Protein is essential for growing bodies. Every cell of your body is made up of protein, including your immune cells. Protein also aids in blood sugar regulation when incorporated into meals, which means less sleepy spells in afternoon classes and more energy to sustain learning. The highest amount of protein is found in animal products, but you can also find it in nuts, beans and seeds.
Try to incorporate protein into your child’s snacks and meals. Sending them to school with a lunch that provides ample protein will help them get the most out of their school day and enable their little minds to be at their best.
Almond Butter & Banana Sandwich
Spread almond butter across 2 slices of the bread of your choice. Thinly slice one banana to cover the surface of one slice. Place the two pieces together.
Goat Cheese & Strawberry Sandwich
Lightly toast two slices of bread or an english muffin (there are some really great gluten free versions that have nuts & seeds for extra protein). Spread goat cheese evenly on both sides. Slice strawberries and cover both sides. Put the two sides together and gently press.
Spread hummus over one side of a tortilla. Layer turkey slices and spinach on the inside. Roll tightly and slice into small rolls.
Egg Salad Sandwich
Mash 2 hardboiled eggs. Add 1/2 tsp of mustard and 1 tsp of plain whole milk yogurt (or mayo). Thinly slice 1/4 of a celery stick and add for extra crunch & fiber. Salt & pepper to taste. You can add this to bread or it can be eaten on its own, with or without crackers.
Add desired amount of broccoli or spinach (depends on how much your child will tolerate) to a marinara sauce and heat up until the veggies are cooked. Cover the surface of an English muffin with the sauce (1-2 per child). Add a layer of turkey or chicken meat (deli style slice) or lentils and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 3-5 minutes (until cheese is melted). Allow to cool if packaging for a school lunch.
French Toast & Almond Butter Sandwich
Make French toast as you normally would using eggs & milk, omitting sugar. When the toast is cooled, spread almond butter over both sides. You can add fruit if you wish to the center. I find pear slices to be delicious, but you could also use banana, apples or strawberries. Place the two slices together. Not only will your child be receiving protein from the almond butter, but the egg is an extra bonus.
Mini Cucumber Turkey Sandwiches
Slice cucumber into rounds. Spread with humus and put a slice of turkey meat on one. Place two slices together to make mini veggie & meat sandwiches.
Chicken & Cheese Cubes
Make an extra breast of chicken the night before and cube it for lunch the next day. Add cheese cubes & chicken to a small container. If you’ve got small kids, consider cutting the cheese into fun shapes. Using a thin slice of cheese, press a small cookie cutter into it to create the desired shape.
A New Kind of Ants on a Log
Slice celery to create sticks. Add spreadable goat cheese to the center of the celery & top with dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, mango, apricots). Sprinkle crushed nuts on top for a little more vitamins & protein. You can also use cream cheese for this and different dried fruits, like diced apricots.
Mini Yogurt Parfait
I like to pack this one in 4 ounce mason jar. Fill the mason jar about 1/4-1/2 way with yogurt (look for low sugar and remember that small children need their fat). Top with granola & berries. This also makes a great grab and go breakfast that kids can eat on the bus.
Hummus Dip with Veggies & Fruit
You can make your own hummus or simply pick some up at the store. Combine this in your child’s lunch with carrots, celery and cucumber sticks. You can even add some apple & pear slices to give a variety of flavors.
Homemade Trail Mix
Making trail mix at home helps you control how much protein goes in and how much sugar stays out. Mix together 1/2 cup of each: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. Add 1/2 total of dried fruit (or none if your child will eat just nuts). I like to do a mix of diced apricots and mixed raisins, but try different combinations. Depending on the age of your child, include a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the mix in their lunch.
Beans & Rice
This could be the main course on its own or you can place it in a small container as a snack. Making beans & rice for dinner the night before makes this easy to have ready to go for the next day’s lunch. Consider adding a bit of salsa or diced tomatoes to help them get a little more vegetables into their day.
Dr. Jolene Brighten focuses on nutrition as a foundation of health with her patients. She enjoys working with patients of all ages to ensure they are receiving the most optimal nutrition. Dr. Brighten invites you to schedule a complimentary 30 minute minute appointment today!