Healthy ‘Kid Friendly’ Lunch Ideas

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again for kids to go back to school! Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us. Of course, it’s much too soon to think about that right now. So instead, let’s discuss some healthy lunch ideas for your kids to take to lunch this school year!

There’s many ways to make your kids’ lunches enjoyable yet healthy. It doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive process either! A few simple swaps can make a big difference, and I think you’ll be surprised to find your kids actually requesting these lunches from now on. 🙂 I also think it’s important to note that despite being ‘kid friendly’ meal ideas, these are great options for YOU as well! Balance and variety is important for providing your body with different nutrients, so it doesn’t become deficient in certain areas and allows your body to function optimally. Plus, it can be boring eating the same things over and over again. Kids typically have about 20-30 minutes to eat lunch at school, and generally speaking, finger foods are always a hit for kids. Sticking to simplicity when thinking of creative healthy lunch ideas is key!

Some suggestions I also encourage are buying your child an insulated lunchbox with a freezer pack, which will allow you to pack more fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods that need to be kept cold such as yogurts and cheeses. I also suggest eliciting the help of your child when packing his or her lunches. This will help engrain how to make healthier choices for your child and something you can engage in together!

Lunch Ideas

There’s nothing wrong with the classic lunch sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a carton of milk or juice, but that can become boring quickly. Try a new spin on your child’s favorite sandwich by turning it into a wrap roll up! Does your child like turkey and cheese? Then instead of a sandwich, use a 100% whole grain lavash flat bread or a whole grain tortilla wrap (tip: you want the first listed ingredient to be ‘whole wheat, oat, bran, whole wheat flour, etc., remember the shorter the ingredient list, the better!) and add some lean turkey, cheese, spinach, and shredded carrots for an added crunch, and depending on your child’s taste preferences, mustard or mayo for a tasty lunch wrap! Roll it up and slice into three sections and you’re good to go! Pair this wrap with a carton of milk or 100% fruit juice and a side of cut carrots (or your child’s favorite veggie) and a piece of fruit like a sliced apple, and now you have a yummy balanced meal for your child!


Does your child like peanut butter and jelly? No problem! Get creative and add sliced banana or apple to the sandwich made with 100% whole grain wheat bread, 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter, and a dap of jelly! Get even more creative for your young ones and make the sandwiches to resemble those frozen uncrustable sandwiches that are widely popular among children by using a cookie cutter or bottom of a large cup to shape your bread. This will work for grilled cheeses as well. Making them at home will eliminate the added preservatives, artificial flavors, and fillers that are sometimes found in pre-packaged foods.


Leftovers from dinner the night before? Instead of chicken nuggets, pack your child grilled chicken strips added to a 100% whole wheat wrap, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, and perhaps a couple slices of avocado for a make-shift chicken burrito!


Does your child like lunchables? Make your own! You can easily buy divided food containers that resemble the lunchable box. For example, to replicate the ham and cheese lunchable, you can create one by adding a bunch of grapes, nitrate free lunch meat slices, carrot sticks, cheddar cheese, and whole-wheat crackers.


How about the make-your-own pizza lunchable? You can even make this for your child at home by using whole-wheat mini pitas, shredded mozzarella cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperonis. English muffins or mini whole-wheat bagels make an excellent choice for replicating mini pizzas as well. Add celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, or carrots as a side, or a piece of fruit.


Finally, some other great ideas include adding diced apple, raisins, or sliced grapes to tuna or chicken salad that will not only enhance the flavor but the nutrient content as well! Make-your-own yogurt parfaits can be another great idea by packing your child Greek yogurt, low sugar granola, and fresh berries that he or she can enjoy by mixing them together! Expose your kids to the different kinds of fruits that they can enjoy. Rather than the typical banana or apple, have them try plums, peaches, kiwis, clementines etc.! Variety will help your child expand his or her taste preferences and learn about how there’s so many delicious fruits and vegetables to try! Finally, sneaking in a few chocolate Hershey kisses is totally acceptable. 🙂 Remember moderation and balance is key to sustaining a healthy lifestyle!

