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August 19, 2011 [9]




brown rice with raw or steamed vegetables, and top it with a fried or soft cooked egg. This savory meal can be very satisfying, and it’s loaded with nutrition.


While it’s tempting to buy an array of packaged foods for filling the lunch box, a few simple strategies can make lunch both more nutritious and more economical. Kids rarely eat a full sandwich or a whole piece of fruit. Think instead about how kids like to eat and pack accordingly. Send leftovers such as roasted chicken or meatballs stuffed into a pita pocket. Sandwich wraps made with small tortillas are both easy to hold and appealing to kids. Sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes or carrot sticks can replace the chips or crackers, providing both crunch and color. Try packing bite-sized chunks of melon, orange slices, berries or dried apricots.


Snack time is a great time to transition between school activities and home. Reconnect with your kids over a healthful snack. Think of the after-school

snack as another opportunity for nutrition. Prepare simple snacks such as whole wheat mini bagels with fruity cream cheese, apple slices with peanut butter, veggie sticks with hummus or a cup of minestrone or chicken noodle soup.


• Keep it real. Packaged foods are full of artificial ingredients and low on nutrients. Find ways to help your children enjoy real, fresh food. Offer fresh fruit or vegetables as often as you can, keeping food preparation simple. • Minimize the sugar. Sodas, Twinkies, cookies, doughnuts, candy, cake, ice cream, popsicles, pudding, fruit snacks . . . you get the picture. Some kids want sugar all day long, especially in the form of soda. Give them other options. There are hidden sugars in a lot of foods too, so wear your detective hat when you shop, and read the label. You’ll be surprised to see the many forms of sugar in breads, sauces, yogurts and condiments. • Allow treats, as treats. Treats aren’t needed every day or every meal. It’s not necessary to deprive kids completely either. Make an occasion out of making brownies or going out for ice cream. If it’s not so

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frequent, it becomes a real treat. • Feed their brains. The fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and flax seeds are helpful for brain development and brain function. Eating fatty fish, such as salmon, twice a week, supplementing with a fish oil formulated for kids, mixing a little flax oil into

smoothies, oatmeal and yogurts, and topping salads with chopped walnuts are good ways of including this important element in your kids’ healthy diet. Bring your kids into the kitchen. When they help prepare foods, they are more likely to eat them. Spending time in the kitchen with your kids is a

great way to stay connected and teach useful skills. Heather Christensen is a former school teacher, a mother, and a nutrition consultant at Redmond Athletic Club, who specializes in weight management, healthy lifestyles and family nutrition. For more information, contact her at or (425) 883-4449.

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Think outside the cereal box. Cereal is fine for some days, but most cereals that kids will eat are loaded with sugar and artificial color. Kids need protein and complex carbohydrates for breakfast to keep their energy balanced during the school day. Try making a fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt (which has almost double the protein of regular yogurt), fresh fruit, and milk or juice. A yogurt parfait is also visually appealing to kids. Layer Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and a sprinkle of granola, alternating them in a clear cup. Another option is a breakfast rice bowl. Mix



ey moms and dads, the school bells are about to start ringing again. The beginning of the school year is a perfect time to set new goals, turn over new leaves, and do things a little differently. When it comes to feeding your kids, there’s always room for new ideas and new ways of helping kids get the nutrients they need to be their best at school and to balance their energy throughout the day. Read on for a few suggestions.

Heather Christensen

Take time to prepare fun, nutritious food for your school children

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