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Published on May 25, 2018

25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School

25 Tasty and Healthy Kids’ Lunch Ideas for Home or School

If your kids are picky eaters, you know that every meal can be a battle. Their growing bodies are in need of vitamins and nutrients, yet all they crave are unhealthy foods with no nutritional content. What you need are creative meal ideas they can eat for lunch at home or at school, designed to appeal to their palate.

The recipes listed here contain lots of vegetables, minimal or no processed ingredients, and most importantly, flavors that even the pickiest kids will love! The ingredients for each meal are listed below. Click on the name of the dish to see the full recipe!

Finger Foods

1. Asian-Style Fish Cakes with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

    Do you have a finicky eater that refuses to eat fish? This is a great way to make this omega-3 fatty acid rich protein appealing and fun to eat. And it’s much better for you than frozen fish sticks.

    Just so you know, these fish cakes freeze amazingly well! To save time, make a big batch and freeze them for whenever you need a quick meal or snack.

    View recipe here.

    2. Chicken Zucchini Poppers

      Some kids don’t like the texture of zucchini, but in this recipe, they add moisture and the zucchini is barely detectable. Make sure to squeeze out the excess water in the zucchini so that the poppers stay together and don’t fall apart. They can be pan-fried or baked! The poppers pair perfectly with the citrus avocado dressing.

      View recipe here.

      3. Baked Crispy Chicken Fingers with Apple Fries

        If your kid asks for chicken fingers, you don’t have to say no. This version is made with white meat chicken and baked. Substituting fries with apple fries makes this an appetizing lunch that both you and your kids will approve of. Turkey breast can be used instead of chicken.

        View recipe here.

        4. Broccoli and Cheese Nuggets (Vegetarian)

          Broccoli is notorious for being a hard sell. Who knows why kids don’t like eating these miniature trees? But when mixed with cheese and formed into a fun shape for easy dipping, kids may give these broccoli-filled nuggets another try. Another positive is that they are baked, not fried.

          View recipe here.

          The Salad Bar

          5. Chicken Taco Salad

            Kids love tacos, so why not make them a healthy taco salad? This one is packed full of leafy greens, tomatoes, corn, avocado and grilled chicken. Adding crushed chips on top gives it the perfect amount of texture and appeal for your young kids to enjoy without a single complaint.

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            View recipe here.

            6. Chicken Salad with Grapes

              A colorful chicken salad with crunchy roasted nuts, dried cherries, grapes and celery, it can be served alone, in a sandwich, or on a bed of lettuce. Apples can be used in place of the cherries or in addition. Greek yogurt can also be used in place of the mayonnaise to up the healthy factor even more!

              View recipe here.

              7. Salad Stuffed Pepper Bowls with Creamy Avocado Dressing (Vegan)

                As many of you moms know, a huge part of the appeal of a meal is the presentation. These pepper bowls are such a clever idea for a kid-friendly lunch. The salad AND bowl are made from a plethora of colorful, nutritious veggies. How often do you get to tell your kids to eat their bowl? You can add a protein to the salad if you prefer, such as grilled chicken.

                View recipe here.

                Soup of the Day

                8. Vegan Chili

                  This vegan chili recipe contains primarily of vegetables and beans, making it very healthy and filling. Making a flavorful and rich tasting chili doesn’t have to take all day. By blending a small portion and adding it back in, the chili will be thick and satisfying, and no one will be able to taste the difference! Make a big batch because the leftovers keep very well.

                  View recipe here.

                  9. Chicken Pot Pie Soup

                    Get all the flavors of chicken pot pie in half the time with this chicken pot pie soup recipe. This is such a comfort food, but also contains a lot of nutritionally dense ingredients, such as carrots, celery, peas, corn and green beans. The crust and filling are cooked separately, which is a major time saver for busy moms.

                    View recipe here.

                    10. Slow Cooker Taco Soup

                      Another spin on the beloved taco, a fan favorite of young kids. This recipe is slow cooker friendly, so you can prep all of the ingredients in the morning, throw it in the slow cooker and come back to a house smelling of aromatic taco soup. Serve with tortilla chips or over a baked potato.

                      View recipe here.

                      Oodles of Noodles

                      11. Baked Eggplant Parmesan Penne

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                        Swap out typical Chicken Parmesan with healthier but just as tasty eggplant, which is sauteed instead of deep fried. But you don’t have to sacrifice the crunch from the breading by adding panko on top. You can also use whole wheat pasta to cut calories and add fiber, minerals, and protein.

