Now that the gardens are ripe for harvest, it is time to start your fall meal planning and create healthy lunches and dinners for yourself and your kids. Set a goal to feed your kids real food for two weeks and see how easy it is, not to mention how much better they feel! Say no to processed foods, laden with nitrates (and a proven cause of cancer). The fact is your meals are tastier and healthier if you prepare them at home – and it is not difficult if you have a plan and get yourself organized. Here are some tips to get you started in preparing tasty and nutritious meals this Fall for your kids.
Buy lots of seeds like chia, hemp, sunflower, and pumpkin! Make sure you store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Buy in bulk to save money. You can add seeds to smoothies, muffins, salads, hot cereals, cookies and puddings to name just a few options!
Keep your refrigerator stocked with fresh vegetables. Wash and cut up carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers. Try to buy organic where possible, especially with those veggies high in pesticides, like the ones mentioned in the Dirty Dozen list. If you can’t buy organic, purchase vegetables and fruits from the Clean 15 list! Also, keep lots of fruit on hand. Grapes, apples, pears and bananas make for tasty treats. Serve the fruit with a handful of nuts or seeds, or slice them to dip in nut and seed butter. The protein will sustain them much longer then them just having an apple!
If your kids are insistent that they have a cookie in their lunch box, make your own! I make chocolate chip cookies and add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Substitute half the butter for coconut oil and decrease the sugar by over half (or you could add a natural sugar substitute like xylitol and stevia which are low on the glycemic index). Homemade cookies are tastier and healthier because you know what is in them. Experiment with different nuts, seeds and grains to add even more health benefits. When I whip up a batch of muffins I will sweeten with banana and some maple syrup, substitute coconut oil for canola oil and always add seeds; and, I often add some canned pumpkin for extra Vitamin A. I recently have been throwing in some cooked quinoi and the muffins are moist and delicious. Of course to make them special and more appealing to teenage boys, a few chocolate chips are a tall order!
To make life easy, get a crockpot. Before heading to bed, I often throw a small chicken in the pot with some water, seasonings and an onion, and when I get out of bed in the morning I have ready made sandwich meat for wraps, or to throw in salads for the next day’s lunches. For another protein source that will also offer healthy doses of fiber, stock up on canned beans (or if you have the time, cook your own) and plan meals – black beans for wraps, chick peas for hummus, and lentils for soup.
When the oven is on, toss together cut up onions, garlic, butternut squash, and peppers with some olive oil and roast in 400 degree oven. These are great in salads and in pasta dishes, and delicious on homemade pizza.
Try out these simple lunch and snack ideas and stay tuned for more recipes and meal planning tips in upcoming posts!