Healthy Lunches for Kids of all Ages

Kim Bruno Colorado Center of Health and Nutrition Fort Collins Colorado

 

 

The Dangers of Processed Foods:

Processed foods are not recognized by the body as “food” or nourishment. They do not provide nutrients, which are fuel and signals to the living cells of the body.  Therefore when fed too much processed food from boxes, bags and cans the child’s body cannot effectively function in the areas of learning, physical activity and proper development.

 

 

 

Label Reading – What to AVOID and Why:

  • Sugar – 4 grams = 1 Tsp
    • —  High fructose corn syrup, sucrose, corn syrup, brown sugar, fructose, dextrose
    • —  Can decrease the immune system function, cause imbalance of bacteria in the GI tract and damage the enamel of the teeth
  • Artificial sweeteners – aspartame, Nutrasweet, Equal, Sweet-n-low, Splenda (sucrolose)
    • —  Can adversely affect the central nervous system and brain development
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • —  Can adversely affect the central nervous system and brain development
  • Partially Hydrogenated Fats (Trans Fats)
    • —  Creates systemic inflammation and increases cardiac risk factors
  • Refined, enriched and fortified – grains
    • —  Better in their natural occurring form and not the added synthetic form of vitamins and minerals
  • Nitrates and nitrites – found in processed meats
    • —  Carcinogen
  • Food dyes or #’s – Red 40 & 3, Blue 1, Yellow 5 & 6
    • —  Can adversely affect the central nervous system and brain development
    • —  Petroleum product and carcinogen
  • Pesticides, Herbicides and Fungicides – Buy organic whenever possible
    • —  Endocrine disruption, adverse effects on central nervous system and immune system

The Foundation of Every Healthy Lunch:

  • Lean Concentrated Protein
    • Meat
    • Beans and/or legumes
    • Tofu
    • Eggs
    • Cheese or Greek Yogurt
    • Nuts and seeds (if permitted)
  • Fruit
    • Whole and fresh
  • Vegetable
    • Whole and fresh
    • Naturally Occurring Grain
      • Whole grains and minimally processed – rice, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, quiona, whole grain crackers

Healthy Lunches Recipes and Ideas:

Homemade “Lunchable”

  • Many container options – bento box, planet lunch box, ziplock dividable, tuber-wear with silicone baking cups.
  • Each cup or section is filled with finger food options or single ingredients the child can assemble into a fun lunch.
  • Options:
    • Beans, olives, mini tomatoes, cucumber stars, meat roll ups with berries
    • Cheese,  crackers, meat roll ups and mandarin orange slices and mini peppers
    • Cucumbers with a yogurt dipping sauce, olives and chickpeas with apples

Lunch on a Stick

  • Sandwich Kabob –  The sandwich components on a stick
  • Fruit and veggie kabobs – Various fruit and veggies on a stick

A little something warm

  • Use a thermos to keep soup, stew, or pasta warm until lunch time

The Color Lunch – give your lunch a color theme

  • Green – cucumbers and pears with edemame and cilantro rice
  • Orange – Cheddar cheese with crackers, clementine oranges and baby carrots

Creative Meat, Cheese and  Crackers

  • Order preservative free (no nitrates and msg) deli meats and cheese sliced extra thick; then use dinosaur or farm animal cookie-cutters (or holiday theme) to cut the slices into kid-friendly shapes. Pack with crackers or bread

Sandwich a day keeps boring lunches away

  • If your child loves sandwiches, try to have a different sandwich every day to increase variety
    • Turkey and hummus with sprouts
    • Ham and thin sliced apples
    • Egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad
    • Almond butter (or Sun butter) and Jam Panini, Nut/seed butter and banana tortilla rollup
    • Cream cheese and thin sliced cucumbers

The little things that can make the lunch magic

  • Add a personalized note on the napkin
  • Enclose a little treat such as a square of chocolate or a sticker
  • Any sandwich can be grilled for a couple minutes before packing – just adding the ridges make it a whole new experience
  • Dipping sauces – for  fruit, veggies and/or sandwiches

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