Helping Our Kids Do Their Very Best This School Year, by Cari Culp, RD

With a new school year approaching, I would like to take a moment to emphasize the importance of packing a healthy lunch for children. It is well know that nutrition plays a major roll in a child’s school performance. Proper nutrition also keeps them well and well-behaved!
The reason I emphasize “packing” lunch for your child is due to the unfortunate fact that lunches from most school cafeterias just aren’t cutting it nutritiontionally. Most do not even come close to providing the nutrient density that our children need and provide lots of other food components that they don’t need.
The keys to packing a healthy school lunch for your child are balance and whole food nutrition. To make things easier as the school year begins, I have provided some ideas below. This is not a comprehensive list by any means but is a good start to packing a lunch that nourishes your child. The idea is to pick one food from each group to create a balanced lunch.
Protein:
Hard boiled eggs
Greek yogurt (low sugar like Oikos Triple Zero, Siggi’s No Sugar Added or Chobani Simply)
Deli turkey or lean roast beef
Low fat cottage cheese
Nuts (if allowed) or seeds – (including nut butter and sun butter)
Chia seed pudding
Sandwich – Egg salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, deli turkey, lean roast beef (Add dark leafy greens and broccoli sprouts for a simple but powerful boost of nutrition)
Soup in a thermos – bean, lentil, chicken noodle or veggetable beef
Hummus
Smoked salmon
Vegetable:
Raw veggies with hummus
Raw veggies with homemade pesto dip
Raw veggies with good quality ranch (Simply Dressed or Annie’s)
Cucumbers with Greek Yogurt Dip (take plain Greek yogurt and add olive oil, dill, lemon juice and a little garlic salt)
Small salad
Sugar snap peas
Cherry tomatoes
Radishes
Roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon
Chopped cabbage
Fruit:
Any fresh or frozen fruit will do. These are the optimal choices over canned. Choose whole fruit over apple sauce or juice for added nutrition and fiber. And don’t forget about avocado. This is an excellent source of healthy fat for your child’s brain function. Squeeze some lemon juice on it to keep it from browning.
Whole Grains:
Homemade whole grain muffin
Brown rice, black rice, millet or quinoa
Whole grain noodles
Whole oats – to add to yogurt or an overnight oat parfait for a treat
Whole grain bread (like Dave’s Killer Bread)
Treats:
Lara Bar
Kind Bar Mini
Mini Rx Bar
Health Warrior Small Chia Seed Bar
Dried Apricots
Dates
Rice cake
Make a fruit dip by mixing a little cream cheese with Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and stevia
Chia seed pudding (also provides protein)
Fruit and veggie smoothie in a thermos
I hope this list helps things go more smoothly as the school year begins. Here’s to helping our kids be the best they can be this year!

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