Article Contributed by
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County
Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua County’s EFNEP Program wants to share some healthy lunch ideas for those heading back to school September always brings change. Summer and its carefree days are over and it’s the time when families head back to school, to after school activities and begin full work schedules again. Healthy lunches are an important part of the day for your family. Eating a healthy lunch gives you energy to work or study during the afternoon and helps to give your brain a boost. A healthy lunch should contain vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean protein.
Vegetables are easy to add to a lunch. Eat cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, sliced bell peppers or sliced cucumbers with a little of your favorite salad dressing or with hummus, add lettuce and tomato to sandwiches or eat soup full of vegetables.
Fruit is a natural addition to lunch. Fresh, canned in its’ own juice, frozen or dried, all fruit is portable and adds a little sweetness to your meal.
Whole grains provide your brain with energy and help you to think clearly during the afternoon. Whole grains are easier to include than you might think – whole wheat bread, pitas or tortillas make excellent wraps to add sandwich ingredients to, whole grain crackers pair well with soup, light popcorn can add crunch and fiber to your lunch or try whole grain pastas for pasta salads. Brown rice makes a great addition to left over vegetables.
Lean protein comes in many forms other than deli meats. Try legumes like black beans, kidney beans or chick peas, hummus, nut butters, nuts, sunflower seeds, refried beans, tuna and other fish or seafood and eggs. Many of these lean protein sources may be less expensive than deli meats, so try something new with your family.
Lastly, always include water, 1% or fat free milk to drink with your meal.
The EFNEP Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua). CCE-Chautauqua is a community based educational organization, affiliated with Cornell University, Chautauqua County Government, the NYS SUNY system, and the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, call 716-664-9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua. Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.