Healthy Lunch Suggestions
The newest USDA food pyramid recommends eating enough servings of fruits and vegetables to total 3-5 cups daily - the exact amount depends on age, sex and activity level. (See www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/index.html for more details.) Lunch is an excellent opportunity to provide some of these servings to schoolchildren. Fruits and vegetables are healthy, quick and easy to prepare, and they add variety to school lunches.
When preparing lunch for your child, toss any combination of the following into a container:
- Melon balls
- Apple chunks
- Papaya chunks
- Seedless grapes
(To prevent fresh fruits from turning brown, dip the fruit in pineapple juice
or lemon juice immediately after cutting it.)
- Frozen green peas
- Chick peas
- Kidney beans
- Chicken chunks
- Turkey chunks
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sliced carrots
- Snow peas
- Add any of the above vegetables and/or lean meats to chilled pasta of your favorite shape and color, along with a low-fat dressing of your choice for a healthy lunch salad.
- Make veggie dips by adding herbs and spices to low-fat sour cream or yogurt.
- Most kids love fresh, in-season fruit but will balk at fruit that has been picked too early and transported from far away. Can you blame them? During months when local options are limited, supplement with unsweetened applesauce, canned fruit in its own juices, and dried fruit.
- Pack miniature meatballs in a thermos. Add rice.
- Pack cooked pasta, with just enough tomato sauce to add color and some flavor, in a thermos. Add a little grated cheese if desired.
- Introduce whole-grain breads slowly and try different brands. Many kids prefer whole grain bread toasted.
- Skip dessert and include low-fat baked crackers, pretzels or chips instead.