Ask most kids what their favourite food is, and you may hear pizza, mac and cheese, candy and pop. Low in nutrition, these temptations can rob little bodies of the key nutrients needed for growing, learning and emotional well-being. Compounding the issue, the number of children with allergies, asthma and ADHD are on the rise. A 2011 study reported in The Lancet suggested that 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD who follow an allergy-elimination plan (like the one outlined in my book, Meals That Heal Inflammation) experienced an improvement in symptoms. Kids often eat well at home, but finding solutions while on-the-go may make a big difference when it comes to avoiding gluten, sugar, dairy and artificial dyes.
Here are my top 10 ideas for portable meals and snacks:
1) Cut up large chunks of fruit, and make a natural Fun-Du sauce that encourages dipping.
2) Sugar-free apple and banana chips, or 100-percent-organic fruit leather. In moderation, dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible (cranberries, for example, should be sweetened with apple juice).
3) Organic edamame (left in the pods), boiled before you leave home and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt.
4) Carrots, zucchini, red peppers, snap peas and celery sticks pre-cut with seed butter (sunflower or hummus).
Read more: 8 on-the-go snack recipes>
5) Crunchy dehydrated snacks (i.e., kale chips, chickpea or pea snacks) are great, but be sure to season them with mild spices because, as it turns out, kids have more taste buds than adults. Most kids will enjoy a bit of sea salt, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg after a few tastes.
6) Your kid's favourite soup makes a great nourishing meal on the run, packed in a stainless steel Thermos.
7) Roast chicken or natural roast beef, cut into strips and served with gluten-free tortilla wraps. Prepared, naturally-raised rotisserie chicken is available in many grocery stores and makes a fast meal on the way to a sports practice.
8) Low-sugar trail mix made up into baggies. For those with nut allergies, seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits and are safe to take to school. Hemp Hearts (aka hulled hemp seeds), for example, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.
9) One-hundred-percent-organic, nitrate-free wieners found in the freezer department of your local health food store are sure to be a crowd favourite. A ground-breaking study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs (containing nitrates) per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia, so this tip is especially important.
10) Apple sauce cups with a side serving of gluten-free granola (keep it dry until served).
Book excerpt: Julie's recipe for Mock Fried Chicken (p. 274)
These tasty morsels are packed with the flavor inspiration of Chef Ezra Title. They have a crunch that kids (of all ages) will love, combined with hidden nutrition that the grown-up side of you will appreciate. I have included a sweet-and-sour dipping sauce that is sure to please. This recipe is the anti-inflammatory answer to that ultimate comfort food—fried chicken.
Ingredients: 1 tsp virgin coconut oil 3/4 cup finely crushed whole-grain gluten free crackers 1 lb chicken breast (skinless and boneless), cut into 3-inch strips 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp dried thyme 2 tsp dried parsley 2 cloves garlic, minced 2/3 cup squash purée or pumpkin purée Pinch pink rock salt or gray sea salt
Dipping sauce: 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 1/4 cup apple butter (no added sugar) 1 tbsp pumpkin purée Pinch pink rock salt or gray sea salt
Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with coconut oil.
2. Place crackers in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until the size of bread crumbs. Alternatively, place crackers in a blender and use ice-crush setting until finely crushed. Place crumbs in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, garlic, purée and salt, and mix well. Place chicken pieces into purée and mix well with your hands to coat. Transfer one piece at a time to crumb bowl to coat evenly. Place on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn chicken and bake for another 10 minutes, or until no longer pink. Meanwhile, combine dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
In stores now! Learn more about Julie's new book here.
More about Julie:With her debut bestselling health book and cookbook, Meals That Heal Inflammation, nutritionist Julie Daniluk created the definitive guide to understanding inflammation and its link to chronic disease, and showed readers how to cook their way to health. With Slimming Meals That Heal, Daniluk highlights the all-important relationship between inflammation, allergies and weight gain—and brings us 125 new healthy and delicious recipes. Slimming Meals That Heal deepens the reader's understanding of how food can hurt or heal. The book includes information on cleansing the organs, the specific power of superfoods and techniques that directly reduce cravings. Julie has devised a five-step plan on how to boost metabolism and balance hormones that lead to holistic weight balance.
Bursting with easy, tasty, phenomenally healthy, slimming recipes for every meal of the day, you can leave dieting behind forever as you embrace Julie's joyous, healthful approach to eating!
Julie Daniluk RHN is the bestselling author of Meals That Heal Inflammation and the co-host of Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Julie has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and is a resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Reader's Digest. You can visit her at juliedaniluk.com and follow her on Twitter @juliedaniluk.
GIVEAWAY: We are giving away copies of Julie's Slimming Meals That Heal cookbook! For a chance to receive a copy, make sure you are logged in and leave a comment in the section below telling us your favourite healthy, go-to family meal or snack.
*Giveaway closes April 30, 11:59 p.m.
To be awarded on a first come, first serve basis to those who leave a comment below, until inventory is depleted. Quantities are limited at the discretion of Rogers. You must be a Canadian resident, 18 years or older, excluding residents of Quebec. No cash value.