All Entries For lunch

Happier Meals: Cool School Lunch Strategies


As summer starts winding down and back-to-school shopping begins, lunch boxes and supplies might be on your list. What can you do to help ensure that your kids eat the healthy food you pack instead of trading it for chips and cookies--or even throwing it away? There are lots of cool accessories to make lunchtime more exciting. Looking for ideas to turn boring carrot sticks into a food they won’t want to turn down? Here are some of our picks to brighten up lunch and make healthy eating fun! 
Posted 8/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 5 comments   20,946 views
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Easy Gluten-Free Lunch Recipes


Many people are choosing, for a variety of reasons, to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet. Whether it's due to a food allergy, or just a personal preference  quick and easy gluten-free lunch recipes are hard to come by. Furthermore, supermarkets are now carrying gluten-free options, but they're often expensive and don't taste as good as homemade recipes. Instead of blowing the budget on store-bought items, I prefer products at are naturally gluten-free. This means that the items themselves are already gluten-free and can be combined into a full gluten-free meal. Regardless of your unique needs, these recipes are great choices for healthy lunches. 
Posted 1/18/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 18 comments   91,067 views
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Schools Putting Healthier Lunch Options into Action


As you know, earlier this year First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new National School Lunch Program nutrition standards. Since more students eat school lunch compared to school breakfast, schools first started to implement the new standards with school lunches.
 
Perhaps your family has incorporated tips that help you pack a nutrient-rich lunch for your children to take to school. Hopefully you have found a month worth of fun and healthy lunch ideas your children enjoy to help take the hassle out of packing school lunches. However, if you have a teenager like mine who doesn't want anything to do with packed lunches anymore, selecting a school lunch may be part of his or her daily routine.
 
It seems many school districts did major overhauls of their school lunch menu offerings over the summer to improve the nutritional quality offered to students this school year. I know there are many new changes in our son's school. Here is a sample of the types of new school lunch offerings popping up in school districts around the country.
Posted 9/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 15 comments   5,374 views
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Easy School (and Work) Lunch Ideas


What kid or adult for that matter doesn't want to be the envy of the cafeteria, thanks to their delicious packed lunch?  In my family, when the kids hop into the car after school the first question or comment of the day usually pertains to the mid-day meal.
Most days I hear: "It was great, everyone wanted to trade with me!"  Of course, I also hear that lunch wasn't so good some days, too.
 
What does make a great lunch?  Is it something new, colorful, warm, hot, or one that comes in a packaged compartment tray?  As a Chef and mother of three boys the answer is yes to all of the above.  The chef in me thinks back to simple culinary training and passion for the seasons.  Warm soups, stews, or savory dishes are perfect for lunch on cool days whereas cold salads or sandwiches with fruit hit the spot of the hot days.  Just mix it up!  Check out these fun and easy ideas for you and your family to pack or even eat in for lunch meals.
Posted 9/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 27 comments   179,122 views
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Is the Jamba Juice New School Smoothie a Healthy Choice?


Last year the new school lunch guidelines were unveiled including new guidelines for the kind of milk to serve. Since that time, school districts across the country have been putting plans in place for implementation at the start of this school year. We have seen popular restaurants like Domino's get creative to provide cost effective quick serve options that meet the revised USDA guidelines as they seek to expand their business through school lunches.
 
Last month, at the School Nutrition Association Conference in Denver, a variety of other companies presented their products in hopes that school districts would include them in their new plans. Jamba Juice was one of those companies and unveiled a new smoothie they developed with the National Dairy Council. The naturally sweetened smoothie contains fruit, fruit juice, and fat-free milk with the goal of providing schools with a nutritious milk option at a reasonable cost-per-serving. Here is how this new smoothie stacks up.
Posted 8/27/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 27 comments   14,286 views
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8 Quick, Healthy Lunches for Kids


In summertime, many of us moms feel like the kid in "Home Alone"--or at least we feel like making that face! The kids are hot, hungry, and tired, and so am I! What do I feed them that is healthy and quick. It only adds to the drama if you're at work and you have teens at home alone or a babysitter with limited cooking skills.
 
Everyone will smile with these simple and easy healthy lunches for your tots, pre-teens and full-blown teenagers that eat like adults (I have three of those myself!).  Bonus: Most of the meals can be made ahead and changed slightly to yield a new lunchtime menu.
 
Get your summer kitchen ready and organized!
Posted 7/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 12 comments   29,384 views
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Thinking Outside the Lunch Box


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:
Posted 6/3/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 10 comments   22,423 views
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Poll: Should States Ban Junk Food at Schools?


Earlier this year, Coach Tanya blogged about the changes being made to school lunches, but five years ago, the state of California had already started to cut down on junk food in school cafeterias. With the changes that were made in California high schools, there have been some interesting findings that may help reduce childhood obesity. The law in California put limits on the amount of fat, sugar and calories that are found in their cafeteria’s, along with the foods and snacks that are available on school grounds, such as vending machines.
 
Posted 5/10/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 66 comments   14,750 views
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Add the Spring Back into Your Salad


Spring gardens, local farms, and markets offer nature’s gifts year after year, such as greens, berries, asparagus, radishes, and peas. What better choice can you make for your own health, than to dedicate a sizeable space on each plate this season to healthy and delicious salads? Have fun and get creative, trying new combinations of lettuce, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Add lean protein to your salad and enjoy it as a main dish. Salad is a great way to get multiple servings of fruit, move away from the tempting and heavy comfort foods of winter, not to mention that salads are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.  Here are our favorite springtime salad recipes from SparkRecipes.com.

