Tag Archive: Lunch

Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Seven Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Jazz up traditional peanut butter sandwiches with raisins or carrot straws.

Now that school is back in session, are your struggling to find healthy and safe lunches to pack?  Do you cringe with every peanut butter and jelly sandwich you make?  If you are like me, finding healthy lunch time meals that are packed with nutrition, offer some variety, and won’t end up in the trash requires planning, creativity, and lots of energy!

  1. Get children involved! Even young school-age children can help make their own lunch.  Give children healthy choices and let them decide lunch menus.  Children may be more willing to eat the food you pack if they have been involved in the process.
  2. Dunk it and dip it. Children love finger foods they can dip.  Serve raw vegetables with hummus or fresh fruit with yogurt.
  3. Offer some “fun foods.” Let children choose some low-calorie fun foods.  Healthy or low-calorie options for the sweet or crunchy tooth include pretzels, plain popcorn, mini rice cakes, low-fat pudding, a miniature chocolate bar, or a rice crispy treat.
  4. Jazz up boring favorites. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a nutritious favorite.  Liven them up with carrot straws or raisins.  Add color and nutrition to sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, or sliced vegetables.
  5. Keep lunches safe. Make sandwiches the night before and freeze them.  Freeze juice boxes or water bottles to keep foods cool and for a cool lunchtime beverage.  Experiment to be sure there is enough time before lunch for the items to thaw.
  6. Re-think leftovers. Even if children don’t have access to a microwave to reheat food from last night’s dinner, some leftovers work for lunch, too. Try cold pizza, meat sliced for a sandwich, or pasta salad.
  7. Skip the fuss and sign up for the National School Lunch Program. While some schools may offer free and reduced-price lunches to eligible families, the school lunch program is for everyone.  School lunches provide low cost, balanced meals that follow USDA dietary guidelines.  Take a break from packing lunch and check out your school’s lunch menu.

Turkey Rolls:
2 flour tortillas
2 tsp mayonnaise
2 slices thinly sliced deli turkey
½ cup shredded lettuce
2 Tbsp shredded cheese, any type

Lay out tortillas. Spread with mayonnaise. Layer turkey slice, lettuce and cheese onto tortillas. Roll up and wrap. Makes 2 servings.

One serving provides 218 calories, 9 g total fat, 20 g carbohydrate and 14 g protein.
Exchanges – 1 bread, 2 meats, 2 fats.

Recipe source:  Janis G. Hunter, HGIC Nutrition Specialist, and Katherine L. Cason, Professor, Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences, Clemson University, New 08/08. Revised 09/11. Image added 8/15.  HGIC 4114

 

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Author: Kendra Zamojski – hughson@ufl.edu

Kendra Zamojski is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent III in the Northwest District.
http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu

Kendra Zamojski

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/24/seven-tips-for-a-healthy-school-lunch/

Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Healthy school lunch

Packing the kids’ lunches for school means you know which nutritious foods they are eating. Here are some budget-friendly, creative ideas to keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime.

Make a “Smarter” Sandwich:

While some kids prefer the same thing every day, others may be okay with a slight switch to their sandwich.

  • Use different breads like 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100% whole wheat pita pockets.
  • Besides lettuce, try shredded carrots or avocado slices with a turkey sandwich.
  • Buy blocks of low fat, low-sodium cheeses. You save money when you slice it yourself. Or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
  • Instead of lunch meat, try a leftover grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

 

Love Those Leftovers:

Try using the leftovers from the family dinner for the next day’s lunch. Invest in a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until lunchtime.

  • Low-sodium tomato, vegetable or bean soups
  • Chili made with lean or extra lean ground turkey
  • Whole wheat spaghetti with low sodium tomato sauce
  • Low-sodium baked beans, bean casserole or beans & rice

 

Let Them Dunk:

Sometimes it is okay to let your kids play with their food, especially when they are getting extra nutrition.

  • Apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter.
  • Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.
  • Whole grain crackers (choose crackers low in sodium and saturated fat and made without hydrogenated oils) to dunk into low-sodium vegetable or tomato soup.
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds, crushed whole wheat cereal and sliced banana to mix into low fat vanilla yogurt (no added sugars) to eat with a spoon like a sundae.

 

Get Them Involved:

While letting kids in the kitchen might mean a bigger mess, if they help pack their own lunch, they are more likely to eat it! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.

For more heart healthy lunch tips visit: www.heart.org

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Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/11/packing-a-healthy-school-lunch-2/

Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Healthy School Lunch

Healthy School Lunch

Packing the kids’ lunches for school means you know which nutritious foods they are eating. Here are some budget-friendly, creative ideas to keep kids happy and healthy at lunchtime.

Make a “Smarter” Sandwich:

While some kids prefer the same thing every day, others may be okay with a slight switch to their sandwich.

  • Use different breads like 100% whole wheat tortilla wraps (choose wraps low in saturated and made with no hydrogenated oils) or 100% whole wheat pita pockets.
  • Besides lettuce, try shredded carrots or avocado slices with a turkey sandwich.
  • Buy blocks of low fat, low-sodium cheeses. You save money when you slice it yourself. Or use a cookie cutter to cut into fun shapes.
  • Instead of lunchmeat, try a leftover grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

Love Those Leftovers:

Try using the leftovers from the family dinner for the next day’s lunch. Invest in a thermos to keep foods hot or cold until lunchtime.

  • Low-sodium tomato, vegetable or bean soups
  • Chili made with lean or extra lean ground turkey
  • Whole wheat spaghetti with low sodium tomato sauce
  • Low-sodium baked beans, bean casserole or beans & rice

Let Them Dunk:

Sometimes it is okay to let your kids play with their food, especially when they are getting extra nutrition.

  • Apple and pear slices to dip into low-fat plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter.
  • Carrot, celery and sweet pepper strips to dip into hummus, fresh salsa or homemade bean dip.
  • Whole grain crackers (choose crackers low in sodium and saturated fat and made without hydrogenated oils) to dunk into low-sodium vegetable or tomato soup.
  • Unsalted sunflower seeds, crushed whole wheat cereal and sliced banana to mix into low fat vanilla yogurt (no added sugars) to eat with a spoon like a sundae.

Get Them Involved:

While letting kids in the kitchen might mean a bigger mess, if they help pack their own lunch, they are more likely to eat it! On nights you have a bit more time, like a Sunday night, have them choose which piece of fruit or what type of whole grain bread they want and let them assemble their lunch. Make this a weekly routine – it’s another great way to spend family time together.

For more heart healthy lunch tips visit: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

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Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/08/29/packing-a-healthy-school-lunch/

Tips for Busy 4-H Parents: Out of the Box Lunch Ideas

lunch boxMaybe your child is too picky to eat school lunches on a regular basis, maybe they have food allergies, or you just want them to eat a little healthier. It could be that your family does not qualify for free or reduced lunch, but you would rather not spend $ 400-$ 500/year on school lunches. Whatever your reason for sending a school lunch, keeping it fun, fresh, and delicious can be a challenge.

It’s all about the box- Allow your child to select a lunch box that they like, and preferably one that is insulated. You might also want to invest in plastic containers in a variety of sizes. A thermos is also handy for hot soups and pastas. When selecting bottles for beverages, make sure they are easy to clean and if you plan on packing milk to drink, an insulated bottle or a bottle with a built in ice pack is a must.

Many children are obsessed with pre-packaged lunchables, but not only are they expensive, they are not really filling for most children and often high in sodium. Making your own lunchables at home is easy. All you need are some dishwasher safe plastic containers with individual compartments (readily available at grocery and big box stores) and some creativity. Involving your child in planning and packing their lunch will encourage them to try new things and also teach them responsibility.

