With the start of the school year looming, many Aussie parents are scrambling to get ready – from picking up back-to-school supplies, uniforms and textbooks right down to the humble lunchbox. What should be a simple, nutritious source of fuel for our kids is often a vehicle for refined grains and ultra-processed snacks like chips and sugary yoghurts. Here are 3 FREE recipes that prove you can give your children the energy they need during the school day – minus the money and time losses many associate with healthy, wholesome food.
Kids are taking in more ultra-processed foods at school than ever, much of which is attached to a scarily-long list of ingredients we can’t even pronounce. These products are teeming with added sugars, preservatives and artificial additives. Whether it’s the so-called “healthy” muesli or cereal with added sugars, premade pasta sauces or even your humble loaf of white bread, you might be surprised at what you find in the ingredients lists of your staple brands. From the refined veggie oils to excess salt to anti-caking agents and food colouring, our kids are consuming rising amounts of inflammatory foods that set them up for a run of poor gut health and impaired concentration. These foods might be palatable, but they can throw kids’ gut microbiome out of order and leave them vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and more frequent infection. One study found that kids are consuming most of their daily calories from highly-processed foods, with the data following around 30, 000 children between the ages of 2 and 17. They found that a whopping 67% of their intake came from ultra-processed food. Whole fruits and veggies were found to be on a downward curve, which means many are missing out on a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals which play a role in keeping kids feeling fuller for longer and boosting mental clarity.
That’s why we’ve collated 3 simple, delicious and highly-nutritious healthy lunchbox ideas for kids to dig into this back-to-school season. These will keep them at their best throughout the school day – and with maths and lunchtime handball zapping their energy levels, they’ll need a powerful lunch!
Pulled Pork Parcels
These parcels are quick and easy to make – you can even enjoy them for dinner the night before and pack the leftovers in the kids’ lunches for ultimate thriftiness. You won’t believe they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to keep the little ones focused and full of energy for a game of 10-50-100.
Get the full recipe HERE.
- 24 rice paper wrappers
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- 2 cups leftover Slow Cooker Chinese Pork Shoulder
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 cups Steamed Asian Greens, to serve
- tamari or soy sauce, to serve
- Place one rice paper round in a medium bowl of lukewarm water for 10 seconds or until just soft. Place on a clean, damp tea towel or paper towel.
- Place 1 tablespoon coriander in the centre, top with about 1 heaped tablespoon of pulled pork. Fold up the sides of the wrapper to form a parcel. Place on a piece of baking paper. Repeat with remaining rice paper wrappers and filling.
- Heat about 1 cm of oil in a shallow frying pan over medium heat. Cook the parcels in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Tip: For a vegetarian or vegan version of this tasty lunchbox snack, try using jackfruit or oyster mushrooms. To create the pulled effect, simply use a fork to scrape the strips away and cook these as you would pork.
Asparagus and Spinach Quiche
Get the kids off to a good start this back-to-school season with a brain-boosting lunchbox plan. This quiche is a simple way to get your kids to eat their veggies – it’s also convenient for those of you who love to meal prep. Simply whip it up on a Sunday night and you’ve got plenty of leftovers to last through the week.
Get the full recipe HERE.
- Tart base:
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup gluten-free plain flour
- 50 g butter, cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 150 g cheddar cheese
- 3 thyme sprigs
- sea salt, to season
- freshly ground black pepper, to season
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and grease a 22cm pie tin with butter.
- To make the crust, combine the almond meal and flour in a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers and then mix through whisked egg. Combine mixture until you form a dough. Press the mixture into the prepared pie tin, until it is even all around. Prick with a fork and place in the oven for 10 minutes until lightly golden.
- Meanwhile, make the filling by sautéing the asparagus and red onion in a medium saucepan for 5 minutes. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together and add the baby spinach and half the cheese. Add in the red onion and season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Assemble the tart, by adding the egg mixture to the prepared tart base and sprinkling the rest of the cheese and thyme. Place the asparagus evenly around the tart lengthways.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and the top is golden brown.
Not Quite Banana Bread
If your kid has a sweet tooth, they don’t have to sacrifice tasty lunchbox treats in order to eat healthily. We’ve got an arsenal of delicious snacks and desserts that will satisfy their cravings, without harming their health. From peanut butter cups to brownies, you won’t believe our recipes are actually good for you. Our banana bread is an especially convenient healthy lunchbox idea for kids as you won’t have to worry about it going off in the hot summer sun. This recipe makes 12 serves, meaning you’ll have plenty to last through the week.
Get the full recipe HERE.
- 2 large, very ripe bananas
- 1 cup grated parsnip (about 150g or 2 parsnips)
- 4 eggs
- ⅓ cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix (or 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg)
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds stirred into 1 cup of water and soaked for 1 hour
- ½ cup coconut flour, sifted
- ¼ cup buckwheat or quinoa flour, sifted
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- To garnish:
- 1 small, thin parsnip, halved lengthways
- 1 tablespoons buckwheat or shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 23cm x 13 cm loaf tin with baking paper.
- Place the bananas, grated parsnip, eggs, coconut oil, coconut milk, spices and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Add in the chia seed ‘goo’ and pulse to combine. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and fold through the flours, baking powder and salt until just combined.
- Transfer to the prepared tin and top with garnishes. Place into the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until cooked - a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean. Check after 45 minutes, and if the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
- Let the loaf sit for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve.
Want more inspiration? Our FREE Kids' Mini Lunchbox Book has a range of recipes the whole family will love. Loaded with nutritious ingredients and tasty flavours, these lunches and snacks make for some impressive healthy lunchbox ideas.
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