by Leré Robinson, Star Sapphire Director and Nutrition Consultant
This month I want to share some helpful information about healthy lunches, which not only apply to children but also to those who work and desire to pack a nutritious lunch.
Today, so many kids eat unhealthy lunches, yet parents still expect their children’s brains to function properly. In their book, Smart Food for Smart Kids, Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce acknowledged, “Many lunchboxes contain white bread sandwiches, chocolates, cookies, chips, and fizzy, sugary drinks. This nutrient-poor, addictive, fat and sugar-laden collection may go down well on the playground, but it may also affect your child’s behavior and ability to learn.” But children who eat healthy, raw, live foods:
- experience less fatigue
- have more energy and concentrate better at school
- are fit for all their physical activities and have a lower obesity rate
A little planning and creativity is all that’s needed for your children to enjoy lunches that are healthy and also fun to eat!
Encourage kids to eat a wide variety of foods from each food group. This is key. As they say, “Variety is the spice of life.”
Fruits and Vegetables: at least two portions in their lunchbox each day
- Beans and Lentils: make meatballs and include lentils, chickpea and vegetable patties
- Cereals: whole-grain or gluten-free brown rice pasta, brown or wild rice, quinoa, millet
- Marinated oven-baked chicken breast: cut into strips/or alternatives
- Dairy Alternatives: natural coconut milk yogurt, almond milk and coconut milk kefir
- Good Fats (crucial to a healthy brain!): avocados, unsalted raw nuts and seeds, homemade hummus and olives
Kids enjoy variety and love surprises. Try to move away from the age-old sandwich.
- Whole-grain tortilla chips with avocado dip, hummus and homemade salsa
- Whole-grain mini pitas filled with veggies and some baked chicken pieces
- Tub of carrot salad with nuts and raisins (Note: salads are an easy way to get veggies, fruit and good fats into kids)
- Small tubs of different veggies
- Small tub of colorful berries, frozen grapes and coco bites/date balls
- Nut and seed butters, such as almond, cashew and sunflower with apple slices
Allowing children to choose and prepare their own lunch piques interest in the meal and makes it more likely kids will eat their own creations. Include your kids in the grocery shopping to choose foods that are part of a healthy diet. When they are part of shopping and making lunch boxes, they are more apt to eat their healthy lunches and not trade them with the child next to them.