Back to School: Plant-Based Tips & Recipes
Summer is coming to a close. While kids might be crying as they say goodbye to sleeping in and regular trips to the pool, parents are likely craving the school-day routine. With a return to a predictable schedule and structure, this is a great time of year to get back to healthy eating. Here are 3 tips and 8 recipes to help kick off a delicious and nutritious plant-based school year.
Tip 1: Get the Kids Involved
Part of the resistance of getting kids to make healthy food choices centers on how involved they are with the decision. Like adults, kids don’t want to be told what to do. Give them free-reign though, and they’re likely to pile on the junk food. Find a middle ground by offering them a few different healthy options. From there, they can make their own choices depending on their moods and tastes. Some ideas for the school day:
- Breakfast Oatmeal Bowl – Let kids choose the toppings for a bowl of oatmeal. Have healthy options like diced peaches, berries, sliced bananas, chopped dates, toasted walnuts, and chopped pecans.
- Lunch Sandwich Fillings – Kids can choose (and even make) the fillings for their sandwiches. Hummus, tahini, avocado, and almond butter can all be used as spreads. Fillings can include sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, shredded carrots, leftover sautéed veggies, roasted peppers, baby spinach, grilled mushrooms, sliced apples and pears. Even playing with different types of breads and wraps offers some healthy variety. Try sprouted English muffins with peanut butter (or nut free sunflower butter) and sliced apples for an afternoon snack. Stuffed whole wheat pita pockets with hummus and fresh veggies offers a tasty, satisfying lunch.
Use these recipes to get you started, then experiment to create your own variations:
Tip 2: Swap Junk Food for Homemade Food
Junk food can be incredibly enticing. Whether it’s the vending machines at school, the nearby convenience store, or just the pantry at a friend’s house, the temptation is everywhere. Rather than trying to fight candy bars with carrot sticks, make healthier versions of their favorite treats. These recipes use whole ingredients, limiting the amount of refined sugars and oils. Plus, getting your child involved in the process can help them understand nutrition while building confidence with cooking.
Tip 3: Meal Plan
When schedules get hectic, food choices often become more dependent on convenience. It’s much quicker and easier to grab a drink pouch or bag of chips than to make a smoothie or bake sweet potato wedges. Planning ahead with a few easy tricks can help you fight hunger emergencies:
- Double-Up Dinner Portions aka “Batch Cooking” – When cooking dinner, make extra portions. You can freeze these for future meals or enjoy leftovers as a quick, healthy snack the next day. I love doing this with pasta and grain salads, as they often taste even better the next day.
- Pack it Ahead – To compete with the grab-and-go appeal of snack packs, pre-pack a few days’ worth of healthy snacks in single-portion containers. Something as simple as cut watermelon or walnuts with grapes is much more appealing if it’s already prepped to toss right in the lunchbox.
These healthy recipes make great leftovers:
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