July 1, 2016

Healthful Lunchbox Ideas: Help Them Learn, Play and Grow

The lunchbox affects the report card. Sure, it’s easy to grab processed foods and convenience snacks for your child’s lunch, but healthful lunches for kids help improve focus in class, fuel children for play and encourage healthy growth. If you pack items they won’t eat, it won’t matter what you pack. Instead, try these healthful lunchbox ideas for picky eaters.

1. Select nutrient-dense foods to make every calorie count.

Berries provide high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber. Choose firmer berries such as blueberries and strawberries, packed in a hard-sided container. Softer berries such as raspberries may go squish. Nuts and nut butters offer protein, healthful fat and numerous minerals. Lean turkey breast is another example of a sound protein source, as are low-fat cheese sticks and yogurt, which also serve up calcium for growing bones (mix natural sweetener and fruit into plain yogurt). Select whole grain sources of carbohydrates, such as quinoa (which provides protein as well), brown rice or whole grain bread (check the label carefully. Some “wheat bread” is highly processed and contains little whole grain.).

2. Blending fruit and veggies into a smoothie can sneak more veggies into your child’s diet.

Combine one cup of plain yogurt, a cup of frozen berries, five baby carrots, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and flavor to taste with honey or genuine maple syrup. Freeze the smoothie in advance so it can defrost until lunchtime. Accompany the smoothie with whole grain crackers and nut butter to bulk up the meal.

3. Blend more vegetables into soup.

Use the same strategy to blend more vegetables into soup, kept hot in an insulated bottle. Pureed carrot or squash easily hides in alphabet soup or other tomato-based soups. If you’re short on time, add a natural baby food to a low sodium, natural soup. (Tip: hide the evidence.)

4. Enlist your children’s help in selecting healthful foods

Enlist your children’s help in selecting healthful foods for school lunches, such as any whole fruit and raw vegetable they want. Have them pitch in preparing their lunch, such as washing apples. Helping pack their own lunchboxes will increase the chances that they will eat the contents mpo40il this article.

5. Be whimsical.

Try the classic “Ants on a Log” (raisins topping peanut butter-stuffed celery sticks). Create a bento box (search online for ideas) instead of pre-packaged lunch foods. Children like anything “mini” and bento boxes keep you in charge of the contents. Tuck in a note of encouragement or draw silly faces on sandwich bags. If your children know they have something special in their lunches, they’ll likely eat it.

6. Replace sweetened beverages.

Instead of sweetened beverages, fill bottles with fruit-infused water and ice. Invest in an infusion pitcher so you and your children can make your own blends. Slices of lemon, kiwi, cucumber, melon…let your taste buds guide you to delicious hydration.

7. Choose a healthful treat.

A sweet boost in the middle of their day can give them the energy they need, but a dessert like Wholesome Nibbles skips refined sweeteners and artificial ingredients and instead offers raw, natural ingredients with plant-based protein. They’re also free of dairy, gluten and soy.

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