By Karen Estrada, RN, EmblemHealth
As part of EmblemHealth’s commitment to supporting efforts to reduce childhood obesity, here are some tips for a healthy and fun school lunch.
Give your kids a choice. If they get to decide, they are more likely to eat it. Ask, “Would you like an apple or a banana in your lunchbox?” Or, “Do you want carrots or celery today?”
Know the school lunch rules around food allergies. Ask your child’s teacher before packing that peanut butter and banana sandwich.
Add veggies and dip. Try a quick dip with plain non-fat yogurt and garlic powder (or any other seasoning you want). Raw or lightly steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cucumber and celery are all easy to dip.
Make mini kebobs. Cut up low-sodium deli chicken or turkey or low-fat cheese and place on pretzel sticks. Alternate grape tomatoes and green grapes.
Switch to whole grains. Make a sandwich with whole wheat bread instead of white (whole wheat pita or tortillas are also great).
Slice it up! Kids are more likely to eat things in bite-sized pieces or slices. Cut up an apple or sandwich into four parts. A homemade fruit cup is great.
Use a thermos for warm foods. Mac and cheese made with whole wheat pasta and some small broccoli florets is perfect for a thermos. A three-bean chili with carrots and zucchini works great too.
Add a good source of calcium. Yogurt and small pre-made smoothies are always popular (low-fat string cheese and low-fat milk too).
Water instead of sugary drinks (juices, sodas, etc.)!
Aim for baked chips. Or low-fat popcorn or whole grain crackers if your child likes something crunchy.
Use an ice pack to keep cold foods cold.
Make faces! Let your child make a “face” on their sandwich with ingredients like hummus, low-fat cream cheese and cut up veggies.
How do you prepare a healthy lunch for your kids? Tell us in the comment box!