Fall Back Into Health: (Part 2) 9 Delicious Kid Friendly Lunch/Dinner Ideas, Recipes + Store Bought Favorites

We are so often asked what to buy at the store, where to start and how to cook a meal easily for just you or the whole family to prevent the need to prepare an additional meal. We pride ourselves in helping people find ways for the WHOLE family to be eating healthfully without even knowing it because it tastes so good! 

When I was growing up, healthy eating meant flavorless, cardboard-like food...so I've been on a journey of re-writing that story...let me help you do that for yourself and your family with a bit more ease. As I said in Part 1, planning is key...but certainly doesn't have to take a ton of your time either.

First, note: Kids WILL eat things other than processed foods, fried foods, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, hot dogs and pizza.  They eat what you make available + what tastes delicious.  You set the guidelines...it might feel hard for a week or so...but believe me...it won't take too much effort to make the shift and it will be well worth it. 

Recently, I spoke to a patient who is the father of 3 kids. He told me that with his children he claimed, "I get to eat ALL OF THE VEGETABLES because I want to be the one that gets to be the strongest!" The kids quickly grab huge portions of veggies for themselves because they want to be the strongest. He said it even works with the extended family as well, with the cousins who never eat veggies unless they're around their uncle. You can play to whatever excites your kid(s)...for example "I will eat all the vegetables so I can be as healthy and beautiful as princess ____ or as strong as ____ Superhero."  Make it fun to eat healthfully. 

Another Mom of 4...discovered the InstantPot after I talked it up to her several times. It completely changed her life as it saves her hours of time in the kitchen. She only ever prepares one meal for the family to enjoy (as opposed to 5 different options based on what each kid likes or dislikes) and as a result all of the kids enjoy a variety of foods inclusive of vegetables.  She sets the tone and the family follows. The InstantPot allows her to make fall-off-the-bone ribs and whole chickens in 30-40 minutes yielding in all of the kids asking for more!  

This can be YOU!!! First, in the interest of time...buy yourself an InstantPot...it is well worth it.

We are big believers in getting protein and veggies in for each meal and adding in some good fats along the way like avocado, coconut, olives, etc. Preparation is necessary for this.

A good rule of thumb: Always have easy veggies + meat ready to go.

1) A BOWL OF SALAD 

  • You don't like to chop or make time for salad prep? Buy organic bag/box of lettuces of choice (I like to mix a bag of arugula with the lettuce to spice it up). Go to the salad bar and choose your favorite variety of toppings or buy them chopped in a bag or whole (cheapest option) and cut yourself.

  • Throw it together in a bowl that can be covered. To a portion of the salad, you can add crumbled goat cheese, nuts, seeds, whatever excites you. Often those can soften so adding when you are going to eat the salad is best.

  • I have a huge pyrex glass bowl with a cover which works perfectly. I always put a papertowel on top of the bowl to collect extra moisture and add to the longevity of the salad.

 2) ROASTED VEGGIES - (repeat from Part 1) to put in scrambles, eat cold on top of a salad, warm for your side at dinner with whatever protein you prepared. Easy and effective!

  • You can buy - already cut up - organic broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc (if you have time - buy whole and chop yourself)

  • Throw them on cookie sheets, massage with avocado oil or coconut oil

  • bake on 400 degrees for 25-45 minutes (depending on the veggie), season it with salt, pepper, Trader Joe's everything but the bagel seasoning, etc and you have veggies ready to go for the week

3) MEAT - local, hormone-free, grass-fed as best as you can (Chicken, Lamb, Beef, Fish, Bison, etc) Bake, Broil, Grill, Poach, InstantPot your Meat of Choice

  • Once cooked, let cool and pack up portions with your veggies so you have lunch and dinners ready to go for the next several days.

  • Marinate them for 30 minutes for extra flavor...or just season them with your favorite marinade, cook and enjoy.

  • Ideas for marinades and seasonings:

    • Olive oil, Oregano, Salt and Pepper (simple and really tasty on fish, chicken and steak)

    • Tessamae Salad dressings (a great variety - free of refined sugar, dairy and bad oils)

    • '21 Seasonings' from Trader Joe's (this is great on fish, chicken and in stir fry)

    • Dijon Mustard, Honey, Stubb's BBQ (low in sugar), Avocado Oil and Salt and Pepper (Mix it up in a bowl and slather your chicken with this before you bake it...it is AWESOME)

    • Google ideas for personal preferences and other seasoning choices based on what you like and are making.

ADDITIONAL LUNCH/DINNER RECIPES:

1) Home-made Chicken Fingers

  • Buy chicken cutlets and using a scissors, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces or strips (if this grosses you out, have the butcher do it for you)

  • In a separate bowl, scramble an egg or 2 depending on how much you are making. I add dijon mustard to the egg (for kids...this may not be enjoyable)

  • In another bowl, use a mix of or one of these separately (based on preference), Ian's gluten free cracker crumbs, almond flour and crumbled parmesan cheese...add salt and pepper (optional)

  • Dip the chicken in the egg, roll in the dry mixture of choice, and place on a sprayed cookie sheet

  • Bake at 375 Degrees for 30-35 minutes. MAKE EXTRA for leftovers on top of your salad, to re-warm for the kids, whatever. These are excellent!

