As the school day gets longer in Chicago, keeping your kids' energy up is key to keep them thinking and awake all day long. Not only is starting the day off with a healthy breakfast key, don't skimp out on the lunches. Here are some tips to packing a power lunch:
- Skip juice boxes. They are full of sugar and metabolize the same as drinking a can of soda, which can result in a mid-day sugar crash. Keep their drinks to milk or water. Try So Delicious Single Serve Almond Plus for to help curve the sugar craving while keeping protein levels up (only 8g of sugar while packing 5g of protein per serving!)
- Follow a plan. Sandwiches get boring for all of us. Try following this guide for a meal plan: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Wheatless Wednesdays, Turkey Thursdays, Friday Surprise Day.
- Nut-free and peanut-free? Don't worry, try Sunbutter. A sunflower seed butter that has the same consistency as peanut butter, but also packed with other power nutrients.
- Buy local products to pack the lunch: A Thermos(R) to pack hot soups, chili and fall stews. Itzy Ritzy reusable lunch bags and snack sacks are a great way to keep costs and landfills down.
- Don't be afraid to give them a "salad": Salads do not have to be full of green leaves. Try one of these salads such as the Zucchini Pesto Pasta and add some tomatoes for a pop of red.
- Breakfast for lunch is perfectly fine! French Toast Sandwich with two hard boiled eggs or a breakfast burrito can be a fun way to change things up, especially if you have a child who loves breakfast any time of the day!
- Bring healthy snacks for ALL kids to enjoy! Not sure if a someone in your child's class has food allergies or on a special diet? Or if you are volunteering to bring in a birthday snack or a snack for the week, check out local food company, Enjoy Life Foods. Free of the eight allergens and gluten and GMO-Free, you cannot go wrong by sharing these yummy and good for you treats! (Try their Plentils Chips or Snickerdoodle Cookies)
- Avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup and other junkie ingredients. Other items to stay clear of are: Food dyes (which Are Suspected in Causing Behavioral Problems in Kids), MSG or other hidden sources, Artificial Sugars such as surcralose, aspartame, corn syrups, white sugar and white flour/enriched wheat flour. All these food ingredients do not enhance anything but zap the energy out of your child's day.
- Always pack a fresh vegetable. Whether baby carrots is their favorite, don't be afraid to pack one slice of red pepper for them to try. The more they see it in their lunches, the more likely they will try it, eventually.
- Desserts for special occasions. Parents have gotten stuck in a rut that we must always pack a dessert in their lunches. If you do everyday, they will come to expect it. From experience, kids always eat their desserts first, so resist the temptation from yourself and pack a fruit for their dessert.
Parent Homework: Take a look at the picture. Using the tips in the above article, how would you make this a better lunch?