life by design · lunch box challenge · recipes that saved the day · wholefood family health

Lunchbox challenge!!

lunch boxes are coming on!!!

Notes on this week

Variety is key.. mixed with the right dose of nutrition and taking into account my children’s own tastes seems to do the trick!

I’m enjoying the conversations about the food when the kids come home,

…. and I think it’s encouraging them to eat more at school … they enjoy that we are trying out new things and trying to improve lunches!

I’ve learned 2 lessons this week

1. The right equipment helps a lot!! Having lots of different size tubs and flask,  thermal lunch boxes, helps me be able to prepare a  keep a variety of food that will keep fresh or hot, whatever the case. I find baking paper best thing for wrapping foodstuffs.

2. I have 2 types of eaters in my house …. My eldest who is up for challenges on the taste buds … I tried him with lentil Dahl over the weekend and he said he’d love it for lunch.
I find it’s too easy to get monotonous with lunches … I’m going to make sure to meet his taste buds and make the most of his adventurous palette.

My other is less adventurous but likes hot food stuffs and smoothies and great for raw veg….. so I’m getting to know individual tastes a lot more, and am learning how to cater for all tastes whilst not making a work load for myself!!!


I’m trying dips for veg sticks to see how they go … Yogurt with cumin was a goer … Will try salsa and a hummus next week.


Doing non-bake flapjacks tomorrow so stay tuned!!

…. And Friday will try savoury pancake and custard for treat day 🙂

… Thanks to everyone for sharing, and again all ideas welcome!!!

Here’s a summary so far:

hot french tost


cheesy bites went down a treat

had to work on getting smoothie right

hot pasta with pesto

X Christine

lunch box challenge · parental daily ramblings · recipes that saved the day · wholefood family health

8 tips for healthy lunch boxes!!

Coming to the last term of school for the kids,

Its a struggle to say the least to fill the lunch boxes with food that

  • they will eat

  • is non-processed

  • supply them with energy to get through the day

I’ve put together 8 tips for school lunches

but first ….lets think about why we need them?

School lunches are important to get right in my opinion as ….

  • Making the most of the controlled environment of school, they don’t have fall back on snacks that might be in the cupboards at home, so if they are hungry they MAY eat whats in the lunch box….. provided its to their taste, it can get them into a super eating routine!
  • expectations in schools are high! Having to sit still for long periods at a time, focus and concentrate, throw in added social stresses of school environment, kids need to feed their bodies accordingly to keep them up to speed!!
  • Education for life!…. getting the kids to negotiate between their own taste, and nutrition benefits of different foods, filling lunchboxes can be a real opportunity for children to learn how to make decisions that will will benefit them. This kind of skill can become a valuable one they will have for life!!

 8 General rules for healthy lunch boxes

  1. Make sure it’s not all white carbs and protein ( white bread sandwich, cheese, yogurt, biscuits ) choose one of these not all of them

  2. Include choice. When preparing fruit or veg, ask your child to choose between two, this  way independance is promoted….freedom to choose food does wonders for their appetite!

  3. encourage your child to have water as a drink option.  This may take a while to get, but is worth it. If hey have juice make sure it’s fresh not from concentrate, which usually means not from a small carton, but filled into a drinks bottle. Diluting the juice as much as you get away with can help them get the water in!

  4.  Make sure to understand the reasons if they are not eating their food in school. Their may be a time issue, if they are slower at eating or social complication (someone commneting on the contents of the lunch box, or general distraction) If you understand the reasons it makes it easier to help your child to adapt, and help solve the issues.

  5. Don’t give up!! If there are big changes to be made, they wont happen overnight. Perhaps you need to make one change at a time, and offer rewards and encouragment and praise for even small efforts and improvements!

  6. Stick with it….give it 3 months of trying, not just 1 or 2 attempts. Small changes are still worth it!!!….so if you introduce any small change long term, pat yourself on the back because that is a very worthwhile change to make for your childs health!

  7. Plan in advance. On shopping day, make sure the provisions are bought to be able to follow through with a new plan. Time is precious in the mornings, so keep it convenient to limit stress!

  8. Home baked treats. If you have time, and have done some baking with the kids, try put aside a bun, or cake slice, cookie for a treat day. Something that they made themselves will give them confidence and bring back a nice memory of cooking in the kitchen. Good feelings = good appetite!!

Last important point!

Give yourself a break! I used to get stressed about getting the right foods into the kids, and in a way it has motivated me to make changes that I am proud of in my family….

……but there are plenty of times that I just sigh and shrug, and move on

….like when my youngest came in to me early morning with a big cheese and onion flavoured kiss, and realised he had got up and helped himself to crisps for breakfast!

