The school year is in full swing and for many parents it raises the issue of how to pack healthy, easy, tasty lunches for their (often picky) kids. Here are a handful of herb friendly suggestions you can experiment with when preparing your kids' lunch bags.
Applesauce add-ins. While none of these ideas necessarily require special kitchen tools, allow me to make a case for the electric coffee grinder. With an inexpensive grinder you can freshly grind herbs (aerial parts and relatively soft roots) into powder in seconds. Powdered herbs lose their potency much more quickly, so buying pre-powdered can mean a significant loss of both flavor and nutrient content. A little $12 coffee grinder is one of my favorite tools. It allows me to add nourishing powders to all kinds of foods (think yogurt, beverages, baked goods, soups). For applesauce, I like to add cinnamon and powdered marshmallow root. For those unfamiliar with marshmallow root, it is mild in flavor, demulcent, and soothing to the gut.
Skewers make food fun. Incorporate fresh herbs like basil or oregano by skewering them between your little one's favorite tiny tomato variety and avocado chunks. You can really get creative here, too. Grapes? Cheese cubes? There's a lot of good "stab-able" sustenance out there.
Edible flowers. When it comes to edible flowers, my very favorite is fresh nasturtium. Both the flowers and leaves are delightfully peppery and make any sandwich/salad/lunchbox officially 100% cooler. Violet flowers are another great option. Grow your own, learn to identify some local edible plants in your area, check out the local natural food store, or make friends with a green thumb. Edible flowers infuse magic into any meal; they're worth it!
Herbal beverages. Elderflower lemonade, spearmint iced tea, hibiscus-tinged potions -- as one might already suspect, drinks are a great way to get creative with herbal ingredients. If sumac is local to your area, consider trying out a lemon-free sumac "lemonade" recipe. (Not all sumac is appropriate for consumption. Make sure to research which varieties are safe to harvest where you are.)
Sour patch kids. Okay, bear with me on this one. I used to work in a children's garden where the kiddos discovered an incredible combo. Turns out, a small piece of stevia leaf wrapped into a sorrel leaf tastes like the plant version of a Sour Patch Kid (children are awesome!). Sorrel and stevia are both relatively easy to grow, and wild sorrel is a prevalent edible weed. Time to learn some plant identifications (for the sake of treats).
Flavonoid bursts. For a delicious goody rich in antioxidants, give these flavonoid bursts a shot. Combine dried rosehips and elderberries with tart cherry or blueberry juice and a spot of honey. For additional binding and a little crunch, you can also add chia seeds. Form a consistency that can be rolled into balls -- and voila! These tangy treats are rich in immune-supportive benefits and taste delicious.
Writer Amanda Proscino is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and self-proclaimed part-time witch. She holds a background in city-based environmental youth work, a degree in Public Health & Gender Studies, and multiple certifications from Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism. Amanda focuses most deeply on accessible therapeutics, harm reduction techniques, and creative intentionality practices. She can often be found talking herbs with customers at WishGarden, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any products.