Easy Back-to-School Lunches

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As everyone gets back into the groove of school, schedules become more and more crowded. Packed schedules don’t have to always mean that packed lunches get moved to the wayside. Step aside crustless PB&Js, we’re here to make health taste great. Here are six new inspired lunch ideas your kiddos will love to eat and you’ll be proud to make. Bonus: added notes with jokes or fun facts are always a hit.

 

BTS Brain Booster

Brain Booster

It’s time to get those little gears turnin’! Easy to assemble, the Brain Booster Lunch packs some nutritious punch with healthy fats from the eggs and a vitamin-rich berry medley.

Ingredients:

 

BTS Vitamin C Box

Yippee for Vitamin C

Bursting with vitamin C, the colorful fruits and veggies in this lunch will help keep your kiddos’ immune systems strong.

Ingredients:

 

Brunch BoxBTS Brunch Box

When your kid can’t get enough of breakfast, pack it up again for lunch! Super easy to assemble in a snap, your kids will love the theme. Pro tip: cut the waffles into strips after you toast them so the pieces are easy to dip.

Ingredients:

  • Sprouts Multigrain Waffle strips
  • Syrup for dipping
  • Fresh cut fruit
  • Sprouts Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • Cascadian Farm Granola or Cereal

 

Colors of the Rainbow

Almost too pretty to eat, these assorted colorful goodies are sure to put a smile on their faces. From the red cherry tomatoes to the purple wrap bites, these ingredients will provide natural antioxidants and nutrients that taste just as good as they look.

BTS Rainbow Box

Ingredients:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies
  • Snap peas
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Cream Cheese & Turkey Wrap, cut into bite-size pieces
    • Purple corn tortilla
    • Whipped cream cheese
    • Sliced turkey

 

Plant-Based Bento

Check all the macronutrient boxes, with a plant-based lunch box. Proteins? Check. Healthy fats? Check. Complex carbs? Check. You probably already have most of these ingredients in your pantry!

BTS Plant Based Bento

Ingredients:

 

  • Three bean salad: kidney, black and garbanzo beans, diced cucumber, your choice of dressing, parsley
  • Banana roll ups: Sprouts Artisan Corn Tortillas, sunflower seed butter, banana

 

 

Protein Box

Protein-Packed Box

Protein doesn’t always have to come from meat. Your kids’ favorite foods, like cheese and peanut butter, have plenty of protein too. The sharp taste of cheese goes just right with the sweet grapes.

Ingredients:

Composting Cast of Characters

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person holding dirt with sprouting plant
Did you know? Composting improves soil’s ability to retain water, which may help you save money on the water bill!

Composting can be a carefully curated cast of characters. True, it’s easy enough to pile your leftover fruit and veggie kitchen scraps in with lawn clippings and leaves to create a basic compost. That will yield results—eventually. But if you’re interested in attaining some DIY soil a little more quickly, or curious to know more, here are some of the key characters you’ll want to become familiar with in order to direct the best production.

  • Compost Heroes: Aerobic Bacteria

    These little powerhouses are the star of the show. They need oxygen (aerobic) to help break down all the matter you put in your compost bin. To create nutrient-rich matter in a timely manner, you need the right environment to encourage a healthy population of these good guys.

  • The Baddies: Anaerobic Bacteria

    These guys steal the scene when the pile has gotten compacted and has little to no air flow. Because they thrive in an airless environment (anaerobic), they have the power to overwhelm the population of the aerobic bacteria. A burgeoning population of anaerobic bacteria can bring composting to a near standstill.

  • Browns: Carbonaceous Matter

    Carbon-rich matter, or browns as they’re also known, are like the carbs in the diet of those good-guy bacteria. Think of browns like the colors they often are: dried grass cuttings, dried leaves, sawdust and shredded newspaper.

  • Greens: Nitrogen-Rich Matter

    Those hero bacteria also need to consume protein—enter the nitrogen-rich matter, or greens. These are your kitchen scraps from fruits and veggies, as well as things like coffee grounds (and your coffee filters, though technically, they are a brown) and green grass clippings.

  • Water

    Water stars as herself in this mellow-drama. You’ll need the right amount of moisture to ensure your good-guy bacteria neither drown nor dehydrate.

  • Pitchfork

    This character enters to stir things up when the plot … uh, compost thickens.

Use Your Nose

Properly tended, compost does not smell! Rather, it does not smell bad—it should smell rich and earthy. Here are some troubleshooting tips if your compost develops an unsavory scent.

An ammonia odor means you have too much nitrogen-rich, green matter. Adding some browns to the pile, like shredded newspaper, dried leaves or straw, and giving it a swirl with the pitchfork should help immensely. Also, compost that has been layered, but not turned recently can emit this eye-watering aroma.

