Healthy Alternatives for the School Lunch Box!

It's Back to School which means back to packing school lunch boxes!  It can be difficult to find things that are, ideally, healthy, delicious, easy to pack, and completely nut free. Packaged foods are so easy to grab and go, and with so many labels to choose from it's hard to find something healthy. If you're like me, you read every label in search of something packaged that is truly healthy!  Maybe those bite-size organic and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are a healthy choice?  Anything organic and bite size has got to be a decent snack, right?  Not so much.  Another bag of Pirate Booty?  I'm going to share with you 6 lunch box options that I feel great about packing for my daughter.  

1. Canned Salmon.  If pregnant women aren't supposed to eat tuna, why am I giving it to my child?  I swapped canned tuna for canned salmon and my daughter loves it. We call it "tuna" and it was a seamless transition.  A little bit of mayo and some celery mixed in... canned salmon is awesome!  (I prefer to eat it with olive oil, salt and pepper, celery, and onion... so good!!)  Look for a high quality canned salmon that is Alaskan wild caught, and boneless and skinless.  Loaded with healthy omega 3, high quality canned salmon is super! (I like Crown Prince, see image below)

2. Seasnax!  I love this stuff and my 2nd grader does, too!  I love this brand in particular because the ingredients are pure and simple: seaweed, olive oil, sea salt.  Yummy, light, little snacks with lots of vitamins and minerals from the sea, including iodine which is an incredibly important trace mineral responsible for correct thyroid/hormone function!  Get your iodine!!

3. Bell peppers.  My daughter happens to love the orange color and I agree it is delicious!  Bell peppers are easy to slice, stay crunchy and sweet in the lunch box, and is loaded with Vitamin C!  Score!  Also bursting with folate and fiber, bell peppers come in a lovely array of colors and so switching it up keeps things interesting and... colorful!  Try to buy organic bell peppers because bell peppers are considered a part of the "dirty dozen" which means they soak up pesticides easily.  If your picky about when to choose organic, this is where you definitely want to go organic.  Bell peppers are great alone or dipped in hummus!  Which brings us to my very next lunch box winner: hummus.

4. Hummus is made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) which are an excellent source of protein!  Make sure you read the labels because not all hummus are created equally. You'll want to avoid ingredients like soybean oil, canola oil, and preservatives like potassium sorbate (looking at you Sabra).  The best hummus will have natural and easy to read ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tahini, lemon, and sea salt!  So healthy and so delicious!!    

5. Peeled cucumber spears are also delicious dipped in hummus, or on their own. Cucumbers are crunchy, cool and easy to eat.  A hydrating snack, cucumbers are filled with water, fiber, and B vitamins = yes, yes, yes please!  The prep is super easy and you can throw the extra cuke in tonight's dinner salad.

6. Fruit!  To kick off this school year, I've got 3 fruits in the lunch box rotation.     
A) Blueberries because they are tiny antioxidant nutrient bullets!!  I love them so much!! Prep is simple: wash and your done.  Re-usable mini containers are great!
B) Kiwi fruit!  Kiwis are coming in season toward the middle of fall!  Kiwis are filled with vitamin C and other antioxidants!  And, I buy these little tangy, juicy treats PREPARED. Kiwis are a pain in the butt to peel and slice.  Buy these ready to go.  Done and done.  :)    
C) Strawberries!  I'll wash and slice some organic strawberries and pop them in a mini container.  There are tons of health benefits to eating strawberries that make enjoying them a total YES! Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols which help the body stay healthy! Strawberries are at the top of the "dirty dozen" list so try to buy organic here!
     ***(I have an added note here about the fruit.... I definitely love blueberries, but it's worth mentioning the sliced kiwis and sliced strawberries have 1 more added benefit: my child eats them with a fork.  I don't know about you, but those little hands in school touching door knobs and germs galore... eeks.  Forks are our friends.)***  

 

I hope you and your children have a fabulous school year filled with healthy choices! Please share with me your favorite lunch box "dos" as I'm always looking to add more yummy, healthy goodness into that all important lunch box!! 

Mary Evert, Creator
MANMAKER SPORTS