Should our youngest children be scarfing down greasy fried food in the middle of their day? Is there any reason we shouldn’t be feeding our toddlers tofu? Read more
It’s the time of year when kids head back to the classroom — and parents head back to the kitchen for another year of lunchbox anxiety. But there’s no need for packable meals to inspire stress. Here are simple lunches worth a spot in any brown bag, plus some time-saving packaged add-ins that parents can actually feel good about. Read more
In this week’s news: Mondays are the new January 1; “sad desk lunch” is no way to live; and salt gets a sprinkling of controversy.
T.G.I. … Monday?
New Year’s Day is notorious for being the time for all kinds of resolutions we know we’ll break (or simply ignore). Now, a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that we treat Monday like a weekly January first. Cue Twilight Zone music. When researchers looked at health-related Google queries from 2004 to 2012, they found a consistent spike on Mondays and Tuesdays, followed by a steady decline through the rest of the week — and finished off with a big plunge on Saturday. Enter the Monday Campaigns, an initiative put forth by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications. To date, they’ve been keeping the Internet abuzz with Meatless Monday, now practiced in 31 countries worldwide. But there’s more to come, say the seize-the-Monday folks. Expect to see campaigns like Monday 2000, which encourages people to balance out their daily calorie counts, and a child-friendly Kids Cook Monday.
Step. Away. From. Your. Desk.
Did you know that 65 percent of Americans eat lunch at their desks or don’t take a break? Or that people who eat at their desks tend to eat more calories and snacks than those who eat out? Probably. Or you could have guessed. But don’t let that stop you from watching the hilarious new video from James Hamblin, MD, The Atlantic’s online health editor: “Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?” The title speaks for itself, and if you like the video, check out Buzzfeed’s take. They made “the most delightful MD ever” into a gif.
Pre-packaged lunch kits sure seem convenient, but the quality of the food is subpar at best. Popular options include crackers and processed meats and cheeses, coupled with sugary drinks and cookies. The calorie counts vary from 300 to 450 per serving, with 8 to 20 grams and fat, plus 30 to 40 percent of an adult’s sodium needs for the entire day. What’s even more disturbing is the staggeringly long list of ingredients, usually chock-full of preservatives.
Bento-style containers make homemade lunch kits a breeze. Compartments keep food fresh and allow little fingers to snatch up and assemble their favorites. Most set-ups retail for $15 to $25 each at Pottery Barn Kids and Laptop Lunches. Resealable plastic bags and small plastic containers can also get the job done.
Here are 5 fresh lunch combos that keep the menu fun and healthy.
- Thick-sliced roasted turkey, cheese cubes, edamame and yogurt-dipped pretzels (above)
- Greek yogurt, fresh berries, granola and carrot sticks
- Grilled chicken, tortilla chips, black bean salsa and broccoli florets
- Mini PB &J, whole wheat pretzels and grapes
- Pasta salad, green beans and apple
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »
These tender mushrooms and their protein-packed quinoa stuffing aren’t just for grown ups, kids will love them too — those with adventurous palates anyway. They’re the perfect on-the-go snack for when you’re stuck on the soccer field watching games or running errands. And the best part? They’ll last up to 4 days in your fridge in a sealed container so make a batch early in the week and keep them on-hand for busy times when you need a snack. Either way your family is sure to enjoy these bite-sized nibbles.
With back-to-school season in full swing, talk of bagged lunches is a regular most mom-groups. As many of us do, we put more time into our kids and what they are eating and let our own diets fall by the wayside. Well, bagged lunches are not just for little ones. Planning and packing your own lunch is a sure-fire way to control the types of foods you are eating and the portion size. If you’re like me, you might need a little motivation. When my work-out gets dull a new sports bra or pair of sneaks often does the trick. Next thing you know I go from barely running a block to feeling like I could run a marathon with my new kicks on.
So, here are some really fun lunch-packing goodies to get you motivated to join the brown-bag movement. Hey, a few of these items may appeal to your kids as well and get them psyched about that extra piece of fruit or healthier snack you packed for them!
Start by ensuring your little ones’ lunches are safe from food germs. Here are our food safety tips for packing kids’ lunches.
1.) Yogurt Parfait
Pack up yogurt, with small containers of fresh fruit and granola for crunch, and let kids layer them at lunchtime. Or try making the parfait ahead of time in a screw-top jar for a fun and healthy on-the-go lunch.
Give grilled cheese a makeover! Combine whole-grain tortillas, veggies and cheese. Melt in the microwave, slice, and voila – excellent finger food hot or cold.
The guidelines for lunch are pretty similar to breakfast. You want to make sure half of your plate is filled with fruit and veggies, ¼ with grains and ¼ with lean protein. Although the MyPlate photo shows milk as a side beverage, it’s not a must at every meal. You can get in your dairy in the form of low-fat or nonfat cheese or yogurt too.
Seek and You’ll Find
After asking our Facebook fans their favorite brands, we sought out to add them to our taste test. However, finding popular brands was not as easy as we originally thought—and we learned that wraps are found in MANY locations throughout the market. When looking for wraps, check the deli counter, commercial bread aisle and the Mexican food aisle. If that doesn’t work, ask the store manager. At one supermarket, they stored some wraps next to the raw meat (that just screams food safety issue to me).
We’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.
A few weeks ago, we brought you a list of the latest and greatest lunchboxes so those of you participating in the Brown-Bag Challenge could bring your lunch to work in style. But with the arrival of cool fall temperatures, soups and hot dishes are going to start making appearances. We’ve got the best in hot food containers so you can plan for warm meals with no worries.
Bringing fresh vegetables to work just got easier thanks to the Aladdin Collapsible Steamer Set (above). No need to reheat soggy veggies when you can steam fresh ones at work instead. Just add three tablespoons of water and your raw vegetables microwave for three minutes and viola you’ve got a fresh, delicious lunch. Clean-up is just as easy: wash, collapse and store.