Books, backpacks, pencils and rulers are all vital items on the school checklist. However, there’s one other thing that cannot be forgotten: a lunch box.
Try some of these lunch ideas and tips for exciting, healthy lunches all year long:
• Avoid added stress in the morning by packing lunch the night before. Put leftovers in a container, have sandwich materials ready to assemble and pack any non-perishable snacks in the lunch box ahead of time.
• Pack homemade whole wheat muffins instead of cookies and candy. This will help avoid unhealthy trans fat, lower the calorie and fat content of the lunch and boost the fiber by using whole wheat flour instead of white. Add nuts to the recipe for protein (if the school approves). Freeze any extra muffins for later use.
• Wash, prep and chop fruits and veggies as soon as you bring them home from the store. By having all of the “dirty work” done, it’s much easier to quickly grab them for the kids’ lunch. Try pairing the veggies with a small container of hummus or low-fat Greek yogurt with fruit.
• Prevent sandwiches from getting soggy by keeping tomato or lettuce in a separate bag so that kids can add them to the sandwich right before eating.
• Continue to experiment with lunch box items. What your child likes one day, they may not like the next. It can take up to 10 to 15 exposures to give your child a full chance at trying a new food. Expand their taste buds with healthy lunch box additions such as vegetarian bean dip with whole grain crackers, low-fat cottage cheese and fruit, or protein-packed edamame.
Healthy, nutritious foods are the key to properly fueling both the body and brain.
Zucchini Bread Muffins
Makes 30 muffins
• 2 cups zucchini, grated
• 3 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 3 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup canola oil
• 2 cups sugar
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour muffin pans. Grate zucchini and set aside in a bowl.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl.
Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and beat well. Stir in zucchini and walnuts until combined well.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes, then remove muffins from pan to let cool completely.
Nutritional information per serving (one muffin): 171 calories, 11 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 145.5 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber
Emily DelConte, Kali Garges, Amy King, Kelly Markiewicz and Meghan Martorana write this column and are registered dietitians at EVOLUTION — Nutrition Counseling by Dietitians in Bristol, East Greenwich, Newport and Providence. They adapt the recipes from public domain or copyright-free recipes.