Nina’s Tips and Techniques: Creating a Balanced Lunch Box Part 1: Fruits & Veggies

school lunchWhat are the best fruits and veggies to pack for kids? How many options should I include?

Since I’m not a nutritionist and I’m not pretending to be one, I asked my good friend and colleague Kim Evans from Whole Health Nutrition to offer her expertise on this one!
Kim says: “2-3 servings of fruits per day might not sound like a lot but kids, and adults, struggle to meet that goal. Portable fruits such as bananas, small oranges, and kiwi are great to pack for lunch or snack. Mamma Chia Organic Chia Squeeze are a favorite of mine because they are fruit, veggie, and chia seed all together in portable pouches—a great addition to any lunch box or after-school sports/activity bag. For convenience we also love dried fruit options, especially dried apricots and raisins which are a terrific source of iron.”

Whenever I send apples to school in my kids’ lunch boxes they come home uneaten because they turn brown. How do I keep them fresh?

While brown (oxidized) apples don’t taste any different than freshly cut apples they do look less appealing, and kids always eat with their eyes first. Try these tricks…
1. After cutting the apple into wedges, reassemble the apples slices and put a rubber band around the outside to hold it together. Wrap the whole thing in cling film and place in the lunch box. This reduces air from coming in contact with the cut sides and should keep it fresher longer.
2. Toss apples in fresh lemon juice before packing. The acid content of the lemon will keep the apple from oxidizing, plus it gives them a zippy lemony flavor! This trick also works when you are cutting lots of apples for baking. Win!

My kid hates vegetables. Help! How do I get him to give new foods a try??

Years of teaching kids to cook has taught me one thing for certain: if kids help cook it, they are more likely to eat it. Encourage your kids to assist you in the kitchen, whether it’s packing lunches or getting dinner ready. When they’re involved in the process and included in making choices, they will want to at least try what they have made. There are also tons of recipes out there that incorporate vegetables into foods they already like—think zucchini muffins, or mac and cheese with butternut squash puree added. Again, include them in the process. Don’t just hide veggies in their food.