…. or the week that I bought everyone ice cream everyday after school for a full week because I didnt have the mental will power to stand up against the constant begging for treats!

here are my good day lunch boxes that I try and keep going with much success!

lunch box11010969_1046162728889521_2393250695528851711_n11205015_1047096688796125_4518409725485875008_n

as you can see, they are simple, less processed and a bit of variety. These are going with my kids tastes aswell. We sometimes add a greek yogurt.

I often admire blogs that display sandwiches shaped into dragons and smiley faces on cookies etc, and kids love that ….

but being realistic I don’t have time to keep that up! The closest we usually get is our novelty shaped cookies, or stamping the first letter of the childs name on them.


I think these below are very cute however …. the idea was used to promote healthier snacks at a juiceplus+ wholefood nutrition event in Australia….I thought they were very effective!


My kids benefit from concentrated wholefood   supplement juiceplus+ ….  find out how families are benefitting from the childrens health study

lunch boxes

keep smiling!! heres my daughter …. a picky eater as a toddler has come on in spades!!

Kids haven’t started lunch box stage yet? Check out top tips for fussy eaters by oneyummymummy

thanks for reading,



life by design · wholefood family health

Price wars in family nutrition! !

I was chatting with a friend of mine today … she had just spent ten euro in the supermarket.
She got….

A bag of salad leaves
2 punnets of berries
A bag of parsnips


Berries are pricey enough in Ireland … and buying whats locally in season can help the price tag a bit ….

Fresh v frozen

Fresh local is best but frozen berries can sometimes make sense… better value for money, and are often nutritionally dense, being allowed to ripen before harvest… as opposed to the fruit termed fresh that may have had a long trip on a ship before reaching our shelves…..
This means …. on the journey, the unripe fruit may change colour similar to the ripened match, but is not indeed ripe in nutritional terms as it has been removed from the source of nutrients! (Soil)

However …..
the bigger shocker was what else you can buy at the supermarket for 10 euro????!!!!

…… only a 3 pack of processed frozen pizza plus a six pack of coca cola cans!!!!!!

.So we could bring home 3 pizzas and coke and feed about 6 kids??… of course instead of a salad starter and berry desert, more common when starting with pizza is to follow with ice cream!

….of course the payoff may be undernourished bodies that later in life need much intervention in battling against chronic illnesses diabetes obesity and heart disease!

So the question is


Please visit family wholefood health to find more info and links to a convenient and effective way to bridge the nutritional gap in your family

Christine x

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recipes that saved the day · transform in 30 days · wholefood family health

chickpea and mango salad

Healthy eating challenge (transform in 30 days) requires a total bust from eating processed food, wheat, dairy…. and a focus on the best freshest wholefood available,  whilst supporting the nutrition needs with wholefood fruit and veg capsules, and veg protein specially designed for use in smoothie type shakes.

Generally, my eating during these challenges is simple. Using everyday ingredients I have in the cupboard, and preparing by filling the cupboards and fridge with fresh wholefood ingredients.

To spice things up a bit, I also like to find some new combinations in taste, and family dinner ideas… juice recipes etc.

I found this seasons ‘taste magazine’  (local irish by the rte guide) on the shelf of my local shop, and after a quick browse noticed some tasty options I could try that aldo adherred the rules of my eating challenge.

Today I tried the chick pea and mango salad. I threw a quick glance over the ingredients before I did my food shop…. nearly remembered them all!!!.. except the broad beans, so I compromised with some baby salad leaves.
Anyway …. was a quick recipe, tasty and a little different.  I would recommend you give it a go. It is also featured in Derval O’Rourke ‘food from the fast lane‘. I intend to review a few recipes from this springs taste magazine. Heres todays chickpea and mango salad!!

Serves 2
3 scallions trimmed
1/2 mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lime

For the salad
400g chickpeas, drained
2 carrots peeled and finely sliced
A handful of green beans sliced crossways
2 tablespoons fresh coriander

1. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor and blitz till combined


2. Place the chickpeas in a large serving bowl, tip I  the mango dressing and combine
3. Add the carrots and green beans and toss well. Sprinkle over the coriander and serve 🙂


Have a go and tell me what you think!!

Posted from WordPress for Android

transform in 30 days · wholefood family health

Running deserts !!!

My colleague Dave O Brien is an absolute inspiration to me and many! …..the latest achievement Dave O Brien Ultramarathon runner and now bare foot runner who in 2010 became the oldest man in the world to complete RacingThePlanet’s gruelling 4 Deserts Challenge at 56yrs old in 2010 has been part of a movie documentary on same!!


