I feel like every morning I pack the same lunch for my daughter-a sandwich-and I squeeze in a piece or two of fruit, a box of juice, maybe some cheese and crackers for her snack. Nothing I give her is bad for her, I wouldn’t dream of sending her off with candy or highly processed foods (she gets enough of that stuff)-but it does seem that I wind up giving her alot of carbs. I think about how I, as an adult, try to make wise choices when preparing or buying my lunch, and how I have to do the same for her, beyond for the obvious nutritional reasons. If I eat a huge sandwich or a bowl of pasta for lunch, I can forget about thinking clearly for the rest of the day. I always have a cup of coffee in the afternoon to help get me recharged, but kids don’t have such tools to help counterbalance the negative effects of a bad diet.
Some wise snack choices for kids that will give them energy and not slow them down:
Fruit, cheese and whole grain crackers
I don’t know if the small amount of whole grain that you find in crackers is meaningful, so check the labels and ingredients and look for organic products that are low in saturated fat. For fruit, mix it up throughout the week and pack well washed and cut-up organic strawberries or strawberries and bananas, seedless grapes, sliced apples, sliced and peeled kiwi, cubed pineapple or orange slices. For the cheese course, I like those Laughing Cow Baby Bel Light Cheese wheels because they have their own rind and stay fresh. My daughter likes them and the “light” one isn’t so bad for you.
Remember making popcorn on your stovetop as a kid in a big pot and standing there shaking it until the lid started to slowly lift off? Well, I still make popcorn that way and like it best. Air poppers are even better for you as there is no oil needed, but however you decide to make it, it’s a nutritional snack. You can make popcorn the night before, toss it with a little butter and salt or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and black pepper and stick a baggie of it in your child’s snack. If you don’t feel like making your own, I like this brand of popcorn made by Good Health Natural Foods because it uses olive oil and is “half naked”, meaning there’s not too much of anything on it at all.
Crudite, kids version
I don’t really like baby carrots anymore-they always seem to lack flavor and get all slimy after a while, so I never buy those carrots and ranch dressing conveniently packaged sets. Instead, I take whole carrots, peel them, slice them and pair them with celery, blanched brocolli florets and if your kid is daring, you might want to try sticking grape tomatoes in there too but my kids wouldn’t hear of it. I send my daughter off with these veggies lightly salted and with a small container of either hummus or ranch dressing that I’ve made. This way, it may be higher in fat than I like, but the ingredients are all-natural and there’s no high fructose corn syrup or junk in there. In this recipe for Bucket O’ Chicken with Ranch Dip, Rachael shows you how to make your own ranch dressing.
Little Tea Sandwiches
Instead of the big bulky sandwiches with tons of bread, you could make little tea sandwiches and pack a variety in one lunch or snack. My daughter loves a fancy presentation, so this is one way to get her to try new things like pumpernickel bread or sliced baby artichokes. Here are some recipes from Rachael:
Danish Lunch Box Smorbrod (Danish version of small tea sandwiches)
What healthy snack ideas do you have that can go with kids to school?