Homemade Grainy Mustard

This is a necessary condiment to serve with roast beef, and is one of Hubby’s favourites.

Rather than buying the small jars of ready made mustard, which often contain dubious ingredients (which means I have to read labels), I decided to make my own.  That way, I could control exactly what went into it.

This has a more pungent, stronger flavour than bought mustard.

Mustard is an AIP stage 2 reintroduction.  When reintroducing foods on the AIP, I recommend this guide.

Homemade Mustard


  • ¾ cup of mustard seeds (I used a mix of black and yellow mustard seeds)
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar (be sure to use one that is “live” and contains a “mother”)
  • ¾ cup white wine (or substitute fruit juice)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the mustard seeds in a bowl and pour over the apple cider vinegar and wine/fruit juice.  Allow to soak at room temperature for several hours.

Once you are ready to make the mustard, place the soaked seeds, the liquid and all the remaining ingredients in a blender.  Blend to a thick paste.

Store in the fridge in a mason jar.

Paleo Autoimmune Protocol

For the last few months, I have had some stubborn patches of eczema on my face that were refusing to clear up.  They were not too bad – mostly on my forehead where they were hidden by my hair, so I was not too bothered about them.

But over the Christmas break, it flared up in a BIG way.  I suspect it was as a result of a combination of stress (because lets face it, Christmas is a stressful time) and not eating a perfectly Paleo diet.

I ended up with really sore, itchy, scaley and red patches not only on my face, but on other parts of my body as well.  My entire forehead was affected, there was one on the right side of my nose, and two patches on either side of my chin.  the back of my neck was affected, and there were several patches on my torso as well.  All of them were (are!) maddeningly itchy and they look AWFUL!

As a result of this, I decided to try the autoimmune protocol in an attempt to clear it up (eczema can be considered a symptom of autoimmune disease).

So  what is the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol?

The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol is a variant of the Paleo diet designed to combat autoimmune diseases and disorders.  It takes the basic Paleo diet and goes one step further, cutting out anything that can cause gut irritation and inflammation in your body.

In a nutshell, you permanently eliminate

  • all processed foods
  • all refined oils
  • all refined/processed sugars
  • all grains
  • all legumes
  • soy

The in addition to that, for 30 days you eliminate

  • eggs
  • all nightshades including nightshade spices
  • nuts
  • seeds (including spices that are seeds)
  • dairy
  • coffee
  • chocolate
  • alcohol

The foods in this last group are eliminated for 30 days and then gradually reintroduced.  All the foods in the second group are common allergens, and are often foods that will either irritate the gut or cause inflammation in the body.  In addition, some of them can have a cross-reaction with gluten, so if you are gluten intolerant, you can also be intolerant to these foods as well (this is especially true of coffee and chocolate).

So essentially, the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an elimination diet.  The purpose of eliminating those foods in the second group is to allow your body to clear them out of your system.  That way, when you reintroduce them your body will react if you have an intolerance, and then you can permanently eliminate them from your diet.  It is rare that someone is intolerant to everything in the second group.

In addition to cutting out the above foods, you should also include foods that will help heal your gut (leaky gut is a common problem for people with autoimmune diseases).  These foods include:

  • pastured meats (beef, chicken, turkey, duck, bison) and wild meats such as venison
  • organ meats from pastured animals
  • bone broth
  • wild caught fish and shellfish
  • healthy fats (animal fats from pastured animals, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil)
  • organic fruits and vegetables
  • fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir, apple cider vinegar)

More information on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol can be found on these sites

There are a lot more links than these if you put “Paleo Autoimmune Protocol” into Google, but those above should get you started.


Useful links

For the ladies I was talking to last night who asked me for a bunch of links (you know who you are!)….

These are all the ones I remember saying I would post.  If I have missed any and you remember please let me know.  Also, I will add any I remember later on.

F.lux – the program/app that reduces blue light emissions from your electronics (this does not work on android phones btw…  search for an app called “Good Sleep” if you have a samsung phone… other androids you may need to search for a different app that does the same thing)

Marks Daily Apple – great paleo/primal site.  regular updates and some really informative forums

IMPG forum on facebook  – I am a member here, very useful.

