School lunch is a 5-days-a-week event that every parent has to manage, and sometimes it can feel like a challenge to come up with fresh ideas. A helpful strategy is to include your children in the process of choosing and creating lunch. Children love to spend time with their parents, and having them wash the produce is an easy way to involve them. A simple way to start the process is to have them choose a protein, vegetable, and fruit. Typical school lunches often include foods that are inflammatory and can cause our children to be sluggish in the afternoon. A great way to avoid this is to create lunches that are gluten-free and free of refined sugar.
American Theme Lunchbox Menu:
- Gluten-free Chicken fingers
- Honey mustard dipping sauce
- Cucumber and carrot sticks
- Sliced apples
Chicken Fingers Recipe: Cut chicken breast into strips, season with sea salt and pepper, dip chicken strips in beaten egg, then toss in seasoned gluten-free Panko, then bake on parchment paper lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or fry in avocado oil until cooked through.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce Recipe: Mix together ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup mayo, ¼ cup Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp white vinegar, and ¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
Asian Theme Lunchbox Menu:
- Gluten-free teriyaki chicken with sesame seeds (use store-bought gluten-free teriyaki sauce or make homemade)
- Vegetable sushi roll with fermented cabbage, carrot, and cucumber
- Pickled ginger
- Cucumber slices
- Clementine or mandarin orange slices
Teriyaki Chicken Recipe: Create homemade teriyaki sauce by whisking together 2 tbsp arrowroot, ¼ cup water, ¼ cup gluten-free soy sauce (or Braggs Aminos), ¼ cup honey, ½ tsp fresh grated ginger. Coat chicken in marinade and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit covered with foil until cooked through (about 20 minutes, with internal temperature of 165). Let chicken rest for 15 minutes and then slice and drizzle teriyaki sauce and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
Fermented Cabbage Recipe: Slice red cabbage into small slivers, place in large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp sea salt, and then massage cabbage slices with salt for 15-20 minutes until softer and wet. Add softened wet cabbage slices into large Mason jar and push down into jar to let liquid rise over cabbage. Let sit in jar at room temperature for 1-2 weeks to ferment. Open jar daily to let out gas and push cabbage below liquid line. (Note: fermented cabbage offers healthy probiotics to support gut health!)
Mediterranean Theme Lunch Box Menu:
- Sun-dried tomato pesto chicken breast (Recipe Here)
- Red beet hummus (Recipe Here)
- Stuffed olives
- Gluten-free crackers
- Chopped cantaloupe and blackberries
Mexican Theme Lunch Box Menu:
- Cubed chicken breast (seasoned with salt and pepper)
- Guacamole or mashed avocado
- Corn tortillas
- Sliced bell peppers
- Black bean corn salsa
Black Bean Corn Salsa Recipe: Mix together 1 can black beans (drained), 1 cup frozen corn, ½ red onion (diced), ¼ cup minced cilantro, juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste.
Guacamole Recipe: Mash 1 ripe avocado and mix with ½ tsp sea salt, juice of 1 lime, 1 tbs minced cilantro, 2 tbsp chopped tomato, 2 tbsp onion (chopped). (Tip: Coat top of guacamole or mashed avocado container with thin layer of olive oil or avocado oil to prevent oxidation and graying.)