14:11 28 August 2009
Knowing what to pack in your childs lunchbox is difficult at the best of times and now with a new health warning over eating too much ham, knowing whats for the best is a challenge to say the least.
Scientists at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) have found a link between eating processed meats, such as ham, salami, sausages and bacon, with a high risk of developing colon cancer later in life.
But finding a healthy lunch alternative doesnt mean it has to be boring. Its probably not as expensive as you think either after all what price can you put on your childs health?
As a guide, each day their lunch should have a source of: protein (to keep them alert); complex carbohydrates (for a slow energy release, rather than refined carbohydrates which give a quick sugar high); calcium (for healthy teeth and bones); and at least one portion of fruit and veg (for essential vitamins and minerals).
Here are some healthy options and a few ways you can jazz up your childs dinner:
Theres a wealth of different varieties of breads out there so buy in a few and keep them in the freezer, that way you can pull out what you need the night before to defrost preventing waste and saving you money! Remember to use low-fat spread instead of high in calories butter too. You could also try cutting them into different shapes too kids love fun foods.
Wholemeal (rather than white as these types are full of sugar)
Multi-grain and seed
Rolls (wholemeal or granary)
Baguettes (wholemeal or granary)
Pitta breads (wholemeal)
Staying away from processed meats like ham and reformed turkey and chicken slices may seem like hard work at first, but its not as difficult as you think. There are lots of different options to buy or why not save some meat from your evening meals to make up their sandwiches the next day, cutting off any excess fat.
Cream/ spreadable cheese (low-fat)
Turkey (not reformed varieties)
Cold roast beef
Tuna (in spring water, using low-fat mayonnaise)
Mackerel or sardines (in water or tomato sauce)
Marmite (theyll either love it or hate it)
Peanut (with banana as optional)
Hummus with grated carrot (for some bite)
Sandwiches arent the only way to fill your kids lunchbox. There are lots of options to keep the kids happy and their bellies full:
Pasta salad (with prawn, chicken or tuna)
Rice salad (with salmon or chicken)
Couscous (with chicken and red pepper is especially tasty)
Quiche or Spanish omelette (this is a really easy way to get in most of their nutritional requirements)
Homemade pizza rounds (a crafty way to get them to eat lots of veg without realising it)
Crisps may be handy, but theyre also full of saturated fats and high in salt. If you do buy them, opt for the healthier varieties and try not to give them every day. Instead, choose one or two of the following finger foods:
Half a corn on the cob
Dip kids love dipping so accompany the above with a hummus or cottage cheese dip
Ditch the high sugar and fat treats - which will do nothing but pile on the pounds and make them hyper. Instead, try some of these:
Fruit apples, pears, satsumas, bananas, kiwis and grapes. Try cutting them into pieces if they feel over faced with a full one. Also fruit salads, sticks and skewers are a hit with the little ones.
Currant buns (without icing)
Packet of raisins or currants
Packets of dried apricots
Always include a drink to go to keep your child hydrated and help them concentrate. Go for still/sparkling water, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, or unsweetened fruit juice.
Alternatively, a fruit smoothie made from natural yoghurt, mixed berries and a dash of honey, or a home-made milkshake (mix semi-skimmed milk with puréed strawberries or raspberries) will make a tasty and nutritious change.
To make sure you're not using products with too much salt or fat, try using this handy lunch box maker from Tesco, which builds shows all the nutritional values you need, to know if you're making a healthy meal or not.
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