Tips and Recipes

More Healthy Lunch Ideas February 22 2014, 1 Comment

healthy lunch ideas


Healthy lunch ideas that are good for your body and the environment.


Have you taken a close look at what you’re packing in your kids’ lunches? Not just the food, but also the packaging. I thought I had a good handle on what was going into our boxes, and that we were doing a (mostly) good job, until a study of the ocean in my son’s Kindergarten class brought things into focus for me.

On his own initiative, my (then) 6-year-old son took on the challenge of making our lunches waste free. His target: plastic baggies. I share the story of what catalyzed this adventure on The Huffington Post, along with my son’s tips on how to pack a waste free lunch. He’s got some healthy lunch ideas to share of his own!

Our Favorite Healthy Lunch Ideas

Packing a healthy lunch that’s as good for us as it is for the environment has become easier with the addition of a few easy lunch recipes to our regular routine. I generally find that if we have a few of these healthy recipes at the ready before the week begins, my kids can easily pack lunches for themselves that are healthy for their bodies and the planet. On the weeks when I set aside a few hours on the weekend to make a few recipes in advance, it’s definitely less stressful!

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

Tomato Mozzarella Skewers

Nut Free Basil Pesto

Healthy Homemade Hummus

Homemade Granola Bars

For more healthy lunch ideas, check out these fresh recipes from our Healthy Lunch Challenge

We'd love to hear what you do to pack healthy, low waste lunches! Share your healthy lunch ideas with us in the comments below, or on Facebook.

Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of the forthcoming book The 52 New Foods Challenge (Penguin Random House/Avery 2014) and the creator of the award winning healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®. Her family cooking adventures have been featured at Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray’s Yum-O!, Pottery Barn Kids, and Laurie David’s Family Dinner. She is a featured blogger at The Huffington Post.


Load Up With Healthy Lunch Ideas in the Healthy Lunch Challenge April 15 2013, 6 Comments

healthy lunch ideas crunch a color healthy lunches


Some days I feel like I’m fresh out of healthy lunch ideas! So I turned to my friends for some inspiration.


As passionate as I am about healthy eating, I still find it a struggle to create healthy lunches that my kids will actually eat. So I turned to my fellow healthy lunch packing friends for a little inspiration. Together with Kelly Lester of Easy Lunch Boxes, I launched The Healthy Lunch Challenge. Moms across the country shared their easy ideas for how to build a better lunchbox on a busy parents' schedule.
 

TUNE IN LATER THIS WEEK WHEN WE POST THE WINNERS FROM THE HEALTHY LUNCH CHALLENGE ON THE HUFFINGTON POST!  

Eat Your Colors

Make your box a riot of color. Use the Crunch a Color formula when you pack your lunch: three colors + one protein + one healthy grains. Jill of Meet the Dubiens is full of colorful ideas.

healthy lunch ideas meet the dubiens crunch a color

Think Out of the Box

Rid your box of processed foods. Start by tackling chicken nuggets, Bent on Better Lunches style!

healthy lunch ideas bent on better lunches crunch a color 

Then cut the mayo out like Jenn did at Bento for Kidlet. 

healthy lunch ideas bento for kidlet crunch a color


Try a New Food

Break out of your recipe rut by trying a new food each week in your lunch. The creative Keeley McGuire shows us a fun way to try Brussels sprouts.

healthy lunch ideas Keeley McGuire Crunch a Color


Make it Easy

Busy and healthy can go together if you make it easy! Marla Meridith’s Giddy Up Pasta hits the target.

healthy lunch ideas marla meridith crunch a color


Another way to make it easy? Leftovers for lunch! Brenda at Meal Planning Magic shares her tricks.

healthy lunch ideas meal planning magic crunch a color


Cook it Together

“If they cook it, they will eat it!” Get your kids in the act. Let them create a meal plan for the week. Encourage them to prepare their own recipes. Try DIY almond butter pizzas from Organized Bites.

healthy lunch ideas organized bites crunch a color


Or make BLT Kabobs from Biting the Hand that Feeds You (it’s always more fun on a stick!).

healthy lunch ideas biting the hand crunch a color


Have fun making lunch together, like Shannon and her daughter at Bento Lunch.

healthy lunch ideas bento lunch crunch a color


Make it Allergy Friendly

Although my kids do not have food allergies, their school is 100% nut free so I’m always looking for easy ways to banish peanut butter from our boxes. No bake cookies made with sunflower butter are the current favorite in our house, and they are a breeze for kids to make.