Smells like sulfurous rotting eggs? If the pile is too damp or has become too compacted the result is a distinctive undesirable odor. If it’s been layered too tightly, simply turning the pile may alleviate the odorific problem. If it’s too wet, adding some carbonaceous materials and turning the pile will help give our compost heroes, the aerobic bacteria, a chance to breathe and thrive.

Happy Ending

Our bacterial heroes require a proper ratio of green/nitrogen-rich to brown/carbonaceous matter or N:C. This proportion can be anywhere from 50:50 to 20:80 depending on environmental conditions and how quickly you want your pile to become useable. Additionally, they are living organisms and require a balance of air and water which you’ll achieve by turning the pile (aeration) and occasionally watering it if it becomes too dry. Ultimately, your compost pile should look like dirt when it’s done, with an earthy smell (not like decayed, rotted food) and you shouldn’t be able to recognize any of the matter you added to it earlier.


Did you know?

The rapid composting method, also known as the Berkeley Method, can effectively create compost in as little as 14 days!

Paleo Strawberry Spinach Salad with Primal Kitchen®

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Spinach salads are a summertime must, but they’ll hold their own through all the seasons. This paleo one in particular, put together by the founder of Primal Kitchen®, Mark Sisson, boasts the sweet taste of fresh strawberries, crunchiness of pecans and tang from feta cheese. To add more protein to this salad, you can mix in shredded chicken, sliced steak or chunks of salmon. Yum!

 

Ingredients:Salad

Instructions:

  • Layer fresh spinach in a mixing bowl.
  • Sprinkle feta and pecans on spinach.
  • Add strawberries, avocados and protein choice.
  • Top with a generous drizzle of Primal Kitchen® Balsamic Avocado Oil Dressing and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Cooking

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Gluten Free recipe cookbookGluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut. It’s part of what gives certain foods their structure and texture. Think about chewy bread or pizza dough—gluten is what makes that texture. If you’re looking to cut gluten from your diet, we’ve got a few tips as well as a free downloadable gluten-free cookbook packed with great tips and seven recipes you’ll want to try!

Hidden gluten?

Unfortunately, hidden gluten exists. Many processed foods have gluten in them, that’s because food manufacturers use gluten as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener and flow agent. This means it can show up in some least-expected places like flavorings and spice mixes, frozen foods, candy, sauces and more.

The Upside

The good news is, more than likely, plenty of what you already eat is naturally gluten free. Unprocessed foods like fruits, veggies, meats and seafood are all great choices. And, cooking gluten-free is easier than ever with the expansive selection you’ll find at Sprouts that fit your diet.

Plant-based Paleo Jerky – Is It for Real?

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Yes it is! A variety of vegetables can be used to make paleo-vegan jerky, including eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, coconut and even jack fruit. Dehydrated and seasoned with spices similar to animal jerky, veggie-jerky is a fun, easy snack to make at home and take on the go.

Benefits of Plant-based Paleo Jerky

  • Provides fiber as well as many vitamins and minerals
  • Is lower in sodium than traditional jerky
  • A great way to add vegetables to your diet
  • No dehydrator needed—make it right in your oven
  • Both paleo and vegan

Try these vegan jerky recipes for the perfect paleo snack while hiking, on-the-go or just about any time!

Chipotle Eggplant Jerky

Chipotle Eggplant Jerky
Photo courtesy of Caveman Foods.

Teriyaki Portobello Mushroom Jerky

Teriyaki Portobello Mushroom Jerky
Photo courtesy of Caveman Foods.

 

Brought to us by our friend, Jill West, RDN, at Caveman Foods.

How to Choose the Best Jerky

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When eating paleo, protein is a priority. Jerky makes a great protein snack for post-workout fuel, to satisfy hunger between meals or for healthy, on-the-go snacking just about any time! As jerky’s popularity has grown, so have the flavors and types of meat. Besides beef, look for chicken, pork, bison, elk, venison, turkey, salmon and more.

Jerky gives you more nutritional bang for your buck. It’s made with lean cuts of meat so it will dry out properly. This makes it a healthy protein choice because it’s low in saturated fat. Paleo jerky has many nutritional benefits over conventional jerky—without sacrificing taste. For example, the sugar content of paleo jerky is usually 2 grams or less, whereas conventional jerky ranges from 5–9 grams of sugar per ounce.

Benefits of choosing paleo jerky over conventional jerky

  • Lower in sugar
  • Lower in sodium
  • All-natural ingredients
  • No artificial colors or flavors
  • Higher meat quality standards (grass-fed, organic, hormone-free)

How do you know which jerky to choose?

Here’s what to look for on the nutrition facts label:

  • Serving size: 1 oz. (about 28 grams)
  • Less than 400 mg. of sodium
  • Less than 5 g. of sugar
  • 9 g. of protein or more
  • Nitrate- and MSG-free; no artificial flavors or colors (i.e. caramel color)
  • Paleo or Paleo Friendly certification logos

This article was brought to you by our friend, Jill West, RDN, at Caveman Foods.

