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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.

2016-04-18 09.35.12 Substitution is Your Strategy Story JFE forward region

  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!

 

Simple and Tasty! 10 ideas for your Healthy Memorial Day Menu

Hey, Healthy Mama! Whether you are hosting your own shindig or contributing to another one, the Healthy Family, Healthy You blog has all the healthy Memorial Day ideas you need.

Many of these can be used in a couple of different categories, so see where I’ve noted this. Also, many of these recipes are from The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook. What? You don’t have the cookbook? Or The Healthy Mama’s Guide to feeding your family well – simply and sanely? Well, let’s just fix that right quick! Click on the titles to purchase. :)-

Appetizers

Rainbow fruit skewers. I have this listed as a dessert option below, but it is actually better for your digestion to eat fruit BEFORE anything else. Fruit is metabolized much faster than protein and grains (and even vegetables). Therefore, if you eat fruit AFTER your veggie or meat burgers, the fruit will not be able to get through your system as fast as it needs to, causing gas and bloating. Experiment with this and see how you feel. If you let the kids put these together when the party starts, they can busy themselves eating the fruit, instead of potato chips. The key is to keep the chips away until they’ve eaten their fruit so they don’t keep taking handful after handful of chips. This is a good idea for grown-ups too!

Rainbow fruit and veggie platters
My Healthy Mamas know all about my veggie platters! See below for the ones I made for Purim.

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See below for the platter I made for a recent Fruit Funshop at a local preschool. (Do your kids need to have fun with food at camp or preschool? See my workshop page and email me at natasha@healthyfamilyhealthyyou.com for more info!). We also made “lollipops.”

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There are so many ways to display fruits and veggies and provide fun food for your guests (or your host) with very little work. The best way is to let the colorful veggies make the fun for you! See below for a few ideas, including my famous baby cucumber pops. And yes, I know I’m obsessed with rainbows and rainbow food (all naturally colored of course!).

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MAIN DISHES

Collard Veggie Wraps

TASHA’S TIPS: Have large collard leaves available for your Paleo guests who might be eating hamburgers or grilled chicken breast (you know, if you’re into that kind of thing… :)- ) but don’t eat buns… or use them as a healthy (and gluten-free) alternative to a wheat flour based wrap for your veggie option. You can also make smaller wraps as finger food appetizers – or a side veggie.

Stuff your collard leaves with veggies, such as roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms, sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, shredded carrots. Top veggies with vegan mayo, mashed avocado or hummus.

10 Tempting Meal Prep Lunches to Take to Work

Click on the picture for 10 Tempting Meal Prep Lunches to Take to Work from Beachbody.com

TASHA’S TIPS: You have a few healthy options to go along with my recipe for Portabella burgers. You can provide collard leaves (as above) for those who don’t want a bun around their mushroom “burgers.” OR….. (I’m about to blow your mind….) The Portabellas can be used as the “burger” or the bun! Here’s how all of this might look:

  • A hamburger or veggie burger with all the fixins’ inside a collard green wrap.
  • A hamburger or veggie burger where a large mushroom cap acts as the bun – just a bottom bun for an open-faced option, or both top and bottom.
  • Mushroom caps as top and bottom bun with all the fixins’, such as sliced tomato, cucumber, sprouts, spinach, avocado and hummus as the “meat” of the sandwich.
  • The mushroom can be your “burger.” See recipe below.

Portabella Mushroom “Bacon Burgers”
Serves 4

4 Portabella mushroom caps, cooked
4 whole grain hamburger buns (try Ezekiel or other sprouted buns for a new healthy option), toasted
1 tomato, sliced
4 Romaine lettuce leaves
1 package bacon tempeh
1 avocado, sliced
Sauce options: Vegan Mayo, Mustard, Hummus

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Cook mushrooms according to directions on previous page. Warm tempeh bacon according to directions on package.

Place each mushroom on a bun with tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado slice and sauce of your choice: vegan mayo, mustard, or hummus, if desired.

juicy-burger-i-1540447-639x472

 

SIDE DISHES

The veggie wraps above, and/or:

Rainbow veggie skewers

Let the kids put these together. They’ll be very proud of their accomplishment and contribution to the meal/party. It will also keep them busy!

Rainbow Veggie Skewers Recipe | BeachbodyBlog.com

Mom’s Tuna Pasta Salad – Veganized
Serves 6

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Nothing reminds my sister and me of summer like our mom’s tuna pasta salad. And then I remember the guilt. The pasta. The mayo. My mom always puts twice as much mayo as I would into anything and everything that mayo could go into. However, most of the time, I have to admit that it does taste better that way!

Nevertheless, we have our health to think of, so I came up with this alternative. The good news is that since I’ve started to eat a plant-based diet I’m not so afraid of pasta. The same can happen for you!

1 16-ounce box medium sized whole grain shell or elbow shaped pasta (Brown rice pasta works very well)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped yellow pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped shallot (leave out if your kids don’t like onions)
⅔ cup Nayonaise light vegan mayo (or any low fat vegan mayo)
1 29-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, then mashed lightly with a fork
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta as directed. Rinse it with cold water and let it cool to room temp in a large bowl. Combine all vegetables, Nayonaise, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the mix to the larger bowl with the pasta and stir well. Cover and place in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld together for at least an hour.

SALADS

Ginger Corn Salad
Serves 6-8

This simple salad is a no-brainer when you are having company or want to bring a vegetarian dish to a potluck dinner.

3 cups canned, frozen, or fresh cooked corn (off the cob)
1 to 2 Tablespoons (to taste) dehydrated or fresh red onion
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup shelled edamame (fresh, steamed or microwaved from frozen)
Approximately ½ cup “Newman’s Own” bottled sesame ginger salad dressing (or similar)

Mix all ingredients and serve.

OR

Summer Corn Salad

Summer Corn and Tomato Salad

Serves 4-6

A great way to use up summer bounty or inject summer into your winter!

3 cups corn (defrosted frozen, cooked and cut off the stalk; or raw if that’s  what you like!)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Half a large or 1 small avocado, diced
Juice of half to 1 lemon, to taste
Himalayan pink salt

Mix corn, tomatoes and avocado in a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and season with salt to taste. Mix gently. Transfer to serving dish if you like.

Refreshing fruit ideas for DESSERT

My Mother’s Day blog idea for using melons, pineapple or watermelon as your fruit salad vessels.

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and/or

Rainbow fruit skewers. Let the kids make their own. Keep them busy with healthy activities when they’re on shpilkes and don’t want to sit at the table any longer, but you don’t want to get up to watch them outside of your eating area.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend – and don’t forgot that it is about those who serve our country, not just BBQ.