 

Pomegranate Chicken Salad


Spinach-Berry Salad 


Almond Chicken Salad with Asparagus

Posted 4/18/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 20 comments   39,542 views
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Chef Meg’s Springtime Salads Video


Salads are a staple of any healthy eater's diet. Chef Meg turns the season's freshest ingredients into light meals and fresh side dishes.

Posted 4/8/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 5 comments   10,623 views
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The Not-So-Extreme School Lunch Makeover


Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined celebrity chef Rachael Ray to announce changes to the school lunch program. This desired national update is the first in more than fifteen years. After the announcement, the First Lady and the others joined schoolchildren at Parklawn Elementary School for lunch. The lunch consisted of recipes created for the occasion by Rachael Ray to demonstrate how tasty the new regulations can be.  
 
While there was legislative debate regarding how some foods fit into a healthier student meal, in the end the final goals seem to have been achieved to provide healthier guidelines for the national program. Starting next school year, students will find lunch offerings designed to match the Dietary Guidelines for Americans using the newly updated national food icon as a guide. While this is exciting, it will bring financial concerns for many school districts as well. The updated meal requirement will be more costly to provide when districts are already facing tight budgets. Although six cents per lunch will be provided through Federal reimbursement, this amount isn't expected to match the increased cost per meal to produce meals that meet these guidelines.
 
The new guidelines require schools to offer more nutrient dense menus by increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free fluid milk and low-fat dairy while lowering meal sodium, saturated and trans fat levels. While many schools have already made changes in the milk they offer, here are the additional changes students and parents will find next fall.
Posted 1/30/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 33 comments   11,714 views
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Share Your Thoughts: Pizza as 'Vegetable' in School Lunches


I recently spent a day speaking to high school students at my alma mater, where my sister is a senior. I was thrilled to see healthier options (like fruit and salads) than when I was there, but looking up and down the table, most of the kids had French fries, some variation of breaded meat on a white bun, and chocolate milk or a juice drink. Many also had a vegetable or, more commonly, a piece of fruit, but those bags of French fries were ubiquitous--just as they were when I was in school.

Clearly, kids are still resisting the healthier options in the lunch line, but I don't think any of them would argue that the pizza and French fries they love so much should be considered vegetables.

Pizza is a vegetable, at least according to the government. More specifically, the tomato paste on frozen pizza served at schools is considered a vegetable. And French fries stay on the menu, too.

Last January, the Agriculture Department proposed changes that would have limited the number of potatoes served each week and required that at least 1/4 cup of tomato paste be used per serving before pizza could be categorized as a vegetable.

The changes were aimed at reducing childhood obesity rates and getting more greens veggies and fruits to the lunch tray--and cutting the amount of salt in half over the next decade.

We already know that eating lunch at school increases a child's risk of being obese, so what happened? Congress last week blocked the Agriculture Department from moving forward with those rules, and the status quo lunches will remain.
Posted 11/21/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 142 comments   12,444 views
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Food on the Run: Potbelly Sandwich Shop


What happens when an antique shop needs to bolster their business? They add sandwiches and homemade desserts to their unique atmosphere and create the Potbelly Sandwich Shop. What started as a unique offbeat dining sensation on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago has turned into a national franchise home run with over 200 restaurants today. 

Potbelly Sandwich Shops have the charm and heritage of an antique shop while providing nutrition, earth, and neighborhood conscious food and service. With many options on the menu and the ability to specialize any order the way you like it, the choices are endless. In our ongoing Food on the Run series, here is some of the better nutrient wise choices you might want to consider next time you are in the mood for a sandwich with nostalgia.
Posted 11/14/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 28 comments   8,701 views
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Help Spread the Word for National School Lunch Week


In recognition of National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2011, we’ve created an infographic about the childhood obesity epidemic.  It’s important that we help students understand where food comes from and the nutritional benefits that go along with the food they consume. During this week, the School Nutrition Association, as well as teachers, parents, community members and educators around the country will help highlight to students the benefit that school lunch can provide for kids to grow strong and healthy.

In an effort to support this year’s National School Lunch Week theme,
“School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy” we have created an infographic, “The
Childhood Obesity Epidemic” with statistics sharing lifestyle, nutritional,
activity-related and consequential facts relating to children.
Posted 10/12/2011  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 20 comments   7,625 views
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School Milk Gets a Makeover


According to a recent report by the National Center for Health Statistics, children are in need of a milk makeover. Although seventy-seven percent of children and adolescents (ages of 2 and 19) are drinking some milk on a daily basis, nearly one-third of them (32 %) report drinking whole milk. Adolescents reported drinking low-fat milk (either one percent or skim) more often, children between the ages of six and eleven tended to select two-percent milk and those between the ages,  of two and five tended to drink whole milk most often. There were race and family income differences in milk selection identified too. Whole milk choices were more prevalent in black and Hispanic homes as well as in those homes with a low poverty income ratio.

With concerns about childhood obesity and after last year's passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, some school districts began removing flavored milks from their cafeterias. Unfortunately, research found that when flavored milk was removed from elementary schools there was a 35 percent drop in milk consumption. Without drinking milk as part of a healthy lunch, it is very difficult for students to meet their daily needs for calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. This is concerning since these nutrients, important for growth and development, were identified to already be limited in children's diets according to the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As part of the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, changes in nutrition requirements for fluid milk served at school were necessary by the start of this school year. Here's what's new in school cafeteria milk.
Posted 9/26/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 40 comments   9,697 views
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