Healthy School Lunches
Hey Guys! Kai here from Generation Kai!
As a 12 year old I’m just like you. I’m getting ready to go back to school to see my friends again. Oh yeah, and I’m going into the 7th grade! You probably don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are so we’re even. Last year I published a book called, “Digest This Now for Kids!” It’s a quick and easy read about how your body works and what you need to do to get and stay healthy. I talk about everything from food to stress. (We’re not supposed to be stressed as kids but some of us are). You’d think we as kids don’t need to learn how to get and stay healthy. We’re kids, we’re supposed to be healthy. So many of us are tired, overweight, on lots of medicines already for whatever health issues we are having. I don’t know about you, but I believe at our age, this shouldn’t be happening! I get asked to write articles for magazines and online blogs all the time to give kids (and even adults) tips on how to be healthier. So, if you’re ready to get healthy and stay healthy this article is for you!
Whenever it’s time to go back to school my Mom’s start thinking about school lunches again.
It’s super important to make sure you are eating healthy at lunchtime. I can’t speak for all schools but I know in public school we can’t rely on the cafeteria team to provide us a clean and well balanced meal, especially when they consider French fries a vegetable.
Those parents that don’t want their kids participating in school lunches do get a packed lunch every day. Year after year I am amazed at what most kids have in their lunchboxes. Things like ice cream bars, candy, sticks of processed meat and cheese, rolled fruit sticks and overly processed chips to name a few. No wonder why so many kids are bouncing off the walls after lunch and have a hard time concentrating in school.
I know it’s hard taking time in the morning to make a healthy lunch and I know how easy it is just to buy prepackaged items to throw together each day. But I want to challenge you to read the labels of the food you are throwing together in your lunch each day. Notice how those items are loaded with chemicals and preservatives and very little nutrition.
My Mom’s make my two sisters and I a fresh homemade lunch every morning and it takes us 20 minutes to do. I am going to share with you some tips that we use for putting together these super healthy lunches that we love with the hopes that you will consider doing the same for your lunch.
We try to build each lunch with four key items, a super healthy clean protein, a fresh fruit, a fresh vegetable and some type of healthy chip. Let’s start with the super healthy protein. We like making sandwiches with toasted Ezekiel bread.
We make 3 sandwiches per week usually consisting of the following:
- Sunflower butter and St. Dalfour jelly (which is a super clean no sugar added jelly)
- Almond butter with honey and sliced bananas
- Avocado with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers (with sea salt)
We also like to use lettuce wraps a couple times per week to get our protein in:
- Tuna salad (tuna, olive oil mayo, diced celery and diced grape tomatoes, sea salt, pepper)
- Egg salad (boiled eggs, olive oil mayo, diced celery, mustard, sea salt, pepper)
As far as a healthy chip we like to use Organic Non-GMO blue and yellow corn chips, Spelt pretzels, super clean potato chips with only 3 ingredients, and veggie chips (you know the one’s made out of sweet potatoes and turnips).
Fresh fruit is easy to add to your lunch, having it around and pre-cleaned is very helpful. We usually go shopping once a week and buy everything we need for the upcoming week, no more and no less. Examples of fresh fruit we like to use include strawberries, apples, oranges, bananas, mangoes, and grapes.
Fresh vegetables are also super important for us and are easy to prepare ahead of time or the morning of. Fresh veggies we like to use include sliced English cucumbers, celery, carrots, small sweet peppers, and grape tomatoes. Many of these go well with hummus and some type of nut butter. So you can include a small amount of that as a dip. Another veggie we like to include in our lunch is cucumber, tomato, and garbanzo bean salad. Whenever we make it for dinner we make a little extra to have for our lunch the next day. We love it!
Also, if we have activities after school, my Mom usually adds some type of trail mix to our lunch that we can eat after school as a snack. Raw almonds with cranberries are our favorite.
The key with all of this is no matter how many kids are in your family, try as much as possible to make the same items for each so it cuts down on your prep time. Making three customized lunches for three different kids is tough. Finding a menu throughout the week for each day that everyone can agree on is very helpful and will make the morning go much smoother.
I hope this helped in your quest for healthier lunches while at school. Here’s to a great school year for all – good luck!
About Kai Nunziato-Cruz:
Kai Nunziato-Cruz is a 12-year-old nutrition expert from Arizona. Son of Liz Cruz M.D., a board-certified Gastroenterologist, and Tina Nunziato, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. Kai has watched his Moms for years help adults get well and stay well with their books, podcast, online home study program and more. He felt it was his mission to take those same teachings to kids. Kai is the author of Digest This Now! for Kids a kid-friendly, doctor-approved book about healthy eating and he also teaches through his YouTube show Generation Kai
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