This year both kids will be in school, for a full day, for the first time. It’s like I’ve got a little of my life back. I have big plans which include working out, focusing on work and eating healthier. And I want to make sure my kids are eating healthier too. A few months before school ended, I realized that my kindergartener could pack his snack and 3rd grader could pack his own lunches. Why had I been doing it?! It is my least favorite thing to do. But I realized, very quickly, that I need to provide them with a selection of natural options, otherwise they pack what they like which is not going to do their little bodies any favors. Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that is perfect for back to school lunch packing. What I like best about it is that it uses organic canned beans and corn, mixed with fresh veggies and can be served in a few different ways so that it pleases the kids and me.But first…chocolate milk. One of our recent discoveries is this Horizon Organic Chocolate milk. My oldest son has finally grown out of his milk allergy but hasn’t developed a taste for milk yet. He LOVES these individual sized chocolate milk cartons. He takes these to school, from time to time, which makes me really happy since he’s getting some real calcium. And I feel like this organic milk is a way better option than juice. We keep these on a low shelf, where he can reach them. I always try to make it as easy as possible for the boys to get to the good stuff. The cookies and other treats are kept out-of-the-way so they don’t make their way in to lunch pails. Since my youngest only needed to pack a snack, we always tried to include a Yulu yogurt. I wanted to make sure he was getting a little bit of protein and he really likes yogurt so it was an easy way to sneak it in. These also work as the perfect snack when my older son gets home from school or whenever the boys think they need to eat, even though we have just finished a meal (which is all the time!). And during the summer, we even froze the yogurt for a special cold treat!Our local Ralphs store makes it super easy to shop for better lunch options. Whether it is convenience products like Horizon Organic snack crackers or organic fruit snacks to the other organic ingredients you need to create your own recipes, Ralphs makes it super simple. My particular store doesn’t have a full department dedicated to natural products. Instead they are spread throughout the store with designated signs that you can’t miss. I can’t wait until school starts when I can just make one easy meal (like organic mac and cheese) and take care of lunch for both kids for a few days! And I know that when I’m shopping for the mac and cheese, I’ll find other better-for-your options surrounding it.This black bean salad is super flavorful, full of protein and is just plain delicious. The colors and taste is vibrant and my kids love it. They are picky eaters, so I was pleasantly surprised when I made this for myself and they basically stole it from me. These Simple Truth organics are super easy to find and you know you are using quality ingredients.Preparation is really quick, you rinse and drain the Organic Simple Truth beans and corn and chop the veggies. My kids really enjoy the sweet crunch of bell peppers so I knew they would at least try this dish. I try to make sure I have their favorite fruits and veggies on hand to add to their lunches. And I also have them try something new every few weeks. Kids really love to find new things they like.You can make this salad in just one bowl and if there weren’t being photos taken, I would have made it right in a plastic storage container. You prep once and have healthy lunch and snack options for your whole family. If your kids would freak out about the onions, leave them out or try a shallot which has a little less bite. You can easily make this recipe your own to suit your own little taste buds.You toss everything together with just a little oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar and sea salt to taste. A good quality vinegar tends to be a little bit sweeter and less vinegar-y or you can even try a flavored variety. I know there is a honey balsamic which might be a good choice as a starter vinegar for a picky kid. I know there are certain flavors I don’t enjoy (sesame) so I never force my kids to eat the things I can tell they don’t like. I always let them know that we will revisit them later to see if we like it better. But some things just aren’t going to appeal to them (mayo – I’m looking at you).This is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits. The flavors meld together and take on the sweet tang of the vinegar.My kids love to eat this with Organic tortilla chips from Simple Truth. Who am I kidding, so do I. It works really well as a salsa and this would also be a great recipe for your summer entertaining.A better way for me to eat it is over arugula. All the bold flavors work really well together. And you don’t need to add any other dressing since the black bean salad has the oil and vinegar. The beans give you protein so you’ll feel more full, longer. I’m worried that because I have the day to myself that I will run myself crazy and grab junk at lunch time. If this is already made, that will mean I have a healthier option I can grab and go. Which is the same for the kids. We pack lunches after dinner and they can take leftovers of the dinner we just finished. This means there are usually veggies and a lean meat, which are great healthy choices. Sure they still pack sandwiches some days, but we keep our options open.For the kids, I pack smaller plastic storage containers so they are easy to grab when they are putting their lunch together. I pre portion it out to make sure they are getting enough protein, and then they can pick their accompaniments to go with it. With just this one prep session, I was able to take care of lunches for about a week. Boom.
Do you have your kids pack their own lunches? It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Besides them being able to bathe themselves. Don’t forget to visit Kroger’s Inspired Gathering for more recipes, DIY, decor, tips and tricks! And moms! Be sure to pick up some Silk Almond Milk for yourselves. If you haven’t had a cold glass of almond milk, paired with a piece of dark chocolate, you need to! It’s delicious and way better for you than a bag of kettle corn!
Black Bean Salad
This black bean salad is perfect for sending in school lunches or for eating at home during a busy day. I serve it with tortilla chips for the kids and guests and over arugula for me.
- 2 15 oz cans Organic Simple Truth black beans
- 1 (15
- ) can Organic Simple Truth sweet corn
- 1 orange bell pepper chopped
- 2 red bell peppers chopped
- 1/2 small red onion chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes for heat optional
- Tortilla chips or arugula
- you prefer to eat it - but you really don't need anything more than a fork!
Drain and rinse the black beans and corn then add to a large bowl.
Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Store in a plastic or glass storage container and keep covered in the fridge.
Serve with chips or over arugula. Whatever you prefer!
This conversation is sponsored by WhiteWave Foods. The opinions and text are all mine.