Pack a Healthy Lunch your Kids are sure to Love!
Packing a healthy lunch your kids are sure to love can be done with ease. When your child is fueled with a balanced meal, they’ll have the energy to get through the school day and that = happy kids + moms too! Of course we like to share our tips and kid approved recipes in order to make your “homework” easier. Happy “Back to School” time.
Start by stocking up each week with fresh fruits and vegetables and get the kids involved in making the choices. You’ll be surprised how much they really know about nutrition and what they are excited to try. When making a school lunch, remember that half of what you pack should include fruit and vegetables. Incorporate vegetables by adding them to sandwiches or wraps. Add items such as: sliced carrots, lettuce, peppers, spinach or tomatoes. Bring color to any lunch with a variety of cut-up veggies; children love to dip in low-fat ranch dressing, peanut butter, yogurt dip or salsa. Just remember to pack it in! Serve fruit cut-up in reusable containers and include a variety of colors. Remember that kids love anything on a stick. Serve cubed fruit on a kabob or colorful toothpicks. Add fruit that is already in its own convenient package such as: bananas, apples, pears, peaches and clementines. Think of a variety of colors such as: blueberries, strawberries, honeydew, cantaloupe, grapes and watermelon. Fruit and vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals and are naturally low in calories. Another idea is to pack dried fruit such as raisins and cherries.
Remember to include calcium-rich foods. Have your children purchase 1% or fat free milk at school. It is very exciting to be independent and buy your own drink. Kids are more interested to try an item their friends are also consuming. Include in their lunch box items such as: yogurt, string cheese or pudding made from low-fat milk. It is recommended that any child 2 years of age or older consume 1% or fat free milk.
Make the grains you pack your children whole grain. Look for 100% whole wheat bread, pita or wraps. Choose brown rice or quinoa and include whole wheat pretzels and crackers. At least half of the grains your children consume each day, should be whole grains.
Be sure to include protein-rich foods in your child’s lunch. Protein-rich foods include chicken, turkey, lean beef, chunk light tuna packed in water, beans, eggs and nuts. Other items to consider are soy products like tofu and veggie burgers. Choose lean or low-fat items and try to avoid processed meats that are high in sodium. Most of these protein-rich foods are high in B vitamins and iron important for children’s growing bodies. Include meatless meals like bean burritos which are delicious served warm or cold. Other good sources of protein are yogurt, low-fat cheese and milk.
Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt served with Whole Wheat Pita or crackers
Add Cucumbers slices, cherry tomatoes and edamame
Serve a side of orange slices and cubed honeydew/cantaloupe
8 oz 1% or skim milk
8 oz chicken without skin, chopped
½ cup Plain Greek Yogurt (such as Chobani Greek Yogurt)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine well. Add your favorite veggies or herbs for added flavor such as: onions, celery, carrots, grapes, peppers, dill or thyme. Add more Greek yogurt for a creamier texture. Makes 2 servings.
Turkey Roll-Up with carrot sticks, hummus, lettuce and cherry tomatoes
Serve with sugar snap peas
Honey Whole Wheat Pretzels
Chobani Champion Greek Yogurt
4 slices of all natural turkey breast
2 T hummus
¼ cup French cut carrots
2 large leaves of iceberg lettuce
6 cherry tomatoes
Place 2 slices of turkey over one another to make 2 individual piles. Spread 1 T of hummus over each pile and add half of carrots. Roll turkey and then roll again in 1 lettuce leaf. Add 3 toothpicks with 1 cherry tomato, evenly spaced, to hold roll together. Slice between tooth picks to make 3 rolls, for a total of 6. Makes 1 serving.
Bean Burrito on a Whole Wheat Tortilla
Cucumber Sticks and Cherry Tomatoes
Strawberry and Blueberries
Chobani Champion Greek Yogurt
1 (15 oz) can of organic pinto beans
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T onions, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
½ cup water
1 T tomato paste
½ cup brown rice, cooked
½ cup Monterey jack cheese
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
3 whole wheat tortillas, warmed (heat in microwave between damp paper towels for 30 – 45 seconds or until heated through)
Heat olive oil, onions and garlic over medium high heat. Add pinto beans and sauté for 1 minute. Add water and heat for another 1 minute and then add tomato paste. Stir continuously, over heat, until blended well. Add chili powder, salt, pepper and rice and heat approximately 4-5 minutes. Add cheese and blend, over heat, until melted throughout. Beans and rice should be soft, cook longer if needed. Add more chili powder if desired. Split mixture amongst 3 tortillas, fold in sides and roll. Can be placed in foil and packed in thermos or make it the night before, place in refrigerator, and pack in lunch box to be served chilled. Makes 3 servings.