Healthy Fall Foods

It’s hard to believe but the summer is quickly coming to an end and before we know it, school will be back in session, and the fall season will be here! With the fall, comes cooler temperatures, color changes in the leaves, and most importantly many delicious super foods will be hitting their peak! Today’s post will highlight a few of these super foods and their health benefits, so you’ll know what to look for come this fall!


Who doesn’t love a sweet, crunchy apple? Apples are a nutritional powerhouse. A medium sized apple contains a good amount (roughly 200mg) of the mineral potassium, which is needed for your body to maintain normal muscle growth, healthy digestion, and heart and brain function. Containing about 8.5 mg, an apple is also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps promote a healthy immune system meaning it can help your body fight off illnesses. Another benefit of eating apples includes its fiber content of about 4.5 grams in a medium sized apple. The skin of an apple contains insoluble fiber while the inside of an apple contains soluble fiber (I recently talked about fiber’s function in the body in my Overnight Oats post!). So you might want to think twice before peeling off the skin the next time you snack on an apple. 🙂

There’s so many ways to enjoy apples so get creative! I love pairing a fresh sliced apple with a TBSP or two of a healthy fat like nut butter, adding them to a spinach salad topped with feta cheese and a homemade dressing of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. You can even bake them into a delicious baked apple dish topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a drizzle of honey!


Of course, we can’t think of fall without thinking of Halloween and jack o’-lanterns, but did you know that pumpkin has a great nutrient content and can be incorporated into a healthy diet?

Pumpkin is rich in beta carotene (i.e. what gives pumpkin its orange color). Your body converts this into vitamin A, which can aid in your vision health. Pumpkin is another great source of fiber, with about 3 grams/cup, thus keeping you feeling full longer while giving your body the added benefits of consuming enough fiber daily. Pumpkin is also seen as a very good source of iron, a mineral that is essential for the transport of oxygen throughout the body, which helps give us energy throughout the day. It also aids in our skin, hair, and nail health!

Pumpkin doesn’t have to only be consumed in pie form. From pumpkin muffins, pancakes, soups, breads, puddings, or simply baked pumpkin with a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger, there’s plenty of ways you can integrate pumpkin into your diet! A simple Google search can give you an array of healthy options to try.


I feel as if I never see cauliflower inspired recipes. I typically always see broccoli as the cruciferous vegetable of choice, but cauliflower’s neutral flavor makes it so versatile in cooking, and it packs in a hefty amount of health benefits when added to your diet! Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and also contains adequate amounts of the vitamins A, K, folate, and choline (choline is an important nutrient that can enhance brain health!). Finally, cauliflower also is a good source of calcium and phosphorous, two minerals that are crucial for the health and formation of your bones and teeth.

With the versatility of this cruciferous vegetable, there are endless possibilities on how to incorporate it into your diet. Some ways I like to eat cauliflower is sautéed in a drizzle of EVOO, or slightly steamed with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. It’s also a great addition to omelets or pasta salads for an added crunch! If you want to get really creative, you can even blend it to create a mashed potato-like side dish!

Of course, this list is not inclusive of all the benefits of the foods listed above nor does it include all the wonderful super foods this fall will bring. Other great fruits and vegetables that will be in season include pears, butternut squash, pomegranates, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes to name a few! If any of these foods sound like something you may enjoy, don’t be afraid to integrate them into your diet. You may be surprised with how much you enjoy them!

*Disclaimer: As a friendly reminder, the information I write about is intended for educational purposes only. I encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your health and dietary needs, as the information I provide should not replace any medical advice. I write based on my own personal research and experiences.


Chen, Michael A. (2014). Potassium in diet. Retrieved from:

Sanders, L. M., & Zeisel, S. H. (2007). Choline: Dietary Requirements and Role in Brain Development. Nutrition Today, 42(4), 181–186. doi:10.1097/01.NT.0000286155.55343.fa

Watson, Stephen. (n.d.). What you need to know about iron supplements. Retrieved from:

Tips on Healthy Eating when Dining Out

Do you ever feel like when you’re dining out at a restaurant and open the menu, you find yourself staring at a textbook size list of options? You know you want to enjoy yourself and eat something delicious, but you also want to be mindful and enjoy something healthier. Have no fear! Today’s blog post will offer a few simple tips and tricks on how to eat healthy when dining out!