                        View recipe here.

                        12. Roasted Chicken and Tomato Pesto Spaghetti Florentine

                          This recipe incorporates roasted grape tomatoes, baby spinach leaves and rotisserie chicken breast for a light and easy lunchtime pasta. You can make your own homemade pesto if you have the ingredients on hand. Store-bought also works just as well.

                          View recipe here.

                          13. Thai Noodle Salad (Vegan)

                            Filling your meals with plants of different colors will ensure that you are getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need. This recipe alone covers four colors! You can use any type of noodle (wheat, rice, soba, etc.) to make this dish, and customize the veggies to your heart’s content.

                            View recipe here.

                            14. Southwest Pasta Salad (Vegetarian)

                              This pasta salad is bursting with flavor — with tons of spices, lime juice and chipotle peppers. Don’t worry about making too much because the leftovers will be even more flavorful, after marinating in all of the seasonings overnight. And there is no heating needed! Use a lentil and quinoa pasta to make this dish gluten free.

                              View recipe here.

                              15. Avocado Hummus Pasta (Vegan)

                                This recipe is one that I created when I had no clue what to do with the vegetables, ripe avocados and leftover hummus I had to use up in my fridge. The textures and flavors of each ingredient somehow just works magically together. The creaminess from the avocado and hummus ties it all together. This accidental discovery is a huge hit with my husband and son!

                                Prep Time: 20 mins

                                Cook Time: 10 mins

                                Total Time: 30 mins

                                A 30-minute creamy vegan pasta loaded with veggies and tossed in a creamy sauce made from ripe avocados and hummus.

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                                Serves: 6

                                Ingredients

                                • 1 lb rotini pasta (substitute as needed)
                                • 3 tsp olive oil
                                • 3 cloves garlic, minced
                                • 16 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
                                • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
                                • 8 oz sugar snap peas
                                • 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach, chopped
                                • 1 large cucumber, chopped
                                • 3 oz sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
                                • 2-3 ripe avocados, chunks
                                • 10 oz hummus, any flavor
                                • 1 tbsp garlic powder
                                • salt, pepper to taste

                                Instructions

                                1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
                                2. Chop veggies and set aside.
                                3. Add olive oil to a large saucepan. Saute minced garlic until aromatic. Add mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. Saute until tender.
                                4. Add pasta, avocado, and hummus to the pan and mix gently.
                                5. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
                                6. Serve warm. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days.

                                Some Assembly Required

                                16. French Bread Pizza

                                  This is one of the most versatile recipes I’ve ever come across. Not only can you completely customize the toppings on the pizza, you don’t even have to use French bread. Deli rolls, Italian rolls or hoagie rolls work just as well! The possibilities of toppings that you can add are endless. Have your kids customize their own individual pizzas with their favorite toppings to ensure they will create a meal they love.

                                  View recipe here.

                                  17. Rainbow Pizza

                                    Look at the colors on this pizza! Not only is this pizza visually appealing, it’s also extremely healthy and delicious. The combination of bell peppers, broccoli, red cabbage and beets add a variety of complementary textures and flavors to this creative pizza recipe.

                                    View recipe here.

                                    18. Asian Lettuce Wraps

                                      Chicken lettuce wraps are a crowd-pleaser at P.F. Chang’s, but there’s no reason you can’t make a just as good if not better version at home. Requiring only 15 minutes, these lettuce wraps are scrumptious and fun to eat. Your kids will love assembling their own lettuce wraps and devouring this healthy lunch.

                                      View recipe here.

                                      19. Fish Tacos

                                        Another way to get kids to eat fish is to serve them into tacos! These flaky pieces of fish are topped with a tangy, crunchy slaw loaded with veggies. The fish can be pan-fried or grilled and served in a flour or corn tortilla. Your kids will be requesting this dish over and over again.

                                        View recipe here.

                                        20. Skirt Steak Fajitas

                                          This tortilla friendly recipe that incorporates skirt steak, onions and bell peppers has decided to go the fajita route. All of these ingredients can be combined on one baking sheet. That means fewer dishes and easier clean-up! You can serve with your favorite toppings such as avocado, sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese.

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                                          View recipe here.

