Posts Tagged ‘school’

Today’s healthy lunch box: do it yourself lunchable

Lunchables are a fairly popular item for quick lunch boxes, but contain ingredients I don’t care to offer my kids, not to mention you can make these a lot cheaper on your own! Men’s Health listed the turkey lunchable meal the kids meal with the most sugar and a group of dietitians for the non profit Cancer Project reviewed 60 pre packaged kids lunches and listed the 5 worst here. Bottom line is that pre packaged, processed foods are convenient, but not good for you.

Making your own lunchable with healthier options of real, minimally processed cheese, no hormone and nitrate-free meat (organic is possible), and whole wheat crackers make a better option. Certainly, a lunchable style lunch is a little more fun too.

It’s actually easy and not as time consuming as you would think. My DIY lunchable was Canadian bacon (ham) cut into triangles, cheese slices and whole wheat crackers. I also included yogurt, granola, strawberries, grapes and an organic “Oreo” for our special treat. Our drink was a treat too, took a break from our usual water and offered raspberry lemonade.

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My son had the same, no granola, but I gave him a little popcorn.

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Keep checking back daily for more healthy lunch ideas.

Today’s healthy lunch box

Today’s lunch is yogurt with granola, nectarine slices, and a peanut butter and banana roll up sandwich. I had planned on a hard boiled egg as well, but she opted to eat it for breakfast with her whole wheat pancakes. Her snack is a fresh plum.

The banana roll up is easy to make. I grabbed a whole wheat tortilla, spread peanut butter all over it, placed. A banana in the middle, then wrapped it all up.

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See other lunch box ideas.

Keep checking back daily for more healthy lunch ideas.

Today’s lunch

Today’s lunch was a little light since my daughter has a field trip this morning and is getting a snack there.

So we had the rest of our PB&J sandwich from yesterday (need that fiber!), hummus and pita, carrots, grapes and star fruit.
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My son had pasta with mixed veggies, hummus and pita, carrots, grapes and star fruit.
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Keep checking back daily for more healthy lunch ideas.

Today’s lunch: veggie pasta

Today’s lunch theme was fiber. My daughter sometimes has tummy trouble and needs a little more fiber than normal to keep things moving. No fun when you are just 6 and need more fiber like a little old lady! But there are certainly worse things, and this we can do something about fairly easily. She is also lactose intolerant, so cream cheese, many cheeses, etc. can’t go into my daughters lunch box. But I would use something like cream cheese sparingly anyway.

I packed veggie whole wheat pasta, mandarin oranges, organic frozen blueberries, and organic peanut butter and organic strawberry jelly sandwich on sprouted grain bread. Pretty much everything here is a good source of fiber, less the jelly. Mission accomplished!

When packing lunches, I avoid processed foods, and offer fruit and veggie options, whole grains, a protein, and be sure there is a source of fiber! I don’t always succeed at getting the veggie in there, but do my best. She’s not the best veggie eater, but will do carrots with homemade ranch dip. Pasta is a great way to sneak in veggies, either whole like I did, or if they balk, try to purée the veggies and use as a sauce with a little olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Pasta recipe can be found on weelicious.com. I used mixed veggies instead of just peas and added a little basil for added flavor.

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Keep checking back daily for more healthy lunch ideas.

Today’s lunch: Mexican soup

Leftovers. Definitely use leftovers when practical or possible. I bought this awesome insulated Thermos Food Jar for packing hot foods like soups or rice and beans.

Today’s lunch is Mexican corn and bean soup (get the recipe from weelicious.com), whole wheat crackers and mandarin oranges. And of course our thermos of water. This bottle is a Thermos Funtainer as well. It’s insulated and always still has ice in it when she gets home from school!

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Lead, PVC and BPA free lunchboxes for back-to-school 2011

Lead as you know is toxic, which makes it surprising that it is in lunchboxes and backpacks. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead so it’s important for lunchboxes to be lead-free. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. Kids are going to be touching the lunch box with their hands, then eat their food with their hands, so it is important for your child’s lunchbox to be free of these nasty chemicals.

