Brown bagging in style

August 31, 2010

Still sticking to peanut butter sandwiches for school lunches? They’re a brown bagger’s favorite, but today’s markets offer lots of new options.

"Some kids don’t want to try new things in their lunch. As long as it’s nourishing, don’t worry about it," says Allison Morrow, a registered dietitian at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. "But, ask your child to pick a new vegetable or new fruit for the entire family to try each trip to the grocery."

Children are more willing to try new foods if they have had a part in the choosing. A variety of foods gives children the multitude of nutrients they need for health and expands their palates.

Lunches should include protein, such as meat, beans, or nuts, and lean more heavily on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. De-emphasize sweets and fats, but a special treat two or three times per week can fit into a healthy lifestyle.

Lunch ideas to chew on

  • Liven up a meat sandwich with cucumber slices or baby spinach.
  • Try whole grain tortilla wraps, bagels, pita bread, crackers or bread sticks.
  • Substitute fresh berries for apples or bananas.
  • Offer pretzels or fat-free popcorn instead of potato chips.
  • Trade sugary drinks like soda for low-fat milk or calorie-free flavored water.
  • Keep foods like chicken salad cool by packing a carton of milk or frozen water beside them.

A week of healthy lunches

Monday

Chicken salad made with Light Miracle-Whip, whole-wheat crackers for dipping, plus baby carrots and a package of string cheese.

Tuesday

Whole-grain Tortilla wrap of turkey breast, alfalfa sprouts, plus cherry tomatoes, a bag of celery sticks and a tangerine.

Wednesday

Three to four mini-bagels filled with Canadian bacon and low-fat cream cheese, plus broccoli, a bag of clustered grapes.

Thursday

Tuna salad with Light Miracle-Whip, whole-grain bread sticks for dipping, plus zucchini sticks, a packet of dry-roasted nuts and a half-cup of blueberries.

Friday

Whole-grain Pita bread stuffed with seasoned lean ground beef, shredded lettuce, and tomato slices, plus a cup of yogurt and a serving of pineapple chunks.

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