Beat the lunchbox blues

It’s August and school is approaching fast. For kids who do not eat the school’s provided lunch, inRegister turned to an expert to suggest a few healthy lunchbox ideas. Coming up with fresh options for school lunches can be difficult, but Woman’s Center for Wellness dietitian Brooke Schoonenberg says it’s easy to offer your child a healthy, balanced meal that’s also interesting. “Do whatever you can to make the food fun, colorful and appetizing,” Schoonenberg says. “If it doesn’t look like it would taste good, they won’t eat it. Kids eat with their eyes before anything else.” Be sure to make an effort to include at least three basic food groups in each packed lunch, she adds. Here are some of Brooke’s ideas for putting a healthy spin on classic lunchbox contents:

Roll-ups: You can roll up almost anything into a tortilla, preferably a wheat tortilla, and cut it into pinwheels to make it look appealing. Try peanut butter and banana for the sweet lovers or hummus, turkey and cucumber for a salty taste.

ABC pasta salad: Turn alphabet noodles into a visually engaging pasta salad. For dressing, use a basic marinara sauce or vinaigrette; maybe throw in some chickpeas. It’s good to fix foods that you know your child likes but with something new in it to see if they will try it.

Build-your-own mini pizza: Barbecue chicken pizza on a bagel thin is what I recommend, but any type of pizza will work. Try to include a veggie like mushrooms or bell peppers—whatever your child will eat—on top of cheese and a low-sodium meat.

Make-your-own Lunchable: Include a protein (low-sodium deli meat), classic baked crackers and cheese. To jazz things up, add a side-dish combo of grapes and apple slices or baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. The key is to make the food compartmentalized with bite sizes and fun shapes.

Salad days: Get creative and add celery, walnuts or cranberries to a homemade chicken salad. For a fun fruit salad, combine your child’s favorite fruit with yogurt and granola.

Good to Know-lunch