Eat Right: Back to School Meals and Lunchbox Finds!

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.    

This year year we discovered some mamas on a mission to test and find the best in eco-friendly lunch box options!  Yes, I still miss my metal Strawberry Shortcake lunch box from yesteryear, but now there’s a whole world of options to choose from that making packing and storage a cinch, while living up to our eco-expectations!

Still one of my favorites, the Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

Retro Mama Goes Green also has some fun non-toxic suggestions this year ranging from lunch bags to boxes!   Lisa says “Many lunch boxes can contain harmful things like PVC, lead, BPA, and phthalates. And disposable paper bags cost a lot of money over time and are wasteful. Thankfully there are some great waste-free, safe options out there.”

Keep it cool with our favorite eco-friendly and sweat free ice packs from

U- Konserve

Not only do we love their ice-packs, but this company is on a mission to save the planets from plastic straws and cups.   I must confess, recently my children swayed me to purchase some fun bendy plastic straws, but now seeing U-Konserve’s options and being reminded of the large impact of small choices, I’m loving this find.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made nearby in New Jammies home state of Colorado, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.    The sandwich wraps are easy to clean, come in fun prints, and create a great placemat for eating.   The snack bags come in multiple sizes to suit any hunger!

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, trail mix and granola, as healthy options.   I personally use them anytime I am on the go with kids as those little tummies have a big appetite all the time!

Now we’ve got all our amazing gear options, how do we making packing lunch fun, healthy, and easy on parents.     We’re digging this healthy food prep web-site Gimme Delicious  Showcasing colorful images of healthy, easy cooking, make ahead dishes that look amazing to eat at home or on the go.   Kids will be loving the rainbow of flavors here.   In addition to lunch, some of the pre-prep freezer ideas will make healthy, weeknight dinners on busy school nights ready to go!

This balanced dish is great for dinner or lunch….

Pesto Chicken Veggie Sheet Pan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another mama that likes to keep lunch simple, veggie style is the author of  Veggies Don’t Bite! blog.    These quick packing lunches will keep kids coming back for more and you can put these together with ease even if you haven’t had your morning latte yet.   She also has other lunch box suggestions as well as veggie loving recipes for the whole family.

 

We hope your school year is off to a healthy start!   Eat right, play right, sleep tight!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Fall Treats for Kids

Two+Two re-useable snack bags for fall treats.

Apples. Pumpkins. Mushrooms. Figs. Turnips. And pears. These are just a few of New Jammies’ favorite Fall fruits and vegetables, and we’re happy to share some healthy and quick recipes for treats this season for the kids.

Raw pumpkin provides food energy and is an excellent source of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A. Figs are a great source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Pears are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber, and packed with fat-free and cholesterol-free nutrients. And of course we are pleased to know that apples are high in fiber, vitamin C and various antioxidants, plus low-calorie as well.

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This cute recipe for Apple Sandwiches with Granola and Peanut Butter from Whole Foods Markte are perect for after-school snack time, can be added to kids’ lunchboxes, or will top off dinner right as a healthy option for dessert.

Ingredients

2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons granola

Directions

1. If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

2. Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola.

3. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches.

4. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.

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The Dr. Oz Show is great for bringing healthy lifestyles to the forefront, and offer light recipes on its website that incorporates various veggies, including turnips, in this case. These Paleo-centric Turnip Fries are crispy and light when baked to avoid frying. And they add nutritional value unique to the turnip that kids will love without knowing just how healthy they truly are. For the diet-conscious, they’re great for keeping calories low, too, at 56 calories for 10 servings.

“This healthy take on fries are nutritional and delectable,” says the show’s website at doctoroz.com. “The turnips have anti-cancer properties and the spices make the fries very flavorful.”

Ingredients

3 lbs turnips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and lightly grease.

2. Peel the turnips, and cut into French fry-sized sticks, about 1/3 by 4 inches. Place into a large bowl, and toss with the vegetable oil to coat.

3. Place the Parmesan cheese, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder in a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Place the oiled turnips into the bag, and shake until evenly coated with the spices. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in preheated oven until the outside is crispy, and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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According to Valley Fig Growers, figs are always “an excellent source of dietary fiber, a wealth of essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium, and rich in health-promoting antioxidants and complex carbohydrates.l

“Because figs are a whole food source of important nutrients and have no fat, cholesterol or sodium, they help you meet today’s Dietary Guidelines established by the US Department of Agriculture,” says Valley Fig Growers. “A daily lifestyle that focuses on balancing calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help you attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health.”

Try this recipe for Whole Wheat California Fig Muffins:

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Golden Figs, coarsely chopped

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together flours, wheat germ, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. Cream together margarine and honey; beat in egg. Stir in milk, lemon peel and figs.

3. Add to dry ingredients and mix just enough to blend.

4. Evenly distribute batter among 12 (2 1/2-inch) greased muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and test done.

5. Carefully remove muffins from pan and serve warm.

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Look no further for a simple, sweet, kid-friendly treat featuring pears, which we previously mentioned are great for fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants. These easy Pear Clouds, courtesy of USA Pears, are made for you and the kids, served hot or cool, depending on the mood or weather.

“You can put these into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until toasted and bubbly — very yummy,” says USA Pears.

Ingredients

2 Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
⅔ cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup mini marshmallows

Directions

1. Place pear halves on serving platter.

2. In bowl, combine whipped topping, coconut, and marshmallows.

3. Top pear halves with whipped topping mixture and serve.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Back-to-school for New Jammies kids means new teachers, new school clothes, new friends and new experiences. It also means brainstorming new healthy lunch ideas for culinary variety to make sure the kids are eating right.

For an easy rotation of sandwiches with snacks, ham or turkey with cheese are easy to assemble the night before school. Peanut, almond or sunflower butter (great for kids with nut allergies) with homemade low-sugar jelly sandwiches are perfect for variety and specific dietary requirements.

Organic pastas such as penne noodles, ravioli and macaroni and cheese, including brands such as Annie’s, can also be made ahead of time to pack a convenient and nutritious lunch. Annie’s also makes organic gummies and fruit snacks, cookies, popcorn and granola bars to include as healthy lunch box snack options.

Bento Boxes, which are BPA- and phthalate-free and 100% recyclable, are extremely popular, especially this colorful divided lunch box, as they can help with portioning and organizing. We love Bentgo Kids, an innovative bento-style lunch box designed exclusively for active kids on the go, because you can put liquid dips in it and they won’t leak into other compartments with special sealed lid.

“What makes Bentgo Kids so much fun is the endless combinations of nutritious foods you can pack in the five convenient compartments,” says the company. “The largest compartment is the perfect size for a half sandwich or salad. Three mid-size compartments are great for fruit, veggies and other snack favorites. The smallest compartment is sized just right for dipping sauces. Bentgo Kids’ removable compartment tray allows you to mix and match the three fun colors to suit your child’s unique preference.”

Bentgo is also a purchase with a purpose, as the company is a proud supporter of Feed the Children. Try this Bentgo Kids All-in-One Lunch Box.

“Your purchase makes a difference in the lives of hungry children in America and around the world,” says Bentgo Kids.

For sustainable lunch packaging, we also love Two + Two re-usable and washable sandwich wraps and snack bags. Don’t waste ziplock bags and throw away plastic! These are made in New Jammies home state of Colorado in Aspen, and are food-safe and eco-friendly.

“This young company is run by two creative moms with a passion for style, sewing, Mother Earth, and doing what’s best (and cutest) for their little ones,” says Two+Two. “Products keep food fresh and uncontaminated with a proprietary lining that is free of lead, BPA, PVC and phthalates. The various sizes of eco-friendly reusable bags accommodate any and all packing organizing and traveling needs.”

Fill the snack bags and lunch boxes mentioned above with fresh-cut veggies, including carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower and broccoli pieces, and cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices from the garden, as healthy options. Dips such as hummus and homemade ranch with Greek yogurt can make veggie eating even more enticing for kids at lunchtime.

Cheese sticks in different varieties, including string cheese and cheddar, can keep things interesting from day-to-day. Fresh fruit that travels well, especially oranges and tangerines, red or green apples and ripe bananas, plus sugar-free applesauce and fruit cups are filling and great for adding important Vitamin C. Frozen yogurt tubes that thaw by lunch are good to include for a fast dose of Vitamin D.

For foodie kids who like to mix it up and try different dishes, black beans and rice sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese provide a tasty protein-filled option. Add salsa for fun and color. Roasted veggie quesadillas made with whole-wheat tortillas are also easy to make ahead and transport in the lunch box.

This recipe for Chic’ Penne from KidsHealth.com can be made ahead on the weekend and eaten cold throughout the week, or frozen for future lunches, after-school snacks and quick dinners after sports practice or club meetings:

Prep time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

1 box whole-wheat penne pasta (14 ounces)

3 cups of raw broccoli florettes

¾ cup of precooked chicken strips (4 ounces)

½ cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 ounces)

3 tablespoons skim milk (1.5 oz)

2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Cook pasta according to directions until crisp-tender. Drain pasta.

3. Place drained pasta in a 13×9 baking dish.

4. Place broccoli in a stockpot of boiling water or a steamer for about 5 minutes.

5. Rinse with cool water.

6. Add the drained broccoli and the precooked chicken strips to the pasta.

7. Sprinkle shredded cheeses over pasta mixture.

8. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.

9. Pour milk mixture evenly over the pasta mixture and mix in with a spoon.

10. Cover baking dish with foil.

11. Bake 30 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and cheese is melted.

EatingWell.com offers some fun Bento lunchbox ideas, including this one for a Deconstructed Cobb Salad Lunch for Kids.

Ingredients:

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli turkey

½ ounce slice low- or reduced-sodium deli ham

¼ cup chopped romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons chopped tomato

2 tablespoons chopped cucumber

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

½ avocado, cubed

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 hard-boiled egg, thinly sliced crosswise

1 slice crisply cooked bacon

Directions:

1. Stack turkey and ham slices on top of each other.

2. Tightly roll up and slice crosswise into 4 to 6 rounds.

3. Place in a small container.

4. Toss lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a medium container.

5. Place oil and vinegar in a dip-size container and nestle into the salad.

6. Toss avocado with lime juice and place in a medium container along with egg.

7. Place bacon in a small container.

For more recipe and menu ideas, visit the KidsHealth.com Recipes page. Bon appetite!

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Play Right: Back-to-School Games for the Active

New Jammies kids are making a fresh start going back to school, and there are some fun play-time routines, games and puzzles that can refresh their memories and spark creativity.

For younger, preschool-aged children, play itself becomes more physical at that age. So “why just walk when you can hop, jump, or skip?” says the kidshealth.org website.

KidsHealth says smart toys for preschoolers include arts and crafts, and anything that help kids sharpen fine motor skills that are constantly improving.

“Activities like holding a crayon, drawing pictures of family members, and using a pair of safety scissors to cut and paste strengthen coordination, encourage creativity, and foster self-esteem,” kidshealth.org says.

The site’s childhood development experts suggest that blocks and construction sets, including building towers (and figuring out how to stop them from toppling over) encourage problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination.

“Preschoolers will use their imaginations to create buildings, vehicles, animals, and more from simple construction sets,” KidsHealth says.

Jigsaw puzzles, to help with coordination and dexterity that teach about spatial relationships and logical thinking, and pretend play are also key for preschoolers to practice as they embrace school.

Big Knob First Puzzle Set

Wooden puzzles for kids from Lakeshore, a California-based company that applies real-world classroom experience to every product it develops, inspire little learners by using the power of play to make learning fun. We love the Big Knob First Puzzle Set for infants to pre-k toddlers.

As elementary school-aged kids are accomplished in ways they never were before, KidsHeath suggests activities that cultivate new talents and interests beginning to take hold.

“They’ve grasped an understanding of the world around them and are now moving toward mastering skills that once challenged them, like catching a football or braiding a friend’s hair,” says kidshealth.org. “A 4-year-old who enjoyed story time may grow to love reading; a 5-year-old who listened to music might want to play piano.”

With the refinement of physical abilities, including large and fine motor skills, elementary school is the time when kids learn to ride two-wheel bicycles and glide on skateboards, says KidsHealth. An appreciation of arts and the humanities also sparks.

“Arts and crafts become more intricate, and a child might spend hours weaving friendship bracelets or drawing comic strips, says the children’s-focused resource.”

KidsHealth suggests these smart toys and activities for big kids going back to school:

• Jump rope. By skipping rope with friends, kids learn to take turns and get along with peers. All that jumping, and the coordination it requires, encourages large motor development and problem-solving skills.

• Card and board games. Card games like “war” or “crazy eights” and board games like checkers or chess teach about strategy, turn-taking, negotiating rules, and fair play. Encourage cooperation and help your child learn to manage the emotions that come with winning as well as losing.

New Jammies Whales

• Musical instruments. Learning to play the piano, violin, guitar, or another instrument encourages listening and fine motor skills and helps build attention skills.
Science toys. Chemistry sets, binoculars, telescopes, or other toys that promote discovery and problem-solving help improve math and science skills, and help develop imagination.

KidsHealth also reminds parents and caregivers that students of all ages can learn from scavenger hunts, outdoors or indoors when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, to encourage problem-solving and teamwork. Just gather easily recognizable objects and hide them around the yard or house. Give each child a list of items to look for and clues to help them find the objects. Adults can pair kids up or assign teams to play.

“This game also works well outdoors provided you set some boundaries (the edges of the yard, certain spots in the park) for the kids to work inside,” kidshealth.org says.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.

Eat Right: Healthy Back-to-School Lunchbox Ideas

LunchboxSchool is back from summer, and the perks of packing lunches for New Jammies kids is the ability to control what they eat for lunch.

That means more fruits and veggies. And less fillers and high fructose sugars.

At New Jammies, we love lunchbox recipes that are simple and nutritious, making prep time quicker and lunches more healthy. For her toddler, New Jammies founder Nicole Ludlow makes easy snacks that can easily be adapted to lunchbox fare in the next few years as he heads to class.

“I cut up all kinds of fruit — grapes, strawberries, peaches, plums, bananas, avocado, etc. Harder fruits or veggies like apples, pears, carrots I might steam,” she says. “Fruits and cheeses are also the easiest snack for me right now.”

The Cooking Light website is a helpful resource for nutritional lunchbox ideas, for kids. In the “Healthy Eating for Kids: Recipes and Nutrition Advice” article, which suggests delicious foods kids will eat and nutritious meals moms will love, Sidney Fry, MS, RD, offers several ideas for back-to-school, including:

OrangeFor the Rabbits
Give salad greens some oomph with lots of lean protein.

Veggies: Mixed greens, 2 oz. rotisserie chicken, 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 hard-cooked egg, 2 tablespoons oil-and-vinegar dressing
Fruit: 1 orange, peeled
Snack: 2 cups 94%-fat-free popcorn
Stats: 444 calories, 4g sat fat, 460mg sodium

The Pita Pocketeer
Low-fat Greek yogurt is the base for this tangy chicken salad. Chocolate kisses are perfectly portioned treats.

Protein and veggies: CL Creamy Chicken Salad (1/2 cup) with mixed greens in half a 6-inch whole-wheat pita
Fruit: 1 medium apple
Snack: 4 milk chocolate kisses
Stats: 446 calories, 4.6g sat fat, 451mg sodium

Creamy Chicken Salad
Courtesy Cooking Light

Ingredients
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
7 tablespoons (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped smoked almonds
6 cups mixed salad greens

Preparation
1. Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full of water; bring to a boil.
2. Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Remove from pan, and let stand for 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
3. Combine mayonnaise and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, 1/3 cup celery, cranberries, and almonds; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.

On its yummy website, the Food Network’s chefs provide recipes for kid-approved lunchbox ideas. Soup is universally known to be good for the soul, and it can be an easy addition in a lunchbox thermos to a cheese sandwich and goldfish crackers. Soups from the can are the go-to solution for on-the-go families. But this Food Network recipe for tomato soup only takes a blender or food processor and 10 minutes while the kids are doing homework to make for an homemade and healthy (less sodium and mystery ingredients) lunchbox option.

tomatoTen-Minute Tomato Soup
Courtesy the Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, in juice
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup cream

Preparation
1. Puree the tomatoes, celery and broth in a blender until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Season with lemon juice and maple syrup. Stir in cream.
2. Transfer to a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on HIGH until warmed through, about 4 minutes. (Alternatively heat the old-fashioned way in a pan.)
3. Pour hot soup into an air-tight thermos. Pack in a lunch sack and send off to school.

Total Time: 14 min (Prep: 10 min, cook: 4 min)
Yield: 4 servings

If your kids love store-bought oatmeal bars but you’re not crazy about all the food additives and preservatives, take some time to bake and control what they eat. Ree Drummond, best known as the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, home schools her kids and makes their food from scratch as part of her family’s farm-to-table ranching life. In the episode “Little School House on the Prairie,” the Pioneer Woman whips up a batch of strawberry oatmeal bars that make 24. Freeze them to have bars available in advance.

StrawberryStrawberry Oatmeal Bars
Courtesy Ree Drummond

Ingredients
1 3/4 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 10 to 12-ounce jar strawberry preserves

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch rectangular pan.
2. Mix together the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Press half the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Spread with the strawberry preserves. Sprinkle the other half of the oat mixture over the top and pat lightly.
3. Bake until light brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
4. Let cool completely, and then cut into squares.

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Ranching Cowboys

Ranching Cowboys

New for Fall!
Head back-to-school with new designs now featured on the newjammies.com website. Check out these fun collections your kids will love:
Elephant Kites
Trains
Ballerina Slippers
Monster Trucks
Space Cadets
Moose Tracks
Rainbow Unicorns
Ranching Cowboys
Bicycle Hills