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Tips to Provide Your Child with a Fun, Nutritious School Lunch

Friday, July 27, 2012

(ARA) – School is back in session and parents and children alike are gearing up for a new year and all the fun and chaos that go along with it. Whether it’s your child’s first ever school day or the last year before college, it’s important to take a moment to check off all the things they will need for a great year – and a healthy lunch is right at the top.

With school supply shopping and new outfit hunting in full swing, it can be easy to overlook planning nutritious lunches. “But don’t count out lunch,” says Elizabeth Ward, registered dietitian, mother of three, and author of “MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better: Decoding the Dietary Guidelines for Your Real Life.” In fact, students who eat a nutritious, balanced diet are better prepared to learn, reports the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

“School lunch is more than just a meal – it’s an opportunity for good nutrition and teaching during children’s prime learning hours,” says Ward. “Children are always growing and developing, both physically and mentally, so providing them with great lunch nutrition keeps them healthy in and out of the classroom.”

Although many schools serve hot lunches each day, the only way to be certain your child is getting the nutrients he/she needs is to send a lunch with them to school that you’re sure they will enjoy. Additionally, parents need to remember that while their own bodies are finished growing and developing, a child’s isn’t, and their meals and snacks should be jammed packed with good nutrition. Breakfast and lunch provide the opportunity to make sure your kids are eating the food they need before they come home for dinner with the family.

Ward offers the following tips to help keep your child eating healthy during school hours:

* Talk to your children. Ask them what they would like to eat for lunch and teach them where food comes from. Involving children in meal planning will make the process more fun. Packing lunch with their favorite character on their Thermos brand lunch kit will make their meal even more enjoyable.

* Check with the school to see how close snack time is to lunch. This will help you determine how much food to pack for your children. Portion control is important for a healthy, balanced diet. Since children are smaller than adults, they should eat smaller portions, too.

* Lunch can be more than just the traditional milk, sandwich and fruit. Eating the same thing every day may get boring fast. As long as the food is healthy, you don’t need to get hung up on serving a traditional lunch. Use a Thermos vacuum insulated FUNtainer food jar, which keeps food hot for five hours or cold for seven hours, to pack leftovers from dinner, a hearty stew or soup, or fruit salad with low-fat yogurt. Alternate cold meals and hot to keep your child’s interest. If your child craves pizza, make one at home with low-fat cheese and vegetables. Use sunflower seed butter or olive oil instead of regular butter, and make sure milk, cheese and yogurt are low or non-fat. If you want to send a sandwich for lunch, try making it on a whole-wheat bagel, pita pocket or sandwich wrap.

* Give your child an alternative to sugary soda and juice drinks by packing ice water with fruit slices in a Thermos FUNtainer bottle. The fruit will add the sweet taste your child craves, without the added sugar. There is no nutritional value to sugary drinks, so cutting them out of your child’s diet and helping them understand why you’re doing so early on will benefit them in the long run. As a bonus, the insulated bottle will keep drinks icy cold for up to 12 hours.

* Provide a balanced meal. Keep kids fueled during and after school by offering essentials packed with fiber or protein, which will also help reduce snacking urges. Children eat what is available, so having carrot sticks and hummus available keeps kids’ minds off of cookies, candy, and chips. Send protein-rich Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts or whip up a smoothie made with fruit and milk and send in an insulated straw bottle.

For more information on convenient school lunch products, visit Thermos.com


Back to School Lunch Survival Guide by Amy Lupold Bair*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

There’s no denying it – back to school is here! While it’s important to head back to school with all of the items on your child’s school supply list, making sure they’re ready for back to school lunches is just as important. A busy day of “reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic” can wear a little one down, and it’s critical that kids get the nutrition they need during their mid-day break. Parents packing daily lunches for their children can keep the following guidelines in mind so that their little scholars do more than catch up on the latest chatter during their time in the cafeteria.

1. Variety of Options: The trick to get even the pickiest eater to enjoy an energy-boosting lunch at school is to provide a variety of small options. I pack tons of small options like applesauce, string cheese, fresh veggies, and baked crackers. Even if an item isn’t appetizing that day, a few other items are sure to hit the spot!

2. Pack Favorites: While it’s tempting to get creative and offer your child exciting new sandwiches or made-from-scratch soups, the change from summer to back-to-school routine is jarring enough. Now is not the time to choose “out there” food ideas, but rather the nutritious and delicious favorites you know will make your kiddos happy to find in their lunch kit.

3. Ease of Use: One of the big surprises when my first child headed off to school was how little time kids get for lunch. We learned quickly that it was important to choose a lunch kit that our daughter could use without having to wait for help from a lunch attendant, who was busy helping scores of other little hands open their lunches.

4. Keep It Fun: Kids often like to choose their own backpack, pencil case, and first day of school outfit, but be sure to keep lunch fun by letting them choose their favorite character or design such as Thermos FUNtainer bottles and food jars ranging from paisley to Disney Fairies.

