Monday, February 20, 2012

School lunch solutions

The last couple of weeks we have examined the food provided to your child by the school lunch program.  I think it’s fair to say that the options provided to your child in the school lunch program are far from ideal even with new rules set to increase the amount of fruit, vegetable and whole grains that are served.
Rather than beating this issue to death and pointing out what a disaster the school food is I want to take a more constructive approach.  One of my most effective strategies when teaching nutrition is a concept called dietary displacement.  Basically this means that when you add better food choices into your diet it leaves little time/space for less than ideal choices.  The better food options kick out the lesser food options.
So rather than advising you to avoid the school provided lunch I want to provide you with some solutions that you can incorporate into your child’s daily nutrition.  First and best is to pack your own lunches.  This will of course require some prep time but I will provide a sample menu to spark some ideas.   A cooler bag and thermos would be great additions to your arsenal and would expand your options considerably.
Quick grass fed chili
Ranch dip/guacamole and carrots and/or celery sticks
Chicken wrap (whole grain) with lettuce, mayo, red peppers, and onions, crisp romaine lettuce shredded
½ cup of red grapes or pineapple slices
Grass fed cheese
Hummus with chopped vegetables (celery, carrots, zucchini, red peppers, cucumbers)
Apple slices
Grass fed Cottage Cheese or Yogurt with fruit like blueberries, strawberries or peaches
Nut/seed mix: (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate chips, goji berries, raisins, dried cherries and apricots).  Mix and match with your child’s favorites.
For a quick and easy chili just brown 1 lb. grass fed beef or ground turkey and mix it with a jar of your favorite salsa and then add two cans of black, kidney, or pinto beans.   Makes about 4 servings.  Just heat up in the morning and put it in the thermos.
For quick guacamole mash a ripe avocado add 2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa and a pinch or two of sea salt.
Ideally you would make your own mayonnaise and ranch dip but if you can’t look for all natural varieties with no added junk like corn syrup.  While these options may not be ideal they work in small quantities particularly if they get your kids to eat more vegetables.
Notice I have water listed with each option.  Hydration is a key component to optimize physical and mental performance.  They don’t need Gatorade if they aren’t sweating!   Grass fed milk is a good option but it’s even better as a snack or a post practice recovery drink, especially if it’s chocolate.*
Sometimes even with the best of intentions situations arise where your just don’t have the time to prepare lunch ahead of time.  In those instances I have a solution as well.  My wife and I travel a lot and sometimes preparing nutritious meals during the week can be quite challenging.  In these instances we turn to a local chef who runs a catering business and one of her projects is Pure Food 2 U.
Pure Food 2 U is a great option for families on the run that want to eat nutritious meals but are challenged to do so because of competing demands.  Everything they make is from scratch with whole, organic, locally grown (when possible) ingredients.  PF2U will deliver to your home or office and you can pick up from their kitchen in Royal Oak as well.  They have a diverse menu with options for all preferences whether that is vegetarian, vegan or hearty meat eaters and everything in between.
Your confidence and trust is of utmost concern to me so this is in no way a marketing pitch and I am not getting any monetary benefits out of this.  My only reason for doing this is to provide solutions that work for families that want to do all they can to live a healthy lifestyle.  This works for my family and I wanted to share our experience with you.  The food is made with high quality nutritious ingredients but most importantly the food tastes great.
I spoke to the chef and she agreed to provide me with a $10 trial coupon.  If you are interested in giving it a try let me know and I will provide you with one.  Part of my motivation for doing this is to reward a local business that is investing in the community and supporting local farmers and artisans in the process.
Ideally we would all plan ahead and prepare foods that would allow us to throw together quick and nutritious meals and lunches but it doesn’t always work out that way when both parents work and your daughter has soccer practice at 5:30PM while your son has a hockey game in Rochester at 7:30PM.  At times like this the family meal likely isn’t going to happen and stopping at Subway just doesn’t feel right.  This is an option for those times when you can’t do it yourself but still want good nutritious food for you and your children.
Phil Loomis
Youth Fitness/Nutrition Specialist

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