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Thinking Outside the Lunch Box

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/3/2012 10:00 AM   :  10 comments   :  20,636 Views

To ensure that your child has ample fuel to power through those long classes, make sure they are eating a wide variety of foods from the major food groups. Use the USDA MyPlate as a guide to make sure you’re covering all the bases. Here are some tips on making lunchtime nutritious:

  1. Choose whole wheat bread instead of white. Whole grains are loaded with nutrients and fiber, while their refined counterparts are lacking. To make sure your bread is whole wheat, check the label. The first ingredient should be whole wheat, not just wheat flour. If your child is used to the refined version, try switching to a hybrid variety first, which contains some whole grains mixed with refined flour.
     
  2. Don’t skip fruits and vegetables. Many kids are partial to fruits, but vegetables are important, too. Include peanut butter or ranch dressing as a dip for carrots, celery, or cherry tomatoes. Add finely minced kale and zucchini to soups or stews, where it may sneak past your little detective. For fruit, fresh is best. If you must use canned (it may be time-saving and cheaper), make sure it is preserved in fruit juice, not syrup.
     
  3. Include protein for sustained energy. Besides lean meats, good protein sources include nuts, cheese, and beans. Some easy-to-pack examples include cheese cubes, almond butter (like peanut butter, but made with almonds instead), trail mix, hummus, and soy "deli" slices (found in the natural foods section of your local grocery).
     
  4. Add calcium. Include milk money or pack calcium-enriched orange juice, soymilk, or rice milk.
Avoid soda and other sweetened drinks. Water and 100% fruit juices are better choices.

Use the above tips for boosting the nutrition of your child's afternoon snacks, too. Try this chili popcorn recipe for a delicious whole-grain treat!


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Comments

  • 10
    LK, give her crackers. It won't kill her not to have bread, and no bread is better than white bread, IMHO. - 12/13/2013   4:46:17 AM
  • 9
    I have similar problems to LKG. If the child won't eat it, no matter how nutritionally balanced it is, it's not worth putting it in there. It will get traded or, worse, tossed inthe garbage. I grew up with cracked wheat bread. It wasn't optional. Mom just wouldn't buy any other kind. I would do that too but hubby is my obstacle there. He grew up on Rainbo white bread and doesn't even like other brands of white bread! I can buy wheat but I'll be the only one eating it. He'll buy white behind my back. - 8/14/2012   12:42:53 PM
  • 8
    LKG, I found my guys really responded to bread made in the bread maker and when you use one, you can make white bread but add your own healthy tidbits.

    When I think outside the lunchbox, I think of bento boxes. They're such a cool way to pack a healthy and varied lunch and they're very cool right now... justbento.com is a great site for more info but if you google bento box, there's info all over - 8/13/2012   9:22:36 PM
  • JYEAST
    7
    LKG - have you tried going with pita bread or wraps instead? - 8/10/2012   11:25:26 AM
  • LINNIEQ
    6
    Tomato is scientifically a fruit, nutritionally a veggie. Good rule of thumb......if you wouldn't put it on cereal, it's a veggie. Likewise.....cucumbers,etc - 6/11/2012   11:24:03 AM
  • 5
    "Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting in your fruit salad.
    Miles Kington - 6/4/2012   9:09:47 AM
  • JCORBITT2012
    4
    ...Aren't tomatoes fruits? If it's botanically a fruit, how do we classify it as a vegetable in a culinary sense? - 6/4/2012   2:15:47 AM
  • 3
    I know in Canada they have a bread by Dempster's that whole wheat I can't tell it from white. I don't know if that's the same one. I know things have changed alot over the years I can remember growing up and my old man would only eat "brown" bread which back then was not whole wheat. - 6/3/2012   10:33:48 PM
  • 2
    I know in Canada they have a bread by Dempster's that whole wheat I can't tell it from white. I don't know if that's the same one. I know things have changed alot over the years I can remember growing up and my old man would only eat "brown" bread which back then was not whole wheat. - 6/3/2012   10:33:40 PM
  • 1
    What to do with a 14yo who insists she hates whole grain bread? I've even tried the "white" whole wheat to no avail. - 6/3/2012   3:23:17 PM

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