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Healthy Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Turn Leftovers into Nourishing School Lunches in Minutes!

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School has started again for many families, whether your children attend public or private school, or you are in a family fortunate enough to home school. And with school days comes school lunch staring us in the face again with that age-old question: “What on earth will I feed my child today?”

Finding nourishing, appealing, and economical choices may seem like a big challenge – especially something that is free of harmful substances you want your kids to avoid eating. Don’t worry, even the most spendthrift family can provide interesting and delicious meals for lunch time meals that don’t break the bank.

Sending healthy lunches for your child doesn’t have to be complicated, and there are many easy and quick solutions for sending good choices with your child each day without shuddering about what he or she is going to have for lunch.

What’s in your kitchen?

Simply make main meals you prepare during the day or evening with the idea of making enough extra for leftovers to send those items off with your children. With a little planning and preparation, you can also make modifications to those meals and make them a little different than the original meal. If you find that you don’t have leftovers because they get consumed before the next meal comes around, make extra the next time you prepare a meal and freeze or put in the refrigerator with the intention of using them the next day for lunch.

First, start by taking an assessment of what types of foods your family already eats. If you find that a lot of processed and prepared foods make it into your home, now is the time to re-think those choices and replace them with healthier ones.

Think about what meals your family eats and enjoys. You can freeze these in small containers for easy storage to heat up later when you need them. There are many foods like this you can prepare either for a dinner meal or in batches to freeze in small containers for easy storage to heat up later when you need them, and choices are pretty much endless – home-made soups, stews, chili, casseroles, leftover Mexican or Asian dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, stir-frys, roasted meats, poultry, and fish, rice and vegetables.

Do you currently use a lot of processed grains such as breads, buns, bagels, pastas, tortillas, and other similar products?

If so, consider making some or most of those meals without those foods. These products are highly processed, contain too many Omega 6s (one reason why so many people in the U.S. have inflammatory diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure), and actually contribute to loss of minerals in the body.

If you are going to include grains in your child’s lunch, it’s a good idea to do this sparingly and prepare them properly as traditional people have all over the world through soaking, sprouting, and fermenting.

If you’d like to leave out the carbohydrate components like tortillas as we often do, just add more of the main course and side items.

One example is to use leftover Mexican meals like taco meat and refried beans the next day and garnish with salsa, cheese, avocado, and vegetables such as squash and zucchini sauteed in butter with onions and garlic, salt and pepper.

Another choice would be to use home-made marinara sauce with ground beef and add parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash and green beans sauteed in butter.

Want to know more about why grains can be harmful to your child’s health? Read The truth about wheat and grains – are they good for your health?

Also, read this informative post at Wellness Mama: Are sprouted, soaked, and fermented grains healthy? – about why soaking, sprouting, and fermenting – the traditional method used by people all over the world – may not necessarily make these foods more digestible.

Meats, dairy, and other animal products

Contrary to popular belief, we need cholesterol and fat to be healthy. Foods with cholesterol and fat are high in nutrients. And kids need them even more than grownups because they are growing and developing.

If you are currently using conventional meat and dairy products, the next step is to consider how you can replace these items with more sustainable choices. Grass-fed meats. poultry, pork, lamb, and dairy products are becoming more available on the consumer market. Check with your local farmer’s market and/or farms in your area for these foods. You will want to choose animal products from animals and birds on pasture with no added hormones/antibiotics, or exposure to other toxins like pesticides or GMO (genetically-modified) feeds.

Unlike conventional animal products, animal products from sustainable sources are rich in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, and also cholesterol and Omega 3s which support brain development, immune system, and digestive tract function. They are also abundant in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is an antioxidant and important for cardiovascular health.  Because the animals and birds are out on pasture, exposed to sunlight, fresh air, and are allowed to engage in natural behaviors and are in a low-stress environment, their meat, eggs, and milk naturally contains more of those important nutrients children need for growth and development.

If you buy animal products in larger quantities and put them in your freezer, you can save money because buying these same products piece-by-piece is definitely more expensive. Find out what type of arrangements you can make with your local farmer to buy meat and other animal products in bulk. When you buy in bulk, you can also get other inexpensive but parts like bones and organ meats which can be used to make nourishing and delicious meals for your family, and allow you to stretch your food dollars more.

Fats and oils

If you are using butter substitutes, shortening, or vegetable oils like canola or soybean (think Wesson and Crisco, and other brands like Spectrum – even the “organic” variety), now’s the time to replace with real butter and other traditional fats like olive oil, sustainable palm oil, lard, tallow, and other fats from birds and animals on pasture.

Comprised of polyunsaturated fats that are fragile and go rancid when cooked, modern vegetable oils and spreads are deodorized, bleached, and chemically altered through high heat temperatures. This makes them rancid and inflammatory to the body.

They lack critical fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K2, Omega 3s, or CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) for brain, immunity, and digestive health.

Read Changing ingredients for a nutrient-dense diet for some ideas on how to get the maximum nutritional value in all your meals for your family.

