Written By: Natural Mama

One summer I taught art camp to school age kids. This gave me the opportunity to sneak a peak into their lunch kits and see the range of nutrition that was packed for them. The lack of healthy variety was disappointing. Considering how easy nutritious eating can be, I would have loved to stand on the table at pick up time, and give a little speech to the parents about what to feed their kids…and then go on about what I feed MY kids, because I am, oh, so knowledgeable on the matter. I would have never had the audacity to do a loud obnoxious announcement, but that’s where blogging allows for an appropriate means of sharing with those who are interested.

One little girl stands out in my mind on those sunny summer lunches. She came to camp every day with a baloney and orange cheese slice sandwich on white bread and two Twinkies. She had one other thing, but it wasn’t a fruit or veggie. (I think it was gummies) I was consumed with sadness. I was concerned for the knowledge her mother lacked while deciding what to feed her sweetheart. This child was overweight and whenever we did physical activity she cried and complained that her legs hurt. It was heart breaking. I’m not sure if I stepped out of line by saying this to her, but I suggested that “carrots make you run faster”. The next day she came to camp with carrots in her kit! I felt somewhat satisfied that I made a small impression on this little girl, even if she continued to bring processed fake meat between two pieces of cardboard in her lunch. I wished that I could sit her mother down and explain the importance of nutrition on the young bodies and minds of our precious babies, and how an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables in their daily diets are detrimental to their health and development. I wish I could have explained that the chemicals and sugar in processed and packaged foods can lead to serious damage, sometimes irreversible, but I didn’t know how. I felt helpless.

I’m here to try and rectify these burrowed feelings. I thought a blog would get some of us talking about the issues that surround the health of our youth, and share ideas of how to keep our kids strong and healthy and to discuss how to spread the word to those who might lack awareness.

When I don’t have time to cook a long arduous meal, I enjoy coming up with solutions that are quick, healthy and that don’t cost a fortune. Today I whipped up a left over lunch that I thought looked pretty good so I thought I’d share it.

It’s the day before payday (and grocery day). I am tired, it’s late and I need to make a somewhat healthy, fast and cheap lunch. Tuna melts! It’s not the healthiest of lunches, but that’s why I am sharing it. We cannot always be perfect.

Gluten free buns are topped with canned tuna (mixed with Canola Mayo, lemon and a touch of Himalayan rock salts. Monterey Jack cheese is melted on top. Normally these are served hot but they are also great cold.

For fruits and veg I served a piece of lettuce, a slice of celery, cucumber and strawberries. I enjoyed this variety because I almost always give them carrots. Carrots I know will get eaten. Other veggies are a gamble, but I get tired of always serving the same thing. Carrots carrots carrots!

They are used to getting a piece of lettuce in a sandwich and have learned not to complain and just eat it. Celery will probably come home with them, and who knows about the cucumber. Even if they don’t eat what’s served to them, I like to provide variety anyway. If they are hungry enough, they will eat it. Eventually, as they get older, my persistence pays off and they just eat without complaints.

For snack, I prefer to serve homemade cookies or treats that I can monitor the amount of sugar. I bake with ½ the recommended sugar and use honey or pure maple syrup instead. When I don’t have time, Nature’s Path granola bars sometimes get thrown in. They are easy, but they have more sugar than I prefer to serve. It is not easy to find snacks with less sugar… Any suggestions?

Today I only had Kettle salt and vinegar chips. Of the chip family, they have the least amount of additives. They are greasy but at least they aren't packed with sugar. Under the chips is a square of mink dark chocolate. I thought that would be a fun surprise.

Now that the photo is taken and I take a closer look at what I packed, I see that it is not entirely ideal. Together the greasy cheese and kettle chips are too much saturated fat. Next time I will pay more attention to serve them separately.

Also, I usually serve more fruit. I ran out of apples and oranges. Today, I will let it go, and tell myself that I did a great job. The lunch is colorful and relatively healthy. As parents, we all do our best and the most important thing is not to be too hard on ourselves. So they are not eating homemade spouted vegan concoctions. Maybe one day I will have more time. Today, this is what I came up with.

This lunch is not the healthiest lunch I have ever made, but it is perfect for today. I am happy with the PBA-free lunch kits that are lightweight and have one top to open as apposed to separate containers that are a nightmare to keep track of and come home full. “I didn’t know what was in that one mom.” I am happy with the colorful selection, protein and low sugar content. I have learned to focus on the positive.

Tomorrow I will go shopping and have a wider range of fruit and maybe even have time to bake. But if I cannot, then I am happy to serve organic yogurt for a snack. Whatever I choose to serve, I know that I am doing my best, my children are well loved and at least they don’t eat Twinkies for lunch.

What do you think of this lunch? Do you have any ideas to share that you have discovered that are easy and healthy for our angels?