Pep Up Lunch
Healthy Lunches for Healthy Kids
A new school year is upon us. One of the most challenging daily tasks that goes with back to school is finding something interesting, healthy, and tasty for your child to eat if they take their lunch instead of participating in a school lunch program. Here are some tips to simplify the process.
Planning is essential to the success of packing a healthy lunch. It allows you to prepare well-balanced meals and reduces the amount of rushing to find something to take in the morning. It can also help you make your grocery list so you don’t have the added expenses of purchasing items you already have or foods your child won’t eat. Encourage your child to be involved in the planning phase. Children are more likely to eat foods that they had an active part in planning or preparing.
Think of ways you can mix up traditional lunch items. Most people like a peanut butter sandwich or a sandwich with deli meat, but eating that every single day can get old. Substitute pita bread or a tortilla for regular bread, using whole grains when possible. If your child eats peanut butter and jelly, swap out the jelly flavors. Cookie cutters are a great way to turn sandwiches, meats, and cheeses into fun shapes.
Lunch is a great time for you to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Dress up sandwiches with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles. Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces and place them in individual containers. Include some type of dip. Some great options are hummus, yogurt dip, peanut butter, low-fat dressing, or salsa. If your child is a picky eater, you may have some luck sneaking some nutrition into a muffin. Below is a Plate It Up, Kentucky Proud recipe for Pumpkin Apple Muffins.
Remember snacks should be simple, reasonable portions, healthy, and desirable for your child. Good options include graham crackers, trail mix, low-fat granola bars, air-popped popcorn, 100-calorie packs, or a fun-size candy bar.
For more information on healthy eating, contact the Oldham County Extension Office.
Parents can also watch Renee Fox, Extension Nutrition Specialist, who talks about packing healthy school lunches that their children will actually eat.
Pumpkin Apple Muffin Recipe
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ¼ cups honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups fresh pureed pumpkin
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 cups Granny Smith apples, finely chopped
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 °F. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a small bowl, combine honey, eggs, pumpkin, and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apples. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups, two-thirds full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Note: To substitute honey with two cups granulated sugar, decrease baking soda by ¼ teaspoon and increase oven temperature to 350 °F.
Yield: 18 muffins
Nutritional analysis: 200 calories, 7 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, 3 g protein.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.