Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe Round-Up: Ideas for Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Well, the time has come to share some amazing recipes from some very talented bloggers. This month I am hosting the blog event, Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free, created by the lovely Naomi Devlin. My theme was of course, Ideas for Packing a Healthy School Lunch. I received so many submissions for this event that you may want to make yourself a cup of hot tea, sit back, relax, and enjoy what is to follow (or come back later when you have time). I know you'll leave the computer with oodles of new recipes and ideas for your child's lunchbox (or you own)!

My children go to a school where there isn't a hot lunch program so they have to pack their own lunches, although I know many children do indeed have an option for hot lunch. Unfortunately the majority of hot lunch programs throughout the United States offer food that is not conducive to health or mental attentiveness at all. For a look into daily meals of a typical hot lunch program please check out the lunch lady's blog, Fed up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project. Reading her blog churns my stomach and saddens me to view what children across the country are served in schools. On a positive note, there are people and organizations working right now to improve the health of our children, reduce obesity, support local farming, and strengthen the community with programs such as the Farm to School Program! Yes!

My girls pack their lunch every morning (sometimes they are super organized and work on it the night before, but not usually). I have created a handy chart that you can post on your fridge to help as a guideline. When children pack their own lunch they are more likely to eat what is there. For example, if I were to pack a salad in my daughter's lunch...would she eat it? Maybe. But chances are, if she packs it and it was her idea, she'll eat it. Packing a lunch and having the opportunity to choose healthy foods is very empowering for young children!

The above photo is a typical school lunch that one of my daughters might pack (minus the cherry tomatoes, I added them for color). It consists of an almond butter and Homemade Honey-Sweetened Jam quesadilla (on a steamed brown rice tortilla) placed into a reusable sandwich bag from (I just ordered some). They might also pack some fruit and greens and maybe a trail mix and place everything into a wicker basket with a cloth napkin.

Now, on to many ideas for packing a healthy school lunch from some fabulous blogs.......

First off we have Kim from Affairs of Living. She shares healthy, gluten-free, allergy-free recipes on her blog. For this event, Kim devoted a whole post to Packing a Healthy, Allergen-Free Lunch. Within her post are links to many of her fabulous recipes, such as her Yeast-Free Pumpkin Seed Teff Sandwich Bread or her Cashew Cheese recipe, plus numerous ideas for creating a healthy, balanced meal.

Next we have Carrie from Ginger Lemon Girl. Carrie has shared her recipe for Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili. Just in time for Autumn! Carrie has many gluten-free baking recipes on her blog, including a recipe for Crusty, Vegan Gluten-Free Bread and an amazing Peach Crisp Recipe!

And now on to Sea from Book of Yum! Sea shares healthy gluten-free, allergen-free recipes on her blog as well. Many of them are Indian-inspired such as this post for Indian Tiffin Recipes, including a recipe for Indian Quinoa with Peas, Baby Zucchini Curry, and Squash Blossom Pakoras. Can you pack my lunch Sea? Seriously though, my children love anything curry! Her Quinoa Masala recipe is fabulous too!

Next we have Elana from Elana's Pantry. Elana shares wholesome gluten-free, grain-free recipes on her blog. She has also written a cookbook based on almond flour entitled The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. Today she shares a typical Healthy School Lunch that her boys would pack and her recipe for Spicy Power Bars. If you would like an alternative to grain-based sandwich breads then check out her recipe for a very nutritious Grain-Free Sandwich Bread. She is also giving away a copy of our cookbook right now, so head on over and leave a comment on her blog to enter!

Next we have Heidi from Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom. Heidi blogs about all things gluten-free, including many Gluten-Free Product Reviews. For this event she has shared her recipe for Spring Rolls with a Vegan Pumpkin Dip. I like her tip for keeping the rolls moist until lunchtime!

And now on to Shirley from Gluten-Free Easily! As you probably guessed, Shirley shares recipes that are gluten-free and easy! She uses ingredients that most folks can find at their local grocery store and keeps ingredients to the minimum. Today she shares a mouth-watering Protein and Fruit Bar Recipe using quinoa flakes, a fresh apple, and nuts and seeds all baked into a bar at a low temperature. I can't wait to make them! You might also like Shirley's easy dessert recipes such as her Crustless Apple Pie or her Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.

Next we have Naomi Devlin from Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Naomi in the creator of this monthly blog event, Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free. Naomi has shared a beautiful and nutritious gluten-free Pumpkin Pitta Bread Recipe! Wow, they sound amazing! Naomi also shares plenty of super nutritious filling ideas for these lovely pittas in her post. While visiting Naomi's blog be sure to check out her Grain-Free Pizza recipe or her Grain-Free Cheese Crackers.

