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Deliciously Organic: Back-to-School Lunch ideas and Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back-to-School Lunch ideas and Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

It's been a great week. We're getting used to our school routine and I'm enjoying getting back to the gym each morning. I really missed the gym this summer!

Last week, I gave you tips on nourishing breakfasts and today I want to share my ideas for packing a healthy lunch. I like to keep things simple for lunch. I could give you ornate recipes but really, who has the time? My goal is to help you move away from boxed, processed foods and towards wholesome real food - so you know exactly what you're feeding your family. Because mornings can be hectic, I strive to keep the fridge and pantry stocked with the necessary foods so we can throw together healthy lunches in just a matter of minutes. Since I like to keep things simple, I have a list of foods to buy instead a list of recipes.

Sliced organic meats (if you can't find organic try to find meats without preservatives. Especially nitrates)
A variety of cheese: raw cheddar, Monterrey Jack, and mozzarella
Homemade Ranch, for dipping
Fruits, of all kinds
Homemade hummus
Nuts - pecans, almonds, cashews
Frozen berries
Whole wheat tortillas
Whole wheat bread (I prefer sprouted wheat or sourdough)
Organic corn chips
Olive oil potato chips
Organic fruit leather (Trader Joe's also carries a great variety)
Hard-boiled eggs
Canned tuna
Homemade Beef Jerky

Before school starts each year I sit my kids down and have them tell me what they would like in their lunches. Their tastes change, so I always want to have healthy foods they enjoy for lunch. The girls make their own lunches. We started this as soon as they began school and it's worked like a charm. They decide what they're going to eat with only one rule: they must pack at least one vegetable in their lunch every day. I wake them up 15 minutes early and after they're dressed, they make their lunches while I get breakfast ready. It works for our family and helps the kids learn a little responsibility. Since they pack their own food, they rarely return home with uneaten items.

Here are some of the things we pack:

1. Whole wheat tortilla with cheese and cilantro (put on a skillet until cheese is melted and serve at room temperature)

2. Yogurt with frozen berries and honey drizzled on top (by the time they get to school, the berries will be thawed, but still nice and cold)

3. Sandwiches and wraps - get creative. Use different condiments along with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, roasted bell peppers and cheese. My daughter also likes to put a few olive oil potato chips in her sandwich. She calls it "crunchifying" the sandwich.

4. Carrot sticks, cucumbers, and any other vegetable they like with homemade ranch or hummus.

5. If your child enjoys salad, I suggest this container. Layer vegetables in the bottom bowl and pour in a bit of dressing in the top compartment. When it's time to eat, simply push the button and the dressing pours over the salad. Shake, and your done!

6. Here are a couple other salads that taste great at room temperature: Mexican Quinoa Salad, Wild Rice Thai Salad 

7. Sometimes I pop popcorn for a fun addition to lunch. You could also make some homemade Cracker Jacks.

8. Quick tuna salad - combine drained tuna with about a tablespoon of mayonnaise, chopped pickles and celery. My daughter loves this either by itself or on whole wheat toast.

9. Larabars make an easy, quick addition either for lunch or to pack as a snack. Here is my recipe for Pecan Pie Larabars.

10. Caesar salad wraps - a Caesar salad wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

11. I found this recipe for coconut flour cookies the other day and can't wait to try it. Perfect for a treat at the end of lunch!

Another topic I can't stress enough is the importance of drinking water. I see to many kids packing boxed juices loaded with sugars, corn syrup, and preservatives. Even the ones that say "pure juice" have been pasteurized so there isn't much nutrition left in them. Kids need water. At the beginning of the year, buy a water bottle (I prefer stainless steel) and have them fill it with water each day. You'll save hundreds of dollars over the course of the year and your children will benefit from a much more healthy habit.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
I soak and then dehydrate all of my nuts because nuts contain enzyme inhibitors that make it difficult for the body to digest. Soaking the nuts in salt water overnight releases the enzyme inhibitors. The nuts are then dehydrated at a low temperature to keep all of the nutrients intact. The recipe for dehydrated nuts can be found here. Slightly adapted from Nourishing Traditions
Makes 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups dehydrated peanuts
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup arrowroot
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 300°F and adjust rack to middle position. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Place peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and process to a fine meal. Add coconut oil, arrowroot, salt, whole cane sugar, and vanilla. Process until dough comes together. If the dough is a little dry, add a tablespoon or so of water until the dough comes together. Form the dough into walnut-sized balls, place on baking sheet, and flatten just a bit with the back of a spoon to make an indentation on the top of the cookie. Fill each indentation with about 1/2 tablespoon per cookie. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool completely.

