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Lunch Box Brighteners
Autumn is a busy season with the laissez faire summer days behind us and the back to school rush full speed ahead. I have many parents asking me what to make their kids for lunch, as they are quickly running out of ideas.
Children need energy throughout the day with a nutritious lunch and snacks to maintain focus, concentration and optimize learning. These healthy lunch box tips should have your children bringing lunch bags home empty instead of barley eaten.
Mix it Up!
Grab a bento style lunch box and make a nutrient dense snackable lunch. Cut up fruit and veggies, add a bean dip, a handful of chickpeas, hard boiled egg, leftover chicken or pasta, and some pumpkin seeds or dried fruit. Assembling a bento box style lunch can be fun, nutritious and you can introduce new items in small quantities and see if they are liked.
Roll it Up!
Whether you use a pita, laffa, roti, tortilla, or seaweed paper, kids love rolled up food. Add nitrite-free turkey slices, chopped avocado, beans, chicken, cucumbers, sprouts, hummus, tuna, egg, or cheese. You can basically add anything to a wrap, slice em’ up and watch them disappear.
Cut it Up!
Adding a lot of fruits and vegetables to a lunch box ensures your children are getting nutrient dense foods rich in vitamins and minerals, essential for learning and focus. Fresh produce is also water dense, helping to keep your children hydrated, as they often can forget to drink water at school.
Heat it Up!
If you don’t have a thermos, I really recommend you pick up one. Leftovers can be quickly heated up in the morning, put into a thermos and a healthy lunch is made. Soups, stews, stir-fries, pastas can all be loaded with veggies, lentils, and lean proteins. Try making a healthy mac and cheese with whole grain noodles, cauliflower puree and a cheese sauce.
Sweet it Up!
I like to add a special treat on Fridays. It gives the kids something to look forward to and is a little surprise for them after a busy week. A few squares of dark chocolate, a handful of cookies, or a small container of potato chips. Just remember to avoid processed treats, or those with chemical food dyes. Make sure to read your labels and buy from health food stores for a wide variety of kid-approved snacks that can be bought packaged or in bulk.
Green it Up!
Forget disposable bags that get tossed after one use and pick up some eco-friendly containers. You will be teaching your kids to protect the environment and those pretty
containers are sure to get them to eat their healthy lunch. Check out an eco-store close to you for a wide selection to choose from.
Kid it Up!
We often are rushing trying to get so many things done. There is a lot of research on the benefits of getting kids to help out in the kitchen. Getting them to make their own lunch will translate to them eating it. Just think, if they get good enough at it, they just might start packing yours. Now that’s something to look forward to!
Rachel Schwartzman is a board certified naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and birth doula. She maintains a general family practice in Toronto, with a special interest in family medicine, women’s health, pregnancy and pediatrics. Visit: rachelschwartzman.com.