25 July 2015
The start of a new school year is a great time to turn over a new leaf and make sure your family members are getting the nutrition they need to get them through the day. Here are some great, easy ideas to feed their bodies and minds!
Back-to-school meal ideas that boost your child’s energy levels and brain power
Food is fuel for our bodies, and serving up a healthy breakfast and packing a nutritious lunch provide your children with the energy they need to get through the school day. Research shows that children who eat a healthy breakfast and lunch are able to pay better attention in school and learn better than their peers.
Start the day right with a healthy breakfast
It all starts with the first meal of the day: a quick, easy and healthy breakfast. Two of my favorite ideas are an egg sandwich or a smoothie.
Try my favorite egg sandwich
Place one egg and one egg white in a microwave-safe bowl. Top with a handful of fresh spinach and one slice of your favorite cheese. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until cooked thoroughly, then place on a toasted whole grain English muffin. Not only is this quick and easy to make but it provides protein, fiber, vitamins and whole grains in one handheld, portable sandwich.
How about a yummy smoothie?
Smoothies can be made in a variety of ways, depending on your favorite ingredients. I like to blend 1 cup of strawberries, a handful of blueberries, ½ cup almond milk, 1 cup of water and ice. You can also substitute low fat Greek yogurt for almond milk. For some protein and fat to make the smoothie more filling, add a handful of almonds or a spoonful of peanut butter. Use your imagination and throw in whatever fruits/nuts you have on hand!
Does your child’s lunch need some snazzing up?
By the time lunch time rolls around, kids are hungry and tired. Again, they need a simple meal that will provide them with a combination of protein, whole grains and vitamins. They do not have a lot of time to eat, so think in easy-to-eat, child-sized portions — don’t go overboard.
“Bento Box” is always a hit
One great idea I’ve seen is to make a colorful and healthy “Bento Box,” which is basically a lunch box divided into several sections. You can either put this together with containers that you already have at home, or check out laptoplunches.com for some really cute and creative ideas. Put baby carrots in one container, hummus in another and grapes in a third. Or how about tuna salad, cherry tomatoes and whole grain crackers. Roll up turkey and cheese slices in one container, put cut-up peppers or cucumber in the second and orange slices in the third. The options are endless.
Square sandwiches don’t have to be square
Instead of boring square sandwiches, use a cookie cutter to give them a fun shape. You can find cutters in a variety of shapes and sizes that your child will love. Remember: always use whole grain bread and go light on the mayonnaise.
Yes, dessert can be healthy!
Skip the sweet, high-calorie dessert and opt instead for cut-up fruit or grapes. The high-sucrose sugar in cookies and candies will only be counterproductive because your child will experience a “sugar crash” after the “sugar high,” leaving him/her sleepy, cranky and with low energy.
The possibilities are endless
For lots more kid-friendly healthy eating information and facts about your family’s nutrition, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov.
You might also find these two pages helpful from our Westchester Health Pediatrics website:
For more back-to-school advice, tips and ideas, get our
“BACK TO SCHOOL GUIDE: 10 Key Things Parents Should Know As Their Child Returns To School” by clicking here.