105 Kid-Tasted-and-Approved Healthy School Lunch Ideas- (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo Options Included)

Written by: Lauren Lax

Move over Cheetohs and Fruit Roll-ups!

“Kid food” and school lunches are getting a makeover with these updated (healthy, gut-friendly and brain-friendly) spins on some of our old childhood favorite food “classics.”

Below is all-you (and the kids) need to survive School Lunches with a “Wired to Eat” approach—eating foods you and your kids were intended to thrive upon—no added sugar, additives or hydrogenated oils included.

 

“KID-FOOD” IS A BUNCH OF CROCK

Growing up, what did you like to pack in your lunchbox for school?

Every year, I always had a new kick.

  • In kindergarten, I was all about crustless PB & J sandwiches on Iron Kids Bread with a side of Lay’s Potato Chips, Grapes and Oreos.
  • In 1st grade, my taste buds matured on to turkey and Kraft cheese singles, or Oscar Meyer’s bologna and cheese, on my Iron Kids Bread alongside some Doritos and Fruit Gushers.
  • Come 2nd grade, I reached “cool kid” status when my mom bought me turkey and cheese Lunchables, and on special occasions, Pizza or Nacho Lunchables.
  • And by 3rd and 4th grade, I expanded once more to turkey sandwiches on honey wheat bread, other types of fruit and pretzel sticks, and on special occasions, Bagel Bites or Ham & Cheese Hot Pockets with a Capri Sun.

Oh, sigh. The good ol’ days…

As a kid of the Processed Food Generation, I somehow lived to tell about it  (although, I KNOW my gut health in future years suffered tremendously).  And, chances are, if you have kids (or you eat like a kid yourself), they are somehow living to tell about eating these “kid classic” foods and snacks too.

Unfortunately,  in a society where 80% of the foods on grocery store shelves are Man-Made-Food-Like-Products, we’ve raised our kids (and ourselves) to believe that kids ONLY eat “kid food.”

We tell them (and ourselves) that kids are “picky,” and we’ve trained them (and ourselves) to believe that anything outside of the packaged, processed or sugar-filled version of a food is “yucky.”

In order to get them to eat anything “real” (an apple, broccoli, chicken, sweet potato), we have to dress it up in a sugar-filled peanut butter, fake cheese sauce, breaded coating or ketchup.

And we wonder WHY

Is there something in the water?

Our brains and bodies eat what our mouths eat.

While Goldfish, Gushers and Lunchables are definitely tasty “kid-friendly” foods, we are no longer living in the 80’s and 90’s—when processed foods were way cool.

Knowledge is power, and today, we have the knowledge (and awareness) that what we eat (and what our kids eat) matters for our brain health (1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940716/ , 2 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626) gut health (1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2016-11-08-common-food-additives-linked-to-bowel-cancer/, 2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/) and quality of life overall.

HEALTHY EATING DEFINED

Maybe you DO recognize that “food matters” and you are onboard for feeding your kids “healthy food”—however…pop question:

What IS healthy food anyway?

Is it whole grains? Organic boxed mac and cheese? Sugar-free pudding and Jell-O? 100% real fruit juice? Low-fat cheese?

Or is it something else….

A comparison between the Standard American Diet to the original human diet—real food (before processed foods and Twinkies happened), reveals two completely different versions of health.

On the left, we have:

Standard American Diet
Pretzel Sticks
Whole Wheat Bread
Low-fat Baby Bella Cheese
Go-Gurt
Watermelon Juice
High-Protein Chocolate Milk
Low-Sugar Cheerios Cereal

On the right, we have:

Original Human Diet
Meats, Fish, Eggs
Leafy greens, starchy tubers and fibrous veggies
Fresh Fruits
Plant Fats (Avocados, Olives, Coconut)
Animal Fats (Butter/Ghee, Tallow, Lard,
Nuts and seeds
—Foods our bodies (and our kids’ bodies) recognize as real food.

