Lunches that Inspire and Support the Child at School

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1 Colorful Nutritious Lunches that Inspire and Support the Child at School 1

2 CREATING A BALANCED, NUTRITIONAL FOOD PLATE 2

3 Austin Montessori School recognizes the importance of a healthy lunch for children. The school community handbook has guidelines concerning those foods that are acceptable and those that are best kept for home and other settings. Children often do not require copious amounts of food, so we want to ensure that what they do eat is wholesome, as organic as is possible, as close to the vine as possible and attractive and enticing. Children, as they are growing in all areas of their development, are growing in their acceptance of new foods as they cultivate a palate that allows a wide range of foods, tastes and textures. There is sometimes confusion between serving sizes and portion. Serving size relates to the nutritional value of a food according to a pre-ordained acceptable amount of food that can be weighed or measured visibly by comparing to a familiar object: a piece of protein such as meat or fish the size of a pack of playing cards, for instance. A portion is the actual amount of food that is placed on the plate and is determined by what is gauged as appropriate to the child s appetite. The handbook addresses a very common sense way to determine a portion size and how and when to increase it or decrease it. The following slides are from the Handbook and reference lunch ideas. (austinmontessori.org click on Handbook (pgs 19-25). 3

4 LUNCH SUGGESTIONS: Protein: Beans, natural nut or seed butters on whole grain bread, tofu, hummus, yogurt*, cheese, meat, nuts and seeds. Grains: Whole grain bread, tortillas, crackers, brown rice, or quinoa. Vegetables: Fresh, organic vegetables, raw or cooked, such as carrots, celery, cucumber, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, or avocado. Fruits: One or two different organic fruits in small portions such as banana, apple, orange, grapes, kiwi, or berries. Drinks: Water or plain unsweetened plant or cow s milk. Please do not confuse quantity with quality. Send only as much food as your child will eat. For example: half a sandwich, half a banana, wedge of vegetable. *Plain yogurt with no added sugar or other additives but fresh fruit is the only yogurt to be included in our school lunch. Please do not send fast food, candy, cupcakes, cookies, potato chips, carbonated drinks, fruit juice, fruit rolls ( fruit leather ), pudding, Jell-O, snack packs, or gum. These will be returned home unopened. 4

5 Teaching your children the importance of good eating habits while they are very young will benefit them for the rest of their lives. It is very important to practice these food habits in the home for the sake of consistency and for your child s wellbeing. Please buy organic fruits and vegetables. If organic is not available refer to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen list by the Environmental Working Group. 5

6 More Ideas for Lunches o Dates stuffed w/seed butter or goat cheese topped with a nut or piece of fruit. o Carrot sticks dipped in nut or seed butter ( no sugar). o Cucumber rounds spread with farmer s cheese or hummus (covered with another round for a sandwich). o Whole grain bread with avocado and tomatoes. o Avocado Strips. o Dates, figs, prunes (pitted, not too many!) o Sprouts-alfalfa or other (easy to do yourself). o Brown rice crackers. o Rye crisp (lots of fiber). o Oven crisped tortilla chips (corn tortilla cut into wedges and baked until crisp - a homemade chip). o Melon balls, strips, or cubes. o Fresh grapes. o Oranges cut in half (peel on). o Grapefruit segments. o Non-processed, natural cheese in cubes or slices. o Pitted olives. o Sunflower seeds and raisins. o Fruit butter (100% fruit, no sugar) on whole grain bread or crackers with nut or seed butter. 6

7 o Fresh peas, straight from the pod. o Whole romaine lettuce leaves to dip in hummus or mashed black beans. o Cold, cooked eggplant. o Leftover sweet potato cubes or slices. o Green or red bell pepper strips (red is sweeter and has more vitamin C). o Hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs. o Grated carrot. o Cherry tomatoes. o Raw zucchini in strips or rounds. o Ricotta or cottage cheese with dates, dried apricots, and sunflower seeds (great color and texture). o Cottage cheese mixed with raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla on whole grain bread. o Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, or pistachios. o A cup of plain yogurt blended with frozen strawberries (or any fruit) - perhaps with a dash of vanilla. o Fresh coconut, in strips or grated. o Apple sandwich - two pieces sliced apple filled with tahini. o Bean taco on a whole grain tortilla with avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. o Mashed beans on toasted whole grain bread with mustard. o Spring rolls filled with fresh vegetables with a nut butter dipping sauce. 7

