Pack lunches with a healthy punchBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lunch-boxes/MY00855
- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Sept. 2, 2011
Pack lunches with a healthy punch
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
A new school year means new challenges, but packing your children's lunch boxes needn't be one of them. Use these tips to create healthy, kid-friendly lunches.
Think food safety
Be smart about food safety. Stave off food-borne illness with a few common sense precautions:
- Start with a warm up. If you plan to pack soup or other hot entrees, use preheated insulated containers. To preheat, just fill with boiling water and let stand a few minutes before adding the hot food.
- Get the Chills. Surround your perishables with chilled items. Sandwich them between cold packs. Freeze bread, water bottles, 100% juice, or yogurt tubes to keep the inside of your lunch container cold until lunch time.
- Made in the shade. Encourage your children to store their lunch boxes away from direct sun and any heating or cooling sources.
- No worries. Pack items that aren't temperature sensitive to avoid the worry of unsafe bacterial growth. Pack small packets/cans of meat or fish and whole grain crackers for make it yourself mini sandwiches at the lunch table. Peanut butter, bread, bagels, and wraps, fruits, and veggies are all safe bets too.
Pack the right stuff
To create nutrient-packed lunches, remember to cover the basics:
- Grains. Make whole-grain bread, mini bagels, pita or tortillas the basis of healthy sandwiches. Pack in a container that keeps them from being squished or crumbled and fresh tasting.
- Fruits and vegetables. Make fruits and veggies easy to munch by cutting them into bite-sized pieces. Choose fresh, dried or canned. Send along a small container of yogurt for dipping. Again, pay attention to packing to protect food from unappetizing bruises.
- Protein. The standard PBJ is a great choice. If food allergies nix peanut butter, explore other protein-rich spreads for sandwiches. In addition to lean lunch meat, fish, beans, nuts, cheese and tofu are great protein sources for growing children.
- Calcium. Send milk in a thermos or let your child purchase milk at school. If you child isn't a milk drinker, pack yogurt, cheese or fortified juices — all good sources of calcium.
Keep it interesting
If sandwiches are losing their appeal, try a twist to deliver the same great nutrition:
- Shape up. Cut sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutter to add pizzazz.
- Switch it up. Instead of bread, sandwich your protein, veggies or fruit between crackers, rice cakes, bagels, pita pockets or tortillas.
- Put in the subs. Try packing whole grain pasta or rice with sliced veggies and olives; peanut butter dip for fruit; dry cereal mixed with dried fruit and nuts, or yogurt with fruit and granola. Cube leftover chicken and pair it with grapes or bell pepper chunks on a toothpick for a tower of fun.
- Containers and more. Kids begging for those pre-packed lunches they see ads on TV? Do it yourself with fun multi pocket containers — sliced cheese, pita pocket squares, cut up fruit or veggies. Got an eco conscious kiddo? Pack items in reusable sandwich bags in fun, fashionable prints for girls and guys.
Don't forget the personal touch
Brighten your child's day by writing a note and stashing it the lunch box. Or go all out and use a small amount of food coloring to "stamp" your child's sandwich with a secret code or symbol.
I've got you started. Now I'm going to call on you. What do you do to ensure that lunch boxes come home empty — and not because the healthy food you packed got thrown away?
Here's to a great school year,
- Keeping bag lunches safe. U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Keeping_Bag_Lunches_Safe.pdf. Accessed 8/31/2011