By Nicole Spain, Registered Dietitian
With school-age children returning to school either in person or at home, give them an extra boost to their immune systems with these lunch ideas. First, try to clean out processed foods from your kitchen. Things like highly processed meats, chips, cookies, snacks, etc. are not optimal for our health. Replace them with more all-natural options such as:
- Whole Grains such as wraps, bread, and pita that are high in fiber and B vitamins
- Colorful fruits and vegetables are essential for overall health, growth, and immunity.Try including a different color of the rainbow each day of the week. For example: Mondays (red) – strawberries and cherry tomatoes, Tuesday (orange) = cantaloupe and carrots, Wednesday (yellow) = pineapple and yellow peppers, Thursday (green) = kiwi and romaine lettuce, and Friday (blue/purple) = blueberries & purple potatoes
- Lean protein help kids grow and provide energy along with a boost in immunity.Try adding nitrite-free lunch meats, grilled chicken, or tofu to your kid’s lunch box!
- Healthy essential fats such as omega-3 fortified eggs, tuna, olive oil, and avocados all provide great source of nutrition.
- Raw natural nuts and/or seeds such as almond or sunflower seed butters as well as 100% natural peanut butter are rich in healthy fats, fiber, and protein as well as immune-boosting zinc.
For your children eating lunch at our schools you will find some of these immune boosting lunch options:
- Teriyaki chicken with brown rice, gingered carrots, and pineapple
- Baked beans, whole grain cornbread, broccoli, and fresh watermelon
- Chicken fajitas with whole wheat tortillas, refried beans, and fresh oranges
- Surprise tofu whole grain pasta with fresh cucumber salad, and fresh watermelon
- Caprese chicken with whole grain pasta, fresh coleslaw, and fresh apples