Saturday, August 27, 2011

"So, what's a couple of bites like you doing out so late, eh?"

It may be a bit of a stretch as far as craftiness, but took no extra time to prepare.  This is a great 'whole wheat' shark, splashing up over waves of green pepper.  Of course I get a, "Mom!  I only like red peppers!"  I thought the green pepper would look more oceanic.

How perfect would gold fish crackers go as a little side snack {adding to grocery list}?  My nephew loves these little Nemo gummy snacks (now I totally have to re-do this lunch idea)!

I was informed the teachers have the children take at least a few bites of each item packed in their lunch, hence my guy's concern over the green versus red pepper.  Way to go teachers!!  Now, how can I take advantage of this new knowledge?

The shark is simply a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I used a paring knife to skillfully (yeah, right) cut big-sharp teeth, and black olives for his dark, ready to feed on prey, eyes.  His name's BRUCE!

Monday, August 22, 2011

This Little Piggy Went to the Farmer's Market

My five-year-old first thought these pretty piggy rice balls were cupcakes.  I'm glad I was able to break the news early, that his main course is not going to be a dessert!  Though slightly disappointed, he was still excited about taking a 3D lunch in to school today.

The rice balls are so fun and easy to make.  Most of the prep work can be done the night before.  You'll want to cook the rice ahead of time to save time in the morning.  The goal was to cook the rice with red cabbage to enhance the color.  That didn't work out as planned.  I think I needed to add a lot more than just a couple leaves to the rice cooker.  I added a drop of red food coloring to the warm rice.  I wouldn't usually use food coloring but I didn't have beets or beet juice on hand which I think would have worked well.

Once the rice has cooled completely, wet your fingers, take a scoop, then roll into balls.  Wrap the balls in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to assemble, you can poke a finger to make an indentation to hide a savory filling such as mashed black beans or a diced vegetable.  I used a plastic straw to cut out round shapes of American cheese for the snout and ears.  I used black sesame seeds for the eyes and nostrils.

My enthusiasm for our area Farmers' Markets has rubbed off a bit on my children.  They look forward to shopping outside.  It's fun for them to try samples and I ask them to help make decisions on how many ears of corn and apples they think we'll need this week.  Allowing them to be involved with meal planning can sometimes result in 'cleaner' plates. 

I don't have the time or creativity for these entertaining lunches every day, but their reactions sure are priceless and I know I have limited time before I completely embarrass them to death.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School. Already???

You can put together a healthy lunch for your kids in no time.  With the first day of school around the corner, here's a quick list of ideas to get you started!

This is peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, raisins, celery, fresh kiwi and a few chocolate kisses (it's the first day back)!
I try to include fresh sliced fruit (apple, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, blueberries, grapes)
And a 'vegetable' or something close (sliced cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, celery)

One of the greatest gifts we can give children, besides unconditional love, undivided attention, incredible tolerance and patience, warm clothes, shelter, and education IS healthy meals.  I am not a dietitian or nutritionist nor does my formal education include health and wellness.  I am a full-time working mom and wife trying my best to keep my family happy and healthy.  I feel good when I eat whole foods.  My mind and body function better with a healthy diet.  While my kids are still growing, and while I still have some control over their food choices, my goal is to instill healthy eating habits that will hopefully stay with them into adulthood.

Understandably, kids are typically picky eaters.  Never imagined putting a vegetable in their lunch before?  Why not?  Try mixed vegetables or canned corn.  Chances are a child will gravitate towards certain vegetables, eventually, depending on where they come from (a can, the freezer, fresh out of the garden) and how they are prepared (sauteed in butter, blanched, roasted, raw or mashed).

This meal, to me, is important.  First, because I'm not around to monitor the situation.  Second, don't stress about three square meals every day.  If my kids eat a solid vegetable, a real fruit (fallen from a tree, not in juice form) and a whole grain once a day or every other day, I'm proud of that.  Third, the day care and school afternoon snacks provided, often include candy and Cheetos (the HORROR!) so I know my kids are not being deprived of sugar and fat and all that makes us excited.

Obviously, it may be easier to pack a healthy lunch if children are already accustomed to eating those foods.  With parents setting an example at home, cooking meals with fresh ingredients, kids are more likely to mimic those actions.  It's never too late to change!  Even small changes over time will benefit your family's health, budget, and waistline.

This is alphabet pasta with red bell peppers, feta and black olives.  It's dressed with a lemon vinaigrette along with red seedless grapes and organic alphabet cinnamon cookies to keep with the theme!