My approach to health and well-being is based on Optimum Nutrition. This means including as many nutrients as possible every day to ensure the best possible levels of energy, immune system function, digestion, emotional well-being and glowing vitality. To put it simply, it is swapping foods that are low in nutritional value for those that are nutrient-dense. A common example is swapping white bread for seeded granary, or iceberg lettuce for a mixture of baby spinach, watercress and rocket.
This article is aimed at helping busy mums to make the healthiest choices for themselves and their children.
Let’s start with Lunchboxes. Just say “Lunchboxes” to any mum and you’ll hear the groans! It’s funny how this meal becomes an issue when we suddenly have to wrap it all up and prepare it in advance for our (sometimes fussy) children! So, here are some lunchbox ideas for you to try:
• Wholemeal pasta twists with chopped cherry tomatoes, cubes of cucumber and grated cheese if desired.
• Seeded wholemeal bread with tuna and sweet corn. (Or pop the tuna sweet corn in a container with a fork/spoon and wrap bread and butter separately. Many children prefer eating it this way)
• A container with a hard-boiled egg (peeled and cut in half or quarters), half a small carrot, 3-4 cherry tomatoes, a few sticks of cucumber and some radishes or raw broccoli florets.
• A miniature tub of hummus with sticks of celery, cucumber, carrot, raw courgette and broccoli stem (kids often prefer the stem to the head!) and Ryvita or rice cakes.
• Homemade sugar-free muffins (the recipe will be on my FB page – they contain seeds, carrot, raisins, apple sauce and oil so are more nutritious than a simple cheese sandwich and far more appealing to many kids), with a selection of fresh fruit. Grapes, a plum or small peach, chopped melon, apple, kiwi etc.
These five ideas can serve as the main portion of the lunchbox. However, it is important to keep the whole of the lunchbox healthy. Avoid crisps, Pepperami style snacks, chocolate coated biscuit snacks, fizzy drinks and popular cereal bars coated with honey and marshmallow. A small carton of juice is necessary for vitamins, absorption of iron from the food and adequate calories and hydration. If your child drinks a lot, or frequently comes home from school thirsty, tired or with a headache, then add in a small bottle of water as well. Most children like something sweet in their lunchbox. For many, grapes, raisins or a chopped apple is adequate, but others do appreciate a sweeter treat.
Making cookies, flapjacks or fairy cakes at home in the afternoon is a great way to get your child interested in cooking, plus it saves you money on pre-packaged supermarket snacks and treats. Try some sugar-free cake recipes that use honey or apple sauce as a sweetener, and add cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries or seeds for extra flavour. Swap regular flour for wholemeal, spelt, gluten-free or rice flour.
When planning your child’s lunchbox, think about what they like. Not what they’ve seen advertised and demand when you’re out shopping, but their natural preferences for certain flavours and textures and whether they prefer finger food, sandwiches, eating with a fork or drinking smoothies and soups. Planning and preparation is vital for anyone trying to improve their daily nutritional intake. Keeping your fridge and cupboards stocked with healthy basics (such as wholemeal pasta, couscous, canned tuna in water, sweet corn, tinned tomatoes, pesto, a selection of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, fresh carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, apples, bananas and fresh juices) means that you’ll always have plenty on hand to ensure you or your children have a healthy packed lunch. If you have older children, include them in your planning and food preparation.
It is important that children see packed lunch in a positive way, as a means of providing them with the vitamins, minerals and energy they need to perform well at school and in athletic activities.
Eat well yourself at lunchtime too and always remember, a healthy mum is a happy mum 🙂