Studies now show that the food our kids consume isn’t just fuel to give them energy. The choices that students (or their parents) make affect concentration, behavior, and overall health too. With “childhood obesity” becoming a hot topic of conversation as it continues to affect more of our children, we all need to consider what we’re putting in our kids’ lunches and how it will affect them. Take advantage of any opportunities you have to teach them to eat better but monitor the choices they make. Too much freedom in the lunch room can often yield less than nutritious consequences.
When I first began to consider my school lunches in junior high, I saw them as a “tide-me-over until dinner-time” option. I didn’t worry about the choices I made because I was more concerned with the “real meals” of breakfast and dinner. After all, everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Dinner (or supper) was a family meal around the table in my house (unless our schedule got carried away, as usual). Lunch, however, often came in a brown paper bag with lots of disposable pieces, only supporting my mental picture that lunch was, after all, a throw away meal.
As a mother, I now go out of my way to make certain that my family has options that include fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Though initially this can seem a little challenging, with practice and routine this does get easier and is worth the investment.
The USDA’s recommended daily allowances vary according to each individual. This is important to know, since the requirements for children can vary greatly from adults’. Start teaching your kids now to read labels and pay attention to what is going into their body. Preservatives like nitrates are often found in deli meats, so be certain that you read the label and that you are fully aware of what they contain. Try to avoid these ingredients whenever possible. Also watch your sodium intake since these foods can be heavily salted.
Excellent sources: nitrate-free deli meat, quinoa, eggs, cheese, yogurt.
Excellent sources: whole grain crackers, rye crackers, stone ground wheat crackers, soaked oats, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pitas, whole wheat bread (Ezekiel bread is exceptionally healthy but may be an acquired taste for some kids).
Fruits and Vegetables
…To Be Continued Tomorrow
Healthy Turkey Roll-Ups
- 1 11” whole wheat tortilla (*See Note)
- 1 TBSP low fat mayonnaise
- 2 servings, nitrate-free turkey
- Handful (or desired amount) of dried cranberries
- 2 hands full of mixed organic greens
Spread tortilla with mayonnaise, top with turkey and remaining ingredients. Secure with a toothpick and slice to desired serving sizes.
Beef and Cheddar Pitas
- 1 whole wheat pita
- 1 TBSP low fat mayonnaise
- 1 TBSP your favorite barbeque sauce
- 1 tsp prepared horseradish (if desired)
- Thinly sliced onion
- Tomato slices
- 2 servings nitrate-free roast beef
- ½ cup fresh grated sharp cheddar cheese
Cut pita in half to form 2 pockets. Mix together mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, and prepared horseradish (if using). Spread some of the sauce mixture in each of the pockets and top with half of the remaining ingredients.
Quinoa: Although not a common item in most kitchens, you can find Quinoa in your local health food store throughout the year. Quinoa is a species of Goosefoot, which is grown primarily for its edible seeds. Although it is widely viewed as a grain, it is actually closely related to spinach, beets and Swiss chard. When cooked, it has a creamy, slightly crunchy texture with a nutty flavor.