8 Ways to Make Healthy Lunches for the Whole Family
March 14, 2016
Dr. Axe talks about healthy lunch options that parents and children alike can enjoy
8 Ways to Make Healthy Lunches for the Whole Family
We’ve asked one of the top nutritional experts in the health and wellness field, Dr. Josh Axe, to discuss some ways to incorporate healthy foods into lunches, and we’ll show you ways in which you can make these healthy foods appealing to even the pickiest young eater.
“Avocado is by far one of my favorite foods and what I consider to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet,” says Dr. Axe. “It’s full of fiber, healthy fats, fat- and water-soluble vitamins, plus loads of antioxidants [more on the health benefits of avocado here]. It’ll keep you full until dinner and help you digest the rest of your meal. Try cubing it on top of a salad [salads are one of our First 5 Recipes You Need to Teach Your Kids] or soup or using it as the base in this creamy — and super healthy — chocolate mousse recipe.”
Make avocado a treat. This Key Lime Pie Shake recipe includes an entire avocado. Children and adults alike will be begging for more.
Cook It in Coconut Oil
“There are a few health foods that I make a part of my regular, daily routine, and coconut oil is one of them,” says Dr. Axe. “The benefits of coconut oil are so wide-ranging — from moisturizing skin to reducing cellulite to killing candida and other harmful bacteria — that it just doesn’t make sense not to. [It’s] easy to incorporate into your diet simply by using it to cook all of your meals.”
Try this simple Coconut Oil-Spiced Popcorn recipe the next time you have a family movie night.
Ditch the Conventional Dairy
“As a kid, lunch just wasn’t lunch for many of us unless it contained a sandwich layered with a slice of processed American cheese,” says Dr. Axe. “The problem is that, as adults, many of us haven’t given up that habit.” That habit is far too often one that is passed down to our children, but this doesn’t need to be the case. There are ways to avoid the hormones and antibiotics present in many non-organic dairy products. Kids can benefit from healthier dairy options like organic Greek yogurt just as much as adults can. If yogurt isn’t popular in your household, try a healthy sandwich enjoyable by diners of any age: Our Jazzed Up Turkey Sandwich is made with mozzarella and vegetables on sprouted whole-grain bread.
We also have a great Healthy Chicken Nuggets recipe for kids that can be served with a delicious, organic, Greek yogurt-based honey mustard dipping sauce.
Go Sour With Fermented Foods
“Probiotics are all the rage — and for good reason,” says Dr. Axe. “They populate the gut with good bacteria — thereby crowding out the bad bugs — as well as improve digestion, boost immunity, and balance hormones. And we now know that you don’t have to get your probiotics from a pill. Fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha are easy to add to [anyone’s] lunch bag, and they’re teeming with the health-boosting bacteria your body needs.”
Want a probiotic-rich treat that your husband or wife and children alike can’t say no to? Try out a Mango Kefir Smoothie.
Leave the Juice at Home
“Read the labels on most store-bought fruit juices, and you’ll find that they’re basically just chemically-laden sugar water,” says Dr. Axe. “These wannabe health drinks end up wrecking your metabolism and throwing off your blood sugar, causing hormone imbalances, thyroid dysfunction, and fatigue.” It’s better to start your young ones on the healthy juice and smoothie kick when they’re younger. Who knows, maybe they’ll actually like the taste of kale in a smoothie.
This Tropical Kale Smoothie recipe will prove healthier than a bottled juice, and your kids will love the taste. Mango, pineapple, lime juice, and coconut water mask the taste of the kale in a just-sweet-enough way.
Skip the Sugar
“You may think that candy bar or processed snack cake is the perfect way to end your midday meal, but you couldn’t be more wrong,” says Dr. Axe. There are healthier ways to feed yourself and your children than sugar-laden snacks.
“Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine; it makes you gain weight, sends your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride, and brings on premature aging [fight aging with these Foods That Keep You Young]. But that doesn’t mean you can’t end lunch on a sweet note. Lose the guilt — and the ugly side effects — by making your own desserts at home and subbing the processed stuff for a natural sweetener like coconut sugar, raw honey, or stevia.”
Your kids will love these whole-wheat Simplest Blueberry Muffins. Ditch the sugar for one of the previously mentioned natural sweeteners, and don’t be afraid to experiment with using solely whole-wheat flour.
Spice It Up
“Ayurvedic medicine is the ancient Indian healing practice that has been shown to treat a variety of modern conditions, ranging from digestive distress to infertility," says Dr. Axe. "And while there are a number of factors that make Ayurveda so effective, one of the most important is the use of certain spices and herbs in cooking. Crank up the flavor and healing power of your food by sprinkling on some cumin, coriander, clove, or cinnamon. You’ll stoke what is known as the ‘digestive fire,’ preventing the development of digestive disorders and promoting natural weight loss.”
These 5 Ways to Spice Up Your Pumpkin Seeds are great as part of a healthy lunch or a midday snack. Some of the recipes include spices used in Ayurvedic medicine such as coriander and cumin.
Swap Out the Gluten
“You’ve seen the gluten-free section of your grocery store — filled with everything from cookies and crackers to everyday condiments — and you’ve probably wondered what all the fuss was about,” says Dr. Axe. “Certainly, those diagnosed with celiac disease need to give up all gluten-containing grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. But there is growing evidence that many more people suffer from a gluten intolerance. If you notice that you have nagging issues like headaches, joint pain, brain fog, and/or tummy troubles, you may benefit from trading in your whole wheat bread for quinoa and rice.”
There are fun ways to introduce gluten-free treats to your children’s lunches. Set aside a day to get messy and try baking some gluten-free cookies with your family. Use our recipe for Gluten-Free Lemon Crinkle Cookies or try something a little heavier like Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.