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Easy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

Sue Heather beet hummus

A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that Canadian children are not eating enough vegetables and fruit during the school day.

The first of its kind, this study looked at 4,827 children across Canada between the ages of six and 17. Using a 24 hour recall, their dietary intakes from 9 am to 2 pm was scored against a School Healthy Eating Index. The Index looks at 11 specific criteria based on Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendations, such as intake of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, milk products and meat and alternatives.

Here are the highlights from the research:
– 1/3 of daily calories (about 750 calories) are consumed at school; almost 25% of these calories came from “other foods” such as candy bars and salty packaged snacks
– Kids are falling short on vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and protein
– The lowest scores were for green and orange vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains and milk products
– The average score was 53.4 out of a possible 100 points
– Teens’ diets scored worse than that of younger kids aged six to eight

Here are a few of my lunch ideas, as shown on my interview with CBC Morning Live today.

Chickpea Lettuce Wrap – Kids are attracted to colours in their meals! A great protein packed and flavourful recipe! Add a glass of milk or fortified soy beverage to round out the meal.
Chickpea lettue wrap

Chicken Pasta Salad – My daughter won 3rd prize in a recipe contest for this recipe when she was in grade 3. Ask your kids to grate the carrots and chop the cucumbers. Balance the lunch with a serving of yogurt.
Chicken Pasta Salad

Beet Hummus with Veggies – Kids love to dip! A great way to team up protein plus produce in the lunchbox! Add mini pitas with cheese cubes for a nutritious lunch.
Beet hummus

Apple Sailboats – It’s as easy as it looks! Slice an apple into wedges and dip in lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut cheese into triangles and attach with a toothpick. Add a handful of whole grain crackers to complete the meal.
Apple sailboats

Zucchini Waffles – Breakfast for lunch, why not? These waffles are made with grated zucchini. (Sneak in the veggies wherever you can!) Add a hard cooked egg or small piece of cooked meat / poultry for protein. Mix a few extra berries with yogurt for “dessert”.
Zucchini Waffles with Fresh Berries

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