We’ve also got a few lunch buddies who avoid gluten, which means we’re happy when we find an easy gluten free alternative to our favorite lunch box treats! How about gluten free homemade blueberry muffins? Check out Amy The Family Chef for the recipe and more ideas.

healthy lunch ideas amy the family chef crunch a color 

Go Meatless

Take Meatless Monday to school. Instead of packing lunch meats, pack an easy alternative like tofu and soba noodles from The Roxx Box.

healthy lunch ideas roxx box crunch a color


Make it Fun

The key to making lunch (or any meal) healthy is to make it fun. Take an extra minute to cut fun shapes into your veggies, like Deb at iPackLunch. Pop a conversation starter or love note into your box for a fun surprise. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and your kids will love it!

healthy lunch ideas ipacklunch crunch a color


A special thanks to all of the moms who participated in our Healthy Lunch Challenge with Easy Lunch Boxes. Your simple and fun ideas are inspiring!

Kelly Lester, Easy Lunchboxes
Marla Meridith, Family Fresh Cooking
Cristi Messersmith, Bent on Better Lunches
Keeley McGuire, Keeley McGuire Blog
Jill Dubien, Meet The Dubiens
Brenda Thompson, Meal Planning Magic
Amy Fothergill, The Family Chef
Kendra Peterson, Biting the Hand that Feeds You
Venia Conte, Organized Bites
Deborah Jordan, iPackLunch
Jenn Christ, Bento for Kidlet
Shannon Carino, Bento Lunch
Roxanne Munson, The Roxx Box

Now get out there and build a better lunch box with your kids. Post your pictures on our Twitter and Facebook pages. We’d love to sneak a peek at what you’re packing!

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.


Italian Style Homemade Chicken Soup (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 10) March 10 2013, 0 Comments

italian homemade chicken soup


The easiest homemade chicken soup ever!


My littlest one was home sick this week. When those rosy red cheeks and tired eyes show up, chicken soup is first on the menu. It used to be that I would reach for a can of chicken soup from the pantry, but we’ve come so far in our 52 New Foods journey that when I grabbed that little red can this week I just couldn’t do a heat and eat. “I need to make it from scratch.” I resolved. My husband, the sweetheart that he is, headed out to the market at the crack of dawn with a simple list – carrots, celery, and an onion. I had some leftover Italian chicken in the fridge from dinner the previous night.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it is so darn easy to make and it results in a delicious, wholesome soup full of healthy ingredients. My son asked, “Why does chicken soup help to make me feel better when I am sick?” This question is one I’ve asked myself many times over. “I’m not sure,” I replied, “why do you think it helps?” His little hands wrapped around the bowl, sipping slowly he pondered this question and then responded, “Maybe the vegetables chase the bugs away.” I smiled a big smile and hugged him tight, “You know, I think you may be right. I’m glad that you’re feeling better.”

What we Liked: This easy Italian style homemade chicken soup isn’t just for chasing cold bugs away. It’s the perfect busy weeknight meal. Make our easy Italian chicken and save a few pieces as leftovers. Then use that tasty chicken to make this soup the next day. Serve it up with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich for a quick dinner, or pack it in the kids’ lunchboxes with a few whole grain crackers for crumbling.   

Italian Style Homemade Chicken Soup

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
Crunch a Color points: 10 protein, 10 healthy grains, 10 green or orange

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

Ingredients:

italian homemade chicken soup ingredients


4 cups organic chicken broth
2 cups cooked Italian chicken
2 cups cooked pasta (I like to use rotini)
1 cup water
3 celery stalks
2 carrots
½ onion
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Chop the onion, carrots and celery into ¼” to ½” size pieces.

italian homemade chicken soup step 1


2. Heat a stockpot over medium, then add the olive oil, garlic and onions. Simmer gently until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more.

italian homemade chicken soup step 2


3. Add the chicken broth, water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

italian homemade chicken soup step 3


4. While the broth is simmering, chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Add to the pot with the cooked pasta and heat 2 minutes more.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

italian homemade chicken soup


* Do you have a favorite homemade chicken soup recipe? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Mini Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.


Mini Baked Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 9) March 04 2013, 3 Comments

baked asparagus frittata savory muffinsSavory muffins are a fun twist on asparagus frittata! Baked with asparagus, onions and eggs, this deliciously easy asparagus frittata recipe was a huge hit with my family. Bonus that it makes an easy addition to a healthy lunchbox!

 

 

 

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins lunch 


Easy Asian Pear Sauce (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 1) January 07 2013, 3 Comments

asian pear saucePear sauce made with crisp Asian pears and a hint of ginger is an easy and fun twist on homemade applesauce.

 

Cinnamon Apples (Week 37, 52 New Foods) September 24 2012, 1 Comment

cinnamon apples 

Cinnamon apples are a favorite fall treat for my kids. This easy recipe brings together the best of what goes into making a cozy apple pie, but without refined sugar.


Healthy Lunch Ideas: Sandwich Pops (Week 36, 52 New Foods) September 19 2012, 1 Comment

healthy lunch ideas sandwich pops 

Need healthy lunch ideas? Sandwich Pops to the rescue! But watch out: you may find that friends are lining up to sneak a bite of these fun and easy sandwiches on a stick. Be sure to pack enough to share!