2) Sis's Chicken Salad

  • 3 1/2 lbs of cooked chicken - Either bake for 45 min with oil, salt and pepper to taste at 350 or buy pre-cooked

  • Add 1 fresh lemon juiced

  • 2 tbsp of dijon mustard

  • 1 tsp celery salt

  • 6 stalks of celery chopped very small

  • 1 small red onion chopped very small (optional)

  • 1/4 cup healthy mayo (I use avocado mayo)

  • Mix ingredients and Put in fridge for a couple of hours

  • Serve on Romaine or Boston Lettuce Leaves

3) InstantPot Babyback Ribs

  • Remove back layer of skin from bottom side of the ribs

  • Mix up a dry rub (1 rack): 2 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp of pepper, 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like a kick) OR you can buy a dry rub pre-made. I like to make my own so I don't eat unnecessary sugars and it only takes a few minutes once you have the ingredients.

  • Put 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar in the bottom of your pot.

  • Put in the Rack and place the dry rubbed Ribs on top of the rack...we always make at least 2 racks of ribs for leftovers. Families should consider a minimum of 4 racks.

  • Set the time to 25 minutes on the Meat setting and 10 minutes of natural release.

  • When finished - Optional: Brush Ribs with BBQ sauce (I used Stubbs) and Broil for 3-5 minutes Keep an eye on them so they don't burn! In no time you have mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone ribs that will keep you coming back for more.

  • Serve with Roasted Veggies and Pack the extra for lunch tomorrow!

4) Chicken or Beef Taco Night

  • For Chicken: InstantPot 1-2 lbs of pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs. Cut into pieces/strips. Sprinkle half of a packet of taco seasoning on it and add 1 cup of water

  • Set on High Pressure Manual for 20 minutes and force steam it off

  • Put chicken in a pyrex and take 2 big forks to pull apart the tender chicken. Pour the flavored water over it and sprinkle the other half of the packet all over the pulled chicken. Stir it up. You can add another half packet or more seasonings to taste.

  • For Ground Beef/Turkey: In a skillet, add diced onion and grassfed beef or ground Turkey to brown. Sprinkle a little bit of the taco seasoning packet over the meat as it cooks.

  • When cooked through, Strain the excess fat/water. Add the rest of the packet and some water as directed by the packet.

  • Serve over salad with guacomole, carrots, tomato, etc and siete chips OR Serve on Siete Tortillas with lettuce, tomatoe and guac. ENJOY!

5) The Above but Italian Style: The Chicken, Ground Beef or Ground Turkey can be made and instead of taco seasoning, you can add veggies and Marinara sauce for different meal/dish/flavor. Saute veggies first and add in or steam them in the sauce to soften.  

  • Serve over GF Noodles, Steamed Spinach, Veggie Spirals or eat it by itself. Less sauce makes it extra chunky which makes it easier to eat on its own.

6) SOUP - I am a BIG fan of making soup of any kind...mostly a soup that includes meat and veggies. Parents, you can hide a lot of nutrition in a soup without your kid knowing it (just like smoothies -refer to Part 1). 

  • Make or find some favorites...It will get you through the fall and winter with ease and grace #mealsfortheweek!

  • My favorites are chicken soup using meat from a rotisserie chicken, boxed broth (favorite listed below) and a bunch of veggies (carrots, onion, celery, peas, spinach, etc) and a beef soup (best in an instant pot because the beef is actually tender instead of chewy) adding in sweet potatoes, green beans/haricot vert, carrots, onion and kale. I am extra creative with my soup-making so as soon as I nail down a set recipe, I will share it with the community! :)

SHOPPING FAVORITES:

These are a few of our favorite things (Singing...) from TJs + Whole Foods

Trader Joe's

  • 21 Seasonings Salute

  • Everything But the Bagel Seasoning

  • Coconut Aminos (found at Whole Foods also)

  • Organic Chopped Ready-To-Go Veggies - Assorted

  • Kosher Ground Turkey (White Meat)

  • Chili Lime Chicken Burgers (Freezer: can grill, bake, broil or pan fry) - Great on Salad, on lettuce wrap, with veggies

  • Ready Made Chicken Sausage (Whole30 Approved so no added sugars)

  • Nut Mixes - best prices and great variety - Careful with the added 'candy' and sugars

  • Babyback Ribs (Fridge)

  • New Zealand Rack of Lamb already seasoned (Freezer)

  • Frozen Organic Fruit for Smoothies - much cheaper than Whole Foods

  • Frozen Organic Veggies for soups, stir fry and when you're in a pinch

  • Frozen or Fresh Veggie Spirals: Carrots and Zuchinni. (Great alternative to noodles)

Whole Foods

  • Food For Life 3 seed (Millet, Quinoa, Chia Flour) Bread - plain and Cinn. Raisin (In Freezer)

  • Saffron Road Traditional Chicken Broth (Low Sodium)

  • Chosen Foods Avocado Oil/Avocado Oil Spray (Found at Costco now too)

  • RL's Gluten Free Noodles (In Fridge)

  • Cappello's Pasta (in freezer) - Off the chain Dee-Lish!!!

  • Vital Farms Eggs (if I can't get someone local)

  • Ready Made Guacamole

  • TessaMae Salad Dressing and Ketchup (in Fridge)

  • Simple Mills GF Crackers (now at Costco)

  • PaleoChef's Ketchup

  • Stubb's BBQ Sauce

  • Siete Tortilla Chips

  • Siete Tortillas - Many flavors (in Fridge)

  • Nut Thins Crackers (light blue box = less salt)

  • Whole30 Approved Bacon

  • Pamela’s Gluten Free

  • Kite Hill Sweetner

I do hope you use both Part 1 and Part 2 of "Fall Back Into Health" as a resource to expand your healthy eating and to kick start you in the right direction! And...Please Share your success stories and your tasty creations so we can have more ideas when we get bored of the same thing! 

Yours In Health,

Dr. Cari J.