Fiber and Greens Made Easy
Leftover veggies from dinner are often my go-to 'fiber and greens' for school lunches because I know it is something they enjoy and it's convenient. Roasted veggies are an easy meal prep option that can be made in bulk the week before to serve your kids (and you) all week. A little seasoning with salt, pepper, and olive oil can go a long in making veggies more enjoyable for your kids, as well as pairing them with a dip such as Whole Foods Hummus or Primal Kitchen Dressings. If roasted veggies aren't on the menu for dinner, I still find ways to add greens into my kid's meals at dinner time that can also double as lunch the next day. Here are a few fiber-filled leftovers that I like to make weekly.
- If I make a pasta dish, I opt for lentil pasta or zoodles as the base and grate in carrots, onions, garlic, broccoli, or zucchini into the sauce for extra fiber and anti-inflammatory benefits.
My trio dips, which are loaded with veggies, yummy spices, and healthy fats, are an easy way to add more flavor to your meals while increasing the fiber content. These dips can be used with veggies, on protein, or make a great addition to any sandwich or wrap.
The colder months are a great time to make a big batch of homemade veggie-loaded chili or soup in the slow cooker that can be served all week long. Serve it in a BPA-free thermal soup bowl for them to enjoy hot at school.
Instead of serving plain jasmine rice, I like to go 50/50 with cauliflower rice to lower the glycemic index while increasing iNRF2 activating antioxidants, fiber content, and loading your kids with so many more vitamins.
Lastly, try out my kitchen sink muffins which have pretty much every fruit and veggie inside and taste delicious, making them the perfect treat for picky eaters.
How to Get Picky Eaters to Eat More Greens
Incorporating fiber and greens into Fab 4 lunchboxes is one of the easier
components to check off. It's often getting them to eat their greens that is a challenge. Chances are not every fruit and veggie will be eaten at every meal, but every bite counts. I always have to check myself when my kids don’t eat the veggies I serve them and remind myself I am playing the long game and they are worth every effort. Here is a HOPEFUL formula for (trying) to prevent picky eating and increasing the odds that your child will accept new whole foods.
- Modeling - sit for meals and eat with them, enjoy the veggies you make, talk about the flavor, color, texture, and taste. Leave your expectations at door and just model what you’d eventually love to see your kids eat.
- Exposure - take them with you to the store or farmers market with you even if it’s once a week and teach them about sourcing local organic food and sustainable farms to give them a better appreciation for their food.
- Independence - let them get involved in the kitchen by picking out the veggies they want to eat, or chopping, seasoning and rinsing produce all by themselves (they love it!).
- Patience - developing their taste buds and mouth feel for whole foods takes time, but they will eventually crave real food over processed and will thank you later on for helping them develop these eating habits.
How to Prep for School Lunches
I like to buy a variety of in-season produce at the grocery store or farmers' market at the start of each week, making sure to get a variety of colors, that I can include in lunches and dinners. Although I’m not a huge fan of meal prepping specific meals, I do love leftovers and “meal prep light" where I do a few things to make my daily and weekly tasks way easier, such as rinsing and chopping my veggies for the week and putting them in glass containers for storage. Having the veggies chopped and rinsed saves time in the morning, makes it easier to throw into meals when they are easily accessible, and also visually serves as a reminder to include them in school lunches.
When its time to add fiber and greens to my kids meal, I use this as an opportunity to get my kids involved in the kitchen. Letting your kids 'play' with their food gives them independence, responsibility, and allows them to make choices for themselves. It also increases the likelihood of consumption and stimulates curiosity around fruits and vegetables. Plus, it can take up a LOT of time in the morning to pack school lunches (especially if you have multiple children) so having some extra hands is always helpful.
How I get my kids involved in the kitchen:
After Bash has breakfast, he knows the drill. I slide over his lunchbox, and it's time for him to pick out his favorite fruit and vegetables. I'll display an array of options for him to choose from and he naturally picks a variety of colors from the selection (even if it means he adds one raspberry to his box). You can also take this a step further by involving your child in picking out the produce from the grocery store, and using it as an opportunity to teach them the different names and colors to get them excited about the foods they will be eating throughout the week. The more fruits and veggies the better, so add as much variety as you can to feed your kid's gut microbiome, ensure they get key vitamins and minerals from a diverse diet, and help keep their hunger and blood sugar in check.
Fruits & Veggies We Love:
- Carrot chips (a great way to eat carrots without a choking hazard)
- Blanched broccoli or raw
- Mini Romaine hearts
- Leftover asparagus or sweet potato fries
- Raw cauliflower (chopped)
- All the berries
- Pears and apples
- Stone fruits: peach, plum, etc.
- 1/2 banana (keep the skin on the half so it doesn’t turn brown)
Packaged fiber & greens:
- Seaweed snack packs: Seaweed contains many antioxidants in the form of certain vitamins (A, C, and E), trace minerals, and a good amount of B12.
- Poshi Veggie Packs: They are lightly marinated with Mediterranean herbs, peeled, and steamed to maintain texture and easy digestion.
Thrive Market Olive packs: Olives are an excellent source of fiber, fat, and antioxidants.
Natierra Superfood Dried fruit & Veggie packs: The pea packs are a great option for kids who struggle to get their protein in, and they are freeze-dried to keep all their nutritional benefits.
Dirt Kitchen Air Dried Veggies and Nuts: These delicious, portable snacks are made with whole foods and simply seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.