What’s the best way to get organised when it comes to school lunches? Create a winter menu planner to make sure you are mixing it up and keeping things interesting so that little tummies will be tempted come lunchtime! Sandwiches are fine but kids get bored of them quickly so keep a rotation of meals going. A wide variety of foods ensures your kids get a great range of nutrients too. Vegie muffins, chicken wraps, meatballs and pasta with a home-made tomato sauce, spinach and feta slice, salmon quiches and falafel are all great, hearty choices and most of them can be made in advance in batches on the weekend and freeze well.
Is presentation important? Yes, definitely! I love to use bento-style lunchboxes because they are so appealing to little kids and you don’t need to use packaging. If the food you are offering your child comes in a package, remove the wrappers before packing them in the lunchbox. If kids grow up being used to seeing everything in brightly packaged wrappers they will favour it over home-made stuff. So for example, if they like cheese sticks, buy a block of good-quality cheddar and slice or cube it, or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes.
What foods help ward off colds and flus over winter? Choose immune-boosting foods such as eggs, salmon, chia seeds, avocado, sweet potato, grass-fed beef and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Soups are wonderfully warming and perfect for the winter months. Swapping out normal stock for a nourishing bone broth is a great way to boost immune systems.
Do certain foods help kids concentrate better? Yes, brain-boosting foods help increase your child’s concentration and stabilise blood sugar levels. Omega 3s are fantastic for this, which includes oily fish such as salmon, eggs, chia seeds and grass-fed beef.
How do you coax fussy eaters to eat their lunch? Get your child to help prepare their lunchbox with you and give them choices. Do they want carrot and cucumber sticks or cherry tomatoes? Encourage them to try one new veggie along with their firm favourites every week. Help them prepare the veggie muffins for school – it’s a great baking activity to do with them. Kids are always much more likely to eat something they’ve helped make or prepare.
What does a balanced lunchbox look like? Key elements in a balanced lunchbox include a protein such as lean meat, beans or cheese, a complex carb such as starchy vegetables, rice or quinoa, healthy fats such as avocado, and of course fresh fruit and vegies.
What about treats? Treats are fine in moderation but avoid putting treats into lunchboxes every single day. If you want to send something extra delicious to school, try a healthy banana bread, home-made Anzac biscuits or our delicious Wholesome Child Black Bean Brownies – which I’ve shared below!
This is my go-to chocolate treat for my kids and their friends when they have playdates and the mums often indulge too. It’s hard to believe that the base of this chocolatey goodness is made from black beans making them high in folate and a good source of iron and fibre.
Prep Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 25-30 min
Servings: 16 mini brownies (approx)
400g Black Beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp coconut oil, plus a little more for coating the baking dish
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
2 tbsp carob powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp vanilla powder or extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2-3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 Preheat oven to 160 C.
2 Grease a small square baking dish with coconut oil.
3 Place all the ingredients in a blender and process at a high speed until smooth.
4 Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
5 Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check after 25 minutes by sliding a knife into the brownie. If it comes away clean, the brownies are ready.
serving and storage: Allow to cool before cutting into little squares. Serve with coconut cream and fresh strawberries for a dessert treat.
TIP: These brownies may be a treat, but they’re also a protein-packed addition to lunch boxes.
Can you also tell us about your new book Wholesome Child? The Wholesome Child is part cookbook, part nutrition guide and part menu-planner. It has everything you need to feed your family well, including more than 120 delicious, nutritious recipes, a handy menu planner and a comprehensive, easy to follow eight-step nutrition plan. The book has been decades in the making and includes a wealth of tips and knowledge. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of clients and the same questions crop up over and over such as “how can I get my kids to eat more vegies?” “do supplements really work?” and “how do I convince a fussy eater to try new things?” – this book addresses all these hard questions and so much more.
CLICK HERE to pre-order the Wholesome Child book
+ there’s a fab early bird special on the e-book for just $15 but copies are limited so get in quick!