100 days of real food – not paleo, but is real food…  take one of their pledges…

Food babe – if this site does not put you off eating processed food I would be very surprised!

WAPF – the site inspired by Weston A Prices’s research and the Nourishing Traditions cookbook…  real, traditional food.  Not paleo, but still good!

I am sure there are more but I cannot remember them right now…  lmk if there are any other links I should have posted and I will update the post with them.


HTH ladies 🙂

Ham Bone Broth


Each time I cooked one of our bone-in pastured ham joints I took the meat off the bone and then froze the bone ready to make some broth when I had enough.

Eventually I had amassed 4 ham bones, and decided to make the ham-bone broth.

This was done in the slow cooker and was incredibly simple because I could just leave it to cook, all by itself for around 36 hours.

All I did was to put the bones (with any residual meat clinging to them) in the slow cooker.  Add 2 cut up carrots (I didn’t even bother to peel them), 2 celery sticks and 1 onion (I halved it but did not peel it).  Then I threw in a bayleaf and some parsley stalks (did you know that the stalks of the parsley plant actually have more flavour than the leaves?).

I added a glug of apple cider vinegar to provide some acid to leach the minerals out of the bones and I let it cook for around 36 hours at a low temperature.

I love using the slow cooker to make broth because it is simple, easy and I don’t need to keep an eye on it.  It is as simple as add the ingredients, turn it on and walk away…  and then, your house starts to smell AMAZING!…  in this case it smelled of ham…..

Absolutely delicious!

I did not bother to skim the fat off the top of the broth – not only is this made from pastured pork, the fat is delicious and very satisfying.

In total, I got around 7 cups of rich delicious broth from the bones from 4 hams and a few veggies…  you can’t beat that for frugal!


And later on, I used them to make a delicious ham and veggie soup for dinner.

Is Paleo Safe For Kids?


My simple answer to the above question is this:

Yes it is!

You only have to look at the pictures of my children to see that they are thriving and full of energy!


There are a few caveats however…  if your children are normal weight, healthy, active kids, they do not want to be on the very low-carb, weight-loss program that you might be following (over-weight and obese kids are a different matter – they need the low-carb diet in order to loose some of the excess weight (1), but they also need plenty of healthy fats to fuel their growing and developing brains).

Active, healthy kids need extra carbs to give them the energy they need and to prevent them from loosing too much weight.  And they need plenty of healthy fats to help with brain development (at least 60% of the human brain is composed of fats, mostly the omega-3 variety, but saturated fats are also vital for brain development as they are important for forming the cell membranes of the nerve cells)

Daughters 3 and 4 - J & B

Daughters 3 and 4 – J & B

So don’t be afraid to give your kids sweet potatoes and other starchy veg.  And don’t be afraid to give them the healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, olives, coconut oil, coconut, oily fish and even animal fats (100% grass-fed or pastured meat only) all count as healthy fats).  Let them eat plenty of fruit as well…  I always have a fruit-bowl on the kitchen counter that the girls know that they can snack from freely.

If they are lethargic, lacking in energy or actually loosing too much weigh, up the carbs in their diet and up the healthy fats as well, and that should solve the problem.

When you think about it, 50,000 years ago, stone-age mama and papa did not cook a hunk of meat for themselves and then pull out the wheaty-puffs for the stone-age kidlets…  they fed the kids exactly what they ate.  And those kids thrived – if they hadn’t, the human race would have died out way back then.

And even today, most cultures feed their kids on what they eat – spicy foods, fatty foods, veggies, you name it.  If the adults can eat it and thrive, the kids can to.  It is only in the West that we feel that we should be feeding our kids special “kid-friendly” food. And usually, this “kid-food” is pretty unhealthy stuff – high in insulin spiking carbs, lots of sugar, lots of salt, lots of food-colourings, artificial flavourings and sweeteners and laced with trans-fats – exactly the opposite of what growing bodies and brains need to eat.

So will giving up grains harm your child?

Not at all…

No one needs to eat grains.

