Simple, Smooth Summer Lunches

by penny powell
While summer typically inspires simpler meals, knowing just what nutritious lunch to send off to summer camp with their children is not so simple for many parents.
If your child is headed off to summer camp this year or simply “camping” at home, here are some easy and “smooth” ideas to consider — for lunching or snacking — that are sure to nourish your children while pleasing their palettes. Plus, these foods are just fun for families to prepare together.

Who doesn’t like a cold, refreshing smoothie during the summer? Not only are smoothies filling, but they’re so simple to prepare and a quick way to get nutrition into your children. You can simply put a few combinations of your children’s favorite fruits in the blender, mix with some water and perhaps a little honey or agave nectar (derived from the agave cactus plant and available at local health food stores) for an extra sweetener, and viola, there goes some good nutrition hydrating those growing bodies.
Remind your child to shake the smoothie before opening it at summer camp in order to remix the ingredients that will have been sitting for a while. My son, Caleb, enjoys drinking his smoothies with a straw, so don’t forget to also send those along, if desired.

Banana/Strawberry Smoothie Recipe
~ 3 frozen bananas (more or less depending on the texture and sweetness you want)
~ approx. 5 strawberries
~ approx. 1 cup of water (varies depending on the texture you are after)
~ approx. 1 tablespoon of honey or agave nectar for added sweetness, optional.

The Green Smoothie
Have you heard about the Green Smoothie? Parents are using this beverage as a tool to get more greens into their children. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve served a Green Smoothie to who have been totally surprised that they only tasted the fruit in the smoothie and not the greens.
With any fruit smoothie you make, you would simply add a handful or two of greens, such as spinach or kale, to arrive at the Green Smoothie. I typically blend the greens first with water and then add the fruit. Remember to add honey or agave nectar for additional sweetness, if necessary.
Even though the fruit in this smoothie overpowers the taste of the greens, if your child is like mine and is hesitant about the color of the drink, throw in some blueberries, and not only will you have added more nutrition but a color changer, too. Now the smoothie should take on a dark purple color!

Smooth Pudding
Shannon Leone, nutritionist and author of the soon-to-be published e-book The Healthy Lunchbox (to be published at, offers this very-filling Blueberry Pudding recipe that includes chia seeds, which Leone says are “a great source of fiber, protein and EFA’s (essential fatty acids).”
~ 4 cups fresh blueberries
~ 1 cup chia seeds — ground or flax
~ 1 tablespoon honey, optional
In a dry container (such as that of a food processor), blend the chia seeds so they are powdered. Add the blueberries — and sweetener, if using — and lightly blend so the berries break down but do not liquefy totally. Pour into your child’s airtight containers and sprinkle a few berries on top, perhaps with some shredded coconut for added appeal. The chia or flax ground will firm it up so they can eat it with a spoon. –recipe from The Healthy Lunchbox

Smooth Foods That Crunch Or Not!
Your child may, understandably, want something crunchy or chewy to eat with the smoothie. How about adding carrots or other crunchy veggies and fruits, or watermelon, pineapple, and/or trail mix or granola to your camper’s lunch box? How about a salad with a tasty, healthy dressing?
Last summer, my 8-year-old nephew, Zuhri, got hooked on salads when he spent six weeks with my family. Salad had not been a regular staple in his diet, but when Zuhri returned home to Bermuda and school started, his mom informed me that he had begun taking salads for lunch. “I love it,” she said, “because they’re so simple to make.” Zuhri and Caleb both enjoy a simple salad made with Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots and grapes. Colorful and tasty!
Try “Ants on a Log” — cut-up celery sticks spread with a healthy nut butter and lined with raisins. If your child enjoys cucumbers, Ants on a Circle is another variation of this idea. Cut an apple with an apple slicer, put the pieces back together, wrap the apple tightly, and then send the nut butter in a container. Kids will enjoy spreading the nut butter over apple slices. To prevent apples from turning brown once they have been cut and must sit, pour a little lemon juice over the slices. However, simply putting the apple back together and sealing it helps limit the color change, too.

Smooth Sandwiches
If your child wants traditional sandwiches, wraps or pita pockets, try healthier bread choices, such as Ezekiel Bread found in your neighborhood grocery store or health food store.
About learning to add healthier options to your child’s lunch box, Leone says: “Enjoy the process. Include your kids whenever possible. Learning to eat healthy and make healthy choices is a skill for life they can really use.”

Penny Powell lives in Orange Park. The “Summer Camp” she attended last summer was the 10-Day Healthy Lifestyle Course at The Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, GA — where she ate healthy lunches every day! This summer, Penny is committed to growing her site,, as a means of connecting with Jacksonville parents who may also be interested in “bottling” health for themselves and their children. Penny can be contacted at [email protected]