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Health Tips

Key foods to include in school lunch boxes!

By 05/02/2019 No Comments

School is officially back which means preparing healthy lunch boxes is back on the daily menu for parents! It’s well known that adequate nutrition is important, not only to help children and adolescents physically get through school but also to mentally excel. Therefore, paying close attention to what goes into their lunch box is understandably one of the best gifts you can give to kids!

To lend a helping hand, below I have outlined some key foods to include in your kids lunch boxes and exactly how to use these foods in lunch box friendly ideas!

Protein

Food sources of protein supply amino acids, which the body uses for growth and development, muscle repair and neurotransmitter synthesis. Protein is also very satiating which helps with stabilising blood sugar levels and therefore supporting energy levels.

Example food sources: eggs, fish, meat, dairy (cheese, yoghurt, milk), nuts/seeds, tofu and legumes.

How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Use eggs, fish, meat and cheese on wraps or sandwiches
  • Use crumbled tofu and eggs in frittatas
  • Serve yoghurt and cheese as snacks
  • If your school is not nut free – add nuts to baked goods, salads or make into trail mixes
  • Use legumes (chickpeas, red kidney beans, cannellini beans etc) in patties, rice salads or pasta salads

 

Complex carbohydrates

Adequate carbs are necessary to fuel busy bodies and brains and supply B-vitamins, which are used by the body to covert food into energy. Carbs also supply fibre, which helps children maintain a healthy digestive system.

Example food sources: brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta, brown rice noodles, legumes (also a protein), sweet potato, oats, wholegrain bread, wholegrain wraps and fruit.

How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Include fruit as a snack
  • Make a mini bircher muesli using oats and fruit for morning tea
  • Use wraps and sandwiches at lunch time
  • Try some brown rice, quinoa or pasta salads with roasted sweet potato

 

Healthy fats

The brain is mostly made up of fat so it only makes sense that adequate healthy fats are needed for brain function and development.

Example food sources: salmon/fatty fish, avocado, extra virgin olive oil and nuts/seeds.

How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Use salmon on wraps/sandwiches, in salads or mashed with avocado and spread on crackers
  • Use nut/seeds in baked goods unless your school is nut free
  • Turn avocado into a guccamole dip to serve with crackers and vegetable sticks
  • Drizzle salads or pasta dishes with a bit of extra virgin olive oil or use in dips such as hummus

 

Calcium

As many of you are likely aware, calcium is required for normal development and maintenance of the skeleton in addition to proper nervous and cardiac system function. During childhood and adolescence, adequate calcium is necessary to ensure peak bone mass density is achieved.

Example food sources: dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt), canned salmon with bones, dried figs, broccoli, bok choy, tofu set with calcium, almonds, tahini and oats.

How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Add baked tofu to salads or simply as a little snack
  • Add dried figs to trail mixes and baked goods
  • Serve cheese with crackers or vegetables as a snack
  • Add yoghurt or tahini to dips such as beetroot dip

 

Iron

Iron is a mineral important for transport of oxygen around the body, red blood cell and energy production. If iron levels are low, this can result in feelings of fatigue and lethargy.

Example food sources: beef, lamb, sardines, canned salmon, chicken, lentils, tahini, dried apricots, almonds, spinach and wheatgerm.

 How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Turn beef/lamb into mini meat balls
  • Use salmon in salads, dips or turn into patties
  • Use chicken on wraps or in salads
  • Make hummus using tahini
  • Add spinach to wraps and salads
  • Add wheatgerm to bliss balls/baked goods

 

 Zinc

Zinc is a mineral, which is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes and proteins involved in many important bodily functions, necessary for cell growth and immunity.

Example food sources: beef, capsicum, egg yolks, milk, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, wholegrains and seafood.

How to use in meals/snacks:

  • Make a frittata using roasted capsicum, milk and eggs and serve with a salad using wholegrains and seeds
  • Make a trail mix using sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Add sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds to baked goods

For some brain boosting recipes, which I created for The House of Wellness, visit this link: https://www.houseofwellness.com.au/lifestyle/healthy-living/zoe-bingley-pullin-brain-food-for-kids