Although I’m a registered dietitian, I’m like most other mom’s as I still have my challenges with getting my kids to eat nutritious meals at school. If only being a nutritionist made me immune to this, life would be so easy!
While my 5 year-old daughter, Summer, loves nutritious foods and gravitates toward them, her twin sister Riley, would live on gummy worms dipped in sugar if she could.
Riley, being a poor eater, also skipped lunch nearly her entire first year of school (so much for all of my hard work packing healthy lunches!). I was lucky if she took a mouse-sized bite out of her sandwich. Instead she saved her appetite for the afternoon snack of Goldfish that her teacher would give her. Hardly a dream-come-true for a nutritionist.
Riley often would beg me to pack money for her to get chocolate milk, and as much as I am concerned about too much added sugar and fat in her overall diet, I know she loves chocolate milk and I know the positive nutrition outweighs the added sugar. Since chocolate milk is a good source of protein, bone-boosting calcium and other nutrients — I often gave her money.
Earlier this week, I received wonderful news from the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) that will make me feel even better about giving in to Riley’s request for chocolate milk this year. The nation’s milk processors have been hard at work reformulating school flavored milk to lower the calories and sugar. They’ve been able to decrease the average calories in school flavored milk by more than 21% over the past five years and cut sugars dramatically by 40%. On average, school flavored milk now has 132 calories per serving and this year all of the flavored milk served in schools will be fat free.
Now I’m working with the nation’s milk processors to spread the word and help moms across the country feel good about allowing their kids to go for the flavored milk at school. I, for one, am happy to give Riley nutrient-rich milk – packed with 9 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin D and potassium. I’m still going to pair her school milk with other healthy choices and hope she eats them.
Here are some healthy lunch ideas that I’m going to pack for my girls, along with their milk money.
Turkey roll ups and grapes: Whole grain tortillas wrapped around turkey breast, lettuce and tomato and a side of grapes.
Peanut butter and banana dog and an apple: Whole wheat hot dog bun lined with peanut butter and then stuffed with a banana.
Sunflower nut butter and jelly bites and cherries: Sunflower nut butter (it’s safe for those with nut allergies!) and jelly on whole wheat bread cut into little squares or shapes by using a cookie cutter and a side of cherries.
Fruit and cheese kabobs and Greek yogurt: Fruit and cheese cubes on skewers with a side of protein-rich Greek yogurt for dipping the fruit.
Hummus and veggie pinwheels and berries: Spread hummus on a whole grain tortilla and add chopped lettuce, tomatoes, squash and beans and a side of berries.
Check out this awesome infographic illustrating the recent changes to school lunch and visit milkatschools.com to learn more.