More Real Food Lunch Ideas For Back to School ~ Pre-K friendly!


School is back in session! (Did I sound a little too excited?) After My Last Back to School Lunch Post  I had several requests for lunches that were ‘younger child friendly’, so I came up with some ideas the littles will love! BUT truth be told the bigger kids will love these too. Heck I would happily eat any of these for lunch myself! But before we get to the lunches, here are some tips for getting younger kids to eat what you pack…

Real Food School Lunches ~ Pre-K Friendly!

These lunches are all packed in a stainless steel Planet Box that keeps food separate without the need to use plastic bags, so no waste!


Make food ‘finger friendly’ to avoid frustration:

Chubby little fingers have a hard time using utensils so pack things that can be eaten with little hands instead of a fork and spoon.

Increase interest with color, texture and shape:

Younger children love colorful food. Feeding your child the rainbow is the best way to ensure he/she is getting a wide array of nutrients! Expose your child to a variety of textures as well. Be sure not to fill their lunch box with too many crispy items or that’s all they will want to eat.  Using shapes is another way to increase interest in eating, roll bread into pinwheels or use a cookie cutter to create sandwiches in a fun shape. Get creative!


Did you know your baby’s palette develops while in the womb! It’s true, the flavors eaten by mom during pregnancy can determine the flavors a baby is inclined to eat later in life. Likewise, the flavors you expose them to the first few years of life will make them more open to trying new things as they get older. So be sure to add a variety of flavors to their lunch without going overboard: add small amounts of vanilla to yogurt, basil to pasta, cinnamon to applesauce, or give them sour pickles or fermented vegetables, whatever floats your boat!

Keep it real!

Small children need nutrients to feed their bodies and brains! Feed them real food; fruits, vegetables, healthy sources of protein and grains. All the foods listed below are real foods with no artificial colors, flavors or chemicals.


The Sweetheart:

Real Food Back To School Lunches ~ Pre School Friendly

The lunch: a heart shaped almond butter and honey sandwich, hard boiled eggs, Persian cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit and dried apricots with chocolate chips.

That’s a Wrap:


The lunch: Chicken, apple and cheese wrap, mini muffins (my banana nut muffin recipe or cheddar biscuit recipe), tangerine sections, trail mix (not for toddlers) and a homemade elderberry gummy I made using this recipe from Real Food RN.

Let’s do Lunch:

More Real Food Lunch Ideas  Preschool Friendly

The Lunch: Pasta with avocados, dried sumo tangerines, popcorn, berries with dip (recipe below), chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. For pasta: cook the night before and drizzle with olive oil. The next morning add avocado and sprinkle lightly with sea salt (optional). For berry dip: add a little vanilla paste to plain yogurt. For popcorn recipes click here.

Little Italy

Real Food School Lunch Ideas Preschool Friendly

The Lunch: Pasta with fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil, sliced avocado, 100% fruit “That’s It” bar, apple sauce with cinnamon, naturally colored m &m’s (Whole Foods market). For pasta: cook pasta the night before and drizzle with olive oil, the next morning add mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.

The Planet Box comes with lidded containers for wet items like apple sauce and yogurt!

planet box containers

The Pinwheel:

Real Food School Lunches ~ Preschool Friendly

The Lunch: Cream cheese and no sugar jam on whole grain bread, 100% grass fed beef hot dog with chopped fermented veggies (read about the health benefits here), mango and blueberries, diced apple and pears, and a fruit cookie. For sandwich: roll a slice of bread with a rolling pin, cut off crust, spread with cream cheese and jam, roll and slice into pin wheels.

The Little Dipper

Back to School Real Food Lunches : Preschool Friendly

The Lunch: My Easy Chicken Tenders with my Creamy Herb Dressing because little kids love to dip, a sour pickle, diced plums, corn off the cob with butter and sea salt and a chocolate covered pretzel.

I hope you are inspired! For more back to school lunch ideas click here. And if you would like to get my free newsletter please subscribe! ~ Linda Spiker



Disclosure: We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! Also, if you make any purchases using Amazon I would love it if you would use the affiliate links on this page (highlighted in this post or the Amazon banner in right sidebar). Your cost remains the same but I receive a small commission that helps keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support! ~ Linda Spiker



Five Easy To Do Habits That Will Improve Your Mental and Physical Health!


Here are five easy to do habits that can have an impact on your mental and physical health. These are not new practices, they have been practiced throughout the world for centuries, even millennia and only ceased in American culture within the last 80 years or so.

Five Easy to Do Habits That Will Improve Your Health!