Here’s a sample of some lunches my son has taken to school or eaten at home when we home-schooled:

  • Chicken or beef soup made with home-made broth (including carrots, onions and celery and whatever spices you like – sage, marjoram, oregano, parsley, basil, cumin, chili powder, coriander, turmeric, anise, five spice powder, etc.) and add in any vegetables you have in the house – green beans, peas, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash work well. You can also add rice or potatoes, prepared in advance.
  • Leftover marinara sauce made with grass-fed beef, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, and rosemary (sometimes we use mushrooms and other vegetables like bell peppers and zucchini as they are easy to hide and don’t change the taste of the sauce) garnished with parmesan cheese
  • Leftover chili made with grass-fed beef, pasture-raised turkey, or chicken, soaked beans of your choice, tomatoes/sauce, onions, bell peppers, home made taco seasoning w/chili powder, cumin, black or cayenne pepper (depending on how much spice your children like), sea salt, paprika, and garlic (optional). For garnish add home made sour cream, salsa, avocados, fresh tomatoes and onions, and cheese.
  • Rustic baked chicken with cheese and bacon
  • Leftover ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef (from dinner) on real sourdough bread with cheese, home-made mayo, lettuce and tomato (or anything else your child likes)
  • Leftover meats quickly sauteed in a skillet with butter or lard, vegetables, rice, beans, tomato sauce, etc.

Storage containers

Check out these glass containers for storing food in your refrigerator or freezer (you can also use containers you already have such as glass, ceramic, or metal for storage):

You can also find some great deals on vintage glass storage containers such as Pyrex on eBay and in thrift stores or at garage sales.

Think about what meals your family eats and enjoys. Most of these foods can be saved in small portions, either refrigerated for the next day or frozen for next week and thawed out later, heated up on the stove in minutes and placed into a thermos or other portable container for lunch.  Consider eliminating plastic containers for storage as they can leach dangerous chemicals such as BPA into food.

Here are some recommendations for food and beverage containers for your child’s lunch:

Tips for getting lunch together:

  • Make a list of what you need each week and stick to it.
  • If you don’t have vegetables in the meal you are reheating and you want to send some in your child’s lunch, simply add them to a soup or main dish you’ve already made just by adding it into the pan when heating up.
  • Heat up your child’s lunch first thing in the morning so anything new you add is sufficiently heated ready to go by the time he or she needs to leave.
  • If any of these foods become dried out, add a little home made bone broth or stock, butter, olive oil, and/or lard as appropriate to “reconstitute” the meal so it is more like when you made it the first time.
  • If you have cooked or other ingredients in your refrigerator and haven’t assembled anything yet, you would be surprised just how quickly you can throw together a nourishing, delicious meal in 15-20 minutes.  Any leftover meats can be put in a pan with butter, olive or coconut oil, lard or tallow, and then you can add to it whatever you have on hand such as vegetables, cheese, herbs and spices, tomato sauce, beans, rice, cous cous, quinoa, cream sauces, or broth.  Heat just to boiling, turn the heat down, and let simmer for 10 minutes and you’ll have a warm, nourishing meal to send in your child’s thermos.
Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

16 Ways to Avoid Flu and Colds this Holiday Season & Through the Winter Months

www.mypicshares.com

Winter is here, and if you get sick a lot this time of year, there are many natural ways you can improve your body’s ability to stay healthy – especially with the foods you eat and lifestyle you maintain.

Many people believe that hand-washing is one of the best ways to keep illnesses away. In the last two decades we’ve seen a huge increase of the use of anti-bacterial substances which are supposed to keep our bodies healthier. But actually, these substances are toxic and don’t help our bodies to maintain health. They wipe out all bacteria, and our bodies need good bacteria to function optimally.

There are also many other factors which come into play toward keeping healthy. If your body doesn’t have the right nutrients every day – especially during times of stress, when you consume processed foods and especially those with sugar, exposure to illness from others, and days where sunlight is in short supply – your body will weaken and succumb to sickness and disease.

Whether you are a person who tends to catch every cold or flu that comes along or you just get sick once in awhile, here are some tips that really work for keeping away bacteria, illnesses, and viruses:

