How do I make a healthy school lunch?
In today’s society, kids are programed to like lunches that consist of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a Nutella sandwich. Here is the ingredient list for Nutella: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor.
Where is the nutrition? Plus, that is a lot of refined carbohydrates and straight sugar. However, I completely empathize with the fact that it can be a challenge to take a kid who has tasted these foods and convert them to a healthier way of eating. Trust me though, IT CAN BE DONE!
If I can make it through some of the food flops I have experienced with the pickiest eater I have met, Brynn, you can do it too. Just give yourself grace, breathe in patience, and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. So, a stubborn child may not jump all in to healthy eating all at once. Every small step is one step forward, and ultimately, you want to teach healthy habits for the future.
With school lunches, there is an easy fix to up the nutritional value of their food without much fuss. With the “typical” options, kids love the sweetness and the chocolate flavor. We can definitely play off those flavors and make a delicious, nutritious option.
You will note I gave some optional additions to my chocolate nut butter recipe. The collagen is a great option because nuts do not contain that much protein compared to what kids need, and they need collagen to grow strong bones and teeth anyway. So, sneak it in! I like to add the grass-fed butter because it gives the mixture a frosting type feel, and I like to add it for the fat soluble vitamins and healthy fats. In our culture, we tend to eat too many polyunsaturated fats, but our bodies are made of saturated and monounsaturated. So, I wanted to give a good source of that in a food that kids crave.
- 1 cup natural cashew butter or almond butter
- 2 TBSP raw honey
- 2 TBSP high fat (22-24%) organic cocoa powder
- Optional additions: melted grass-fed butter or grass-fed collagen protein powder
Note: Ideally, you would use sprouted nuts to make freshly ground nut butter. I know that in today’s society, that is not practical for many people. I just wanted to mention it because I think neutralizing the phytic acid is important and gives kids more nutrients.
If you like peanut butter, you can use that. Personally, I am a little nervous with peanut butter due to the high levels of aflatoxins known to be present. Most importantly, read the labels and avoid ones with sugar, corn syrup, additives, and hydrogenated oils. Here is a good article about better brands.
- Heat nut butter up in the microwave for 20-30 seconds just to soften it.
- Mix in the raw honey and cocoa powder. If you would like to mix in some grass-fed butter or collagen to up the nutritional value, you can mix those in too.
- Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
- For lunches, I make a batch of this nut butter with gluten-free bread and make about 10 sandwiches. I put each sandwich in a sandwich bag and place them all in the freezer. Then, each morning, you or your child can grab one to throw into a lunch bag. Got to love anything that saves time in the morning!