1. Add vegetables to breakfast:

I know, I know, you are thinking vegetables in the morning is not easy. You think it’s time consuming and will require planning. But here’s the thing, it can be easy if you make it easy. When I cook vegetables for dinner I always make extra to throw in a pan the next morning with a scrambled or poached egg. No extra time needed! You can reheat the veggies in the time it takes to cook an egg.  Another easy and fast option is to cook up a frozen veggie patty or make a green smoothie or juice.  On weekends when I have a little more time I opt for cooking up a delicious vegetable hash. My zucchini hash and sweet potato hash are both are so delicious you just might find working vegetables into breakfast is worth the extra effort!

breakfast hash 2.jpg

2. Use Butter, Ghee or Coconut Oil Instead of Vegetable or Canola Oil:

Butter, ghee and coconut oil have many health benefits for both the body and the brain! Processed, refined vegetable oils and canola oil do not. So ditch the processed oils. I always bake with coconut oil or butter using the same amount to replace the unhealthful oils called for in a recipe. I sauté and fry in butter, ghee or coconut oil. These fats taste great and can be used for high heat cooking because they are stable medium chain fatty acids. Pasture butter, coconut oil and ghee are available just about everywhere.  * Resources and links regarding the healthful properties of butter, ghee and coconut oil are at the bottom of this post.

3. Drink homemade broth.

Homemade bone broth is high in many nutrients, especially gelatin. Gelatin helps seal a “leaky gut”, improves digestion, promotes strong healthy bones, decreases inflammation, promotes nail and hair growth, and so much more! Broth is easy to make, literally cooking while you live your life and makes everything you make with it taste better! Check out my recipe here and enter ‘soups’ into my search bar (to the right) for recipes using broth! * Resources and links about bone broth at the bottom of this post.

Five Easy Habits That Will Improve Your Health

4. Get your vitamin D from the sun. Everyday.

I am not going to lie, in theory this is simple but in reality you may have to change some other habits to make this one work. But before we get to that, here are the reasons you should make an effort!

Vitamin D research has repeatedly shown that vitamin D can improve a number of brain disorders, including depression and dementia—the most devastating form of which is Alzheimer’s disease. It also improves mood, lifts depression, strengthens bones, improves immune response, increases fertility, and prevents cancer!

So, how can you squeeze in sun time every day? Here are some suggestions: If possible, take your workout outside. If you go to a restaurant for lunch opt to sit outside, or better yet pack a lunch and sit on a park bench soaking up those rays. If you don’t work sit in the yard for lunch. Go on a morning or late afternoon walk, hike, ride a bike or read outside in the yard or on a balcony. Take a nap on a lounge chair…there are many ways to get outside, find one. * Resources and links at bottom of this post.

5. Add fermented vegetables to your diet

The fact is every culture of people on our planet ate some form of fermented and/or cultured foods until the industrial food revolution. When this ceased to be the norm human gut health took a dive.

Cultured and fermented foods are loaded with the good bacteria essential for good digestion, elimination and a strong immune system, not to mention mental well being (yes, mental health and a gut bacteria are linked). Two ounces of sauerkraut have more probiotics than a bottle of 100 count probiotic capsules! And it’s far cheaper. I buy my fermented vegetables from Whole Foods Market (this is my favorite). I will admit I was reluctant to start eating fermented vegetables but I am going to share a secret with you…all by themselves I don’t love them, but placed on a veggie patty I do! Think of fermented vegetables as a condiment, nobody eats (or even likes) ketchup all by itself, but on a fry? Yum!

This is a typical weekday breakfast for me….poached eggs, avocado and veggie patty topped with fermented beet sauerkraut. ***Resources and links with lots of fantastic information about fermented foods at bottom of post!

Five Easy Habits That Will Improve Your Health

These suggestions are easy to implement and will make a real difference in your mood, your energy levels, the strength of your immune system and digestion. The best part about adding good habits into your routine is that they squeeze out the bad ones!

~ Linda Spiker

Resources and Links:

1. Read about the health benefits of Butterghee and coconut oil.

2. Read more about how homemade broth heals “leaky gut” and and so much more!

3. For more about the importance of Vitamin D read this article by Dr. Mercola.  And read why it is especially important for women here.

4. To read more about the importance of fermented and cultured food click here and here.

5. To read about how probiotics, drinking broth and avoiding certain foods healed my daughters eczema and anxiety click here.


