It doesn’t have to be just bread!
Lunch accounts for 1/3 of food that your child eats during the day so you want to make sure it is nutritious and delicious but also fun. Always the same sandwiches, quickly crammed into a lunchbox... Not really a daily surprise, but fortunately there are enough healthy alternatives for bread.
Think for example wraps. They are easy and quick to make and you can play with the spreads to your kids liking. Our younger son loves olives while our older one cannot stand them. Look for the spreads and toppings your kid likes the most. My super easy and go to wrap for school lunch box is covered with hummus as a base. Home-made hummus is easy to make but I understand that this might be one step too far. Go for a store-bought version. Hummus will make everything stick together nicely. Then I add chunks of bell pepper and sometimes top it with little bit of spinach (if there is a treat waiting for him right next to the wrap, my older one wouldn’t mind the spinach=) and beans for extra protein boost.
Girls might like those pink wraps made from beet hummus (which you can also buy at several supermarkets) filled with avocado. Feel free to add even more colors (three coloured paprikas are perfect for this) Add some fruits to create a rainbow salad and maybe top it with a small picture of a unicorn and you are gonna be a parent of the week. If your kid isn’t a big fan of hummus, try avocado spread or quacamole or think outside the box and use tahini paste.
Another option is a sweeter version of your tortilla using above mentioned tahini. I must admit my boys weren’t big fans, but I know kids that wouldn’t leave the house without this combo. Just spread some tahini and some jam or honey on a tortilla or on pita bread. You can shred some apples, sprinkle it with some cinnamon and raisins and you’ve got yourself some apple-pie wrap. Too busy to make wraps in the morning? Make them a day in advance, roll them in the foil and put them in the fridge overnight.
The good and oldie peanut butter sandwich Ok as much as my boys love hummus wraps with paprika, they are proper bread monsters just like most kids around. Sounds familiar? Pindakaas boterham” or a peanut butter sandwich is definitely one of the staple foods in the Netherlands. What many people don’t know is that the peanut butter is actually very nutritious. Like all nut butters, peanut butter is a convenient source of protein, and it comes packaged with an added bonus that is rare for protein foods: Fiber, about 2 grams per 2-tablespoon serving. This nutrient can help you feel fuller longer, helps keep your digestion system in good working order, and may lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. BUT, make sure you buy peanut butter that contains peanuts only (and maybe salt if you prefer that). Many more commercial brands add palm oil and other vegetable oils and sugar as well which is unnecessary. Spreading it on a whole grain bread makes it more nutritious and even more rich in fiber.
I still get now and then funny comments from some of Kubo’s friends, when they come over for a playdate and have their lunch here…”waarom smaakt je brood zo raar”..” Why does your bread taste so funny?…hmm because it is wholegrain instead of white? I always turn it to fun and explain how their poop loves wholegrain bread and the fiber it contains and how it gets big and super speedy. To keep your sandwiches more versatile, try maybe other nut butters like almond butter, cashew butter or mixed nut butters. Or favourite is Gemende noten from Horizon. It is a blend of hazelnuts and almonds and it is heavenly. With a little bit of sweetener and cacao powder and you’ve got yourself a healthy homemade nutella. Or keep it simple and spread some cashew butter and slice a banana, done!
Another yummy alternative to just boring butter is avocado spread or hummus topped with some fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes, cucumber or small paprikas. Fruit monsters If you are unlucky and your kid isn’t a huge fan of fruit, try to make fruit more fun, for example by using cookie cutters or letter cutters (maybe still available at Albert Heijn) to cut the letters of their name. Or you can get those nice accessories from eBay or amazon. Just search for lunchbox or bento box accessories. You can find cute little forks in the shapes of different animals, cars, etc. The sky is the limit and it all comes down to your creativity, patience and time.
Oh and have you heard of BROODTROMMEL LIEFDE? Those are small notes you can hide in their lunch boxes. Of course, a post-it would do just fine. I am still looking for an English version of those cute cards. If you know where to find them, please let me know!
I hope you got some inspiration from this short article…
Katka Vojtek lives in Haarlem with her two sons and husband. She is a qualified nutritionist, orthomolecular therapist and Zumba teacher. If you have any questions for Katka or to get in touch see her website www.leafylife.nl