Picky Eaters and Bits and Bobs

December 9, 2015

Picky Eaters and Bits & Bobs

Lunchtime with children, especially packing lunches for school, can be irritating.

I have one child who eats sandwiches. Easy! With a piece of fruit, maybe a healthy snack bar or two, and his lunch is complete.

My other child has declared that she does not like sandwiches (with the exception of peanut butter and jam).

These are my recommendations to make assembling lunch fun for your children and less stress on you, and I do list gluten-free and dairy-free alternatives:

On Sunday afternoon, pick out the following to assemble:

  • yogurt and honey – I prefer Greek yogurt, as my lactose-intolerant child can still digest this; however, there are almond milk or soy milk yogurts now in the Kroger organic refrigerated section. Also, if local honey is available, that’s the best to use. 1 teaspoon of honey to ~6 oz of yogurt. I would set up small glass containers with plastic lids to store the yogurt and honey in, as plastic and dairy don’t always mix.
  • organic nuts or organic sunflower seeds and organic raisins (or other dried fruit) – you can find these at Whole Foods, as well as other stores – I prefer using pesticide free nuts and dried fruit, and I would measure a mixture of a few tablespoons of nuts/sunflower seeds to a few tablespoons of dried fruit and put each mixture into little plastic baggies or another container which won’t spill.
  • organic baby cut carrots or carrot chips – you can add a side of hummus or favorite dressing on the side in an extra container if you want. I would put 6-8 baby carrots in each plastic baggy or other container of your choice.
  • palm-size organic apples – I know Trader Joe’s usually carries little organic apples, perfect for children’s lunches.
  • bananas – my uncle promises that the organic ones are sweeter, but I usually forget and buy the regular ones.
  • organic rice cakes – gluten free, pesticide free, dairy free, and nut free all in one neat crunchy snack – salted or unsalted. I’ve found these at Trader Joe’s and Publix. I would store them in a plastic or glass containers, not baggies, or your crunchy treat will crumble.
  • snack bars / bread – pick (or make!) your favorite snack bars or muffin breads – be aware of the ingredients – if you made homemade muffins or granola bars, put them in little snack bags or small containers for the week.
  • organic popcorn in individual sizes – Chicka Boom Pop makes lovely snack size bags which Costco carries
  • veggie chips / straws  in individual sizes – Costco carries these.
  • seaweed packs – crunchy salty and a nice amount of Vitamin C – Trader Joe’s and Kroger carry them.
  • cheese sticks – these come in non-dairy alternatives in the Kroger organic section.

Anything you don’t make yourself, you must check the ingredients to make sure there is no food-coloring, no artificial anything, no high fructose corn syrup, and whatever else your child isn’t allowed to have for allergy reasons.

Have your little one create his or her own lunch by picking out several healthy snack choices for lunch, and then put the lunch box in the refrigerator if it includes yogurt or cheese. (Do keep in mind that you don’t want to refrigerate bananas.)

Good luck, and may your lunchtime packing be less stressful and healthier.

Dairy free Magic Cookie Bars

I was making Magic Cookie Bars, otherwise known as 7 Layer Cookies, or Hello Dollies for a friend’s daughter’s party yesterday, when my daughter looked at me and asked if she could have one.

Magic Cookie Bars begin with melting a stick of butter in a 13 x 9 inch pan, adding 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, pouring a can of sweetened condensed milk, and ending with sprinkling a cup of chocolate chips, a half cup of nuts, and some shredded coconut – before baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

My daughter – whose tummy has had a whirlwind of issues – was finally diagnosed with lactose intolerance last winter. Butter seems to be okay for my girl, but cow’s milk is definitely out for her.

As this uses coconut milk, it is not low in fat, but it is a delicious alternative. 🙂


Welcome to Dairy Free Magic Cookie Bars:

~6 Tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan shortening

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (if you want Gluten Free, simply use Gluten Free cookie crumbs)

13.5 oz can Coconut Milk* + 1/2-1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent)

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup shredded organic unsweetened coconut


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 if using glass pan.

2) In 13 x 9 inch pan, melt vegan shortening stick.

3) Pour graham cracker crumbs evenly over melted vegan shortening until bottom of pan covered evenly and completely.

4) Open and pour can of coconut milk into separate bowl first to stir until smooth. Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of powdered Turbinado sugar (or its equivalent) to coconut milk and stir until combined.

5) Pour coconut milk over graham cracker crumbs and spread to make even layer.

6) Sprinkle chips, nuts, and coconut over top.

7) Bake 350, or 325 if you have a glass pan, for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges look bubbly and the shredded coconut looks a little toasted.

8) Let cool down on counter. Then refrigerate for several hours, or overnight for bars to harden deliciously. Cut into bars, and enjoy!