Now that summer’s nearly over and the kids are heading back to school, it’s easy to feel a bit intimidated by how you’re going to approach keeping their food on the healthy side, especially since many schools offer lunch programs with a lot left to be desired. No need to feel you’ll have to default to buying junky, processed foods because there’s a cartoon on the box or you don’t have time to cook. Why would you want your kids to put corn syrup, hydrogenated oils or artificial anything in their little bodies?
With a little planning, you can easily create paleo-friendly meals and snacks that not only your kids will enjoy, their friends may try and convince them to swap for their not-so-tasty brown bagged items. Get a thermal tote with an ice pack and try the following easy combos:
- Sliced turkey, an apple and some raw walnuts
- Cubed chicken breast, chilled steamed broccoli and an orange
- Fresh berries tossed in olive oil with a chopped hard boiled egg
- Leftover roast beef with spinach leaves, grapes & avocado
These are just a small sample of what you can put together in a few minutes time, place into a friendly-plastic container, add the ice pack, arrange everything in the tote and send them on their way!
Another great lunchbox or after-school snack option is homemade trail mix, emphasizing the homemade part. Unfortunately, many commercially available options include common allergens such as peanuts, peanut oil, soybean oil and milk as well as corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and candy pieces. While there are online sources that you might rely on, it’s actually quite simple (and cost effective) to make your own.
Simply purchase a combination of your favorite nuts, toss them with a bit of coconut oil (and add some of your favorite salt-free spices, if you like, as well) and toast them at 400 for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Keep in mind that walnuts and macadamia nuts have the best omega 3:6 ratios (3s being the good, anti inflammatory fats; 6s being inflammatory), while almonds contain almost none of the healthy omega 3s*!
*To clarify: this does not mean you cannot eat them, just that you should do so in small amounts and keeping in mind the need to balance out the fats with other sources. For example, after the nuts have cooled, toss them with a bit of freshly ground flax seeds, to help bring the mixture closer to a favorable omega 3:6 ratio.
Nell Stephenson, the original “Paleoista,” is the author of Paleoista, Gain Energy, Get Lean and Feel Fabulous with the Diet You Were Born to Eat (Touchstone, 2012) and co-author of The Paleo Diet Cookbook with Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD (Wiley & Sons, 2010). In addition to her work as nutrition consultant and trained chef, Stephenson is a personal trainer and competitive endurance athlete who credits the Paleo diet for her transformed health and athletic success. Visit her blog at www.paleoista.com.