And calorie for calorie, grains, even whole grains, are lower in nutrient density than fruit and vegetables.   There are some useful graphs in this post that show the percentage of vitamins and minerals found in grains compared to vegetables, demonstrating that those veggies are the clear winner.  And your child can obtain plenty of carbs from fruit and veggies….  and as a side-bonus, they will benefit from the larger amounts of nutrients.  A Paleo diet almost consistently contains in excess of 100% of the RDA of all vitamins, with the exception of vitamin D, and the same is true of the vast majority of essential minerals as well.  This post demonstrates this fact..  And whole grains are not necessarily the best source of dietary fiber either.  Fruits and veggies contain at least as much fiber as whole grains do, so don’t worry that your child will lack for fiber or become constipated if they are not eating whole grains.  As long as 50% of their plate is filled up with veggies they will be fine.

And when you consider the anti-nutrients in grains and pulses, you have even more reason to feed your children on a paleo diet.  Most of our immune system is based on our gut flora and intestinal mucosa.  The anti-nutrients in grains and pulses can damage the gut mucosa leading to leaky-gut syndrome, and it can alter the balance of the healthy gut flora (the friendly bacteria that live in our guts and help with immune function).  For a child with an immature immune system, this can be bad news as it can lead to impaired immune development and even food sensitivities, intolerance and allergies later in life. (take my example – I developed a serious allergy to dairy in my mid 30’s and non-celiac gluten intolerance in my late 30’s early 40’s).

Gluten and lectins in grains and legumes damage the intestinal mucosa.  This can prevent full absorption of the vitamins and minerals in your childs diet meaning that you child is not getting the full benefit of the food they are consuming.

And then there is the little matter of phytate.  Also known as phytic acid, phytate is a form of phosphorus naturally found in plant materials.  Grains and legumes (beans, peas etc) are naturally very high in phytate.  The problem with this form of phosphorus is that it forms insoluble, and indigestible, complexes with many of the other vital minerals in the diet (most notably calcium, magnesium and zinc) which means that both the phosphorus, and the other minerals cannot be absorbed at all and pass unabsorbed through the gut and into the faeces…. (2, 3)

This can be a real problem for a whole-grain eater who is relying on their fortified breakfast cereal with milk to provide them with many of the minerals they need in their diet…  phytate in that “heart-healthy wholegrain cereal” will bind the calcium in the milk and most of the minerals that the cereal is fortified with…  total loss, and tbh a total waste of time eating it.  You might as well feed your kids the cardboard box! (anyone remember that anecdotal scientific study that was done where they fed one group of lab rats a popular breakfast cereal, and a second group the box the cereal came in?  Supposedly the group fed the cereal died, while the group fed the box thrived….  But I have never found a single paper to verify this…  if anyone knows if one exists, I would be grateful if you could point me to it!)

Either way, there is plenty of evidence out there that eating phytates is not good for you (even the subject of my Doctorate showed this, albeit in laying hens, which is not really relevant here as I was looking at how it affected egg-shell quality – and to the best of my knowledge humans don’t lay eggs…)

Despite what people may tell you, giving up grains will not mean that your kids will be lacking in carbs…  not only can children manage perfectly well on a ketogenic diet, they can thrive on it.  They actually use this kind of diet to help control drug resistant epilepsy and other neurological disorders in kids.  And those kids on a ketogenic diet remain perfectly healthy, with no weight gain or heart disease.

Besides, if you allow them free access to fruit, they will get more than enough carbs (fruit is very high in fructose).  And you can always supplement with the more starchy veggies if you feel the need.  I have yet to meet a kid who does not love sweet potatoes!

Giving up dairy is not a bad thing either (although some paleo parents feed their kids dairy as a part of a more primal way of eating if they tolerate the dairy well).  This post by the Paleo Mom explains why dairy is not necessary to provide the calcium your kids will need to grow and thrive.  And when you think about it, humans are the only species of animal that eats milk beyond infancy, and we are the only species that consumes the milk of another species as well.   Contrary to what the milk marketing companies would like you to believe we don’t NEED milk in our diets!  There has even been some evidence that consuming large amounts of dairy could have a negative effect on bone health (4, 5)

So why not give it a try?

