Getting outdoors always makes for a refreshing change when you have a child or two, especially since now the days are getting warmer. And after a park runaround bicycle adventure or leisurely stroll it's always nice to find somewhere to sit, chill and enjoy some food.
I love a good picnic and I want to expose my 2 year old to as much outdoor air as possible. Most of the time when I head out, I make sure I've got a decent packed lunch for him plus something for me to munch on.
So what do I pack?
I tend to follow a basic ‘food formula’ when meal prepping and preparing. For lunch, I start with a selection of fruit and veggies, whole grains, protein and a little dairy (mostly for my son). For snacks, I might have a selection of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, steamed carrots or crackers with a beetroot dip or hummus. Then I’ll include a sandwich with avocado, cream cheese, tuna and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and hemp seeds for something more substantial. I also have berries and chopped kiwifruit on hand for a little treat, or an oat slice or protein ball (see recipe below). If you’re like me and using our lunch bag, make sure you add in an ice pack to keep the food fresh too.
This basic 'food formula' works well for me also (with some added nuts) as I'd often eat similar foods to my son.
I recently came across this article, 'How Many Calories To Eat Per Day Calculator' and had a go at using the calorie calculator (in the inner math's nerd loved this). It provided me with a breakdown of what I needed to consume to either maintain my body weight or to lose any. There were easy to follow instructions, a simple and gentle guide on how to drop weight safely and a calorie meal breakdown with some recommendations on what to include during meal times. Something I refer to constantly when meal planning.
Healthy snacks are also good to have on hand if you want to reduce your waste. I try and do a little cook up once a week and freeze any leftovers. A little preparation comes in handy later in the week when you can't be bothered cooking.
As part of an ongoing series, I'm going to be sharing simple snack recipes over the coming weeks. Some of them are my inventions, and some I've stolen from friends. I'm always looking for more, so please do leave a comment or get in touch if you have one of your own to share.
- Smooth (salt/sugar-free) peanut butter and banana
- Tahini, coconut and banana (goes together surprisingly well!)
- Greek yoghurt and fruit slices
- Oat slice (recipe below)
- Savoury scones with cream cheese, ricotta or cottage cheese (Pumpkin scone recipe here.)
- Steamed veggies (carrot, sweet potato, mushroom, beans, etc) with hummus, beetroot dip or cream cheese
- Cut cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cheese sticks, boiled eggs or tofu. (Assuming no allergies)
- Crackers with choice of dip or smashed avocado
- Chia pudding.
- Protein balls (recipe below)
Plus, here are some ideas for healthy sandwiches. I've listed several because sandwiches are easy to prepare and eat while running about. You can use any choice of bread or wrap:
- Avocado, cream cheese, tuna/sardines/salmon, sweetcorn
- Tomato, sweet corn, ricotta, leftover roasted chicken
- Avocado and Marmite
- Smooth peanut butter and banana
- Pesto and cream cheese
- Almond butter (or nut butter combination) with raspberries
- Roasted butternut squash and cream cheese
- Egg and mayo (just a tad)
For sandwiches, I also use unsalted butter or avocado to give the sandwich a little of the good fat and sneak in a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and/or hemp seeds.
Fruity Oat Slice
Not only a great little snack for the wee one but a delicious accompaniment to a warm cuppa.
- 1 overripe banana
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp LSA or almond or hazelnut meal
- ⅓ cup desiccated coconut
- 1 egg (whisked)
- 1 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Oil baking tray with a bit of melted butter
- Mix all ingredients well into a mixing bowl and tip into a baking tray
- Bake for 10 - 15 minutes
You can keep these slices cool for up to two days or store them frozen for up to two months. If you do manage to keep them in your freezer for over a month without eating them all, you have much more self-control than me!
These are just as good as the ones you can buy in any supermarket and health food shop. Plus they'll last you much longer at half the price. You can experiment with other ingredients like prunes, bananas, any type of nut butter, dried apple, cacao, almonds and walnuts to create your favourite combination.
- 20 pitted dates
- ⅓ cup smooth peanut butter
- ⅓ cup almond meal
- ⅓ cup dried apricots
- 2 tbsp oats
- 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
- Desiccated coconut
- Pour dates, peanut butter, almond meal, apricots and coconut oil into a food processor. Blend until a thick consistency
- Scatter some coconut onto a flat surface
- Roll balls with hands and coat with coconut
- Refrigerate overnight before eating
Delish! I'm definitely looking for more recipes to add to my own healthy arsenal, so if you have any please do share them with me at email@example.com. I'll be sure to give you full credit if I post them on the blog. Thanks.