Guest blogger JJ Virgin: While celebs like Michelle Obama and Jamie Oliver advocate for healthier school lunches, most school districts still serve heavily processed, nutritionally empty meals. Often, your best bet is to send your kids to school with a homemade lunch. To ensure that they actually eat their food instead of trading it for Oreos or pizza, I've assembled a list of healthful yet kid-friendly lunch ideas -- just in time for back-to-school season!
1) Turkey Wrap â€¨
A whole-wheat wrap with veggies and lean turkey is a nutritious centerpiece for your child's lunch. If you're using a dressing like balsamic vinegar or olive oil, be sure to pack it separately so the wrap doesn't get soggy.
Sandwiches get a fun twist for older kids when they're served on a stick. Using a clean Popsicle stick, arrange cubes of lean meat, cherry tomatoes and other veggies like a kabob. (You may need to make small incisions on the meat or veggies with a knife before inserting the stick.) Include a small container of mustard or other light condiments for dipping.
3) Homemade Soup
Most store-bought varieties of soup are high in sodium, but a nutritious homemade stew or soup (broth-based, not cream-based) makes a hearty meal on a cold day. Heat up the soup, then pour it into an insulated Thermos. To add crunch, you might also include some whole-wheat crackers in fun shapes.
4) Sliced Veggiesâ€¨
Raw veggies like baby carrots and colorful bell peppers make a great addition to your child's lunch. Mix a variety of colors to make lunchtime more interesting. You can also slice bell peppers into fun shapes using a metal cookie cutter, but you'll need to press down hard. â€¨
For many kids, the packaging is often just as important as what's inside, so let them pick out an insulated lunch tote or other gear that they actually like. By including fun colors and kid-friendly foods, you'll make sure that your kids get the fuel they need to lead an active, healthy lifestyle.
Â©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity nutrition and wellness expert JJ Virgin is a media personality, costar of the TLC prime-time reality series "Freaky Eaters," in-demand public speaker and bestselling author of "Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy: The 5-Step Plan to Sleek, Strong and Sculpted Arms." Get her biweekly LEANzine -- chock-full of tips to get you slim and sexy fast -- at http://www.jjvirgin.com.