Gradually replace the harmful foods in your child’s diet with Paleo and see how they do.   If you are lucky enough to be a pregnant paleo-parent, you have it easy – you can just feed your child paleo from the get-go and avoid a lot of the problems us parents of existing kids who are used to eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) have!.  But even the most resistant toddler will eat this way eventually – kids won’t let themselves starve, believe me… when they are really hungry they will eat.  And there has been plenty of research to show that given a free choice of available foods, young children will naturally select a balanced diet (6)…  so young kids can and WILL eat veggies, fruit, meat, healthy fats especially when they see their parents eating and actively enjoying them…

J likes the look of her dinner!

J likes the look of her dinner!

And my experience is that the older the kid, the easier it is… teens may be resistant at first, but they are also self-aware enough that they will realize that when they use their allowance to by a large mocha from the coffee-shop along with a huge donut, they feel like c**p the next day…  And that Big Mac or Teen-Burger also makes them feel ill…. after a few sessions of this, they suddenly develop an aversion to those foods that make them feel ill….  And teens are old enough to read the books, look at the websites, understand the reason why eating a SAD is bad news.

Teens are also old enough to take a turn with the cooking, and I know no better way of getting kids interested in food than to encourage them to cook a meal of their own devising.

Proof that teens can cook....

Proof that teens can cook….

And  no matter what age the kid is, they love the slightly mess aspect of cooking, especially when they get to be hands on with the food…


But even littlies can help out in the kitchen and cook simple foods:


Even if you have toddlers, you can get them to do really simple stuff like mixing up salad ingredients with their hands… and while they are doing it, encourage them to sample the individual veggies….  while it may not be perfect on the hygiene front,  it is getting them to try stuff… besides it is your families bugs – you will be exposed to exactly the same bacteria when you kiss them good-night!  Sadly I no longer have a kidlet of toddler age, so I can’t illustrate the last with a photo.

Despite this, I don’t advocate an all or nothing approach… if you totally ban non-paleo foods they become forbidden fruit… the minute your child has access to them (at a birthday party, at a school event, snack-time at school/playgroup etc) they become all the more desirable.  OK, don’t allow them in the house, but don’t outright ban them unless there is a food allergy or intolerance to that particular food ingredient.  Let your child sample the non-paleo foods at social events (birthday parties etc), then talk to them about how they made them feel (even a toddler can understand that that food was not as tasty as mummy’s home-cooked food!).  If they feel ill, they will gradually realize that eating them is not worth the suffering!

One other solution is to make them paleo versions of the food that they are used to.  You can “bread” chicken or fish with coconut or nuts to make a paleo version of chicken nuggets and fish sticks.  Make cauliflower “rice” and zoodles or spaghetti squash in place of pasta.  Make paleo treats on occasion to replace the pancakes, the cookies and the muffins.  You can make paleo bread for pizzas or burger buns as well.


By having a few easy go-to recipes that you can pull out when you need a paleo substitute for your kids favourites you can make that transition so much easier.

And seriously, when your kids are young, it is YOU that controls the food that they eat.  If your child is overweight or suffering from a food related illness, it is down to you.  You are the one buying the food they eat.  If you don’t buy it, they can’t eat it.

Things do get a little more complicated once they reach the teenage years, true (Yes your teen will slink down to 7-11 occasionally to buy a Big-gulp, but hey, once in a while is not going to kill them! – C went to a friends house the other day and spent her allowance on a cheesecake!), but if you educate your children on healthy eating habits (and a HUGE part of this education is them seeing their parents eating and enjoying healthy foods – family mealtimes RULE for this!), then they will know how to make healthy eating choices for themselves in the future.

Surely that is one of the best gifts you can give your children!

So You’re Paleo?

That was exactly the question one of my co-workers asked me the other day.

She had been reading my blog, and wanted some confirmation on what eating Paleo actually meant.

The thing is, she was focusing on all the negatives – So you don’t eat grains? So you don’t eat dairy?  So you don’t eat legumes/pulses?  So you don’t eat carbs?  (Actually, Paleo is NOT a carb-free diet, and it doesn’t even have to be a particually low-carb diet unless you want to loose weight!).  I was almost expecting to be asked if there was anything I could eat (some people actually HAVE asked me that question!)

Rather than focusing on all the things I can’t eat, I much prefer to focus on those that I can….