Disclosure: We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! Also, if you make any purchases using Amazon I would love it if you would use the affiliate links on this page (highlighted in this post or the Amazon banner in right sidebar). Your cost remains the same but I receive a small commission that helps keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support! ~ Linda Spiker

Mango Watermelon Frappe


Frappes were once served at fine restaurants between courses as a palate cleanser, today they are considered more of a light refreshing dessert. You may wonder what the difference between a smoothie and a frappe is, it’s a little hard to explain but when you taste one you know the difference! A frappe is frothy and light, delicate almost… and a frappe generally would not contain greens or be served as breakfast or meal replacement like a smoothie, because they are light and sweet .

This refreshing Mango Watermelon Frappe is made with frozen fruit, whole fat yogurt and a simple syrup, it makes the perfect dessert for warm summer nights.

Watermelon Mango Frappe

I top this frappe with my Vanilla Paste Whipped Cream, a slice of dried apricot and a mint leaf from my herb garden. You and your family are going to love this recipe!

The Recipe: Mango Watermelon Frappe

You will need: a simple syrup made in advance, watermelon cut into cubes and frozen ahead of time, my whipped cream (<—recipe) and a good quality blender. I use Blentec. If a new Blendtec isn’t in the budget you may wish to consider a Blendtec Classic Factory Recertified Blender for about half the price of new!

Blendtec Blenders

5.0 from 2 reviews
Mango Watermelon Frappe with Vanilla Paste Whipped Cream
Prep time
Total time
A light refreshing dessert! Prepare a simple syrup and frozen watermelon chunks in advance. I cut fresh watermelon into cups and freeze in in one cup portions and use it as I need it.Recipe link for whipped cream above.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup full fat plain yogurt
  • 1½ cups white grape juice, ½ cup reserved (I use juice boxes to avoid waste)
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • ⅓ cup simple syrup (directions below)
  • 1 dried apricot slivered
  • whipped cream (recipe link above)
  • mint leaves for garnish
  1. To make simple syrup: place 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in sauce pan and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer till liquid becomes clear (about 5-7 Minutes) allow to cool, place in mason jar and store in refrigerator.
  2. To make frappe: place all ingredients and 1 cup of the grape juice into blender and blend, reserve a half cup for later. Blend till smooth. If you need to thin out frappe, add remaining grape juice a little at a time. Top with whipped cream, a sliver of apricot and a mint leaf.

The stemware in this post is from my favorite store! Shop Anthropologie!

Watermelon Mango Frappe 1


Disclosure: We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! Also, if you make any purchases using Amazon I would love it if you would use the affiliate links on this page (highlighted in this post or the Amazon banner in right sidebar). Your cost remains the same but I receive a small commission that helps keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support! ~ Linda Spiker

The Ultimate Stone Fruit Recipe Collection


August is national peach month! Peaches are what is known as a stone fruit. Stone fruits are fruits that have a thick flesh that surrounds a large single pit; cherries, plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots, etc. Now is the perfect time to work them into your diet!

stone fruit recipe collection


Stone fruits are known to be high in cancer fighting properties such as phenols, vitamin B17 and vitamin C and may be effective in fighting metabolic syndrome.  So take advantage of their healthful properties when they are in season and add them to oatmeal, salads, cereal or just have a big bowl out on the counter for snacking. To celebrate Peach Month and the healthful bounty of stone fruits on the grocery shelves I have put together this collection of tantalizing recipes featuring these antioxidant powerhouses!

Drinks and Smoothies:

stonefruit recipe collection: drinks

Cherry Mint Lemonade from Recipes to Nourish
Cherry Berry Smoothie from Life Currents
Pear Cherry Detox Smoothie from A Harmony Healing

Cherry Mango Water Kefir Smoothie from The Humbled Homemaker
Energy Boosting Peach Berry Coconut Water from A Harmony Healing
Spinach and Nectarine Smoothie from Raia’s Recipes
Peachy Keen Smoothie from Raia’s Recipes

Breakfast: Muffins, Compotes and More:

French Toast with Mascarpone and Peaches

French Toast with Peaches from The Organic Kitchen
Plum Whey Soaked Oat Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts
Peaches and Cream Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts
Paleo Cherry Muffins/Bread from Paleo Gone Sassy
Cherry Zucchini Muffins from Paleo Gone Sassy
Peach and Apple Breakfast Compote from Raia’s Recipes

Bars and Dried Fruit:

stone fruit round up-breakfast bars
Apple Plum Bars from Homespun Seasonal Living
Grain Free Granola Bars with Dried Apricots from Intoxicated on Life
Double Almond and Black Cherry Slices (Paleo) from The Paleo Network
Paleo Cherry Ripes from The Paleo Network

