LUNCH, for your kids or...for you! It's back to school season and boy, that was decades ago when my brother, Lenny and I trekked down the streets of the French Quarter to our classes at St. Louis Cathedral Elementary School in New Orleans. And besides buying new clothes or school uniforms and back-to-school supplies for your children, some of you parents will begin adding packing your kid's brown bags or lunch boxes to your morning routines. Hey, lunch time was just about my favorite part of the day at school! (Anybody surprised? LOL.)
School lunches have changed quite a bit since I was a kid.
School lunches have changed quite a bit since I was a kid but I hope that as a parent, you're making changes in your kid's lunches...for the better! Don't pack your children's lunch boxes with fattening, junk foods because it's so easy to do. Hey, while your kids might not mind the chips, cakes and cookies, truth is, a healthy school lunch not only makes for a healthier body but can help give your kid a healthier and sharper mind, too! That way, when they bring home those report cards, you'll be so proud seeing them making A's and B'S! You can make your kids' brown-bag lunch a lot tastier and healthier with these helpful tips from the U.S Department of Agriculture.
Beginning with those sandwiches. I know when I was a kid, white bread was king. But you should swap those plain slices of white bread for much healthier whole-grain breads made from 100% whole wheat. It's much more nutritious and will make that tuna sandwich heartier and tastier.
Try to include a selection of fruits and vegetables with your children's lunch each day. Pair carrots, cucumbers and those cute little grape tomatoes with a fresh, homemade yogurt dip. Or toss in some apple chunks with a tablespoon of peanut butter on the side. They're a tasty treat mixed together.
Be sure to include a serving of low or fat-free dairy, such as a cup of yogurt, a slice of Swiss cheese or 1/3 cup of a low-fat cheddar cheese spread. (Toss in a few whole-grain crackers, too.) The school cafeteria will probably have low-fat milk available so make sure your child buys a one-cup serving everyday at lunch time.
Nix the high-sodium, high-fat foods and try not to add them to your kid's lunch bag.
Nix those high-sodium, high-fat foods and try not to add them to your kid's lunch bags. Swap salty, high-fat chips for air-popped popcorn, multi-grain tortilla chips or even real vegetable chips instead. I talked about them a few weeks ago and there're some good vegetable chip choices in the supermarkets these days. (Look for the TERRA brand.)
Lastly, provide two ounces of lean, roasted, low-sodium beef, pork, chicken or turkey with their lunch. On those days you want to skip the meats, your kids can get their lunchtime dose of protein with a two-ounce serving of roasted seeds or nuts.
Your children may not want to hear these words but it's back-to-school time! And like I said at the beginning of this message, if you're packing lunch for the kids or your own lunch for work, make sure your brown-bag choices are as healthy and good for your body as that lunch you pack for your kid's day at school. I want all of you to have healthier bodies and minds. That brown bag lunch can help get the job done for your kids...and for you, too!