CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – To make the transition from summer into back-to-school mode easier for parents we’ve got some tips, recipes and lunch ideas for your kids! Dr. Laura Christoph, Professor of Nutrition showed us some healthy breakfast, lunch and snack ideas!
Weekend Preparation: Back to School Nutrition Tips
The staples of good healthy meals are brightly colored fruits and veggies, high quality protein, healthy fats, and nutrient rich complex carbohydrates. Make sure these choices fill your cart!
Set aside an hour after grocery shopping to prep your weekly meals. Think about how you can make it easy on yourself during the week when you are strapped for time, for example:
– Cut up produce and divide it in to individual portions
– Cook up some oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes to use for the week
– Grill some chicken breast and make some black beans for good protein choices
Start the day off right!
Start the day off with a healthy breakfast! Often the morning is a rushed time before school, and we send our kids off with a poptart or sugary breakfast bar. These not only contain lots of empty Calories, but lack the nutrients to keep your child full and energized until lunch time! Try this quick recipe for a great start to the day with fruit, oats and nuts. Add in an extra piece of fruit, some yogurt, or a glass of milk, and your child will be going strong until lunch time!
Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars
1 cup packed dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)*
1/4 cup honey (or sub maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free for GF eaters)
Optional additions: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla, etc.
Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like consistency. (mine rolled into a ball)
Optional step: Toast your oats in a 350 degree oven for 15-ish minutes or until slightly golden brown. Otherwise, leave them raw – I just prefer the toasted flavor.
Place oats, almonds and dates in a bowl – set aside.
Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8×8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars.)
Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
Remove bars from pan and chop into 10 even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh, but it isn’t necessary.
Design a healthy lunch
Make sure your child’s lunch contains a fruit, a veggie, a protein and a complex carbohydrate. Try the following suggestions! Also, if your child is going directly to an after school activity, make sure to pack some portable, appetizing snacks to tide him/her over until dinner time.
Try these suggestions:
1. Greek yogurt parfait: Greek yogurt, ¼ cup low sugar granola, 1 cup blueberries, plus side of ½ cup carrot sticks with Tbsp. ranch dressing
2. Dressed up sandwich: 3 ounces turkey on 100% whole grain bread with 1 ounce cheddar cheese, 2 slices lettuce, 1 tomato, tsp. mustard (add in some alfalfa sprouts or red peppers for a few extra veggies!) 1 apple, 1 cup crudités
3. Hummus and cheese platter: 1/4 cup hummus, 2 cups raw veggies, 1 6″ whole wheat pita or 1 servingwhole grain chips, 1 oz cheese cut in cubes, 1 cup cut up fruit. Lay out on a platter and enjoy!
1. 1 apple, 1 100 Calorie pack of almonds or 1 Tbsp nut butter.
2. 1 cup veggies, 2 Tbsp. hummus
3. 1 string cheese, 1 pear.
4. 1/4-1/2 cup trail mix