In a house with three kids, my mom has lots of lunches to make, so I like to help her out. We make lunches the night before because mornings in my house with everyone trying to get ready for school and work are pretty crazy.
I think it’s important for kids to include healthy food that’s good for them in their lunches, not just junk like pop and candy! Sometimes I get teased for having vegetables in my lunch but I like how much better I feel when I eat healthy. I can work harder at school, run faster at recess and focus better on math, my favorite subject.
My mom likes for us to have fruit, vegetables and protein in our lunches. Usually on the weekends we steam and roast a couple kinds of vegetables we can put in our lunches throughout the week, and we wash grapes and berries to have ready, too.
My brothers and I like to have treats in our lunches (and sometimes my littlest brother eats his treat first!). But those treats can be healthy and taste yummy, too. One of our favorites is chocolate zucchini muffins. Don’t worry, they are delicious and you can’t taste the zucchini at all! My dad really doesn’t like zucchini and even he likes these muffins. And they have some protein, thanks to the peanut butter, which makes my mom happy. These are easy to make, they don’t use flour in case you are gluten-free and you can use another nut butter if you like. We keep a big stash of these muffins in our freezer to pop in our lunches or enjoy as an after-school snack.
Addie’s Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
*Adapted from a Running with Spoons recipe
Makes 24 mini muffins (or 12 regular)
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup shredded zucchini (squeeze out the extra liquid)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate are my favorite!)
Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare mini muffin pans by spraying with cooking spray. Add all ingredients to a mixer except for zucchini and chocolate chips; mix until incorporated. Stir shredded zucchini and chocolate chips in by hand. Pour batter into muffin tins, filling each cup until 3/4 full. Bake for 12 minutes (or up to 20 if making regular muffins) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let muffins cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pans. Muffins will keep in an air-tight container for about a week, or store in the freezer for up to several months.
Addie’s Healthy Cookies
Makes 12 cookies
These “cookies” are my little brother Hutch’s favorite treat to take in his lunchbox, or they make a delicious after-school snack. We love these treats when we are craving something sweet but need something to fill us up and give lasting energy for the school day or activities after school. They are also easy to tailor to your own tastes! Use any nut butter in place of peanut butter, and substitute any combination of dried cranberries, raisins, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, coconut or chia seeds in place of the chocolate chips.
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight. Once the mixture is cold it will be easier to roll into balls. Roll into 1/2 to 1 inch balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Addie’s Pigs in a Blanket
Mini pigs in a blanket are my youngest brother, Weston’s, favorite main dish to take in his lunch. They are great for when we are tired of sandwiches! We make a big batch and store in the freezer to make lunch prep extra easy. Weston and I like ketchup for dipping, and Hutch likes mustard.
2 cans crescent rolls
48 cocktail-size smoked link sausages or hot dogs
Preheat oven to 375°F. Unroll both cans of dough and separate into 16 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise into 3 smaller triangles. Place sausage on the base of the triangle and roll up toward the point. Continue will all the dough and sausages, placing on two ungreased cookie sheets and making sure the pigs in a blanket aren’t touching and have plenty of room to bake. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days, or in the freezer for up to several months.
For even more healthy lunchbox ideas, check out these recipes by Michelle Ann Anderson.