Dave swears by health over fitness!!….and run the desert challenge, only taking up running at age 30yrs!!……I am grateful today that he  is hosting the product presentation Monday night 8:30pm (gmt) for family wholefood health!

the only way to find the limits of the possible

is by going beyond them to the impossible

– Arthur C Clarke

Honoured to have him host this webinar, explaining why wholefood nutrition is his choice in health investment. Read his interview on how wholefood capsules benefits his health and ultra marathon  pursuits and better still,

Register for Monday night 5/01/15 webinar via Family Wholefood health 

or register here

eat to live
look after your body…its where you live!


life by design · transform in 30 days · wholefood family health

Cut the food bill and increase value!

Cut down that food shop bill!! 


I thought we weren’t doing too bad on the rubbish ( sugary/salty goods) coming into the house but.. 

radically enough ….
we have turned a major corner in the last 6 months, and an even bigger leap during my eating challenge of the last 30 days! 

 This is what we have been doing daily over the last couple of months and aim to continue for  longer period of time …. 

We no longer buy ANY

Cordials, kids fruit drinks ie…fruit shoots and the likes ( because of asparteme used now as a sugar replacement)

Yogurt pots ( just find them a lazy option not really the best nutritional value) sometimes we get one larger pot of greek yogurt to use sparingly. Margarine / veg oils for cooking ( on educating ourselves on transfats ) now its only butter.. coconut oil.. olive and others for dressings etc

Frozen chips ( homemade are more delicious and nutritious


Sugar cereals. we graually substituted them for porridge oats, fruit ….. with french toast/ pancake option for weekends. 

Any time a cereal finds its way home from shopping trip we use it for snacks. 

Biscuits …. we use oat cakes with honey a lot more and encourage a bit of baking when we fancy a sweet treat.

Processed meats
We now buy a bacon cut and use it in carbonara. We always have leftover from main meal as well as left over chicken from free range birds so we make use of these leftover slices for sandwiches instead of processed sliced meats. 


Tomato ketchup.

We use it more sparingly for dishes it suits ( like fish and chips)  as opposed to a daily condiment! 

Good quality used sparingly … or in cooking. No orange cheddar!!

Sweets/ bars
We now get dark above 50% cocoa choc at least …. 

we soak nuts like almonds cashews etc to eat with it and use cocoa powder that we sweeten with maple syrup or honey.



Dairy  … We growing used to less milk, and have upgraded to organic. We drink more water. We use milk for breakfast porridge, and to have to mix into tea and coffee. We don’t rely on it for calcium as kids enjoy calcium in green veg. 

Cut back considerably 

We now buy 2 free range chickens…1ham/bacon joint… 1/2 pound organic minced beef….fish pieces/ fillets…..

that leaves for 1 or two veggie/ egg dishes. ( weekly for 2 adults 3 children ages 11 down to 4


A bottle of wine occasionally and a six pack beer weekly usually does us 🙂 

Now finally the misconceptions of making these changes 

 Shopping bills have NOT increased!!!!!!..even though we are getting better quality food we save on those expensive processed good such as yogurts..fruit juice cartons..processed meats ( sliced ham) 

We put money saved on the grocery bill towards our nutritional top up fruit and veg capsules (kids get them free with our orders)

*Highly recommended* 

Make small changes … 

they can make a difference in the long run … as we become increasingly aware of the need for micronutrients as contained in raw fruit and veg…we find it harder to steer away from this. 

Look us up at family wholefood health for links to inform you on bridging the gap using fruit and veg capsules ( how we truly started to bridge our nutritional gap

 We are on a journey …. the kids still like shop bought treats and ice cream …. I still love a coffee. 

 With small incremental changes I believe we re making our health a priority and cutting down significant risks associated with over eating processed goods.

Thanks for reading :))))

recipes that saved the day


When the family all eat it its a winner for me!!

I love stir frys…and personally I love a bit of spice through them, my kids however, prefer this toned down version. The priority is taste and nutrition!!….and a mums time in the kitchen appreciated!

Pork strips
Mixed fresh veg
Wholemeal dry noodles
Coconut oil.

Seriously…..anyone can do this..heres the method yet again leaving measurements for you to figure out!!

Oil the pan ( a teaspoon of oil)
Heat the pan, then add pork strips and cook till browned.

Here the meat is halfway to browning...takes couple of minutes

Then add mixed veg and stir on the heat for another minute


Next stir a stock cube in boiled water to dissolve and add it to pan

Organic if available to you. Veg stock also good

Add boiling water to your dried noodles and put on the heat
Whilst noodles are cooking, place a lid on the stir fry pan and let it simmer for couple of minutes


When the noodles are cooked through, strain the water then add to the pan of meat veg and stock.
Stir the noodles through the mix
Add a squeeze of lime for zing!!!

*plating up tip*
When I am dishing up this…I consider each family members taste. One will like a little more meat , and another will prefer more veg etc

Happy days!! I substituted the noodles with roasted butternut squash with mine as I was on a no wheat transform 30 challenge 🙂

I took a fair share of the veg in the stir fry too!

