Archives for October 2013

Healthy Lunchbox Tips

lunchboxTry these easy ideas for quick brown bag nutrition.

By Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD
WebMD Feature

Lunch often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of getting kids off to school in the morning. You may prefer to give your child money for lunch rather than pack a midday meal. But it’s worth reconsidering bag lunches because they often far healthier than standard cafeteria fare.

To make sure your child actually eats the healthy lunches you provide, try this advice from Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, a Boston-based nutritionist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and the mother of three boys.

Make the Grade With Lunch

“The most nutritious lunches include foods from at least three food groups, but that doesn’t mean children must have the traditional sandwich, fruit, and milk for good health,” says Wright. As long as youngsters eat a balanced and varied meal, it’s perfectly fine to pack hummus, whole-grain crackers, and yogurt or leftovers from last night’s dinner every day, as well as sandwiches.

The key is to respect your child’s eating style and preferences. Some kids derive comfort from eating the same foods day in and day out while others balk at it. Work with your child, Wright says, and your child is less likely to drop lunch in the playground trash bin.

Get Kids Involved

Allowing children to choose and prepare their own lunch piques interest in the meal and makes it more likely kids will eat their own creations. Let your young child help make lunch the night before school for greater ease in the morning. You can help guide your children to the proper portions and healthy choices of whole grains, protein, and produce. Keep in mind, most elementary school-aged children are allowed a midmorning snack. Account for that when considering the amount of food you provide for lunch.

Make sure you have healthy fare on hand for your child to choose:

  • Whole-grain breads or crackers
  • Peanut and almond butters
  • Light canned tuna fish
  • Raw vegetables that can be cut into slices
  • Fruits
  • Encourage the kids to make sandwiches with whole-grain breads or bagels; tortillas; or colorful wraps. Try different sandwich fillings, such as tabouli mixed with feta cheese in a pita pocket, or a veggie burger.

For even greater buy-in, Wright recommends these simple steps:

  • Let your children pick out their own lunchbox.
  • Consider insulated lunch bags with room for a small freezer pack that allows you to send foods that must be kept cold, such as dip for fresh vegetables, yogurt, and orange juice.
  • Or use larger lunch bags to avoid squishing foods.
  • Have on hand small sturdy plastic containers for cut fruit, vegetables, dip, and lunch foods other than sandwiches.

Practical Lunch Tips

A sandwich made with lean meat, light tuna fish, or peanut butter and jelly; fruit or vegetables; and milk or 100% juice is a fine meal for a growing child’s lunch. You can boost nutrition and tantalize a child’s taste buds by adding shredded carrot, chopped celery, or water chestnuts to egg salad or tuna salad. Combine chopped grapes with diced chicken and mayonnaise for a tasty chicken salad. And don’t forget this popular standby: Add a sliced banana or apple to peanut butter sandwiches.

Here are some other yummy and easy lunches that use foods from at least three of the food groups:

  • Tortilla wraps with shredded cheese, chopped chicken, and cut vegetables
  • Egg salad, whole-wheat bagel, and fruit
  • Whole-grain roll with butter or margarine, 2 hard boiled eggs, and carrot sticks
  • 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, whole-wheat crackers, and fruit
  • 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter, whole-grain crackers or bagel, and fruit or vegetables
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese or hummus, whole-grain crackers, and cherry tomatoes
  • Bean-based soup or stew in a thermos, whole-grain roll with butter or margarine, and dried fruit
  • 1-2 slices leftover thin crust cheese pizza and fruit or vegetables

Make It a Snap

“Children may have as little as 20 minutes to make it to the cafeteria, find their seats, eat, and clean up after themselves, so ease is the name of the game,” Wright says. At some schools, kids eat on the playground, distracted by playing games.

So user-friendly foods are a must for lunch, especially for younger children who easily dismiss hard-to-eat foods that take time to get ready to eat. For example, older kids may be capable of peeling oranges and eggs in a flash, but younger ones are not. Sending a thermos? Make sure your child knows how to use it. Children with braces or other orthodontic devices often do better with foods like applesauce rather than whole apples, and prefer crackers or bread to bagels and bulky rolls, which are difficult to bite.

What’s to Drink?

