Healthy Back to School Snacks and Lunches

August 25, 2010

Healthy Back to sSchool snacks and lunches

Healthy Back to School snacks and lunches

School is about to start and I hope that you are as excited as I am about the beginning of the new school year. My son is entering Kindergarten and, now, both of my kids are on their way to become the next US presidents, big time CEOs and world-renowned doctors, lawyers, and scientists (ok, I don’t really believe that – but it seems like this is something that all other parents want for their children)

My overall excitement, however, is somewhat tainted with an anticipation of busy mornings, when I have to prepare twice as many breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.  Did I forget to mention that I am not a morning person, and all of the above activities are taking place before my first cup of coffee!

My biggest fear, though, is losing my new Kindergartener to candies, donuts and hot dogs of our Junk Food Nation. Until now, Jacob has only been eating healthy organic food. I worry that as Jacob enters Kindergarten, he will not only reject the language he speaks at home, but will also begin refusing healthy foods in favor of pizza, ice cream, and French Fries.

But even if I succeed in convincing him to accept my choices for healthy snacks, I fear that carrots and hummus in my son’s lunch box may subject him of becoming a target of dietary discrimination and pointed fingers.

So, with all of these concerns and fears confronted, still psyched that my son is about to embark on the longest and the most important journey of his life, I am putting together a list of snacks and lunches that are not only healthy, nutritious, and re-energizing, but are also quick to prepare in the morning, and can keep both of my kids happy without impairing their popularity at school.

No-Fuss Snacks

AlmondCrunch Jammy Sammy Sandwich Bar

My name is Cucee Sprouts and I hate Newton Fig bars! I know, I know… A strange way to start a post on healthy snacks that I like… But I have eaten my share of these plasticy, rubbery, fake-tasting and stale bars and I want the world to know that there is something better out there! It is called Jammy Sammy Sandwich Bar. Jammy Sammy put a whole different spin on this old-fashioned snack. Individually wrapped bars, they are filled with delicious organic fruit spread that tastes fresh, contains no preservatives or  un-pronounceable ingredients.

AlmondCrunch Almond Crunch

This is our don’t-leave-your-home-without-it snack. It is crunchy, mildly sweet and keeps my gang energized until the next meal. These almonds taste  far superior to any other roasted almonds snacks out there.

JammySammySandwichBars Mashup Squeezable Fruit

I like simple food. Unpronounceable and artificial ingredients scare me. Ingredients that scare me the most, in no particular order, are butylated hydroxyanisold, sodium nitrate, quinine, high-fructose corn syrup, and neon-looking food colors.

Mashup Squeezable Fruit snack is a single-ingredient product – 100% organic fruit puree and nothing else! No added sugar, no additives, no artificial colors, no bugs, no recycled toilet paper, no bathroom chemicals… Think of apple sauce but of berries, apples, bananas and grapes.

On a hot day, I freeze these puppies before putting them in my kids’ lunch box and they keep the rest of the food nice and cool for hours!

FruitCrisps Brother-ALL-Natural Fruit Crisps

A bag of fruit crisps is a special treat at our house; they taste great and are exceptional in their nutritional value. The crispiest and crunchiest, this snack easily passes for a dessert with my kids. And, unlike conventionally dried fruit, that looses most of its nutrients during the heat drying process; these crisps retain all of the nutrients because they are freeze-dried. With no added sugar or preservatives, they are almost as good as a fresh fruit. Apples, Asian pears, bananas and strawberries… All season long…

Kim Nori Roasted Seaweed Snack (Kim Nori)

What do all of Mika’s classmates have in common? The love for (Kim Nori. When my daughter takes this slightly salty, crispy, paper-thin snack to school, her popularity skyrockets and she ends up sharing her bag with all of her friends. I am stocking up on these  as we speak!

DriedFruit Dried fruit

I follow the doctor’s orders and feed my kids everything in moderation, including conventionally dried fruits, even though most of these rate pretty high in their sugar content. But my kids love raisins, so occasionally I hide a small box of these in each of their lunchboxes. These particular Franny’s Raisins are the chewiest and the sweetest that I have ever tried. I personally like them because they are natural, organic and packaged in individual-size boxes.

AlmondCrunch Nature’s Path Organic Granola Bars, Lotta Apricot

There are many advantages to having a stash of Lotta Apricot in the house.

Advantage 1: my kids don’t murder my husband over the last bar.

Advantage 2: they are healthy, nutritious, kid-friendly and meet adult approval.

Advantage 3: they taste superb, are insanely soft, and melt in your mouth at a first bite.

Advantage 4: they can be placed on an automatic and discounted subscribe & save plan on Amazon.

StringCheese Good old string cheese always makes my kids the happiest kids on a block (so glad Jacob outgrew his allergies to dairy.)
FreshFruits Seasonal whole fruits and vegetables

If I had a magic wand, I would wish for blueberries, earl girl tomatoes and sugar peas to be in their peak season year-round. But, since my daughter is the one who controls the magic wand in my family, I have to obey her rules: tomatoes in the late summer, grapes in early fall, oranges in the winter, and sugar peas in the spring.

Briskly washed under running water and packaged into reusable cute snack size containers, these little-drama, no-prep-needed snacks are quick to throw in a lunch box and require no prep work on my part.

Quick to Prepare Snacks

SlicedFreshFruit Fresh  sliced fruit

Whenever I have a few extra minutes in the morning, I pull out my shiny knife and slice up some fresh fruit, sprinkle it with a little fresh-squeezed lemon juice and clover honey and package it in to-go containers. Other times, I create a Japanese-inspired fruit Bento Box of sliced fruits with almond butter and honey on a side.

Tofu Marinated tofu, sliced in wedges

If there was only one thing I had to disclose about my kids, it would be the fact that they are tofu and cheese addicts. My husband, who cannot live without cheese, and me, whose favorite meat is tofu, take full blame for our kids addiction.

I started experimenting with tofu when I learned that Jacob was allergic to all things dairy. But even after overcoming the allergy, tofu and cheese remain mutually substitutable delicacies in our family. If it was up to the kids, they’d eat tofu 24-7; raw, baked, or sautéed.

Unfortunately, this protein-rich soy product is not very healthy in large quantities, so I try to portion my kids’ tofu intake. Once in a while, I slice up some baked tofu and either use it in a sandwich with veggies on a side, or cube it into bite size pieces.

Prepared in Advance Snacks

HomemadeChips Sweet-potato homemade chips

Up until last week, I was proud to say that my kids have never tried store-bought potato chips. (Oh, how much I wish to be able to make the same statement long after the school year begins.) I have made my own home-made chips before and they taste pretty darn good. Loaded with vitamins, healthy carbs and fiber – they are a great snack when prepared in advance. I store them in an air-tight container to keep them fresh and crispy.

Hummus Hummus with sliced vegetables

If you’ve ever made hummus at home, you know how delicious it is; it tastes 100% better than any hummus you buy at the store! The recipe that I make was published in Vegetarian Times, but it originally came from the Bedouins and tastes very authentic. A great way to get some extra fiber and protein into my kids, I package it with sliced raw vegetables, such as celery, cauliflower, broccoli, green pepper, green beans, or cucumbers. Everyone is happy!

Drinks

Milk Horizon Organic Reduced Fat Milk
Kefir Kefir ProBugs

The colorful single-serve pouches caught my attention one day as I was browsing the isles of the local Whole Foods. I bought one of each flavor and, after a mini tasting party, my kids got hooked on two flavors: the Goo Berry Pie and Strawnana Split.

GoodBelly Good Belly Juice

A few years ago, I received a promotion for a new product, called Good Belly Juice. The list of probiotics and vitamins sounded impressive and so I bought a 4-pack to try. Although I am reluctant to give my kids any juice on regular basis, this is now the only juice product that I let them drink at school, sparely.

Water Water (yes, plain old water)

I am lucky to be able to get away with sending my kids to school with water rather than juice. I have my kids pick out a new reusable water bottle every year, which makes them super excited. Sometimes, by special requests, I make “lemonade” for them by adding a few drops of lemon juice to their water (but no sugar, of course).

Lunches

Milk Quesadillas

Mika and Jacob love cheese quesadillas; a combination of grilled cheese and soft tortillas always appeals to them. So, when they open their lunch boxes at school and see freshly made quesadillas, they buzz my ears with excitement in the evening… To infuse their quesadillas with vitamin power, I often sneak a few extra vegetables in, such as mushrooms and sautéed onion or olives and grilled bell peppers.

Kefir Sandwiches

Great Britain is still on my kids’ vacation wish list, but English tea sandwiches often make their way into their lunch boxes: cucumber/goat cheese on spelt bread, smoked salmon/cream cheese on wheat bagels or, their new favorite, almond butter/honey/banana/cranberries on a whole wheat bread.

Water Wraps and Rolls

Great thing about wraps and rolls is that you can make them in advance and they don’t take up too much prep time in the morning. A perfect wrap is the one that is made with sundried tomato tortilla, whipped low-fat cream cheese, a few salad leaves, and smoked salmon with fresh chives.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya August 27, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Love this post – thanks Faina! I am always searching for new snack ideas for the kids, and just as you we are now looking at twice the amount. Will sure look for these – are they mostly at Whole Foods?

Faina August 30, 2010 at 5:10 AM

Tanya, some are available at Whole Foods; others are easier to order on Amazon (choose their subscribe and Save feature)

Nicole Feliciano September 1, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Amazing list. Thanks so much for sharing. And here’s a clipable guide from the Momtrends files:

http://momtrends.blogspot.com/2010/08/lunch-box-planning.html

Faina September 1, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Thank you for your kind words

Irene September 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM

LOVE this post!! I have printed it out and use as part of my shopping list, totally helpful (and I don’t have to wonder the isles as much). thanks!!

Faina September 8, 2010 at 8:17 PM

That is fantastic – I am so glad that the list helps you make healthy choices at the supermarket! Looking forward to more of your comments!

Dafna Adler September 20, 2010 at 1:38 AM

Have you ever had Somersaults? This is a snack that I discovered at Peet’s Coffee actually, and they carry them at Whole Foods. They are small snack-bites made of seeds and grains– no eggs or nuts! They are like my favorite new snack!! Can Jacob have seeds? If so, I think these would be a great snack for the kids– they really are delicious and don’t taste “healthy”. :)

Cucee Sprouts September 20, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Dafna, I have never even heard of Samersaults – I will check them out. Are they anything like the sesame seeds with honey treats that are sold at Middle Eastern stores?

Dafna Adler September 29, 2010 at 10:44 PM

No, nothing like those at all. They are not Middle Eastern in any way, but totally addictive and delicious!! :)

Andi - Lunch It Punch It January 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

my friends and I just started a blog about packing lunches targeted at adults so I’ve been on the hunt for posts about lunches, snacks and everything related, but I’ve found articles/posts about kids lunches to be very helpful, too. Thanks for writing this we might link to it.

lunch ideas for high schoolers January 10, 2013 at 6:09 PM

You need to take part in a contest for one of the best websites on the net.
I most certainly will highly recommend this website!

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