Unlimited tasty, fresh, seasonal, local veggies and fruits.  Delicious tasting grass-fed and pastured beef, pork and chicken.  Wild meats such as elk, bison and rabbit.  Free-range eggs.  Wild caught fish.  Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, avocados… and even animal fats as long as they are from grass-fed or pastured sources.

There is a HUGE amount that I can eat, and relatively little that I can’t….  and I find that focusing on what I can eat makes for a far more positive attitude in the long run.

Take tonight’s dinner for example.

We are having crab, shrimp and pork cakes  served with a green salad and an avocado mayonnaise.  It will taste delicious, will be very good for us, very satisfying.  And not a single grain in sight!  and it will actually be relatively low carb as well.  I doubt we will miss any of the non-paleo foods while eating this meal because all of that healthy protein and fats will be far more satisfying than a bunch of grains on our plate.

The other thing to remember is that Paleo is more than just a diet…  it is not something that you follow until you have lost X-amount of pounds and then go back to your normal SAD way of eating…  Paleo is something you follow for the rest of your life.  It is a way of life – a lifestyle.  And you don’t have to embrace the whole paleo-exercise, barefoot-running, sleeping in the dark elements of Paleo to reap the benefits, although many do find that they start to make some of these changes (I know I did).  Just by changing one thing, taking that one step to change your diet will have HUGE benefits to your heath.

I usually advise people to give Paleo a go – just for 30 days….  then honestly evaluate how they feel.  Then add back some of the grains/dairy/legumes and honestly say how they feel then.  I am betting that they feel better over those 30 days, and as soon as they add back the non-paleo foods they feel worse.

And 30 days isn’t really a huge chunk of time to go without bread, pasta, cookies etc is it?  Focus on what you can eat during those 30 days rather than what you can’t and you will find it surprisingly easy!

Back to School Packed Lunches 2

The other day, I made some suggestions about how you can make sending a packed lunch to school easier and less stressful.

Today I am going to make suggestions as to what you can actually put in that lunch box.

I am not going to suggest quantities to send, you know your child best, and know how much he or she will eat…  and besides, my 9 and 11 yr old eat far more than my 15 year old does.  And I am sure that a teen boy who is playing sports would eat more than all 4 of my girls combined!  And a tiny pre-schooler will eat not much more than a few bites of any one thing.  If the lunchbox comes back empty and your child is starving at the end of the day, you know to send in more.  If they left half their lunch, try sending in a bit less….

I suggested the other day that you cook extra the night before and send the leftovers for lunches.  In general, that will be a fairly balanced meal depending on what you have leftover.  Don’t forget, soups and chilli and many other dishes can be reheated and sent in an insulted food jar.  Others could be sent in a microwave safe container if your child has access to a microwave.  And some are just as good cold as hot.  If you would eat it cold out of the fridge, why not try sending it to school as a lunch?

Sandwich Substitutes

Just because you and your children don’t eat bread doesn’t mean that sandwiches and wraps are off the menu.

Try some of these suggestions:

  • Use hollowed out cucumber or celery sticks as the “bread” and fill with sliced meat and salad veggies as in this great recipe.
  • Apple slices make a great bread substitute when using nut butter.  Make sure you dip the apple in a mix of lemon juice and water to prevent them from browning.
  • Red Bell Peppers can also be used in place of a “bun” as in this recipe.
  • Portabello mushrooms have been used as the bun for burgers many times.  Why not use them in place of bread in a lunchbox sandwich?
  • Or you could simply make a paleo bread and use that for sandwiches occasionally.  There are many paleo bread recipes out there.  Some low carb others quite high in carbs but gluten free.  Given that most kids need extra carbs, I favour this recipe.  You do have to pay for it, but I figure that $3.95 is pretty cheap for such a versatile recipe!

Another alternative to sandwiches is to make a wrap.  You can buy paleo-friendly wraps, but why not consider some of these suggestions:

  • Use lettuce leaves to contain taco meat or other shredded meats such as pulled pork.  You could also fill them with egg salad or tuna salad made with homemade mayonnaise
  • Use deli meats as a wrap for veggies like in this recipe.  Another suggestion is to use thinly sliced roast beef, spread with a little mustard and horseradish and then rolled around veggies.  Avocado would be especially good!
  • Use the Magic Dough recipe I mentioned earlier to make tortillas to use as a wrap.
  • Make a thin omelette or crepe and use that to wrap veggies and meats.