Milk and fortified 100% fruit juice are the best drinks for children at lunch, in that order. Up until age 9, kids need three 8-ounce glasses of milk every day, or an equivalent such as three cuts of yogurt. By their 9th birthday, they require four servings a day. Milk is one of the easiest ways for kids to meet their need for dairy foods. Encourage milk at school by providing milk money or packing containers of milk in the lunchbox. To make it a treat, offer low-fat chocolate milk. If you child refuses to drink milk at school, opt for 100% fruit juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Don’t Forget Fun

Every kid clamors for junk food, and an outright ban rarely works. So offer healthier alternatives. Pack these fun foods for a healthy treat:

  • Baked potato chips
  • Homemade toasted pita bread chips
  • Pretzels
  • Trail mix or raisins
  • Whole-grain cereal
  • Nuts or soy nuts
  • A smattering of chocolate chips
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Graham crackers
  • Fig bars

 

Recipes for… Sandwiches and Munchies

recipes-3Mozzarella and Tomato

This simple sandwich is a cinch to make and pack. Prepare it the night before and give the flavors a chance to mingle.

Tuna Salad

Our tuna salad recipe is sure to be your child’s new favorite sandwich stuffing.

Chicken and Fruit Salad

With chunk white-meat chicken and sweet fruit, this sandwich filler will be a lunchtime favorite.

Turkey-Meatball Pitas

Lean turkey and an easy-to-handle pita make this healthy sandwich fun to eat.

Ham and Cheese Pitas

Update the classic sandwich by swapping out bread for crisp pita.

Turkey-Melon Wraps

Your kids will love the sweet cantaloupe that transforms a typical turkey sandwich.

Garden Turkey Sandwich with Lemon Mayo

Liven up a traditional turkey sandwich and create a lunch your kids will love.

Falafel Sandwiches

This fun-to-eat sandwich is easily made, packed, and enjoyed.

Healthy Makeover Meatloaf

Use leftovers from this double-duty recipe to create a kid-friendly sandwich.

Baked Honey-Lime Drumsticks

With this recipe, it’s easy to make your kids feel extra-special at lunchtime.

Fish and Chips

This lightened-up version will give your kids a favorite meal with less fat.

Mini Corn Dogs

This lunchtime munchie scores extra credit for its healthy update.

Recipes for…Soups, Chips, and Dips

Chicken Noodle Soup

Send your kids off to school with a thermos of this hearty soup. Be sure to pack their favorite crackers for dunking.

Three-Bean Vegetable Chili

When your kids tire of the same old sandwich, pack this vegetarian chili.

Chicken Chili with Green Salsa

Slightly spicy, this chili is a fun departure from an ordinary lunch.

Corn and Tomato Chowder

Have your kids enjoy this mild soup with tortilla chips.

Vegetable Soup

Thanks to this tasty soup, getting your kids to eat their veggies has never been easier.

recipes-2Romano-Cheese Flatbread Crisps

These yummy crisps are the perfect companion for a tasty dip like hummus.

Parmesan Pita Crisps

Give your kids a healthy alternative to potato chips. Baked crisps have all the crunch without the fat.

Hummus

Fill a piece of Tupperware with a scoop of hummus, veggie sticks, and pita strips.

Perfect Guacamole

Holy guacamole! Your kids will love dipping baked tortillas into this mildly spiced classic recipe.

Cheesy Salsa Dip and Peanut-Butter-Ginger Dip

Cut up your child’s favorite veggies and pack them along with these tasty dips.

Recipes for…Healthy Desserts

Almond Macaroon Fingers

recipes-1A sweet treat like these cookies are the highlight of your child’s lunch hour.

Brownie Bites

Your child works hard all day. Give him or her a sweet reward with these rich brownies.

Figgy Bars

Skip the prepackaged bars and make your own lunchbox-friendly healthy treat.

Lemon Meringue Drops

Light and tangy, these sunny cookies are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.

Whole-Grain Ginger Snaps

Better-for-you whole-grain cookies are a great choice for a healthy lunchbox.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Add chocolate chips or other favorite mix-ins to this healthier cookie dough.

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

This hearty treat is perfectly packable. Experiment with different flavors of preserves.

Apple Crumb Squares

All the taste of pie, in easy-to-pack squares.


Read more: School Dessert Ideas – Best Healthy After Lunch Snacks & Desserts – Good Housekeeping

Teaching kids to eat healthfully starts with smart shopping

eat-healthyTeaching kids to eat healthfully starts with smart shopping. Fortunately, supermarkets are recognizing Americans’ interest in healthy eating, and there are plenty of healthy and good-tasting foods in almost every aisle of your favorite market. Getting the kids involved in navigating the store aisles to find the healthy stuff can not only be fun, it will help them to develop healthy eating patterns for life.

EatingWell’s handy shopping guide is the first stop to better nutrition, better value, and maybe even to putting a little healthy fun in your weekly shopping trip.

Produce Section

Go for variety. Buying the fruit and vegetables your children like assures that they’ll eat plenty of them but what about trying the ones they’ve never even heard of? How about jicama, papaya, tomatillos, mango or even artichokes? It’s always a good idea to look for what’s in season: it will be fresher and may even pack in some extra nutrients.

