Introduction – Healthy Back to School Recipes
What’s all the fuss over healthy back to school recipes? Cereal and toast – surely that’s enough fuel for any kid? If it was good enought for us, then…..
Breakfast time can be hectic meaning we often reach for whatever sugary cereal our kids are screaming for. Similarly putting together packed lunches is often the bane of a tired parents’ morning, stumped for ideas that are not only varied but healthy too.
A few minutes prep even the evening before can make life a lot easier for parents in the morning and ensure kids are provided with a nutritious AND delicious breakfast to set them up for the day followed by a lunch to keep them focused in class.
A meal that is well balanced with adequate protein and a low GI source of carbohydrate is vital to helping kids last from one meal to the next without lulls in energy and concentration. Hypoglycaemia can occur when blood glucose (sugar) levels drop and affects both adults and children alike.
When your child’s blood sugar level drops too low, their brain cells and muscles do not have enough energy to function at full capacity. Glucose is also important for helping your child’s brain grow normally. When children ingest a meal that is based on refined sugars instead of slow realising low GI carbohydrates this causes spikes and rapid drops in blood sugar levels.
Ever noticed your child saying they’re hungry and getting agitated, anxious, weak or complaining of headaches or nausea? These are all symptoms of hypoglycaemia and can seriously affect them in the classroom. The key to preventing this condition setting in is to provide them with meals that slow release energy and provide a good source of protein to keep them feeling fuller for longer.
The healthy back to school recipes suggested in this pack all fit the bill with great low GI carbohydrate options and protein sources from both animal and plant-based foods. The inclusion of avocados, seeds and super berries also provide kids with Omega 3 fatty acids vital for brain development, antioxidants and immune boosting vitamins and minerals.
Always choose wholegrain when shopping for bread, pitas, wraps and bagels as they contain less sugar and will slow release energy. Similarly avoid cereals and yoghurts that are laden with extra sugar, look for low sugar products that contain less than 5g of sugar per 100g.
Sectioned lunch boxes similar to those pictured below are a great option for keeping lunches fresh and mean you can securely include dips and loose fruits such as grapes and berries too. Don’t forget to send your little person off with a water bottle, try avoid sugary fruit juices and opt for sugar free cordials instead if they won’t drink plain water.
Monday – Healthy Back to School Recipes
Breakfast: Boiled Eggs with Wholegrain Soldiers
Boil eggs as per preference and toast some rye, spelt or whole grain bread. These breads are all lower in sugar than traditional refined white sliced pan and hence release energy in a slow and steady manner following breakfast. The eggs provide protein that is not only important for growth but will keep kids feeling full for longer than a carbohydrate will.
School Lunch: Veggie Falafel Pita, fruit of choice, chocolate power ball
Slightly toast a wholegrain pitta bread and spread some hummus, tzatziki or pesto inside, whichever your kids prefer. Next add some roasted red peppers, these can be bought ready to serve in jars from most supermarkets as can the falafel. Crumble in the falafel and add some salad leaves.
Include a piece of fresh fruit in their lunch box and a small homemade chocolate power ball, see the recipe attached.
Tuesday – Healthy Back to School Recipes
Breakfast: Power Porridge
If your children are tired of bland porridge it’s time to mix it up. Cook the oats as normal and portion into bowls. Next add a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter, ½ tsp of cacao power, ½ tsp of honey and top with seasonal fruit such as berries and some chopped nuts or seeds of choice – like toasted almonds or pecans. Serve drizzled with almond milk. Look for “steel cut” or “raw” oats when shopping for porridge as we want to opt for products that are as little refined as possible.
Nut butters are a great source of protein, healthy fats vitamins and minerals and add a comforting layer to this breakfast.
Lunch: Turkey bagel, red apple, small seed bar
When buying bagels look for wholegrain Bagel Thins, a more lunch box appropriate size that won’t send anyone into a carbohydrate coma. Spread some low-fat cream cheese on one half and layer with sliced turkey, a great source of lean protein. Add veggies of choice such as tomato, cucumber or spinach leaves, whatever you know your child likes.
