridge
LISA CLAYTON : UFIT SINGAPORE (@ufitbootcampssg)
Lisa…”I’m a mother of 3 boys, Twins Max and Cooper (6 next month) and Benji 3.5 years old. I’m the Founder of Singapore’s largest outdoor fitness community, UFIT Bootcamps. I’ve been an expat in Asia for 10 years, originally from Sydney, Australia. I’m a self confessed sweataholic, enjoying bootcamps, crossfit, weight training and boxing as part of my training. I love the outdoors, can nap anywhere (and I will!) love motivating others to learn to enjoy fitness as much as I do. It’s important to find balance in everything I do and not take anything too seriously.”
What’s in my kids lunchbox…
- Mini Pizza Wheels
- choc chip / blueberry muffin
- frozen orange
- carrot and cucumber sticks
RECIPE : Kidspot Kitchen Pizza Wheels
Dough (we home make)
6 tbsp pizza sauce
2 tsp Italian herbs
4 slices of ham, diced
2 cup grated pizza cheese
Preheat oven to 180°C or 160° fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
Spread each pastry sheet with 3 tablespoons of pizza sauce, sprinkle with Italian herbs and diced ham. Spread the pizza cheese over the top.
Roll each pastry sheet tightly into a scroll and slice the scroll evenly into 12 pieces.
Place in tray and bake for 10-15 minutes. This recipe makes 24 pieces
BRITTANY DARLING : WHOLEFOOD HEALING (@wholefoodhealing)
Brittany…”I am an Accredited Nutritionist, Herbalist and mother of two children, Leonard (4) and Clementine (2.5). I offer online consultations to help you cut though the confusion and get clear on how to eat well, reduce stress and have clearer skin, stronger immune function and better digestion. I’m a regular health contributor to Body + Soul, Women’s Health, Cleo and Gourmet Traveller Magazines and Resident Nutritionist at Vida Glow. When I’m not consulting, writing or creating new recipes and meal planners, you’ll find me building sandcastles in Bondi Beach with my kids or enjoy a glass of wine after they go to bed!” www.wholefoodhealing.com.au
What’s in my kids lunchbox?
- Chicken, Zucchini & Corn Meat Balls
- 100% Corn Tortillas. You could also put some sourdough, gluten free bread or a wrap.
- Cherry Tomatoes & Cucumber. You could also use carrot/celery sticks or some crunchy lettuce leaves
- If your kids are older (and hungrier), you could add some whole milk yogurt and cheese and of course increase portion size.
I always try to give the kids protein, some vegetables (although they don’t always get eaten), a carb such as sourdough, brown rice or brown rice pasta, tortillas or wrap and some fruit. If it isn’t a sandwich or a wrap, its a deconstructed one (pictured). I find my kids always eat better with a ploughman’s style lunch as they can see, pick and choose (or discard!) what they like.
RECIPE : Chicken, Zucchini and Corn Meat Balls
“These are very versatile meat balls. They are packed full of protein and (hidden) vegetables. They make a good family dinner with a side salad and roast vegetables, a quick nutrition filled snack, or a protein hit for kids lunch boxes. You can make a double batch and store in freezer or cook for dinner the night before and take for lunch the next day.”
500g organic chicken (i use thigh as it’s higher in iron). You could also use beef, lamb or pork.
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs, sourdough crumbs or polenta
1 cup of mixed grated/finely chopped vegetables (i used corn and zucchini). You could also use some grated apple and carrot, if you like your meatballs a little sweeter.
1 clove of minced garlic
Handful of parsley, coriander or chives, fine chopped.
1 brown onion finely diced
1 whole egg
25g of butter, coconut oil or ghee
Place chicken in a food processor and blitz until you create mince.
Add vegetables, garlic, herb/s, onion, egg and crumbs or polenta to food processor and blitz again for 10 secs or until combined.
Roll into small balls (wet your hands a little so mixture doesn’t stick to them)
Melt butter, ghee or coconut oil in a large frying pan on medium heat
Place the meat balls into the frying pan and turn as needed
They are done once golden brown on all sides and cooked through (10 minutes approx)
JACQUELINE ALWILL : BROWN PAPER NUTRITION (@brownpapernutrition)
Jacq… “you probably know my work by now if you’re hitting up this article for some inspo! But the downlow is this… I’m a mum to my 7 year old boy Jet, nutritionist and founder of The Brown Paper Bag. I love love love good healthy and delicious food, but appreciate that kids enjoy simplicity too and as a working mum try not to overcomplicate things too much. Precisely why we reached out to these lovely ladies above because they share a similar philosophy. Some days I feel like I’m on a win with the lunchbox packing and it comes home empty, other days it comes home half eaten and that’s ok too – parenting is such a big ongoing lesson right? For the days it comes home with more in it I chat with Jet about why and we work through it from there. You can read more on my thoughts about this here. I don’t always have a stack of time, and prep when I can in big batches, then freeze and defrost, bake and store, or dehydrating is our new favourite.”
Whats in my kids lunchbox…
The picnic lunch:
- preservative free hummus or home made
- carrot, capsicum and cucumber sticks (celery never gets eaten, and I completely understand that!)
- pieces of cheese
- cherry tomatoes of all colours – but yellow is the number one
- wild rice and teff sushi with avocado / cucumber
- boiled egg.. but by age 7 sometimes that smell ain’t cool so we’re laying off those and having them for afternoon tea
- fresh fruit
- coconut and oat bliss ball (nut free)
- fruit straps
- gelatin gummies great for tummies… the jingle whilst packing these is key!
The ‘mum I just want a sandwich like the other kids’ lunchbox…
- sourdough, soy linseed or gluten free bread from our local bakery with:
- vegemite and organic butter (Vegemite in my eyes is very odd and not what I love, but it’s just on occasion and so I let it go)
- avocado and sea salt
- cherry tomatoes, capsicum on the side and a morning tea from the above selection above.
For the most part there is a balance of plant based proteins, carbs and fats in Jet’s lunch. However some days, lunch and morning tea are definitely higher in carbs and it’s on these days I focus on a protein rich breakfast before school, and arriving at pick up with cooked protein for a snack – lamb chops always win, but chicken drumsticks, boiled eggs or hummus with veggies also go well. Dinner is always well balanced with the macros – protein, carbs, fats too.