Healthy Lunches and Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N

            When my sons were in school, I always made brown bag lunches for them.  In high school, they usually took extra money to enhance the lunch that I provided  because they were growing boys who needed lot of extra calories.  Trying to come up with lunch choices that would taste good by noon after being stuck in their warm locker all morning  was a challenge.  But, today’s children have more options to keep their brown bag lunches at an optimal temperature.  Food safety has become paramount.  But the bottom line is what you pack for your child must be something they will actually eat.  If they are trading the lunch you pack or simply not eating it –  what’s the point.  Here’s some suggestions.

Rules for Packing Lunches for Your Kids That They Will Actually Eat

  1. Talk with your child about lunch likes and dislikes and what works and what doesn’t.  A bag lunch is different from a fresh lunch.
  2. Get your children involved with the process.  Don’t send things the child does not like.
  3. Come up with a list of foods that your child would like to eat at lunch – not one that you want him/her to eat.  The trading game is very popular.
  4. Rotate the lunches so your child will not tire of the same old thing – plus a variety of foods offer a variety of nutrients.
  5. Purchase an insulated lunch box to ensure that foods are kept at their proper temperature and wash it routinely to prevent bacteria buildup.
  6. Pack hot foods in a thermos – as long as your child can remember to bring it home.
  7. Keep cold foods cold by using an ice pack or freezing juice boxes.  Juices will be thawed out by lunchtime and will be good and cold to drink, too.
  8. Stay away from pre-packed lunch-ables – they are high in fat and calories and low in nutrients.  They are expensive as well.
  9. Keep the lunch simple.

Sandwich choices:

•     Use a variety of breads: bagels, rolls, pita pockets, English Muffins, raisin or multigrain bread.

•     For the younger children, you can use cookie cutters such as a star or triangle to make some designer sandwiches that will be fun to eat.

Protein choices:

•     Luncheon meats – lean cuts of turkey, ham, or roast beef.  For the artistic parent of a younger child, you can get thicker cuts of meat and use a cookie cutter to design the protein source as well as the bread.

•     Chicken, tuna or egg salad using light mayonnaise or salad dressing. Besides using bread you can serve in a pita pocket or in a small cup or container.

•     Add raisins, Cinnamon Trail Mix (see recipe below) or granola to add some pizzaz to the plain peanut butter and jelly sandwich for added nutrients and added crunch.

•     To boost the protein and calcium in the lunch, pack a slice of string cheese or add

cheese slices to the sandwiches.

•     You can also add a container of yogurt which will boost the protein and calcium content.  Yogurt can also serve as a dessert.

Vegetable Attack

•     Pack raw vegetables such as carrot, peppers, cucumbers or celery sticks. Serve with fat free plain yogurt  dip or fat free sour cream dip which provides a good source of calcium (Fat Free Flavored Dip see recipe below).

•     Add vegetables slices to the sandwiches such as tomatoes, green, red or yellow peppers and a deep green lettuce or spinach to boost the nutrient content of the sandwich.

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids

Snacking is an important part of growing up. Growing kids need to snack but  making good snack choices is a challenge especially since there are many not so good snacks on the market.  And, kids see all those enticing commercials on TV that offer some very poor snack choices.  Parents are often pressured into purchasing these types of snacks as a result. But, keep in mind parents are in the drivers seat, not the children.  You are the gate keeper as to what comes into the house to eat.

Snack Ideas

Pretzels

Graham crackers

Whole-wheat crackers like Triskets® (you can reduced fat ones, too)

Spicy Cinnamon Trail Mix (see recipe below)

Granola bars

Frosted miniWheats® (made with whole grains)

Yogurt  (you can add whole grain Grape Nuts® for an added crunch and extra nutrients)

Homemade tortilla chips, bagel chips or pita crisps with chunky salsa or with Fat

Free Flavored Dip (see recipe below)

Frozen Fruit Nuggets (see recipe below)

Fruit Smoothies (fresh fruit, yogurt, milk, ice and put in a blender)

Pizza Bagel –  add a little pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh veggies then  place under broiler until heated

 

Crunchy GORP

Makes: 1 serving

Nutritional Information: 296 calories, 9 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 259 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbohydrate, 69 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes

¼ cup Wheat Chex

¼ cup Corn Chex

¼ cup pretzels

¼ cup raisins

2 tablespoons peanuts

Combine all the ingredients in bag.  Shake it up.  Then enjoy!

