Ladies & gentlemen -- may I present to you my GOLD MEDAL lunch: THE SANDWICH.
Looks pretty boring right? Definitely doesn't look like it belongs in a children's cookbook or any of those inspiring websites we look at for school lunch ideas. And yet - this is my formula almost every day. WHY?
- It's EASY & FAST to make. And this means - it's sustainable for me because - let's not forget mums - we have to make about 200 school lunches a year multiplied by however many children we have.
- My kids ACTUALLY EAT IT. And it's easy for them to eat within the time frame allowed. That means less worry for me.
- It's NUTRITIOUS.
From a nutrition point of view - I focus on giving my CHILDREN FIVE THINGS:
- PROTEIN: whether it's plant-based or animal -- your child needs protein every day, and I would argue - at every meal to:
- make her feel full and satisfied;
- give her body the fuel it needs for growth & cellular regeneration;
- pump her full of energy;
- And protein has also been shown to lower sugar cravings!!
- CARBOHYDRATES: glucose is the source of energy for all of our body's functions. Our brain runs exclusively on glucose. Our children need this for:
- brain power.
- FIBRE: If you haven't pooped in days, how happy are you? I can tell you right now - I'm a basket case. Same with your kids. Fibre keeps them:
- happy and therefore kind; 90% of our serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in our gut;
- strong because it helps clean out our digestive system every day. (70-80% of our immune cells are made in our gut.)
- ANTIOXIDANTS: Incredibly important for:
- making sure they beat all those viruses;
- keeping their arteries nice & strong;
- fighting against the free radicals from our polluted air and environment.
- HEALTHY FATS: A good dose of healthy fats is important to:
- promote hormone balance;
- support their nervous system which is under so much stress given homework, extra-curriculars and social pressures;
- decrease inflammation in their body, which is so important in HK where inflammation is chronic (i.e. asthma, eczema, allergies)
(They also need water. But I will just focus on food today.)
My boring sandwich lunch ticks ALL these boxes.
WHAT BOX THEY TICK
Ezekiel sprouted bread: Protein, fibre, carbohydrates
Free range roasted chicken slices: Protein
Butter / coconut oil: Healthy fats
Avocado: Healthy fats, fibre
Raw pumpkin seeds: Fibre, healthy fats
Raw Tomato: Fibre, water, antioxidants
Raw Yellow Pepper: Fibre, water, antioxidants
Raw Cucumber: Fibre, water, antioxidants
TICK! TICK! TICK!
And guess what? Here's my guilty confession:
My kids don't get a different lunch EVERY DAY. At best, I change what's in the sandwich so that the protein component varies a bit. Or maybe they'll get a savoury muffin instead of a sandwich.
But this is the lunch I KNOW THEY WILL EAT and given that I'm ticking the boxes, I focus on the fact that I have two more meals in the day to give them the variety they need in their diet.
So, if your child's lunch box is a boiled egg with a vegemite toast, cherry tomatoes & blueberries. YOU TICK ALL THE BOXES TOO!!
Or maybe it's a seed butter sandwich with carrot sticks & a banana. ALSO AMAZING!!
Or how about some veggie california sushi rolls with some cucumber, a few slices of ham & some strawberries?
TICK, TICK, TICK!!
MOMS - we are doing better than we give ourselves credit for!
And you know what - lunch is ONE MEAL. We have control over two more meals in our child's day.
My advice for lunch is just to TRADE UP each one of the FIVE ITEMS ABOVE so that they are nutrient dense at it can be:
- Buy the best bread you can. (I really like EZEKIEL which is available at Marketplace & Olivers in Hong Kong because it is very nutrient rich and high in protein.)
- Invest in cold cuts that are hormone & nitrate free. (Gonzalo, Southstream & Olivers usually carry a great selection).
- Try to buy organic fruits & veggies. (I buy from ecofarm.com.hk)
- Try to bake your own muffins. (For my sugar free, grain free recipe, click here)
- Check out the GO RAW collection of seeds and sprinkle some chia seeds in their sandwich.
BUT DON'T LET PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF GOOD.
Cristina Tahoces is a holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrive Nutrition Practice. Please join her Facebook group “Thrive Nutrition Practice” for daily articles, recipes, promotions on professional grade supplements and upcoming workshops.
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