Creative Ways to Spice Up Your Child’s Lunch
By Brian Chodash
Developing healthy eating habits in childhood will set the pattern for life. If the family is eating healthy appropriate meals at home and when dining out the child will be accustomed to eating this way. You’ve heard the expression “we eat with our eyes” visual appeal is also important. The good news is that fruits and vegetables are colorful and easy to serve individually or in combinations such as salad or fruit salad. It is easy to determine what is healthy and what is not. There are numerous sources for information on nutrition and healthy eating. The trick with children is to make eating fun, interesting and easy.
Children love to dip. Dips such as hummus or yogurt can be easily used for school lunches. Hummus can be used with vegetables such as baby carrots and bell pepper slices. Peppers come in a variety of colors so that if you mix the colors (red, yellow, green) it will be visually appealing. If plain hummus doesn’t excite your child’s taste buds there are numerous varieties that you can purchase or make at home such as mixed with sun dried tomato or roasted red pepper. Yogurt is available in a variety of flavors such as strawberry, blueberry, cherry etc. providing a serving of fruit as well as the yogurt protein.
Rollups: Easy to make and easy to eat. Turkey or chicken (lean proteins) can be rolled with cheese to make a fun healthy protein packed component of a well rounded meal. Look for low sodium and low fat when making your purchase decision.
Spice it up: Traditional lunches can be spiced up such as tuna. Consider adding apple and dried cranberries to liven it up and add fruit and color to the meal. Consider almond butter with dried cranberries and sliced almonds on whole wheat bread as a tasty nutritious meal.
Add fruit frozen the night before. This will help keep the lunch cold and will defrost in time for lunch. Melons, berries, apple slices and oranges would add a healthy dessert to the meal.
Once you’ve started broadening your child’s food horizons—and perhaps your own as well—you may want to monitor the nutritional content of the lunches you’re packing. There are any number of excellent calorie counters online; in fact you’ll find one at www.tossed.com/design-your-own. Just click on the combination of foods and ingredients going into your kid’s lunch, and the nutritional facts are automatically calculated in the chart at the right.
Brian Chodash is Vice President of Marketing of Tossed, a nationwide chain of restaurants serving garden fresh salads, crepe wraps, sandwiches, grilled Panini’s and soups.