 

Frozen Fruit Nuggets

Grapes, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches or other fruits.

Clean as needed.  Cut fruit into bite-sized pieces.  Spread fruit on a cookie sheet and cover.  Put into freezer for 1 hour.  Place individual pieces into baggies and store in the frezzer.  (You can also buy frozen fruit in the frozen section of your supermarket.  Make sure they have no added sugar)

Cinnamon Trail Mix

Makes: 10 servings

Nutritional Information: 156 calories, 2 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, 222 milligrams of sodium, 3 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrate, 45 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes  Baking time: 20 minutes

3 cups oat squares cereal

3 cups mini-pretzels

2 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 tablespoon brown sugar packed

½ – ¾  teaspoon cinnamon*

1 cup raisins or other dried fruit

*If you like the cinnamon taste – use more cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the oat squares in a large plastic bag or plastic container with a lid.  Melt margarine.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon to melted margarine.  Mix well. Pour this mixture over the cereal mixture.  Mix well by gently shaking until well coated.  Pour mixture onto a baking sheet.  Bake uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes stirring once or twice.  Completely cool.  Then add raisins or other dried fruit.  Store in airtight container or small zip-lock individual bags.

Fat-Free Flavored Dip

Makes: 16 – 2 tablespoon servings

Nutritional Information: 25 calories, 0 gram of fat, 0 grams of fiber, 260 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbohydrate, 40 milligrams of calcium

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 

1 eight-ounce container of fat-free plain yogurt or sour cream

(you can use reduced fat or light yogurt or sour cream as well)

1 package of onion soup mix, vegetable dip mix or other mixes

Combine  yogurt/sour cream with package mix and blend well.  Serve with veggies, baked tortilla chips, bagel chips or pita crisps.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    

 

Crispy Chicken Tenders

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

This is one of my grandkids favorite recipes  and their parents and their grandparents, love it as well. The recipe makes 2 servings so if you want to serve more people, you had to do the math and make larger portion to dip the tenderloins in. Any leftover tenders I use in salads.

Per Serving:  405 calories, 47 grams protein, 7 grams of fat, 44 grams of CHO,  10 grams of fiber,  960 mg sodium.

 Preparation Time: 15 minutes Bake Time: 20 minutes

Serves:  2 serving; 6 pieces each

 Ingredients

  • ½  cup all-purpose flour
  • ½  tsp garlic salt
  • ¼  tsp salt
  • ¼  tsp black pepper
  • 4 dashes paprika
  • 2/3 cup Fiber One cereal
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp liquid egg substitute
  • 4 tbsp fat-free milk or fat-free half & half
  • 6 (4 –oz total) skinless, chicken breast tenderloins, trimmed of gristle
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a small dish, stir together flour, garlic salt, salt, pepper and paprika.  Using a blender or food processor, grind cereal to a dry bread crumb consistency and place in a separate small dish; stir in cheese.  Place the egg substitute in a third dish and the half and half in a fourth small dish.  Dip each tenderloin in half and half and then in the flour mixture, coating well.  Repeat.  Next dip each  tenderloin in egg substitute, followed by the cereal, coating well.  Place tenderloins on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Spray tenderloins lightly with cooking spray; bake 10 minutes.  Turn tenderloins over and coat again with cooking spray.  Bake for an additional 8 – 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, and cereal coating looks crisp.  Serve with your favorite dipping. sauce.  

Shopping List

  • all-purpose flour
  • garlic salt
  • paprika
  • Fiber One cereal
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • liquid egg white substitute
  • fat-free milk or half & half
  • 4 –oz skinless, chicken breast tenderloins
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Tips: This recipe easily doubles or triples to serve more people.  Chicken tenderloins can be found in the fresh meat case or freezer section, alongside other cuts of chicken.  You can also choose to cut a fresh chicken breast into strips.  Cook extras, and reheat in a toaster oven.  Serve one or two in a bun for a delicious chicken strip sandwich or wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla with shredded lettuce and a light dressing for a quick chicken wrap.

From What Do I Eat Now?  Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE and Tami A. Ross, RD, LD, CDE. ISBN-13: 978-1-58-040313-9.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.     

Cream Cheesy Zucchini Spinach Penne

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

 Here’s a really easy recipe that your kids are sure to love. It’s creamy, cheesy and full of veggies.

