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  • Writer's pictureAmy Slater

First Grade Real Food Lunchbox

I build Cameron and William’s school snacks and lunches around a protein and then fill in the sides with fruit, starch and vegetables. There are important considerations…

  1. Everything must be kept around the same temperature. You cannot pack a hot thermos of lentils with a cold fruit salad in the same lunchbox.

  2. There must be something attractive in the lunchbox that makes them want to focus on eating instead of playing.

  3. The attractive lunchbox item must not overwhelm the goal food.

  4. The goal food must not be hyper palatable because then they will not eat the rest of their lunch.

  5. It cannot be too smelly or difficult to eat. Which means no soup or plain cans of sardines or oysters.

I plan the lunch and snack menu to rotate every two days. They have their favorites, like the veggie pasta. Their recent favorite is a sorghum flour bread sandwich. I am in the process of developing this recipe so I don’t have a link yet. Sorghum flour is tricky to work with and must be blended with other gluten free flours otherwise it falls apart easily. My current version must be toasted otherwise it crumbles. But, they love it because they can eat a sandwich.

I choose to make my own bread and avoid gluten and wheat. I have made this choice for my kids right now because I know that it is the best path for them. Cameron, has an immediate reaction to gluten on his skin. He has eczema that shows up on his legs as soon as he has a gluten exposure. Another reason we avoid gluten and wheat is because there is no nutritional need for gluten and there are no health benefits attached to wheat that are not outweighed by the negative health consequences. I can refer you here to a trusted resource, The Paleo Mom. Here are three comprehensive articles detailing Why Grains are Bad (part one, part two and part three) including a rabbit hole of citations that allows you to dig deeper if you choose. Now there are a lot of fads and hyped up trends out there regarding nutrition. It is easy to get tangled up in a lot of confusing messages. The way I approach health and nutrition, movement and exercise is this, follow the truths. I learned this with my studies at the Gray Institute in the GIFT program. If you follow the truths and understand fundamental human physiology and rely on trusted sources of information, you cannot go wrong.


I use Applegate naturals ham, raw milk sharp cheddar cheese, homemade avocado oil mayo.


I put vegetables in everything I can. I used Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice Noodles here to make the veggies more attractive. Sadly, the likelihood of the boys opening a container full of veggies and eating them in front of their friends at school is small. Isn’t that a bummer! I try to tell them that it is super cool to eat healthy food and they can be role models to their friends. But, they are not getting it 100% yet. I understand their side, first grade can be tough.


So….I add some noodles and that does the trick. Here I paired them with some garden veggies: eggplant, purple okra, peppers and beets. I supplemented with zucchini and red onion from the Farmer’s Market and green olives and celery from Trader Joe’s. I steamed the veggies along with some parsley, salt and pepper until they were tender. Then I added rice wine vinegar. I cooled the noodles quickly under cool running water and added a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Once all was cool, I mixed them together and served the salad cold with the sandwich.


Here is my latest cookie creation! A crumble free chocolate chip cookie sweetened with raw honey. At the boys’ request…no banana. It is a tapioca flour/coconut flour blend that uses almond butter and eggs as a binder. Recipe to come soon!! It is sweet enough to be a treat but by traditional cookie standards, not at all hyper palatable. It also is not enough to fill them up without eating the rest of their lunch. 🙂


The boys eat their snack in the afternoon about two hours after lunch. I aim to have something hydrating filling to keep them full until dinnertime. This is key to avoid the snack frenzy when they arrive home from school. Here I have a fruit salad with organic peaches and pears (found on mega sale at Whole Foods) and kiwi from Costco. I added basil, lemon balm and pineapple sage along with a sprinkle of cinnamon. SUPER YUMMY!


I also gave them a seeds and fruit granola bar for added filling factor with protein and fat. So, why not just give them a kind bar or another great gluten free bar? There are a lot of good products available! My reason is economics. It is much more cost effective to make a big batch and freeze them into the portions that I need.


That’s it…lunch for my littles!


And snack!

I promise the bread and cookie recipes to come soon. Until then, do a little every day to feed your kids real, whole amazing foods. Stay the course, nutrition is so huge. We may never fully know the impact our effort have on their health. Who knows what genes are not being triggered, what chronic illness could we help avoid? All I know is that every second is worth it! I hope you find some inspiration here! :)F

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