                                          No Utensils Needed

                                          21. Avocado Egg Salad Wraps

                                            Eggs are a great ingredient to include in a nutrient-dense lunch for growing kids. Egg salad is one of the best ways to serve it, but the large amounts of mayonnaise introduces a lot of unnecessary saturated fats. This recipe cuts out a lot of the mayo and uses nature’s mayo — avocados, for creaminess.

                                            View recipe here.

                                            22. Spicy Tuna Avocado Wrap

                                              Canned tuna is such a convenient ingredient and is also a great source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and potassium. This wrap contains lots of hearty vegetables and uses avocado and Dijon mustard to flavor the tuna. Sriracha is used for added spice if your kids can handle spicy food! These wraps can be packed easily in a lunch box to take to school.

                                              View recipe here.

                                              23. Chicken and Avocado Roll-Ups

                                                These easy roll-ups take only 10 minutes to make! And they’re packed with great veggies like avocados, tomatoes and onions. You can pack it with even more veggies like spinach, cucumber, or whatever you might have in your fridge.

                                                View recipe here.

                                                24. White Bean Veggie Burgers (Vegan)

                                                  Do you have kids that love eating burgers? These 100% vegan burgers with plant-based bacon and cheese will be so delicious that they won’t even realize they’re not eating meat. Beans contain lots of vitamins and fiber and are a great source of protein. You can bake or grill these delectable burger patties.

                                                  View recipe here.

                                                  25. Turkey Spinach Slider

                                                    One of the problems with turkey burgers is that they can be flavorless and unappetizing when prepared incorrectly. This recipe incorporates ingredients that pack a punch like cumin and garlic. There’s also spinach leaves blended right into the patty, but your kids will be too busy chowing down to even notice!

                                                    View recipe here.

                                                    Making healthy lunches for home or school doesn’t have to be daunting task. Armed with these recipes, you have all the tools you need to find meals that the pickiest of eaters will enjoy.

                                                    By incorporating nutritional but less appealing ingredients into forms your kids recognize and love, you can introduce them to new flavors and hopefully, open their minds to trying new things.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                                    Katie Lemons

                                                    Parenting Blogger and Full-Time Working Mom

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                                                    Last Updated on February 18, 2019

                                                    13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                                    13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with It and Enjoy the Ride

                                                    Fear. I spend my life talking about fear — fighting fears, fixing fears and understanding fears. And yet I doubt I get 10 calls a year from people saying “Mandie can you help me fix my fear?”

                                                    Why is this so critically important to you?

                                                    The realization for me is that fear is not the fundamental driving force in your life it’s what regardless of whether I’m talking to a doctor, a teacher, a CEO’s, a senior citizens or teenager – every single one of those conversations has a direct correlation with your world.

                                                    Fear can range from the overwhelming desire to look away or stop in your tracks to literally fleeing your country and the life you knew. In this article, I will share you with 13 tips to face your fears and enjoy the ride.

                                                    1. Know That Fear Is Real, but Can Be Overcome

                                                    Right now around the world people are facing fear — real fear. Fear that I pray my children and I will never experience. Does that lessen my fears or your fears in your relativity safe 21st century life?

                                                    When I look at the world we all live in, I find that fear like so many other emotions can mean so many different things to so many different people:

                                                    • The child who has to be physically dragged to their first day of school.
                                                    • The man facing the judge.
                                                    • The woman with her hand poised over the buttons over her phone because she has to walk down a dark corridor late at night alone.
                                                    • The man as the surgeon says “count backwards from 10 Mr Smith.”
                                                    • The woman that’s told “We are sorry, we can’t help you.”
                                                    • The man that faces the empty circle of a gun and prays for his very existence.

                                                    These and a million more (Portrayed in every kind of movie, book or song you could imagine) are what make us human. We face fear and somehow move forward or are stopped in our tracks.

                                                    Like the rabbit in the headlights of the car that veers off through the field away from the tyres of the car or stays still praying for salvation. Like someone will save them. Sound familiar?

                                                    Fear is huge. Fear is everywhere and yet fear can be overcome, controlled and can even be a power for good.

                                                    2. Accept Your Fear

                                                    Firstly if you aren’t facing the barrel of the gun, atrocities that make the news or impeding death, that’s a good start. However it doesn’t mean your fear is any less real.

