Lunches for Kids with Momables (including recipes!)

SumerCamp-Fridge-made-simple

Just yesterday we were talking about how the end of the school year doesn’t necessarily mean the end of packing lunches! Summer brings so many opportunities to tote along a “real food” picnic, and today I have the perfect resource to help you with just that. In case you haven’t heard there is a site called MOMables that specializes in kid lunch meal plans. The site, which is run by fellow mom and owner Laura Fuentes, is chocked full of really cute and original ideas. I started following their page on Facebook a few months back, and I just love some of the tips and pictures they share…including how to pack a baked potato, homemade oreos, and how to keep berries fresher longer. They are always full of good ideas so I am excited to introduce you to MOMables through this sponsored post today…they will definitely make your life easier!

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School Lunch Roundup IV (Also great for picnics, camps, road trips, and the pool!)

School Lunches from 100 Days of Real Food

The school year is coming to a close, but I didn’t want it to end without sharing one more summary of the school lunches I’ve been packing and posting on my Facebook page this year (almost daily!). And as summer is upon us I want to make it clear that these lunch ideas could go far beyond just the school cafeteria. I find myself packing food for the kids all summer long for outdoor picnics, day camps, long road trips, zoo outings, museum visits, and afternoons at the pool. The plastic divided containers (pictured below) are perfect for all of these occasions and are an especially great way to keep road trip lunches mess-free (and waste-free) since the containers serve as your “plate” once you take off the lid. I hope your summer is full of fun activities and travel plans!

To learn more about the lunches we pack here are some links to get you started…

Our favorite school lunch supplies including the pictured plastic Ziploc divided containers (each compartment is leak-proof).
Everything you could ever want to know about those colorful smoothie pop molds.
The reason we don’t track protein (hint: Have you ever heard of a anyone having a protein deficiency?).
Our recipe index where you’ll find a lot of the recipes pictured below.
Readers sometimes ask what these lunches look like after they are tossed all around in the backpack…so check out The Life Cycle of a School Lunch where I share before and after pictures.
Also be sure to checkout our previous, similar posts: School Lunch Roundup I, School Lunch Roundup II, and School Lunch Roundup III.

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Recipe: Grilled Meat and Veggie Foil Packets…Yum!

Foil Packet Picture Collage

I sense a new obsession coming on…and it’s food grilled in foil packets! What could be more perfect for outdoor cookouts, camping trips, and upcoming long holiday weekends? I just love the unique presentation and tasty goodness of this cooking technique and can’t wait to make them again and again and again this summer. Think of this dish as “deconstructed kabobs” that basically marinate in the homemade sauce until cooking time. Once you are ready to cook simply throw them on the grill or directly into the hot coals of a campfire (or backyard fire pit). I can’t think of a better way to soak up the great outdoors!

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Giveaway: Paleo Cookbooks from The Food Lovers Primal Palate!

book giveaway

Chances are you’ve heard of the Paleo lifestyle/diet. It is no secret that it’s a growing trend, which many around us are embracing. The Paleo lifestyle means eating real food with an emphasis on humanely raised meat, organic vegetables, and good quality fats like organic coconut oil, fats from pasture-raised animals, and grass-fed butter/ghee. That means no grains! And in some cases, depending on which Paleo eater you are talking to, no dairy. The other focus of the Paleo diet is to incorporate organ meats and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha (the latter for the benefits of probiotics).

I’ve personally heard of many people who’ve been able to put their autoimmune disorders into remission after switching to a Paleo diet. The belief is that disease can start in the gut, so when you remove gut irritating foods like grains, legumes, and dairy, as well as soy and sugar, you can heal your gut and heal your body. I’ve always said if you feel better without eating gluten or grains or dairy (or another food group)…then by all means avoid it!

So today I am excited to be giving away some great resources for those interested in trying out a Paleo lifestyle…three books by “Food Lovers Primal Palate” food bloggers Bill Staley and Hayley Mason:

Giveaway Details

FIVE lucky winners will receive the “Food Lovers Primal Palate” giveaway (worth $122!) that includes three books…

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Recipe: How to Roast a Whole Chicken (and safely defrost meat)

Chicken

Cooking a whole chicken is economical, easy, and delicious. Once you decide to give up conventional, factory-farmed meat (that’s oftentimes laced with antibiotics and synthetic hormones) and switch to the humanely-raised, organic variety instead, it’s no secret that the price goes up. To offset this increase in cost you can do two things – select cuts of meat that are less expensive per pound and/or eat less meat all together (when it comes to chicken, the whole chicken is one of the least expensive per pound). For all those who have never cooked a whole chicken before…have no fear because it’s easy to do! And this applies even for people like me who don’t like to actually handle or touch whole, raw chickens. :) I normally cook whole chickens in my slow cooker, but have recently become fond of roasting chicken as well (details below).

