Back to School!
Back To School: Healthy Eating Tips That Make a Mark
When it comes to eating healthy, back to school routines can be a challenge. As a mom, I know that rushed mornings and after school activities can get in the way of our best intentions. I’m here to help! Here are my four strategies that can help set you and your kids up for healthy eating success!
- Kick-start the day with an energy-boosting breakfast.
Breakfast gives your kids (and you!) energy to tackle the morning. Kids who eat a healthy breakfast are better able to focus at school; they’ve fueled their brains and they’re not side-tracked by hunger. A good breakfast gives you:
- Carbohydrates to fuel your body and brain (e.g. oatmeal, fruit)
- Protein for longer lasting energy (e.g. eggs, turkey, cheese)
- Healthy fats to slow digestion (e.g. nut butter, avocado)
- Fibre to keep you satisfied longer (e.g. fruit, veggies, bran)
You can get these nutrients from a basic breakfast of whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana. Or channel your inner chef and deliver these nutrients with something a little more interesting like Honey-Sriracha Turkey & Blue Cheese Quichettes (definitely a make ahead item!).
Dietitian Approved Breakfast: This Turkey Frittata gets a gold star! Filled with turkey, eggs, cheese and lots of veggies, this breakfast is packed with protein and fibre to keep your kids going all morning long. Make it on the weekend and then just heat and serve with a piece of toast for a quick, nutritious, weekday breakfast.
- Give kids lunch that packs a nutritious punch.
With a hectic schedule, it can be tempting to buy pre-made lunch foods. Don’t give in! Highly processed, ready-to-eat options can be high in sugar, fat or salt and can result in an energy crash. Your kids need good fuel at lunch to stay alert and ready to learn. Pack lunches with simple, yet healthy options, like:
- veggie-filled turkey wraps or sandwiches on whole grain breads
- pita wedges with hummus or black bean dip
- leftover soup, stews or pasta dishes
Dietitian-Approved Lunch Box: Bake a double batch of crunchy turkey “fingers” for a quick dinner and keep extras for lunch – they’re great cold! Turkey delivers health-promoting nutrients like zinc, iron and B12. Just add a piece of fruit, some whole grain crackers, a handful of baby carrots and a bottle of water, and you’ve got a fantastic finger-food lunch (with no forks to lose at school).
- Manage munchies with smart snacks.
Unlike treats (e.g. cookies) that tend to be calorie-rich and nutrient-poor, smart snacks help fill the nutrient gap and help manage the munchies in between meals. Smart snacks include nutrient-rich foods like:
- cut up vegetables
- Greek yogurt
- nuts, seeds and roasted chickpeas
- whole grain crackers
- cooked turkey (e.g. roasted slices, meatballs).
Keep nutritious foods visible in the fridge or cupboard to make healthy snacking easy.
Dietitian-Approved Smart Snack: Whether your kids need energy to fuel hockey practice, gymnastics or music lessons, or just need something to keep them going until dinner, these Mini Pizza Meatloaves hit the spot! The lean ground turkey will fuel them and keep them satisfied. Cook these on the weekend and keep them in the fridge for after school snacks. Kids can heat a mini meatloaf in the microwave or eat it cold.
- Keep it simple: cook once, eat twice.
Planning for leftovers saves time. It helps you get a nourishing meal on the table quickly. Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. I like to grill a whole turkey on the barbeque for a weekend dinner (it’s easier than you think!) and then use leftovers for stir fry, pizza, soup or sandwiches during a busy week. Honestly, who doesn’t love turkey soup?
Dietitian-Approved Family Dinner: This Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato, Chipotle and Maple couldn’t be easier! It’s quick to make, nutrient-rich and packed with protein-satisfaction from the turkey, kidney beans and cheese. The veggies and beans add heart healthy fibre. Just toss it all into the slow cooker and dinner will be ready when you get home!
Follow Shannon on Twitter and Instagram @shancrockerRD