(NaturalNews) With all the attention from the media, activist moms, and health advocates, most people today are aware that the quality of school lunches is lacking in... well, quality. Most people would be hard pressed to differentiate between a fruit and a vegetable, no less what kind of meat is actually on that tray passed out to even the youngest of students. This leaves the lingering question of what to do, or rather what to make, so our children are receiving food that truly fills their nutritional needs during a demanding seven hours away from our homes.
Assuming you're willing (and able) to put in the time, energy, and love necessary for packing lunches each night for your little budding geniuses, here's a list that will get you going. If not, please note the aforementioned groups to promote better school lunches:
1. Go Organic - This is a great first step. Keeping the chemical/pesticide count as low as possible helps kids' bodies stay healthy and retain a strong immune system. Buy organic fruits and veggies, breads, cheese, milk, meat, and everything else you can find in organic. Today, organics are much more readily available and a good health option: Remember, foods labeled organic are, by law, not allowed to contain unnatural ingredients like GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms).
2. Go Raw - Yes, raw fruits and veggies can be great snack packers with some yogurt dip, but what about raw cheese, raw milk (many children allergic to pasteurized milk can tolerate raw milk beautifully), or raw butter. Even raw honey to dip some properly soaked nuts in. Raw foods are full of live enzymes. Living food supports life, especially in our digestive system, which is the basis for a great immune system. Want to keep the kids healthier during cold and flu season? Go raw.
3. Give Kids Some Culture - Cultured or fermented food that is. Try whole milk, natural yogurts, kefir (there are lunch packable versions for kids now) or even homemade fermented cortido or sauerkraut in a small container. Homemade pickled cucumbers (better known as pickles) are a fun addition for lunch. It is one of the easiest and most delicious fermented vegetables to make. Fermented or cultured foods are living foods, full of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that aid our digestion. Bringing the kids to the Guggenheim or ballet lesson, well, that's your call .
4. Pack Some Protein - Make your own turkey breast or roast beef and slice thinly for sandwiches. Leftover meatloaf, chicken cutlet, or breaded fish make great sandwiches also. Hardboiled eggs or egg salad made with homemade or good quality mayonnaise, tuna salad. And don't forget the old standby peanut butter, with either a natural jam or bananas. Naturally produced liverwurst is also a great option. Cold cuts another alternative, just keep them free of MSG, nitrates, and preservatives. Proteins are so important to growing children. Essential for normal growth, the formation of hormones, and, among many other functions, the health of kids' brains and nervous system. Basically, it keeps our kids growing, smart, and happy.
5. Use Sprouted Grains - Sandwich breads made from sprouted grains without yeast are the healthiest choices. Sprouting grains (by soaking until sprouts grow) helps deactivate enzyme inhibitors so that the digestive system can easily absorb the minerals present in grains. Easier digestion frees the body up for better thinking.
6. Fat's Where It's At - Those growing brains need lots of fat and cholesterol to ensure proper brain and nervous system development, keeping serotonin levels up -- the body's natural "feel good" chemical. Use lots of butter, cheese, whole milk and milk products (preferably from pastured animals) and good quality mayonnaise or make homemade mayonnaise. Don't forget to start their day off with some high vitamin cod liver oil.
7. Add Coconut - Coconut oil and whole coconut products are an amazing source of lactic acid which is an essential fatty acid, great at fighting off viruses and pathogens in the gut. Macaroons, a great cookie made from coconut meat, can be either homemade or store bought (the natural versions, of course). There are also coconut bars sold in health food stores that are delicious and nutritious.
8. Pass the Salt ...and use it liberally. Just make sure it's Celtic sea salt or a sea salt that is not white. Only table salt is white and detrimental to our health. Good quality sea salt is easy to spot because it's either gray, beige, or pink; which means it's full of minerals. Use it on sandwiches, dips, and in soups.
9. Go Nuts ...but prepare them properly by soaking the nuts overnight in water and sea salt and drying them in a warm oven for 12 to 24 hours. Just like grains, nuts need to be soaked. Nuts with some raw honey to dip in is a great nutritious snack full of protein and enzymes.
10. Soup's Up - Soups can be a great way to change things up a bit for kids tired of sandwiches. Broth made from cooking the meat and bones of animals (called bone broth) are teaming with vitamins and minerals. Use this broth as the base for a tasty, nutrient dense soup meal. Add some sprouted grain bread with raw butter as a side, and you've got a great lunch!