Cabot, VT – (August 10, 2007) - Back-to-school-time also means back to thinking of creative and healthy options for your child’s lunchbox and snack time. Incorporating healthy eating habits into your child’s diet at a young age can help stem obesity and related diseases such as diabetes. And, research by Harvard University and the Massachusetts General Hospital shows good nutrition is important for good learning. But, how do you ensure your healthy choices stack up against the ‘junk’ foods marketed to kids, cafeteria pizza and typically higher in fat, sugar and salt pre-packaged lunches kids often crave?
The nutritionists at Cabot Creamery Cooperative have put together some tips and recipes for lunch boxes and after school snacks that earn an A+ for nutritional value and kid appeal.
“Recognizing that lunch and snacks will provide about half of your child's daily intake of vitamins, mineral and calories, it’s important for them to be nutritionally balanced,” says Sara Wing, Cabot Health Spokesperson. “There are some fast and simple things you can do to make them appealing so kids will want to eat healthy even if you are not there to supervise.”
First, Make it Fun:
Today’s hectic schedules mean we’re often throwing together lunches on the run. But, with a little advance planning, you can incorporate some pizzazz into the daily lunch routine that will vault you onto the honor role. Pick-up divided plastic containers so you can create your own lunch packs with a healthy and personalized slant. Or, use colorful cupcake papers to section off a rectangular container. And, with more than 1,000 mg of sodium in the pre-packed supermarket lunch packs, creating your own is far healthier. Kids love an assortment of different foods, so use the containers to break from the sandwich routine and substitute dried fruits, whole wheat crackers, fruits, veggies, and cheese. The Yipes Stripes recipe below, stacked slices of meat and cheese cut into different shapes, is a fun way for kids to get their servings of protein and calcium. Break the boredom, too. For younger kids, include handwritten notes, stickers and little IOUs for a weekend treat. For middle school kids, how about tossing in a music download certificate once in a while? Be creative; think outside the lunch box!
Calcium is Cool, and Essential:
Diets rich in low-fat milk products help build and maintain bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It is especially important that during adolescence, when bone mass is in its developing stage, that children eat three servings of calcium-rich foods per day. Packing low-fat cheese in your kid’s lunch is an easy way for them to enjoy a calcium serving. Cabot Creamery’s 50% reduced-fat cheddar comes packaged in ¾ oz. mini bars, so all you need to do is toss them in - - they keep fresh at room temperature for hours.
Make Fruits & Veggies Appealing:
Include at least one serving of a fruit and a vegetable in every lunch. Vary the fruit choices to prevent boredom, and encourage your child to expand their palate with some of the more exotic fruits now commonly available. Serve then in different ways, too, such as cut into fun shapes, skewer them on a kabob stick, or accompany them with a yogurt dipping sauce or peanut butter. Include veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, tomato, red peppers into sandwiches and wraps. Or zip up those veggie sticks with a
low-fat dressing as a dipping sauce.
The US Government recently reformulated the food pyramid to provide more custom dietary guidelines based on your child’s age, sex and activity level. Visit www.mypyramid.gov for recommendations. Bottom line - - whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, lean protein and a balance between food and physical activity are the pillars.
Lunch Box Lures:
Thread skewers with alternating chunks of Cabot Cheddar Cheese and fruits like whole strawberries and grapes or chunks of pineapple or banana; for a veggie version, use red and yellow cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Kid-pleasing cheese is a great way to get children into the habit of including 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 3 to 5 servings of vegetables in their daily diet.
With a cheese plane, cut long slices from the widest side of a bar of low-fat Cabot Cheddar Cheese. Stack with alternating slices of turkey or low-sodium bologna and cut into fun shapes with small cookie cutters. Serve with clusters of grapes or grape tomatoes.
After School Snacks:
Bean and Cheddar Spirals
Mash 3/4 cup of rinsed and drained black beans or black-eyed peas with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin until mixture is pasty. Spread evenly over a whole-wheat or spinach wrap. Sprinkle with 1 cup grated Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar or 50% Reduced Fat Jalapeno Cheddar. Roll up tightly and cut cross-wise into 3/4-inch sections.
Cut a whole-wheat pita in half crosswise. Open pitas and spread about 2 tablespoons tomato sauce over bottom of each. Sprinkle each with half of 1/3 cup grated Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar. Add leftover chopped cooked vegetables if desired. Bake at 375ºF until cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.
Warm Broccoli-Cheddar Dip
Microwave half of a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli (don’t add water) until hot and tender, about 4 minutes. Add 2 ounces of “1/3-less-fat” cream cheese, 1 cup of grated Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar and 1 tablespoon milk. Microwave until cheeses are melted, about 30 seconds longer. Stir until combined. Serve with baby carrots.
About Cabot Creamery
Cabot Creamery Cooperative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919 and is best known as makers of "The World's Best Cheddar," as honored twice now at World Championship Cheese Contests. Cabot is owned by the dairy farm families of Agri-Mark, the Northeast's premier dairy cooperative. For additional information on Cabot Creamery, visit www.cabotcheese.coop. For more recipes or to order products, visit Cabot's web site at www.shopcabot.com or by calling toll-free at 1-888-792-2268.
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