It's no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but lunch is a close second. Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle points to studies that show children who eat a well balanced lunch are more alert and many times do better in school. While many parents pack their kid's lunch to maintain a level of control over what they are eating, once in the cafeteria there are many temptations. To help kids fight the lure of unhealthy eating choices, an interesting from home lunch may be the key.
By including a little from each food group it is pretty easy to create a balanced lunch. To refresh, those groups are whole grains, dairy, protein (this includes non meat choices like beans, nuts, and eggs), fruit, and vegetables. Follow some basic guidelines so you don't turn off your kid to a from home lunch:
1. Be safe and use a cold pack or a thermos cup to keep hot foods hot. Include a wet paper towel in a baggie for convenience, if something messy like an orange was included.
2. Be aware that anything too unusual or smelly like last night's fish or an ethnic dish with unusual ingredients or colors. That could draw unwanted attention from classmates.
3. Be considerate and let the children have a say in what they would like to put in their lunches. Maybe let them have a calendar and list their likes and wants for the week. That way if all of sudden your son declares he hates wheat bread, you can pull out the calendar and show him that was his choice. Let him revise as he wishes as long as it is healthy. Instead of bread, how about a tortilla and make a wrap of ham, cheese, and mustard?
Sometimes it is easier to get them to eat the healthy stuff, if there is a compromise. "If you eat this first, then you can have a little of that." This can be easily incorporated into after school snacks. In fact, after school snacks are important to refuel a child's body and brain for homework.
Make ahead munchables that are healthy yet not so filling they ruin dinner are possible. It is easy to make a big batch of energy bars and individually wrap them as well as label each. Put them in a tote and carry them along when picking up the kids from school. Include bananas, dried fruit in snack bags, along with heart healthy nuts like almonds. Let them pass the tote around and choose what they want to eat.
Once they get home, let them have a snack that resembles something processed like pizza monkey bread instead of a Hot Pocket or chocolate covered granola and greek yogurt instead of a candy bar. Empty calorie cookies can be substituted with oatmeal cookies loaded with dried fruit and honey. Instead of a bowl of ice cream, offer frozen grapes or blueberries or even a slushie made from frozen fruits like peaches or strawberries, honey, and yogurt.
Making healthy eating choices sounds great but it doesn't mean a thing if the children won't eat them. Talk with your kids about healthy eating and lay out guidelines about treats, "We'll still have them as a special treat or we'll eat that on the weekend." By being upfront everyone is on the same page as to why a healthy lifestyle is important.
1 cup toasted almonds (or substitute pecans, walnuts, cashews)
½ cup pumpkin seeds (or substitute flax, sunflower, sesame, or a combo)
1/3 cup dried apricots (or substitute blueberries, cherries, apples)
¼ cup light cane syrup (or substitute sorghum syrup, malt syrup, NO Honey)
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8" square pan (no bigger than this) with foil and lightly spray with a non stick spray (must spray or bars will not release).
Mix together almonds, pumpkin seeds, apricots then add syrup and salt. Mix to thoroughly coat. Dump onto foil and then tear off a second piece of foil and lightly spray it too. Using the sprayed side of the foil, press on the mixture to even it out and compress it. Discard the foil aid.
Place pan in the oven and bake 15-18 minutes just until they become fragrant. Remove from oven and let the entire pan cool for 15 minutes until warm. At this point, lift the foil with the bars from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into 8 portions. DO NOT attempt to remove the bars. Once the bars are completely cooled, they will peel away from the foil with no problem.
Wrap each bar individually in parchment, foil, or wax paper and secure with a piece of tape. Do not wrap in plastic. If you put the bars in your backpack or purse, they will warm up and stick to the plastic. No problem for the other wraps as they will peel away nicely.
NOTE: If you forget to cut them into portions while they are warm, it really is impossible to cut them after they have cooled. All is not lost, just break up into chunks and wrap the pieces or put into baggies. Maybe not as convenient, but they will still taste good.
Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special BACK TO SCHOOL Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen on Facebook: CLICK HERE.
CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
3720 Mt. Olive Rd.
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.
CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.
On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.