Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School. Already???

You can put together a healthy lunch for your kids in no time.  With the first day of school around the corner, here's a quick list of ideas to get you started!

This is peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, raisins, celery, fresh kiwi and a few chocolate kisses (it's the first day back)!
I try to include fresh sliced fruit (apple, peaches, plums, pears, strawberries, blueberries, grapes)
And a 'vegetable' or something close (sliced cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, celery)

One of the greatest gifts we can give children, besides unconditional love, undivided attention, incredible tolerance and patience, warm clothes, shelter, and education IS healthy meals.  I am not a dietitian or nutritionist nor does my formal education include health and wellness.  I am a full-time working mom and wife trying my best to keep my family happy and healthy.  I feel good when I eat whole foods.  My mind and body function better with a healthy diet.  While my kids are still growing, and while I still have some control over their food choices, my goal is to instill healthy eating habits that will hopefully stay with them into adulthood.

Understandably, kids are typically picky eaters.  Never imagined putting a vegetable in their lunch before?  Why not?  Try mixed vegetables or canned corn.  Chances are a child will gravitate towards certain vegetables, eventually, depending on where they come from (a can, the freezer, fresh out of the garden) and how they are prepared (sauteed in butter, blanched, roasted, raw or mashed).

This meal, to me, is important.  First, because I'm not around to monitor the situation.  Second, don't stress about three square meals every day.  If my kids eat a solid vegetable, a real fruit (fallen from a tree, not in juice form) and a whole grain once a day or every other day, I'm proud of that.  Third, the day care and school afternoon snacks provided, often include candy and Cheetos (the HORROR!) so I know my kids are not being deprived of sugar and fat and all that makes us excited.

Obviously, it may be easier to pack a healthy lunch if children are already accustomed to eating those foods.  With parents setting an example at home, cooking meals with fresh ingredients, kids are more likely to mimic those actions.  It's never too late to change!  Even small changes over time will benefit your family's health, budget, and waistline.

This is alphabet pasta with red bell peppers, feta and black olives.  It's dressed with a lemon vinaigrette along with red seedless grapes and organic alphabet cinnamon cookies to keep with the theme!

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