Healthy Lunch Challenge

When I was asked to create an example of a healthy gluten-free lunch for the ladies of Easy Lunch Boxes and Crunch a Color, I jumped at the chance. It was easy for me because this is what I (try to) do 5 days a week.

I have been using Kelly Lester’s Easy Lunch Boxes (ELB) since 2010 (see my review here). I still have the original containers and only now have to replace one of the lunch bags; it’s gotten a lot of use! I find them very convenient and easy to use. The bag fits either two ELB plastic containers or an ELB container, a metal container (if needed) and a thermos for hot food. When we get home from school, my kids help by putting the containers and/or thermos in the dishwasher. I even have a special place on the top rack where they fit perfectly.

I think the Crunch a Color game is great. If you have picky eaters who don’t like to try new things, this might be the solution. The game is meant to make healthy eating fun. We have all had our challenges getting our kids to eat a well balanced meal. I love that Jennifer Lee and I share many things in common including children of similar age and dealing with some times opinionated eaters (that’s a nicer way to say it, isn’t it?). We even got together to put on a “Healthy Cooking Tips for Busy Moms” cooking class to benefit Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

So, what was for lunch? Just a few of my favorite things. Believe it or not, my kids love Caesar salad. They will order it almost every time we are out (hold the croutons, though) so this is one of my go-to lunch meals. I make my Easy Caesar Dressing and keep it in the fridge for a few weeks (get the dairy-free version here). This way, it’s easy to grab whenever I need it. I will add other veggies like shredded carrots, cooked broccoli or cucumbers, depending upon what’s in the fridge. The croutons are simply Udi’s gluten-free whole grain bread which are cut into cubes, oiled and seasoned and toasted until golden brown.

I have a new favorite chicken recipe which uses Just Cook Food’s (a local San Francisco company) Herbed Coffee rub. For every pound of boneless skinless chicken thighs, I add 1 teaspoon each of the coffee rub and olive oil. I stir it around and let it marinate for about 20 minutes. Then it’s onto the grill for about 10-15 minutes. You can also bake it on a tray in a 400F oven for about 15 minutes. Since this dish works well, I usually make 2-3 pounds and then use it for 1-2 other meals besides lunches. You would not believe how much my 9 year old son eats!

Lastly, the “dessert” is one of my homemade gluten and dairy-free blueberry muffins. Making muffins and quick breads dairy-free is actually quite easy; substitute vegetable oil for the butter and any alternative milk (like soy, almond, or coconut) for the milk. No problem! If you don’t have dairy restrictions, simply use the regular version.

I used the Crunch a Color cards to see how I did for this lunch. Based on the numbers, I think I did pretty well! I hope this post inspires you to change it up for your lunch. Thank you, ladies, for including me in your challenge!

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