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By Amber Frampton

School lunches your child will love

Of course you want your child to eat healthy, nutritious meals. Breakfasts that will keep them going throughout the morning, dinners that will keep them full and provide the nutrients they need until bedtime and beyond, and, of course, lunches that will give them the fuel and nutrients to sustain them throughout the school day.

However, even the most enticingly red and juicy apple will pale in comparison to a preservative-laced snack cake come lunchtime in the cafeteria. Trading lunch components is a time-honored tradition that will continue to endure as long as children bring bagged lunches to school with them.

While you may send them off with a brown paper bag or lunch box full of healthy foods, how can you be sure they are eating it themselves and not trading it away for junk food or sodas? To be honest, it is difficult unless they tell you so themselves. There is hope, however! Here are some delicious, healthy lunch items that children will not be able to bring themselves to trade away to others.

Components of a healthy lunch

To keep your child alert and happy through the long school day, their lunch should include a generous amount of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein and some sort of grain.

One of the simplest ways to get your child to eat their own lunch is to simply ask what they like. Children can be fickle, and their tastes change easily. Even if they preferred oranges last week, today they might crave strawberries or peaches.

When grocery shopping with your child, ask what they want in their lunches this week. Involving your child in the decision-making process will make them feel more included, and they will be less likely to trade away the fruit that they picked out than one that was given to them without their preferences being taken into account.

If your child says they want pizza or French fries or any of the myriad of unhealthy foods children love, why not try making healthier versions? Bake a big batch of sweet potato or zucchini fries that will still taste good when at room temperature.

Then, of course, there are the old standbys. Celery sticks filled with cream cheese and raisins, apple slices with peanut butter, or a healthy granola bar are all good for your child, provide protein as well as vitamins, and will not contribute to afternoon lethargy.

Lunch recipe your child will adore

Here is one simple way to make a well-balanced lunch your child will not be able to part with.

First, the fruit. Again, ask your child what they prefer. If they like a lot of variety, try fruit kebabs! They are very simple to make: simply spear sliced fruit or berries on toothpicks. Sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning.

As for vegetables, a healthy substitute for chips is homemade baked veggie chips. Use a mandolin to slice zucchini, sweet potatoes and carrots very thin. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoning such as salt, pepper or whatever flavoring your child prefers, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

For protein, try a wrap! A whole wheat wrap with some sliced turkey or chicken, lettuce and tomato with a healthy vinaigrette is a great choice.

Finish it up with some milk, water, or 100% fruit juice, and you have a lunch your child cannot wait to eat!

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