                                                    We are quick to say “I can’t moan, my life is not as bad as X.” While in theory, that’s honorable your appreciation of Mr. or Mrs. X’s horrific life won’t change anything directly. So accept your fear is relative to you.

                                                    And here’s what can be done.

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                                                    3. Get Some Perspective

                                                    I found myself asking anyone that would answer “what is your worst fear”. The answer that intrigued me the most came from my daughter (15 years old and she usually has a copy of Fight the Fear – my book – in her school bag so she can help someone else be as positive and confident as her. No matter what life throws up.)

                                                    And her fear, surprised me — heights. I pointed out that we live in a sprawling bungalow (one storey) and the highest she goes is two storeys’ at school! She laughed but added, fear isn’t like that Mum. I know it’s not a real fear, but it’s like when you stand on a chair and feel unsafe.

                                                    That girl will go far. Because she truly gets fear.

                                                    We know something is scary and yet we still do it. Why? Because we have a perspective to the fear. When you lose perspective, it can feel too big, and too scary.

                                                    So look around you to get some perspective on your fear:

                                                    • Are you really at risk?
                                                    • Will this kill you?
                                                    • Which leads us on to..
                                                    • If the worse was to happen what would it be?

                                                    4. Hold a Hand

                                                    As a coach, it is my job to holds someone’s metaphorical hand and help them face a fear.

                                                    Like the child petrified of the thunder storm or the teen that can’t get back in a car again after failing their test, your job as a parent is to reassure, encourage, enable and motivate someone to face something that ideally they never would choose to again.

                                                    We know many of our fears aren’t real. However, it is only when someone guides us with love, respect, lack of judgement and safety are we able to get through fear. And trust me, you can get through your fears. I’ve seen it so many times.

                                                    Ask yourself:

                                                    • If the worse were to happen, what would that be?
                                                    • Could that really happen?
                                                    • If the worse did happen, how would you recover?
                                                    • If the worse were to happen, what would you need to do next?

                                                    By seeing fear as not the end destination but part of being human, you can see through it’s wily evil ways and move forward.

                                                    5. Know Whose Hand You Hold Either Physically or Emotionally

                                                    This helps with fears for the rest of your life.

                                                    Think of someone you can always rely on (and ideally you won’t just answer yourself because that adds a lot of pressure to your existence!) And you will find that you’ve already found a way to get through fear.

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                                                    The beauty of this is that it means that fear becomes part of life not something to be feared and shied away from.

                                                    It means you know you can turn to your friend, partner, colleague, parent, sibling and say “Right I need to deal with this, and I’m going to need you to help me.”

                                                    For one moment, think about it from the other person’s view point. When we get to help other people we feel valued, loved, respected and lots of other positive emotions and we get a good dose of positive chemicals setting off in our bodies too.

                                                    Your fear, and your determination to fight it, helped someone else too. Now that’s cool right?

                                                    6. Understand That There Are Some Things Fear Will Never Touch

                                                    I like to find role models in life — people who have faced heroism, history changing moments, war, atrocities, miracles, life saving inventions.

                                                    Not everyone was looking for greatness, however they all found it. And one of my favourite books to date is written about Alistair Urquhart, the forgotten highlander. If this doesn’t get turned into a film in the future, then no man’s story is likely to.

                                                    Alistair went through the most horrific experiences in the 2nd world war. If you think of one of the awful things that happened back then in our world, Alistair went through at least 3 of them! Asked afterwards how did you cope? He talked about how whatever they did to his body, no matter how they starved, tortured, threatened or mocked him, they couldn’t have his mind. In his mind he was free.

                                                    Of all the people’s voices I’ve heard in my head over the years, this is one of those statements that reminds me anything is possible if you have faith and hope.

                                                    Look for the things in life that fear can’t touch. They will create confidence and faith for the future, whatever you face. And they will give you a sense of why being you is awesome.

                                                    Of all the billions of people on this planet, no one will have an answer identical to yours!

                                                    7. Process Your Fears to Carry on with Life

                                                    Being brave is not about sticking your chest out and smiling regardless of what hell you endure. It is about finding a way to emotionally process your fears to be able to keep going.

                                                    I have a tool kit of things I can rely on – tools, strategies, techniques. They include people to hug or talk to, music. hobbies, walks on the beach and even my favourite food. It sounds mad but at the times where I have questioned “how will I get through this?” I’ve found immense joy in doing the most unlikely of thing that makes me smile.