But you don’t just have to send sandwiches or sandwich substitutes.  Consider going down the bento box formula and sending a protein ingredient with a couple of sides and maybe a treat or some fruit….

Aim for one protein, a couple of sides (veggies), some fruit and an occasional treat.  Make sure that there are plenty of good fats (eggs, avocado, coconut, nuts and nut butter, olives, olive oil, oily fish even cold cooked bacon) as it is the fat that will help keep them full until home-time.


Suggested protein ingredients that I have sent to school with my kids are:


  • Cold cooked meat – this could be leftovers from the night before or cooked especially for the lunchbox.  Cooked chicken is wonderful when cold – wings, legs especially so, but even leftover breast meat is good.  Paleo versions of chicken nuggets are also popular especially if you provide something to dip them in.  Leftover ribs are tasty, especially if you supply some of the BBQ sauce for dipping, as is cold sliced beef.  Use some sliced deli meat if you can find some that is nitrate and sugar free.  You could even cook a ham or roast some beef specially for lunches.  And don’t forget cold cooked sausage or bacon.  Cooked burgers or meatballs (with or without a sauce) are another suggestion  provide a dip if you think it would work.  Home-made kebabs are another alternative that are fun to eat.  And speaking of kebabs, these are a fun choice, alternating deli meats with veggies on a skewer.  Something most kids are sure to love!  If you include dairy in your child’s diet you could add cheese cubes as well!
  • Jerkey (make sure it does not contain any non-paleo ingredients) – preferably made from grass-fed beef.  And don’t forget about “wild meat” jerkey such as elk, bison, venison…
  • Fish – yes fish can be served cold.  You could send in a can of tuna or sardines with older kids, and for the younger ones make tuna salad with homemade mayo.  Even leftover Paleo Fish Sticks could work well cold with a tartar sauce made with homemade mayo or Paleo ketchup.
  • Nut butter and nuts will provide some protein and healthy fats if your school is not nut-free.  Otherwise, just send in a small amount of nuts.  Remember that nuts, with the exception of macadamia nuts, are very high in omega 6 fatty acids, and should be more of a condiment…  if you cannot obtain macadamia nuts, consider walnuts – they have a better omega 6 : omega 3 profile than most other nuts.   Spread nut butters on a paleo friendly cracker and top it with another one to make a paleo version of PB sandwich…  or try these apple-sandwiches with nut butter between 2 apple rings.    You can also use nut butter as a dip for veggies such as carrot sticks and apple slices.  Try spreading various nut butters in celery sticks and top with raisins or dried cranberries for ants on a log.  And if your school is nut-free, consider using Sun-butter as an alternative.
image courtesy of www.makeandtakes.com

image courtesy of http://www.makeandtakes.com

  • Dairy – if your child tolerates dairy well, this could be a good source of protein in their lunch.  Consider sending in cheese cubes or sticks.  Cheese on a skewer with fruit is wonderful – that sweet and savory thing…  just make sure that it is not highly processed cheese.  And for preference go for organic, and pastured dairy…  if you live in an area where you can purchase raw cheeses (not possible in much of Canada), do that…  it is surprising what kids will eat.  Mine LOVE stinky cheese and those with big flavours, feta, brie Camembert, Gorgonzola…  don’t assume you have to buy cheap flavourless processed cheese to appeal to a child’s palate.  And like everything else, read labels…  Cream cheese can be spread on celery sticks and topped with dried fruit to make a nut-free version of ants on a log.


Aim to send in at least 2 side dishes.  These could include the following:

  • Cold cooked veggies, leftover from the night before.  Sweet potato wedges/fries are especially good, but don’t forget about other roasted veggies (beets, carrots even parsnips).  Cold broccoli and cauliflower tastes good, especially with a dipping sauce.  Even cooked asparagus would work.
  • Raw veggies with a dip.  Choose from carrot sticks, baby cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, radishes and anything else that you think your child would eat.
  • Salads are also a good side, and pair especially well with chicken, eggs and sliced meats.  Send the dressing in separately in a small pot or jar so that the leafy salad veg does not go limp.
  • A fermented side such as lacto-fermented pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi tastes good and provides some healthy gut-friendly bacteria.
  • Stuff tuna or egg salad into a de-seeded bell pepper or a hollowed out tomato.


