Last week I watched Foreign Correspondent’s Globesity documentary and it scared the sh*t out of me for children in poorer countries, such as Mexico, Latin America and India. And, as often happens, it renewed my determination to feed my kids the healthiest diet I can possibly muster. So starting this week I’m overhauling my lunchbox menu and re-focusing my energy. Here’s what I’m starting with.
My kids, by and large, eat reasonably well. And living in Australia we have no excuse for a poor diet. We have cheap (relatively), readily available fresh fruit and vegetables and also the education to go along with creating a healthy daily diet.
On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being Maccas every day and 1 being vegan, we’re at a solid 5. The kids eat fruit almost every day (once in a very rare while, on a Friday, we’ve run out and they don’t get any). Most evening meals are simple – meat and vegetables. We eat pasta and bolognaise usually once or twice a week.
But of late, I’ve taken the easy route with the kids’ lunchboxes. I routinely throw meusli bars in, along with a packet of Rice Wheels or Vege Chips. Both the Rice Wheels and Vege Chips are marketed as a health food alternative to potato crisps but my objection is to the highly refined, highly processed nature. The fibre content is low and the salt content is high. So – no more!
Getting three kids ready in the morning – when you’re not an early riser – can be tricky. On Mondays and Tuesdays I work, so have to be out the door by 8am. I get up at 7am. That’s an hour to shower, feed three kids’ breakfast, eat my own breakfast, make three kids’ lunches and my own lunch and get out the door. Not long.
Yes, yes, yes. I could easily pack lunches the night before. You’re right. But I’m an inveterate procrastinator and I don’t see any reason why I should do today what I can put off until tomorrow.
But now, with my new obsession with feeding my children whole foods wherever possible, I’m going to have to become more efficient with my time and definitely pack the night before.
READER TIP: UPDATE ADDED 9AM 30/7/12: Children who make their own lunches are more inclined to eat it. “My kids made their own lunches from yr 1 and cooked a family meal once a week. Hard work early, bliss now they are older.” From @mincle. (Follow @mincle for lots of interesting stuff!).
I’m going to work to limit the amount of sugar and highly processed foods. I’m also going to prepare foods in advance. Each week will have a slight variation in the menu to make sure things don’t get boring.
Here’s this week’s menu and accompanying recipe:
- Wholemeal dinosaur banana muffins
- Strawberries (these have just come into season and are excellent quality)
- Wholemeal blueberry pikelets
- Carrot sticks + dip
- Ham and avocado on wholegrain wrap
Wholemeal dinosaur banana muffins:
This is from a Women’s Weekly cookbook. I substituted wholemeal flour for white refined flour. I left out the sugar. Bananas are sweet enough without additional sugar. I also, accidentally, forgot to add the 1/3cup of oil to one batch (I did a double batch). Can’t tell which is the batch with oil and which is without! Finally, I used skim milk instead of buttermilk.
- 2 cups SR flour (I used wholemeal SR flour)*
- 1/3 cup plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I left this out)
- 1 cup mashed banana (I added about 1.5 cups)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used skim milk)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
*When substituting wholemeal flour in place of regular white flour you will likely need to add a bit extra liquid as the wholemeal absorbs more moisture making the batter stiffer.
- Preheat oven to 200oC/180C fan-forced. Great 12-hole muffin pan. To create additional interest I bought some dinosaur shaped cupcake moulds from Kmart for $3 each.
- Sift flours (don’t sift wholemeal flour!), cinnamon, soda and sugar into large bowl; stir in banana, eggs, buttermilk and oil. Do not overmix. Spoon mixture into pan holes.
- Bake muffins about 20 minutes. Stand muffins in pan 5 minutes. Turn, top-side up onto wire rack to cool.
Wholemeal pikelets with blueberries:
- 1 cup of wholemeal SR flour
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp caster sugar (which I omitted)
- Handful of frozen blueberries
As with the muffins, I made a double batch to make sure I had plenty for the school week.
This week will be hommus, which the kids like.
- 600g canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 100ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp tahini paste (which I routinely leave out, but when hubby makes it, he puts it in)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Juice of 1 lemon
I’ll send that to school with carrot sticks or wholegrain rice crakers.
And that’s it for this week’s lunchbox. My goal is to train my children’s palate so that they prefer whole foods, crunchy, fresh foods. Even though children seem to be universally drawn to sugar, I’m going to try to re-train their taste buds to prefer flavour over sugar. All the while, my one, simple, guiding principle will be – whole foods wherever possible.
And if you get a chance, watch the Globesity episode. It’s frightening.