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                                                    It may be a short lived moment of happiness. However, it reminded that nothing stays the same and I can find away.

                                                    One client told me that it was crazy when it felt like their world was falling around their ears to run a bath to the brim (you don’t waste water) get the best bath oils, light too many candles, lock the door and drink a glass of bubbly (champagne is only for special occasions.)

                                                    Did that moment fix the disaster that my clients life felt? No, however it gave them a moment of calm and the brain is far quicker to find solutions, resolve and motivation to keep going when you do that.

                                                    It may feel like madness to do something you love, however it can be a powerful way to help you find solutions to the fears you face in life.

                                                    8. Assume the Worse

                                                    If you read the statement from the client above. Notice how they assumed it was wrong to fill the bath up to the top? How bubbly is only for special occasions?

                                                    Think how naughty they felt to be doing something that was not allowed?

                                                    • Think about what age it may have made them feel?
                                                    • Think about how they feel about champagne?
                                                    • What special moments it’s been a part of in their lives?

                                                    And you can see how the assumptions they made about their “right” to have these things was not healthy.

                                                    When I drag the assumptions out of people’s words for them to see, they are often struck by how negative the words make them feel.

                                                    Don’t assume your words aren’t impacting on you. You can go through fear and actually enjoy the ride when you take the time to understand how you are letting words get to you.

                                                    9. Take a Fear That Feels Insurmountable Right Now.

                                                    If you were to repeat it to me out loud, what would you say?

                                                    Would you have blame on yourself in there? Would you assume others can do it and it’s just you? Would you feel small, unsuccessful, useless, unworthy?

                                                    Usually, when you do this exercise, you are able to spot the untruths that run wild in your head convincing you that you are doomed. And rarely when we are faced with our assumptions is there is a lot of evidence to them.

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                                                    10. You Are Not Defined by Your Fear

                                                    One fear does not define your life – be mindful of that. It is likely to lead you to thinking of all the times you’ve succeeded and bring a moment of calm, confidence and faith back to you.

                                                    11. Go with Fear

                                                    When you learn to go with fear, you could find yourself actually having fun, no seriously – having fun.

                                                    I have a few amazing clients I’m working with right now who would describe themselves as life long worriers, or pessimists. In the past that has served them well, enabling them to keep safe, steer clear of risks and even develop strategies in the event of disasters. However, now they find it’s becoming hard to break the cycle and they really want to because it’s holding them back.

                                                    Notice how they’ve found their hidden fears and want to face them?

                                                    One client said “I knew this was going to be tough, and I knew I couldn’t fight it alone and I knew you would be the one to help me.” Before I sat an incredibly successful, confident, capable business owner with a family and a social life to die for.

                                                    However, I’ve learned that the most successful looking lives can hide things that impact on life, success, love, happiness and business.

                                                    We didn’t start with the fear that they felt was holding them back, we broke the fear down, and found lots of little obstacles that had been deemed as “life” and “unchangeable” and “that’s just the way it is” by developing awareness to the little steps on the road to their obstacles to happiness and success they were able to tackle them in a different way.

                                                    12. Discover Great Skills in Your Scary Moments

                                                    And in that clients words “I came here to work with you to grow my company, and my own personal skills. I didn’t expect to get the children to be cleaning up after themselves and my partner being more attentive! It all feels a little magic.”

                                                    The moral is that out of the scariest of moments, we can find great skills we didn’t know we had. Find better, healthier, happier ways to live and find ways to enjoy life more. (And have a bit of magic!)

                                                    What a great place to be in ready for the next fear that thinks it’s going to get in the way of you, right?

                                                    13. Own Your Fear

                                                    Think back over these tips and come up with at least one example for each one. Write them down. Put them on your phone. Turn them into a piece of art. Turn them into a poem. Frame them. Go for a fast walk across the fields, beach, down town and repeat these things in your head to the sound of your feet on the ground.

                                                    We rarely take the time to appreciate how far we have come, how much we can achieve or what we are capable of – by really owning the tips in this article you will have given your brain a big fat dose of “Damn right I can do this!” and the motivation and accountability to say “Let’s find a way” through any fear.

                                                    You can’t help but feel good when you see that can you? And fear doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

                                                    More Resources About Fighting Fear

                                                    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

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