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Back to School: Healthy Lunches

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Back to School: Healthy Lunches

More than 40 percent of food children bring to school is unhealthy

School lunches aren’t what they used to be. Cafeterias now presenthealthier options, teachers and students are planting school gardens as class projects (and eating the yield) and snacks come from locally grown produce. If your children are part of the 41 percent who still carry their own lunches from home, you have to get with the program, too.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that more than 40 percent of the lunches children bring to school in lunch boxes are missing healthy items like fruit, veggies and yogurt, and beverages are more likely to be of the sugar-sweetened variety.

Don’t be part of these sad, bad-for-you statistics. Here are a few suggestions to keep your child’s lunch healthy and interesting:

Cut up apple or banana into chunks and pair them with peanut butter as a dipping sauce. Include jicama slices and fat-free milk.
Spread whole-wheat bread with peanut butter and bananas slices. Toss baby carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes in the lunch box with low-fat ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.
Skewer low-fat meat, low-fat cheese, cucumber, grape tomatoes and cucumber onto a stick. Pair with blueberries and fat-free yogurt.
Back-to-school time is a good time for adults to take stock of their lunches, too. Eating out every day can put a hit on your wallet, and it’s often unhealthy—full of trans or saturated fat and processed carbs—with few fruits or vegetables. Try these tips to give your lunch a healthier look:

Fill a whole-wheat pita pocket with humus, red onion, tomato, avocado and salsa. Add a cup of mango chunks as a side dish.
Toss a green salad with bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes. Top with tuna or chicken breast. Add a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Pair with apple slices and peanut butter.
Dip broccoli florets, red pepper and cucumber slices into humus. Slice a cup of strawberries into fat-free yogurt.
Try this soup and salad combo: a cup of bean soup and a green salad with Italian dressing. Have a handful of plain popcorn and a peach as your sides.

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BHM Edit Staff