A lunch prepared from home can be a healthier alternative to the school cafeteria, depending on what you pack. Here are some nutritional tips for dental-friendly and healthier eating for kids’ lunches.
Why not try a Bento box for lunch rather than the standard sandwich? These boxes require little prep time and can be filled with a wide variety of healthy and tasty foods. Load with fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, cheese, hummus, turkey breast, diced chicken, hard-boiled eggs, bell peppers, and mushrooms.
Protein and Cheese Whole Grain Sandwich plus Fruit
Take two slices of whole grain bread and add some protein like tuna or chicken. Adding string cheese is a great idea since it protects your child’s tooth enamel. Pack some cut up apples, pears, or other crunchy fruits that support gum health and strengthen teeth.
Yogurt, Cottage Cheese and Berries
Pack your child with a portable cottage cheese or yogurt container and some fresh blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. This is a better option than pudding which contains high sugar content. Cottage cheese, yogurt and berries are comprised of far less sugar than pudding and feature calcium which is essential for strong teeth.
Colors of the Rainbow Salad
Nutritionists and dentists encourage children to eat as many colorful vegetables as possible. Since calcium, vitamin C and other minerals are found in vegetables and beneficial to the teeth and gums, a colorful salad packed is a great lunch option for children. The salad can be topped with a protein such as chicken, turkey, egg or tofu and top with some crunchy foods like sunflower seeds or nuts.
What to Avoid
-Say NO to applesauce as it contains empty calories and promotes tooth decay
-Skip starchy snacks- pretzels, potato chips and crackers -since simple starches can be just as bad as sweets
-Fruit leather and fruit snacks cling to teeth and encourage plaque- try real fruit instead
-Chocolate or flavored milk contain added sugars that can cause decay. Go for plain milk and add food coloring for added fun. If adverse to milk, serve cheese as a substitute.
Dr. Jay Approved Fave Snack for After-School and Sports
Cut up carrots, celery, radishes, bell peppers and cucumbers. Make Dr. Jay’s famous chickpea Hummus and dip away! This veggie and dip combo is not only super healthy and great for your smile but also vegan and gluten free!
Dr. Jay’s Famous Hummus Dip Recipe
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
How to Make It
- In a food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (if using), cumin, and ¾ teaspoon salt until smooth and creamy. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
- Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika before serving.