It is school time again! Back to the routine of preparing lunches for the kids every day. I have noticed in the last few years that I start out really well with lunch box ideas, but as the weeks go on variety begins to lack and lunches start looking the same from one day to the next! This year I hope to vary it more and to keep it interesting and tasty for them. A typical school lunch for my 6 year old boy would usually consist of an almond butter sandwich, cut up cucumber, carrot, apple, some berries or olives, and a few dates or raisins.
Fruit and vegetables are a good way to get lots of colour in to kids lunchboxes. Go with the seasons and pack lots of berries at the beginning of the school year, then moving on to mandarins, apples and pears over winter, and peaches, plums and apricots at the end of the school year. Cucumber, peppers, olives, carrots and mangetout all work well in lunchboxes too.
Growing kids need carbohydrates to fuel their brains, but they also need healthy fats and protein to keep their energy steady during the day. Good fats improve brain health and proteins form the building blocks of many structures in the body.
Here are two recipes that use oats, fruit and seeds to make a balanced healthy snack to include in lunchboxes. Hemp seeds are available in supermarkets and health shops. They are a great source of easily digested protein and essential fats, minerals and vitamins – great for kids and adults.
Apple and Hemp Muffins
1 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour / gluten free flour / wheat flour
1 cup ground oats (blend oats in food processor until flour consistency)
1/2 cup hemp seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (for this chop 2 medium apples in to small pieces, steam for around 3 minutes, then mash)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup rice milk, almond milk or other non-dairy milk (cows milk can be used too)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)
3 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Mix together gently and fold until blended (do not over mix). Bake for 25-30 minutes (21-22 minutes for smaller muffins).
Makes 8 medium-large muffins or 12 small muffins.
(adapted from a recipe on happyfoody.com)
Date and Hemp Energy Balls
1 cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup hemp seeds
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 10 large)
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut for topping (optional)
Combine the pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, pitted dates, almond meal, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse on high to combine; about 45 seconds total.
Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl and use your hands to form 12 energy balls.
If desired, place the toasted coconut on a plate and roll each ball over the coconut as a topping.
Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
(adapted from a recipe by cleaneatingkitchen.com)