Alongside with the homework, the activities and the exams, with school re-opening comes another dilemma- -what to pack in our kids lunchboxes. To help solve the dilemma, HEALTH sat with an expert who explained how to make kids lunchboxes not only tasty but wholesome and healthy…
With schools re-opening soon, why is it so important that parents take precaution when it comes to preparing healthy and balanced lunches for their school-going child? To explain, Anita Apel, Nutritionist at the Organic Foods and Cafe, explains that food has an effect on our concentration levels, energy and mood. “Parents think they do the right thing by feeding their kids breakfast loaded with sugar to give them energy, but the opposite is true,” she says, as sugar raises children’s glucose levels and they will be moody, won’t be able to concentrate and will eventually crave for more. Instead she advises to opt for certified organic balanced whole foods with good PH neutral/alkaline water that will help your children focus, lift their mood and boost energy levels.
The Impact of a Good Lunch at School
According to Apel, whole foods and special complex carbohydrates are important to keep glucose levels balanced in the blood which improves brain function. “Complex carbohydrates also provide naturally high amounts of very important brain building vitamins such as ‘the Vitamin-B- Complex’ and a lot of minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium,” she says, and these work together to aid children’s concentration and enhance their mood.
Kid Friendly Snack Ideas:
- Organic whole grain sandwiches/ rolls topped with organic vegetarian spread plus salad leaves/vegetables and white/hard cheese preferably goat or sheep cheese.
- Easy finger food such as: cocktail tomatoes, raw carrot sticks, cucumber, sweet red and yellow pepper sticks, organic non-GM* corn (*genetically modified)
- Fresh plain yogurt/cottage cheese/ quark
- Avocado/vegetable dip with fresh herbs (dill, parsley, sweet paprika powder, pepper and sea salt)
- Parmesan cheese sticks
- Whole grain crispy bread
- Mozzarella and tomato sticks
- Burger made from grains, quinoa and/or vegetables
- Complex carbohydrate salad made from quinoa or brown rice or buckwheat or whole grain bulgur or potatoes or whole grain pasta mixed with either raw vegetables and/or fruits. And topped with cashew nuts/walnuts or almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, extra virgin olive oil, or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
Healthy Fruit Salads Can Include the Following:
- Walnuts/cashew nuts/almonds (if permitted)
- Dark chocolate chips
- Ripe bananas, apple, grapes, mango, pineapple, watermelon, honey melon, Goji berries, blueberries or cranberries.
- Avoid oranges and kiwi as these are too acidic and too high in simple sugar.
- Add one teaspoon of honey if desired and mix with oat flakes or whole grain flakes or cooked millet grains
Healthy Vegetable Salad Ideas:
- Cooked or raw carrots plain or mixed with raw or cooked celery, parsley mixed with almonds or nuts
- Mixed Greek style (mix of sweet pepper, corn cucumber, tomato and feta cheese)
- Raw or cooked broccoli /cauliflower salad mixed with almonds/nuts
- Salads made from cooked lentils/beans (black, red, green, brown) mixed with fruit such as apples, oranges or vegetables such as celery/carrots/peas with nuts
- Dressing made of sunflower/olive/pumpkin/oil and lemon / orange juice
- Feta Cheese
Tips for Helping Your Kids Eat Healthier:
- Start slowly and add healthy food step-by-step
- Make lunch boxes interesting – use different colored fruit and vegetables or shapes
- Give age related amounts of food (ask a nutritionist what it means) – and don’t overload the lunch box!
- Explain what food does to your body
- Let kids help you in the kitchen
- Take the kids into the “right” whole food supermarket and involve them into your shopping by choosing and asking for samples to taste
(Credit: Anita Apel, Nutritionist at the Organic Foods and Café)