Thanks to Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution, school lunches have become a hot topic and it’s about time. With childhood obesity and diabetes on the rise in a country with so much abundance, it’s a crime that our grandchildren are not healthier, especially when natural foods are readily available and simple to prepare.
Now that the G-kids are back in school it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to nourish them so they can, as Oprah would say, become their best selves—healthy, attentive and energetic. What we as parents, grandparents and caregivers can do is provide them with quality fuel. It’s such a basic fact that we are what we eat. White flour, white sugar, processed meats and fried fare only lead to sluggish minds and bodies. It’s impossible to be healthy if we aren’t eating healthy foods.
And what are these healthy foods? The biggest portion would be organic fruits and vegetables, quality proteins, nuts and seeds, whole grains and dairy products from goats and cows that have not been given hormones to produce larger quantities of milk. When watermelon crops in China were given growth chemicals to create bigger melons they exploded—an apt metaphor.
I highly recommend getting an insulated lunch bag or using freezer packs for perishable foods. A thermos is always good for keeping soup, stew or chili warm during winter months. Variety is an important factor in preparing lunch. I certainly wouldn’t want to eat the same thing everyday, would you? Take kids shopping so they can choose things they like. They will be more likely to eat what you’ve packed for them. Even better, allow them to help out in the kitchen. It will give them a sense of pride that they have actually helped prepare their own meal.
Top 10 Tips packing your G-Kid’s lunch:
- Every lunch needs to contain some quality protein like sliced turkey, sliced or cubed cheese or individually wrapped string cheese or even hard-boiled eggs. (Don’t forget the salt.)
- Sandwiches should be made with whole grain bread, whole grain bagels or whole wheat pita and wraps can be made with whole wheat tortillas for variety. Use cookie cutters to make sandwiches into different designs or prepare small tea sandwiches.
- Fruit smoothies can have all kinds of healthy additions like frozen fruits, yogurt, soy milk and nut butters. Kept in a thermos they are wonderful on warm days.
- Add different types of small veggies each day—carrots, celery, jicama, sugar snap peas, edamame and tear drop tomatoes for example with hummus or any of the other wonderful bean dips to go along with them.
- Include whole fruit or a chunky fruit salad with some Greek yogurt or peanut butter for dipping.
- Kids like to graze throughout the day so pack some energy pick me ups, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, raisins or dried cranberries or a nice trail mix.
- Don’t forget to use yesterday’s leftovers. You can even change them up with a skewer and make a kabob. If it’s chicken, cut up the pieces and add such items as cheese cubes or veggies.
- Bean and cheese burritos are easy to make at home with healthy tortillas and refried beans and can be eaten hot or cold.
- Pasta salads are also excellent choices made with whole grain, fresh vegetables and a protein.
- Seal the lunch with love. Kids, no matter what age, love a personal note as a surprise in the middle of the day
About the Author:
Nancy Mehagian teaches gourmet cooking classes and has been a health practitioner in Los Angeles for over thirty-five years. She opened the first vegetarian restaurant on the island of Ibiza and is the author of the award-winning culinary memoir, Siren’s Feast: An Edible Odyssey. She lives in the Studio City with her dogs, Cisco, Buddha and Ringo.
An exciting and innovative collection of healthy, tasty and easy to prepare foods that introduces and encourages mindful eating for junior chefs, The Supernatural Kids Cookbook is available in print from Huqua Press and on all digital e-reader platforms from Premier Digital Publishing. A portion of the proceeds from The Supernatural Kids Cookbook benefits Jeff Bridges’ End Hunger Network.
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