Kids have crazy calendars and they need endless energy to get through their days. Sugar doesn’t help with that. It messes with their blood sugar levels, and gives them a boost of energy before it crashes and burns.
For steady energy, you want to fill their lunchbox with foods that contain the three macronutrients: carbs, protein, and good fats.
Here are our tips for building a balanced lunchbox that’s low in sugar, and high in foods that will fuel your kids’ energy all day long.
Switch to sourdough bread
Sandwiches are quick and easy – but they can also be sugar bombs. To make sure it lasts on the shelf, white bread is full of bleached flour, additives and sugar. If you’re trying to reduce your kid’s sugar intake, start by swapping white bread for a good-quality sourdough or buckwheat loaf. These are packed with wholegrains, which release energy nice and slowly so your little one stays energised all afternoon. As always, scan the nutritional label – if it’s sugar-free and certified organic, it ticks the right boxes. Our pick is the Healthy Bake Bavarian Sourdough.
Add bunless burgers to the rotation
This is a brilliant way of slipping more veggies into your tiny human’s day – as well as cutting back on sugar. The patties are easy to make. We like using organic or grass-fed beef, chicken or turkey, and mixing it with egg and a little salt and pepper for a truly lean (and delicious!) burger. Our advice? Cook extra meat at dinner so you have plenty of lunchbox leftovers. When it’s time to put the burger together, forget the bun and place the patty in a large lettuce leaf. Then, fill it with your kid’s favourite veggies, such as grated carrot, beetroot, and avocado. You can even add a fried egg or a drizzle of Dijon mustard.
Supercharge their snacks
Along with adding a portion to protein to main meals, it’s important to send your kids to school with high-protein snacks. Think hard-boiled eggs as well as homemade power bars, protein balls, and muffins with eggs and veggies.
Power bars are quick to whip up. You can play around with ingredients, but our favourite combo is rolled oats, LSA mix, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, shredded coconut, psyllium husk, cinnamon, baking soda, sea salt, banana and almond milk.
If you don’t have time to get in the kitchen, GoodnessMe Box has a bunch of tried-and-tested recommendations. Stock up on the Kez’s Kitchen Free & Naked Popcorn Bar, Nutra Organics Berry Yum Biotics Bar and Whole Kids Organic Cocoa Barefoot Bar.
Throw in healthy, low-sugar sweets
Sugar is hidden in many products, and it’s the #1 ingredient in traditional treats, like fruit roll-ups and jellies. These sweets are loaded with artificial ingredients and other nasties, and will send your kid on a ride on the blood sugar rollercoaster. No, thanks! The good news is: there are plenty of healthy alternatives, and they taste even better. Pop in a Chia Co Pod in Apple Spice, a chia seed pudding that tastes like apple pie and has the same texture as jelly. Or, try the Only Organic Coconut Strawberry & Goji Pouch. Made with organic coconut milk, bananas, strawberries and goji berries, it’s filling and delicious. The label says it’s for kiddies aged ‘1-5 years,’ but we’re guilty of swiping one every now and then!
DIY yoghurt cups
Flavoured yoghurts often contain the same amount of sugar as an ice-cream, plus artificial additives and colour. Ditch them and go for a high-quality healthy yoghurt, like coyo or plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt. Then, add flavour with a little cinnamon and honey or carob powder (for a chocolatey taste), raw muesli, or a handful of fruit. By doing that, you’re controlling the sugar content and creating a convenient snack that’s not only low-sugar, but packed with protein and good fats for energy. To get the kids excited about healthy eating, you can even ask them to choose their and mix-ins.
Choose flaxseed crackers
Rice crackers might sound healthy, but they tend to contain sugar, vegetable oils and artificial flavours and ingredients. Enter: flaxseed crackers. They’re readily available in supermarkets and health food stores, and they’re full of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fibre. When you’re packing lunchboxes, toss in a few flaxseed crackers with smashed avocado, hummus or tzatziki. Kids love interacting with their food, so if you can distract them with ‘dipping’ foods, you’re winning! Out of crackers? Pack cut-up carrot or celery sticks.
Top tip: Make your own hummus using organic chickpeas and a little lemon, tahini and garlic.
Keep them hydrated with healthy drinks
With every sip, poppers, soft drinks and flavoured milks send your kid closer to a sugar high, which can affect their energy, mood and mental focus. The goal is to encourage your little one to drink more water. If they don’t like water, try jazzing it up with berries, apple or cucumber slices or freezing it so it’s refreshing. In summer, coconut water is great – just look for a brand with no added sugar. We like Raw C Coconut Water. And if they’re milk lovers, treat them to Rebel Kitchen Banana Mylk. Made with organic coconut milk, crushed banana and cacao, it’s insanely good.
Sign up for a kid’s subscription snack box
Sugar has a way of sneaking into just about everything. A product may appear healthy, but when you flip over to the nutritional label, sugar is the first ingredient. To skip this confusion and save time, try a monthly Kids GoodnessMe Box! For just $11.95 per month, your kids will receive a box with 5-6 surprise snacks delivered to your door. Each snack is made with natural ingredients, nut-free and approved by a team of health-practitioners. This will not only introduce your family to healthy eating (and inspire you on your next shopping trip), but it also reduces the stress a lot of parents feel about packing lunchboxes.
Visit Goodnessmebox.com for more details.