Recipe Roundup: Back to School Edition
August is absolutely flying by, and most schools have already started here in Chicago! If you missed my previous back to school posts, check them out here. One of the biggest grievances I have with back to school time, as a small business owner who is booked pretty solid, is not having time to cook lunches and dinners that are both nutritious and delicious. I can only imagine that this is a struggle for many parents out there, and can become even more difficult being the parent of a child with additional needs. Not to mention, many of the kiddos I work with are either picky eaters or have several different allergies to contend with.
Keeping all of this in mind, I have compiled some kitchen tips and tricks, as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for busy parents on-the-go that are kid and allergy friendly. I can’t guarantee your picky eater will love every recipe, but I am certain there are some winners here! Several of these recipes are from other fantastic cooks and bloggers, so I suggest checking out their pages for even more delectable dishes.
I myself eat a diet heavily influenced by the paleo and keto movements. I am a huge advocate for these styles of eating as they keep my body feeling great and working at its fullest potential! This may not be what is best for you or your child, so feel free to pick and choose what recipes or ingredients you most want to use. I have also shared some simple tips to make eating real, clean food easy!
Tips and Tricks
#1: USE coconut oil to cook with as it has a very high smoke point. This is the best oil to use for cooking as it will not turn rancid when used on high heat. Coconut oil has basically no flavor and is a great healthy fat for your body. Use olive oil to drizzle on food that has already been cooked!
#2: INSTEAD of putting something between bread, put it on top of a fresh bed of greens. This is an easy substitution to make family recipes gluten-free.
#3: ALWAYS make extra protein and fixings to put on a salad for lunch the next day. This is one of my favorite tips to make packing lunches as simple as possible!
#4: EAT ORGANIC when you can. What goes into those plants and animals is going into your body. If you wouldn’t put those hormones and antibiotics directly into your mouth, don’t eat food swimming with them.
Here is my list of the must-have kitchen devices and ingredients for clean cooking. When in doubt, I buy these grocery items and I will have plenty of meals I can make!
Baking pans of various sizes (round, square, muffin, donut)
Cutting board with removable tray underneath
Lots of Tupperware – for all the delicious leftovers!
Healthy oils (coconut, olive, grape seed, sesame, avocado, macadamia nut)
Spices (garlic, fresh ground black pepper, Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, chili powder, basil)
Vinegars (apple cider, red wine, rice wine)
Flour (white*, whole-wheat*, coconut, almond, sorghum)
Seeds (chia, flax, hemp)
Natural sweeteners (stevia – liquid and powder, xylitol)
Baking must-haves (baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla extract)
Milk (whole**, cashew, almond, coconut)
Heavy whipping cream**
Assorted cheeses** (goat, parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar)
Organic, grass-fed butter
Organic, hormone-free meat (chicken, beef, pork, turkey)
Beans (garbanzo, cannellini, black)
Fresh vegetables and fruits (specifically berries)
*Eliminate for gluten sensitivities
**Eliminate for dairy sensitivities
Hard-boiled eggs: I make a dozen hard boiled-eggs on Sunday so I can grab them throughout the week. These are fantastic to grab and give to your kids when you don’t have a moment to yourself in the morning! You can also mix them up with some avocado, cucumbers, and mayo (optional) to make a delicious egg salad for lunch.
Packing the usual sandwich and sides for children with food sensitivities can be difficult. Here are some bread alternatives so you can make simple sandwiches, as well as gluten-free snacks and treats that I would love to see in my school lunch!
Cheese Sticks and Lunch Meat with Pickles: This is my favorite mid-day snack. I cut my cheese stick into 4 or 6 pieces and wrap lunch meat around each. Enjoy with a side of pickles, or whatever veggies you kiddo likes, and voila!
I love to cook, so dinner time is probably one of my favorite parts of the day! But… as I have become an entrepreneur, dinner time has begun to evade me and I need some simple recipes that are also super yummy.
Quick and Easy:
Skinny Orange Chicken: Lay on top of a bed of cauliflower rice and some sautéed fresh veggies for an amazing dinner!
Cheesy Burgers: Mix up your burger meat (beef, turkey, chicken, whatever you like), your favorite seasonings and cheese curds, feta, or another thick cheese that won’t melt too fast. Form patties and place on your grill pan for the most delicious burgers! Your family will swear you’re the new iron chef.
Broccoli Tots: Sneak in those veggies where you can.
Pulled-Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: Substitute chicken if your kiddo doesn’t like pork.
Easy Chicken Tacos: Place 2 pounds of chicken and a full jar of giardiniera (this is very much a Chicago condiment. If you do not have access to it, substitute your favorite jar of salsa) in your slow-cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Pull your chicken apart with 2 forks and place on corn tortillas or on top of a bed of lettuce. These will be a hit with the entire family!
Apples and Cookie Dip: Slice 1 apple. In a small bowl, layer 2tbsp almond butter and 1tbsp shredded coconut. Drizzle with caramel and top with a handful of chocolate chips. Your kids will have so much fun dipping and devouring this delicious treat!
Crustless Pumpkin Pie: Top with slivered almonds for a nice crunch!
I hope your family goes crazy over every dish. Please share your successes or failures with me, and let me know what other types of recipes you would like to see. I know this was a long post, but I wanted to give you the best recipe roundup to get you through this school year!