Healthy Lunches Kids Love
How do you pack a school lunch that’s healthy, but has enough kid appeal that even the pickiest eater won’t trade it or toss it?
How do you pack a school lunch that’s healthy, but has enough kid appeal that even the pickiest eater won’t trade it or toss it? “The main idea is to provide a good variety of the different food groups and try to make it as exciting as possible,” says dietitian Julene Stassou, who serves the Englewood and Fort Lee area. “Avoid giving too much sugar so kids don’t experience a sugar high, but give them a treat now and then.” Here are some fun-packed lunch ideas:
Switch carb-loaded bread out for pairs of crisp apple slices, filling the space between with your choice of cheese, almond butter or peanut butter. (Check the rules regarding peanut products at your child’s school.) To be on the safe side, Stassou suggests sunflower butter. Applewiches are a good source of brain-friendly vitamin B6, protein and folic acid.
COLORFUL VEGGIES AND HUMMUS
Kids love to dip. And if they’re dipping raw vegetables into calcium rich, uber-healthy hummus, so much the better. And hummus now comes in just-right snack-size containers, says Stassou. If hummus doesn’t pass your child’s taste test, pack some low-fat ranch dressing. For dippers, try crunchy slices of cucumber, carrot sticks or slices of red pepper. “In my son’s class, they have multi-grain pretzels with hummus as a snack,” adds Angela Langner, dietitian with Ridgewood-based Nutrition Center of Bergen County.
CHEESE WHEEL AND CRACKERS
Pump some calcium and protein into those growing bones by putting a fun spin on cheese and crackers. Individually packaged cheese mini-wheels travel well, and are fun to open and eat. (Check the ingredients to be sure you’re getting a real, rather than processed, cheese product.) Add whole-wheat crackers, and you’re good to go.
Kids love lots of little items at their disposal. Tossing squeezers like yogurt (Greek yogurt packs more protein) or organic apple sauce in with lunch is easy to do and keeps the nutrition flowing, says Langner. Look for brands with less sugar. If you’ve come this far and then pack juice (which is mostly sugar), that’s a mistake, says Stassou, who recommends sticking to water. And add some fun by packing it all in a bento box, she says. We can see the smiles now!