With back to school in full swing, parents are looking for ways to set their kids up for a healthy school year. However, there are a few things that stand in the way when it comes to making back to school meals healthy.
Of course when it comes to preparing healthy back to school meals for your kid's, none of us want or have time to spend endless hours in the kitchen. Preparing healthy food doesn't have to be time consuming.Many of my favorite dishes are no-cook and take just minutes to prepare and assembly. Also, try not to think of cooking as a chore or something you have to do--instead think of it as something that creates long-term benefits, provides nourishment and brings the family together.
Healthy food has to taste good and look good for your kid's to be interested.
But, remember that no one is born craving junk food. As babies we started on breast milk or formula, then we slowly eased into pureed baby foods and once we got this process down, we started to introduce new foods and textures from the main food groups. Of course there were probably some foods we didn't care for at first, but the more we were introduced to those foods, the more we actually learned to like them. Did you know that a child may need to try a certain food 12 times before learning to like it?
After all, we were all born craving real, wholesome foods and ingredients. We weren't born craving junk food or sugary beverages.
The good news is that kid's taste buds can change just as fast as their behaviors. Try new ways to prepare healthy foods and re-introduce it again and again. Be the role model and make healthy food exciting.
Too Much Information
Now we know that it can be confusing to know what to buy considering there are over 40,000 items in the supermarket to choose from and 40% of these items aren’t real food. However, you can weed these unhealthy non-food items out by reading the ingredient list. Ingredients will be the number one indicator of quality. If it has a long ingredient list or you can’t pronounce most items, put it back. Luckily, we have so many healthier versions of our favorite items that actually taste great that you should never waste it on something that is so not worth it.
Plus, the most flavorful items will be superfoods or nutrient dense foods found in the center of this Food Target. Plus, you are less likely to overeat super nutritious food since these foods keep you feeling nourished and satisfied and therefore you don’t have to worry about counting calories or anything else for that matter. Yay!
With all these things in mind, I am going to show you just how to make healthy back to school dishes that are quick, tasty, and easy to incorporate.
When it comes to breakfast, it needs to be easy and quick but also have enough substance to keep your kids satisfied throughout the morning.
Oatmeal On The Run is one of my favorite things to introduce to kids. It makes non-oatmeal eaters love oatmeal. And there is no cooking involved. Just combine all ingredients and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Full of energizing B vitamins
- Fiber rich raisins
- Walnuts which are high in omega 3s needed for brain health
- Cinnamon which makes this dish extra delicious
- And cacao nibs which are high in calming magnesium and give this dish a nice chocolatey crunch
- Almond milk—nut based milks can be much easier for the system to tolerate and are super tasty
- Soak overnight in the fridge and grab and go in the morning—or make a big batch for the entire family!
- As this dish soaks the raisins make it super sweet and delicious.
Oatmeal On The Run
- 2 cups of rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- ½ cup of raisins
- ½ cup of walnuts
- 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs
- Enough almond or coconut milk to cover (about 3 cups)
Combine all ingredients and let soak in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. Grab and go in the morning for a healthy and delicious breakfast.
Watch recipe video here: Oatmeal On The Run
Black Bean Mango Salad is a delicious lunch for the whole family!
- Vinaigrettes are so easy to make—the ones at the store contain a lot of ingredients and are expensive and don’t always taste very flavorful. Simply make your own using a 1 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar, a little salt and pepper and maybe even a dollup of Dijon mustard to make it heartier.
- Wash and rinse beans to reduce sodium by 40%.
- This dish has all of the tastes you crave—sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami which means savory.
- You know when a dish is super colorful it’s going to be healthy—plus it makes the dish look much more appealing and it has to be appealing for your kids to be interested.
- Plus you can make this the night before and it will last 3 days in the refrigerator. Gets more flavorful as it sits.
- Simply serve it as a salad or use organic corn chips to make it more of a fun dip.
Of course we know foods that do not have a nutrition label will be the healthiest—fresh fruits, lean meats, bulk nuts, seeds, etc. Plus, these items will usually be more affordable. Think of an apple versus apple juice or apple flavored granola bar.
Black Bean Mango Salad with Organic Blue Corn Chips
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can organic sweet kernel corn, drained
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup green onions, chopped
- 2 avocados, cubed
- 2 mangos, peeled & chopped
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
Mix olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat with dressing. Refrigerated 1 hour before serving. Serve as a salad or dip with organic blue corn tortilla chips.
Saving the best for last. This Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie makes a delicious back to school afternoon snack that your kids are sure to love. Plus, it’s packed with super healthy superfoods your kids need for back to school.
- Bananas (which every kid loves and high in heart healthy potatssium)
- Nuts (great for brain health and concentration)
- Spinach—greens are very cleansing and energizing—packed with vitamin C for a healthy immune system
- Mint is super soothing on the gut and adds such a flavorful punch
- Hemp seeds—high in protein and keeps you feeling satisfied. Better than processed protein powders. 3 tablespoons = 11 grams of protein.
- Medjool dates are high in fiber, super sweet but low on the glycemic index and high in calming magnesium.
- Coconut water is very hydrating and makes a great replacement for sports or energy drinks.
- Cacao nibs—this is what brings the smoothie all together.
Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie
- 2 bananas
- 1 large can of coconut water
- ¼ cup of Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, or macadamia nuts (or a mix of nuts)
- ½ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup of hemp seeds
- 4 dates
- 1 cup of fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup of spinach
- 2 cups of coconut water
- 1 handful of ice
- ¼ cup of cacao nibs
Add all ingredients to a blender except cacao nibs. Blend until smooth. Add in cacao and blend to mix, about 5 seconds. *Thin with water if needed. If using frozen bananas, leave out ice.
Watch recipe video here: Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie
Mindful Eating Tips For Back To School
- Know where your food comes from.
- Read the ingredients.
- Use your common sense to make choices.
- Eating is an experience and it’s meant to be enjoyed in every way. Nothing should be off limits. Don't give anything up, just make everything better by improving the quality.
- Getting your family healthier truly starts with cooking more meals at home.