Lunch Box PicA school teacher friend of mine asked if I could come up with some healthy real food lunch box options for her to create for her kids that she could ‘trial’ making over the school holidays and freeze to allow her to be ‘on top of things’ once the kidlets return to school and the crazy morning rush hour once again returns. As a school teacher she sees first-hand the effects poor snack options create in her classroom. The dips in concentration, spurts of hyperactivity typically followed by general fatigue and sluggishness all of which impede learning for the both the kids causing the havoc and also the other kids who suffer a loss of learning time due to the teacher having to manage these often ‘food driven’ behaviours. So there in came the inspiration for me to share some simple ‘lunch box’ treats that are super easy to make, freezeable (so that can be pulled out at the last minute and thrown them into lunchboxes), and of course super healthy free from refined sugars, additives and preservatives that have been linked to causing hyperactivity and energy slumps in so many of our kids.

Considering we are talking about ‘lunch box bites’ it is essential for us to be conscious that many schools these days have strict policies regarding the foods that can be brought onto school ground such as nuts and eggs, and for good reason considering the alarmingly high incidence of food allergies in children these days and kids being kids will always ‘trade’ food whether there a rules around this or not….it is a fact! This alone can present a major challenge for many mums and dads out there to overcome when trying to find snack options for their kids to take to school, let along making them healthy options as well.

What a mindfield! It is no wonder that we are so put off making anything ourselves that could potentially cause a reaction that we turn to processed foods that take the guess work out of it through their clever packaging spruiking their products being ‘nut free’ or ‘gluten free’, providing seemingly ‘safe’ healthy options to pop in the kid’s lunchboxes. But as we have all heard countless times, making a product ‘gluten free’ or ‘nut free’ does not necessary mean it is free from other nasties such as trans fats, refined sugars and additives and preservatives, all of which can cause havoc to our systems creating unfavourable physical and behavioural symptoms.

But they are convenient, right? Well that’s where these recipes can help.

Here are a few of my all time favourite lunch box treats that can be made in under 10 minutes by even the most time poor mum or dad and are free from nuts, eggs, dairy, gluten, refined sugar and grains, additives and preservatives*. And what’s even better is that all of these treats can be frozen so you can make them in bulk over the holidays with all of your little helping hands and freeze individually for convenient healthy lunchbox treats at your fingertips everyday.

I have tailored these recipes for my little ones to cater for their individual tastebuds, which I am sure you will do also once you start mixing up your own delicious healthy lunch box bites at home. Have fun with it, and get the kids involved to include their favourite fruits or toppings to personalise them for your family and start enjoying health lunchbox treats this term!

So…got 20 minutes? What are you waiting for?

*It is important to be aware that many dried fruits and dried coconut in Australian stores contain the preservative sulphur dioxide (number 220) which gives dried fruit its bright colours. This preservative can play havoc with our systems, with kids being particular sensitive and should be avoided where possible. Read labels, and try avoiding buying dried fruits or coconut with any numbers in the ingredient list. Choose organic where possible, although they don’t look as pretty, they taste twice as good and they are loads better for us. To save money, find a local bulk organic supplier (such as Flame Tree Community Co-op in Thirroul) where you can pick up however much or little as you need at a fraction of the cost of some organic stores.

Apple & Cinnamon Cookies

Apple& Cinnamon Cookies

Ingredients:

6 plump medjool dates, seeds removed
¼ cup diced dried apple (organic)
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a tray with baking paper.
2. Place all ingredients into your food processor and blend until well combined. Try not to over blend as they will become oily. They should be sticky but not oily.
3. Roll teaspoons of the cookie dough into balls and flatten slightly using the back of a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool. Enjoy.

*Cinnamon has been found to play a helpful role in regulating blood sugar spikes, so it’s worthwhile adding a little extra if you like the taste.

Muesli Slice

Museli Slice

Ingredients:
1 cup (150g) medjool dates, seeds removed
1 cup (150g) dried apricots
1 cup (100g) rolled oats (or desiccated coconut if gluten intolerant)
1 tablespoon (20g) hulled tahini
1 heaped tablespoon sunflower seeds + extra for topping
1 tsp rice malt syrup (or honey) (if added sweetness is required)

Method:
Throw all ingredients into your blender, process until it all comes together, press firmly into a lined loaf tin and freeze to set. Once frozen, cut into bars or bite size squares. This one can also be made into balls if your kids prefer.

Choc Chip Cookies

Choc Chip (Nut free) Biscuits

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cacao nibs
6-8 medjool dates, seeds removed
1/3 cup hulled tahini
1/4 cup coconut flour (sifted)

Method:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a tray with baking paper.
Place all ingredients into your food processor and blend until well combined.
Roll teaspoons of cookie dough into balls and flatten slightly using the back of a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

Enjoy!