Next we have Debbie from The Gluten-Free Dish. Debbie shares gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free recipes on her blog. Today she has shared a raw Date Bar Recipe created by her husband. Full of warming spices, dates, and pecans, I'm sure this nutritious recipe will be a hit with your children! While visiting her blog you might also want to check out her recipes for Quinoa Black Bean Burgers and Stevia-Sweetened Black Bean Brownies!

And now on to Alisa from One Frugal Foodie! Alisa is the author of Go Dairy Free, a cookbook and resource guide packed full of information on dairy-free living with yummy recipes! Read a review I wrote here on this blog about her book if you would like. Alisa has shared an easy and nutritious Banana Oat Bar recipe that children love! If you are interested in more information on Dairy-Free living then check out her very popular Go Dairy Free website.

Next we have Valerie from City | Life | Eats. Valerie has so many simple and super nutritious lunchbox ideas and recipes on her blog that you'll definitely want to check out her Healthy Lunchbox Series! For this event Valerie has shared her recipe for a non-dairy Chocolate Milkshake made with Sunbutter, raw cacao, spinach, and a few more key ingredients. Having a smoothie in your lunch is such a treat!

Next we have Melissa From Gluten Free for Good. Melissa is a lover of anything veggie and has a host of nutritious gluten-free recipes on her blog. For this event she has shared a kid-friendly Healthy Power Bar recipe. Oh my goodness do these sound amazing! Melissa has four grown children and spent many years packing healthy lunches for them....oh how I love to hear her stories. Having four young children myself, her perspective and wisdom go a long way. You might also want to check out her recipes for Gluten-Free Veggie Pizza and Homemade Vegetable Soup Stock!

And now onto Nicola from G-Free Mom! Nicola has shared a post she wrote on Easy Kid Lunch Boxes. She shares 13 lunchbox ideas in this post all with photos. It is very helpful to be able to visually see each lunch! While visiting her blog be sure to check out her recipe page, which is full of easy, gluten-free family-friendly recipes.

Next we have Zoe from Z's Cup of Tea. Zoe blogs about gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free food! Today she has shared her recipe for Flourless Apple Pancakes. Although we tend to think of pancakes as a breakfast food, this super nutritious recipe would be perfect for a lunchbox! While visiting her blog you may also want to check out her recipe for Pumpkin Muffins made with nut butter, eggs, and pureed pumpkin...oh they sound so yummy and nutrient-dense....the perfect treat for a school lunch.

And now on to Maggie from She Let Them Eat Cake. Maggie blogs about gluten-free baking and living. Today she shares her recipe for Vegan Chocolate Almond Cupcakes (just in case you want to add a healthy treat to the lunchbox)! Yum! These cupcakes are full of almond meal, sweetened with maple syrup, and have a yummy raw cashew frosting to top them all off! You might also want to check out Maggie's recipe for Vegan Apple Bread!

Next we have Kim from Cook it Allergy Free. Kim blogs about all things allergy-free For this event, she shares her post entitled: Allergy Free Lunchbox with Brain Power! Kim literally has dozens of ideas for packing a healthy lunchbox, allergy-free or not! While visiting her blog you might want to check out her recipe for Pumpkin Pie Waffles: Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free! Mmmm!

Next we have Hallie from Daily Bites. Hallie shares very nutritious, gluten-free recipes on her blog. For this event she created a Sweet Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus. It gets its sweetness from the addition of sun-dried tomatoes. Anything dip-able usually goes over well with children. My children are big hummus fans and I'm looking forward to trying her recipe. While visiting her blog you might want to check out her recipes for 5-Minute BBQ Sauce and Vegan, Flourless Pumpkin Pecan Cookies!

And now on to Diane from The W.H.O.L.E Gang (whole organic living every day). Diane blogs about real, gluten-free food that is simple and delicious! She has shared her recipe for Roasted Chickpeas for this event. I think it would be the perfect addition to a child's lunchbox! Diane also has a post with School Breakfast and Lunch Ideas that you might want to check out. Diane has also written a cookbook entitled, The Gluten-Free Diner available as a PDF download on her site!

