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High Five to Healthy Lunches


Things can get hectic trying to get your children up in the morning, not to mention the feat of getting them out the door (dressed), with their school bag on time.  But what about lunch?  Are you guilty of reaching for the quickest things you can find and throwing them into your child’s brown bag?  

 Most of the common lunch box items are convenient, yes, but healthy, you may want to think again!  The prepared cheese, lunch meat, crackers and cookie treats are 40-50% fat!   And those cute little treats with only 100 calories or the fun character fruit snack’s top ingredients are Sugar, Corn Syrup, and Palm Kernel Oil (a.k.a. Saturated Fat!).

These treats seem like a good idea, but let’s think about the health of our children.  Most children’s diets have been found to fall short in Vitamins A, D, E, K, Folate, Calcium, and Fiber to name a few!   Here are the basics for planning your child’s school lunch. 

Lean Proteins, Beans, or Nuts Lean lunch meats such as ham, turkey, roast beef(try for low sodium), tuna, grilled or boiled chicken, lean ground beef or turkey, beans, edamame, almonds, nut butters, hummus
Vegetables Carrot sticks, celery, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sliced yellow, red, and green peppers, sweet potatoes, salad, and don’t forget the lettuce and tomato topping
Fruits Apples, bananas, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, applesauce, melon, berries, oranges
Dairy* Low fat or fat-free dairy such as yogurt, milk, cheese, cottage cheese, pudding
Whole grains Whole grain breads, tortillas, pita, high fiber English muffins, whole grain crackers such as triscuits

*Don’t forget the freezer pack!

High five for healthy lunches!  Now if we can only get our kids not to trade their foods!

  1.  Whole grain English muffin with hummus, turkey, spinach and tomato, serve with low fat yogurt topped with sliced strawberries and grapes
  2. Pinto beans, tomato, lettuce and cheese wrapped in a high fiber tortilla, serve with low fat milk and applesauce
  3. Baked chicken strips with your favorite dipping sauce, cucumber slices, baked sweet potato chips, and a fruit smoothie
  4. Lettuce wraps, with your favorite deli meat, hummus, and avocado, serve with cottage cheese, whole grain crackers, and pineapple in its own juice
  5. Whole grain pita with tuna salad, spinach and tomatoes, serve with string cheese, and apple slices

By Emily Barr, MS, RD, CNSC

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