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Stainless steel, nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free (NOTE: PVC-free means the lead levels are below the amount deemed “safe” by a government agency). You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

Citizens Pip  You can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch box itself!

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. Traditional lunch box style that is well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

LunchBots stainless steel containers. Several types to choose from. Does not have a bag though.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style. (Note: 2 years ago they said their lead levels were “undetectable.” When I called this week, they said their lunch boxes were all lead and PVC-free. Slightly leery here, but they said they lead/PVC free, so they are on the list.)

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, which is great. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog – very cute.

PlanetBox is by far the most pricey, but it’s a very cool system. It’s a bento-style box of stainless steel that is  dishwasher safe. You can customize with cute magnets. The deluxe set has 2 dipper bowls and a carry bag that has a place to store a water bottle and little extras. The main drawback is the hefty price: $59.99, plus almost $11 in shipping. However, it is something that is sure to last for years.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonsense lunch box. The lunch box lining is aluminum which I don’t care for. Also available are BPA-free containers and water bottles.

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system. You can get ala carte or as a system.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. But a phone call to ZAK confirmed they are entirely lead-free. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

ReusableBags.com has a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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Safe school supplies 2010

It’s back-to-school time again! Time to shop for those school supplies and of course you want them to be safe from ickies like PVC. Kids are going to be using school supplies and lunch boxes on a daily basis and kids are more greatly affected by toxins than adults. So we want to make sure we are sending them off with items that are safe.

So, what should you all avoid this back-to-school season?
1. PVC – polyvinyl chloride. PVC causes cancer, and is notorious for containing lead which can cause irreversible brain damage with too much exposure.

How to avoid PVC, the poison plastic. The CHEJ gives these quick tips:

  • PVC products are often labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging, such as vinyl 3-ring binders
  • PVC packaging can be identified by looking for the number “3” inside, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath, the universal recycling symbol, indicating the product is made out of PVC. Just remember – bad news comes in #3’s, don’t buy PVC
  • Some products are not properly labeled, making it tough to determine whether they contain PVC. If you’re uncertain, e-mail or call the 1-800 number of the manufacturer or retailer and ask what type of plastic their product is made of. You have a right to know.

While sadly, some safer school supplies are harder to find, if you keep looking, you should still be able to find PVC free supplies. Here is a pocket guide to help you along and a full list of PVC-free school supplies. Though, for many of these supplies on the full list, you will have to do your shopping online and those sites are noted on CHEJ’s guide, which is certainly more appealing to me than battling the back-to-school crowds in stores. Luckily, I have 1 more year before I need to worry about that.

Some of my favorite PVC-free items for back to school are

So, where can you find PVC-free school supplies? If you are like me and prefer not to battle the last minute back-to-school shoppers, check out the eco-friendly selection at Amazon for

Or consult CHEJ’s well researched list with websites of manufacturers and how to buy.

2. BPA – bisphenol A. Common in Polycarbonate (PC) #7 plastic. A hormone disruptor that interferes with the developing breast and prostate in the womb and out, as well as affecting brain development and behavior. Has also in recent studies been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

See my BPA-free list here to find BPA-free water bottles, dishes, snack bowls, etc. or shop at The Soft Landing.

3. Polystyrene #6 plastic. Styrene can cause nerve system damage and is listed as a probable human carcinogen (causes cancer). Commonly found in Styrofoam containers, as well as other food containers, cups, cutlery, CD’s, packing peanuts, etc.

4. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Kids and alcohol just don’t mix, so opt for something safer such as CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

5. Triclosan and items labeled with “Microban Technology.” Triclosan is the common ingredient in many antibacterial products, including most liquid hand soaps, and is toxic. Really anything labeled antimicrobial, antibacterial, keeps food fresh longer, and other such claims could contain Triclosan. Avoid it. SafeMama has a good article on Microban and I agree with their stance that it seems unnecessary and because there is not sufficient evidence one way or another, it’s best to steer clear if possible. I make my own foaming hand soap and love it!