Back to School Tips for an “A” in Nutrition
It’s that time of the year again, and as we get our children ready for their fresh start to a new school year, we would like to share a few of our winning tips to success.
Stock your kitchen right:
Stock your refrigerator with protein packed, high fiber and calcium-rich foods. Think color and convenience. That means a variety of fruits and vegetables, cut up and ready to go. Try packing the items in clear containers and place where the kids can easily locate and reach them. Include low fat dairy items such as Greek yogurt, reduced fat string cheese, pudding and cottage cheese. Keep easily made items on hand such as: tomato salsa/salad, artichoke dip, bean dip, guacamole, Tzatziki, hummus, tuna salad or egg salad to pair with cut up vegetables and whole-wheat pita or corn tortilla chips. Stock up on 1% or fat free milk, and prepare fruit infused water to give the kids the added flavor they may crave. Designate a shelf for these grab and go foods. Lastly, fill up BPA-free water bottles with filtered tap water. Easily reach for that bottle when running for the bus or soccer practice.
Stock your freezer with many colors too. Keeping frozen fruit on hand creates an instant smoothie, an amazing fruit dip or great topping for waffles, pancakes, frozen yogurt or yogurt parfait. Pre-cut vegetables can ease dinnertime chaos, and help get a healthy meal on the table faster. Keep on hand whole-wheat frozen waffles, pancakes and bread, frozen corn tortillas or whole-wheat tortillas or pita. When cooking dinner, make a bit extra, and freeze in single serve containers. This new habit will allow for a healthier dinner when life gets chaotic. Don’t forget about dessert. Low-fat frozen yogurt, ice cream treats made with skim milk as the first ingredient and 100% fruit bar treats can always fit in a healthy freezer.
It helps to categorize your pantry by shelf or area. This will allow for healthier food choices and greater ease when time is tight. Stock a shelf with nuts, seeds, natural peanut butter/sunflower butter, dried fruit and popcorn. Plan ahead and pack snack size containers with nuts and dried fruit. This technique will help prevent eating large portions and also allows for another grab and go snack. Another shelf could include whole-wheat cereals, oatmeal, and whole-wheat pancake mix. Pack cold cereals in large containers and mix cereals to better meet your children’s preferences. Designate an area for more snack-size containers/baggies of corn tortilla chips, Pop Chips, lentil or falafel chips, or whole-wheat pita chips to be paired with the dips you prepared in the refrigerator. Always think about providing protein and fiber at each meal and snack. Don’t forget whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or other grains such as quinoa. Many grains require little time and help put a healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. Also, stock your pantry with dried or boxed/canned beans, tomatoes and good quality tomato sauces to add to the grains. Pack last night's dinner in a thermos for an amazing lunch the following day.
When your refrigerator, freezer and pantry are stocked right, it allows for greater ease and healthier choices when making breakfast, packing lunches, serving snacks and putting together dinner.
When you are pulled in many directions with many different demands, time gets away from you. Providing and preparing healthy foods is a big challenge. Look into adding some of our Babe's Faves gadgets to help make life a bit easier. Purchase a good quality blender; whip up a quick breakfast smoothie, make hot soup and amaze the kids by making ice cream! Think about adding a slow cooker to your kitchen. When time doesn’t allow for cooking dinner, walk into dinner already made. A food processer may look intimidating, but it will quickly become your best friend. It will slice, chop, dice and puree your favorite fruits and vegetables to be stored for meals for the entire week with the press of a button, literally!
Stock up now on different portion size containers, thermos, BPA free water bottles, freezer packs, and lunch boxes. Keep these tools (expect for freezer packs) all in one area of your kitchen with napkins and utensils to get a meal out the door fast.
Check out other blogs for some more back to school tips!
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We can Help Fight Childhood Obesity…Let’s Move!
We have all heard the startling facts; childhood obesity rates in America have tripled and nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. And what does this mean? If we do not make a change, one third of all children born in the year 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives and many others will develop heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma. So what has changed? Children no longer walk to and from school and after-school programs have been cut. Hours of play time outside have turned into hours of TV, computer time and video games. Convenience foods are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for busy parents. Snacking between meals is too frequent now and portions are much too big.
I think we could all agree; we need help! First Lady, Michelle Obama, has made this challenge her mission, her passion! She is determined to change the way a generation of kids think about food and nutrition. This past year, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum creating a Task Force on Childhood Obesity. This Task Force will conduct reviews of every program and policy related to child nutrition and physical activity. They will then develop national action plans accordingly in order to successfully meet the First Lady’s goals.
