More Healthy Lunch Ideas

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on February 22, 2014 0 Comments
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.

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Load Up With Healthy Lunch Ideas in the Healthy Lunch Challenge

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on 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.

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

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 09, 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.

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Mini Baked Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 9)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 04, 2013 3 Comments
baked asparagus frittata savory muffins


Baked with asparagus, onions and eggs, this deliciously easy asparagus frittata recipe was a huge hit with my family. “Savory muffins!” my daughter exclaimed.


With spring on the horizon, my mind is dreaming of brunch. It is one of my most favorite meals to host because the cooking is easy (and can often be made ahead) and it’s usually during a bright spot in my day when I’m feeling energized and the kids are in a good mood.

No brunch would be complete without my Gram’s asparagus frittata. Having grown up in a big Italian family, there was always lots of food around when we gathered together. Each of my aunts had their domain – crispelles, ravioli, tomato sauce. The list goes on for miles. Among my Gram’s specialties was a simple Italian frittata chock-full of asparagus and ricotta. The smell of this dish simmering always transports me back to her kitchen at Easter time.

“Let’s take our 52 New Foods adventure to Italy” I cheered. There was no debate at the family table, as Italian dishes are some of our favorites. The only condition was that we make homemade pasta – which will be fun but challenging. I still haven’t mastered Gram’s pasta recipes. In the meantime, we decided frittata was an easy place to start.

What we Liked: Thinking the ricotta cheese might be too much for my picky eaters’ palette, I replaced it with mozzarella. To make it more fun, we made the frittata in individual muffin cups. We each personalized our “muffins” – some with more asparagus, some with less. To her surprise, my daughter even enjoyed the ones with asparagus. She liked them so much that she named them Savory Muffins. Bonus: they make an easy addition to your healthy lunchbox.   

Mini Baked Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 12 muffins
Crunch a Color points: 15 green

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

Ingredients:

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins ingredients


1 bunch asparagus
10 eggs
1 potato
½ onion
½ cup shredded mozzarella
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin tin with oil.

2. Chop the asparagus, onion and potato into ¼” to ½” size pieces. When the kids are chopping, remind them to make a fist to keep their fingers safe!

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 1


3. Heat a frying pan over medium. Add the olive oil, then the onions. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes to the onions and sauté 3 to 4 minutes more. Finally, add the asparagus and mix together with the potatoes and onions. Simmer in the pan an additional 3 to 4 minutes (about 10 minutes total). Set aside in a small bowl.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 2

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 2b


4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and salt.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 3


5. Pour the egg mixture into the greased baking cups, filling about halfway. Add a spoonful of the cooked vegetables to each cup and sprinkle with mozzarella. Add extra egg mixture to fill the cups almost all the way to the top.

Quick Tip: Let your kids personalize their muffins by adding the amount and kind of vegetables that they feel is right for them. Encourage them to make a couple of variations to give different tastes (and new veggies) a try.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4b

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4c


6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes. Serve warm!

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins lunch


* Which veggies do you like to feature in your frittata? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

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.

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Easy Asian Pear Sauce (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 1)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on January 07, 2013 2 Comments
asian pear sauce


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

It’s 2013 and Crunch a Color’s 52 New Foods adventure is setting off on a tour around the world! Like the sun, we begin our journey in the East, sampling and savoring foods from Asia. What better way to get ready for the Lunar New Year than a stop at the fresh market in Chinatown!

asian pears picking


A visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown would not be complete without heading home with a bushel full of sweet, crunchy Asian pears. Their flavor and texture is like a cross between an apple and a pear, and they are delicious sliced into wedges as a snack. But on this brisk January afternoon, my kids were craving a warm treat, so we whipped up a batch of Asian pear sauce with a hint of ginger, and not a drop of refined sugar: an easy and fun twist on homemade applesauce.

Asian Pear Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 to 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 cups
Crunch a Color points: 5 yellow

Ingredients:

asian pear sauce ingredients


2 pounds Asian pears
2 pounds Fuji apples
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
1½ cups water

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and core the Asian pears and apples. Chop the fruit into ¼” size pieces. This is a fun job for the kids to do!

asian pear sauce step 1

asian pear sauce step 1b


2. Load all of the ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the fruit is soft. The Asian pears will remain slightly crunchy compared to the apples.

asian pear sauce step 2


3. Let the kids mash the fruit mixture with a potato masher until you achieve the texture you prefer. We made our sauce with small chunks of pear remaining.

asian pear sauce step 3


4. Let cool, then enjoy with friends!

asian pear sauce share

asian pear sauce


This delicious Asian pear sauce is a wholesome treat and an easy way to try something new alongside yogurt, roast chicken, or simply on its own as a healthy snack.

* What is your favorite way to enjoy Asian pears?

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Kumquat Jam

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- the 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, 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, easy 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.

 

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