Does your school make the environmental health grade? Use the CHEJ’s environmental checklist to find out.

That should you do if your school list has items on it that you feel strongly against (i.e. alchohol based hand sanitizer like Purell)? Tiffany at Nature Mom’s Blog did a write up last year with a letter she sent to her son’s teacher explaining some of the deviations she provided from the required list.

Hope these tips make your back to school year a little healthier! Happy shopping!

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BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. crockcreekcountries

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free. You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Crockodile Creek Countries lunch box.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals  and a sunflower.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

California Innovations is a nice lunch bag that Wal-Mart carries. It’s stylish no-nonesense bag and free from any characters or crazy prints.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonesense lunch box.

Citizens Pip is a new one available only online from what I can tell. The cool thing is you can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch bos itself!

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system and available on their website.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch. However, it is one piece with 4 sections, which may not be desireable for some.

ReusableBags.comhas a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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PVC and Lead-Free lunch boxes for back-to-school

Updated post found here.

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. For a list of manufacturers who have agreed to produce lead-safe lunch boxes, check out the CEH’s website.

PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice offers a downloadable guide to PVC-free school supplies.

Safe Mama has a great review/listing of lead and PVC-free lunch boxes for back to school (or even for work!) Here are the ones she mentions, plus some others that I found:

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free. They offer over 50 designs, so you are bound to find something you like. They also claim the product will last for years, which is also a good thing!

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals and a sunflower. All are PVC, lead and phthalate free. These are a soft lunch box, they have a mesh pocket in back, a zipper pocket in front and the main compartment is insulated. And as mentioned, these look very durable. I want one for myself!

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food. The containers are made of polypropylene (#5) so are BPA-free and they each have lids made of polyethylene (#2). The set also includes a stainless fork and spoon with plastic handles.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free. They have designs with a butterfly, a gecko, panda and several others. They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is PVC-free but NOT 100% lead-free, but does exceed California standards for lead and other toxins, so are “considered” lead-free according to the company. It is also a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. Since it’s not completely lead-free, I probably would not buy it. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and made of polypropylene. There are several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. They also have a wearable tote, but it fits like a backpack, so not sure how this would work if your child is already carrying a backpack.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. I am emailing the company though. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others.

Here is another list I found of PVC-free lunch bags, though I do not know if they are lead-free.

The site also offers 6 tips for a healthier and safer lunch tote:
• Check for “lead safe,” or even better, “lead free” labels.
• Check for “PVC-free,” “Vinyl-free” or “phthalates-free” labels
• If you find none of the above, avoid soft vinyl bags and avoid bags with additional chemicals such as anti-bacterial claims (Microban is one of them), this includes statements like “keeps food fresh longer.”
• If your chosen bag offers no labels, store or wrap all your child’s food individually to avoid contact with the interior lining. Remind your kids to wash their hands before and after lunch.
• To reduce waste, choose re-usable containers and use your own silverware and napkins.
• Don’t refill disposable water bottles. The best choices are stainless steel reusable water bottles.

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Nontoxic backpacks for back to school

I found this article with a great list and some tips for selecting non-toxic backpacks for back to school. My daughter is just 2, so I have not looked into this, but lucky for those who do have school-aged children, someone has already done the research for safe back pack options.

“While Congress has recently voted to ban toxic lead and phthalates from toys,  the legislation does not cover children’s backpacks, many of which are made of vinyl containing both toxic substances. Lead, high exposures of which cause learning problems (not so cool for back to school) and phthalates, linked to obesity and lower sperm counts, readily migrate out of vinyl and onto children’s fingers, and thence into their mouths. Phthalates also evaporate into the air and get inhaled; studies have shown they contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems in children.

When shopping for backpacks, make sure they’re PVC-free at a minimum, and made of recycled materials to get an E (for eco and excellence) plus. Here are some recommendations.”

Related Articles
PVC and Lead-free lunch boxes

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