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5 Easy Weeknight Meals: Your 7 Day Family Jump Start!

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5 MORE Healthy Camp Lunch Ideas

Here are 5 MORE great ideas for easy, healthy camp lunches this summer! These are based on the feedback and additional questions I got from last week’s 5 Fun and Healthy Camp Lunch Ideas post.

The big follow up question: What about protein?
1-I was surprised but some people still haven’t heard about sunflower seed butter. This is a great alternative to peanut butter, particularly when school or camp is completely nut (not just peanut) free. Dr Praeger’s Sunwiches are a healthy, whole wheat, no peanut version of the super processed white bread pb and js found in the freezer section. I’ve also found sunflower seed butter mixed with maple syrup. Delish!

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Bonus fun idea – Don’t forget to add the little touches to your child’s lunch. Especially before they can read well, who needs a love note when you send a love pepper?! Just cut down from the top and pare where needed to shape the pepper into a heart. You can also cut the bottom off for a flower affect.

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If your child”s lunch needs to be completely SEED free…well, you have my sympathies. That is tough. That also eliminates my suggested option below: 2 – hummus (Chickpeas okay. Tahini made from sesame seeds not ok.) Kids love to dip. Actually, I put half a pita in this lunch too. There’s a choice then to dip or stuff. The salad works very well to stuff into the pita with hummus. Some kids might enjoy adding diced veggies or cucumber rounds to their sandwich. If it’s too hard to stuff, they can just use each half of the pita like pieces of bread and make a sandwich. Just try for whole wheat and watch out for dough conditioners and preservatives.

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In all seriousness, if your child’s lunch also needs to be seed free, I do have more than sympathy for you. I have three ideas to provide plant-based protein in a seed-free and nut-free lunch.

3 – Simply make your own hummus and skip the tahini. Play with seasonings to find what works for you. Add pita, veggies and salad.

4 – White bean dip can be made with a number of herbs and spices, depending on your child’s likes and dislikes. Think lemon, basil, cilantro or smoked paprika.

5 – Mix 1 small jar salsa with 1 can drained and rinsed black beans. Blend with an immersion blender, regular blender or small food processor. Add tortilla chips (organic of course!) and veggies to dip.

Looking forward to hearing your ideas and seeing pictures of your results over on my Facebook page!

5 Fun and healthy camp lunch ideas

It’s that time of year. Camp.

(See my previous post: 7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp. Next post: 5 MORE ideas for healthy camp lunches)

Brown Bag

The drudgery of waking up every morning and getting your kids out the door to school, is usually replaced with the drudgery of getting your kids up every morning (albeit a bit later) and getting them out the door to camp. In fact, I can’t figure out why I can wake up my kids 30-45 minutes later than usual for our 30-45 minute later arrival, but I can’t manage to do everything I need to, even with that additional time.

Perhaps it’s because prep for each day is a bit different. Tuesdays and Thursdays they have a field trip needing a camp t shirt and all disposable lunch. The other days the kids need bathing suits, towels, sun screen and perhaps water shoes and goggles for water play or pool time.

What are the usual ways to make mornings go smoothly? Prep ahead of course. Pick out clothes and pack lunches. Easier said than done! At night I’m so busy unpacking lunches and pool clothes, perhaps packing up dinner and new bathing suits and towels for a late afternoon/early evening trip to the pool, that by the time we’re home, fed, and bathed, I can’t even remember that I intended to prep for the next day. It’s all I can do to make sure there are clean clothes and towels available.

At the Beach

I don’t like to pack lunches the night before because some things don’t taste as good prepared too far ahead of time. Sandwiches get soggy, cucumber spears become bitter. Some food is supposed to be warm, some room temp and others cold. How to combine them all in one bag in the fridge? Forget it. I spend less time just making lunch in the morning. However, I’ve found that while I’m waiting to wake the kids up later, I’m not making their breakfasts or packing their lunches because I don’t know what they want (This is a restaurant, right? ;)- ).

