Healthy ideas for kids' lunch boxes
BY BRANDI THOMPSON
How can you receive an A+ in nutrition this school year?
Choosing the right food that helps a child maintain his energy level and excel in academics can sometimes be a challenge. Lunchtime can be a great opportunity to teach a child about healthy habits and good nutrition.
So what are the healthiest choices to include in a lunchbox? Here are the basics to promote optimal nutrition in children:
A protein source should always be included in a lunch box. Protein is the building block for muscle growth.
Protein sources include beef, chicken, turkey, fish, pork, beans, nuts, eggs, milk, soy, cheese and yogurt.
Choose low-fat and lean products from the protein choices above. A protein serving is equal to: 2 tablespoons nut butter, 2-3 ounces of lean lunch meat, 1 cup low-fat milk, 6 ounces yogurt, 2 ounces cheese or 1 egg.
Calcium is an important mineral for growing bodies. A child reaches the majority of her bone density by age 18. Providing your child with calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified orange juice, almonds and fortified soy products will provide a solid foundation for him and help build strong bones. Look for ready -to-eat yogurts, milk boxes or include cheese sticks or slices with sandwiches or crackers. Choose low-fat versions of dairy products, and purchase organic when possible.
Fruit or vegetables
These vitamin-, mineral- and fiber-packed foods are an added bonus to a healthy lunch. Try whole fruits, dried fruits, canned (no sugar added) fruits, squeezable applesauce and frozen edamame. Cut up fruits and vegetables to make it easier for a child to eat.
Three easy lunch box combinations
1. Lean turkey and cheese on whole wheat tortillas with lettuce and tomato wraps + 1 cup chopped fruit +
Pirate Booty baked corn puffs (snack size bag) + 100% juice box (4 oz.).
2. Hummus with pita bread, carrot slices and cheese + squeezable applesauce + yogurt smoothie drink or cup of yogurt + water to drink.
3. Nut butter and jam or thinly sliced banana and honey on whole grain bread (cut sandwich into a fun shape) + 1 whole fruit + 1 lunchbox-ready package shelled edamame + 2 % milk box or milk in a Thermos.
Brandi Thompson, a Boca Raton mom of two, is a registered and licensed dietitian who has been coaching adults and children in nutrition and wellness for more than 10 years. She promotes healthy nutrition through private consultations and her work with local schools. Email her, Brandi@ABCDEatRight.com, or visit her websites: www.ABCDEatRight.blogspot.com, www.OnANutritionMission.com.