8 o A small thermos with warm vegetable soup. o A small thermos with leftover rice and vegetables. o A small thermos with brown rice and black beans. o Kale chips. o An assortment of cut vegetables with a hummus dip or seed butter dip. o Whole grain pasta salad. o Edamame in their pods. o Vegetable sushi made with brown rice. o Celery stuffed with tahini. o Baba ganoush with vegetables to dip in it. o Small whole grain pita stuffed with hummus and tabouli. o Sliced and baked butternut squash. o Guacamole with sliced jicama instead of chips. o Cold soba (buckwheat) noodles with vegetables. o Grilled tofu sliced onto a whole grain tortilla with coleslaw. o Cooked beets. o Black bean salad with corn, green onion, tomatoes, and avocado. o Kale salad. o Roasted Brussels Sprouts. o Vegetable pizza made on a small whole grain pita or English muffin with tomato sauce and vegetables. 8

9 Lunch at school 9

10 The following slides contain pictures of lunches children have brought to school. As you peruse them, consider the suggestions made for improving the nutritional value of the lunch by paying extra attention to the bread and the addition of vegetables. Children seem naturally to gravitate to fruit, which is wonderful, and now we encourage helping them explore the many varieties of vegetables as they build an ever expanding palate of diversity in nutrition. The more colorful the lunch, the greater is the possibility of a well-rounded, nutritionally powerful meal. Replacing white flour based breads, tortillas, and crackers with whole grain, whole wheat flour will increase the nutritional value. Adding a few flowerets of fresh broccoli, some cauliflower, green beans or peas, celery sticks, a small side salad of lettuce and veggies, for example, will increase the nutritional value. 10

11 Cherry tomatoes Grapes Whole wheat bread sandwich with nut butter spread Falafel Seaweed Add broccoli flowerets or green peas Cheese cubes Almonds Cut up green beans Fresh strawberries Tortilla Substitute whole wheat tortilla 11

12 Couscous with veggies Raw carrot pieces Raw celery slices Seaweed Watermelon cubes Spaghetti and sauce Strawberry, raisin and carrot medley Banana Add a small side green salad 12

13 Salad of bib lettuce and carrot Banana Whole grain cracker sandwich with nut butter Whole wheat bread sandwich with nut butter filling Half fresh orange Strawberries Broccoli flowerets 13

14 Hummus Grape tomatoes Red pepper pieces Zucchini rounds Carrot discs Flax-seed crackers 14

15 Fried egg on noodles Pickles Mango slices Include a wedge of lettuce with some hummus Mixed raw nuts Yogurt Whole wheat bread sandwich Cherry tomatoes Apple slivers Add some green snap peas in the pods 15

16 Whole wheat bread sandwich with nut butter filling Garbanzo beans Grapes Small crackers Consider bib lettuce under the beans Strawberries Whole grain bread with nut butter filling Carrots Include cauliflower and broccoli flowerets 16

17 Whole wheat bread and peanut butter Yogurt with fruit Pineapple chunks Carrots Maybe a few asparagus spears added Fruit medley Whole grain bread sandwich with nut butter filling Carrots Hummus Add a wedge of bib lettuce to dip into the hummus 17

18 Pistachios Saucy garbanzo beans Blueberries Cucumber slices Add strips of red and green bell peppers Whole wheat bread Okra Strawberries Cashews yogurt 18

19 Beets Sugar snap peas Summer squash bake (cheese and egg) Salad Strawberries Spaghetti and sauce 19

20 Grapes Blueberries Cashews Broccoli flowerets Whole wheat bread Couscous Walnuts Carrots Blueberries Small tomatoes Tofu cubes Add chopped fresh broccoli pieces to the couscous 20

