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Healthy School Snacks and Lunches Your Kids Will Love

Wow time flies! It seems like only yesterday I was writing about the start of summer and now here we are prepping for the back to school season.

Talking with parents I have found that feeding their kids during the school day is one of the most stressful things they do. There is never enough time and although they want their kids to eat healthfully during the day they also don’t want to prepare foods that will get brought home uneaten or thrown out. The struggle is real!

Below I have come up with a list of kid favourite recipes that you can make for breakfast, lunch, snacks or even dinner. They are healthy, tasty and come together really quickly (always important).

Berry and Chia Seed Jam

While the idea of making your own jam may seem overwhelming and like something you would NEVER do. I can assure you this berry and chia seed jam is super simple to make, with the added nutrition of chia seeds and just a splash of maple syrup (vs traditional jams which are loaded with sugar).

3 cups of mixed berries (I used frozen)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp chia seeds

  • In a medium-sized pot bring the berries and 2 tbsp of maple syrup to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and stir often. The fruit will soften and the jam will start to thicken.
  • Once the fruit has cooked down a bit, stir in the chia seeds and cook the jam down until it thickens to your desired consistency, about 15 minutes. Stir often.
  • Once jam reaches your desired thickness remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Use wherever you would use regular jam. I am partial to adding a scoop of jam to yogurt and nuts or seeds to make a breakfast or snack parfait!
  • Store in a sealed container for about a week.

Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes? This version comes together in no time at all and is perfect for breakfast or packed for a school lunch or snack. If you make a large batch you can keep them in the freezer and then just pop in the toaster to reheat for a quick on the go breakfast (or store in the fridge for a few days and pop out as a quick snack. My kids love them cold!)

2 cups of oats (blended into a flour)
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

1 cup water
1 egg
2 bananas (mashed)
1 oz of dark chocolate
1-2 tbsp butter or coconut oil

  • Quickly blend the oats in a blender or food processor until they are a flour consistency (should take only a few seconds).
  • Add oats to a large bowl and then add in remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Add more water if batter is too thick (however it is a slightly thick batter)
  • Add a tbsp. of butter or coconut oil to a hot pan (medium heat) and then scoop batter into pan cooking the pancakes for about 2-3 minutes/side depending on size (until cooked through).

Tuna Salad

This takes a classic and just kicks it up a notch with the addition of healthy fats in the avocado and an assortment of veggies. Serve on whole grain bread, a wrap or by itself. I like mine on a bed of greens (but my kids aren’t quite there yet )

3 cans of tuna (drained)
1 avocado (mashed)
2 tbsp of yogurt
1 tbsp of mayo
1 pickle (chopped)
2 ribs of celery (diced)
1/2 bell pepper (diced)
2 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
    Enjoy!

Wraps Two Ways

Kids love wraps! They make a seemingly boring sandwich somehow feel special.

Two of my favourites are the taco wrap and veggies and hummus. Both quick and easy and packed with protein and healthy fats to keep kids (and adults) feeling full and satiated.

Taco Wrap

1 whole grain wrap
1 lb ground beef
Taco seasoning mix (1 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt and pepper) –or to
taste
Toppings: Avocado, shredded cheese, yogurt, diced tomato, salsa

  • Cook ground beef over medium heat until fully cooked through. Drain off any
    excess fat.
  • Season with spice mix to your personal taste.
  • Add meat to wrap and then add favourite toppings.

Hummus and Veggie Wrap

1 whole grain wrap
2 tbsp of hummus
Assortment of vegetables (chopped)- cucumber, carrots, bell pepper, lettuce etc.

  • Spread hummus on the wrap and fill with favourite veggies!

Chocolate chia pudding or popsicles

I have been experimenting a lot this season with different popsicle flavours and while I like the classic fruit combinations, this chocolate one is so decadent and delicious that I had to include it here.

1 can coconut milk
½ can filled up of dairy or almond milk
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp chia seeds

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and either eat as a pudding or freeze
    into popsicles.

Sweet Potato Mac n Cheese

I am a big fan of cramming extra nutrition wherever I can and this mac n cheese is no exception! A roasted sweet potato adds a subtle sweetness, gorgeous colour and countless nutrients. You can sub other veggies too, such as roasted squash or cauliflower (just need to puree cauliflower after cooking so it is a smooth consistency).

2 cups of pasta
1 baked sweet potato
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Bake sweet potato in the oven at 350F until fork tender (or microwave).
  • While potato is baking boil your water and prepare your pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta after fully cooked and leave to the side.
  • While pasta is cooking prepare a roux by melting butter in a saucepan and then adding in the flour, stirring until they are well combined.
  • Add in your milk and stir until lumps are dissolved and the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Lastly, add the cheese and stir until thoroughly combined. (This is your cheese sauce)
  • Once sweet potato is cooked remove the skin and mash the flesh into your cheese sauce.
  • Add cheese and potato mixture into your cooked pasta and stir until pasta is coated in the sauce mixture.

Smoothies

Smoothies are one of my favourite go to breakfasts or snacks. First off, most kids love them (especially when served with a straw!) and you can cram lots of fruits, veggies and healthy add ins like seeds, nut butters and avocado. Play around with different combinations to find one that you and your family love. I find frozen banana will mask just about any other flavour, so get creative and toss in some spinach or other greens. Start with a liquid (water or milk work well), then add some frozen fruit, fresh greens and then some extras such as chia or hemp seeds.

Blend and enjoy!

I hope these recipes help make back to school meal planning more enjoyable and let me know how you and your family like them and what your go to favourites are!

Allison Martineau, BHSc, MS has over 10 years experience working in health and nutrition.  She has a passion for sharing her nutritional strategies with expectant and new families to make cooking and eating for health during the preconception, pregnancy and postpartum periods simple and convenient.

Allison runs a nutrition practice called Sweetpea Nutrition and is the nutritionist at West End Mamas .  She lives in Toronto with her husband and two young sons.

 

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