Next we have Andrea from Phyto Foods sharing her recipe(s) for Kale Chips. She says parents are often amazed to see their children eating one of these, and then another, and another.....and so on. Yes! Kids do eat kale when it is offered! Andrea shares healthy, whole food recipes that are often raw and always gluten-free! While on her site be sure to check out her recipe for Brown Rice Lentil Dosas! They look amazing! And don't miss Andrea's Easy Raw Chocolate Torte!

And now on to Kelly from The Spunky Coconut! Kelly shares gluten-free, casein-free, sugar-free, and ofter raw recipes on her blog. For this event she has shared her recipe for Teriyaki Veggie Cakes. Full of beans, vegetables, hemp seeds, and chia seeds, this recipe would be a super nutritious addition to your child's lunchbox. I love how Kelly has created a kid-friendly balanced lunch incorporating lightly steamed cauliflower, guacamole, and rice crackers. While on Kelly's site be sure to check out her recipe for Vanilla White Bean is out-of-this-world amazing! Kelly has also published a cookbook entitled The Spunky Coconut Cookbook that is full of nutritious gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free recipes. You can read a Review I wrote here on this blog of Kelly's book if you would like.

Next we have Carol from Simply Gluten Free. Carol shares fabulous gluten-free recipes on her blog including many baking recipes. For this event, Carol has shared a post she wrote on Allergy Free Lunches for Kids which includes a recipe for Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps. Yummy and easy! Her post lists dozens prepared foods that are gluten-free, something that can be easily overlooked if you don't pay close attention to labeling! While on Carol's blog be sure to check out her recipes for gluten-free, dairy-free Cream Puffs and Polenta Chicken Pot Pie.

Next we have Alta from Tasty Eats at Home! Alta shares delicious, family-friendly, gluten-free recipes on her blog. For this event she has shared an uber nutritious Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe. Her recipe is grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free! I can not wait to try these! While on Alta's site be sure to check out her recipe for Vegan Gluten-Free Cheesecake with Blueberry Compote and her recipe for Gluten-Free Cornmeal Pancakes with Maple Orange Butter.

And now on to A. Fisher from Homemade Inspirations. She has shared her recipe for Homemade Delicious Salsa! Mmmm! She says she likes to use the salsa as a dressing for a bed of lettuce and will sometimes add a hardboiled egg and tortilla chips on the side. While visiting her site be sure to check out her recipe for Homemade Salad with Steak and Potatoes.

And last but not least, we have Jennifer from The GFCF Lady. Jennifer has shared A Week of Lunches...with photos of each lunch! And Another Week of Lunches complete with more photos! There are plenty of fun ideas here for school lunches! While visiting Jennifer's blog, be sure to check out her recipe for Green Chicken Curry and Homemade Coconut Yogurt.

I also received a few submissions from non-bloggers but I was having difficulties copying and pasting their recipes into this post so I will save them for later this Fall.

Thank you all for your submissions to this wonderful blogging event! I think we can all walk away with many new ideas for improving our children's lunches!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Raw Caramel Dip for Apples

Happy Autumnal Equinox! As the evenings become as crisp as the apples, darkness begins to triumph over light. Today we celebrate the closure of summer, the dying of the light, and prepare ourselves for a new season. Autumn. As the trees shed their leaves and the plants die back, shedding old beliefs or thought patterns and going inward to feel our roots, our connection with the earth, can be quite powerful at this time.

Last night I was part of an equinox celebration (albeit a day early). The night was crisp and the sky crystal clear with the moon almost full. A warm fire, songs, and good food shared amongst friends composed most of our celebration. One friend brought a delectable raw caramel dip and sliced fresh apples. It was so tasty that I tried to recreate it today. Success! It tastes very close to her version (thanks Janet). Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad with a Soy-Free Dressing

With school starting and all of the after-school activities that go with it, our schedules have been very full lately. Posting to my blog seems to be on the back burner for now. Though I recently created this very easy salad recipe that I wanted to share with you. The soy-free dressing is scrumptious and the salad can be prepared in a snap. It actually stores well in the fridge in separate containers ready to go for a quick lunch!

I make often make my Asian dressings and marinades using Coconut Aminos since we have one family member who cannot tolerate soy at all. It is dark and rich and very similar to tamari though with a hint of sweetness. I also used coconut vinegar in this recipe though you could substitute brown rice vinegar if need be.

All of the greens in these photos are from our garden except the cabbage. I ran out of space this year and didn't plant any cabbage! Our garden has been thriving this year and we now have a forest of tender kales, collards, bok choy, chard, and lettuces. It is so much fun to walk out the back door and harvest your lunch!

