We prepare school lunches for many of our clients in the Chester County area, and doing so has taught us a thing or two about coming up with creative lunches to suit any special diet. Read on to see how we do it!
Rule #1: Include a food from each food group. Whole grains (or gluten-free grains!), fruit, vegetables, dairy (or non-dairy substitutes), and protein. Use this chart for inspiration:
Rule #3: Don’t get too caught up in “lunch” food. Leftover dinner foods make some of the most nutritious and filling lunches. We love adding chopped vegetables and a bit of olive oil to leftover pasta for a quick and easy pasta salad, or throwing together quesadillas with leftover grilled vegetables. Try mixing up leftover rice with shredded zucchini and some chopped up meatballs for a simple rice salad.
Rule #4: Sneak in produce wherever possible. We like mixing minced or shredded vegetables into things like tuna salad, chicken salad, or even chickpea salad. Keep the pieces small to avoid being “found out”! Another fun idea is vegetarian sushi: Simply wrap vegetables like cucumber, avocado, or cooked sweet potato in rice and nori wrappers (you can find many simple tutorials on how to roll sushi on YouTube). This fun finger food is a kid favorite when dipped in yummy soy sauce. Or, try a hummus burrito to incorporate vegetables, whole grains, and protein all in one hand-held package. We also like mixing vegetables into our sweet treats, like whole grain mini-muffins. Try this recipe for Gluten-Free Carrot and Apple Muffins, below!
Gluten-Free Carrot and Apple Muffins
Recipe from The Minimalist Baker
We think these would be awesome served with almond or sunflower butter! Try preparing them in a mini-muffin tin, perfect for small hands.
1.5 flax eggs (1 tbsp flax meal + 2.5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes before using)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup mashed very ripe banana
1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1 sweet apple, finely grated
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plain almond milk, unsweetened
1 heaping cup (packed) grated carrot
2/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup + 2 Tbsp gluten free flour blend
1/4 cup raw walnuts (chopped) for topping
Prepare flax eggs in a large mixing bowl and preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
Prepare muffin tin with liners or lightly grease them.
To flax eggs mashed banana, agave or maple syrup, olive oil and whisk to combine.
Next add applesauce, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and whisk to combine.
Add almond milk and stir.
Add grated carrot and stir.
Add oats, almond meal, gluten free flour blend and stir.
Divide evenly among 12 muffin tins, filling them all the way up to the top, and top with crushed walnuts (optional).
Bake for 32-36 minutes, or until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you press on the top it shouldn’t feel too spongy, so don’t be afraid of over baking! The GF blend just takes longer to bake.
Remove from oven and let set in the pan for 15 minutes. Then flip on their sides still in the pan to let cool completely.
If you try to unwrap them too quickly, they have a tendency to stick to the wrappers.
Once cooled, store in a covered container or bag at room temp to keep fresh. Freeze after that to keep fresh.
What are your favorite school lunches? If you want to learn more about our lunch delivery service, please contact us!