Jams, Jellies, Chutney and Preservation:

Peeling, Canning and Drying Peaches from Common Sense Homesteading
Honey Cinnamon Apricot Jam from Common Sense Homesteading
Peach Vanilla and Fuzzy Navel Jam from Common Sense Homesteading
Raspberry Cherry Conserve from Homespun Seasonal Living
Stone Fruit and Fig Chutney from Life Currents
How to pit a cherry without a pitter from Don’t Waste the Crumbs


stone fruit round up salads
Baby Kale and Nectarine Salad from A Harmony Healing
Greens with Fresh Peaches and Rosemary Pecans from me, The Organic Kitchen
Basil Cucumber Nectarine Salad from Happy Mothering
Microgreens Fruit Salad from A harmony Healing
Strawberry and Peach Salad from Life Currents
Greens with Cherries and Nectarines from me…again
Fresh Peach and Vegetable Summer Salad from Life Currents


stone fruit round up
Slow Cooked Peach BBQ Smothered Pork Chops from A View from Great Island
Apricot Sesame Chicken Kabobs from me at The Organic Kitchen
Roast Pork with Cherry Sauce from Gutsy by Nature
A Pair of Peach Pizzas from Farm Fresh Feasts
And for my Paleo Peeps the Peach and Proscuitto Pizza from My Heart Beets


Grilled Apricots with Creme Fraiche from The View from Great Island
Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone from me, The Organic Kitchen
Lavender Nut Chevre Stuffed Apricots from JaroHoney
Nectarine Berry Delight from Paleo Diet Basics

Homemade Cherry Ice Cream Bon Bons from Recipes to Nourish
Dairy Free Coconut Cherry Ice Cream from Homemade Dutch Apple Pie
3 Minute Strawberry Nectarine Avocado Ice Cream from A Harmony Healing
Cherry Vanilla Sorbet from Raising Generation Nourished
Double Cherry Ice Cream from Homemade Dutch Apple Pie
Peach Ice Cream from Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Fresh Peach Pie from Quinn at Reformation Acres
The Best Peach Cobbler from Eco Karen
Peach Pie with Ginger Crumble from Farm Fresh Feasts
Gluten Free Cherry Pie from Raising Generation Nourished
Gluten Free Peach Pie from Homemade Dutch Apple Pie

Blueberry Peach Pound Cake from The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
Paleo Spiced Plum Cake from Gutsy by Nature

Please take a look at the amazing Stone Fruit Collection from Collections from Provisions by Food52, they have some of the most beautiful and original cooking items I have ever seen!



Disclosure: We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! Also, if you make any purchases using Amazon I would love it if you would use the affiliate links on this page (highlighted in this post or the Amazon banner in right sidebar). Your cost remains the same but I receive a small commission that helps keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support! ~ Linda Spiker

The Secrets to Making a Fantastic Burger: “My Favorite Restaurants Series” ~ Part 2

Summer and a juicy grilled burger go together like peanut butter and jam… peas and carrots…or in this case, pepper jack and garlic aioli. And lucky for me, burger inspiration moved in right across the street! There is a new burger place in town friends, and it’s called Rustic Burger.

Word on the street (I spend a lot of time on the streets) was that Rustic Burger has a burger that has to be seen and eaten to be believed. I was intrigued. I knew as soon as I took a look at the chalkboard menu I was going to be very happy! There were so many mouth watering choices, after much consideration I decided on this one…

The Farm Burger.

The Best Burger I Ever Ate

The Farm Burger is made up of a brisket beef patty, pepper jack cheese, bacon, braised pork belly, one egg over easy, arugula and aioli. IT WAS THE BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER EATEN…and yes, I split it with a friend. But it was so delicious I could have easily eaten the entire thing myself.

Rustic Burger makes nine different gourmet burgers with options like chili (made in house) caramelized onions, pineapple and red onion, avocado, bacon and tomato…even kimchi!

Rustic also bakes their hamburger buns fresh daily and offer a gluten free bun. And for my grain free friends, Rustic Burger is happy to wrap your burger in lettuce. Rustic Burger has something for everyone! They are even working on a vegan veggie burger patty. But they don’t just make burgers, they also have an amazing assortment of sides and salads. (<—take a peek)

Rustic Burger is located in Valencia California, those of you lucky enough to live nearby should definitely pay a visit because you won’t be able to make a burger better or less expensively yourself!


Those of you that live too far away to pay a visit, do not despair because I am going to share the recipe for my version of The Rustic Farm burger and the secrets of making the perfect burger!