Kids love dipping food into dips.  And it has been shown in a recent piece of research that this is a good way to get children to eat more veggies…

Suggested dips include:


Fresh fruit is a great addition to the lunch box.  Pretty much any fruit that your child likes can be included whole or sliced.  If slicing apples, remember to dip them in a mixture of lemon juice and water to prevent them from browning.

Sweet Treats

Kids almost always love these, but they are not usually all that great, so include them only occasionally.

Consider sending:

  • Dried fruits – dried apples, dried mango, dates (stoneless are best), raisins, cranberries, apricots.  Check to ensure that the fruits have not been dipped in sugar – a surprisingly large amount are, which is crazy seeing how sweet dried fruit is anyway!
  • Chips – try kale chips, plantain chips, sweet potato chips, or any other home-made veggie chip that you can think of.  They are easy to make, slice the veggies as thinly as you can (for kale chips, rip into small pieces) and bake the veggies in a low oven until they are crisp…  add seasonings as you feel necessary.  Kale chips will take only a short while (less than half an hour), sweet potato or plantain chips may take upward of 2 hours depending on how thick they are.  Watch them carefully so that they do not burn.
  • A small square of dark chocolate or a few chocolate coated raisins or almonds.  Aim for 85% cocoa solids or better in the chocolate.
  • Berries and coconut cream
  • coconut yoghurt
  • plain greek yoghurt with some fruits (this is primal, not paleo)
  • Homemade fruit/energy bars
  • grain-free granola
  • grain-free muffins, cookies or cakes
  • pudding such as my chia puddings. You can flavour these with any fruits you like.


The best thing you can send for lunch is plain water.  If your child won’t drink that, try flavouring it with lemon juice or even making a flavoured fruit water.  Another suggestion is to send cold milk in a thermos – use cows milk if your child tolerates that, but also consider almond milk as an alternative.  Older children might like unsweetened iced tea or herbal teas (hot or cold), and if they have access to hot water you could even send an unbreakable mug such as a travel mug and a couple of tea bags.

Back to School Packed Lunches 1

image courtesy of http://www.cbe.ab.ca/

image courtesy of http://www.cbe.ab.ca/

It is that time of year again – when the kids are heading back to school and you are thinking about what they are going to eat at lunchtime.

image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

image courtesy of mirror.co.uk

If you are anything like me, or are at all interested in providing them with a healthy lunch-time meal, you will not even consider letting them have what the school cafeteria has to offer. Even with the drive to improve the quality of school lunches, most are not what I would consider to be healthy. They are too high in salt and sugars for the most part. And they are not usually gluten or grain free. Then adding that a very limited supply of fruit and vegetables are on offer…..

No thanks!

image courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

image courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

So that leaves you with no choice but to send in a packed lunch. And if you are new to Paleo or Primal eating that can seem like a daunting task.

What are you going to give them in place of the sandwiches? What about the cereal bars? The cakes and cookies? The chips? And what about a drink? Are juice boxes and chocolate milk Paleo/Primal? And will the kids even eat what you pack?

Here are my tips for packing a healthy school lunch that your kids will love, without you tearing your hair out with stress.

Buy good quality food containers
There is nothing more stressful than rummaging in a cupboard desperately trying to match up plastic tubs with their lids first thing in the morning. Get some quality lunch containers (one for each kid that you will be packing lunch for and one for you and your partner too if you work outside the home). Yes it will be expensive, but for the reduction in stress it is worth it. There is a really good review of the various lunchbox options at 100 Days of Real Food. We bought Planet boxes for our kids (and for Hubby and me), 6 of the full Rover Systems, including the carry cases and the big and little dippers.  Believe me, it was NOT cheap!  But a good quality lunch box will last for years.

