Many moms and dads all over the United States know what the start of the school year means -- packing a lunch for their children!
So how do you pack an interesting and tasty lunch (which, for this posting's sake, I will assume can not be heated in school)? Here are a few ideas.
INSTEAD OF: Cutting a sandwich into two triangular pieces
TRY: Shaped sandwiches
Next time you make a sandwich, get your cookie cutter out. Forget the traditional diagonal slice and instead turn that square slice of bread into a star, a cat, or even a gingerbread man.
PS: If your kids don't dig whole wheat "brown" sandwiches, try a "halfie."
A sandwich made with one slice of 100% whole wheat bread and another of white bread still packs in 3 to 4 grams of fiber.
INSTEAD OF: Packaged chips
TRY: Making your own pita chips
Here's a kid-friendly way to boost a bagged lunch's fiber content.
Buy 100% whole wheat pitas and cut each one into eight small triangles. Brush a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil on them, sprinkle a little salt (and, for an extra kick, either some paprika, rosemary, or oregano), and toss them in the oven (350 Fahrenheit) for approximately 20 minutes.
For a sweet twist, sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1 teaspoon of sugar (a mere 16 calories) over them.
Make a big batch on Sunday afternoon for the rest of the week.
INSTEAD OF: Sugary puddings
TRY: A Super Smoothie
In a blender, mix two of your child's favorite fruits with 2% milk. Add a tablespoon of flaxseed, another of oat bran, mix, and pour into a thermos!
These two ingredients add nutrition and texture to the smoothie but don't affect the taste one bit.
INSTEAD OF: Chocolate brownies or cookies
TRY: A homemade choco-mix
Mix a low-sugar, whole grain cereal (like Cheerios), a handful of mixed nuts, and a few chocolate chips or M&M candies into a small zip bag. This way, little bursts of chocolate are surrounded by fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals (as opposed to white flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats.)