Snacks for a healthy Lunchbox
Amanda McCredie – Dietician
Preparing and packing a healthy lunchbox can be a difficult task. Finding time to shop and prepare interesting and healthy ideas for school lunches can stressful. But the foods we send to school with our kids can contribute up to 1/3 of their daily intake of nutrients. It’s important to pack a balanced lunch and healthy snacks to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need.
Our busy, time-poor lifestyle is conducive to using convenience (pre-packaged) foods. Unfortunately many of these foods are high in fat, salt and energy and should be used sparingly. When using convenience foods, check labels and choose foods that are higher in fibre and lower in fat and sugar.
One of the biggest issues with today’s lunchboxes is that they are high in carbohydrate. The average lunchbox is filled with snacks including muesli bars, chips, biscuits, white bread sandwiches and fruit juice which can account for more than 60% carbohydrate. While growing, active kids need plenty of energy, energy in the form of processed, high sugar carbohydrates snacks such as fruit snacks, juices, snack bars and biscuits are digested quickly and leave kids prone to overeating and lethargic due to the highs and lows of the sugar spikes. These foods are also harmful on our kids teeth exposing them to sugars which increase the risk of tooth decay.
The trick for parents is finding the right balance between good nutrition and foods that children want to eat when packing a school lunchbox.
So what are some healthy snacks….
- Vegetable sticks +/- salsa/hommos
- Boiled eggs
- Popcorn (you can even add a small amount of dried fruit/ seeds and a sprinkle of mini choc bites to make it more interesting!)
- Cheese and crackers
- Homemade Bliss balls – please see recipe below
- Homemade muffins and breads – please see recipe below
- Corn thins/ vita weets with toppings such as vegemite/cheese/tahini /avocado
- Plain milk popper or small tub of yoghurt
- Pikelet or scone (plain, fruit or savoury)
Try to Avoid: packet potato crisps or other snacks of this type, lollies, chocolate bars, chocolate biscuits, cordials and soft drinks, and some muesli bars.
NUT-FREE COOKIE DOUGH BLISS BALLS
- 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
- 10 medjool dates
- 5 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons cacao nibs (or mini chocolate chips)
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch sea salt to taste
- Blend oats in a high speed blender or food processor until you get a fine consistency like flour.
- Add in shredded coconut and and vanilla process.
- Slowly add in dates and water. Fold cacao nibs/choc chips into the dough.
- Scoop out mixture, roll into balls and store in refrigerator or freezer!
If you’re not using fresh soft dates, soak them in warm water for at least an hour before.