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Healthy School Meals for Kids
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Healthy School Meals for Kids

Parents have always had a hard time getting kids to eat healthy foods, and lunch-box meals pose a particular challenge. You may face the dilemma of how to send off a healthy lunch--one with complex carbohydrates, calcium, protein, fruits and vegetables--that your child will actually eat, rather than bringing it back home or--worse--trading it for more sugary fare. With a little creativity mixed with certain healthy standbys, it is possible to get kids to eat nutritious lunches, whether they know it or not.

Simple to prepare, sandwiches automatically gain nutrition points if you use whole-grain breads instead of white. Avoid processed meats and sugary foods like jam and marshmallow spread, and instead stick with peanut butter (which is loaded with protein), fresh meat, tuna and egg salad. Cheese, though fattening, has lots of calcium, so it's fine to include sometimes (note that until a child is 5 years old, he needs more fat than older children do). Leftover meatloaf or casserole can be placed in a pita or wrap. Stick in a layer or two of lettuce or tomato if your child will let you get away with it.

Fresh fruit becomes more appetizing if you cut it up and provide toothpicks for spearing and a container of yogurt for dipping (yogurt is also a healthy snack on its own). Dips, which are fun, also encourage youngsters to consume small vegetables like baby carrots, cut-up cucumbers and cherry tomatoes See if your child will eat almond butter, cottage cheese or low-fat sour cream. A sprinkle of nuts or seeds in the dip adds flavor, protein and fiber.

The goal for drinks is to decrease sugar and increase vitamin content. Try sending a thermos with milk, or seltzer flavored with fruit juice. Or, the night before, partially fill a bottle with water, lay it on its side in the freezer, and in the morning fill the rest with water. By lunchtime your child will have refreshing ice water.