Packing a healthy school or work lunch can be a feat to accomplish without additives, which can negatively affect learning, behavior, and energy level. Creating a healthy food option that is nutrient dense without harmful fillers may be time consuming, yet well worth the effort. There are some basic rules to be followed for the health of your children and yourself:
Vegetables: Choosing fresh, snackable options with bite-size pieces and sticks to make them easier for dipping in homemade dips, hummus, or guacamole. Raw avocado is an easy and great source of healthy fats.
Fruit: Slice into wedges, bite-size cubes, rings, or other creative ways. If the fruit has a tendency to brown, sprinkle a bit of fresh lemon juice to prevent it. Combine it with nut butters for an added amount of protein and omega-3 fats. A good choices are almond, sunflower, cashew, and organic peanut. Fruit salad is a great way to combine variety of fruit. Making homemade sauces from apples, peaches, or pumpkins in a slow cooker is a good option without added sweeteners or fillers. Dried fruits, fruit leathers, and freeze dried fruits are also good tasty treats without added colors, sweeteners, and oils.
Eggs: Hard-boiling and peeling the eggs days in advance is convenient and easy to prepare.
Nuts and seeds: With the shell make for a great snack. Shelled can be great on top of salads and in trail mixes. Great options are pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds, macadamia nuts, walnuts, and more.
Homemade chips & crackers: Baked or dehydrated versions can be made from vegetables (such as zucchini, kale, corn and potatoes), flax seed, and grain-free crackers. They are great for dipping. Homemade organic popcorn is a great way to mix up the varieties.
Homemade snacks: Granola, granola bars, trail mixes, cookies, or muffins can be made with a variety of gluten-free flour, fresh or dried fruit or vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
Salads: Great variety of cold leafy, pasta, quinoa, or bean salads can be prepared ahead of time with homemade dressings of olive oil, spices, apple cider or balsamic vinegar. Incorporating nuts, seeds, and dried fruit makes for interesting alternatives.
Smoothies: Making homemade smoothies and freezing them, so that by lunch time, they would be defrosted and thawed without losing vital nutrients.
Stay hydrated! Make sure to keep water and occasional organic juice in the lunch box for the duration of the meal and throughout the day.
Do you have more suggestions of nutrient-dense, additive-free foods and snack? Please share in the comments below.
Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana
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