If “health” is being the most optimized version of a human being we can be (brain health and gut health included), you cannot go wrong with real food.

“BUT MY KID WON’T EAT REAL FOOD!”

Never say never…

KID-FRIENDLY LUNCHES

The good news?

“Healthier” foods don’t have to equal cardboard rice cakes, dry salads or grainy wheat bread.

Your kids (and you) CAN have your cake and eat it too with

105 Kid-Tasted-and-Approved Healthy Lunch Ideas (Real Food Included).

The best part?

You (and your kids) get to choose your adventure!

The following Real-Food School Lunch Cheat Sheet included categories with each of the food groups that make up a “balanced” meal—proteins, healthy fats, carbs (namely veggies and fruits) and of course, some healthy treats.

All you (and the kids) have to do?

Simply choose your adventure—mixing and matching different options at lunch time for TONS of flavor and variety for the year ahead!

Here’s to real food, healthy brains and loved guts.

All you need?

  • A Cool Insulated Lunchbox

(Bonus: You may, just may, notice a difference in your own kiddo’s behavior, demeanor and health the more you feed him or her real food options).

  • Dr. Lauryn’s 105 Kid-Tasted-and-Approved Healthy Lunch Ideas (Real Food Included).

 

“Grown up and kid friendly lunches…No boring dry salads recommended….”

KID-FRIENDLY LUNCHES

CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE

Pick and choose one option from each group. (Or see Meal Combo Ideas below for inspiration on how to put together a mean, lean lunch that puts the Hot Pockets to shame)

PROTEINS
    • Burger Patties
    • Rotisserie chicken meat
    • Grass-fed burger sliders
    • Ground turkey patties
    • Hard-boiled Eggs
    • Canned or packet of wild tuna/salmon
    • Grilled salmon
    • Homemade egg/tuna/chicken salad (made with Dijon or Primal Mayo)
    • Taco Meat
    • Pulled Pork
    • Homemade Chicken Nuggets (made with almond flour, arrowroot or coconut flour)
    • Fish Sticks (made with almond flour or coconut flour)
    • Turkey/Bison Meatball Bites
    • Homemade Chili or Chicken Soup
    • Organic Chicken Thighs
    • Salmon Burger Patties
    • Chicken Drumsticks
    • Meat & Veggie skewers
    • Egg Muffins or Omelets
    • Omelets
    • Nitrate-free Prepared Meats
      • Bacon
      • Hot Dogs
      • Jerky
      • Sausages
    • Nitrate-free Deli Meats
      • Chicken
      • Ham
      • Pepperoni
      • Salami
      • Turkey
      • Prosciutto

       

      FATS
    • Plain Grass-fed Yogurt
    • Olives
    • Avocado/Guacamole
    • Almond Butter, Cashew Butter, or Sunbutter
    • Coconut Butter & Coconut Oil Packets
    • Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing http://amzn.to/2vWzfoi
    • Primal Kitchen Honey Mustard http://amzn.to/2fFYi8D
    • Grass-fed Butter
    • Ghee
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (drizzle on salad greens or veggies)
    • Olives
    • Paleo Mayo (avocado oil) http://amzn.to/2vWgCk4
    • Raw, Grass-fed, Full-fat Cheese (cheddar, goat cheese, feta)
    • Full-fat, Plain Coconut Yogurt
    • Raw, Grass-fed, Full-fat Yogurt (Strauss Family Creamery or Wallaby’s plain, no-sugar added)
    • Goat’s Milk Yogurt & Kefir
    • Nuts (opt for raw; Almonds, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Macadamias, Pistachios, Walnuts)
    • Seeds (Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds)

 

