Food for thought: Back-to-school nutrition

What to put in your childs lunchbox -- and what to keep out

Food for thought: Back-to-school nutrition

BEND, Ore. - School is about to start here in Central Oregon, and filling your kids' lunch boxes with the right foods can keep them healthy and alert.

"Kids need healthy nutrition in order to grow," said registered nutritionist Lori Brizee, owner of Central Oregon Nutrition Consultants. "They need good nutrition in order to pay attention at school."

Fruits and vegetables are the key ingredient to that.

"A great thing for a kid's lunch is these small mandarin or clementine oranges, they're easy to peel," said Brizee. "Grapes are another food that travel well. They don't get bruised, so you can wash a stem of grapes and put them in a plastic bag."

Plums and pears can also be added to that list.

When it comes to vegetables, Brizee says carrots, cucumbers and peppers are great choices. They can be used for snacks or in a sandwich, covering another important food group; whole grains.

"This bread is 100 percent whole wheat. so look on the label you want the first ingredient to be whole wheat flour," said Brizee.

The same goes for wraps or tortillas.

Now to wash that down...

"I firmly believe kids need to drink milk and water," said Brizee. "If they are ever going to have a sweet drink, I'd far rather have them have a little bit of chocolate powder in their milk than have a juice, a juice box or a pop."

Brizee says it's okay to pack a treat every once in a while, but stay away from the candy. Instead, pick something with more nutrition, like an oatmeal cookie.

When it comes to snacks, stay away from the higher-calorie foods. Brizee says potato chips are one of the worst offenders. Popcorn, however. is a cheap and healthy alternative, and can be easily made with just a teaspoon of oil and a fourth cup of kernels.  

Breakfast is another very important meal, and whatever you or your kids eat should always be high in protein and fiber. Ready-to-eat cereal and milk are not that. Brizee says eating eggs or putting yogurt on your cereal is a better option.

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