Prewashed and peeled veggies, such as mini carrots or celery sticks, make great snacks. Apples, pears, peaches, oranges and bananas are lunchbox-ready, but any fruit is easy to pack, simply cut it up and put it into little single-serving containers.

Cereal Aisle

It’s no secret that prime real estate in the cereal aisle is at children’s eye level, so they can easily spot the sugary cereals and beg Mom and Dad to buy them. Try to resist there are plenty of healthier options that still satisfy a sweet tooth. Be sure to look for whole- grain cereals high in fiber (5 grams or more) or cereals that have less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.

Juice aisle

Only buy 100% juice and avoid other beverages that include such ingredients as “high-fructose corn syrup,” “artificial color” and “artificial flavor.”

Soda aisle

Keep walking. But, if your kid loves the fizz and carbonation, grab some flavored seltzer waters they have 0 calories and 0 sugar. Or make your own spritzer by adding add a splash of 100% fruit juice to seltzer.

Dairy section

Choose low-fat dairy options over whole milk and full-fat varieties; they usually have all the same nutrients and benefits without all the fat. Individual packs of cottage cheese and yogurt make great snacks, as do low-fat string cheese and individually wrapped cheese squares. Yogurts can be high in added sugar, so be sure to read the label and pick those with little added sugar. Take advantage of lunchtime as a great opportunity to give your kids natural sources of calcium.

Snack-food aisle

This can be a tough aisle with all the options out there: a zillion potato chips, pizza-flavored tortilla chips and sugar-laden cookies and bars with new ones filling the shelves every day. Weeding out the good from the bad is a challenge but here are some tips to get you started:

  • Go for baked instead of fried potato chips or corn chips.
  • Limit portion size 1-ounce portion is plenty.
  • Avoid trans fats – you’ll find it on the nutrition label.
  • Chose whole-wheat pretzels or crackers over non-whole-grain varieties.

Grab some all-natural granola bars as well; look for ones that contain whole grains, nuts, seeds and pieces of dried fruit.

Frozen section

Bags of frozen fruit and vegetables can come in handy when you’re out of fresh produce. Pack a small container of frozen berries alongside a cup of yogurt for a quick mix-in. Frozen veggies in a quick stir-fry at dinner can be packed for an easy lunch the next day.

Must-Have Kid-Friendly Kitchen

Countertop

Keep a variety of washed fruits on the counter for quick snack options:

  • Bananas-look for miniature bananas, they’re the perfect size!
  • Apples
  • Clementines or mandarin oranges
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Plums
  • Pears

Peaches/Nectarines

Pantry

  • Nuts-All nuts are healthy but nuts in their shell have the added benefits of giving the eater something to do to help prevent mindless eating; try unshelled peanuts or pistachios. Other nuts, such as almonds, pecans, cashews, are all healthy options that deliver 160-170 calories per ounce. Dried and toasted soy nuts are another option.
  • Dried fruit – raisins, apricots, figs, blueberries, pineapple, craisins
  • Trail mix-either homemade or store-bought
  • Cereal-It’s not just for breakfast add it to homemade trail mix or just put it in a small container to snack on; granola or whole-grain varieties are best.
  • Whole-grain snack crackers
  • Granola bars made from whole grains and without high-fructose corn syrup
  • Fruit leather made from 100% fruit; it’s not the same as eating the real thing, but it’s darn close. How can you be sure it’s fruit leather? Pureed fruit should appear as the first ingredient.
  • Whole-wheat bread and wraps
  • Baked snack chips and pretzels, preferably whole-grain varieties

Veggie chips/sticks: They crunch like potato chips, but are made from vegetables like squash, spinach and tomatoes.

Refrigerator

Drinks

  • Low-fat (1-2%) milk or soymilk
  • 100% fruit and vegetable juice (look for low-sodium varieties of vegetable juice)

Flavored seltzer water

Dairy

  • Cups of low-fat fruit yogurt and cottage cheese
  • Drinkable yogurt smoothies
  • Fat-free puddings
  • Low-fat string cheese

Individually wrapped squares and wheels of low-fat cheese

Vegetables

  • Sliced bell peppers
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Celery and baby carrots
  • Low-fat dressings or dip for veggies

Bagged, premade salads

Fruit

  • Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
  • Sliced fruit – pineapple, melons, mangoes or apples

Grapes

Protein

  • Sliced roasted turkey or chicken breast
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Hummus

Other

  • Jelly/jams/preserves with no added high-fructose corn syrup
  • Premade vegetable sushi

Jarred salsa

Freezer

  • Frozen fruit – bags of berries or any other cut-up fruit
  • Low-fat pizza rolls
  • Individual cups of ice cream

100% fruit popsicles

Weekend Collaboration – Working with your kids to pack snacks they’ll actually eat

Involving children in the process of making food gives them ownership over what they put in their mouths and can lead to healthier food choices in the long run. Make snacks with them in advance that can be stored and packed in their lunches another day. Try making some of our fun and easy recipes with your kids today.