VEGGIES
    • Asparagus (wrapped in turkey bacon)
    • Beets, Steamed
    • Bell Peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Butternut Squash (diced) or “Mac & Cheese” version (see above)
    • Cabbage/Slaw
    • Carrots/Carrot Fries
    • Cauliflower/ “Cauliflower Popcorn”)
    • Cauliflower Mash/Rice
    • Celery Sticks
    • Cucumber (with mayo dip)
    • Crispy Brussels Sprouts
    • Green Beans
    • Kale/Kale Chips
    • Kimichi (or sauerkraut)
    • Lettuce/Salad
    • Pickles
    • Spinach
    • Snap Peas
    • Spaghetti Squash
    • Sweet Peppers
    • Sweet Potatoes/Sweet Potato Chips/Fries
    • Tomatoes (Baby)
    • Zucchini Chips (Baked)
    • Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles)

 

FRUITS
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon
  • Dried Fruit (eat sparingly; opt for no added sugar/high-fructose corn syrup)
    • Apple Chips
    • Banana Chips
    • Cranberries
    • Dried Dates
    • Fruit Leather (no sugar added)
    • Plantain Chips
    • Prunes
    • Raisins

     

    EXTRA TOUCHES & TREATS (OPTIONAL)
  • Simple Mills Crackers (grain-free crackers, like these: http://amzn.to/2lgfU8n)
  • Siete Coconut Flour Tortillas
  • Siete Tortilla Chips
  • Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potatoes
  • Grain-free Granola (Like Paleonola http://amzn.to/2lbUbTc)
  • Small Square of Dark Chocolate
  • Evolved Chocolate Patty
  • Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • Homemade Larabars (fruit included)
  • Homemade Banana Bread (made with almond/coconut flour)
  • Homemade Muffins (peach, strawberry, blueberry, banana)
  • Avocado-Cacao Pudding
  • Chia pudding made with coconut milk
  • “Powerballs” (made with 1 TBSP nutbutter, 1 TBSP coconut flakes and 1 TBSP Enjoy Life chocolate chips per ball; store in freezer then move to fridge once hardened)
  • Homemade Energy Bar (fruit included)

“Balance: Teach kids to fuel their bodies with REAL food MOST of the time. The other 20-percent? Let life happen.”

 

  • THE MENU: 10 KID-FRIENDLY LUNCH IDEAS (includes proteins, veggies and fats in one)

            • “Cheesy” Spaghetti. (Spaghetti Squash* + Ground Turkey Meat* + Shredded Grass-fed Cheddar or Dairy Free Cheese Sauce* ). Side of Broccoli Fritters.*
            • AB & J. Natural Raw Almond Butter (Other options: Sun-butter, Peanut Butter, or Turkey & Cheese) + Coconut Flour Bread* or Coconut Flour Tortilla + 100% Natural Fruit Preserves (Other option: Sliced Bananas or Apples) + Baby Carrots + Goat’s Milk Yogurt (Redwood Hills)
            • Quesadillas. Coconut Flour Tortillas + Grass-fed Cheese + Organic Turkey + Bell-Peppers + Primal Kitchen Ranch Dip
            • Meatballs. Turkey Meatballs + Honey Mustard* + Carrot Fries
            • Chic-Fil-A Chicken Tenders* + Sweet Potato Fries* + Zucchini Chips*
            • Chicken Sausage Link + Celery Sticks with Sun-butter + Berries + Dark Chocolate Square
            • Tuna Salad* (Optional: Chicken) with Cucumbers + Diced Grapes + Simple Mills Cheddar Crackers http://amzn.to/2vDHVgK
            • Egg Muffins* + Turkey Bacon Wrapped Asparagus + Cantaloupe
            • Grown Up Lunchable  Organic Turkey & Ham Roll-ups + Simple Mills Crackers http://amzn.to/2fGn9sX or Homemade Plantain Crackers* + Grass-fed Cheese or Coconut Butter + Apple Slices

     

    Overwhelmed?

    Want help getting started, meal planning, transitioning your kiddo to real food or “food chaining” (introducing new foods)?

    Contact Dr. Lauryn or Book a session at Thrive Wellness & Recovery to learn more about her Family Fuel Program and her 1-on-1 work with kids and their families to improve their health, from the inside out.

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