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Pack School Lunches That Are Healthy and Fun
Date:9/1/2012

SATURDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Packing nutritious and fun school lunches can help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Here are some tips for parents from Dr. William Gillespie, a pediatrician and chief medical officer at New York City-based EmblemHealth.

  • Give your children a choice. If they get to decide what's in their lunch, they're more likely to eat it. Just make sure their choices are all healthy, such as apples, bananas, carrots or celery.
  • Add dip to make vegetables more fun for kids. A quick dip can be made with plain non-fat yogurt and garlic powder (or any other seasoning your child likes).
  • Make mini-kabobs by cubing low-sodium deli chicken or turkey and low-fat cheese. Place the cubes on pretzel sticks. You can also use grape tomatoes and green grapes.
  • Use whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Whole-wheat pita or tortillas are other healthy options. Let your child make a "face" on their sandwich with ingredients such as hummus, low-fat cream cheese and cut-up vegetables.

Presentation makes a difference in how much food appeals to kids, Gillespie noted. Children are more likely to eat things in smaller, bite-size pieces or slices. Slice sandwiches into four squares. Cut up an apple or create a fruit cup with pieces of different melons.

When it comes to warm foods in a thermos, try a healthy macaroni and cheese with whole-wheat pasta and some small broccoli florets. A three-bean chili with carrots and zucchini is another healthy option.

Make sure your child's lunch includes a good source of calcium, such as yogurt, smoothies, low-fat string cheese or low-fat milk.

Water is a better choice than sugary drinks such as juices and sodas. If your child likes something crunchy, give them baked chips, low-fat popcorn or whole-grain crackers.

Ask if your child's school has restrictions on what students are allowe
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