Food & Drink

New Jersey Nutritionist Shares Tips for Healthy School Lunches

62f7c46c71a1d00088c8_mini_magick20170919-6770-kvc8s9.jpg
According to Marilyn Gordon of United Healthcare, a healthy lunch will lead to a healthy body and mind. Credits: Stock Photo
62f7c46c71a1d00088c8_mini_magick20170919-6770-kvc8s9.jpg

ISELIN, NJ – As students get into the swing of school and their days fill with tests, friends, homework and activities, it’s easy to overlook nutrition.

However, many studies link healthy foods to increased mental, physical and social performance. Marilyn Gordon, market medical director for United Healthcare, offers some tips and advice for parents looking to pack a healthy school lunch.

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. “Parents should make sure they have all the ingredients on hand and, if possible, make lunches the night before to make the morning a little less chaotic,” Gordon said.

Sign Up for E-News

2. Include at least three food groups to provide filling, energy boosting nutrients throughout the day. Variety also ensures that kids won’t get bored with their lunches. Gordon recommends choosing from whole grains, lean or low-fat protein, fruits and veggies and a treat with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.

“Food is fuel, but junk food with high sugar content decreases energy levels, attention spans and memory,” Gordon said. “As for long-term effects, junk food and sugary drinks put your child at risk for developing obesity and diabetes.”

3. Pack school lunches with your kids. “When kids are engaged in the process, they are more likely to help pack a meal they will eat and it’s a great teaching opportunity for parents,” Gordon said. “In addition, they will pick foods that are familiar to them and foods that they like.”

4. Make it colorful. “Adding colorful fruits and vegetables can make a lunch look more appetizing, and these foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber,” Gordon said. “Spice up vegetables with a little bit of guacamole, hummus, salsa or low-fat ranch dressing to add flavor and fun.”

5. Plan for snacks, too. “Snacks are okay before dinner, as long as they are small enough to satisfy hunger and boost energy,” Gordon said. “Some of the best energizing snacks that won’t interfere with appetite before dinner include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and lean- or low-fat protein. Stay away from sugary, high calorie, high fat or high sodium snacks.”

To make packing lunches easier, Gordon recommends the following lunch options:

-Grilled cheese a ‘la waffle – Use a waffle iron to create a whimsical version of the standard sandwich that can be enjoyed at room temperature. Serve with grapes, carrot sticks and 100% fruit juice.

-Veggie quesadilla – Use whatever veggies you have on hand layered between a whole grain tortilla with cheese and cook quickly to melt the cheese. Serve with apple slices and low-fat milk.

-Hard-boiled egg-on-a-stick – Pair with popcorn, fruit slices to dip in a container of Greek yogurt along with a few cherry tomatoes and bottle of water.

-Roll it up – Roll up string cheese, a slice of lean ham, red bell pepper slices and baby spinach in a whole grain wrap. Serve with 100% fruit juice and a few strawberries.

According to Gordon, the tips above can contribute to a student’s school performance, socialization and energy.

“Healthy lunches will provide key nutrients that boost energy and concentration during school, resulting in healthy bodies and healthy minds,” she said.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Cranford

Three School Buses Involved in Crash at Clark's ALJ High School

June 21, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Three buses collided in the Arthur L. Johnson High School parking lot around noon on Thursday in a chain-reaction crash. 

Students were on board at the time, according to Police Chief Pedro Matos. One driver and two students had minor injuries, Matos said.   

According to a Honeywell alert issued by the Clark Public School District, ...

2018 Cranford High School Graduation

June 22, 2018

CRANFORD - It was a beautiful day as the members of the Cranford High School Class of 2018 took their places on Memorial Field for the Graduation Ceremony on Thursday night. 

Class President Anna Kalafatis, Principal Mark Cantagallo, Superintendent Dr. Scott Rubin, Board of Education President Kurt Petschow, Jr., Salutatorian Emily Wilson, and Valedictorian Meg Cui each ...

Cranford High Senior Prom

CRANFORD - Cranford High School held its Senior Prom on Friday at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany. Check out the photos our readers submitted. 

Spring Art Show Displays Students' Creativity

CRANFORD - The Cranford High School Spring Art Show was held at the Cranford Public Library, on Tuesday. 

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., artwork from classes such as crafts, graphic design, photography, and drawing was on display for the public to promote the creative and unique projects done by students throughout the school year. 

Sports Betting Is Off And Running in New Jersey

June 14, 2018

OCEANPORT, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy officially ushered in sports betting in New Jersey when he made the initial wager at Monmouth Park  on June 14.

Governor Murphy, an avid soccer fan who has called ESPN’s “Sportscenter” his favorite show, placed the first bet  — $20 on Germany to win the World Cup. He also bet $20 on the N.J. Devils to ...

Reminder: Eligible Seniors Can Receive $25 in Free Vouchers for Farmer’s Markets, Starting June 25

June 21, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds income-eligible senior residents age 60 and over that they can apply for a total of $25 in free vouchers to purchase fresh produce. The vouchers may be used only at Farmer’s Markets in Union County that display a yellow and black WIC sign.

“Farmer’s Markets are a feature of community life throughout Union County in the ...

Healthy U Spring Symposium Marks 10 Years of Community Impact

WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 Healthy U champions and partners from YMCAs and schools from all over the state gathered at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on May 18 to celebrate 10 years of community impact. Healthy U was also formally presented with the 2017 CATCH® Award for Excellence in State Health. 

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is the ...

Summer Water Safety Tips

Summer is a great time for parents to ensure their children are equipped with essential water safety skills. The Westfield Area YMCA offers weekly swim lessons all summer long and in Monday-Thursday weekly sessions.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5-14. Remember these tips to ensure the water is an enjoyable and safe place to ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 23, 9:00 AM

Between Park Street and Washington Street, Westfield

Walking Tour: What Makes a Great House and ...

Home & Garden

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...