The Secrets to Making a Perfect Burger!

There are common mistakes made when making a burger that can take your burger from fab to dry and flavorless in no time! So read and learn….

The Meat:

Don’t go for lean when it comes to a burger. Lean ground beef makes for a dry, flavorless burger. Keep it 80/20. Yup, 20% fat that is what I’m talking about! Don’t be putting your hands all over it either. Just take a portion of ground beef and form it into a patty with as little handling as possible. Overhandling makes a burger less tender. If you can, use grass fed beef. Better for you, better for the planet. If you want to know why, click!

Size matters:

Make the patty a half inch wider than your bun. Otherwise it will shrink and appear miniscule, even with toppings. 6oz of meat ought to do it. About 3/4 of an inch thick. Make sure the patty is flat so toppings will stay put.


Always season after forming patties. Salt dries out food so add it only to the surface instead of working it in. I use Maldons Sea Salt. And love my battery operated pepper grinder because I can handle the burger patty with one hand and season with the other! I usually keep seasoning simple, sea salt and pepper. The flavor on our burger comes from the toppings and aioli spread.

Prepping the Grill and Cooking:

Before firing up the BBQ, clean and oil the the grill. Actually it’s best to clean the grill after the last use. Simply remove whatever you have been cooking, turn off heat and scrape with wire brush. Then when you are ready to use the BBQ again, just use a paper towel with a little coconut oil on it to wipe down the grill and prevent sticking. And whatever you do don’t press on the hamburgers with your spatula! That presses out the juices that make a moist, flavorful burger. Cook at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes for medium…that is how I like it. But if you like it well done then cook it for 10 minutes, I won’t judge you.

Now that you know how to make a perfect burger let’s talk toppings!

The Rustic’s Farm Burger is a masterpiece, I don’t expect you to duplicate it exactly. Braising pork belly yourself to top a burger might be a little too much even for my die hard foodie following. But hey, if you would like to give it a go, check out this braised pork belly recipe. Or you can make a version of this burger yourself that is quite delicious and less work. How do I know? Because I did it! Here is my version inspired by The Rustic’s Farm Burger…. The Organic Kitchen Burger

3.7 from 3 reviews
The Organic Kitchen Burger
Prep time
Total time
Inspired by The Farm Burger from The Rustic Burger Restaurant. Read "the secrets to making a fantastic burger" (above) before preparation.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: BBQ
Serves: 1
  • PER BURGER: 6oz grass fed beef, 80/20 ratio (20% fat)
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • aioli (recipe below)
  • avocado slices
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked to your liking
  • arugula
  • 1 slice of your favorite cheese (I use raw cheddar from Whole Food's or Sprouts)
  • 1 egg cooked sunny side up
  • hamburger bun
  • ********
  • Aioli ingredients:
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • pinch of sea salt
  • a few turns freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  1. Have aioli and bacon prepared in advance. Make egg, sunny side up right before burgers are done.
  2. To Prepare aioli: Combine eggs, lemon juice, salt and pepper in blender or food processor and begin processing. Process for 60 seconds then slowly drizzle olive oil in, blending until mixture begins to emulsify. When aioli has the consistency of mayonnaise add mustard and garlic and blend a little more. Serve.
  3. Without overworking meat, form patties making them ½" wider than bun.
  4. Season with sea salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. Use a paper towel to wipe coconut oil on grill. Turn heat to 400 degrees.
  6. Cook meat to liking, place a slice of cheese on the burger the last minute of cooking.
  7. Remove from grill.
  8. Spread bun with aioli, place burger on bun, top with arugula, bacon, avocado slices, and egg. Last , add the top bun spread with aioli!


You know what would taste great with this burger? This salad from “My Favorite Restaurants Series: Part 1″ and my recipe for corn off the cob (pictured above).

Locals, if you get a chance to go into Rustic Burger please tell them I sent you! To be notified when new recipes are posted please subscribe. And take a look my 80 page full color cookbooks for delicious, healthy recipes!

Check out the All About BBQ  Collections from Provisions by Food52

The secrets to making a fantastic burger from The Organic Kitchen

the best burger from The Organic Kitchen


Disclosure: We small bloggers need all the help we can get. Subscribing and sharing on social media is very appreciated! Also, if you make any purchases using Amazon I would love it if you would use the affiliate links on this page (highlighted in this post or the Amazon banner in right sidebar). Your cost remains the same but I receive a small commission that helps keep this website up and running. Thanks for your support! ~ Linda Spiker