For info on how to cook chicken so it is tender and shreds easily, please visit my Chicken & Wild Rice Salad post. You can use a whole chicken or chicken parts (thighs, breast, wings). I used about eight chicken thighs with the bone and skin today and now have a few quarts of rich chicken stock. I freeze the stock in quart jars to use in soups later on.

Reminder: If you would like to participate in this month's Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free roundup on Packing a School Lunch then email me your recipe link and attached photo by September 27th, 2010. I have received some great entries so far! At the end of this month I will put all of your photos and recipe links into a blog post to share.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ideas for Packing a Healthy School Lunch!

Well, September is here, school is beginning and it is time for packing
lunches once again! The above lunch was made by my 8 year old daughter. It is composed of a quesadilla made with refried beans and two brown rice tortillas, blackberries and sliced nectarines, sliced carrots and cucumbers, raw cashews, almonds, and chocolate chips. As you can see, very simple and nutritious, full of key nutrients for a growing and developing brain.

This month I am hosting a wonderful monthly blogging event called Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free! This event was created by the lovely Naomi Devlin of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried. And my theme, of course, is: Ideas for Packing a Healthy School Lunch! This is a way for you, a reader or blogger, to submit a link and photo of your recipe and/or ideas to me by the end of this month (please, no later than September 27th) and I will post them all to my blog on the 30th of this month. If you don't have a blog, please feel free to submit a short recipe or list of ideas with a photo and I will post it along with the links from other bloggers. Please email me your post attached with a digital photo to ali@nourishingmeals (dot) com.

In the meantime, (while we are waiting for all of your lovely ideas) I have a few ideas myself to share. First off, if you haven't read the post I did last year on Packing a Healthy School Lunch you might want to check it out. I have a colorful chart with pictures of foods in each food group that you can download, print, and post on your refrigerator for a quick reminder of what to pack. This way your child can choose a food from each category to create a healthy, balanced lunch.

Main Dish/Protein Ideas:
Summer Black Bean Salad (made without the spicy peppers)
Rice, Garbanzo Bean, and Kale Salad (my kids love this one!)
Spring Herb Quinoa Salad (my 5yr old daughter's favorite!)
Garlic Rosemary White Bean Dip on sliced bread with cucumbers
Slices of Roasted Chicken
Moroccan Chickpea and Potato Soup (an absolute favorite of my kids)
Quesadilla slices made with brown rice tortillas, refried black beans, and spinach

Green Smoothie (poured into a small glass jar with a tight-fitting lid)
Mixed greens with a small container of Salad Dressing on the side
Slices of cucumbers, carrots, and celery (my kids like simple best)
Celery sticks with almond butter spread into them
Any in-season whole or sliced fruit

Sticky Brown Rice in nori rolls (all-time favorite of my kids)
Whole Grain Flatbread (yeast-free)
Carrot Raisin Buckwheat Muffin (my kids beg me to make these!)

We don't always have treats around but when we do it would be some of the following (fruit is sometimes the best and easiest treat of all):

I am really looking forward to sharing your post on Ideas for packing a Healthy School Lunch. Please remember to submit it with an attached photo by September 27th, 2010! Thanks! :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fish Curry with Garden Vegetables

We love anything curry here. Thai curries, Indian curries, curry roasted potatoes, you name it. Our kids love curry too. Those flavors are passed through breastmilk, so they became addicted quite young. One of my favorite things about making a curried dish is the fact that it is fast, easy, and of course, a one-pot meal.

This Thai fish curry recipe uses fresh garden veggies, halibut, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil. The key to a good curry is timing. I like to keep the veggies all evenly cooked and not over-cooked. Carrots and onions take a little longer to cook, so I start with those. I will test a carrot, and when it is about halfway done cooking, I will add the other faster cooking veggies such as zucchini and bell peppers.

When purchasing the fish, I usually buy 1.5 to 2 pounds and then ask to have the skin removed. When I am ready to make the curry all I need to do is cut the fish into cubes. It is much easier this way, especially when you have twin two-year-old boys chasing each other below you arguing whether each is an airplane or not ("I'm an you're not....yes I am....zoom!").

This curry has another key ingredient that is very beneficial to your health: Turmeric. This orangish-yellow spice will stain your clothes forever but is an excellent anti-inflammatory. In Tom's words: "Curcumin is an amazing compound found in turmeric that can change our gene expression. It has a tendency to lower inflammation, increase detox enzyme expression, and increase antioxidant protein expression. In short, it lowers the impact of life's insults, and increases your innate buffering mechanisms to minimize the residual effect of those insults."