August 29, 2014

Packing a healthy lunch box

School lunch has come a long way. Students across the country are enjoying healthier options and some teachers are planting school gardens and offering the locally grown produce to students for snacks and even at lunch. Still, many kids prefer to bring their own lunch box.

If you are packing a lunch for your child, remember to include lots of healthy items such as fruit, veggies and milk or yogurt. A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that more than 40 percent of the packed lunches that children bring from home are often missing these healthy items.

Looking for inspiration? Carole Bartolotto, a Kaiser Permanente registered dietician and contributor to this blog, has a few suggestions:

  • Place peanut butter and sliced bananas on whole-wheat bread. Pair it with baby carrots, celery, low-fat ranch dressing and fat-free milk.
  • Skewer low-fat meat, low-fat cheese, cucumber, olives and cherry tomatoes onto a stick. Include blueberries and a fat-free yogurt.
  • Pair fruit chucks such as apple and banana with peanut butter as a dipping sauce. Add jicama slices and fat-free milk.

Back-to-school time is also a good time for adults to take a good look at their lunch. Eating out for lunch can not only be expensive, it can often be unhealthy—full of trans or saturated fat and processed carbs—with little if any fruits or vegetables. Here are a few ideas from Carole Bartolotto:

For adults:

  • Toss a green salad with carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes. Top with tuna, a chicken breast, or kidney and balsamic vinaigrette. Add apple slices with peanut butter.
  • Fill a whole-wheat pita pocket or tortilla with chicken or egg salad (easy on the mayo), vegetarian refried beans, or humus and red onion, tomato, avocado, or salsa. Add 1 cup of mango.
  • Team a cup of bean soup with a green salad and Italian salad dressing. Add 4 Ry Krisp crackers and a peach.
  • Dip broccoli, red pepper, and cucumber slices into humus. Add 1 cup of strawberries with fat free yogurt.