The start of a new school year seems like the perfect time to talk about how to assemble a healthy lunch box.
The importance of planning lunches is of great benefit to learning, and the foods packed should sustain the student throughout the school day.
But the healthy lunch box also extends to the adult who packs their lunch daily. The following brief descriptions are a guideline that will keep you within the healthy parameters to keep learning days and work days heightened:
Choose fresh vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell pepper strips, asparagus spears, summer squash, or grape tomatoes, and fresh fruit like grapes, apple slices, melon chunks, berries or banana slices.
Choose a grain –whole grain is preferred. Examples are whole grainpasta, bread, and crackers, brown rice, quinoa, and steel-cut oats.
Choose a dairy, such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk, or soy yogurt. Calcium and Vitamin D areessential to youth, but adults need it as well for continued bone health.
You should eat about 10-to-35 percent of your daily protein intake at lunch time. Good sources of protein include beans, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, hummus, roasted turkey or chicken, or hard-boiled eggs.
According to Narayana Health, “A balanced diet should offer around 60-70 percent of total calories fromcarbohydrates, 10-12 percent from proteins and 20-25% of total calories from fat.”
Healthy eating increases energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system and prevents weight gain. Also remember that presentation – select items that complement each other, and keep the student and adult alike coming back each day for tasty varieties. And, of course, remember to drink plenty of water not just at lunch, but throughout the day.
Here are a few easy and healthy recipes that you will enjoy incorporating in that daily lunch box for both kids and adults.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.”
With this, I could not agree more!
Jacqueline Iannazzo-Corser is a contributing writer to The Monroe News, writing about food and recipes. She is a chef, co-owner of Public House, Culinary Specialist at the Opportunity Center at the Arthur Lesow Community Center, and an adjunct professor of culinary arts at Monroe County Community College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Protein Roll Ups1 serving
- 1 whole wheat tortilla
- 1 slice of turkey, chicken, or ham
- 1 slice of cheddar (white or yellow)
- 1/2 c. spinach
- 1 tbsp. mustard
- 1/4 c. almonds
- 1/3 c. carrots
- 1 c. grapes
- 1/4 c. pickle chips
- 1 hard boiled egg
- Spread mustard onto your tortilla. Top with turkey, chicken or ham, cheddar cheese, and spinach.
- Roll into a pinwheel and slice into rounds.
- Place in a container or wrap.
- The almonds, carrots, grapes, egg, and pickle chips are your sides to accompany the sandwich.
Note: you can cut sandwich in half if pinwheels are not desired. You mayincorporate some of your sides into the sandwich as well.
Tuna or Chicken Delight on Lettuce BedServe in a Lunch Box Bowl3 to 4 Servings
- 2 tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 – 6oz. cans tuna or chicken packed in water
- ¼ red onion chopped small
- 2 dill pickles, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Leaf lettuce
- In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, and hot sauce (if using).
- Drain tuna then add to mayonnaise mixture.
- Using a fork, flake the tuna.
- Add red onion and pickles and toss to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on leaf lettuce bed
Note: Choose a cracker or bread stick for grain.
Egg Meet Avocado
- 6 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 to 1 1/2 avocado (ripened)
- 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt (or any plain yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (optional)
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grain bread or wrap
- In a medium bowl peel and pit avocado.
- Mash until completely smooth.
- Add yogurt, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste
- Stir to combine.
- Add eggs, then stir until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
- Add a scoop of egg salad to wrap or bread.
Note: Accompany with carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes. Use the Greek yogurt for a great veggie dip.
Spinach and Strawberry Sandwich
- Grain bread or wrap
- 2-4 oz. deli turkey, chicken
- 5-6 strawberries sliced thin
- ½-1 cup of baby spinach
- ½ avocado sliced thin
- ¼ cup of bean or alfalfa sprouts
- Goat cheese or cream cheese, if desired
- Lightly spread either goat or cream cheese on both pieces of grain bread. If using a wrap, spread lightly on interior.
- Evenly layer turkey, strawberries, avocado, spinach and sprouts on top of the two slices of grain bread.
Note: You can also do leaf lettuce or collar green wraps instead of bread. Flour, spinach, whole wheat, and tomato basil wraps are all readily available at most grocery stores.