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!

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. What a fabulous roundup! Unfortunately I didn't have time to prepare a post this month, but I hope to participate in next month's GAHIGF - so many awesome and creative lunch ideas here, thanks so much for hosting!!

  2. Wow! What an incredible round up! So many fantastic, creative solutions to the old lunchbox conundrum.

    Thank you everybody for contributing recipes and spreading the word that healthy food is fun!

    Thank you Ali for such a comprehensive round up, and for hosting a really great month of Go Ahead Honey.

    x x x

  3. Ali,

    This "recipe round-up" of yours is amazing! Wow, what a great collection of ideas, tips and yummy looking photos. I appreciate you doing this and am thrilled to be participating. Thank you!

    I love that little chart of yours and couldn't agree more. The more you engage kids in the process, the more they learn and the more likely they are to eat what they've packed themselves.

    * By the way, I LOVE your new berry-picking photos and am such a fan of Gracie's high-voltage personality. Go, Gracie, go. (I have to smile as I have one like that as well.)

  4. Wow Ali! What a great write-up. Thanks so much for investing so much time and writing such good entries for each of us. I can't wait to click on all of the links and get some great recipes!

  5. Wow, what a round-up! I think I could have lunch ideas for a month on this post! Thanks Ali for hosting. Excellent job to all!

  6. Great round-up, Ali! It's wonderful to see so many nutritious lunch ideas from around the blogosphere. All those photos are making me hungry. :)

  7. WOW!! What a resource this roundup post is! I'm going to share it with as many as possible. Everyone participating did a fantastic job and you pulled all the recipes and info together so beautifully, Ali! Truly impressive!

    Thanks so much! Special thanks for linking to some of my other recipes as well. :-) Hugssss,


  8. Hey Ali, this is incredible! Honestly our top lunch box hit, is a thermos of warm soup. The veggie and lentil soup recipes in your cookbook are our favorites! I am looking forward to trying the kale chips posted above. Kale chips are amazing! Thanks for all your efforts, we love you :)

  9. Love being part of this! It's a fantastic round up!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Nicola x

  10. What a wonderful roundup! I was so inspired by this event, and when I heard you were hosting I was even that much more motivated to join. Love it! Everyone's lunches and dishes look so tasty and healthy!


  11. Fantastic round-up! I think I've found some new favourites and will have to make some soon. Thank you so much for also linking to my recipe for pumpkin muffins - they'd go well for breakfast or in a lunch as well. :)

  12. What an awesome round up! Thanks for hosting such a great event Ali, I can't wait to read everyone's entries! xoxo Kim |

  13. Wow. With all the good information you really made me hungry. Awesome blog and content. If you ever need recipes check out
    Keep up the good work

  14. Wow! So many great ideas! I can't wait to try some of them!!! Thanks for compiling them!

  15. That blog post must have taken forever to write!! Phenomenal resources. I'm going to link to it in a future post. Thanks for the mention! And it was wonderful to meet you in person this weekend!

  16. So many great gf choices. I also see some LapTop Lunches bento-style lunch boxes. We have several and they were used everyday when my daughter went from homeschooling to public middle school. She loved all those little compartments and finding healthy foods to fill them. It was a great way to get her involved in lunch packing. Too bad we didn't have your great chart back then.

  17. Thanks for the awesome round-up Ali!!

    It was so cool to meet you in person ... I will email soon :)

  18. The link to the chart is not working. Do you have a new link? Thank you for this great idea!


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