You get what you pay for, and if you buy cheap, it costs you more in the long run.  (See the Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of Economic Injustice – invented by Terry Pratchett, inventor of the Discworld).

Make sure that in addition to a lunch box you also get an insulated food jar so that you can send a hot meal. And consider a Thermos to send hot or cold drinks as well.

And while we are at it, cutlery…. I found that if I was buying cheap disposable plastic spoons and forks, the kids would throw them away even if I told them to bring them home and wash them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to contribute to environmental pollution in that way, and I dislike wasting money either. The solution we went with was to buy the kids sporks. They bring them home each day and they go through the dishwasher with the lunch boxes.

Get a metal or BPA-free plastic water bottle so that you can send in water instead of juice or disposable water bottles.

And don’t forget the re-freezable ice pack to keep it all cold.

And the minute they come home from school, make them fetch their lunch boxes and other lunch items out of their bags so that they can be washed or put through the dishwasher…  that way, they are ready for the next day!  No if’s or but’s, no excuses of “But I must do my homework”, fetching their lunch containers takes seconds!

Keep it simple
Aim to use lots of leftovers and consider cooking for the week ahead over the weekend. Either send the leftovers in cold to be eaten cold (even stews and chilli can be surprisingly tasty when served cold!) or reheat them in the morning and pack in an insulated food jar. If your child’s school has a microwave for the kids use (a surprising number do now, especially for older kids) you could send the food in in a microwave safe container for your child to heat up.

If planning on cooking for the week ahead, cook chicken legs and wings, meat such as a beef or ham joint that can be sliced, make soups, stews and chillies and freeze them in single serving containers ready to be used later on.  Maybe even consider making some paleo-friendly treats such as my energy bars or chia pudding.

Stock up on fruits and veggies that can be eaten raw, nuts, seeds and dried fruit and jerkey and other Paleo friendly snacks.  If your kids eat dairy, buy some cheese to cube or cut in sticks and consider these silicone molds that can be filled with natural yoghurt.

Make sure you include something that contains healthy fats – olives (if your kids will eat them), avocado, nuts or nut butter (as long as the school is not nut-free), coconut chips, full-fat dairy (if you allow your kids to eat it), even cold cooked bacon…  The fat will give them plenty of energy and help keep them full.

Then enlist the kids to help. Older kids should be able to pack most of their lunches themselves, and even tiniest can assist with making choices (“carrots or celery? Apple or banana?). You want to be able to pack the entire lunch in 5-10 minutes if not less.

Don’t experiment
You want the kids to eat their lunch, so the lunch-box is not the place to experiment with new unfamiliar foods. Stick to what you know they love, and save the experimentation for the weekends.

Don’t pack junk food
This should go without saying. Send in real food. Things that your great-grandma would recognize. So no packets of chips, cookies or crackers. No yoghurt tubes, cereal bars and cakes, even if it is organic. Just because something is organic does not mean that it is good for you!

Instead send in fruit, sliced or whole, fresh veggies, home made (peanut free) trail mix and 85% or better cocoa solid chocolate as treats.

Instead of a juice box (which is really just vitamin enriched sugar water) and sugar-laden chocolate milk send In plain water to drink. Or consider using a Thermos and send in fresh, cold milk.

Don’t worry too much!

The final thing to stress is not to obsess too much over the lunches – if the lunch you send in is a little light in protein (or your child does not eat the protein you provide!), just give them some extra protein at dinner…  think whole day nutrition rather than a single meal.  It is OK to send a meal that consists of a load of veggies and dips with a few nuts if you are all out of protein ingredients, as long as you make up for it at dinner time (and possibly breakfast if you know the lunch is lacking).  And the same goes for anything else that you put in the lunchbox.  If your child does not eat it and is lacking in something you consider essential, just give it to them in another form later in the day…  didn’t eat the veggies?  give them some extra veggies for dinner or as a snack.  Didn’t eat the fruit? give them some fruit as a bed-time snack….  also consider letting them snack on the remainders of their lunch once they get home as long as you consider it safe for them to do so (eggs or meat kept at room temperature for an afternoon might not be quite so safe to eat!  Just sayin….)

So, what could you pack in the lunch box?

I will write a post about that tomorrow…