So my biggest prep efforts have become taking breakfast and lunch orders for the next day. It doesn’t always happen, but any little bit I can do (or info the kids will give me) helps. I know I should also pick out my own clothes, make sure they pick out theirs, and that the swim bags are ready to go. I think I need to buy stock in beach towels…

Here are some fun ways I try to mix up the daily grind of packing camp lunch:

    1. Color theme day: e.g. Today’s Lunch is brought to you by the color orange.
      Check out this list for inspiration: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/fruit-and-veggie-color-list

      1. Carrots
      2. Peaches
      3. Sweet Potato
      4. Mandarin orange cups
      5. Orange pepper
    2. Letter theme day: e.g. Today’s Lunch is brought to you by the letter P.
      Check out this list for inspiration: http://alphabetobsessed.com/foods-that-start-with-the-letter/

      1. Peaches
      2. Popcorn
      3. Pistachios
      4. Pizza
      5. Peas
    3. Let the kids create their own menu.
      1. Use the above links or a trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market to generate ideas. Depending on their ages, you can even give them each their own clipboard and lined paper to write down several items in each category (main dish, fruit, vegetables, snacks).
        Clipboard
      2. Review what items on their lists you can purchase that week.
      3. Once the food is home, let the kids have fun creating their own menus each day.
      4. Let them then take those menus and pack their own lunches! Depending on age of course, they can pull out the items from the fridge and put them in containers.
    4. Fun containers!
        1. Kids love to dip. Give them a fun container for dip, such as white bean, black bean or hummus. (Our favorite around here is 1 can black beans, 1 can salsa. Blend. Done. Dip. You can pack tortilla chips and veggies for the dip.
          This is too fun!

       

  1. Fun shapes! (see products below)
    1. Cut carrots into “fries” using a fry cutter.
    2. Cut sandwiches into hearts using a cookie cutter.
    3. Create flowers by cutting off the bottoms of bell peppers.
    4. Use fruit and veggie cutters for more fun shapes.

      Animal shape cutters

      Fry knife

      Flower shape cutters

      Also, here is a pack of kid safe knives

Feeding your family well on Shavuos – Simply and Sanely!

The way Shavuot falls this year (10 days from now) we are looking at a three day yuntov. Because of the length and because it starts with Shabbat, I really have to keep my menus simple to maintain my sanity. I encourage you to do the same! You’ll also want to do as much prep ahead of time as possible.

I have two suggestions to simplify your menu.

  1. Make one big dish and supplement it with a side salad and rainbow vegetable platter. For your big main dish, consider my vegan enchilada casserole or vegan gluten-free lasagna. I promise you won’t be able to tell that either dish is gluten-free or sans cheese. In addition, both of these dishes can be put together before Shabbat and yuntov and then baked fresh for lunch. You can also bake them ahead of time and reheat for your meal.

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  1. Another simple strategy is to let your guests customize their own meal. For example, see a previous year’s Shavuot blog with a “make your own” Taco Bar and Jicama Mango Salad. Two other Mexican options include a “make your own” nachos (which you can then bake fresh if you want to melt real or vegan cheese on top) or fajitas.

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Two Italian “make your own” options include pizza and a pasta (try whole grain or bean options) bar. Kids are often a focus on Shavuot. Let them enjoy their lunch and feel like they made their own meal, instead of being told what to eat. You’ll give them a number of healthy choices for toppings, such as baby spinach, sautéed mushrooms, black olives, fresh and roasted peppers, etc…

Here is an easy side salad suggestion from The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook:

Colorful Company Salad

Serves 6-8

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It doesn’t get any easier than this! I’m always looking out for you – easy, healthy and fast! I love this salad and don’t think it even needs dressing. However, feel free to add some if you like. You can also feel free to play around with the proportions of ingredients.

2 cups corn canned, frozen, or fresh cooked corn (cut off the cob)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
1 red pepper, diced
1 mango, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

Combine all ingredients, except for the tomatoes, and stir. Cover the top of the salad with the sliced tomatoes. If you really want to impress your guests, use a mixture of yellow and red grape tomatoes.

Dessert

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For dessert, let the kids make their own chocolate covered strawberries or banana bites. My sis Lani’s fig salad is also always a hit and particularly refreshing after days of heavy dairy foods.

Good yuntov!