Friday, February 4, 2011

Will the REAL food in my Kids' Lunches Please Stand Up!

 What do you feed your kids for lunch?
What about yourself?

Do you ever feel like you've gotten into a rut with lunches.
I sure have.
I spent some time in the last year trying to reevaluate my lunches for the kids
because I want something nutritious,
but I also want a break at lunch:
no fighting them to eat, reminding to take bites, waiting an hour for them to struggle through.

I have been surprised to find what is inside many of our "foods."
Hot dogs are full of cancerous nitrates, food coloring.
White bread has virtually NO NUTRITION and possibly linked to heart disease.
 Macaroni and cheese is pretty from food coloring and who knows what else in that long list of ingredients.
Even the ketchup, jelly, and nearly everything else we use as condiments has high fructose corn syrup: complete garbage that wreaks havoc on the human body.
Pick up almost any can of soup and you'll find MSG (mono sodium glutamate): another unfortunate ingredient.

With all these "foods" we can pick up at the store, we might be better off feeding our kids dog food.

let me clarify,
I'm not recommending you feed your kids dog food.

Don't make your kids hate me
(although I think my 1 year old would be happy about this arrangement.
I'm not going into details about how I know this though).

So, I've been on the hunt to find healthy, flavorful, easy food to fix for my kids.

Do you exist, real food?

My search always seems to come back to fruits and vegetables.
So I always make sure I serve one or both of these at lunch.

In fact, most days when I ask my son what he wants for breakfast,
he says, "I want a cheese stick and a banana."

Granted, there are then considerations as to organic fruits and vegetables,
and cheeses made from grass-fed cows;
but a person has to start somewhere before conquering every area of healthy eating, right?!

So for now, I avoid the things that are the worst culprits when it comes to non-organic
which are the fleshy fruits and vegetables:
(I pick and can these as a better alternative)
(also pick and freeze these from a local grower)

and buy what I can work with of the others:

I peel store bought apples but prefer to store orchard apples for use through the winter.
I talk about that *HERE*
Here is a follow-up picture of those apples that we stored:
I got the last of one of the bins a couple weeks ago,
and this is what they looked like after I unwrapped them.
There were about 4 bad ones to every 20 apples.

I don't think that's too bad considering we paid much less for them picking them ourselves at the orchard and we know they are not covered with wax like many of the ones at the store,
making it much harder to wash the chemicals off.

For lunch, my kids seem to prefer different things.
I used to make the older two rice cakes spread with cream cheese,
(I hope to learn how to make my own cream cheese: ONE of these days)
until I discovered that my son really doesn't like rice cakes much.
I put cream cheese on wheat crackers for him now.

My older daughter does not like yogurt much,
whereas my son could live off it.

They often have yogurt
(sometimes I buy organic, sometimes I make this)
with fruit and healthy crackers.
(so I do make her eat some, but I always give him more).

Cheese sticks are great and handy for quick use,
or I buy cheese in bulk and cut it into 2 inch sections to be frozen and taken out when needed.

I usually cut up an apple for them everyday for lunch.

Noodles are by far their favorite.
I know that the white noodles probably don't have much nutritious value to them,
so I try to ad healthy elements to them,
and I try to make half wheat, half white noodles
(mixing seems to mask the taste a little better).

Sometimes I just ad home-made butter and kelp and a little Real Salt to their noodles.
This is quick and easy and they love it.
Kelp is full of nutritious components.

Here is another recipe my kids love,
albeit a little more work, but I just make a large batch of it and it lasts for several days.

Green Noodles:
 We grow our own Swiss chard, so I'm always looking for ways to ad it to things.
I got this recipe from
Whole Foods for the Whole Family Cookbook
this cookbook.

It said to use spinach or broccoli.
However, I used Swiss chard because I thought it would work just as well.

First I washed the Swiss chard and placed it in the steamer.

(I often just put a little bit of water it the bottom of a pot and steam the Swiss chard that way as well.)

