LIFE'S HEALTHIER AT THE VILLAGE

Healthy School Lunch Ideas to Nourish your Kids

Summer is coming to a close, and soon kids will be heading back into the classroom. With such long days of learning and playtime, it’s important we fuel our children with a healthy school lunch to keep them energized and focused. Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, has some helpful tips to nourish our children well in this back to school season. 

Slow Digesting Fiber, Fats, and Protein

The key is to focus all meals and snacks on protein, fats, and fiber (from healthy carbohydrates and produce). These are the nutrients that digest slowly, meaning they keep stomach’s satisfied, blood sugar regulated, and minds focused on learning. Oftentimes “kid-friendly” foods are mainly simple carbohydrate focused (i.e: cereal, waffles, toast, pb&j, crackers, etc)  which cause children to get hungry quickly after eating and can cause disruption in their focus, mood, and energy. Instead we want to incorporate slow digesting nutrients when our child eats a carbohydrate. Such as topping toast with avocado, pairing a pb&J with yogurt, dipping crackers into hummus, etc. 

Balanced Meal Ideas

To create a balanced meal, we want to ensure we include items from each food group. Check out the helpful chart below of example foods. Have your kids get involved by choosing what they want from each column! By balancing protein, carbohydrates, fiber (1+ cups of veggies and fruit!), and fats, you can ensure your child is fueled for their day of learning and fun! 

Protein

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Roast Beef
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Chicken Sausage
  • Turkey Meatballs
  • Tuna
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Greek Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Steamed Edamame
  • Tofu

Carbohydrates

  • Whole Grain Bread
  • Whole Grain Crackers
  • Whole Wheat Pita
  • Whole Wheat Tortilla
  • Whole Grain English Muffin
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Whole Wheat Waffle
  • Corn Tortilla
  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Beans

Produce

  •  Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Snap Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Apple or Applesauce
  • Kiwi
  • Berries
  • Melon
  • Plum
  • Pear
  • Mini Banana
  • Fruit Leather

Fats

  • Guacamole
  • Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Olives
  • Sunflower Butter/ Nut Butter
  • Sunflower Seeds/ Nuts and Seeds
  • Full Fat Yogurt
  • Olive Oil
  • Dressing
  • Cream Cheese

Need some inspiration for lunch box ideas? Try out one of these three combinations!

Lunchbox #1

  • Cracker Stacks: Whole Grain Crackers, Deli Turkey, Sliced Cheese
  • Snap Peas and Grape Tomatoes
  • Oatmeal Snack Balls (recipe below)

Lunchbox #2

  • PB Banana Roll Up: whole grain tortilla, nut butter of choice,  banana, & cinnamon
  • Yogurt Ranch Dip (recipe below)
  • Sliced Bell Peppers

Lunchbox #3

  • Hummus Tuna Salad (recipe below)
  • Whole Grain Pita Wedges
  • Raspberries with Dark Chocolate Chips

Lunchbox Recipes

Yogurt Ranch Dip

  • 1 container (8 ounces) fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 packet dry ranch mix (or  3/4 tsp garlic powder,  1/2 tsp onion powder,  1/2 tsp dried dill,  1/4 tsp salt)

Combine dip mix with greek yogurt and stir Serve with assorted vegetables.

Hummus Tuna Salad

  • 1 5 oz can of tuna (or sub shredded chicken)
  • 1-2 tbsp hummus
  • ¼ cup, carrots,diced
  • ½ cup diced celery, diced

Combine all ingredients and enjoy with crackers, on bread, in a pita, over greens, or with sliced veggies.

Nut Free Oatmeal Snack Ball

  • 1 1/2 cups tightly packed Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup creamy sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips

Place the pitted dates into the bowl of a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, then process until they form a sticky ball. Use a spatula to break up the date mixture a bit, then add in the sunflower seed butter, oats, and salt. Process again until a sticky batter is created. Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times to incorporate the chocolate chips into the mixture. Scoop the dough by tablespoons and roll them into balls. These balls will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Need help creating healthy rhythms for your family? Reach out to Village dietitian, Jamie Miller today! (E:jamiller@dmbclubs.com, P: 713-494-2030)

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