 Nutritional Information Per Serving:  310 calories, 14 grams protein, 10 grams of fat,  43 grams of CHO,  5 grams of dietary fiber, 366 mg sodium.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: Six – 1  1/3 cups each

Ingredients

  • 8 oz  whole wheat penne pasta, uncooked*
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ½ lb sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or ¼ tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp each: dried basil, oregano leaves and crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 4 oz low fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 6 oz baby spinach leaves
  • ¼  cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Instructions

Heat over to 375 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions.  Meanwhile, heat oil is a large skillet over medium heat.  Add zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes while stirring often or until zucchini is crisp-tender.  Add flour and seasonings.  Cook and stir for 1 minute.  Stir in broth and cook while stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened.  Add cream cheese and cook and stir for 2 – 3 minutes or until melted.  Drain pasta and then return to pan.  Add zucchini miture, spinach, Parmesan cheese and ½ the mozzarella cheese.  Mix lightly.  Spoon into a 2-qt. casserole which was sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until mozzarella cheese in melted.

Shopping List

  • 1  box (16 oz) Whole Wheat Pasta Penne
  • olive oil
  • 1 zucchini
  • fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • dried basil
  • oregano leaves
  • crushed red pepper
  • fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
  • low fat cream cheese
  • 6 oz baby spinach leaves
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

*You can substitute rigatoni pasta rather than use whole wheat pasta.

Image from: www.kraftfoods.com

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    

 

 

Grilled Tri-Color Veggie Hummus Wrap

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N

Here’s an easy recipe that loaded with vegetables. Take advantage of the local Farmers Markets for lots of fresh vegetables.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:  317 calories, 8 grams protein, 14 grams of fat,  43 grams of CHO, 7 grams of fiber, 480+ mg sodium.

Preparation Time:  10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves:  2

 Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded spinach leaves
  • 2 8-inch spinach or whole grain wraps/tortillas
  • 4 tbsp Sabra® Lemon Hummus or Roasted Garlic Hummus*

Instructions

Heat grill. Drizzle squash and peppers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill veggies turning frequently until the outer skins of peppers are charred and squash is almost cooked throughout. Remove from the grill and allow to cool.  Peel roasted peppers and remove stem and seeds. Slice into strips. Slice grilled squash thinly on the diagonal. Spread each wrap with 2 tbsp of hummus. Sprinkle evenly with chopped spinach.  Divide grilled veggies in half and arrange evenly over the hummus and spinach.  Roll one end in and tuck both sides while rolling. Carefully squeeze as you roll to keep the shape. Secure with toothpicks. Slice in half on the diagonal.

Shopping List

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • spinach leaves
  • 8-inch spinach or whole grain wraps/tortillas
  • Sabra® Lemon Hummus or Roasted Garlic Hummus

*You can use homemade hummus or any type hummus that you like if you want.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.    

 

 

Chicken Broccoli in Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Chicken Broccoli in Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

 

 

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 208 calories, 18 grams protein, 4 grams of fat, 25 grams of CHO, 3 grams of fiber, 422 mg sodium.

 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes

 

Serves: 6

 

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condense Cream of Chicken Soup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (bottled or fresh)
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli flowerets
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey breast
  • 3 whole wheat pita breads (6-inch), cut in half, forming 2 pockets

 

Instructions

Heat all the ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pita pockets.

 

Shopping List

  • 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) Campbell’s® Healthy Request® Condense Cream of Chicken Soup
  • lemon juice
  • garlic powder
  • broccoli flowerets
  • 1 medium carrot
  • cooked chicken or turkey
  • whole wheat pita breads (6-inch)

 

Tip: This chicken mixture is also delicious served over hot baked potatoes.

 

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a registered dietitian with a Master’s Degree in clinical nutrition.  The former publisher of Kentuckiana HealthFitness Magazine, Kentuckiana Healthy Woman magazine and radio show host of Health News You Can Use, Barbara has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy lifestyles to consumers.  Barbara worked as Nutrition Consultant to the Navy SEALs (8 years) and the University of Louisville Athletic Department (10 years). Barbara has private practice, DayByDay Nutrition, www.DayByDayNutrition.com, where she counsels clients on weight loss, cholesterol management, performance nutrition and an array of other medical issues.  Visit Barbara’s new website which is an on-line health & wellness magazine, www.KentuckianaHEALTHWellness.com. Barbara writes nutrition and health columns for www.LiveStrong.com as well as a weekly nutrition column for the Southeast Outlook. She also designs and presents employee wellness programs to small and large businesses. Barbara is a runner, cyclist, hiker and a mother and grandmother to 11 grandchildren.