One of the best ways we can show how much we love our kids is taking an active role in their nutrition. Not only does a proper diet keep your kids healthy while supporting their immune system, it gives them the energy they need to function and excel in the life.
Parents from all walks of life will tell you packing a nutritious lunch every day of the school year is easier said than done. Fussing with work, bills, family life and everything in between doesn’t leave much time for anything else.
We’re challenging all parents to make their children’s school lunches a priority this year. We’ll help you understand the benefits of early nutrition and provide a few easy nutritious lunch ideas along the way.
Most moms and dads are already well aware how critical of a role nutrition plays in their children’s lives. From the moment they learn they’re pregnant, everything they eat is meticulously plotted – except for the occasional pickle and ice cream binge.
Nutrition can feel an awful lot like herding cats after a child inevitably approaches adolescence; parents quickly learn they have a lot less say in the matter. The dinner table can double as a battleground with fussy eaters – many times we’re happy to extend an olive branch in the form of fast food and frozen pizza.
We understand how nutrition can often feel like an uphill battle but it’s one worth fighting. Good nutrition early on allows children to develop and reach their full potential. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the most effective methods of warding off infectious disease; it is also essential for curbing the rising epidemic of childhood obesity currently on the rise.
The effects of poor nutrition are far more noticeable however. According to the World Bank, “The effect of malnutrition on young child (ages 0-8) can be devastating and enduring. It can impede behavioral and cognitive development, educability, and reproductive health, thereby undermining future work productivity.”
The source adds, “Whether or not children are well-nourished during their first years of life can have a profound effect on their health status, as well as their ability to learn, communicate, think analytically, socialize effectively and adapt to new environments and people.”
As parents we want to provide the best foundation possible for our children so that they may secure a brighter future. Nutrition affects virtually every aspect of their development, widening or bridging the gap leading to success in life.
Their paper brown lunches are preparing them for the future.
Looking for a few awesome lunch recipes to get you started? We can help! These are some of our favorite ideas listed through Good Housekeeping. Check them out below.
Say hello to summer with this refreshing twist on the classic sandwich.
Why it’s Healthy: Whereas the classic PB&J is loaded with sugar and preservatives, this makes a tasty and healthier alternative.
- ½ cup Salsa Verde
- 8 slice (1/2 inch thick) Tuscan bread
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 4 slices
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 slices
- Spread about 1 tablespoon of Salsa Verde on two separate slices of bread.
- Place 2 tomato slices and 2 mozzarella slices on 4 bread slices.
- Place remaining bread slices with the sauce side facing down on top. Cut each sandwich in half to serve.
This easy to make salad is tasty enough to get kids (and adults) excited about leafy greens. Try it on for size!
Why it’s Healthy: This salad is a great source of protein while also providing fruit and vegetables.
1 (roughly 2 ¼ pounds) refrigerated roasted whole chicken
1 medium bunch spinach
2 medium pink/white grapefruit
2 medium Red Delicious apples
¾ pound seedless green grapes
1/3 cup bottled poppy seed salad dressing
- Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken; tear chicken into bite-size pieces. Chop 1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves; set remaining leaves aside. Cut peel from grapefruit; remove sections with knife. Cut unpeeled apples into ¾-inch chunks.
- Use a large bowl to combine chicken, chopped spinach, fruit and additional salad dressing; toss well.
- Arrange remaining spinach leaves on platter; spoon chicken salad over prepared spinach leaves.
Your kids will love this twist on the traditional turkey sandwich, perfectly engineered for taste and nutrition.
Why it’s Healthy: Turkey is an excellent lean meat and provides plenty of protein while the wrap makes a wonderful substitute for traditional bread.
- ¼ small cantaloupe
- 1 lavash (half a 14-ounce package of soft Armenian flatbread)
- ¼ cup bottled horseradish sauce
- 6 large green – or red – leaf lettuce leaves
- 12 ounce thinly sliced, deli smoked turkey breast
- Cut rind from cantaloupe; cut flesh crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices (you’ll need about 1 cup)
- Unfold lavash; evenly spread lavash with horseradish sauce; top with lettuce and turkey, overlapping to fit if necessary. On a shorter end, arrange the cantaloupe in single layer to cover half of lavash.
- Starting from end with cantaloupe, tightly roll lavash. Trim the ends as desired. Use a serrated knife and cut roll into 4 pieces.
There’s good reason you often find hummus lining the walls at health food stores – it’s a great tasting low-calorie dip that pairs well with just about everything.
Why it’s Healthy: Many dips are fattening and have loads of sugar; hummus is quite a different story – and what’s better than homemade?
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 large lemon
- 1 can (15 to 19 ounces) garbanzo beans, rinsed and prepared
- 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoons ground red pepper (optional)
- ½ teaspoons paprika (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Pita bread wedges
- Using 1-quart saucepan, heat 2 cups water to boiling over high heat. Add garlic and cook 3 minute to blanch; drain.
- From lemon, grate 1 teaspoon peel and squeeze 3 tablespoons juice. In food processor with knife blade attached, combine beans, tahini, garlic, lemon peel and juice, oil, water, salt, and ground red pepper. Puree until smooth texture. Transfer to platter; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. To serve, sprinkle paprika and cilantro.
Want more awesome ideas for lunch? Visit Good Housekeeping for more recipes.
One of the easiest ways to fall off track with good nutrition is snacking. What constitutes a healthy alternative to the timeless tradition of Oreos and cold milk? Here are a few ground rules to follow …
- It’s not always about what you eat so much as how much you eat. The occasional ice cream sandwich is perfectly fine – just don’t overdo it!
- Soda will not only junk your teeth, it’s one of the leading contributors to childhood obesity. Ditch the Pepsi and spring for healthier alternatives like iced tea. You can also make water more refreshing by infusing it with fruit.
- Design your own trail mix! This is a great chance for you to get your kids involved. Tailor a healthy snack of their choosing using ingredients like yogurt raisins, nuts, goldfish crackers and more!