Kids are back in school. Are you already out of ideas for healthy snacks for after school events? Are your kids bored with the same old foods every day? Do you struggle with getting your picky eater to branch out? Do you struggle with knowing what to pack as a healthy choice for you, whether it's a snack or side for lunch?
No worries, I've got you covered. Follow these simple tips.
Make it easy on yourself:
1) Make grocery list and buy all ingredients you need before the week starts. This way, you are not trying to scramble to the grocery store or stop by the convenience store for chips or cookies because you are short on time. Let your kids get involved in this step; let them pick out a few healthy choices such as some of the fruits and vegetables they would like this week. On a budget? Look at flyers and buy the fruits and vegetables that are on sale.
2) Meal prep for the week. This may seem like a no brainer, but trust me, it's usually the last thing you want to do on your day off. However, it will set your week up for success and make you feel good because you are able to easily pick healthy choices for you and your family.
3) Pack your snacks the night before. This is crucial for your success, whether you are picking them for yourself or your kids. Otherwise, something always seems to come up, you oversleep your alarm, it takes longer to get ready and you no longer have time to pack your healthy snacks. Or, you no longer feel like eating your healthy snacks; however, if you choose ahead of time, you can make the decision based on your health goals instead of how you feel at the time.
Do you live in a hot climate? No worries, get a lunchbox cooler, an ice pack and you're all set to go.
4) Have a helping hand. Did you know kids as young as 4 years old can help pack their snacks with little to no assistance from you? You give them the options, they pick out of those options. These should include mostly healthy options and a variety of foods throughout the week. This will guarantee they get a variety of nutrients their bodies need.
Think about eating a rainbow of colors for a variety of nutrients throughout the week. Try the small size apples, mandarin oranges, baby carrots, grapes, cherry tomatoes, items that are small, that way, if you need just a small snack, you've got it. Sometimes a large apple can be intimidating to kids or we can talk ourselves out of eating it, thinking, it's too much or we don't want all of that. Slice it up, save it for later or choose smaller fruits and veggies.
5) Get curious about trying new foods and recipes. Get your kids in the kitchen with you to assist in making a new recipe, they are way more likely to try it when they make it. Have fun with your food, buy small food cutters (Amazon) and make your snacks into fun shapes. This is especially a good strategy for picky eaters.
Grab and Go Healthy Muffins
Most muffins are loaded with sugar, fat and refined grains, not the perfect combination to give us lasting energy. Instead, let's make them with better ingredients that power us through our day.
Most muffin recipes can be modified to be healthier by making a few swaps: replace 1/2 of sugar with the same volume of unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas.
Use whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat instead of white flour.
Add 1 cup shredded fruits and veggies such as zucchini, carrots, pumpkin puree, applesauce or cooked and mashed sweet potato. Good nutrition does not always have to be about what we take away, but what we add in. I always look for ways to include fruits and veggies. In baked goods, not only does it increase the overall nutritional quality of the food by adding nutrients and fiber but it also can increase the sweetness without having to add extra sugar.
Add 1 scoop of protein powder, hemp seeds or add an extra egg.
Use healthy, anti-inflammatory fats such as avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
Check out these delicious pumpkin muffins that have a kick of Vitamin A with a hint of sweetness and a crunchy pecan topping, it's sure to be your new fav! I've made it low sugar, if it's not sweet enough, drizzle a little honey on the warmed muffin before eating. Once you start to decrease the amount of sugar in your diet you'll notice your taste buds change and foods will taste a lot sweeter without adding a ton of sugar.
Check out my post on lunch box success for tips on what to include in your lunchbox for a balanced meal that provides your body with vital nutrients and keeps you satisfied for hours. Just fyi, these lunch ideas are not just for kids, they are for any age, including adults. There is no reason to make our meals complicated or harder on ourselves.