This leads us to the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Let’s Move! is dedicated to allowing children to grow up healthier. The Task Force on Childhood obesity recommends focusing on the five pillars of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative:
1. Creating a healthy start for children
2. Empowering parents and caregivers
3. Providing healthy foods in schools
4. Improving access to healthy, affordable foods
5. Increasing physical activity
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formally ADA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, has launched the Kids Eat Right initiative that supports the efforts of the White House. As Campaign Volunteers, Registered Dietitians and mothers, we are taking action to educate our children, families, communities and policy makers on the importance of high-quality nutrition to help in the fight against childhood obesity. Together, let's help change the lifestyle of our kids.
How can you do your part? Be a good role model yourself! When you instill a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your children you are providing then with the tools and habits that will last a lifetime.
Are you on board? We all play a role in reducing childhood obesity and ensure a healthier lifestyle and future for our children. We’re here to give you the information on how to create a healthier lifestyle. Join us, we CAN make a difference.
Check out some of our numerous tips, recipes and blogs related to this fight!
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How to Nourish Your Child’s Body and Mind
Feeding children is not an easy task. Between picky eaters, after school activities, weekend sports, etc, it’s tough to be consistent. If the old adage, “you are what you eat” is true, we need to pay extra attention to what we feed those little growing bodies. When the body receives optimal nourishment, kids perform better at school and in all of their activities. Proper nutrition will help temper the behavioral highs and lows associated with poor eating habits. This information could fill more than a book, so a blog requires some simplifying. Here is our list of major guidelines for healthy eating for children:
1. Breakfast is critical! Bodies need fuel to get going the same way your car needs gas. We can’t expect our kids to think clearly and perform well in school on an empty tank.
2. Eat every 3-5 hours. Skipping meals or not planning ahead can cause kids to experience a dip in energy levels and concentration. Make sure your child has a snack if there is a long stretch between breakfast and lunch. The same goes for after school if they have activities, or if dinner is late.
3. Balance meals and snacks. It is essential to have a mix of carbohydrates (preferably whole grain), fat, and protein at each meal to optimize blood sugar stability. Just a bagel with jelly will cause them to feel hungry much sooner than scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast. Think about having one serving from each “food group” at every meal.
4. Add whole grains at least ½ the time. Whole grains are essential to helping kids get their daily fiber intake, as well as stabilizing their hunger as they are digested more slowly than refined white grains.
5. When possible, avoid food dyes, additives and preservatives. While some studies have linked food dyes and preservatives to increased hyperactivity in children with ADHD, new studies are linking these chemicals to hyperactive behavior in kids that do not have ADD. This one is tough. Most “kid” food is made with colors not found in nature. Look for foods colored with fruit or vegetable dyes, not red 40 or yellow 5. Look for short ingredient lists, organic foods and minimally processed foods. If your third grader can’t pronounce the ingredients, they probably shouldn’t be eating it.
6. Wash produce well, even if you are not eating the peel! When cutting fruit like a cantaloupe, most people will not think to wash the outside. There can be harmful bacteria on the exterior of fruits and veggies that can transfer to the inside flesh when cut. Make sure to wash all produce well before cutting or peeling. If you are washing edible fruit like berries, consider using castile soap. It’s a natural soap that will help remove some extra pesticide residues.
7. Pay attention to sodium! New dietary guidelines recommend a major cut in sodium, even for kids. The new recs are 1500mg per day, or about 2/3 of a teaspoon. Limit processed and fast foods. Read labels!
8. Stay hydrated the smart way. Depending on their age and activity level, children will require anywhere from 4-11 cups of fluid per day. The best choices are water, skim or 1% milk. Whole milk is no longer necessary after a child’s 2nd birthday. Limit 100% fruit juice to a total of 4-6 ounces per day. Instead of soda, add a splash of juice to seltzer. Try to avoid sugar sweetened beverages that are a source of empty calories, especially sports drinks and caffeinated or herbal energy drinks.
9. Eat the colors of the rainbow. Try to get your kids to choose several servings of produce per day. Fresh is better, but make sure that if their choice is canned or frozen that it does not contain high fructose corn syrup or added sugar. Ideally, half the plate at each meal should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
10. Heart disease can start as early as 9 years of age. Just because your child is thin, does not mean it is OK to feed them junk food. That food is still affecting their arteries, and learning healthy habits at a young age will decrease the likelihood of becoming obese later.
Make food fun. Take the kids to the store and help them choose your groceries. Include them in the cooking when you can, and expose them to new and different recipes. Proper nutrition starts early. Healthy habits now will lead to healthy adults later.
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