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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tips for a Healthier Lunch Box

The Basics:
  1.  One serving of veggies or salad AND one serving of fruit.
  2. One serving of low-fat or fat-free milk/dairy item (ie: low-fat cheese stick, yogurt, cottage cheese).
  3. One serving of protein (ie: chicken, fish, eggs, peanut butter, beans).
  4. Water, milk or 100% juice.

Healthy Sandwiches:
  1.  Swap white bread for whole wheat varieties. 
  2. Switch it up with whole wheat pitas/wraps.
  3. Switch from bologna, salami, or other fatty luncheon meats to low-fat alternatives like lean turkey or chicken breast.
  4. Include veggies like lettuce, cucumbers, or shredded cabbage.
  5. Use peanut butter in moderation. 2 tablespoons (size of 1 ping pong ball) provides 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.
  6. Use a thinner layer of peanut butter and substitute sugary jelly with banana or apple slices.
  7. Skip high-fat mayonnaise.  Try something with fewer calories like mustard.
Pack a Salad:
  1. Make it colorful. Use dark greens as a base then load up on bright veggies like pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots.
  2. To make it a main entree, add lean protein such as chicken, beans, or hard boiled eggs.
  3. Pack low-fat or fat-free dressing in a separate container to prevent it from getting mushy.
 Easy Entrees:
  1. Make a cold pasta salad from whole wheat noodles left over from the previous night's dinner.
  2. Mix plain brown rice with canned beans or shredded lean meat for a high dose of protein and fiber.
  3. Pack hummus with fresh veggies and whole wheat pita triangles or flatbreads for dipping.
  4. Include low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with carrots, cherry tomatoes, fresh berries, or melon. These make for a calcium-rich, high-protein lunch.
Healthy Drinks:
  1. If you pack juice, make sure it's 100% juice. All fruit drinks are required to list the percentage on the label.Many juice drinks contain no more than 10% juice and are mixed with a lot of sugar.
  2. Water and low-fat milk are the best drinks for children.  They can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool and should be defrosted by lunch time.
Energy Snacks:
  1. Swap traditional fried chips for baked chips or corn chips. (Not totally in agreement with this---this would be a sometimes food, not an often food:))
  2. Pack salt-free dry-roased almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts to provide kids with a dose of heart-healthy essential fatty acids- be sure to cap the serving at 1/4 cup since nuts are high in calories.
  3. Try low-fat or light yogurt in exchange for full calorie varieties targeted at children. To avoid artificial sweeteners, pack fat-free plain yogurt with fresh fruit.
  4. Select whole grain granola bars that are low in fat and sugar-take a look at the food label and choose the ones that contain less than 1g of saturated fat per serving and are no more than 35% sugar by weight.  To figure the percentage of sugar per serving, divide the grams of sugar by the gram weight of one serving and multiply by 100.
  5. Aim to make snack treats occasional instead of everyday items.  A small serving of animal cracker are lower in fat and sugar than regular cookies, doughnuts, brownies and other baked goods.

Packing a Quick Lunch:
  1. Piece together things that don't need preparation...whole piece of fruit, low-fat yogurt, individual packs of baby carrots, and sliced turkey wrapped in a tortilla is a great balanced lunch.
  2. Save time by packing leftover rice, beans, chicken, salad, and other healthy options into lunch containers are dinnertime. 

    Thank you to Empower Me for this comprehensive information. I received it at CHOP's Healthy Kids Day!

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