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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Lunch’

Bento Box Mania!

What is a bento box?

Bento box lunches have been increasing in popularity among families with preschoolers and school-age children. Google the term “bento box lunch” and you will find a wealth of resources, including blogs, Pinterest pages and online retailers selling basic and whimsical options. If a parent is artistic, the child’s lunch can become a work of art.

Why does it work well for school lunches?

Bento boxes work well for school lunches and snacks because they protect food in a sealed container and keep food groups separate. If you have a picky eater who does not like foods touching, a bento box may keep your child happy. Parents can have fun creating different lunchtime masterpieces. Bento boxes are also economical because they are reusable and help keep plastic snack and sandwich bags out of landfills.

What are the nutritional benefits of bento boxes?

Bento boxes are appealing because they provide a creative way to add a variety of foods to a child’s lunch while keeping wet foods separate from dry foods. By introducing different, healthy foods early in your child’s life, he or she may develop a preference for those foods as well as a more diverse palate. You can also turn the preparation of the bento box into a learning activity by asking your child what each food is, where it comes from, how it’s made and so on. Engaging your child in the experience may help to build and reinforce a child’s love of diverse, nutritious foods while fostering a love of learning.

What can I put in my child’s bento box?

The options are endless, but here are some ideas:

  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs;
  • A mini-bagel sandwich with almond butter, jelly or another spread;
  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries and kiwis;
  • Cheese cubes;
  • Pretzels;
  • Sliced grapes;
  • A muffin;
  • Mini-pita sandwiches filled with cheese and pepperoni;
  • Sliced pineapple;
  • Celery and carrot sticks;
  • Cucumber slices;
  • A turkey and cheese sandwich on a Hawaiian roll;
  • Veggie chips;
  • Rice molds;
  • Chickpeas and black beans;
  • Raisins and chocolate chips;
  • Sandwich rounds with ham, cheese and avocado.

Enjoy making bento box lunches!

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean Hummus RecipeSpice up snack time with this quick, easy and, most importantly, yummy black bean hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 15-oz can of black beans
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin

Drain black beans. In a blender, puree all ingredients, adding water if necessary. Season with salt to taste. Serve with crackers or raw veggies.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

School Lunch Timesavers

  • Involve your children in making lunches. After dinner, gather in the kitchen to prepare sandwiches or leftovers and snacks for the next day’s lunches. If they’ve helped make their lunch, children are more likely to eat and enjoy it.
  • Make a weekday lunch calendar and ask your children to help decide what they will have for lunch each day. This will also make grocery shopping for the week that much easier!
  • Consider using divided lunch containers. With separate sections available for each food group, they’ll help you easily put together healthy, balanced lunches.
  • Prepare a variety of fruits and veggies and place a serving of each in separate containers in the fridge. When packing lunches, have each child choose one item from each group and place in their lunch bag with a sandwich and drink.
  • Prepare large meals like pasta or stew over the weekend and then divide into single-serve portions to pack for lunches throughout the week.

Packing a Healthy Lunch

Ensure your child gets a much-needed boost of energy and nutrition from his midday meals by following these simple tips for packing a healthy lunch.

  • Include whole grains. Many breads, snacks and cereals are made with whole grains, so it’s easier than ever to make them part of your child’s daily diet. If he turns his nose up at brown whole grain bread, there are many white whole grain options available.
  • Supply fruits and veggies. Rinse and prepare cucumber slices, celery sticks, baby carrots, apple wedges, blueberries or strawberries at the beginning of the week and store in single-serve containers in your refrigerator. Let your child choose one veggie and one fruit to add to their lunch each day.
  • Offer calcium-rich options. Send along fat-free or low-fat milk (or a calcium-fortified milk alternative like soy milk), a yogurt cup, yogurt-based dip for fruits and veggies or low-fat cheese. Be sure to include freezer packs to keep these items cold, especially if there won’t be a refrigerator available to store your child’s lunch.
  • Provide protein. Whether in a sandwich (made with whole grain bread, of course!) or just rolled up on its own, lean turkey, roast beef or ham from the deli counter are a healthier alternative to fattier options like bologna.