Eat a rainbow every day! A nutritious, well-balanced lunchbox should contain an array of different colours and should be both visually appealing and tasty, thus helping to avoid the temptation of snacking on other treats from the school/office canteen!
With this in mind, we have come up with some quick and easy healthy lunchbox snack ideas. Everyone loves snacking and the fantastic news is that it’s an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Not only does it stave off hunger pangs but it keeps your blood sugar levels stable, helping to keep energy levels up and the brain alert.
Our healthy meals delivered to your door contain nutritious snacks each day, always following a few simple guidelines:
- A healthy snack should always contain a good source of protein. Protein is essential for healthy growth and development, bone health, the immune system and brain function. It also helps with blood sugar control, helping to avoid energy slumps and cravings for sweet things. Good quality sources of protein include eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese, yoghurt and pulses – all of which can be incorporated into yummy snacks.
- Snacks should not contain refined sugar. Sugar is like rocket fuel: it gives you an initial burst of energy but then causes you to quickly crash, leaving you sluggish, irritable and craving for more. Sugar can be hard to spot on some food labels as it can be disguised under different names such as sucrose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, fructose and corn syrup, so make sure you become label savvy – especially when looking for healthy snacks for kids.
A snack can also be a great way of boosting your diet with some extra nutrients in the form of fresh fruit and vegetables. Here are some of our easy to follow healthy lunchbox recipes and ideas.
Crudités and hummus – Photograph by Eduardo Mueses
Crunchy sticks of brightly coloured vegetables can be fantastic healthy alternative to crisps in kids’ lunchboxes. Carrot sticks, red, yellow, orange peppers, sugar snaps, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes… the more colour and variety the better! These are all excellent sources of antioxidants such as beta-carotene and lycopene which are vital to help boost the immune system and ward off infection.
This dip is bursting with goodness (as our blog post on avocados demonstrated) and is easy to make. With a fork simply mash together an avocado, a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt, some finely chopped coriander and a good squeeze of lime juice. Stir in some diced tomato and serve with the crudités described above. Why not try our hummus recipes for another fantastic dip idea for lunchboxes?
Homemade fruit yoghurt
A good source of protein, yoghurt is also a fantastic source of calcium (essential for healthy bone and teeth formation) and perfect for a healthy school snack. Avoid shop bought fruit yoghurts that more often than not contain added sugar, preservatives, additives and other nasties. Instead make your own fruit yoghurt, as show in the simple recipe for ‘Stewed Spiced Apple Yoghurt’ below. This can always be sweetened with a little bit of honey to taste.
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 120g apple (peeled and chopped into small pieces)
- 140g low-fat natural/ Greek yoghurt
- Mix the chopped apple with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and roast in the oven until tender.
- Leave to cool and then add the yoghurt.
- Add honey to taste.
Oatcakes – Photograph by Girl Interrupted Eating
Oatcakes with nut butters
Replace sugar-laden spreads such as chocolate spread and jam with nut butters; options include almond, brazil and cashew. Made simply from 100% nuts these are packed with nutrients such as zinc and selenium which are essential for a healthy immune system, brain function and hormone balance. A good range to try is Meridian – these are sold at Sainsburys and most health food shops. Spread thinly onto oatcakes, which are a fantastic source of soluble fibre, for a great, energy-boosting snack. Other ideas for oat cake toppers include a chopped boiled egg or some fresh chicken breast – both excellent sources of protein.
Fruit salad with nuts – Photograph by Francisco Antunes
Fruit salad pot with a small handful of nuts
Choose local, seasonal fruit where possible. Domestic fruits such as apples, pears and berries (i.e. strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) are lower in sugar than the more exotic fruits, and the less travelled and fresher they are, the richer the nutrient content. Summer is the perfect time to make a colourful fruit salad using what’s best in season.
As well as being an excellent source of protein, nuts are a fantastic source of essential “good” fats which are vital for optimal brain function, and healthy hair, nails and skin. Some yummy combinations include pears with pecan nuts and summer berries with almonds. It’s worth bearing in mind that some schools may have a policy on nuts which may mean they are not allowed. If this is the case, substitute nuts with a few cubes of cheese for a rich source of protein and calcium.
Do you have any good lunch box ideas that have been a hit with the kids, or have a particular favourite snack from any of our healthy gourmet diet delivery menus? We would love to hear about them.