It’s midway through August and we have a lot on our minds. Summer camp is coming to a close, the high holidays are just around the corner and yes, school will be back in session. With so much on our plates the last thing we want to think about is “What’s for lunch?”
Just ask any school-aged child what his favorite subject is and if he is too old to still have recess, most will respond with “lunchtime.” Considering that kids spend over a third of their day at school, a nutritious well-balanced lunch is vital to help fuel their active day.
With food allergies on the rise and more schools becoming peanut-free, we are encouraged to come up with more creative brown paper bagged lunches than our parents. Better yet, if you have not done so already, ditch the brown paper bag entirely and opt for a reusable insulated bag with a reusable ice pack to keep foods safe and cool.
Try these nutrition sandwich combos on whole-wheat or whole grain bread that will have your kids forgetting about peanut butter and jelly, at least during school hours.
Egg salad with diced pickles
Lox and avocado slices
Hummus with avocado (switch off with different varieties such as roasted red pepper, garlic, or artichoke flavors)
Mozzarella cheese and fresh tomato
Tuna salad with diced crispy apple
Mozzarella cheese, red peppers, pesto sauce
Wild salmon salad with diced celery
Feta cheese, avocado, sliced olives
Veggie burger with sliced cucumbers
Goat cheese topped with fresh spinach leaves
There should still be room in the lunch bag for healthy snacks including quick and easy bag stuffers such as whole fruits and vegetables. However, if you see your child is regularly returning an untouched apple or what looks like a mushy banana, try cutting up fruits and vegetables into ready-to-eat finger foods. Ask your kids to help you put them in small reusable containers, as they are more likely to eat something they helped put together. If browning is a turn off for your child, add a splash of lemon juice on cut fruit to prevent naturally occurring browning due to oxidation.
Still not full? Beyond the fruits and veggies, try other healthy snack items such as popcorn, pretzels, trail-mix, granola bars or something more substantial with protein such as string cheese or yogurt.
Eleana Kaidanian is a registered dietitian who earned her degree in nutrition from NYU and completed her clinical dietetic internship at North Shore-LIJ. She is passionate about educating adults as well as pediatric populations on the significance of nutrition and helping them modify their eating habits towards a healthier lifestyle.
By Eleana Kaidanian, RD