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Healthy lunch box ideas

9-year-old John has been making his lunch each morning for a couple of years.

9-year-old John has been making his lunch each morning for a couple of years.

Even for the most organized family getting the daily routine of making our lunches can sometimes seem monotonous and boring, day in, day out.

Here are some tips to get creative with those lunch box ideas and make packing lunch fun for kids!

What can parents do?

Healthy eating begins at home, so it is important that children are encouraged to eat a proper balanced diet.

  • Involve children in grocery shopping, planning and making their lunch
  • Inform teachers and volunteers of any food intolerance/allergies that your child may have
  • Put a secret note, sticker, or cartoon with lunch. Everyone enjoys a surprise!
  • Be a role model. Set an example by trying new foods yourself.
  • Promote a healthy attitude towards eating and exercise.

Brown bagging

Include foods for lunch that encourage healthy eating behaviours.

  • John Luncho2Sit with your child and make a list of lunch options. Try to get them to choose something from each food group: grains, vegetables & fruit, meats & alternatives, and milk & alternatives. Once you have a list, all you have to do is mix and match.
  • You can use water bottles and fill them with something healthy they enjoy… and save money too.
  • Have your child make their lunch as part of their bedtime or morning routine – if they make it themselves, they are more likely to eat it!
  • Set your child up with a lunch box or bag that they like

There are many websites, books, and other resources that have ideas for packing lunches. For an unlimited supply of lunch box recipes check out The Lunch Box.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

How to get your kid to eat more fruits and vegetables

How do I get my child to eat more fruits and veggies?How much is enough fruits and veggies for my child? How can I get more fruits and veggies in my child’s diet? These are among the most common questions I get asked from moms.

Most often I’ll encourage moms to try different fruits and veggies at every meal with their kids and try them in a variety of ways.

Have a look at Canada’s Food Guide, which can provide nutritional information for your child’s age group and recommended servings per day.

As for getting more in the diet, it’s important to include a wide variety of fruits and veggies for kids and with each meal/snack. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to get the recommended servings in the diet so start by including a fruit or vegetable with each meal and snack.

Don’t forget that it’s important to try and try again when it comes to getting kids to try new foods, especially vegetables – sometimes he/she may need to be offered a food 20 times or more before he/she learns to enjoy.

Be patient and don’t stick to his/her favourite fruit time and time again – open your mind and their plate to fruits and veggies of all kinds and colours and cooking them in a variety of ways! (For more tips, you can also check out one of my previous posts Why are some kids picky eaters?)

Here’s some easy ways to help add fruits and veggies to your – and your child’s – day from the terrific website Fruits & Veggies More Matters:

  • Plate method. Fill half of their plate with fruits and veggies at every meal and snack.
  • Pump up the veggies. Add extra fruits and vegetables to dishes, even if they already contain/call for them in the recipe.
  • Substitute. Substitute fruits and veggies in any meal – they’re lower in calories than many other foods.
  • Stock Up. Always stock frozen and canned fruits and veggies for quick meal prep. Try to choose canned fruit and vegetables without added sugar, syrup, cream sauces or other ingredients that add unnecessary calories.
  • Steam & Flavour. Steamed vegetables make great sides. Add flavour with low-calorie or low-fat dressings, herbs and spices. Garlic is one of my favourites!
  • Grab & Go. Always have fresh fruits and vegetables in easy-to-grab places (a fruit bowl, sliced in the fridge, trail mix) – Sunday prep days can go a long way to increasing fruits and veggies in the diet! (For more on this, check out my related post on Preparing for the work week ahead.)

And remember – if at first you don’t succeed, just try and try again!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Keeping the snack attack on track

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Kristin’s mid-morning snack

Smart snacking is an important part of a healthy diet because it helps kids get the nutrients they need to keep going throughout the day. However, when you hear the call “I’m hungry!” echo through the house, it is tempting to sacrifice nutrition in the name of quick and easy.

Balance is the key – when putting together snack suggestions, encourage your kids to pair up any two of the four food groups from Eating Healthy with Canada’s Food Guide – like a piece of fruit with cheese, or peanut butter and with whole wheat bread.

My usual pick-me-up mid morning snack is cut up orange slices and some delicious Greek yogurt. I find this healthy snack gives me that extra boost I need until lunch time!

Try to think ahead so you can have quick and easy AND nutritious choices ready on hand. For instance, I try to have my fruit and veggies for snacks washed and cut-up and ready for easy access in my fridge.

Here are some other tips to keep the snack attacks on track:

Variety

Variety in food helps make sure that kids get the vitamins and minerals they need, rather than just getting the same vitamins and minerals at each snack.

When offering snacks, try to offer an assortment instead of offering the same snacks day after day.

Healthy snack foods include:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain crackers, cereals, and bread
  • Eggs
  • Low fat cheese, milk, and yogurt
  • Protein-rich spreads and dips like hummus and peanut butter

Make food fun

Be creative when serving fruits and vegetables to your kids, when kids are interested in foods they are more likely to try them.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Cut fruits in fun shapes using cookie cutters
  • Serve fruits or vegetables out of healthy edible bowls, like a carved out pepper or melon
  • Make fruit or veggie kabobs using a variety of healthy options
  • Freeze 100% fruit juice with fruit chunks to make your own healthy fruit pop
  • Dip cut fruit in orange juice or apple juice to stop it from browning and add taste
Strawberry Kisses - a healthy and delicious snack, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Strawberry Kisses – a healthy and delicious snack, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Strawberry Kisses

Get creative for any and all occasions – with Valentine’s Day just around the corner check out these, why not try making these balanced and delicious Strawberry Kisses?

Ingredients:

12 Fresh or Frozen strawberries, washed.
1 ½ cup low fat plain or flavored yogurt.

Instructions:

Dip strawberries in yogurt, freeze and slice.

Happy snacking everyone!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.