When it comes to food, âkid friendlyâ and âhealthyâ can seem like polar opposites. Nevertheless, kids need the nutrients from a balanced diet to learn, grow and develop strong bodies â including strong teeth! Give your child the fuel they need by loading up their lunchbox with whole-grains, calcium-rich dairy products and nutrient dense fruits, veggies and lean meats. Easier said than done? The next time youâre packing a lunch or planning an after-school snack, consider these creative (and wholesome) concoctions.
Cheesy Pizza Fingers
Cut two slices of whole grain bread into 1-inch wide strips. Spread with 2 tbs. of a calcium-rich soft cheese, like Ricotta or sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella. Top with halved cherry tomatoes and toast lightly in the oven or toaster oven.
Critters on a Log
Spread 1 tbs. of natural peanut butter in a thin layer onto several stalks of celery. Dot with unsalted almonds or cashews and grapes, cut in half. (Skip the sticky raisins, which bond sugars to teeth.)
DIY Yogurt Bar
Spoon a single serving of plain or vanilla, low-fat yogurt into a bowl. Provide a variety of mix-ins like whole grain cereal, sliced bananas and strawberries and blueberries. Encourage kids to concoct their own tasty creations.
Cut a log of string cheese in half, lengthwise. Wrap two slices of lean lunchmeat around each piece of cheese, rolling tightly. Provide 1 tbs. of fat-free mayo or mustard to dip in.
Happy Trails Mix
Mix your own customizable trail mix using unbuttered popcorn, low-salt pretzels, whole-wheat cereal and unsalted nuts. Add a small sprinkling of dark chocolate chips and dehydrated banana slices.
Spread tomato sauce into a whole-grain pita pocket and fill with low-fat mozzarella cheese, diced roast beef or sliced chicken and your childâs favorite veggies. Try it toasted at home, or chilled for a lunchbox.
Prep Tips for Picky Eaters (and Tiny Hands!)
- Dip sliced apples in lemon juice to prevent browning.
- Cut sandwiches with cookie cutters to remove crusts and create fun shapes.
- Cut a starter slit in bananas, just below the stem, for easy peeling.
- Pre-peel oranges and pack in a plastic bag or reusable container.
Learn more about tooth-friendly foods.