Well of course, I’m hoping you will make your own Ground Cherry Chews for a healthy after-school snack—even if you need to substitute a peach, nectarine or mango for those scrumptious ground cherries. But what about the at-school and at-work snacks? Ground Cherry Chews are kind of a no-go there. Thanks to the great selection of healthy treats from the New Hope Network Blogger Co-Op, though, I’ve got some yummy selections to recommend that your kids will love…and so will you because you won’t have to sacrifice nutrition or green choices to make your little ones smile when they open that lunchbox.

bag of Senor Avocado freeze-dried avocado bitesHow about some avocado?

Really? In a lunchbox? Hola! Introducing Señor Avocado! This healthy, low-sugar, third-party-certified non-GMO snack is a new crunchy, all-natural, freeze-dried alternative to hydrogenated oils and refined sugars. Bonus—they are gluten free and vegan.

Plus, these little bites are super green (Well, of course, they are avocados!). But beyond their color, they actually reduce food waste (OK, you know they had me right here.). The owners of Señor Avocado make this amazing snack with non-conforming Hass avocados, which are too small for exporting. They “up-cycle” these avocados into “tasty cubes of greenness.” The result is nutrient-dense chunks with huge flavor. They retain all their “good fats,” too. What is not to love? Olé!

 

 

bag of Bare Beet Chips with reusable lunch sackMaybe some beets?

Seriously? In a lunchbox—a small child’s lunchbox? No way. Way!

Bare Sea Salt Beet Chips are a perfect snack for you and your little ones. As their name implies, the folks at Bare keep it minimal and simple, literally. They have a small line of ready-to-eat snacks–including apple and coconut–that are made following three simple rules: “source from nature, simply slice and bake, and always eat ‘real’ anywhere.” I will admit these chips have a true beet flavor, but it’s a salty, crunchy potato chip-kinda experience. Be brave. Perfect for the Paleo in all of us. At Bare the products are guaranteed gulten free and non-GMO. The company is community-focused, too, and the flavor is out of this world. Beet you can’t eat just one! (groan)

 

Country Archer packs of Turkey Jerky and Beef JerkyNext lunchtime, get a little jerky.

What I mean is that you should definitely try Country Archer Jerky Bites. What a great way to make lunchtime more interesting by ditching the sandwich and replacing it with protein-packed, 100 percent grass-fed jerky. From basic flavors of beef, turkey and pork to the more exotic varieties of Sweet BBQ Bacon Bars and Rosemary Turkey Sticks, lunch will never be the same. Don is a fan…oh, surprise. Lunchtime will be not only delicious but also healthy, natural and packed with protein. Isn’t that what you want your kids to have? And how convenient, even with minimal processing of quality organic ingredients.

 

Quinn Pretzel bagThe Pretzel…Reimagined

So it’s a pretzel, doesn’t take much imagination there. And it’s a GOOD pretzel, with plenty of crunch, salty-sweet honey flavor and made with ancient grains like sorghum flour. OK, this is a little “outside the lunchbox.”

But there’s more! Reimagine this: A Quinn pretzel snack eliminates GMOs, includes no processed trans-fats, uses only sustainable ingredients—so rest easy on that palm oil–bans preservatives, is certified gluten free, and vows to only include ingredients the developers can pronounce—caveat is jicama, according to the folks at Quinn.

But there’s even more…and more coming all the time! It’s what Quinn calls “farm to bag,” and it is your assurance of knowing exactly where your food comes from. This “reimagined” way of creating a healthy snack led the folks at Quinn to add two important elements to their business model: a close partnership with all the farmers who supply their ingredients and a pledge to customers of total transparency. According to Quinn: “When you share where every ingredient comes from, you make food differently, you make it better. That transparency also puts the spotlight where it belongs, on those who grew it!

bag of Jungle Orchard Dried Dragon Fruit with reusable lunch sackDragon Tales

If my old brain is still functioning, I’m remembering a sweet little cartoon my daughter used to watch when I think of dragons, but that’s not what we are going to talk about here. OH, senior moment. Anyway…I’m sure you will remember my insistence on organic—especially when it comes to dried fruit. Well, Jungle Orchard makes no-worry, high-flavor snacks that your kids will love and you can trust. This company “promises to provide certified organic fruit from the small farms of Colombia in hopes to spread the word of healthier living.” This integrity is seen in all parts of their production process, from Fair Trade and sustainable sourcing to their overarching commitment to make the planet and its living inhabitants healthier.

How does it taste? Sweet, chewy and tropical. In fact, all their flavors bring the jungle right into the lunchroom—banana, mango and pineapple, in addition to dragon fruit. So if you start experiencing those vitamin-depleting winter blues next season, pack a little bit of the jungle into your lunchbox. You will be so glad you went native because the goal behind Jungle Fruit is a worthy one: “We want you to enjoy our dried fruit thoroughly, knowing that what you are purchasing is changing lives and building communities through sustainable and fair trade guaranteed practices; our goal is to ensure that all the people in the value chain are getting the fair treatment they deserve.” Yum.

And so what’s with that cute little purple bag that keeps showing up in the photos? It’s a reusable, fashionable lunch sack—you know, a sort of antithesis to those planet-destroying, health-robbing single-use plastic ziplock things? Yeah, the kind that have helped create five plastic islands, each the size of Texas, in our oceans.

But not this little purple bag. It is the brainchild of my market friend Lisa Wellen Brinker—the wonderful lady who grows fields of wildflowers and then photoprints them onto the most beautiful scarves, totes and—yes—reusable lunch sacks! While the outside of Lisa’s brilliant little sack sports her signature, nature-inspired designs, the inside is lined with wipe-clean material that is the perfect size pouch for your sandwich or snacks. The entire zippered pouch is hand washable, too. Why would you ever go back to polluting, unfashionable, single-use plastic when Lisa’s little $5 bags make perfectly green snack sense? And hey, Christmas is coming…the perfectly green stocking stuffer, which can, itself, be stuffed with goodies!

So no excuses—whether you make your own snacks or need more convenience, you can always be healthy, green and socially conscious all in one bite. Crunched it!

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