Healthy lunch box ideas for school children

It’s hard to believe the summer is officially over now the children are back to school. A summer of glorious sunshine, an outdoor lifestyle to keep the young ones entertained, sure we can’t complain! But often with summer holidays the healthy regimes tend to go by the wayside, so it’s time now to get into health mode again as we change into the Autumn season.

So why not start with preparing some nutritious immune boosting meals for your school children’s lunch box.

The foods to concentrate on in your school-age child’s diet are:

  • protein
  • complex carbohydrates and fibre
  • and plenty of antioxidants.

All of which will help to maintain an even blood sugar level to help with concentration & mood, and to sustain energy levels throughout the day. This will also help to boost immune function, preventing colds and germs from developing and spreading to all in sundry!

One week of easy, healthy lunch box ideas

Monday: Wholemeal pitta pocket with hummus (see recipe below) and cucumber. Carrot stick. Snack bar (see recipe below). Water bottle.
Tuesday: Chicken, basil, sweetcorn and peas mixed with flaxseed oil and wholegrain pasta. Water bottle.
Wednesday: Couscous salad (see recipe below). Flapjack, banana. Water bottle.
Thursday: Wholemeal baguette chunk filled with mashed egg, grated cheese and salad (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, grated carrot). Tub of favourite fruit pieces. Water bottle.
Friday: Salad (as above) with chopped turkey, olive oil dressing, and 1 or 2 slices of wholegrain McAmbridges bread on the side. Plain live organic yoghurt with berries added. Water bottle.

Note: I have opted for water above as opposed to milk and suggest including a glass of milk with breakfast instead, as it has protein. As the school day is a long one its best to start the day with a good amount of protein e.g. milk (if there are no food allergies or intolerances to it) and a good breakfast like boiled egg on toast, peanut/almond butter on toast, porridge with some grounds seeds or oatabix/wheatabix and milk. If you include milk at lunchtime you may run the risk of your child being too full and not eating the essential nutrients they will get from their lunch box. If you want them to have another glass of milk save it for when they get home from school & include with a healthy snack.

Unsweetened pure fruit juice is another healthy drink option to have occasionally, just make sure it is diluted with plenty of water (1 part juice to 4-5 parts water).

Hummus (serves 2 adults, 2 children)
 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
 1 tin cooked chickpeas (no sugar, no salt variety)
 2 cloves garlic, peeled
 1 tablespoon light tahini
 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
In a pestle and mortar, grind up the cumin seeds to a fine powder. Put all the ingredients in a liquidiser or food processor and whizz up together until smooth. Drizzle a little more olive oil if it is too thick.

Serve with cucumber/carrot/celery sticks or strips of red and yellow peppers, pitta bread fingers or plain tortilla chips.

Pineapple and grape sticks
You’ll need
 a packet of cocktail sticks
 two slices of pineapples into chunks
 a handful of seedless grapes

Put a grape and a chunk of pineapple on a cocktail stick and arrange several on a plate.

Roasted nut and vegetable couscous
(always good to have a vegetarian option and include at least once a week, this is packed full of all-important essential fatty acids)

Serves 2 adults and 2 children
 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
 4 courgettes
 5 small aubergines
 1 red pepper
 1 green pepper
 2 red onions, peeled
 4 cloves garlic, peeled
 3-4 fresh cherry tomatoes
 A hanful of basil
 2 portions of cooked couscous
 1 litre stock made from low-salt Marigold swiss vegetable bouillon powder
 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
 A handful chopped parsley
 2 handfuls chopped walnuts or cashews or sunflower and pumpkin seeds, lightly roasted.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C/425 degrees F/Gas 7. Chop the vegetables but leave the garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes whole. Place on a baking tray, scatter with shredded basil and cover lightly with olive oil. Bake for 1 hour until brown around the edges and sticky. Soak the couscous in the hot vegetable stock for 5 minutes, then drain and pile in a large flat serving dish. Add the poppy seeds and parsley for colour. Pile the vegetables on top, and sprinkle with the roasted nuts and seeds over the top of everything.

Healthy snack bar
Ingredients:
• 100g jumbo oats
• 50g quinoa flakes
• 100g sultanas (or 50g sultanas, 50g goji berries)
• 30g unsulphured apricots
• 30g desiccated coconut
• 50g each of sunflower, sesame, pumpkin seeds
• 1 banana and/ or 1 punnet raspberries (or any other berries) OR 4 tablespoons apple concentrate

Quinoa flakes, unsulphured apricots, desiccated coconut all available from your local health food store.

Method:
1. Soak the fruit in boiling water for approx 20-30 mins, drain
2. Mix jumbo oats and quinoa flakes together
3. Blend seeds in a blender, add millet/rice/jumbo oats, quinoa flakes, desiccated coconut, drained fruit and continue to blend until mixture is firmish
4. Add fruit or apple concentrate and combine for 30 more secs. Press onto greaseproof paper lined baking tray and place in oven for 20 mins at 180c until lightly golden
5. Cool and store in airtight container. If fresh fruit used – store container in the fridge.

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