Are you stressed about lack of veg and fruit in the kids daily diet? Check out the childrens health study info at Family wholefood health

40 days to abundance

the triumps and temptations week1.

Week 1. Done and dusted!! Here are some of the highlights of the week.

My raw sweet an sour sauce that I came up with myself!! (Recipe to follow)
I was in a happy place the evening I dished up this one. Ginger with lightly stir fried veg with my own ( might i add delicious) sweet and sour sauce!

Served with brown rice. Very satisfying!!!

2. Surviving family birthday cake and not going without!

We had a mini family celebration for my sons 11th birthday including chocolate brownie cake I made myself (from a packet…it was a busy day!)

Now, this was the first REAL test…not that I couldn’t have just had a slice and moved on ( i can have small breaks or treats over the 30 days)
…..but I wasn’t really ready to break so many rules (wheat dairy ) plus the choc and sugar! ….. (especially since I had a glass of wine and some popcorn the night before!!)

So I decided on a compromise …. and had berries with chocolate sauce ……made with cocoa, honey with a bit of coconut milk all heated in a pan then poured over the berries. It was really yum!!
….plus it was nice to  sit with everyone else after singing happy birthday lickin chocolate off my lips ….(it seemed quite important actually)

3. Family changes.
Baby steps. So we’ve been feeding the kids the fruit and veg capsules for a couple of months now which is great ( we get them for free too with our order of capsules which is an added bonus)
…..along with this we attempted to introduce small changes in their daily food intake. (I’m the only one doing the transform 30 challenge)
One change was breakfast, which I can’t take credit for as it was my husband drivin this one… having found the benefits for himself in the low G.I breakfast.

This involved the return of porridge oats for breakfast and eliminating all breakfast cereals!!.
It was greeted with a little resistance by the kids at first, but to be honest it didn’t take long to establish the new routine…..this week we were celebrating a couple of months of achieving the new breakfast routine!!

We make the porridge using milk (most times organic) and sweeten with honey.

The two boys love it…my daughter is a little fussier but will eat it gladly most mornings, and sometimes will opt for fruit salad and soda bread or french toast for a change.
At the weekend we do pancakes grinding the oats to use with half flour an egg and milk.


Once or twice since, a cereal box found has found it’s way ito the shopping trolley!!…
I didnt make a big deal but kept the morning breakfast rule….and explained that sugary cereals just dont have enough nutrition to have as breakfast….
….I then let them have the cereal later in the day after they had their meals….
so this small change is workin!!…and it’s encouraging to see the kids getting into good habits! (And dont get me wrong…my kids DO find treats no more than any kids!!)

Thats it!! Next week-end I’m planning a night out for a friends birthday and there may be alcohol involved!!!!…
this will mark my half way mark on the 30 day challenge! !!!!
Hope I can keep in the swing of it all this week…am enjoying the support and encouragement of friends and family so CHEERS!!!!

Will try get the diary entries in as often as I can….
And the tried and tested recipes!!

transform in 30 days

challenges on day 2???!!!…so soon?

Well actually the challenges started the day before I started.


….. because I didnt feel prepared
… you see i had visions of having all my grocery shopping done and meals planned for the first few week before I took such a leap into non-processed food and so much plant based eating!!! It is a BIG step!!

…. because of midterm break and kids…. and halloween ….. and the cleaning that had to be done around the house …. I felt poorly prepared for this. I contemplated putting it off until Monday, to give me the week-end to get prepared and feel confident…..

….. then, for some reason I had a flash back to the time when I was deciding the right time to have children!! … and I dont even know if its right to compare the two decisions but its how my head worked so here I go.

so … on having kids. The first it was am I the right age?…. number 2 … is this age gap gonna work? and finally ….should we have another in the middle of a recession!!!!

I couldn’t help wonder now,  3 kiddies later how life would be, had I waited till I was prepared!!!!!

….. well it was at thos point that I wrote Day1. in the journal and just GOT TO IT!….(to the eating challenge i mean)

so …. as with any goals

Why wait till later …. till after christmas …… or until a health scare etc.

It’s like this … I have made gradual changes over the last 9 months in my health as well as studying the best ways I can maintain, improve, and celebrate optimize it. The only thing standing in my way is time …. and now  3 days in …. the countdown is on and I’m transforming from the inside out on the T30 CHALLENGE!!

tomorrow: More challenges..more triumps and maybe some talk on before and after pics..

right now…. I’m uber exited about my veggie packed omelette I’m planning for dinner … seriously, I REALLY am 🙂

ps: todays highlight veg sticks: celery, pepper, chicken strips and tomatoe salsa dip get recipe here

veggie sticks and salsa dip