Feeding children healthy snacks can be tricky. It's easy to fall into the processed food trap when being a busy parent.
Let me share some ideas that I’ve taken from my son's lunch box creations. Please keep in mind that the following snack foods are in addition to your child's healthy family meals but can also be added to family picnics, days out exploring and adventuring along our beautiful coast.
When I bake, I aim to substitute any recipe with gluten free flour or almond flour. You can also add green banana flour as extra fibre and coconut sugar or monk fruit sweetener instead of regular flour and refined sugar. Some baked treats I make are banana bread, healthy muffins (sweet or savoury), chickpea falafels or various types of legume patties.
Whenever I use pre-packaged food I choose:
- Organic brown rice bars or seed and fruits bars (always read the labels!)
- Rice crackers with quinoa , plain corn chips or plain potato chips (no additives)
- Veggie chips
- Seaweed sheets
Plain popcorn with coconut oil
I always include variations of the following in the lunch box as well:
- Different types of seasonal fruit
- Cut up veggie sticks
- Cherry tomatoes
And rotate the following:
- Sultanas (organic) or dried fruits such as mangos or sun dried bananas
- Cheese (you could use lactose free or goat cheese or cashew cheese depending on your child’s needs)
- Brown rice crackers and dip e.g. hummus
- Olives (yes my kids love these)
- Corn/rice cruskits with cheese and tomato/avocado or various nut butters
- Steamed broccoli with olive oil and savoury yeast flakes
- Nuts / seeds if you daycare or school allows it
- Yoghurt (low sugar, no colours) or coconut yogurt
- Boiled eggs are also a good snack/lunch box food too if your child can eat eggs
Smoothies are great for breakfast or an after school snack - we love making green smoothies.
The key to packing a child’s lunchbox is to ensure they are having adequate protein in their day. Protein foods besides animal protein include eggs, nuts (if school allows these), legumes e.g. beans, tofu, tempeh. Lentil pasta is also a good alternative, which is gluten free and high in protein. Protein sustains blood sugar levels and aids concentration. It keeps kids fuller for longer.
If you are choosing bread, use a wholemeal bread, which has a lower GI value. I use organic spelt/kamut or buckwheat bread or gluten free wraps.
If your child has difficulties adjusting to certain foods, begin by making little changes to your childs’ eating habits, which can lead to big changes…. e.g. adding in one additional piece of fruit instead of a sugar coated muesli bar. Making homemade sushi takes a bit more effort but it’s always a win-win in our family.
Here is a recipe for a healthy lunch box to share:
EASY CHICKPEA PATTIES
You will need:
- Chickpeas/garbanzo beans – for convenience, I sometimes use tinned organic chickpeas.
- Brown/yellow onion – adds great flavour. You can use white onion if you prefer.
- Parsley – some Italian flat-leaf parsley adds nutrition and fresh flavour.
- Aquafaba – this is the liquid from drained chickpeas. I use a small amount of the liquid to bring the mixture together.
- Cumin – some ground cumin adds gentle, aromatic spice.
- Salt – sea salt is an essential flavour booster; without it, the patties would be dull. I use Himalayan salt, not table salt, as it’s less processed and also contains lots of essential minerals.
- Cayenne – a small amount adds a hint of spice. You could use freshly ground black pepper if you prefer. Or paprika if your child doesn’t like any spice.
- Carrot – some grated carrot adds flavour and is a great way to incorporate some vegetables without it being obvious.
- Chia seeds – as the patties do not contain egg or breadcrumbs, I use chia seeds to bind them together.
- Rice flour and olive oil or ghee – we coat the patties in the flour before frying in olive oil or ghee. This helps give them a slightly crispy exterior.
- 1400 g (tin of chickpeas) – drained and the liquid (aquafaba) reserved
- ½ medium brown onion – chopped in small dices, prep weight 90 g
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley – roughly chopped
- 2 ½ tablespoons chia seeds – black or white
- 6 teaspoons (30 ml) aquafaba – liquid from tin of chickpeas
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ large carrot – grated, prep weight 85 g
For coating/frying the patties:
- Process the mixture:
Add the chickpeas, onion, parsley, aquafaba, spices, carrot and chia seeds to a food processor. Process until the mixture is combined, but still has some texture.
- Measure the patties:
Use an ice cream scoop to evenly measure the patties. Add the scoops of the mixture to a large plate that is covered with cling wrap.
- Shape the Chickpea Patties:
Firmly shape the scooped chickpea mixture into patties and place the patties into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
- Coat in flour:
Add the rice flour to a large plate and coat both sides of the patties in the flour.
- Fry the patties in batches:
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil or ghee over medium heat until it is hot but not smoking then add the patties. Cook for about 3 minutes and when golden brown, carefully turn and cook the other side.
- The golden patties ready to serve:
If cooking in batches, drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. To keep the patties warm while cooking the remainder, place the plate in a preheated 90 °C oven.
Repeat with the remaining patties, adding extra oil or ghee if required.
Enjoy these patties in a lunch box or as a family meal!
Note: Banner Photo from Seed and Sprout.