Local dietitian shares ideas for healthy snacks and meals to start the school year

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From schedules and supplies to snacks and meal prepping, heading back to school is going to look very different this year. Monday on Sunrise local dietian Nicole Giumarra shared ideas to get kids involved with making meals, and shared some healthy recipes.

Giumarra suggests you put kids in the “chef’s” seat! She says kids who are involved in planning their lunch will be more likely to eat their lunch. Have kids help with age-appropriate preparations. If time is short for working parents, pack lunches the night before just as though kids were attending “normal/in-person” school, then keep in refrigerator until meal time.

To plan a nourishing lunch for your homeschooling student, include a food from each of the following categories: 1. protein (meat, chicken, fish, beans/lentils, yogurt, cheese, soy.) 2. A whole grain (bread, crackers, rice, pasta.) 3. A fruit or veggie, with a dip if desired. 4. A calcium-rich food or calcium-fortified non-dairy food (cheese, milk, yogurt, fortified plant milk.) 5. A snack/sweet or “fun food,” (if in line with parent’s child-feeding philosophy.)

Giumarra suggests for younger children, instead of asking “what do you want in your lunch”, give them a reasonable option to choose from for each category. For older children who may be more independent at packing lunches, give them the freedom to choose what foods they have for lunch while making sure each category is represented.

Lunch ideas: wraps, burritos or soft tacos, filled with protein of choice; tortilla spread with nut or seed butter, sliced fruit of choice, (banana, strawberries, apples work great), rolled and sliced into bite size pieces. Cheese and whole grain cracker plate with hard boiled egg and fruit. Veggies (carrots, bell pepper, snap peas, cucumber, cherry tomato) with dip such as hummus, whole grain pita and milk. Fruit kabobs with yogurt dip. Baked potato or sweet potato topped with cheese, black beans and salsa; (easy to cook in minutes in microwave or prep ahead on weekend and re-heat.) Left-overs! Repurpose left-over grains, veggies and proteins to make a bowl or enjoy last night’s dinner again!

Giumarra says it’s also important to take your lunch breaks away from work and the computer. Maybe take it outside and add some physical activity after lunch, that way kids (and parents) are refreshed and ready to go back to learning.

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