August is upon us

While the weather is still sweltering here in the mid-Atlantic, belying the fast-approaching new school year, it’s almost time to start thinking about getting those kiddos back to class fueled up with the nutrients they’ll need to succeed.  And it matters a lot – kids who have better nutrition tend to get better grades and are less likely to have behavior problems (not even to mention the health benefits)!  Below I’ve put together a few guidelines for building meals, recipes, and tips for pulling it all off successfully.  What are your best tricks?  Feel free to add in the comments below!

Lunch: the approach

  1. Get kid’s buy-in: they’re more likely to eat what they participated in selecting.  But as the parent, you’re controlling what they chose from.

    • During grocery shopping, let them choose veggies – “do you want carrots or celery?  Green beans or broccoli?” There are an overwhelming number of choices so framing between two comparable selections keeps things simple (don’t just set them loose in the produce section!).
    • During home prep, let kids help pack…the wrap ideas below are all kid-chef friendly, and packing veggies in containers helps them to realize the work that goes into food prep.  It doesn’t have to be every single day – start weekly and go from there!
  2. Use these guidelines to make sure the box is balanced:

    • Protein + produce – whether it’s meat or plant-based, protein is a crucial meal component – beans, dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, and whole grains contribute protein, while produce like fruit + veggies complements with fiber.  The tortilla wrap combos below always follow this rule!
    • Veggies and fruits + dip = kids eat more produce!  A savory garlic & onion “ranch” dip made from plain greek yogurt works well for bell peppers, carrots, celery, and cucumbers, while creamy peanut butter dip is perfect for apples, bananas, and strawberries.
    • Sweet treats should be nutrient dense – ie, not cookies, cakes, or candies!  Save those for a special occasion and try energy bites (recipes below) or chia pudding (just put all ingredients in a lidded container and SHAKE & refrigerate!).  A low-sugar yogurt (like Siggi’s) with berries or granola (Michele’s is my favorite brand, while this is the best homemade recipe for granola I’ve found) is also perfect for a snack or dessert.

      (Energy bite recipes above from The Yooper Girl, The Creative Bite, and Gimme Some Oven, respectively.)

  3. Pack it up securely (and get that sharpie out to put names on anything you want to see again!)

    • Good Housekeeping has done the work of listing the best and 100 Days of Real Food has a small round up too…the ones below are Amazon-prime-ready to be at your door with no fuss, click to order! Target also has a wide selection – this is another great opportunity to provide 2 options for kids to choose between (after you narrow down what you want them to chose from!).
       

6 ways to use whole wheat tortilla shells

That word “whole” is crucial – if it’s not on the package, you’re likely holding a white-flour product, and minimizing refined grains in favor of whole grains is a great way to boost your fiber intake (which is dismally low for most people!).  If it says “100% whole” then all the better!  Easy to keep on hand (store in the refrigerator to extend shelf life) and dress up sweet or savory…there are countless combos and options (toast them to make chips!  Spread with sauce and cheese to make thin crust pizza! Breakfast wraps!) but here are six that kids will love:

  1. banana + Soom chocolate tahini spread (tahini is sesame butter; this brand is a great alternative to Nutella at 1/3 the sugar and only 3 ingredients!)
  2. apple + peanut butter (sweet enough for dessert, nutritious enough for a snack)
  3. turkey (or turkey meatballs!) + mozzarella cheese stick (microwave for a melt!)
  4. mexican cheese + black beans + diced peppers (microwave to bind into a quesadilla roll; serve with salsa)
  5. hummus + rainbow veggies (bell peppers, avocado, carrot, cucumber)
  6. cucumber + tuna with soy sauce (or just mayo if your child’s palate is less adventurous)

 Hope this helps!

Enjoy the end of summer and the fresh start of the fall…and stay in touch!  Find me on Instagram and Facebook…or stop by Potomac Vegetable Farms, where I’m working and learning how to grow the best food outside of Washington, DC.  I’m often working our stand at the Arlington Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings – come say hi!

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