Minimize pre-packaged carb- and sugar-laden options and, instead, plan for simple but healthful school lunches and snacks.
Just because back-to-school often equates to frenzied schedules does not mean nutrition should suffer. Maria Tripodis, a registered dietician in Miami, believes parents can minimize pre-packaged carb- and sugar-laden options and, instead, plan for simple but healthful school lunches and snacks.
“It’s important to make sure kids are getting a combination of protein, carbs and healthy fats in each meal. Balancing our macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein) is what contributes to sustained energy and satisfaction after meals,” she says. “Also, healthy fats (like nuts and seeds) have been shown to support healthy brain function, improving our attention span, memory and quality of sleep at night.”
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Instead of stocking up on popularly promoted lunch kits, Tripodis advises taking time — especially during weekends — to plan and prepare varied homemade lunches. Compartment lunch boxes and containers make it easy. Four of her ideas:
1. Natural peanut butter (or almond butter) and mashed blueberry sandwich on whole-grain bread with a side of bell pepper and celery sticks.
2. Whole-wheat pasta with roasted broccoli, organic chicken breast, olive oil and Parmesan cheese with a side of berries.
3. Rolled slices of turkey, a cheese stick and whole-wheat crackers with a side of sliced cucumber and grape tomatoes.
4. Banana and peanut butter roll-ups on a whole wheat wrap with a side of carrot sticks.
Goodness-packed snack ideas are endless. A few gleaned from thecreativebite.com include fruit kabobs, energy bites (there are various recipes), pinwheels (basically favorite fillings such as hummus and turkey rolled in a wrap and sliced into circles), homemade fruit cups, hard-boiled eggs, and veggies with ranch dressing.
Tripodis reminds to have plenty of nuts available, if no allergies exist. A favorite homemade trail mix of hers has peanuts, sunflower seeds, roasted almonds, dark chocolate chips, raisins, dried banana chips and coconut flakes. You can also buy trail mix in small packs for the lunchbox.
Many of these ideas work for hectic morning food grabs as well.