Sunday 19 November 2017

Five easy tips for healthy lunch boxes and breakfasts for your kids

Some healthy tips for tired parents on the go. Stock photo: Getty Images/Hemera
Some healthy tips for tired parents on the go. Stock photo: Getty Images/Hemera
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

School time can be hectic for parents. The very chore of getting children dressed and packed off to school on time can be hard.

No wonder it's hard to think of creative breakfast and lunch ideas for kids.

Motivation Weight Management (MWM) have come up with some healthy tips for tired parents on the go.

Avocados, seeds and super berries will provide kids with Omega 3 fatty acids which are vital for brain development, antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins and minerals.

Sectioned lunch boxes are a great option for keeping lunches fresh and mean you can securely include dips and loose fruits such as grapes and berries too, the advise.

"Don’t forget to send your little person off with a water bottle. Try avoid sugary fruit juices and opt for sugar free cordials instead if they won’t drink plain water."

Here are some recipe ideas for five days for your children:

Monday

Breakfast: Boiled Eggs with Wholegrain Soldiers

Boil eggs as per preference and toast some rye, spelt or whole grain bread. These breads are all lower in sugar than traditional refined white sliced pan and hence release energy in a slow and steady manor following breakfast. The eggs provide protein that is not only important for growth but will keep kids feeling full for longer than a carbohydrate will.

School Lunch: Veggie Goats Cheese Pita, fruit of choice, power ball

Slightly toast a wholegrain pitta bread and spread some hummus, tzatziki or pesto inside, whichever your kids prefer. Next add some roasted red peppers, these can be bought ready to serve in jars from most supermarkets. Crumble in some goats cheese and add some salad leaves. Include a piece of fresh fruit in their lunch box and a small homemade power ball, see the recipe attached.

Chocolate Power Balls

Ingredients

45g steel cut oats

2 tbsp unsweetened peanut butter

6 squares of dark chocolate

1tsp cacao powder

1 1/2 tbsp raw honey

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

4 tsp desiccated coconut

Directions

1. Blend all of the ingredients except the coconut in a food processor until smooth, if the mix is too stiff add a drop more oil, too wet add more oats.

2. Place the mix in the fridge to cool for ten minutes before rolling small balls and dusting with coconut flakes or chopped nuts! These will keep for 3 days in the fridge.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Power Porridge

Cook the oats as normal and portion into bowls.

Next add a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter, 1/2 tsp of cacao power, 1/2 tsp of honey and top with seasonal fruit such as berries and some chopped nuts or seeds of choice, like toasted almonds or pecans.

Serve drizzled with almond milk.

Tip 1: Look for “steel cut” or “raw” oats when shopping for porridge as we want to opt for products that are as little refined as possible.

Tip 2: Nut butters are a great source of protein, healthy fats vitamins and minerals and add a comforting layer to this breakfast.

Lunch: Turkey bagel, red apple, small seed bar

When buying bagels look for wholegrain Bagel Thins, a more lunch box appropriate size that won’t send anyone into a carbohydrate coma. Spread some low fat cream cheese on one half and layer with sliced turkey, a great source of lean protein. Add veggies of choice such as tomato, cucumber or spinach leaves, whatever you know your child likes. Include a piece of fruit in their lunch box and a homemade power ball too.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Homemade granola with natural yoghurt

Homemade granola is super easy and fun to do. Serve as a cereal with milk or topped with low fat no added sugar Greek yoghurt and some fresh fruit.

Homemade Granola

6 cups old-fashioned, rolled oats

1/4 cup raw honey

Juice of one large orange juice

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly to ensure even baking.

3. Spread the granola on the sheets to create a thin layer. Bake for 30 minutes occasionally rotating the baking sheets to avoid burning.

4. Remove from the oven when golden brown and let cool for ten minutes. Add any optional toppings such as coconut flakes or dried fruits and break up with your hands. Store the mixture in a large container with a sealed lid.

Lunch: Spelt bread sandwich, power ball, piece of fruit.

Spelt bread is low in sugar, low in gluten and a great source of fibre. Spelt breads are now widely available in supermarkets and are a great option for kids who won’t eat wholegrain breads as it sits in between white and brown bread. Try avoiding overly processed deli meats such as sliced ham and opt for lean options with more nutritional value. If you roast a chicken for dinner during the week keep some of the meat for sandwich making. Chicken, a light mayonnaise and some salad of choice makes an easy and well balanced filling when paired with spelt bread. Include a power ball and piece of fruit in their lunch box too.

Thursday

Breakfast: Power Smoothie

Super Berry Smoothie, serves 2

Ingredients

Handful of frozen mixed berries

1 banana

2 tbsp low fat no added sugar natural greek yoghurt

200ml fresh orange juice

1 tsp flax seeds

Lunch: Bread sticks, crudités, hummus, yoghurt, seed bar, piece of fruit.

Not every lunch has to be sandwich based, why not try sending your little one off with some breadsticks, crudités and hummus or cream cheese to dip into? Hummus is made of chickpeas which is a great source of plant based protein. You could also add a small piece of cheese or a low sugar yoghurt to their lunch box as an added source of protein and calcium. Include a seed bar and piece of fruit for them to snack on too.

Chewy Seed Bars

Dry ingredients

1 cup  pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried shredded coconut

1/2 cup  sesame seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds 

4 tbs chia seeds

2 tbsp bee pollen (optional)

Wet ingredients

20 pitted dates, soak in some warm water for 10mins before use

6 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature

4 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 whole vanilla bean, cut into pieces (including the pod) or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add after blending

6 tbsp rolled oats

2 tbsp poppy or chia seeds

Directions

Place the dry ingredients (leaving out the oats and chia seeds) into a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped, you want the lecture to still have a crunch. Set aside in a bowl.

Add half of the dates and the rest of the wet ingredients to the food processor. Run the processor for 30 seconds, then add the rest of the dates one at a time while the machine is running until the mixture is smooth. If the mix is getting stuck unplug stir around a few times with a fork or add a dash of water. Continue to blend until smooth.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and add in the oats and seeds. Get your kids involved at this stage and ask them to mash the mix together with their hands.

Press the mixture evenly into a 11 x 7-inch  baking dish, make sure it becomes quite compact. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Cut into bars. Wrap them in paper and store in the fridge in an air-tight container. My tip is to freeze them and put into lunch boxes straight from the freezer so they hold their shape.

Friday

Breakfast: Banana pancakes

(Gluten free and a great source of potassium and protein)

Ingredients

2 mashed bananas

4 eggs

½ tsp. vanilla essence

½ tsp. cinnamon

Toppings

Berries

Lemon juice

Stevia

Directions

1 Mash your banana with a fork. In another bowl whisk the eggs. Mix the eggs and banana together, add ½ tsp of vanilla essence and the cinnamon if desired.

2 Spray a pan with low calorie cooking spray on a low-medium heat. Add a two euro sized amount of batter to the pan, let it set for 30 seconds or until the centre bub-bles and then flip it.

Top Tip: Banana pancakes can be awkward to flip and can quite often end up looking like a scrambled mess. If you would like to make one larger pan sized pancake pour one quarter of the mixture into the pan on a very low heat. Cook for 2-3mins and/ or when it starts to bubble on top take the pan off the hob and finish it off under the grill for 1 minute on a low heat. Your pancake should slide off the pan and onto your plate. Enjoy these pancakes on their own or with some fresh berries.

Lunch: Chicken and avocado wrap, power ball and yoghurt.

Choose a wholegrain wrap and spread a little pesto over it before layering some chicken, sliced avocado and salad.

Include a small low sugar yoghurt with some fresh berries and with a power ball.

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