21 Beans Apple slices Pickles Include a small side green salad Chicken soup Fruit medley Put chopped kale and spinach in the soup 21

22 Lentil bread Strawberries Cube of cheese Carrot sticks Cucumber spears, celery sticks and yogurt for dipping Whole grain croissant with cheese Apple Mixed nuts Raspberries Tuck in some romaine lettuce leaves in the sandwich 22

23 Whole grain bread Peanuts Strawberries Blueberries Apple slices Dried fruit pieces Add sugar snap peas and cucumber rounds Whole grain bread Pistachios Pineapple chunks Green beans Carrots Cherry tomato Blackberries 23

24 Carrot, cucumber, red pepper medley Strawberries Whole wheat sandwich with nut butter spread Include a small serving of kale chips Whole wheat bread sandwich with nutbutter filling Pecans Carrot and sugar peas Apple slices Blackberries cubes of tofu 24

25 Whole grain bread/ cracker with nut butter filling Cherry tomatoes Blackberries Perhaps add a small green side salad 25

26 Boiled egg Green salad Apple slices Pineapple chunks Cashews Seaweed Whole grain bread sandwich Carrots Avocado Celery Salad 26

27 Spring rolls and sauce Watermelon cubes Asparagus spears Crumbled roasted cauliflower Toasted bread sandwich Asparagus tips Cauliflower Strawberries and blueberries Roasted tofu 27

28 Yellow bell pepper Cherries Whole wheat bread sandwich with nut butter spread Add a few asparagus spears Whole wheat bread sandwich with nut butter spread Red bell pepper strips Peach cubes Mix in green pepper strips 28

29 Examples of appropriate lunch boxes for Children s House: The children s lunch boxes follow the same guidelines that are applied to clothing articles, found on page 37 of the school Handbook online (austinmontessori.org) There is limited storage space and these types of lunch boxes support the space constraints. 29

30 30

31 Little fingers need food containers that can be opened independently, that are made of natural material, are reusable and free of distracting characters and logos. The containers should fit comfortably in the lunch box. Small insulated containers allow portions of food to be kept cold or hot, as needed. Children often do not do well on shopping outings. Consider selecting appropriate containers that can be tried out at home by the child, but can be returned if the child finds the opening and closing too challenging to do so independently. Sample containers 31

32 Although plastic is not a natural material, it does provide a container that is lighter in weight. There is controversy about just how safe food remains when stored in plastic. You can research this topic online and make your own informed decision. 32

33 Developing Skills and Responsibility Children develop into responsible adults through gradually increasing responsibilities over their toddler, childhood and adolescent years. Cheerful, firm and consistent examples and experiences are children s teachers. This is a sample pattern of involving children in responsibility for their own lives. AGES 2 yrs. Parent talks about preparing child s lunch. Parent prepares lunch while child watches. Parent prepares lunch slowly and methodically so that it makes sense to child. 3-4 yrs. The child hands things to the parent or gets things out for the parent; cutting board, dish towel, lunch box, apple from the refrigerator, etc. The child stays with the parent until he task is complete. 4 yrs. The child is shown slowly and carefully how to prepare a part of the lunch; how to peel and slice the banana and mix it into a container with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, how to rinse off the cutting board and knife and place them in the drainer basket; how to place the banana peel in the compost bucket. 33

34 4 + yrs. The child prepares that part of the lunch shown, as described above, while the parent prepares the rest of the lunch. This continues for three weeks or so. 4.5 yrs. The child is shown how to prepare another part of the lunch very slowly and carefully, how to make a yogurt dip for raw vegetables, how to peel and slice a cucumber or how to prepare carrot sticks. 5-6 yrs. For a period of time the child prepares some part of the lunch which has been demonstrated while the parent prepares the rest. Guidelines continue for older children on pgs of the Handbook. Children often respond favorably to new food introductions if they have a part in the selection (from appropriate choices consistently upheld), the preparation and especially the planting, care and harvest of food they will eat. We wish your child buen provecho! 34

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