Nicobella Lifestyle Blog

Kids Corner: Grilled Cheese Bites With Avocado and Tomato Posted on 03 Oct 20:50 , 0 comments

Yum! Just the thought of eating grilled cheese again makes me feel very nostalgic and extremely excited. But this is for kids so let's focus on kids in this moment. No doubt that grilled cheese is a kid's favorite. What happens when you are trying to raise a vegan child? You have vegan grilled cheese. There are so many incredible vegan cheese options from which to choose that there is truly no excuse to never eat grilled cheese again. (Yes, I'm talking to you too, adults. No deprivation here.)

After I made this, I took photos and placed the grilled cheese in a container to test it later and see how it holds up in tupperware. After walking out of the room for no more than five minutes I went back to the kitchen to find an empty container and a husband with chipmunk cheeks, chomping away! Admittedly I was a little annoyed and let him know that it wasn't his, but at the same time was happy that they must have turned out pretty good! He made it up to me ten minutes later with a new grilled cheese sandwich. And, yes, it was indeed very yummy. 

If you are vegan as well as gluten free you can always choose a vegan gluten free bread, but I chose Dave's Killer Bread because, even though I do not have a big affection for bread, I do love Dave's. It's super seedy, nutty, grainy and packed with fiber which makes it healthier than most on the market. Plus Dave's story is pretty awesome and, through it, he created the Second Chance Project, Dave's Killer Bread Foundation which empowers entrepreneurship and decreases negative impact of mass incarceration and recidivism in America. Pretty cool. 

For the cheese, I chose Follow Your Heart American Slices because of the simple ingredients (Filtered Water, Coconut Oil, Modified Food Starch, Potato Starch, Sea Salt, Natural Flavor-Plant Sources, Olive Extract, Paprika Extract and Beta Carotene for Color). To be honest I wasn't sure how it would melt. It wasn't the most creamy, drippy, melty cheese, but I feel like it has a good balance between decent ingredients and ability to melt. Another favorite is Chao Cheese Slices, also because of the ingredients (filtered water, coconut oil, modified corn and potato starch, potato starch, fermented chao tofu-soybeans, water, salt, sesame oil, calcium sulfate, sea salt, natural flavor, olive extract and beta carotene). On a scale from one to ten it's meltability is about a five. But it's so delicious if you're really craving cheese and the ingredients are pretty simple compared to other cheese alternatives.

Because I feel that kids, just like adults, should always have lots of color with each meal through fruits and vegetables, I added sliced avocado, tomato and a layer of spring leaf lettuce to the sandwich. It's a simple way to sneak in some wholesome nutrients such as lutein and beta carotene (avocado), vitamin C and potassium (tomato) and iron and fiber (spring greens). 

Yogurt is another kids favorite. So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Yogurt is tasty by itself. Add raspberries and coconut munch to it for a very serious treat!

Grilled Cheese With Avocado, Tomato and Spring Greens

Ingredients

  • Sliced bread of choice
  • vegan cheese of choice
  • avocado slices 
  • tomato slices
  • a few spring leaves
  • coconut oil or vegan butter spread 

How to Make

Just like the way you used to make it, not much instruction needed here. Spread coconut oil or vegan butter on one side of each slice of bread. Add a slice of cheese to one slice and a slice of cheese to the second slice. Top one slice with spring greens, avocado, and tomato then add the other slice on top. Grill on the stove top on medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side or until slightly browned and cheese is melted. Let cool and slice into grilled cheese finger bites. *Make sure to let it cool before adding it to tupperware to avoid it becoming soggy and you getting a full lunch returned from school.

Include raspberries and coconut munch in the lunch box with coconut yogurt on the side for fun dipping!

 


Kids Corner: Cucumber "Sushi" Rolls With Sweet Potatoes, SkinnyPop + Munch Posted on 26 Sep 16:53 , 0 comments

If you saw the Today Show this morning you may have caught the segment on school lunches and what your child is really eating. The reporter went through several lunch boxes packed by mom or dad that appeared healthy, but, in fact, some of them had up to 50 grams of sugar! As a reference, it's recommended that kids get no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. Yikes. So, which foods seem nutritious but are really jam-packed with sugar? Some granola bars, yogurt, fruit juice, nut butters and spreads may contain 15-30 grams of sugar per item. That's a lot!

Most kids love fruit. Instead of packing fruit-flavored snacks, pack the whole fruit that is packed with fiber, vitamins, water and other plant-based nutrients, plus a bit of natural sugar. When choosing granola bars look for 6 grams of sugar or less per 100 calories. Or, get the kids in the kitchen with you and have fun making your own granola bars! Here's one we love from Minimalist Baker

The Cucumber "Sushi" Roll lunch incorporates power-packed foods such as red peppers, avocados, cucumbers, carrots, and hummus followed by SkinnyPop Popcorn mixed with Maple Nut Munch for a fun after lunch treat.

Cucumber Sushi Rolls

You can use any vegetables to roll with the cucumbers! Mix it up week to week. We chose carrots (beta carotene for healthy eyes), peppers (vitamin C for a strong immune system), avocado (healthy fats for brain function), spinach (iron to prevent anemia) and hummus (protein for growth). Plus the cucumbers are packed with water to help kids stay hydrated. As a bonus, sesame seeds are sprinkled on top for a little calcium boost. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber, peeled then cut into quarters
  • 3-4 Tbsp hummus of choice
  • 3-4 leaves of spinach
  • 1 small carrot, peeled
  • 1/4 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • sesame seeds to garnish

Peel the skin off the cucumber then slice the cucumber into quarters (about 2" in length). With a paring knife, thinly slice the cucumber around (see photo below). Lay the cucumbers flat on a plate. Spread hummus on top as the first layer. Add a spinach leaf to each cucumber. Roll the cucumber, hummus and spinach into a "sushi" roll, leaving space in the center to add sliced avocado, pepper and carrots. Place the rolls in the lunch container and add the sliced peppers, avocado and carrots. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and add some extra hummus on the side for some fun sushi dipping!

 

Sweet potatoes, cubed, coated with olive oil, salt and pepper then baked at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (turning after 10 minutes).

Sliced apples

SkinnyPop Popcorn mixed with Maple Nut Munch (super yum, sweet and salty!)

This lunch is packed with nutrients! Even the popcorn and munch snack provides fiber and protein, plus plant-powered nutrients from the chocolate that help with focus and concentration. 

What's your kids favorite healthy school lunch? We would love ideas that can be shared with others!