  • Many, if not all, restaurants will typically have their menu posted online. So before you even go out to eat, check out the menu! This will help give you a few ideas of what to choose, so you’re more likely to order a healthier option you’ve already determined.
  • When looking at the menu, opt for menu items that are grilled, broiled, poached, roasted, baked, or steamed while limiting dishes that are described as fried, sautéed, creamed, rich, buttery, au gratin, breaded, or crispy. Tomato and vegetable based toppings are typically a good choice compared to creamy or oiled toppings or sauces.
  • Rather than starting your meal with the bread from the bread basket, opt for a broth based soup or a starter salad. This way you’ll be starting your meal with a nutrient dense option and help you feel satiated sooner.
  • Stick with drinking water during your meal rather than carbonated beverages. Water will help stimulate digestion and of course will save you money on your total bill!
  • Also, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter how the food is prepared or to make substitutions. So for example, if a sandwich comes with French fries, ask to sub in a side salad or fruit as your side dish, or if you’re ordering a salad entrée, ask for the dressing, cheese, bacon bites, fried noodles etc. on the side (Bonus tip: with the dressing on the side, dip your fork into the dressing then spear your salad; you’ll still have the flavor with very little dressing). This way you’ll have more control of the portion size and can use a sprinkle of these toppings. Also, don’t be shy about asking to go light on the sauce if ordering a pasta dish for example, or, to have your veggies prepared without added butter or oil. Asking for double veggies is a great idea too!
  • Many restaurants tend to serve very large portion sizes. Rather than eating the full plate, ask to box up half your meal and save it for later. It’s like getting two meals for the price of one! Sharing an entrée with someone else is another great way to control portion sizes.
  • If dining out for a special occasion and you want to order dessert, why not just order one dish for the table and share a few bites each? Restaurant desserts are typically rich so just a few delicious bites should be quite satisfying!
  • Finally, if you’re only dining out on occasion, you don’t have to deny yourself of something you really want. Moderation and balance is key to sustaining a healthy diet. Like I stated above, splitting that “not as healthy” dish with a friend or significant other or boxing up half to eat at another meal is a great way to still enjoy something you like without feeling deprived by not ordering something you’re truly craving. Be mindful of what you’re eating and savor each bite. This will help you be more in tune with your fullness cues and know when you’re satiated.


Happy Dining! 🙂


Overnight Oats

Today, I wanted to piggyback off my “Hectic to Healthy: How to Jump Start Your Day in a Healthy Way” post and provide you with a few simple yet delicious Overnight Oats options!

This is an excellent way to ensure that you’re eating a nutritious breakfast that can be prepped in just a few short minutes the night before! Using Old Fashioned Oats where the only ingredient is 100% whole grain rolled oats will not only benefit your health but your wallet as well! For example, a 42oz canister of Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats will typically cost you roughly $3.99 with about 30 servings per canister (buying store-brand such as Market Pantry at Target or Giant brand will save you even more and it’s the same ingredient list!). A box of Quaker flavored oatmeal packets 8ct will typically cost you anywhere from $2.50 to $4.99. So, as you can see, you will get more meals for less money out of purchasing simply rolled oats, compared to single serving packets. Also, by purchasing plain oats, you’re eliminating the added sugars and fillers found in oatmeal-flavored packets, and your options are endless with the different flavor combinations and add-ins you can make!

Before I delve into the makings of overnight oats, I wanted to highlight a few of the benefits of 100% whole grain rolled oats and why it can make a great healthy option for breakfast!

  • Oats are a good source of insoluble and soluble fiber. A typical ½ cup serving will contain about 4 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate, passes through your body slowly, which in turn helps keep you feeling full longer. Some benefits of including an adequate amount of fiber in your diet include lowering blood LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and helping control blood sugar levels.
  • 100% whole grain rolled oats are rich in several minerals (did you read my previous post on the mineral, calcium? :)) including iron, zinc, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.
  • With 5 grams of protein for ½ cup serving, 100% rolled old-fashioned oats are a good source of protein too! The protein content can be increased if made with milk instead of water as well.

