Back to school with Sliced Right Nutrition

As another school year approaches, we should keep in mind that good nutrition is vital in helping kids learn. Well balanced meals will provide kids with more energy, self-esteem and stamina that enhance their ability to concentrate. However, many kids don’t have a problem getting in plenty of calories, but unfortunately not from the best sources. Kristina Adams Smith, Registered Dietitian with Sliced Right Nutrition mentions that a good meal or snack should contain a balance of nutrients from lean protein, whole grain/high fiber carbohydrates, healthy fats and vitamins/minerals and less from sugary processed foods that also contain unhealthy fats and high amounts of sodium. Here is a quick list of what nutrients to focus on and why:

* Lean protein for proper growth, strength and to stay alert

* Whole grain carbohydrates for fueling bodies and brain

* Fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamins/minerals and other disease fighting nutrients

* Water, low-fat milk, 100 percent fruit juices and other calorie free drinks for hydration and proper body function

It’s important to get kids involved to help with meal planning and preparation, the younger the better. Try to stay with natural ingredients and limit processed foods: whole fruit/vegetables, all natural juice, water, low fat milk and whole grain. Make it fun – try different types of breads, different shapes or even different fillings for sandwiches or even different flavored dips for dunking. Also choose fun containers that are insulated to pack foods in as well as an insulated thermos and try to use reusable containers and utensils. Adams- Smith offers a few menu ideas below to try this school year!

Snacks

• String or cubed cheese

• Pudding cups or sugar free jello with or without fruit added

• Air popped popcorn

• Salsa, guacamole or bean dip and baked tortilla chips or cut veggies

• Cottage cheese cups and fruit

• Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and whole grain cereal

• Whole grain crackers with cheese or natural peanut butter

• Low fat yogurt with granola and berries

Main Courses

• Cheese Quesadillas 

• Chicken, tuna or egg salad with pita

• Hard cooked egg, shredded cheese and crackers

• Hot soup, stew or pasta in insulated thermos – mac n cheese, chili, tortellini with spaghetti sauce

• Grilled cheese and pasta sauce for dipping

• Pasta salads mixed with low fat salad dressings and assorted veggies 

• Sandwiches on whole grain breads, whole wheat or flavored tortillas, pitas, bagels, or English muffins

• Flavored breadsticks wrapped with lunch meat and spaghetti sauce to dip

• Vegetable or Cheese Pizza made on English muffins or mini bagels

Fruits and Vegetables

• Orange slices or wedges or other cut fresh fruit

• Canned fruit cups packed in water or in its own juice

• Snack size applesauce

• Fresh vegetables with hummus or low fat dressing for dipping (baby carrots, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, celery sticks)

• Sliced apples, strawberries or other fruits with low fat yogurt for dipping

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