Include a piece of fruit in their lunch box and a homemade seed bar too.
Wednesday – Healthy Back to School Recipes
Breakfast: Homemade granola with natural yoghurt
Store bought granola and cereals are usually loaded with sugar despite the fact they are often marketed as the healthy option. Homemade granola is super easy and fun to do-see recipe attached. Serve as a cereal with milk or topped with low fat no added sugar Greek yoghurt and some fresh fruit.
Lunch: Spelt bread sandwich, chocolate power ball, piece of fruit.
Spelt bread is low in sugar, low in gluten and a great source of fibre. Spelt breads are now widely available in supermarkets and are a great option for kids who won’t eat wholegrain breads as it sits in between white and brown bread. Try avoiding overly processed deli meats such as sliced ham and opt for lean options with more nutritional value. If you roast a chicken for dinner during the week keep some of the meat for sandwich making.
Chicken, a light mayonnaise and some salad of choice makes an easy and well-balanced filling when paired with spelt bread.
Include a power ball and piece of fruit in their lunch box too.
Thursday – Healthy Back to School Recipes
Breakfast: Power smoothie
Smoothies are not only quick and easy to make, they are a great opportunity to pack fruit and vegetables into a meal for your kids without them knowing. As a general rule you can use any fruit you like, frozen fruit is a great option as it’s not only inexpensive but makes the smoothie cold and nicer to drink. They are also a great chance to add any super powders you may be interested in your kids trying.
For example, cacao powder, the purest form of chocolate you can consume (not to be confused with cocoa powder we use to make hot chocolate) contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food. It’s also a great source of magnesium which contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue, electrolyte balance and normal functioning of the nervous system.
Lunch: Bread sticks, crudités, hummus, yoghurt, chewy seed bar, piece of fruit.
Not every lunch has to be sandwich based, why not try sending your little one off with some crackers, breadsticks, crudités and hummus or cream cheese to dip into? Hummus is made of chickpeas which is a great source of plant-based protein. You could also add a small piece of cheese or a low sugar yoghurt to their lunch box as an added source of protein and calcium. Include a seed bar and piece of fruit for them to snack on too.
Friday – Healthy Back to School Recipes
Breakfast: Banana pancakes
Banana pancakes are ready to serve in under ten minutes. Gluten free and a great source of potassium which helps control the body’s electrolyte balance and is crucial to heart function, skeletal and smooth muscle contraction. The eggs in the recipe also provide a good source of protein.
Lunch: Chicken and avocado wrap, chocolate power ball and yoghurt.
Choose a whole grain wrap and spread a little pesto and mayonnaise over it before layering some chicken, sliced avocado and salad. Include grated mozzarella in the wrap too if you’d like to add extra protein. Add a small low sugar yoghurt with some fresh berries and with a chocolate power ball to their lunch box for snack time.
List of Healthy Back To School Recipes
Back To School Podcast
This podcast is a conversation between Aisling Connolly and Jodie Woods and it’s a real eye opener – in a nutshell the approach to feeding children and teenagers in preparation for a day at school needs a major rethink.
Aisling and Jodie look at the back-to-school routine and how mums and dads can best be prepared to make sure that their kids are themselves best prepared for the school day ahead.
This all starts with the breakfast, ‘the most important meal of the day’ and the key here is not to skip breakfast and on top of that, where possible, make sure that protein is part of the meal. Also, try and partner the protein with a low GI wholegrain which will ensure a steady release of energy.
Today we have clear evidence that shows the importance of protein and how we should avoid, at all costs, the sugary cereals that are heavily targeted at kids. The World Health Organisation clearly states that children should have no more than 6 added teaspoons of sugar per day yet some of the cereals on offer today to Irish children contain many times that amount.
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