Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Can you "Green" your kids' Lunch?

Of course! and here are four easy ways to "Green" your kids' lunch.

1. Pack a No-Waste Lunch Box~
The idea of lunch brought to and from school in a paper or plastic bag seems so '80s, but the use of an actual lunch box or reusable sack (although they've been around for years too) is back in style, and choices in material, colors and sizes make your eco-friendly options all the easier.

Save a few trees by using cloth napkins and do your part by lessening landfill waste with reusable utensils. Both can be ported back home the same way they found their way to school — within a lunch box or reusable sack.

Steer clear of prepackaged foods, juice boxes and pouches, which create even more unnecessary hardship on our precious land.

And finally, pack your food and drink in reusable containers. Just think of all the money you'd save per child per school year if you packed just two snacks and a drink in reusable containers.

2. Lunch Box Alternatives~
So, you've gone the distance and prepared your own food. Now it's time to consider your lunch box of choice to put it in.
Laptop Lunch Boxes were created by two eco-conscious moms about seven years ago when the savvy pair realized that the best way to help parents pack wholesome, low-waste lunches was to "provide them with a lunch system that was not only convenient and economical, but also appealing to kids." Thus, the Laptop Lunch Box was born. Made of lead-free plastic, its unique design, reminiscent of a bento box, features single-serve individual containers, reusable utensils, a water or juice bottle and a handy carrying case.

If lunch sacks made from organic cotton or recycled plastic soda bottles are more your children's bag, reusablebags.org offers a cool selection too — some even come with nontoxic reusable freezer packs.

3. Include Fun, Organic Snacks ~ Just to name a few
FruitaB├╝ Fruit Leathers: A convenient, organic and fun way to enjoy fruit when you can't find the real deal out of season. We prefer Organic Fruit strips form Target

Peeled Snacks: A great find for the "grab and go" set, Peeled Snacks offers dried fruits and nuts made with no added sugars or oils.

Sweet Earth Fair Trade Certified Chocolates: Organic and vegan chocolate peanut butter cups? We venture no kids will complain about getting peanut butter in their chocolate or vice versa with these hard-to-resist candies — made with social consciousness in mind.

Annie's Bunny Grahams: These sweet treats give mainstream graham crackers a run for their money. Made with organic wheat flour and no hydrogenated oils, they're also a great choice for those with milk allergies as they're dairy-free. My kids love these and they are an alternative to graham crackers.

4. Change up the traditional sandwich~
Kids like to play with their food and eat with their hands (some of us adults still relish those activities too.) Get them involved in making the foods that they'll be taking for their lunches.

Burritos, quesadillas, soft tacos and wraps are all great sandwich alternatives and travel well in a lunch box. Spend some time with them in the garden choosing vegetables, take them shopping and have them pick out different ingredients like vegetables, fruit, healthy snacks and whole grain pastas for the recipes you make together.
These are just a few suggestions but there are many more. If you do anything we would love for you to share and if you have bought something, please include a link if possible!

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Easy Chicken Pasta

Easy Chicken Pasta

What's For Supper Ya'll?

White Beans, Pasta and Chicken
8 ounces dried cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, ditaloni, or other short pasta tubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional - I usually skip it)
Olive oil (optional - but I recommend at least a little for moisture)
1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans and the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Place bean puree in pan used for cooking the pasta; bring to boiling. Return pasta to pan.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining beans, shredded chicken, snipped parsley, pepper and salt. Heat through.
4. Add the tomato mixture to hot pasta; toss to cost. Top with parsley sprigs and additional olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Posted by Stacy Nelson, Easy Dinner Recipes.blogspot.com

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