I’m not health-obsessed, but I like my kids to eat well. So we try not to give our kids junk food, we don’t allow them soft drink or juice, and we keep their lunch boxes healthy.
Snacks have been the key issue. It’s easy to make a sandwich with real food (nut butter, whole meat cuts, vegetable or cheese inside), but the supermarket aisles are simply full of junky snacks for kid’s lunchboxes that pose as health foods. Sometimes it’s easy to be convinces that rubbish food is actually healthy. I know I’ve been fooled again and again.
Cutting out salt and trans fats
Last year we stopped buying mini packets of chips (crisps), rice crackers and other salty snacks and you know what? The kids didn’t even notice them!
Cutting out sugar
This year we’ve cut out muesli bars. They typically range between 40% and 60% sugar! Fruit jellies in mini packs, another common snack for kids that we used to buy, typically had between 50% and 60% sugar!
Individual yoghurts are anther common lunchbox snack for kids. But our children’s school has banned them – the plastic containers were getting to be a real problem, ending up in the river that runs through the school grounds, and causing a bad rubbish problem. I’m in agreement with the school on this one.
So – what to feed healthy kids?
Firstly, my kids drink water in their drink bottles. Nothing else. This is the best drink for kids, and makes cleaning the water bottles easier. Both my kids have a stainless steel water bottle – I don’t think plastic is safe to drink from in the longer term.
Sandwich fillings: cheese, offcuts of real meat (chicken shavings, leftovers from roast, cold sausages cut into slices, cold turkey, cold ham, tuna etc.), nut butters, tahini, hummus, sliced vegetables or fruit (cucumber, tomato, grated carrot). Use wholegrain, rye or wheat bread – the darker the better.
A piece or fruit: Whatever is cheap and in season. Apples, bananas, oranges (cut up ready), mandarins, grapes, strawberries, pears, plums…
A serve of vegetable: Raw whole carrot (I just rinse it but don’t bother peeling or topping it), cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, snowpeas, green beans, cold green peas (my daughter loves these!), cucumber sticks, baby cucumbers, lettuce leaves chopped in a container…
Feel like an extra snack?: Cheese cubes, air-popped popcorn, a handful or raw nuts (any type), a handful or raw seeds (any eating type but my kids love pumpkin seeds)…