Most of us could stand to eat healthier – and that includes our kids! Take a leap this autumn and make you and your kids’ lunches a little more healthy – and delicious!
* Use only real cheese. None that processed stuff, please. Although some would argue only low fat cheese should be used, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest fat is not the enemy. Just serve reasonable amounts.
* Make water your drink of choice. Juice is fine in small quantities, but is full of calories. (And if you do decide to serve juice anyway, make sure it’s 100% juice!) There’s no such thing as healthy soda. And caffeine will just give you the afternoon sleepies. To make water more interesting, consider adding freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to it.
* Instead of deli meats, which contain unhealthy nitrates, use tuna, flaked chicken, or home-sliced turkey breasts, ham, or roast beef for sandwiches.
* Go whole grain. Use bread that’s made from whole grains. Whole grain wheat is the easiest to find, but you may also be able to find or made other whole grains, like whole rye or barley.
* Don’t forget veggies! Slip them into sandwiches. (Try not only lettuce and tomato, but sprouts, cucumber, green pepper, zucchini slices, homemade kale chips, etc.). Or, hide veggies in a dish like spaghetti (shred them and cook them with the sauce). And if your child will eat veggies with dipping sauce, by all means, pack some.
* Add a fruit. But don’t get stuck in a rut by having an apple every day; try a new fruit for each day of the week. Ideas include bananas, oranges, pears, melon slices or scoops, grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
* Avoid processed snacks, like crackers, store bought chips, Cheerios, and such.
* There’s nothing wrong with sweets – in moderation. But here’s where it pays to know your child. If your child is healthy and not overweight, one cookie at lunch isn’t going to hurt her – especially if it has some healthy ingredients, like oatmeal and raisins. On the other hand, if your child has health issues or is overweight, serve sweets only in the form of fruit.
* Let your child have a say. There’s no point in packing a healthy lunch if your child isn’t going to eat it. So offer your child choices between two different healthy foods. Ask: Do you want apple slices with peanut butter or melon balls? Fresh green beans or carrot sticks? Don’t ask: What do you want for lunch?
* Above all, avoid buying lunch at school. In almost every case, it will be less healthy (and more expensive) than what you make at home.
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