Though these 5 simple swaps to improve your kids lunches as you send them back to school this week are for kids, they really apply for all of us, anytime!
Here are Allison Buckingham, co-owner of Perelandra Natural Foods, top 5 tips to upgrade your lunch box lunches:
- Swap: A piece of fruit instead of juice. Most juices on the market have way too much sugar and way too little nutritional value. By eating the whole fruit, you’ll be getting all of the fiber and nutrients you miss out on when it is juiced.
- Swap: Fruit-flavored seltzer for soda. One of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your child’s diet is to remove as much added sugar as possible. A can of coke has the equivalent of about 9 teaspoons of sugar! Seltzer has all the fizz and the flavor, without the sugar.
- Swap: Whole wheat bread for white bread. Whole wheat bread has 3 times the fiber, more protein, vitamins and minerals than white bread. Make sure that the first ingredient of the bread you purchase is “whole wheat flour”, and look for one with 3 grams of fiber (or more) per slice. “Wheat flour” is just plain old white flour.
- Swap: Roasted chickpeas for pretzels/chips. There are so many varieties of delicious roasted chickpeas on the market now, or just roast them yourself with some olive oil and sea salt. They make the perfect, portable, kid-friendly snack. Pretzels and chips are empty calories; roasted chickpeas have the same crunch of a chip and tons of flavor with the added bonus of being high in protein and fiber.
- Swap: Bean-based pasta for semolina pasta. You can get pasta made from just about any kind of bean nowadays. Bean based pastas have more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than traditional pasta, and most of them have a really mild and pleasant bean flavor. My toddler loves actually prefers chickpea pasta over regular pasta now.
Allison Buckingham co-owns Perelandra Natural Foods in Downtown Brooklyn, New York. She has both a bachelors and masters degree in nutrition, an MBA and is a NYS certified dietitian-nutritionist.