School lunch is definitely a hot topic these days. Recently I was a guest at a high energy Moms Night Out and many of these super women were frustrated by schools’ lunch offerings and when lunch was packed at home, the pickiness factor of their kids! A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that lunches brought from home were frequently less healthy than those served in schools. (1) We know that lunch – not dinner – is that meal that causes the most stress for families with school-aged children. The lunchbox isn’t only about food! It’s a wonderful opportunity to write a note of encouragement during the day! So, we’re here to help you with some great tips on how to make over your child’s lunchbox.
THE LUNCHBOX BLUEPRINT
Here are our must-have five categories with plenty of room for your own creativity!
- The main course – If you are in a sandwich rut, spice things up with a hearty soup, salad, or our tasty TLT wrap (see recipe below).
- The garden – fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they are good for teeth, too! The crunchiness generates saliva which naturally fights plaque! Freshly sliced and packed with a delicious dip or hummus definitely gets a thumbs up!
- The drink – our top picks are low-fat milk or dairy alternatives and water in a recyclable bottle!
- The crunch – kids love crunchy! Taste test “baked” pita chips, air-popped popcorn, rice and whole grain crackers!
- The treat – this is optional, but it’s nice (and sweet) way to round out the lunchbox and it can be healthy, too! Ginger Snaps, fruit cups in natural juices, yogurt covered raisins even a few tablespoons of chocolate chips will bring a smile to your child’s day!
The TLT Wrap (courtesy of Appetite for Life, HarperOne 2012)
Bacon, lettuce and tomato is a classic American sandwich, but the average BLT is high in calories, saturated (the “bad” stuff for your heart) fat and sodium. We remade this favorite into a healthier option, without sacrificing the flavor. Turkey bacon is a lean protein and it’s so satisfying that you’ll never go back to regular bacon again! This wrap is high in vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that help keep our immune system strong.
4 slices turkey bacon (4 ounces)
2 whole wheat lavash flatbreads or 2 (11-inch) whole wheat wraps
4 teaspoons olive oil mayonnaise
4 Romaine lettuce leaves
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
- Cook bacon as label directs; drain on paper towels. Set aside.
- Unfold lavash. Cut each lavash crosswise in half to make 4 pieces in total. Place 1 piece lavash on plate or flat surface.
- Spread 1 teaspoon mayonnaise evenly over one narrow end of lavash, covering about half of lavash. Place 1 lettuce leaf on mayonnaise at end of lavash (so it’s easy to roll). Fill spine of lettuce leaf with ¼ of tomatoes; top with 1 slice bacon.
- From filling end, tightly roll lavash, jelly-roll fashion. If you like, cut wrap in half.
- Repeat to make 4 wraps in all.
Makes 4 servings (1 wrap per serving).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 150 calories; 7g fat (0.5g sat fat, 1g mono, 4g poly, 0g trans fat); 25mg cholesterol; 14g carbohydrate (2g fiber, 2g sugar); 9g protein; 320mg sodium; 15% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 20% DV vitamin C; 2% DV calcium; 8% DV iron.
What’s are your top picks for the lunchbox? Please share!
– Stacey Antine, MS, RDN, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.