When I first started blogging, I posted a daily series on what my 3 year old (now 4!) daughter and I ate in a given day. The whole purpose for the ‘what we ate today’ series was to be honest with myself and my readers on what I actually fed my kid on a daily basis. Now I am doing taking photos of her daily school lunches to help inspire you. We are not 100% perfect and I would never ever strive to be but I do try to send her foods I know she will love and ensure they are as nutrient dense as possible. Here she is a few weeks ago describing her lunch and snacks from the day for me. It is times like this that help me reaffirm my goals to keep my family as healthy as possible by giving them traditionally prepared, nutrient dense foods!
How to Amp up the Nutrient Density
I may be called the Homemade Mommy but just making something ‘homemade’ doesn’t automatically make it nutrient dense. We have been raised on a lot of diet dogma around what healthy eating is. It takes time and effort to change our mindset. Traditional diets are different from ‘whole foods’ diets in that they focus on traditional preparation for optimal nutrient density. There is a lot of wisdom out there – we just need to start paying more attention to it. Think of these ideas as ways to enhance your current school lunch and snacks to make it more nutrient-dense and to help you change your mindset on what is healthy. The good news is that I personally do not experiment much with lunches and often repeat the same lunch multiple times a week based on what my daughter likes best. I can focus on variety at dinner!
The Three Questions
For EVERY lunch and snack I pack I ask myself:
1. Did I include plenty of FATS?
- I personally think it is pretty clear what the low-fat diet fads have done for our kids. One third of them are obese. Unfortunately when products are made to be low-fat they aren’t based on what nature has provided for us. The fact is, when you remove fat you remove the flavor and it then has to be replaced with artificial, chemical based ingredients that are toxic for everyone. I think most of you already agree that eating processed foods are bad for you and your family or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. So then where does this leave us? I think saturated fat has been demonized enough and frankly, is here to stay. Nature made it with fat for a reason. Fats are vitally important to growing kid’s brains and for sustained energy throughout the day.
2. Did I include a FERMENTED condiment?
- Healthy, probiotic bacteria in fermented foods (what are fermented foods?) are essential to everyone and extremely underrated. Healthy probiotic foods are critical not only for digestive health but also at keeping our immune systems healthy and strong. Illness is rampant in daycares and preschools, why not build up your kiddo’s natural defenses?
3. Did I incorporate bone broth for vital minerals and gelatin?
- Bone broth is one of those amazing foods that is both economical and easy to make while also packing a nutrient-dense punch. Although I am working on it, my daughter still doesn’t drink bone broth straight so I have to come up with creative ideas including cooking beans and rice in broth.
It is that simple, if I cover those three bases then I am a very happy camper and I know I have done my duty for the day.
Now for some ideas!
Please note – in our family we do eat some corn and rice so we are not always grain free but they are soy-free and organic. We do avoid wheat unless it is sourdough and even that seldom makes it into my daughter’s lunchbox. Here are some lunches that are a hit with her:
1. What we call a ‘bean-a-dilla’ – a corn tortilla heated up with butter in my cast iron skillet with homemade soaked black beans cooked in bone broth (where to buy broths) and raw cheese. I make a few of these at the beginning of the week and freeze them. She doesn’t mind eating them cold. I serve with sauerkraut and a mixture of crème fraiche and salsa for dipping.
2. Speaking of beans – my daughter is in love with bean soup right now. I make large batches of black beans and store them in my freezer. It takes me 5-10 min to heat one serving up on the stove and pour it into her thermos
3. Ground beef tacos – this is one of my favorites because it includes everything I want for her to eat in one pretty package. My daughter eats her tacos with all the fixings including: guacamole, crème fraiche, sauerkraut and diced fresh onion and cilantro and raw cheese. I usually serve this with kale chips.
5. Fried rice (cooked in bone broth) with vegetables, eggs and meats of your choice. This comes together quickly and can be kept warm in a thermos.
8. Not so awful offal – my daughter would eat this recipe for potatoes with bacon and liver easily!
These snack ideas are amazingly creative not to mention that they cover all of the questions above!
2. Seriously easy homemade fruit snacks made with gelatin and honey.
3. I am not sure how I didn’t think of this one myself – a completely grain-free granola made with nuts and coconut.
4. These are my favorite coconut flour grain-free blueberry muffins because they are actually moist. I sometimes add chocolate chips to them!
5.I don’t mind offering fruit to my daughter but when I do I always make sure to add some healthy fats into the mix. Try this homemade applesauce or these lacto-fermented berries mixed with yogurt or kefir and cinnamon
7. A pretty easy way to dress up raisins with coconut just like yogurt covered raisins.
8. I am not sure what life would be like without corn tortilla chips and for a while there I thought we would have to live without because I couldn’t find any made with coconut oil.
(If you can’t do corn try these coconut oil potato chips)
9. Do you own an oven? Then you can make these homemade banana chips.
10. No kid will turn down popcorn and when it is popped in coconut oil and coated with sea salt and butter, this is one nourishing snack.
12. Aren’t these beautiful? Homemade cherry pie Larabars!
I hope I have inspired you with some great lunch and snack ideas!