It becomes a battle when the kiddos see what others eat for lunch and snacks and what I prefer to pack for them. It'd be easy to occasionally include a cookie for dessert if they wouldn't bring back a half eaten sandwich and untouched fruit and carrot sticks because "they ran out of time."
Supposedly, the school lunch program has made nutritional improvements but they are still selling chocolate and strawberry milk and offering ice cream for an additional cost in elementary school. Of course the kids are going to buy ice cream if it's available. I have the ability to log into a website and see what my children purchased for lunch but I have no idea if they ate any of it.
The kids choose two days per week to buy a school lunch, while I encourage them to eat whatever vegetables are offered. I think that's a pretty good deal for a 4th and 1st grader.
It's not like I deprive them of chips and sweets but I think it's so important to learn the value of whole food and the benefits of staying away from processed foods as much as possible.
Food manufacturers' goal is to make money. That's it. They want their product to look and taste delicious so consumers keep coming back for more. It's all about the benjamins, baby. We have to be accountable and responsible for our own health. There are more advertisements, conveniences, and choices in America than anywhere else in the world. We have all been subjected to images that influence our choices and it's happening to our children too.
There still aren't daily percentages for the amount of sugar on food labels. Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because most people exceed the recommended limit of sugar regularly? The World Health Organization lowered the daily recommended amount of sugar to 25 grams per day, which is about 6 teaspoons (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/.) Processed food has sugar disguised as many different words which the average non-nutritionist person would hardly recognize. Why would anyone be surprised over the childhood obesity rate or the obesity rate in the U.S. in general?
How are these family food battles handled? Well, there's this one little word I have to use every day, sometimes hundreds of times a day, and that would be the word 'no.' It's not easy, but it's necessary.
Here is an after school or lunch box snack I feel really good about. I've made numerous attempts in making successful granola bars, each ending up too dry, not really tasty and falling apart into just plain granola. This recipe is amazing. I'm even a little reluctant to share because I'm sure I could make a boat load to sell at the Farmer's Market (but am I really gonna do that?)
Homemade Granola Bars
4 cups of quick cooking oats
2 cups whole almonds
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup dried cranberries, diced
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla
Optional: 1-2 cups of chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the oats, almonds and coconut onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the rest of the dry ingredients into a very large mixing bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the oil, syrup, honey, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Remove the ingredients from the oven and add to the mixing bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients then pour the ingredients from the saucepan into the mixing bowl. Mix well until everything is coated. Place enough parchment paper into an 8 x 8 baking pan to hang over the edges. This will allow the granola to be easily removed from the pan in order to cut into bars. Pour the granola into the baking pan over the paper. Cover with an additional sheet of parchment paper and press firmly into the pan.
Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Once it's set, carefully pull the bottom sheet of parchment paper to remove the entire snack, then cut into single serve squares. At this point you may melt chocolate chips in 30 second intervals in the microwave until smooth and drizzle chocolate over the bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I always double this recipe to fit my cookie sheet! They're that good.