So now that we have a better understanding of the health benefits of oats, it’s time for the fun part:

Overnight Oats

I hesitate to call these recipes since making overnight oats is SO SIMPLE with endless healthy options, so I will simply break down the steps and offer you a few healthy flavor enhancers and add-ins to try!

  • The general rule of thumb is to have a 1:1 ratio so 1 part rolled oats to 1 part liquid. For example, ½ cup of rolled oats to ½ cup of water or milk. If you like thicker oatmeal use less liquid and vice versa for thinner oats.
  • Once you add your oats and water/milk to a large cup, bowl, or mason jar, add fresh or frozen fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, or apples. Fruit will increase the fiber content in addition to enhancing the vitamin and mineral amount as well!
  • Add healthy fats like nuts (i.e. almonds, walnuts, pecans), nut butters (i.e. almond, coconut), or seeds such as chia seeds or sunflower seeds. Adding healthy fats will help keep you feeling satiated longer after your meal and can help reduce your risk of bad cholesterol while also maintaining the functioning of your body’s cells.
  • If you want to add sweetness to your oats, some healthy options include natural flavor extracts such as vanilla, almond, or banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of honey or maple syrup, stevia, or no sugar added jam.
  • Other healthy add-ins can include greek yogurt which will add more protein and calcium to your breakfast while also increasing the volume and thickness of the oats or pumpkin puree which is packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene and Vitamin A!
  • Finally, give everything a good stir or add ingredients layer by layer starting with the oats, liquid, then add-ins and place in your refrigerator overnight!

Now, of course, if you have more time in the morning, you can opt to cook oats on the stove or in your microwave, but making overnight oats is an excellent breakfast option when crunched for time in the mornings or for when you simply don’t want to make breakfast!

Bon appétit!



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Healthy benefits of Oatmeal. (2015). Dairy Council of California. Retrieved from:

Bone Health & Calcium Rich Foods

Today’s topic will focus on calcium and bone health! It can be intimating to hear about so many vitamins and minerals we’re suppose to consume within our diets. To keep it simple, eating a wide variety of nutrient dense foods is the easiest way to ensure you’re consuming an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals.

So, today I wanted to touch upon one of the main minerals-calcium. There are two groups of essential minerals that your body needs to thrive: trace and major minerals. Trace minerals are those that the body requires in small quantities for normal function, such as zinc and iron, whereas major minerals are those that are required in large amounts. Despite the differences in the amounts we need, trace and major minerals are equally as vital for our bodies to function optimally. Calcium is classified as MAJOR, as it’s the most abundant mineral within the body.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that calcium is good for your bones. Not only is it good for your bones, but it is necessary for SO MANY other important functions within your body as well. Some of these functions include:

  • Muscle movement
  • Bone strength
  • Blood flow throughout the body
  • Hormone and enzyme release
  • Message delivery by nerves between the brain and all body parts

These processes that are constantly occurring throughout our body without us even knowing are incredibly important for our bodies to function healthily. Another fun fact about calcium is that almost all calcium is stored in our bones AND our teeth.

Okay, so now that we know how many great things calcium does for our bodies, let’s discuss what foods contain calcium. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to stick to natural sources of calcium. I personally believe natural sources are ideal for calcium absorption, but calcium is also commonly consumed from foods that have been fortified with calcium as well such as some cereals or fruit juices.

Naturally Occurring Calcium Rich Foods

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese top the list as the best sources of calcium, but this doesn’t have to be your only source, especially for those who are lactose-intolerant. Surprisingly, vegetables such as leafy greens (i.e. kale, broccoli, turnips, bok choy, and cabbage) all contain a good source of calcium as well. Almonds (my personal favorite), fruits like oranges and figs (yum!), and legumes including white beans and black-eyed peas all include an adequate amount of calcium. Finally, canned seafood, in particular salmon and sardines, are an excellent source of calcium.

Do you any of these foods sound appealing to you?

Are they already apart of your diet?

Get creative in the kitchen and try incorporating some of these calcium rich foods into your diet today!

*As a reminder, I encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns with your physician regarding your health, as the information I provide should not replace any medical advice. I write based on my own personal research and experiences. 🙂


National Institutes of Health. (2013). Calcium. Retrieved from:

WedMD, LLC. (2014). Super Foods for your Bones. Retrieved from: