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: Soup’s On for a Healthy New Year

With every new year, eating better is something New Jammies can really get behind as a resolution. One easy way to eat healthier without the pressure of a resolution commitment is to make a warm batch of soup for the family using fresh, vitamin-packed vegetables and nutritious, low-fat ingredients. Light a fire, stay warm, dress the kids in comfy New Jammies, and enjoy these soup recipes to feel great in the new year:

Hearty Greens SoupHearty Greens Soup with Bowtie Pasta and Tomatoes
wholefoodsmarket.com

With only 200 calories, 5 grams total fat and 7 grams of protein, this vegetarian soup recipe from Whole Foods incorporates hearty greens such as Swiss chard or kale, escarole, garlic and fresh tomatoes for a low-sugar protein punch for an easy dinner with leftovers for a quick lunch. Serves 6 to 8.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
4 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 3/4 pound), roughly chopped (and/or kale)
1/2 bunch escarole (about 1/2 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 pound dried bowtie (farfalle) pasta
1 (3-inch) Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, plus grated Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish
1/4 pound baby spinach

Instructions:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid is released and absorbed, about 5 minutes more.
3. Add carrots and 8 cups water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
4. Stir in chard, escarole, pasta and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind.
5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until broth is flavorful and greens and pasta are tender, about 15 minutes.
6. Stir in spinach and season with salt and pepper.
7. Remove and discard bay leaf and cheese rind from soup then ladle into bowls, garnish with grated cheese and serve.

Rustic Italian Tomato SoupRustic Italian Tomato Soup
goredforwomen.org

As part of its Go Red for Women campaign, the American Heart Association offers this low-calorie, low-sodium soup to help beat heart disease. It’s often called the Silent Killer because heart disease victims often don’t even know they have it, so they aren’t treated or make healthy lifestyle changes. The AHA reports that 80% of heart disease in women is preventable, and more women are beating heart disease than ever before. So fix this heart-healthy soup for the women you love in your life. Serves 4; 1 cup.

Ingredients:
16 ounces frozen mixed bell pepper strips (may be labeled stir-fry mix)
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 3/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added navy beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
1. In a food processor or blender, process the bell pepper strips, tomatoes with liquid, broth, beans, basil, parsley, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes until slightly chunky or smooth.
2. Pour into a large saucepan.
3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the flavors are blended.
5. Remove from the heat.
6. Stir in the oil and salt.

California Avocado Spiked Corn SoupCalifornia Avocado Spiked Corn Soup
californiaavocado.com

Using fresh California avocados, and a kick from white and cayenne peppers, this corn soup from the California Avocado Commission is low in sodium and a great source of potassium, fiber, protein, Vitamins A and C, calcium and iron. Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small celery stalks, diced
1/3 cup coarsely shredded carrot
1 Tbsp. canola oil
8 oz. yellow corn kernels
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 cups water
As needed Salt, to taste
As needed Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
As needed Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled and seeded
As needed Carrot threads*, as needed for garnish

Instructions:
1. Sauté onion, celery and carrot in oil until soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in corn, thyme, water and a little salt; simmer 20 minutes.
3. Coarsely puree mixture; return to pot.
4. Stir in salt, white pepper and cayenne to taste.
5. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.
6. Dice half of the avocados and stir into soup. Slice remaining avocado.
7. Divide soup among warmed soup bowls. Garnish with avocado slices and carrot threads.

Serving Suggestions:
Stir in diced roast chicken or turkey for a main-meal entrée. To make carrot threads, pull a zester down a large carrot. Try with a glass of Pinot Noir.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Sweet Coconut Tapioca Soup with Bananas Sweet Coconut Tapioca Soup with Bananas (Che Chuoi)
Cooking Light, myrecipes.com
Photo by Karry Hosford

This traditional dessert soup called Che Chuoi, made healthy with low sugar, tapioca, light coconut milk and fresh bananas, is a favorite for kids of all ages as a feel-good soup after dinner or a tasty after-school snack. According to myrecipes.com, it can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or chilled, and the cooler it gets, the thicker it becomes. Serves 4.

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 cup uncooked granulated tapioca
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large ripe bananas, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

Instructions:
1. Bring water and coconut milk to a boil in a medium saucepan.
2. Stir in sugar, tapioca, and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Stir in bananas. Remove from heat; cover, and let stand 15 minutes.
4. Serve warm, or chill 3 hours. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired