Make School Lunches Fun and Nutritious

As the beginning of the school year nears, parents once againface the challenge of preparing healthy lunches and snacks thattheir kids will actually eat. After all, you can send your childto school with a well-balanced lunch a home-ec teacher would beproud of, but if he trades his carrot sticks for a cupcake, allyour efforts go down the drain. What parents need are ways to makehealthy food fun for kids to eat. And there is no better time toincorporate these foods into your family’s diet.

Every parent knows that some foods are more popular with kidsthan others. For example, most kids like bananas, but may not beso sure about papaya. While you want your child to try new tastes,their lunch box probably isn’t the place for that.

Keeping kids’ taste buds in mind, here are some tips from theProduce Marketing Association for fun, healthy ways to help yourkids get their 5 a Day.

For the lunch box:

  • Instead of PB&J for lunch, how about PB&B — peanutbutter and banana. This delicious combination is sure to be ahit with kids.
  • Peanut butter can also be used to stuff celery, or trycelery stuffed with low fat cheese.
  • Apples are easy to pack and eat — simply toss one in thelunch box. Alternatively, pack a container of applesauce.
  • Capture your kids’ imagination (and their appetites) withunique and interesting fruits. For example, star fruit, withits astral shape, is fascinating to kids.
  • Kids might turn up their noses at raw carrot sticks servedon their own, but a little ranch-flavored dip can make all thedifference. The dip is available in easy-to-pack singleserving containers. Encourage your child to try dipping othervegetables such as celery, broccoli and cauliflower forvariety.

Any of the ideas above can also work as a healthy after schoolsnack, but you have a lot of other options as well. Kids lovesmoothies, especially when they get to pick the ingredients. Allyou need is some yogurt, your favorite fruit, some ice and ablender for a tasty snack that packs a nutritional punch.

Here’s another recipe the kids will go for: Fruiteroni Pizza.They’ll get a kick out of the unconventional ingredients. It’s soeasy, the kids can practically put it together themselves.

Fruiteroni Pizza 

  • 1 12-inch pre-baked thin pizza crust or 12-inch regularpizza crust
  • 1/2 cup pasta sauce or pizza sauce 
  • -1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or jack cheese 
  • 1 large (or 2 small) fresh California peaches, thinlysliced 
  • 2 ounces sliced pepperoni 
  • diced green peppers (options) 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

  • Spread pizza base with sauce
  • Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Top with fruit slices and pepperoni, then sprinkle withgreen pepper
  • Bake on cookie sheet at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or untilsauce is bubbling and crust is browned
  • Cut into wedges

And remember, it’s not just kids who need their 5 a Day. Momand Dad should be setting a good example by eating their fruitsand vegetables. A survey conducted by the American DieteticAssociation found that parents have more potential to influencetheir children’s eating habits than anyone else. These findingsunderscore the importance of a parent’s involvement in helpingtheir children make good dietary choices, because children’seating behaviors are influenced by family-related factors such asthe number of meals eaten together.

To help consumers make the most of fruits and vegetables, theProduce Marketing Association Web site offers tips on how to buyand store fruits and vegetables, as well as tempting recipes andserving ideas. For more information, visit www.aboutproduce.com

Courtesy of ARA Content.

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