The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

September 9, 2012

Bag lunch can be both interesting and healthy

Of course, it really is just easier to eat lunch at school. After all, they’ve got hard-working people there doing their best to make good food for all to enjoy.

But sometimes you just get a picky kid who doesn’t want a corn dog or has never liked the school’s pizza. Or maybe you think you can give your kid a healthier meal if you make it yourself.

These are the cold lunch kids, the ones who don’t have to wait in the cafeteria line, the ones who have an extra pouch or bag to carry along with their backpacks full of textbooks and spiral notebooks.

Believe it or not, there are many ways to make a cold lunch that aren’t nearly as boring, or even as cold, as you might think.

Erin Gonzalez, a registered dietitian at the Mankato Clinic, advises Mankato Area Public Schools on their school lunch menus. She also has a ton of ideas for parents on ways to inject some creativity — and maybe even some nutrition — to a kid’s lunch sack.

Some families are doing it right, she said, and some ...

“Walking through the cafeteria, I see a variety,” Gonzalez said. “Some just blow me out of the park — they’re perfect. Then I’ve seen other ones with a candy bar and a pop.”

Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day, but lunch shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to nutrition.

Every bag lunch should have protein, fruits, vegetables and a dairy product (such as yogurt, string cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, etc.)

When it comes to sandwiches, whole-wheat bread is the best. Whole-grain bread is better than white bread. For that matter, you don’t even need bread at all. At least,not the traditional kind, to make an interesting sandwich.

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