* “I am a blogger that has been selected by Thermos L.L.C. to join the Back to School Program. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as a blogger, for my blog posts. I have also received a variety of Thermos Brand products that you may see me using throughout the program; however, I am compensated for the evaluation and not the results. My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”


The Healthy Lunchbox Formula By Jill Castle*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome back to school and back to packing lunches! As a parent and registered dietitian, I know that getting nutrition right at every meal weighs heavily on parents’ minds, and school lunches are no exception. Meeting your child’s nutrition needs and food preferences, while keeping food quality on the forefront is no easy feat. A trend I see is kids wanting to eat like their friends, while you want to honor your family’s food values. Pile on balance, variety, speed and ease and you have your work cut out for you!

I’ve come up with a simple formula for preparing super-nutritious lunches. Let this easy guide help you maximize mid-day nutrition and keep your child excited about bringing lunch to school. Spark your child’s appetite, battle boredom and bring back excitement to the school lunch (and avoid the dreaded lunchbox rut) by following my healthy formula and ideas:

The Healthy Lunchbox Formula:
Meat/Protein Source + Whole Grain + Fruit + Vegetable + Dairy

Lunch Ideas:
The Twisted Traditional Lunch
½ peanut butter & green apple sandwich on whole wheat bread
1 c. beef vegetable soup, packed in a Thermos FUNtainer Food Jar
8-10 bite-sized wheat crackers
½ c. sliced strawberries
8 oz. “Skinny” chocolate milk (homemade with skim milk)

The Fresh-Able Lunch
8 whole grain crackers
1 slice of deli-style cheese
2 slices of deli-style turkey
½ c. mandarin oranges, in their own juice
½ cucumber, cut into 4 spears
2 Tbsp. light-style Ranch dressing
4 oz. low-fat fruited yogurt

The All-Inclusive Vegan Lunch
2 large rice cakes
2 Tbsp. hummus or nut butter
½ c. veggies, such as carrots, cauliflower or red peppers
½ c. edamame
1 pear, sliced
8 oz. soymilk

The Pasta Fixation Lunch
1 c. cooked rotini pasta, packed in a Thermos FUNtainer Food Jar
15 Turkey pepperoni slices
1 low fat mozzarella cheese stick
1 c. sugar snap peas
1 large orange, sliced into half circles
4 oz. drinkable yogurt

* “I have been selected by Thermos L.L.C. to join the Back to School Program. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as a child nutrition expert, for my blog post. I have also received a variety of Thermos Brand products that you may see me using throughout the program; however, I am compensated for the evaluation and not the results. My opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”


Drago: It Matters Product Safety Column.

Friday, August 13, 2010

These days it’s hard to digest and make sense of all the information that comes our way with regard to certain chemicals, especially when information can seem conflicting and difficult to understand. It can be a tough time to be a savvy, sane consumer. Rest assured that Thermos is constantly taking steps to make sure its products are not only useful and reliable but safe.

Responsible manufacturers know and obey the law! The US has had consumer safety laws in place since the early 1970s, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was created. But since then, a lot of new products and new uses for chemicals have come into the marketplace. So, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in 2008. I fully agree it was time to update the rules and make sure industry complied. I am especially pleased that responsible companies like Thermos are fully aware of and compliant with the changes Congress recently made to ensure that products offered to the US marketplace are safe, especially for children.

One area that the new law addresses is a class of chemicals called phthalates. In general, phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics to make them more flexible or resilient. Concern has been raised about possible adverse health effects resulting from exposure to phthalates. Phthalates have been deemed safe by some and dangerous by others. I believe that good science should underlie regulations and am pleased that the CPSC is organizing a task group of experts, known as a CHAP, Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel, to specifically consider everything scientifically known about phthalates, and to report back with recommendations.

Meanwhile, to ensure that children are not exposed to these chemicals, the CPSC has ruled that children’s toys and child care articles cannot contain more than 0.1% of three particular phthalates. Among other items, child care articles include drink containers and drinking cups for children age 3 and younger.

Another chemical the new law tackles is lead. The more we learn about lead the more we realize it can have toxic effects in lower doses than previously thought. The CPSIA now limits lead in paint to 90 parts per million (ppm), substantially lower than the previous limit of 600 ppm. In addition, CPSIA limits accessible lead in children’s products made after August 14, 2009 to 300 ppm.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that raises concern for its potential to leach from containers into the food or drink in the container. As with phthalates, BPA’s potential health effects are not fully known or understood, but are being studied by the Food and Drug Administration and others.

Thermos wants to dispel any concerns you may have about chemicals in its products.

> Thermos products are free of phthalates or meet the limits required by law

> Thermos products are made without BPA

> Thermos products are made without lead or meet the limits required by law

> Certificates of compliance with all the new rules are available on Thermos’ website

> Visit www.thermos.com/cpsia/ to view these critical certificates of compliance

*Article commissioned by Thermos L.L.C.