Posts Tagged ‘snacks’

Healthy School Lunches

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

All my friends tell me that their children are picky eaters. Here’s a secret, they all are! Toddlers, like our Violet, can seem especially so. That’s because they want to be in control. So how do you make an edible lunch for a fussy kid? The answer is choice.
Tom’s Mum told me ages ago that her kids favourite dinners were ‘pick and choose’. Basically a smorgasbord or anything on hand. And, it makes perfect sense. Why settle for a Marmite sandwich when you can have a Marmite sandwich AND a veggie sausage?

My MIL is a wise lady! We got a bento box style lunch box for our daughter and haven’t looked back. (As an added plus, this is a no waste option!)

Instead of thinking of lunch making as a chore, we tend to attack it as a creative problem to solve, crafting the best variety with what we have. There are some key elements that we try to include each day:

  • Fresh fruit – an absolute must, even if it’s a banana or mandarin. Violet loves to ‘do it herself’ so I usually just open the skin slightly so she can peel the rest at school. It’s a small thing but preparing the food the way they like it means it is more likely to make it into her tummy and not come back home with her at the end of the day.
  • Mini sandwich – either Marmite and nut cheese or nut butter and jam are her personal favs. I cut some of the crust off, so it fits better in the box, not because she hates crust (also crusts are the perfect chef snack for hungry mamas, or papas!)
  • Green Dinner Table leftovers – if there is just a wee bit of rice or pasta, I save it and pop it in her lunch box the next day. She loves leftover beans from Mexican dishes or dal too. A little can go a long way! If there’s just rice, I sprinkle it with some seeds, add some nori and avocado to create de-constructed sushi. Sometimes this can fill two sections of her lunchbox!
  • Nuts and dried fruit – we usually include raisins or other dried fruits and nuts, focusing on what’s liked but sometimes putting the odd hazelnut or almond, just to tempt her to try something new. Often, if she doesn’t know what it is, she’ll ask her teacher and they’ll talk about it. This can peek her curiosity.
  • Savouries – sometimes we’ll add a veggie sausage or crackers and nut cheese along with a pickle or two and some cherry tomatoes. Tom and I still aren’t sure if she prefers them cut or not (maybe she doesn’t know herself!). Olives are another favourite. Sometime we even include popcorn sprinkled with nooch (nutritional yeast). Pick ingredients your kid already likes and run with it!
  • Leftover baking – chocolate is a no-no according to school rules, but if we have some leftover baking, it will find it’s way into her lunchbox. Everyone deserves a treat once in a while, right?

It now seems rather simple and easy, but when I started on this chapter in Violet’s life it seemed overwhelming. It the end, it’s a small thing that means a lot to her.

Her lunchbox is the first thing she opens when she gets to nursery. She loves telling her friends about what she has in it. It also provides her a with a connection to home while she’s away from us and helps her feel settled and cared for, so she can have the best day possible.

Vegan Snacks: Healthy Options for Eating on the Go

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Healthy snacking can be a struggle regardless of your diet

Hence the booming market in chips, chocolate and ‘healthier’ alternatives, like muesli bars. When hunger strikes or your energy wains and you’re far from your kitchen, it’s incredibly tempting to reach for the nearest snack – and for those cutting out or cutting back on animal products, that makes this the hardest time to avoid the temptation, whether it’s healthy or not!

A quick search of the internet reveals lots of ‘accidentally vegan’ products (mainstream products that just happen to be vegan). If they’re highly processed and/or contain a heap of sugar or salt, however, they’re certainly not healthy. So, rather than stocking up on Oreos (which, yes are technically vegan), here are some healthy snack choices.

Fresh fruit

Yes, we’re starting with the obvious. When it comes to portability and convenience, it doesn’t get any easier than nature’s own pre-wrapped snack: a banana, or an orange, berries, or whatever is in season.

  • Pro tip: Top fruit with nut butter – up the ante on fresh fruit by adding nut butter and you’ll also be getting a dose of protein with your fibre. Haven’t tried it? You’re missing out. Slice up an apple and spread with peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter). Go wild and try it with veggies like celery!

Raw veggies and hummus

Also known as crudités, pieces of raw vegetables dipped in a sauce are a traditional French appetizer. Try carrot, celery or cucumber sticks, or get creative with slices of capsicum, radish, cauliflower or broccoli. Also try switching out hummus with guacamole.

Vegan yoghurt

With so many varieties of coconut and soy yoghurt available, this is a great option for satisfying those cravings for sweetness. Fruit flavours and even cacao (chocolate) blends are on offer or mix things up by adding a few nuts for a bit of crunch.

  • Pro tip: Mix it up by adding granola or Wheatbix to your yoghurt. You can top with roasted nuts or seeds and fresh or dried fruit.

Protein or bliss balls

Increasingly popular, you’ll often find a version of these in café cabinets or pre-packaged at supermarkets or health-food shops, or you can make your own. Check that they are vegan, of course, but most use some combination of dates, nuts and coconut for plant-based energy.


Combining plant-based milk and even plant-based yoghurt with various combinations of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, the possibilities are almost endless! Just look to Instagram for inspiration.

Chia pudding

Like overnight oats, simply soak chia seeds with any plant-based milk overnight in the fridge. You can also add a sweetener like maple syrup if you’re so inclined. In the morning add fresh fruit and voilà! A quick, easy and super filling snack.


A super-easy option for snacking on the run, they’re also packed with protein and, depending on the variety, other essential vitamins, minerals and beneficial fatty acids too. They’re also filling, so just a few will keep you going. For maximum health benefits, skip the salted varieties and go for raw nuts instead.


(Yes, you read that correctly) several varieties in NZ supermarkets are vegan. Ingredient lists do change, so check before you buy, but Ryvita, Vitawheat Original, Original Meal Mates and Huntley & Palmers Sesameal are options to try. Top with tomato, avocado or nut butter for a flavour boost.


Surprisingly, even ‘butter’ flavours of pre-packaged popcorn are often without dairy! Of course, this doesn’t necessarily make them healthy, so popping your own is best – but Serious Popcorn or New Zealand Kettle Korn are good options if you need it NOW!

Roasted chickpeas

Did you know that when roasted, these magical little legumes turn into a crunchy savoury snack? Make your own at home, adding the flavour of your choice (there are lots of ideas on the internet), and store in an airtight container for on-the-go snacking. P.S. Kids love them!

  • Pro tip: Keep the liquid from the can of chickpeas for baking. Google “aquafaba.” You’ll thank us later …