Monday, August 27, 2012


Pack lunches with a healthier punch

The school year is still in its infancy, but if your child eats cold lunch, peanut butter and jelly might already be getting old.

But there are ways to make lunches that pack tastier and healthier punches.

It all starts with getting your children involved. Give them healthy options and let hem play a role in making the lunch. If they make decisions and help make the lunch, they are more likely to eat it.

Here are some ideas for some creative, healthy and tasty lunches:

•  Whole grain breads, wraps and pitas instead of plain old white bread
•  Low fat yogurt or boost the protein with Greek yogurt such as Chobani Kids.
•  Cold past salad
•  Protein, protein, protein. Kids love peanut butter, which you can pair with 100% fruit spread, sliced bananas or apples in a wrap. Tuna salad with light mayo and egg salad on while grain are other ideas
•  Tire of peanut butter, consider alternatives such as almond butter, honey peanut butter or soynut butter. 
•  Hummus (bean dip), cheese and hard boiled eggs
•  Sliced apples with peanut butter or almond butter
•  Fresh fruit or fruit salad with low fat vanilla yogurt as a dip
•  String cheese
•  Whole grain snack crackers or pretzels
•  Dried fruits such as raisins, cranberries or apple slices
•  Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews
•  Baby carrots, sliced bell peppers and snap peas with low-fat dressing for dip.
•  Edamame (soy bean in the pod)
•  Avoid the pre-packaged lunches and create your own using a divided plastic dish or Bento style lunch box.

Although picky eaters can be a challenge, you would be surprised at what they will eat if you try enough times. Just because they don’t eat it the first time doesn’t mean they never will.

And, don’t rule out leftovers. Break out the old thermos and give your child a hot lunch from home — soup, chili, stir fry and pasta are all good options.  

Keep in mind when packing to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot to avoid food borne illnesses related to spoilage.  Make use of containers that offer the freezer ice packs and thermos type containers to keep the soups from cooking down.

Wendy Kane is a registered dietitian and clinical educator at the The William W. Backus Hospital Diabetes Center. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Kane or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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