Recently I put it out there to see if anyone needed help with healthy lunchbox ideas for their kids. The response was huge so I've written up my recipes for you and also provided links to some of my favourite foods for the lunchbox. If you struggle with getting vegetables and protein into your little ones I'm going to create a specific recipe section for you in the coming weeks. Please email us firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject LUNCHBOX so I can send it to you when it's done. Eventually I'll turn it into a recipe book but you can have the first draft free if you email us as it will be good for me to get feedback. I am honestly the master of getting healthy food into my daughter so I'm happy to help. And I hate recipes that take up loads of my time because my days are already extremely busy. So here is what we made this week for Ariella's lunchbox treats:
Real Fruit Roll Up's
These were super easy to make and are honestly as sweet as candy or lollies! All you need to do is buy whatever fruit is in season (cheap and plentiful), cook it on a low heat until it is a bit mushy, blend it, and then dehydrate it. To dehydrate food you can buy a dehydrator (we got ours for $30 from Aldi) or you can do it in the oven. Just spread the fruit puree out onto a piece of parchment/ baking paper making sure it is even width and then pop it in the oven (or dehydrator) at 300 F. Our dodgy Aldi dehydrator took hours but in an oven its just 3-4 hours. You touch it and if it is dry it is done! You can do this with all purees so consider getting our free baby puree ebook if you want to try some more interesting combo's like blueberry apple and spinach, or carrot and apricot.
Fruit Gummy Slice
Again, this was super duper simple! We used the left over puree after making the real fruit roll ups. We added 2 tablespoons of gelatine powder to 4 oz of water first, and then after about 2 minutes it expanded and became gooey. We then added the gelatine mixture to the left over hot fruit puree, gave it a blend in the bender and put it in a cake tin (lined with baking paper). This then went in the fridge and the next day all I had to do was cut it up into squares. Again, don't be afraid to muck around with fruit and vege combo's from our puree ebook for this. If the fruit is ripe the gummy slice ends up so sweet that no one will notice if there is a little bit of blended spinach in there!
No Nut Muesli Bars
This idea was cool! And so easy and quick to make. If you already make your own chocolate you won't find this difficult. The first step is to grab a small bowl and a 1 cup measuring device. Fill your cup with a mix of seeds. We used everything we had in the cupboard which was sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flax seeds. I don't think it's legal to eat hemp seeds in Australia yet but they are so great for omega's we do it in our home. Chia seeds are packed with protein and fibre and the same with flax seeds. All of these (hemp, chia and flax) are awesome for the digestive system! Ok so pop your cup of seeds into the bowl and then grab some coconut and oats (or any cereal you have) and fill the cup half way. Add that to your bowl so now you have 8 oz of seeds, 2 oz of coconut and 2 oz of oats. Then on the stove top (low heat) melt about 3.5 oz of cocao butter. If you haven't used this before you are going to love it! Cacao is the unrefined version of cocoa and this "butter" is the solid mass that they make chocolate out of! Melt this and then add 2 oz of coconut oil, 1 oz of brown rice syrup and a tablespoon of dutch cocoa powder. If you don't have enough cocao butter you can substitute for more coconut oil. If you don't have brown rice syrup you can use any sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup etc) and if you don't have dutch cocoa you can use normal cocoa, or cacao. If you use cacao it will be a teeny bit more bitter so add an extra teaspoon of sweetener. Melt all this together and then pour it over the dry mix in your bowl. Stir it through and then pop it into a cake tin that has been lined with baking paper. Then put this in the fridge over night. After it has set chop it up into squares!
Quirky Rocky Road
OMG this is the best thing since sliced bread! I didn't use a recipe for this but I got the idea from my friend Jo Whitton from Quirky Cooking. I made her marshmallow recipe a few weeks ago and had some left over in the freezer. Because I was making the no nut muesli bars I just made double the amount of chocolate and used some for rocky road. I grabbed some nuts out of my cupboard, put them in a lined shallow container with the chopped up marshmallows and then poured the warm chocolate mix over the top. The brown rice syrup had all sinked to the bottom so I scrapped that out so it went on the rocky road mixture too. It then just went in the fridge for a few hours. Jo Whitton also has a great chocolate recipe if you want to try something different to my chocolate mixture above! She taught me her chocolate a few years ago and I have never looked back! My version is the "I only have 5 minutes for this" and it was developed out of a need to have Jo's chocolate but faster. Haha Jo has a lot more self control than I do when it comes to chocolate! Once I decide I want it, I pretty much want it straight away. I've even been known to tuck into mine just half an hour after putting it in the fridge to set! This is the kind of chocolate you can do that with. Oh and another tip... if you don't have time to make marshmallows well this recipe tastes really good using the real fruit gummy slice instead.. you just break it into pieces and then drizzle the chocolate and nuts (or seeds and coconut if it's for school).
We made this while we were making the real fruit roll up's. We just sliced our fruit (in this case strawberries) and then placed them onto parchment paper inside the dehydrator (at 300 F). They went in overnight and came out crispy and delicious. It is crazy how much sweeter dried strawberries are compared to fresh strawberries! You only need one or two and you get a massive sugar hit! Again though you could do this with anything! It doesn't even have to be fruit. Dried vege chips would also taste fantastic.. I'm thinking beetroot, carrot, sweet potato or pumpkin with a little bit of sea salt... mmmm mmmm!
Talisha and Ariella