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Blogger Maria said...

Your girls are precious! Love all of your ideas...especially the cookies:)

August 25, 2010 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

Look at those cuties. You are blessed!
I think having your kiddos make lunch is brilliant. I never thought of having mine do that. Great tips!

August 25, 2010 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Easy peasy organic said...

Great ideas! You are seriously on a roll!

August 26, 2010 at 1:20 AM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Adorable kids and these look fabulous!

August 26, 2010 at 5:24 AM  
Blogger Me and My Pink Mixer said...

Great tips ~ thanks! Your girls are too cute! I made your version of Craker Jacks and loved them :)

August 26, 2010 at 6:35 AM  
Anonymous marla {family fresh cooking} said...

Excellent Back to School post!! Love your helpful suggestions. The photo of your girls is darling.
I have a BTS on the burner for tomorrow, I will link back to your post for sure. xo
The PB & J Cookies look amazing!

August 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Thanks for sharing the link to The Container Store! I had no idea such things were out there...their salad blaster bowl will make traveling with our food so much easier!

August 26, 2010 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Thanks for all of the great tips and links. It's fabulous how you take such good care of your family.

Your girls are beautiful and they look so happy and healthy. Great job, Mom!

August 26, 2010 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

What great ideas and incredible photos. You make me want to jump right into my computer screen and start eating!

August 26, 2010 at 8:49 AM  
Anonymous City Share said...

Those peanut butter and jelly cookies look fabulous. My husband loves peanut butter. Thanks for the idea.

August 26, 2010 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Marie said...

Great post, awesome blog-as a mommy and blogger myself (plus being a registered dietitian too) I applaud you!

:) Marie

August 27, 2010 at 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Can you please explain the difference between strawberry jam vs. jelly and which is better for you? My local Farmers Market carries both and I'm also not sure which one to get.

Thinking of adding this to your PB & J cookies.


August 29, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Healthy. Happy. Well. said...

Great back to school pics. I have no kids, but these are all great ideas for packing my lunch for work. Thanks for posting!

August 30, 2010 at 12:02 AM  
Anonymous Cucee Sprouts said...

What a great article. Here are some other ideas for healthy back to school snacks and lunches

August 31, 2010 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

Sue: Jelly is a clear and bright mixture made by cooking juice down with sugar, pectin and lemon juice. There is no fruit in it. Jam is made of crushed or chopped fruit along with sugar, pectin and lemon juice. It's usually a soft pulp or puree with no chunks of fruit. My fav. is preserves which is made by boiling fruit and sugar until thick and syrupy.

September 1, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Catherine @ Cat on a Limb said...

Great cookie idea! I'm going to try them out as my son is a big PB&J guy.

As far as the fat good/bad idea goes, I recently ran across a lecture from UC San Francisco that's all about how sugar is the culprit in obesity, heart disease, as well as diabetes, etc. The link is:

Thanks so much for your great recipes!

September 2, 2010 at 10:05 AM  
Blogger Catherine @ Cat on a Limb said...

Oh, I should say, even though the whole lecture talks about sugar in general, all the studies that he talks about were done with refined table sugar. I'm not sure how the whole sugar would do, biochemically speaking, although I know there is definitely a difference in outward physical reaction for me and my kids.

September 2, 2010 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Deliciously Organic said...

Catherine: Thanks for the link. I'll take a look!

September 3, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Thank you for answering my question about jelly vs. jam. I really appreciate it! :)

September 6, 2010 at 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Sue said...

Thank you for answering my question about jelly vs. jam. I really appreciate it! :)

September 6, 2010 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger the savvy host said...

delicious ideas - especially for family gatherings! glad to have found your blog!

October 8, 2010 at 7:17 PM  

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