Reprinted with permission from EatingWell Magazine.

Top 5 Worst Lunch Foods For Kids

From fake fruit to carcinogenic chicken, how to avoid lunchtime’s worst pitfalls — and what to feed your kids instead.

Fruit Snacks

Nix it: Dentists hate them because they’re the number one cause of tooth decay. Parents hate them because they’re filled with artificial colors and flavors. But kids love them—of course. And why wouldn’t they? They’re basically candy with a health halo. Despite being labeled with the word “fruit,” most fruit snacks contain very little, if any, actual fruit. Even fruit snacks that do contain real fruit (and no, “fruit juice” doesn’t count) are missing the satiating fiber and water that comes with whole fruit.

Fix it: Grapes, berries, and peeled tangerines are just as finger-food friendly as fruit snacks, and most kids love the taste. And hey, raisins are nature’s fruit snacks!

Packaged Desserts

Nix it: Nobody sends a Ho-Ho, Twinkie, or Honey Bun to school with their child because they think it’s healthy. We let our kids have them because they love them, and we love treating our kids. And what mom out there hasn’t holed up with a Swiss Roll and a glass of milk during naptime every once in awhile? Unfortunately, snack cakes are one of the worst sources of trans fats, the man-made fats that experts agree are the worst type of fat to eat. In fact, the USDA advises completely avoiding trans fats as part of a healthy diet.

Fix it: I’m just going to be the bad guy and say it: Kids don’t need dessert at every meal. Treats should be a treat, not a staple. That said, for times when you do want to send something sweet, there are lots of dessert options. Try making cookies from scratch (cheaper than a mix and just as easy, I promise!) and saving them in the freezer to serve one at a time. Make them with your kids, and you get quality time, too!

Juice Boxes

Nix it: Anyone who’s ever handed a kid a juice box in the car only to watch them power wash the upholstery with it knows that those conveniently packaged sugary drinks can be dangerous. But it turns out they can be dangerous for your child’s health, too. Sugar is sugar—even if it is fruit sugar—and when it’s in commercially juiced form, it’s missing all the fiber that makes the original fruit so filling. While juice is delicious, nobody needs to drink it.

Fix it: You don’t have to ban juice forever, but try to save it for special occasions and encourage kids to get their servings of fruit from whole fruits. If your kids have a texture issue, you can always preserve the fiber and vitamins by juicing the fruit yourself or making smoothies with whole fruits, yogurt and ice.

Crackers

 Nix it: Who doesn’t love the crunchy, buttery goodness of a cracker? Unfortunately, most of them are nutritionally void. Serving crackers made from white flour and preservatives that are cooked in unhealthy oils will leave your child tired and cranky.

Fix it: There’s a difference between 100% whole grain products and those “made with whole grain” so experts advise reading the labels and looking for brands with a short list of ingredients and at least three grams of fiber. Instead of crackers, try subbing in 100% whole grain pita pockets or naan cut into small pieces.

Lunch Meats

Nix it: Don’t you hate it when “experts” tell you that your favorite food is killing you? (Hello, cookies!) Yet when it comes to lunch meats, your food might actually be, well, killing you. Before you get all up in arms about ditching this lunch staple, the only lunch meats I’m talking about are the ones processed with nitrates. Nitrates and nitrites are food preservatives that do a much better job of preserving food than they do people. Research shows that people who eat nitrate-packaged foods including lunch meat, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and jerky drastically increase their risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Fix it: Try to steer clear of processed meats and when you do buy packaged lunch meat, hot dogs and the like, buy the preservative-free varieties. Be sure to read the labels as just having the word “natural” on the package doesn’t mean a thing. They may be a little bit more expensive, but it’s worth it!


Read more: 5 Worst Lunch Foods For Kids – Healthy Lunch Options – Redbook

Harvest Festival, Coming Soon!

palm-harbor-harvest-festivalOctober 31, 2013 from 9:30 to 11:30am.

Volunteers needed. Please see your child’s teacher if you can help.

Quality Education, Work Ethic & Character Development

30 years! Congrats! Our son, Clay, attended New Horizons Country Day School about 24 years ago! He’s since graduated with an Elect. Engineering Degree….and is Production Supervisor at the Tampa Armature Works (TAW) Plant in Orlando. His success is due in part to the quality education, work ethic & character development he received at New Horizons. THANK YOU and best of luck to all of you!

Marlin