Tags: Education, Featured Story
How to make healthy school lunches for kids
Many initiatives have been introduced in an attempt to improve the quality of lunches provided by school cafeterias. Government regulations to reduce the amount of fat and sodium and to introduce more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, are an example.
Parents of students who prefer to bring their own lunches from home may be left wondering how they can create healthy lunches their kids will eat.
Considering the competition, parents will need to be resourceful in their creation of homemade lunches. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Purchase a new lunch container. There are many different new and innovative lunch containers that can make separating school lunches easy. Few kids want to dig into a brown paper sack and pull out something that has been so squashed it’s unrecognizable. Partitioned lunch boxes enable you to pack different items together where they can be stored separately. The divisions also help you remember to include foods from the basic food groups, such as a fruit, vegetable, protein, starch and dairy item.
Get creative. Children may not be inclined to eat loose pieces of fruit. But if the fruit is stuck on skewers or served with a low-fat dipping sauce or caramel, it may look more appealing. Look to “mini” foods, which tend to be more fun as well. Little sandwiches and little burgers may present an optical illusion, where kids think they’re eating only a small amount, but actually it’s a full serving.
Cut foods into fun shapes. Kids may be more inclined to eat a turkey and cheese sandwich if it’s cut into star shapes or their favorite cartoon characters. Invest in a few cookie cutters so that lunchtime becomes fun time.
Have your child make a list of his or her favorite foods. Once the list has been made, see how you can make the foods healthier. For example, if chicken nuggets make the list, prepare your own nuggets with white meat chunks that are baked, not fried. If there are a number of bread items, see if you can substitute whole grain breads instead of white, bleached varieties.
Don’t let the time of day dictate what you serve. As long as kids are eating healthy items, it doesn’t matter when they eat them. If a child loves bagels, choose whole wheat bagels and add an egg on top for a nutritious lunch. Serve with a gelatin dessert that contains chunks of fruit and low-fat milk, and you’re set. There are many different ways to improve homemade lunches for the better.
SCHOOL LUNCHES GET A MAKEOVER
As schools are hard at work revamping lunch menus in line with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new school lunch guidelines, chocolate milk has already undergone a makeover that schools, parents and kids can all feel good about.
The nation’s milk processors have been hard at work to lower the calories and sugar in school flavored milk, while continuing to deliver a nutritious and delicious drink kids love. School flavored milk now has 38 percent less added sugar than just five years ago and on average, just 31 calories more than white milk. The majority have fewer than 150 calories per serving.
Flavored milk is the most popular choice in school lunch rooms, and kids drink less milk and get fewer nutrients when it’s taken away. Whether flavored or white, milk has 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium, which are all “nutrients of concern” that most kids fail to get enough of. Many kids are falling short of the recommended milk each day, and when they skip milk at lunch, they’re not likely to make up for it the rest of their day.
Learn more at www.milkatschools.com. (Family Features)
A is for… Apple Chips:
Cut apples into about 1/8-inch thick slices, add a pinch of cinnamon, and place them in the oven at 200°F for roughly two hours, then seal in sandwich bags for up to three days. Toss into backpacks or purse for snack on-the-go.
Yield: 1 wrap
- 1 cooked boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 medium-sized tortilla, corn or flour
- Wholly Guacamole, to taste
- Natural salsa, to taste
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- Hot sauce, to taste
Spread guacamole on a tortilla. Add salsa.
Squeeze lime juice over salsa.
Add chicken on top and add the hot sauce to your liking.
Roll the tortilla up and enjoy.
Note: You can add low fat mozzarella cheese or Greek yogurt if you like.
Wrap It Ups
Spread the garlic and herb spreadable cheese on flatbread.
- 1 flatbread (tortilla, wrap, lavash)
- 1 tbs garlic and herb flavored spreadable cheese
- 2 tbs Wholly Guacamole classic avocado
- 1/4 cup shredded lettuce
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 2 to 3 slices Havarti cheese
- 2 to 3 slices turkey (optional)
Spread guacamole on top.
On one end of the flatbread, sprinkle a line of lettuce and diced tomatoes.
Layer cheese and sliced turkey beside lettuce and tomatoes, leaving at least two inches of untopped bread at the other end.
Starting from the lettuce/tomato end, roll up bread/tortilla, tucking in the vegetables with the first roll and proceeding to the cheese/meat.
Stick in toothpicks to keep the roll rolled, and slice in two-inch thick spirals.
Source: Wholly Guacamole
Keep school lunches healthier by including interesting munchies.
Wholly Guacamole and Wholly Salsa are all natural, individually packaged, and perfect for lunch boxes. Here are some dipping options:
- Baby carrots
- Sweet potato chips
- Whole grain pretzels
- Sliced jicama
- Salsa & blue corn chips
- Baked pita chips
- Cucumber slices