  • Avoid eating processed foods and refined sugars   Fall and winter months are times when people tend to eat more sugary and processed foods due to holiday activities and gatherings. Sugar is a poison to your body and lowers immune system function. This includes foods such as crackers, chips, most breads, bagels, pastas, cookies, desserts, candy, juice, soda pop, and other related items. All of these items contribute to lowered immune system function and poor health. A good rule of thumb to follow – if it is not a whole food, avoid eating it regularly. Load up on real, raw, whole foods for snacks and meals alike.
  • Consume plenty of healthy oils and fats   Real, organic butter (grass-fed and raw is a plus), ghee, extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oils, coconut oils, sustainably-produced palm oil, and healthy animal fats from organic, grass-fed sources such as lard, chicken, duck, or goose fat, tallow (from beef), and drippings from those same types of animal meats. Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats including vegetable shortening, margarine and fake butter spreads, soybean, cottonseed, canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and peanut oil, which are rancid, contain too many Omega 6s, and have inflammatory and hormonal disrupting properties. These foods are often from genetically-modified sources which are hazardous to health. Read about why GMOs are harmful here.
  • Be certain to obtain essential fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) in your diet Take fish oil daily (good source of Vitamin D), eat grass-fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, raw dairy, and safe-source fish. Green Pasture Products sells the only fermented cod liver oil in the world and is the best source for fish oil nutrients like Omega 3s, Vitamins A & D, and other trace nutrients. Good sources of other EFAs include healthy oils like cold-pressed organic flax seed oil and coconut oil. A good brand is Udo’s Organic 3-6-9.  Read this FAQ about why we need good essential fatty acid support for health.
  • Continue to eat plenty of organic, GMO-free and pesticide-free fresh fruits and vegetables   Especially those in season in your local area. Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help thwart the development of disease and illness when properly prepared such as cultured or eaten with healthy fats like butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, or olive oil.
  • Drink mineral water or add liquid minerals or fulvic acid   There is some controversy about whether filtered water with added minerals is actually healthy for us to drink because it’s not much different than a lot of processed foods which have been stripped of nutrients and have synthetic added back in. Avoid plastic containers, tap water, and bottled water. Tap water contains toxins and plastic contains pthalates – both of which supress immune system and health.  Two other great ways to get minerals is to drink nettles infusions (made with filtered water) or add real sea salt to water and drink throughout the day. Good salt brands include Premier Pink Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, Maine Sea Salt, and Himalayan Pink Sea Salt. Lack of minerals is one of the leading causes of illness and disease.
  • Drink bone broths and incorporate them into your meals as well    Bone broths made from the bones of healthy animals and birds on pasture are full of easily-digested and essential nutrients which can help your body stay healthy such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, amino acids, and glucosamine (for bone health), and gelatin (muscles, metabolism, weight, skin, digestion, hair, fingernails, joint health). Read this post for more information on health benefits and recipes for making your own bone broths at home.
  • Eat real, fermented foods like home-made yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut Making your own at home is best for optimal preservation of nutrients and beneficial bacteria, as well as immune supporting and digestive enhancing. Commercial yogurts, sour cream, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, and other foods do not have the health benefits or probiotic activity of home-made cultured foods. See this post for more information.
  • Be certain to take a good probiotic each day – especially if you are lacking fermented foods Good brands include Biotics ResearchNature’s Life liquid probiotics (great for kids), Bio Kult, and Prescript-Assist for especially low immune function. Also, try the great recommendations by Rockwell Nutrition including a great line of HLC Probiotics by Pharmax.
  • Use digestive enyzmes If you have maintained the Standard American Diet at any time in your life, your digestion is likely compromised.  Altered digestive function is one of the cornerstones of disease and illness. Digestive enzymes can help you to digest foods – proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I use Enzyme Formulations, live enzymes with healing herbals, or try Dr. Ron Schmid’s Pancreatic enzymes.
  • Watch intake of alcoholic beverages, which tend to increase during holiday months     Drinking excess alcohol can have adverse affects on appetite, blood sugar, blood pressure and cardiovascular function, metabolic processes, and weight. If you are a binge drinker during special occasions, cut yourself off after two drinks and make certain you are eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of water at the same time. Consider unpasteurized beer and wine.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate rest and not overextending yourself    If necessary, say no to extra tasks that you know you really won’t have time or energy to accomplish. Stay home on a night where you might normally go out and rest, relax, catch up, and go to bed early. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
  • Set aside time for some regular exercise, preferably outdoors   In the colder months people tend to go to health clubs more. Many more toxins lurk indoors during colder months, so bundle up and go for a walk, hike, or bike ride. You’ll be pleased with how exhilarated you feel afterward. If you are a winter sport enthusiast, get out on the slopes and go skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding. If you are an equine enthusiast, make time to get out on your horse or a friend’s mount during weather that is not icy.
  • Set aside time for contemplation, stress reduction, and relaxation   Whether that is a hot bath, a massage, tai chi, yoga, stretching, meditation or some other method you prefer, make sure you give yourself this time to recharge.
  • If you do get sick, load up on probiotics, foods with healthy fats, and everything else mentioned above   Take time to pamper yourself (but not with toxic products that contain harmful chemicals – remember -read labels and if you cannot pronounce something or don’t know what it is, avoid!), rest, and put off things that aren’t necessary so you can get back to a state of health quicker and easier.  Read this informative post about my home medicine cabinet and things you can do to remedy illness and other health issues.
  • Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and antibiotics   These substances rarely help your body to heal sooner, are over-prescribed, and actually cause nutrient depletion and lowered immune system function by wiping out friendly bacteria that is vital to health. For information on nutrient depletion caused by drugs, read Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.
  • If you cannot shake a cold, flu, or illness, consider visiting an alternative health care practitioner such as  a chiropractor, naturopathic physician, or other qualified individual  These practitioners are often very successful in alleviating health issues and perform treatment based on the cause of the problem rather than just treating symptoms.

If you maintain a good schedule of eating healthy, avoiding processed foods and beverages, take proper supplementation, obtain moderate activity, exercise, rest, and relaxation, you will notice an enormous improvement in the way your health responds. You will have more energy, feel more productive, and avoid catching flus and colds.

This post is part of Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday blog hop.