10 Home-made Lunchables to Try:

  1. Basic- assortment of whole wheat crackers, cheese, and deli meats
  2. Sandwich bar- whole wheat slider roll, cheese, deli meats, and condiments (try hummus or pesto for something different). Children LOVE to create their own sandwiches!
  3. Sandwich on a stick- skewer cubed cheese, meat, bread, cherry tomatoes, and pickles onto a coffee stirrer.
  4. DIY Pizza- ½ English muffin, sauce, cheese, and mini turkey pepperoni
  5. Chicken Parm Sandwich- whole wheat roll, chicken tender, mozzarella slice, and marinara
  6. Mac and cheese muffins- add ham and broccoli to your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. These freeze well.
  7. Sushi sandwich- whole wheat tortilla, layered with pesto, hummus, or other favorite condiment, and cheese and deli meat or left over rotisserie chicken. Roll up and slice into sushi rolls.
  8. Snack tray- pack an assortment of fruit, nuts, cheese, veggies, and crackers.
  9. Rice cakes with individual packs of cream cheese, hummus, or nut butters.
  10. Pizza calzones- flatten a canned biscuit, and spread marinara and cheese. Fold in half, and use a fork to crimp the edges shut. Bake at 350 on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for 12-15 minutes. Serve with additional marinara for dipping.

 More tips:

  • Place purchased or homemade fruit cups in the freezer the night before. By lunch time, your child will have a frozen fruit slushy.
  • Dip sliced apples in pineapple juice to prevent browning- pineapple juice will not leave a bitter or sour aftertaste.
  • Spread a very light layer of whipped cream cheese on bread before making a mayonnaise based salad sandwich (such as tuna or chicken salad). The whipped cream cheese will prevent the sandwich from becoming soggy- a great tip if you make lunches the night before.
  • Substitute low fat vanilla yogurt for pudding. Add fresh fruit and granola for a “dessert” parfait.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut fruit and veggies into fun shapes for dipping.
  • Buy yogurt, canned fruit, pudding, and applesauce in larger containers, and then portion them out in re-useable ½ plastic containers. This can save you about 50% on individual size snack items and also will help reduce waste.
  • Have a theme for each day of the week:

o   Monday- Sandwich day

o   Tuesday- Wrap day

o   Wednesday- Dip day (hummus and veggies, salsa, bean dip, fruit dip)

o   Thursday- Salad day (fruit, pasta, chicken, or veggie salad)

o   Friday- Thermos day (hot soup, mini pasta with marinara, mac and cheese)

Lunch Box Pantry Staples (buy extra when on sale to keep in your pantry or freezer):

Carbohydrates: whole wheat crackers, tortillas, slider rolls, loaf bread, bagel thins, rice cakes, pretzels, and pasta in fun shapes

Protein– nut butters, ham, turkey, chicken, boiled eggs

Dairy– yogurt, cottage cheese, deli cheeses such as mozzarella, cheddar, and Muenster

Fruit– fresh, dried, and canned fruit for fruit cups, parfaits, trail mix, and granola. Purchase canned fruit in light syrups if possible.

Veggies– keep a variety of your child’s favorite veggies on hand. Don’t be afraid to sneak in new ones every now and then for them to try such as a slice of avocado or roasted red bell pepper on a sandwich or wrap.

Condiments– stock up on condiments such as mayo, mustard, ketchup, marinara, hummus, pesto, and tapenade.

Sweets– it’s okay to sneak in some sweets every now and then. Animal and graham crackers, mini marshmallows, puddings, and homemade cookies are all good alternatives.

We hope that these ideas will help you live a healthier life this coming school (and 4-H) year. As your family prepares for back to school, don’t forget that the 4-H year will be coming to a close at the end of this month. Enrollment in Florida 4-H beings August 23rd. To re-enroll, visit: http://florida.4honline.com or contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/08/22/tips-for-busy-4-h-parents-out-of-the-box-lunch-ideas/