Once again another summer has flown by way too quickly and I realize school time is here already!! Mornings are hectic around here - everyone needs to be washed and combed and dressed and fed and brushed and out the door by 7:15, so I can go milk cows. In the midst of all this chaos we still need to plan ahead for lunchtime, too.
There are many attempts around the U.S. to make school lunches healthier - but most schools are still like our local school and have a very small budget to work within, which means heavy on the carbs and starches and processed foods to remain within budget. For those of you trying to eat a traditional foods diet this can be frustrating. Many of us working moms would love the convenience of school lunches but know we have to prioritize our children's health.
Let Them Help
I have found that if my daughter gets to choose her lunch foods and helps prepare it then she has complete confidence eating it in front of all the pre-packaged and fried goodies that her friends have. Now that she's 5 she loves to help by cutting up her own fruit and veggies and packaging them in her lunch box and she also helps make her own smoothies in the blender. We also practice the 80/20 rule at school, just like we do at home. If we eat a traditional foods diet 80% of the time than we give ourselves 20% leeway. In this case I let her choose one lunch per week if she'd like to indulge in a cheeseburger or spaghetti or "chicken" nuggets. This also gives me an "out" if we are really running late or I ran out of time to prepare for lunch. Moms - it's ok to give yourself some grace and not be perfect every time!!
This week when I asked her what she wanted in her school lunch box she said, "meatballs, oranges, grapes and a yogurt smoothie." Excellent choices!! I was so proud of her! So this is what we are starting with the first week. She helps me make kefir smoothies with honey and frozen blueberries we picked this summer and we put it in a thermos and it stays cold enough for her to drink it through a straw. She's not a big sandwich person so meatballs or hunks of our home raised chicken is just right and she's huge on mixed fruit, especially if she can peel the little "cutie" oranges herself.
Other great options we will prepare: steamed broccoli and carrots and some homemade hummus or ranch dressing to dip them in. For the dip, I simply make some fromage blanc with raw milk, stir in some minced chives, parsley and garlic salt and it tastes just like ranch dressing from the store only far healthier. If you mix the fromage blanc with a little honey it makes a nutritious and delicious fruit dip, too. It can also be spread on bread or a tortilla for a sandwich - stack it or roll it with other goodies your child will eat.
Sneak in the Enzymes
A challenge for me is getting enough fermented veggies in my kid's bellies - I still have to disguise them or mask them. This week I am serving our homemade ketchup with her meatballs. We use Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions which I've listed below. Shivan also loves the homemade fermented pickles and has no idea they are full of enzymes to help start the process of digestion and reduce the strain on the pancreas. Traditionally fermented salami slices are another healthy meat option whether on a sandwich or roll up with some fromage blanc again. Yogurt and kefir and even raw milk in a thermos will satisfy, feed the brain and the immune system!
Additional lunch box ideas:
- hard boiled eggs, sliced plain or in sandwiches and wraps
- homemade (or purchased :) raw milk cheeses, cubed
- sliced traditionally fermented salami
- pepperoni sticks from (our) grass fed beef cow
- muffins with grated zucchini, carrots, or sweet potato
- sliced pita triangles dipped in hummus or fromage blanc dip
- homemade chicken soup packed in a thermos
- Leftovers! - lasagna, pastas,
casseroles in a thermos are all satisfying and nutritious
Lacto-fermented ketchup, rich with enzymes, is easy to make - mix the ingredients together and let ferment on the counter for a couple days.
Nourishing Traditions "Ketchup"
3 cups canned tomato paste, preferably organic
1/4 cup whey
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup homemade or commercial fish sauce
Mix all ingredients until well blended. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jar. The top of the ketchup should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Leave at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.
The Healthy Home Economist has a great recipe out this week for Lacto-Fermented Sloppy Joes using this homemade ketchup - we will definitely be eating them this week.
Charlotte passionately believes in the health benefits of a traditional foods diet, especially dairy products from grass-fed cows. She loves sharing time honored traditions of transforming milk into delicious and nutritious cheeses through her classes which are also teeming with nutrition facts and wisdom. Charlotte owns Champoeg Creamery, a pasture based raw milk dairy in St. Paul, Oregon, and is the mother of 3 and a certified Nutrition Wellness Educator.