(NaturalNews) Are you fed up with the processed lunch options available at your child's school? Do you want to pack healthy lunches that aren't loaded with additives that negatively affect learning and behavior? It takes more time and effort to pack healthy lunches that your child will love; but if you start with the truly additive-free ideas here and spend some time gathering recipes online, you'll be well on your way.
15 additive-free lunch box ideas
1. Fruit is a simple, kid-friendly option. If you slice fruits that will brown (e.g., apples), be sure to sprinkle with a little fresh lemon juice. Dips are an exciting way to add variety, and apples and bananas both pair nicely with nut butters. For variety, try slicing an apple into rings and spreading nut butter between two layers for an "apple sandwich." Some stores carry individual packets of nut butters if your kids enjoy "squeezable" items at lunch. Fruit salad is another way to incorporate a variety of fruits. For a less perishable option, shop at a natural foods store for individual containers of canned fruits and applesauce that contain no sweeteners or other additives.
2. Dried fruits, fruit leathers, freeze dried fruits and individual boxes of raisins are tasty treats. Look for brands that contain no added colors, sweeteners, oils or sulfur dioxide.
3. Fresh veggies - If your child isn't a huge veggie fan, try chopping veggies (e.g., carrots and celery) into bite-sized pieces to make them more "snackable" or cut veggies into "sticks" for dipping in homemade hummus, ranch dip or guacamole.
4. Hard-boiled eggs can be conveniently prepared and peeled days in advance.
5. Deli items - If you have access to a natural food store that carries additive-free items at the deli or salad bar, these items can be used to add a little variety from time to time.
6. Smoothies - Shop online for freezer pop tubes that you can fill with homemade smoothie and freeze. By lunch time, the smoothie will thaw perfectly.
7. Homemade crackers - For a crunchy treat, try making homemade crackers. Flax and other grain-free crackers are healthy and snackable.
8. Nuts and seeds - In-shell varieties (e.g., pistachios, peanuts, and sunflower seeds) can be included for occasional variety. Trail mix made with a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit is another great option. Make sure all of these ingredients are free of added oils, flavorings and other additives.
9. Salads are great options for cold main courses. Make your own leafy salads, pasta salads, quinoa salads or bean salads. Make homemade dressings, and rotate the veggies and toppings (sunflower seeds, raisins, etc.) for variety.
10. Homemade chips can be made from zucchini, corn tortillas or even kale. Toss in some fresh guacamole or salsa for dipping corn chips. For variety, skip the chips and toss in some homemade popcorn, instead.
11. Yogurt - Purchase plain, unsweetened yogurt and flavor your own with a puree of raw honey and fruit. For fun, send along a pouch of "mix-ins," like homemade granola or fresh berries, for the kids to add themselves.
12. Leftover dinner - Make extra servings at dinnertime, and send leftovers for lunch in a thermos. Homemade pizza and cold meats are great options that don't require reheating.
13. Cheese - Look for organic, grass-fed varieties of cheese cubes or string cheese with no added colors or ingredients.
14. Make your own homemade granola bars, cookies and muffins from whole grains or nut flours.
15. Avocado pudding - Making homemade avocado pudding from raw avocados is a great way to incorporate raw, healthy fats into your child's dessert.
About the author: Christy Pooschke is a natural health advocate who became passionate about avoiding food additives after healing from years of chronic illness. Want more simple & tasty natural recipes? Check out her e-book, Eating Additive-Free- a natural cookbook packed with 160 recipes and a complete additive-free grocery shopping guide!