Wednesday, September 8, 2010

back to school lunch blues

summer has ended and the back to school lunch box blues are starting to set in with mom's around the world. the idea of packing the endless lunches for the next 9 months and the chimes of "mom i'm bored!" "peanut butter and jelly again...." do not make it any easier. if you are like me and your children do not eat hot lunch at school everyday, or you don't want them to, for let's just say, lack of a better food choices, there is the constant struggle for fresh ideas to break up the everyday sandwich. well, fret no more. the following recipes can help put some fun back into lunch and help your kids eat a little better too. the other great thing about these recipes is that they can be swapped with lots of different ingredient ideas and can be used for after school snacks and breakfast too. picky eaters can be transformed by taking part in the decision making, as well as the lunch making to motivate them to eat better and try new things. you can also adapt these recipes to your schedule and take the short cuts you need by buying some pre-made or pre-cut ingredients.

caramel apple dip

-8 oz. cream cheese
-1 cup Caramel Dip, Caramel Sauce or melted caramels
-3/4 cup Granola Cereal/chopped nuts any kind
-sliced apples

Spread 1/2 inch of cream cheese across bottom of a shallow dish. Top with a layer of caramel. Sprinkle Granola on top. Serve with apple slices.

this recipe is great to alternate with peanut butter instead of caramel, dippers can be swapped for any fruit your kids enjoy, bananas, strawberries. graham cracker, preztels there are endless choices. layer in individual tupperwares for a lunch box treat or surprise them with a fun snack after school or practice.

this next idea works along the same lines, yogurt parfaits, so good my children feel like they are getting dessert for breakfast. this next recipe is our family favorite.

strawberry and banana parfaits

-sliced bananas and strawberries
-one container of vanilla/plain yogurt
-tbls of honey or agave syrup (optional)

in a glass or see through container, layer 1/4 of the strawberries,
than 1/4 of banana, than 1/4 of yogurt,(if using plain yogurt, drizzle with honey or agave, if you desire) than sprinkle some granola. repeat until container is full. if i pack these in my kids lunch boxes, i keep the granola seperate and let them sprinkle it on themselves so it's nice and crunchy.

this is another great recipe that can be done a million ways depending on your childrens likes and dislikes. use fresh blueberries with strawberry yogurt and Go Lean Crunch from Kashi. no fresh fruit in the house applesauce or any type of jams, jellies or canned fruit work great. not a big fan of yogurt, ricotta cheese drizzled with honey or agave is delicious. change up the crunch with your favorite cereal or graham cracker, smashed up. let your kids make it and give them options to create their own version. my son likes to layer some plain yogurt, with peanut butter and bananas and granola or sometimes crushed pretzels.
these are great alternatives to a sandwich and if the kids get to help in the decision and making process they are more willing to try new things and eat what you pack. these are just a few of the things up my sleeve to take me through the lunch box blues. check back for more lunch recipes in the next few weeks. together we can work at making this a little less stressful school year, at least in the lunch department!

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