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November 9, 2015

Quick-to-eat school lunches

Good nutrition is another school supply for insuring your child's success at school. Researchers support the fact that children and teens that eat well also learn well.

Avoid brown bag boredom

Build an appetizing meal with at least 3 food groups. Ditch the sandwich and explore other options for whole grains such as pita, tortillas, sandwich thins, or rice-like grains such as quinoa, farro, and wheat berries. Load up on lean protein to make the energy last longer with fresh turkey or chicken, low-fat cheese or yogurt, peanut or almond butters and boiled eggs. Add fiber to stay satisfied with raw vegetables (carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, jicama, grape tomatoes) and fresh fruit.

Enlist the troops and invite the family to build their own lunch by choosing one to two servings from each food group. Also, do take note that more and more children find it difficult to finish their lunch during their allotted time. Get creative and identify ways to enjoy three food groups with easy to eat items.

Ideas:

  • Cracker stackers with carrots and grapes: Whole grain crackers with sliced turkey or chicken and 1 slice of cheese

  • Protein plate: hardboiled egg, celery sticks, ½ peanut butter sandwich with sliced apple

  • Soup to go: vegetable beef and potato soup in a thermos with fresh fruit

Tips for building a smart snack

Keep ingredients for smart snacks on hand. A smart snack has two food groups: a source of energy (carbs) and a stabilized (fat or protein). Ideal snacks for younger children are small, nutrient-dense and fun! Think fruit, vegetables and protein!

Ideas:

  • Fruit Kebabs with yogurt dip

  • Ants on a Log

  • Veggie Faces

Ideal snacks for older children are also small, nutrient-dense and portable. Think complex carbs for lasting energy and protein! Ideas:

  • Fruit (apple, orange) and cheese stick

  • Trail mix (nuts and dried fruit)

  • Raw vegetables and hummus or peanut butter

The bottom line: Help your families to achieve balanced energy for working, learning or playing by building balanced meals and smart snacks!