Healthy tips for back-to-school lunches

Silver Hill Hospital

Throughout the state, many school are back in session. And with the return of school comes the return of school lunches. Looking to pack kids a healthy meal that’s tasty and appealing enough to eat? Breann Farnsworth, clinical nutrition manager at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan has some tips.

In a news release issued by the hospital, Farnsworth first stated that every healthy meal should include carbohydrates, protein, fruits or vegetables and adequate fats. Focus on providing whole grains and carbohydrates options that are lower in added sugar by comparing the nutrition fact labels of similar products. Protein, meanwhile, can come from a variety of animal and plant options. Fats are essential for proper brain development, among other important roles, and therefore should not be forgotten when planning a healthy lunchbox.

Here are a few healthy meal suggestions from Farnsworth:

1. Whole wheat pasta and veggie salad made with pesto and diced chicken (or beans) and a side of sliced strawberries or other favorite fruit: The whole grain pasta provides energy and fiber along with vitamins/minerals with the vegetables. Pesto made with olive oil provides healthy fats. The chicken or beans for protein aids in providing important amino acids that help with focus. Add in fruit for something naturally sweet.

2. Nut butter and jelly sandwich with milk and veggie sticks: Use whole wheat bread for energy, nut butter (sunflower butter is typically not an issue for those with nut allergies) for protein and healthy fats along with an all-natural jam/jelly gives all the components a child needs to get through the rest of their afternoon. Add in milk or alternative dairy product (soy or almond milk) with veggie sticks and you’ve covered all the bases.

3. Deconstructed Quesadilla: Whole grain tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese or bean dip, guacamole and cherry tomatoes with a side of fruit. Tortilla chips will provide a nice crunchy carbohydrate choice and choosing whole grain will increase the nutritional value (higher fiber), cheddar cheese or a bean dip would be a great protein option along with guacamole for healthy fats. Throw in a veggie that is preferred by your child or salsa or fruit.