With school starting, we have been sharing tons of school lunch ideas on our Facebook page, including an article that Maria-Paula did for Dallas Child Magazine. We hope you have “liked” us so you can check those out along with all our daily nutrition and wellness tips.
What is equally important to kid’s meals are purposefully mindful and healthy snacks to keep your child going throughout the day. As parents, we must work around the school guidelines for snacks in class. These may include things such as no peanuts or not allowing snacks requiring utensils. Last year I had to contend with one of my kid’s teachers not wanting combination snacks. (Try and work around this restriction by bagging combination foods in one container If that doesn't work, direct them to this blog post...because read on!).
At Lemond Nutrition, our philosophy is to provide an overview of nutrition concepts so you can put foods together on your own according to taste preferences. For this blog post, we are including sample foods that would work in a classroom setting, i.e. no required heating or preparing and do not require forks or spoons. If you get the base concept down with putting a snack together then you can vary food ideas beyond what you see here in the classroom or home setting.
For children and adult snacks as well, you want to try to include at least two food groups to maximize nutritional value and keep energy levels stable. You can accomplish this by choosing one high quality carbohydrate food along with one high quality protein food as your child's complete snack.
Most of us are visual learners, so we provided a slew of options to get your mind thinking!
First, choose your carbohydrate. You want to choose foods that are closest in original form or if packaged, have no added sugars.
Included here: a myriad of easily edible fruits and veggies; whole grain crackers, air-popped popcorn.
Got it? OK, now choose your protein-rich food item. For protein, the same suggestion of minimally processed in the food's most original form.
Included here: nuts, nut butters (if your child's school requires nut-free then sunflower seed butter should be allowed), seeds, cheese of all kinds, greek yogurt squeezers, lightly salted soybeans
We love the reusable ice cubes for lunches and snacks, as they have minimal sweating when they thaw out. Use these to surround any cold snacks with these cubes in a plastic bag or container.
Remember, the foods featured here are not all-inclusive. They are only meant to get you thinking along these lines. Your child has celiac disease or a food allergy? Using this concept, adapt your choices to be gluten or allergy free. If you are in a pinch for time, consider a snack that might have two food groups rolled into one. For the classroom, you might choose a whole grain low-sugar (<10 grams) granola bar with minimal additives.
You might want to check out my sunflower seed bars as another one-item choice, too!
And lastly, we came up with a healthier version of a trail mix. Since your child is in class and not on the trail, we modified the proportions so it provides just the right amount of energy.
The idea for the trail mix is simple: 2/3 of the mix is your base grain - such as whole grain cereal, baked crackers and/or pretzels and rest of the mix (1/3) higher calorie additions such as dried fruit and nuts.
A high fiber base followed by a salty + nutty + sweet flavor combination usually makes for a tasty and still healthy snack. Here is a quick recipe we give our families in our private practice. Multiply the amounts as desired for a larger batch to use throughout the week:
1 cup regular low-sugar whole grain cereal O’s
1 cup whole grain cheddar crackers or pretzels
1/3 cup your favorite nuts or seeds
1/3 cup dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
Nutrition Information: 172 calories per ½ cup serving
What is your favorite snack combination? We'd love to hear from you!