New year, new start – and we’re super excited to introduce you to one of our new Sassy Mama columnists, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Wilson! Author of the I Quit Sugar Cookbook and I Quit Sugar Kids eCookbook designed with health-conscious mamas and papas in mind, Sarah will be bringing you helpful tips and tricks on planning nutritious snacks and treats. After guzzling plenty of sugary treats over the holidays, this month Sarah is dishing up some sugar-free and eco-friendly lunchbox options to get our kiddos back on track. Read on mamas!
What to Use for Lunchboxes:
- Use brown paper bags or paper: They’re a simple way to avoid plastic and encourage recycling. Avoid the grease-proof variety.
- Plastic wrap: The good news is plastics have dramatically improved now that they are not made from PVC, so use them if need be.
- Check the numbers on plastic containers: Always check the number in the little triangle on the bottom – 2, 4 and 5 are safe. Avoid the rest.
- Glass and ceramics containers: These are ideal and really practical, however, be wary of giving them to young children who are likely to throw their school bags around like a football.
- Zip-lock bags are easy to reuse. Simply rinse with hot soapy water and hang to dry on the washing line or near the sink.
- Refillable drink bottles: Ditch the plastics altogether. Refillable stainless steel drink bottles encourage kids to enjoy tap water right throughout the day. Being BPA free, they’re a safe substitute for the disposable plastic varieties.
Guide to a Healthy Lunchbox:
I get asked all the time, “What should I include in my kid’s lunchbox?” Here’s a quick and easy guideline that will give your kids the daily nutrients they need:
- A portion of grains or slow-release carbohydrates: one slice of wholegrain bread the size of a CD cover or 1/2 a baseball worth of cooked rice.
- A portion of protein: a piece of chicken or beef the approximate size of a deck of cards.
- A portion of dairy: one cup of milk or a small tub of yoghurt.
- Two portions of vegetables: a handful of cooked veggies or salad.
- A portion of fruit: low-fructose fruit like kiwi fruit.
A Sample Lunchbox Idea:
- Start with a frozen green smoothie (veggies); use it as an ice brick to keep food cool. It’ll be nice and slushy-like for a mid-morning treat.
- Include a small tub of full-fat yoghurt (dairy) and encourage your kids to stir through a handful of berries (fruit).
- For lunch load up a wholegrain sandwich (carbs) with salad greens (more veggies) and shredded roast chicken (protein) with skin (fat).
- Top it off with a litre of water.
Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Here’s one of my favourite lunchbox recipes from the I Quit Sugar Kids Cookbook!
Cheese and Turkey Bacon Lollipops
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or crumbled goat cheese
- 4 tablespoons chopped herbs (thyme or basil are great)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 rashers turkey bacon
- 3-4 tablespoons crushed pecans or almonds
- Combine the cheeses, half the herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl.
- Divide into 8 bite-sized pieces, roll into balls and insert a bamboo skewer into each ball. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crispy. Allow to cool then dice finely or crumble up and mix with the crushed nuts and the remaining herbs. Roll the balls in the bacon and nut mixture and serve.