April 20, 2012 by CassieCravings
“Healthy” can be such a charged word these days. The concept is subjective. Many time it’s self-promoting, both in advertising and in personal lifestyle.
After that spill, it’s proving a little difficult to transition into my own view of “healthy” without sounding…well, self-promoting. So, look at this cute picture of Baby Eli!
Whew! Transition averted.
Michael Pollan uses a 7 word mantra to illustrate his position on healthy eating: Eat food.Not too much.Mostly plants. Beyond those 7 words, I look for minimally processed, mostly natural and as much organic as possible.
Pairing healthy and easy can be a challenge. I have found the key to such a mix is preparation. If a recipe calls for 1 bell pepper then take the time to cut an extra 1 into strips to pack for a lunch or snack.
I, personally, prepare the night before. Find a routine that will be successful for you. You may prefer to pack several lunches in one evening, or you may have the where-with-all to process lunch packing in the early morning hours. Waiting until the morning is a recipe for lunch disaster for me. In my half-sleep, pre-caffeine stupor, I will grab what is most convenient, pre-packaged and non-fresh.
The key to healthy lunches is preparation, and the key to preparation is finding what works best for you.
This list of lunches have been geared towards 2-year-old Baby Eli. These lunches can be tailored to your particular family’s lifestyle, likes/dislikes and ages.
whole wheat quesadilla, cherub tomatoes,lentils, sliced strawberries
A whole wheat tortilla is a great vehicle for cramming veggies, proteins and calcium rich cheeses. When introducing new veggies and foods, quesadillas can be a fun and non-threatening method.
Baby Eli’s favorite quesadilla combo is grilled chicken, bell pepper, tomato, shredded baby spinach and cheese (He doesn’t care what kind it is as long as it’s the color orange.).
grilled chicken (cubed), steamed broccoli and brown rice
This falls into the leftovers category. Leftovers are a spectacular and easy way to prepare lunch for the next day. While this particular lunch may seem boringly healthy, it has all of Eli’s favorites. If broccoli isn’t your thing, try a baked butternut squash or some roasted veggies.
I like to make a large pot of brown rice that will last a few days. Brown rice can go as a side, under a stir fry or in a soup. It’s versatile and holds up well as leftovers.
turkey “roll up”, cucumber slices, tomatoes and a banana
To freshen up the traditional sandwich, roll it into a whole wheat tortilla. Again, the tortilla is a great vehicle for veggies and trying new things. Serve the roll up with plain greek yogurt for dipping.
This chili is a great break from the bread, protein, side of veggie routine. Make it the night before for dinner, and pack it the next day for an easy, warm and filling lunch.
classic peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread, bell pepper strips and berries
Nothing is more comforting that a peanut butter sandwich. All natural and organic peanut/cashew/almond butters are becoming easier to find in main-stream markets. “Natural” is the new buzz word. Check the label to guarantee that you are getting a natural product that meets your standards.
Baby Eli is content with only peanut butter. If you want to sweeten yours up, then add a drizzle of honey and strawberry slices for added texture.
Strips of bell pepper are one of Eli’s and my favorite snacks. They are crispy, refreshing and fun to eat.
**Please note that peanuts are a high-risk allergy food. It is recommended that you do not introduce peanut products until the age of three.
When planning healthy lunches for your family:
look for balance between whole grains, proteins, calcium and produce.
Ask yourself, “Where can I cram more veggies?”
Be creative. Kids eat with their eyes. Use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes in sandwiches. Use produce to add color and interest to the plate.