Erythritol

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Healthy Living - ErythritolA bit of a mouthful, erythritol, (sounds like air-rith-rih-tall), is a sweetener you may have seen listed among other ingredients for things like chewing gum, baked goods and beverages. While it sounds new, erythritol was discovered by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse in 1848. This sugar alcohol occurs naturally in some fruits like watermelon, pears and grapes, as well as some fermented foods like wine, sake and soy sauce.

Even though small amounts of erythritol are present in nature, for mass production, it is generally made from cornstarch. It is about 60–80% as sweet as sucrose (sugar) but is nearly non-caloric. And, unlike sugar, it does not cause spikes in blood sugar, because the body doesn’t break it down like a sugar, making it a great option for those seeking an alternative sweetener.

Something to Smile About

Other sugar alcohols you might know include sorbitol and xylitol. Like its sweet brethren, erythritol supports dental health because it can help suppress the growth of bad bacteria and acids, two things that can lead to tooth decay—that’ll give you something to smile about!

 

Did you know: Even though erythritol was discovered in the mid-1800s, it wasn’t used as a sweetener until 1990.

Broad Spectrum Explained

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Sunblock bottles on the beachDid you know that sunscreen that doesn’t say “broad spectrum” on the label is only protecting you from half of the sun’s effects? Two forms of the sun’s radiant energy that affect your skin are UVA and UVB. All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but not all protect against UVA rays.

UVA and UVB

UVA are the longest of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays—they penetrate more deeply into your skin and are responsible for skin damage and premature aging. The shorter wavelength UVB rays cause a mixed bag of effects. On one hand, UVB helps your body to transform sunlight into vitamin D which is an important nutrient to many of your body’s functions. On the other hand, you may have experienced one of UVB’s other effects—sunburn.

Why broad spectrum?

Too much of either type of ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer, making broad-spectrum sunscreen a healthy choice. Also labeled as multi spectrum or UVA/UVB protection, this designation has nothing to do with SPF which stands for “sun protection factor.” The SPF number only relates to how long it will take the UVB (those rays that lead to sunburn) to redden skin—it doesn’t take the equally damaging UVA rays into account—that’s why you should look for a sunblock that’s broad-spectrum, multi-spectrum or says it protects from both UVA and UVB.

 

Did you know? The sun emits a third ultraviolet wavelength, UVC. The shortest of the three UV rays, it is mostly absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Primal Kitchen Story

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Primal Kitchen founder and New York Times bestselling author, Mark Sisson, reminds us to Eat Like Your Life Depends on It. It means that the power of food can lift you up to new heights to find the greatest amount of pleasure, joy and contentment from every moment possible.

Mark spent three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal health. Once an elite endurance athlete, he lost both health and vitality through an oppressive training regimen and a highly inflammatory diet. He vowed to find a way to be as fit, strong and healthy as possible, with the least amount of pain, suffering and sacrifice required.

After extensive research and years of experimenting, Mark regained his health and enjoyment of life by simply changing how he ate. Blown away by the dramatic shifts in his own health that came from simply rethinking his food choices, Mark started to wonder how many tens or hundreds of millions of others might be suffering the same fate.

Primal Kitchen® delivers on its promise to provide uncompromisingly delicious condiments, dressings, marinades and vinaigrettes, avocado oils, collagen protein bars and protein shakes that are full of heart-healthy, natural fats, clean protein, and ingredients rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

They are also committed to the highest quality ingredients with products that are free of dairy, gluten, grains, refined sugar, soy and industrial seed oils (like canola, sunflower or safflower).

The entire Primal Kitchen collection aims to exquisitely satiate while also packing beneficial fats, high quality, clean protein and nutritional ingredients—like avocado oil, collagen, organic herbs and spices.

Cookie Ice Cream Bowl

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Give into that sweet tooth craving- thank us later. Pile on scoops of gelato for a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth kind of bite. This is a fun way to get kids involved with cooking and an even better way to save time on dish washing, because you’ll be eating the bowl!

Ingredients:

Tools needed:

  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Set of measuring spoons
  • Mixer (optional)
  • Muffin tin
  • Cooking spray
  • 5-inch round disk cookie cutter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Using a hand mixer or wooden spoon, blend butter until smooth. Add egg and Organic Chocolate Chippy Cookie Mix and continue blending mixture until dough is formed.
  3. Grease bottom of muffin tin. Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut 5-inch round disks from dough. Cover one disk over the bottom of each muffin tin, pressing to form smooth surface.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  5. Cool on pan for 10 minutes, then carefully loosen bottom edges of cookies from pan using spatula. Allow cups to cool completely on wire cooling rack.
  6. Fill up cookie cups with Sprouts Organic Vanilla Gelato, and drizzle with your favorite chocolate sauce. Enjoy!