We’re into the final part in a four part series of our eat by design school lunch series. You can check out the previous steps here:
A Full Fridge
School Lunch Basics
Making Lunch Fun
Okay, okay. Yes, if we get the kids to eat the proteins, veggies, fruits, and fats it’s awesome. But they are kids. And at school they are surrounded by other kids. Other kids with lunch boxes that contain candy, chocolate chip cookies, chips, chocolate bars, crackers, and other things that just don’t equate in my world to stuff I want my kids eating.
Case in point. I took this picture at the grocery store the other day. What used to be on the shelves for one day a year, is now marketed towards kids and their parents for back to school “treats”.
I don’t know about you but if a big box of 95 candy bars are in my home, most will be consumed in a short amount of time. That’s why I don’t keep them in the house. Period.
Here are my food rules. I want my kids to grow up with an appreciation for good food. I want my kids to grow up with the understanding of why we choose to eat healthy food. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy relationship with food. But I also remember what it’s like to be a kid, see lots of other kids (if not every other kid) with a treat in their lunch box, and be happy that I have a treat too.
So, I feel like part of my compromise with Eating by Design is that I give my kids something that makes them smile each time they open their lunch box. They may be healthier versions of a treat but they are still a treat. The first goal of eating by design is to eat real food. To me that means that I choose whole foods over and above processed ones. But the 80/20 rule means that I send a treat in my kids’ lunch boxes.
[Side note: Eat by Design recipes are very similar to Paleo recipes. One of my biggest beef with many paleo bloggers and foodies is that they have tried to “paleoize” some of the worst foods on the planet – doughnuts for example. I eat by design because it’s the way I was designed to eat. My body functions at its absolute best when it’s fed eat by design foods. It does not function well on a paleo doughnut. Stepping off soapbox now.]
Back to my kids lunch boxes….
Some of the treats that my kids and I agree upon are:
- nut-free homemade granola bars
- homemade dark chocolate bark
- by design muffins
- by design cookies
- nut-free trail mix
- fruit leather (how easy is this!!)
You’ll notice I keep mentioning “nut free”. Of course any parent sending their kids to school these days knows of “peanut free” or “nut free” schools. This hampers some of the treats I make at home, including granola bars & trail mix because nuts are completely out of the question. Here’s the good thing – seeds are okay. So is coconut. So, stick with those two base ingredients for treats and you’re golden.
EBD Granola Bars
(modified from Paleo Chewy Granola Bars from PaleoMom)
- 2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 3/4 cup pepitas
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1/3 cup coconut oil melted
- ¼ cup sunflower butter
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
- 1½ Tbsp water
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup your favorite chopped dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9”x13” baking pan with coconut oil.
2. Mix ground flax seed with water and let sit for 3-4 minutes.
3. Pulse pepitas in a food processor a couple of times to break up to the size of sunflower seeds.
4. Add coconut oil, almond butter, eggs, honey and vanilla to flax goop and mix well.
5. Add coconut flour and baking soda and stir to combine.
6. Add shredded coconut, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chocolate chips and dried fruit. Stir to combine.
7. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan. Spread out and flatten well with your hand or the back of a spatula.
8. Bake for 22-23 minutes, until golden brown. They will puff up slightly while baking, so immediately after removing from the oven, flatten the bars with the back of a spatula (or something else heat resistant and flat).
9. Let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars (I actually like to refrigerate before cutting). Cut into bars (I usually get 18-20) and wrap individual bars in plastic wrap. I prefer to store these in the refrigerator.
I don’t make this often because it doesn’t last long. It’s that freakn’ good.
- 2 c dark chocolate
- 2 1/2 c of add-ins (raisins, cranberries, coconut, bacon [oh yes, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it], goji berries, pepitas, etc.)
- coconut oil
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. While melting, grease an 8×12 dish with coconut oil. Pour melted chocolate into dish and sprinkle add-ins on top evenly. Let cool completely and break apart.
By Design Banana Muffins
My favourite EBD muffin is the Simple Blueberry Muffin by Paleomg but they contain almond butter and almond flour so they are out for school lunches. But honestly, they are awesome for breakfast or snack around the house.
So I give you a delicious (modified) banana bread recipe, which I make into muffins, from Civilized Caveman instead. A note on using sunflower butter. When heated & combined with baking soda, sunflower butter turns green so if your muffins have a greenish tinge, it’s all good. Eat and enjoy.
- 4 bananas, mashed
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 c sunflower butter
- 4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 c coconut flour
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
- Combine your bananas, eggs, and nut butter, and grass-fed butter in a bowland mix well (if using a mixing bowl I use a hand mixer)
- Once all of your ingredients are blended, add in your coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt and mix well
- Grease a 9×5 glass pan with a fat of your choice (I used coconut oil). If you use a metal pan it will probably bake in 35-40 minutes so start checking at 35 to ensure the middle stays moist
- Pour in your batter and spread it evenly throughout
- Place in your preheated oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
- Remove from oven and flip your bread out onto a cooling rack
- Slice and serve
Ginger Cookies from Paleo Parents
- 1/2 c sunflower seed butter
- 1/2 c grass-fed butter
- 1/4 c soaked dates
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1/3 C coconut flour
- 1/3 c tapioca flour (not by design….it’s a compromise)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 oz (1/3 c) crystallized ginger, diced finely diced
1. Combine wet ingredients in food processor
2. Add dry ingredients except for ginger to wet ingredients and pulse until combined.
3. Fold in crystallized ginger.
4. Form balls with your hand, about the size of a tablespoon
5. Set dough balls on cookie sheet and press down with palm of hand to flatten.
6. Bake at 325 for 10-14 minutes.
7. Let rest for 10 minutes.
EBD Trail Mix
I make a batch of this and keep it in a large mason jar in our fridge. So delicious and easy to grab a handful for a snack.
- 1 1/2 c shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 c pepitas
- 1/2 c sunflower seeds
- 1/2 c sesame seeds
- 1/3 c cranberries (or raisins, dried banana chips, dried apple chips, etc.)
- 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
Mix together and enjoy. If you want some flavour changes, roast the pepitas on a frying pan for 10 minutes at 325 with a bit of cinnamon.
So, there you have it. Some treat recipes to add into your kids lunches. I hope this series of posts has helped in getting your kids lunches prepped. I love the conversations that have evolved from friends, emails, comments, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in the office as a result of these posts.
Parents, know that you’re not alone when it comes to feeling overwhelmed with healthy school lunches! You’re in great company! Keep evolving. Try new recipes. Get your kids involved. And remember…even if something bombs with your family, it’s a step in the right direction. And that direction is BETTER HEALTH. And you’re a rock star for starting a movement in your own home towards it.