Thursday, August 11, 2011

Think Outside the Lunchbox!

I had the wonderful opportunity to share some "raw wisdom" with the wonderful hosts of My Carolina Today recently.  With the start of school in North Carolina just around the corner my segment focused on "thinking outside the lunchbox" and finding creative and yummy ways to include more fresh, whole living foods in the 'ol brown bag!

Consider these statistics from the NC Department of Public Heath:

·        Only 16% of NC high school students getting 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day
·        The percentage of children (ages 5-10) getting 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables (including 100% fruit juice) per day has declined by 8% since 2005, with 58% currently getting the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
·        North Carolina is ranked 43rd for fruit and vegetable consumption among adults. In 2001, approximately 25% of adults consumed the recommended 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables per day. As of 2009, there had been a statistically significant decrease to slightly over 20% of adults.

I think some of the the biggest obstacles in packing great lunches is not having enough time, finding things that "pack well", and creating food that kids will eat and not throw away.  Some easy ways to overcome these barriers are to:
  • Chop veggies for easy use on Sunday nights and again on Wednesday
  • Most spreads and dips will keep in the fridge for 5 days so make a few different ones to use throughout the week
  • Get your kids involved – let them pick veggies for lunches and have them help to assemble them
  • Keep a bowl of fruit salad chopped and ready in the refridgerator
  • Make the food fun.  Kids like to dip, dunk, and eat food with their hands.
What's a lunch without a sandwich???  Ditch the starchy breads, nitrate filled lunch meats and processed cheeses.  Use romaine lettuce, endive cups, or collard leafs to create unique wraps to fill with veggies and healthy nut sauces!  Rice papers also make a great carrier for veggies.  Veggies can be served as is or marinated overnight to soften. Get creative and use different flavors to keep lunches interesting and fun.

The wraps and rolls carry great in a lunch box.  Just wrap them securely in saran wrap or parachment paper.

Nut Butter Sandwich
Manna Bread (available in the freezer section of Whole Foods) topped with Raw Nut Butter
*Ezekiel and Manna Breads are flourless, made from sprouted grains and "cooked" at very low temperatures. While technically they are not raw they are highly nutritious and are a much better alternative then white and "wheat" breads.  My favorite is the Cinnamon and Raisen!

Mexican Lettuce Wrap with Red Pepper Spread
1 head romaine, washed
1 carrot, thin matchsticks
1 cup cucumber, diced small
1 avocado, cubed small
6 basil leaves, chiffonade
Red Pepper Cashew Spread
1/2 cup cashews, soaked 3 hours
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped (about 1 pepper)
1.5 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Sea salt, to taste
Drain cashews. In a food processor, blend cashews with water until fairly creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of spread ingredients and blend until smooth.
To assemble wrap, spread red pepper cashew spread on a lettuce leaf and top with a sprinkle of carrot, cucumber, avocado, and basil. Repeat. Serve immediately.

Spring Rollers with Asian Dipping Sauce
Julienned Veggies of Choice (cucumber, zucchini, peppers, avocado, carrots, etc.)
Spring Roll Wrappers (available in Asian section of grocery store)
Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon hot chili pepper sauce (again, if you don't like spice, skip this!)
1 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon Braggs soy sauce
½  cup water**
pinch sea salt
pinch pepper
In a food processor, blend the almond into a mill. Add the minced ginger, garlic, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, honey, braggs, water, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. **Adjust amount of water to create your desired consistency. 
Soak rice paper in water until pliable. Place veggies in center of paper and roll.  Serve with Dipping Sauce.
Fruit with a Twist
Jazz up your kid’s fruit with an antioxidant rich dip made with raw cacao!

Fruit with Chocolate Dipping Sauce
Chopped fruit of your choice

Chocolate Sauce
1 1/4 cup raw cacao powder or carob powder
1 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 t. salt

In a small bowl, mix together the raw cacao powder, agave, oil and salt until well combined and smooth. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.

Drizzle fruit with chocolate sauce or skewer fruit and serve with sauce on the side.

Guilt Free Cookies
Throw away the processed store bought cookies AND the homemade goodies laden with processed sugar. Your kids will love these alternatives and can help make them too!

Oatmeal Chewies
3C Rolled Oats
2C Any Raw Nut Butter
3/4C Raw Honey
Optional: shredded coconut, powdered cacao, cinnamon
Mix butter and honey until smooth. Mix in Oats. Form small balls with dough and roll in coconut, cacoa or cinnamon. Refridgerate.

Coconut Caramel Cookies
3 cups dried and shredded coconut
1 cup dates, pitted
3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
A pinch of finely ground sea salt
In a food processor, combine dates, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut butter, almond butter, and sea salt. Process thoroughly and transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add dried coconut and mix together. Roll into balls and place on a dehydrator sheet. Press into cookies shapes with the bottom of a glass and store in refrigerator until hard.  If you have a dehydrator, dehydrate for 12-20 hours at 110 degrees. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, dry place, or freezer.

Almond Cookies
2 cups almonds, ground
1/3 cup agave
2 teaspoon organic almond extract
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt or sea salt

Using a coffee grinder, grind almonds into flour – one cup at a time. Add almond flour and remaining ingredients to a food processor. Process until the dough forms into a ball. Transfer dough to a bowl and refrigerator for an hour.  Scoop dough out in balls and press into cookie shapes. If desired garnish with an almond on top.  Dehydrate for 8-10 hours at 110 degrees flipping cookies after 5 hours.