Healthy lunches

Tuesday January 24, 2012
As the kids head back to school it can be a challenge packing a yummy but healthy lunch.

Nutritionist Kristin Beck joined TODAY with some fresh lunchbox ideas.

Carbs provide a steady supply of energy to the brain and body throughout the day. Healthy complex carbohydrates choices include wholegrain bread and crackers, leftover wholemeal pasta, wholegrain fruit muffins or banana bread

Protein is essential for growth, development and for repairing the body. It also helps stabilise blood-sugar levels. Choose healthy, protein-rich foods such as sandwiches or wraps with tinned fish, turkey, chicken, lean meat, hard boiled eggs or low fat cheese; hummus or low fat cottage cheese with rice crackers or vege sticks; chickpeas or other legumes mixed through a salad or in vegie patties. Trail mix with seeds and dried fruit; tahini spread on sandwiches. Leftovers make great next day lunches - try mini fritters, meat or chicken rissoles, or fishcakes on a sandwich.

Calcium is needed for strong, healthy bones and teeth, so try to include some healthy-rich foods in your Childs lunch box: a tub of low fat yoghurt, cheese with crackers, salmon wrap (include the soft-crushed calcium rich bones), and baby spinach added to salads, sandwiches and mini fritters. Watch out for yoghurts that contain high levels of sugar. For extra fibre and goodness, you can add a spoonful of toasted muesli to yoghurt.

Always include fruit and salad vegetables in your Childs lunch box, as they are vital to healthy immune function (fighting off illness and infections) and are an excellent source of fibre. If the fruit always comes home again, try cutting it up or making a mini fruit salad. A little lemon juice squeezed on apple will stop it going brown. Pack a small container of strawberries, blueberries, cherries or grapes, or try mixing fruit pieces through a tub of yoghurt. Add salad vegies to sandwiches or wraps, or pack sticks (carrot, celery, cucumber, capsicum) with small tubs of dip. Try mixing corn kernels through cottage cheese, or spread hummus or avocado on sandwiches. Mini vegetable frittatas (or muffins) are great for lunch.

Always pack water in your child's lunchbox. Some lunchboxes double up the drink bottle as a cooling device, which is great for summer days. Make sure BPA or aluminium drink bottles are used only, as others contain harmful plastic chemicals.

Treats are an occasional lunch box filler, and not something that should be included every day. Portion size is the key when it comes to lunches. Tiny Teddies, fruit bars, wholemeal bars and some muesli bars are good snack ideas.

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