How to Safely Defrost Meat

Now before you get started, it’s important to make sure you aren’t trying to cook a chicken that’s currently sitting in your freezer…

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I don’t want my daughters to worry about food

donut

Can we please all agree to make this post a non-judgmental space today? Just like most other parents I am simply trying to do the best I can, and just like most parents – I do not claim to have all the answers. And as a result of some recent non-judgmental and constructive feedback from blog readers I’ve been doing some thinking…and my thoughts are this: I never want my daughters to have to worry about food (or anything for that matter).

People sometimes imply that allowing your children to have free rein on junk food means “letting your kid be a kid,” but in reality I think they are confusing “eating junk food” with the happy-go-lucky, carefree feeling we often see in children. And in my opinion there are many ways to achieve that bliss, which I can assure you, is not only from junk food.

But I am the first to admit it’s not easy to constantly find that fine line between standing up for what you believe in (nourishing my children with the healthiest foods on the planet!) and also not being too uptight. Whether we like it or not, there is a social aspect to junk food. I tell my husband all the time “we’ve been there done that” …therefore I don’t care if I never again chow down on a Little Debbie Snack, a box of Nerds, or a Push Up (really, I don’t). But my children have not had the same experiences as me and no matter how much they “understand” why those foods are unhealthy who can blame them for wanting to see what they are all about? They are literally surrounded by this stuff after all – just look at school lunch rooms, TV commercials and even check-out lines at the store.

The Feedback I Couldn’t Ignore

Aside from our 100-day pledge (which ended in 2010) we have never been fully restrictive on what our girls can and can’t eat. We certainly eat almost all “real food” at home, but now that our pledge is over our children indulge in processed “treats” at birthday parties, school celebrations, friend’s houses, etc. I certainly wish they weren’t offered junk food at so many events, but this is reality and I try not to stress about it (although I have become involved at their school in hopes of continuing to see positive changes there). We also usually offer our girls a “once a week treat,” which is pretty much the only time we eat any big sweets (other than a super dark chocolate square), but more often than not they have junk food elsewhere so others were almost always beating me to the punch when it was treat time. This means our treats together as a family didn’t happen very often – or if they did my daughters would have to decide to forgo a treat that was being offered to them by someone else. These decisions were what started bothering me deep down.

Then it just so happens that last weekend we had the chance to buy our kids their weekly treat, and by request we headed out for donuts (which I shared with this picture on Facebook). It was on that post where some interesting discussions started.

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Grocery Shopping Template (+ My Routine)

shopping_list

I have recently learned that writing out your grocery list on a “template” can make food shopping so much easier. I realize this is not a new idea…just something I am only now figuring out for some reason! Surely everyone has a running grocery list of some sort – a list where you write down “peanut butter” when you realize you are getting low or where you add “crackers” because you realize you have none. For many years my running list has been on a basic pad of paper, and I would add the necessary items to it right before going to the grocery store. And for many years I would do all my shopping and then say “Oh, I forgot the coffee” and quickly retrace my steps back to the beginning of the store to get it. :) I am sure I am not alone here!

So between all the categorized shopping lists that come with the meal plan services these days and the template my girlfriend uses that’s organized by the aisles of her regular grocery store, I decided it’s time to have some sort of template of my own! And I of course had to share my template with all of you, which is why I’ve attached both a PDF version and an excel version below (so you can modify it to your liking). You could just start with a blank template each week or edit the excel version by adding items you buy every week (for us that would be things like milk, bananas, oats) so you don’t have to write those same items down each and every time (and also so you don’t forget them). My organized girlfriend keeps a stack of her grocery shopping templates on a clipboard in her kitchen so it’s always accessible when someone needs to add that item you just ran out of.

And on that note, here is my current routine that I’ve been trying to (loosely) follow each week…

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What To Buy Organic

What to buy organic

Only in an ideal world could every single food purchase you make be organic, which is why the below lists can really come in handy. These reflect two important factors to consider – high levels of pesticide residue and genetically modified crops – both of which can be avoided when buying organic. And be sure to put these lists into practice beyond the produce section. For example, with apples being at the very top of the dirty dozen list, I am sure to buy organic applesauce and apple juice as well. Plus with the majority of additives found in processed food being derived from corn and soy (both on the GMO crop list), that is another area where buying organic is key. Or better yet, just avoid the additive-filled, chemical-laden, factory-made junk all together. :) That’s just my two cents!

Be sure to check out The Environmental Working Group and Non-GMO Project for more info.

Click the image to download a printable wallet-sized PDF version:

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