Before it’s in the bag and out the door, it's both helpful and healthy to give some thought about what's inside your child’s lunch. Living well is not just for adults, but for children too. Part of making healthy choices is being aware of your options and being aware of why nutrition is important.
School is about to begin for Mission Viejo students. But with diabetes and cardiac issues on the rise, it’s wise to think about healthy food choices all year long. Lunch preparation provides an opportunity to adopt nutritious habits.
Don't Forget About Lunch
While the evidence shows that eating a nutritious breakfast is critical, lunch is vitally important as well. Is that daily lunch a pleasing mix for a midday meal providing ample servings of healthy foods the average child might be missing?
Here are some items for a healthy packed lunch:
- A rainbow of color to ensure portions of anti-oxidants, nutrients and vitamins.
- Cut fruits and veggies in bite-sized pieces, opting for fresh fruit and veggies whenever possible (to protect food from bruising, keep an eye on packaging).
- Use whole-grain bread, mini-bagels, pita pockets or tortillas for sandwich alternatives.
- For protein, consider yogurt, which can be used for dipping fruit, or mixed with fresh fruit for a tastier portion.
- Peanut or almond butter packs a protein punch too. If allergies to nuts pose challenges, try tuna fish, beans, cheese or tofu.
- There are all kinds of thermoses that keep milk well-chilled. It too is protein-rich.
- Encourage your child to drink as much water as possible. Freeze a water bottle and place it in the lunch sack- or box. It can also help keep other food contents chilled.
Kids like visual variety. You can make cups of:
- Chicken cubes paired with grapes, almonds slices and Craisins.
- Whole grain rice paired with raisins, nuts and diced celery.
- Cook couscous (or steamed brown rice, orzo, or whole wheat corkscrew pasta). Set aside. Chop zucchini, cucumbers, green, red or yellow red peppers, baby carrots, and celery, and toss. Marinate the vegetables in a light salad dressing, or olive oil with fresh herbs and lemon juice. Chill in the fridge for a few hours. Drain the veggies well after marinating, and then mix into grains or pasta. Place in a colorful, reusable container. It’s a portable meal that is filling, tasty and rich in nutrients.
Check back next week for more tips!
Resources to keep you thinking: