It is back to school time for kiddos around the country.
I know because I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook.
One question that often comes up with back to school time is what to feed the kids.
There’s certainly no shortage of prepackaged, overly processed options marketed to moms and dads with the promise of “time saver, convenience” foods but some are just downright awful.
Let’s explore a few of the worst …
… and follow it up with a few that would be great, great options for busy kiddos, on the go.
Easy Lunch Box Upgrades
Lose It: Lunchables: It’s a toss up between the Lunchables mini hot dogs that come with a sugar drink and candy or the Lunchables Chicken Sliders with the same sides. Don’t be fooled by the “Good Source of Protein” marketing on the package; that poor quality protein, along with those awful sides, are also packed with loads of sugar and sodium. None of the Lunchable options are smart choices when trying to fuel the little ones for their day ahead and any after school activities.
Choose It: Pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, a package of sprouted grain tortillas and make simple rollups and avocado. Slice the already cooked chicken, avocado and add it to the wrap. Roll it up like a burrito, and either serve it as such or slice it like a sushi roll. Lunch done in 5 minutes!
Lose It: Smucker’s Uncrustables: C’mon, PBJ might be the easiest meal to make. Ever. Between the partially hydrogenated oil in the bread and peanut butter, the jelly where 2 out of 3 ingredients are high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Choose It: Pick up some sprouted grain bread, Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter that has 2 ingredients — peanuts and salt — and some frozen berries. Here’s the trick, rather than traditional jelly, let the frozen berries defrost, mash them up and use that as the “jelly.” You can also slice banana on there or fresh grapes, instead of the berries.
Lose It: Crackers. Snacking on the go is common, from after-school activities to weekends filled with sports games and play dates. It’s important to make sure that on-the-go snacks are nutritious and delicious. The problem, most on-the-go snacks, and crackers in particular, are completely void of any nutrition. The buttery flavor often comes from trans fat and they do nothing to actually satisfy your hunger or fuel your body. They’re nothing but empty carbohydrates and you and your kids are already over carbed.
Choose It: Mixed Nuts. Pre-pack your favorite healthful nuts (I’m partial to the Wonderful Pistachios Sweet Chili) in snack-sized bags (one serving is about 49 pistachios for 160 calories). You can also keep some convenient 1 oz. (80 calorie) Wonderful Pistachios grab-and-go packs on hand to toss in your kiddo’s lunch boxes or when you need to grab a snack in a hurry. Our girls love these because as our four year old says “it’s fun to open the shell.” We’re happy she likes to get crackin’ on those shells, because it slows her down from her normal rapid eating, plus pistachios offer fiber and protein.
Lose It: Kellogg’s Special K Chocolatey Pretzel Bar. Some bars are OK and we’re definitely OK with our kiddos eating them on occasion. But others miss the mark. Kellogg’s Special K Chocolatey Pretzel Bars are an example of “ones that miss.” They have partially hydrogenated oil, lack protein, particularly since sugar or one of its many aliases pops up repeatedly, and as a whole have many more ingredients than I’d suggest in a bar.
Choose It: Kit’s Organic Bars, from the makers of Clif Bar. We like them in the sense that they are made with real ingredients you can pronounce, don’t have added sugars or junky fats…and they taste incredible. Have no question at all with our kiddos eating these. We also love KIND Bars. Between the heart healthy nuts, protein and fiber boost and incredible taste, all with ingredients you can pronounce, it’s a win win for all. And our girls are raging fans of both!
Lose It: Soda. I don’t think this one needs much explanation, though it continues to surface and I see kids everywhere gulping down this sugar water.
Choose It: Water with fresh fruit sliced in it for some added flavor. If you’re looking to break away from plain water alone, check out Vita Coco’s newest Kids line of coconut water based drinks, with just 8 grams of sugar per 6 oz. We like Vita Coco Kids products because they contain coconut water, natural fruit flavors, vitamin C and no artificial sweeteners … our kids certainly are big fans of these products. Of course, milk is smart, too.