A large pot of Swiss chard cooks down considerably.

Next, I put the steamed Swiss chard into the blender
and added chicken broth to the Swiss chard in the blender
(I added some Swiss chard cooking juice as well, but only added about 1/2 cup of this liquid.
We had this for dinner and my husband thought it was a little too thick, so I'd probably ad a whole cup of liquid next time.)

Next the 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

I altered this a little and added about 1/4 cup of Farmer's cheese as well.

Next was added the milk.
I then added a little bit of kelp.
(I ad some shakes of this whenever I can get away with it not changing the taste of the food.)

I added about 2 tsp. of minced garlic as well
which is not in the original recipe.

I like to get as much goodness in the food as I can.

When the food processor was done,
it looked like this:

And then I stirred it in to make:


I know what you might be thinking:
that looks nasty.

I admit it.
I did.

But my kids love this.
My Farmer thought it was a little bland for supper.
He likes his meat and potatoes.

But the kids ate it all up for supper and lunch the next day.

Funny how kids can be tricked into eating some vegetables.

This is a healthy alternative to macaroni and cheese
and packs a good wallop of nutrition into those little growing bodies.

I thought it was pretty good.

The kids loved it,
so if they love it,
well, then I do, too!

What about you?  Do you have any suggestions for good kid lunches?
Please, if you do, let me know.
I'm always happy for some new ideas!!!

Here's the recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family if you want to give it a try:

Green Spaghetti
10 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (or Swiss chard)
1/4 cup warm chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 cup butter

Steam fresh spinach until wilted or frozen spinach til warm.
Combine spinach and cooking liquid with warm broth in blender
 until smooth.  Add cheese and milk.
Toss spaghetti with butter in serving bowl.  Add spinach mixture
and mix well.
(May substitute broccoli for spinach and cream or yogurt for milk.)
If you cook the spinach while the spaghetti is cooking, 
this is about as quick as the commercial brands of macaroni and cheese
and far better.  Many children who don't like spinach will eat green spaghetti.
Yield: 6 servings.


  1. Boy you are good. My boys buy school lunch. I used to pack it, but they got tired of what I was don't want PB and J again? LOL! Have a good weekend. This is a good recipe.

  2. That sounds great. We also use Swiss Chard to make "lettuce" wraps. The kids find they don't really have any taste at all when stuffed with other things. Sometimes we just do turkey and cheese, like a sandwich - other times, grilled chicken, strips of carrots and cucumber and sprouts. Yum!!

  3. Tonya, I think that sounds good. I'll try it some time. It's so funny you had MSG on here. While at Linda's last night she showed me beans she made and what she made them with. She added some seasoning and I looked and it had MSG in it. The beans were delicious of course. I couldn't tell her why it was considered bad and came home and looked it up. In"Nouishing Traditions""Long term consequences of MSG include parkinson's and Alzheimer's in adults and neurological damage in children.Animal studies have linked it with brain lesions, retinal degeneration and more".
    Keep up the good job. There is so much good information to help us make right choices today. Like your blog! Love you.

  4. Thanks! That's a great idea, the wraps made from them. I'll have to try that when the garden starts up again.
    Thanks, Mom. All this healthy eating can seem so overwhelming at times, but I know that little by little, it's worth it. So much to learn though!

  5. Thanks for the book recommendation, it's on my library hold list RIGHT NOW, I can't wait to read it. Also, I've made a similar "Green" pasta, though it's called Spinach Pesto. I LOVE LOVE LOVE using the spinach instead of basil, and it's basically fresh uncooked spinach leaves, little bit of garlic, pine nuts, fresh grated parm cheese, salt, olive oil and some cooking water from your pasta. It's nice to use a tight corkscrew type pasta (try raditore) to help hold all of that yummy sauce. It's SO good, try it :) You're kids will love it I'm sure.

  6. P.S. Sorry, I meant WALNUTS instead of Pine Nuts, whoops!


I love your comments!