Healthy lunch choices… salads with sass!
Coming up with healthy lunch choices for the kids is not always easy… particularly on school days, when the conventional lunch choices are packaged and processed, with little nutritional content!
In fact, good old SALADS are a slightly “unconventional” school lunch idea you might not have even considered.
But your kids CAN have them, and love them too – if you choose the right ones to suit their taste!
It’s time to ditch the processed (not to mention expensive) junk that has become the accepted norm for lunches for little people… and get our kids happy and healthy again!
THE NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF SALADS IS TOTALLY UNDERESTIMATED!
They are overlooked as watery appetizers or sides, when in fact, they can be very nutritious and complete meals on their own.
Your kids can’t get bored of salads, when there are so many different types you can make… they come in all colors of the rainbow! Since technically a “salad” is any dish made of cut up raw vegetables, you can get pretty creative. Who said it had to be just vegetables, or lettuce?
A flavourful, filling, and nutritious salad makes a beautiful healthy lunch choice – and we’re not talking watery lettuce and ranch dressing here!
To keep your kids energized, a scrumptiously super salad should include sprouts, seeds or yummy nuts.
Make it big, colorful and fresh looking to entice your kids. It also helps if you let them pour their own salad dressing (pack it in a little container in the lunch box), so that the salad is not soggy or “gross” looking. Visual appeal is veryimportant to kids when it comes to food.
Remember: When packing a salad to go, ALWAYS PACK THE DRESSING SEPARATELY.
Otherwise the salad will look like a sorry soggy mess when your child opens it at lunchtime, and it will come back to your kitchen uneaten!
THE KEY TO A HEALTHY AND BALANCED SALAD IS PICKING THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS!
Trade iceberg and romaine lettuce for more nutritious leaves.
Watery lettuce will leave your kids feeling still hungry after their salad. Try baby greens, spinach, spicy arugula, sprouts or fresh herbs like parsley, basil or dill weed.
If – up to now – you’ve ONLY given your kids the more typical iceberg/romaine lettuce and they seem reluctant to try new leaves or find the new flavors overwhelming, then make the switch gradually.
Start off by sneaking a few of the ‘new’ leaves in with whatever salad leaves your children are used to – then slowly phase out the less nutritious leaves and increase the amount of the good ones! (You can also do this with any of our simple salad recipes below).
Use as many organic ingredients as possible, in any healthy lunch choice you make.
Include a protein source – and whilst this can mean meat, it doesn’t have to! Consider plant-based protein sources such as alfalfa sprouts, sunflower seeds, almond slivers, pine nuts, or even some cooked pulses like chickpeas, lentils, or sweet peas. Mmm!
Make your own salad dressing and store it in the fridge
Store bought salad dressings tend to contain undesirable ingredients like sugar, excessive salt and preservatives.
The easiest garnish for any healthy lunch choice is some olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. You can change things up a little by substituting olive oil for other healthy oils such as flax seed oil, or coconut oil (which adds a truly lovely flavor!).
HEALTHY LUNCH CHOICES – SIMPLE SALAD RECIPES!
Here are some easy peasy salad recipes to help you make healthy lunch choices for your children. For some kids, these salads will be sufficient for lunch, but if your children are transitioning (into a healthier lifestyle), then it might help to temporarily include some more dense food to cut their cravings (don’t miss the links at the end of this page for more ideas!).
Some of the following recipes use salt. Himalayan rock salt, dulse flakes, or Celtic sea salt are healthier alternatives to regular salt. I also like seasoning with Braggs Liquid Seasoning (a healthier version of soy sauce). If you have young kids, they will need less salt, in part because their taste-buds are very sensitive but more importantly because excess salt may overload their immature kidneys.
There is no ‘serving’ size suggested for the recipes, because every child eats at a different rate, depending on time of day, activity, mood, body type etc. YOU know your child best!
2 handfuls baby mixed greens
1 cup cherry tomatoes or chopped carrots
1/2 cup pecans
sprinkling of raisins (preferably unsulfured)
For the dressing: whisk together olive oil, lemon, honey or agave syrup, and salt.
Just toss everything together and serve.
SUNFLOWER SPROUT SALAD
Sprouting, (also known as kitchen gardening), is easy to do at home and fun to teach your kids.
1/2 cup chopped leafy greens
1 cup sunflower sprouts
1 or 2 chopped apples
2 or 3 chopped celery stalks
Combine all ingredients with a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and salt. You can trade the greens for something bold like radishes!
SWEET CARROT SALAD
3 grated carrots
3/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
Juice of one orange
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
healthy oil of choice
Whisk the liquid ingredients together with a fork, add the rest and toss.
PARSLEY AND HEMP SEED SALAD
1/2 bunch finely chopped parsley
2 finely chopped tomatoes
1 chopped red pepper or carrot
3/4 cup hemp seeds
Simply toss all ingredients together with an olive oil, lemon and salt dressing.
SWEET PEPPER AND DILL SALAD
This is such a simple salad, but the flavor is wonderful!
3 sliced bell peppers
half a bunch chopped dill weed
1 cup pumpkin seeds
Toss all ingredients with a dressing of your choice.
SPROUT AND AVOCADO SALAD
big handful of baby spinach
1 avocado, cubed (cut the avocado in half, take out the seed, slice the flesh into cubes, then turn the skin inside out or scoop out with a spoon)
chopped celery, carrots, or any favorite vegetable
handful of sprouts (try alfalfa or broccoli)
Mix all ingredients and toss with your favorite dressing.
BEST EVER CABBAGE
shredded cabbage (about 1/3 of a head)
2 grated carrots
a few tablespoons of lemon juice, salt and oil
Serve as a side salad or on its own with cubed avocado.
I hope you’ve been inspired by these healthy lunch choices!
If YOU have some ideas for home made school lunches…
Please click here to share your healthy lunch choices with other parents !