Back-to-School doesn't mean an end to nutritious fruit and veggie snacks. A little planning can help keep obesity at bay. Tanya Zuckerbot, MS, RD and author of The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Losshas these suggestions for the lunch bag:
- Pack veggies like baby carrots, sliced celery, cucumber and red pepper with individual cups of ranch dressing for dipping.
- Kids love sweet fruit. Sliced apples, grapes, and dried fruit like raisins, dried apricots and apples are a perfect school snack because they are not messy and easy to eat. Avoid fruits you have to peel like oranges, kiwi and grapefruit'??the juice and rinds are messy.
- Yogurts (individual tubes, such a Gogurt are easy to eat since no spoon is necessary)
- String cheese.
- Trail Mix (Mix whole wheat pretzels, wheat chex, dried craisins or raisins, chocolate chips and nuts for a high-energy, high-protein snack).
As far as packaged snacks go, I sampled a new brand called Food Should Taste Good and was impressed. For kids, I'd recommend the Sweet Potato chip or the Multigrain Cracker (no transfat, no cholesterol, no artificial flavors or colors). Order online $39.48 per case of 12. And new mini sizes (perfect for preschoolers) are coming soon--1 oz. Click here to see what shops carry this brand.
To keep track of what is going in to your kid's mouth when you're out, check out SnackerTracker--a nutritional tracking system for families. Here's how it works: Put the SnackerTracker magnet on your refrigerator, use a dry erase marker to check off food and exercise. This is ideal for a babysitter or nanny. You'll know just what happened after school or while you were at work. They also offer suggestions for exercise and snacks. For ages 2 and up. $19.95
If Back-to-School means your schedule gets ramped up and ordering in for dinner is happening too often, stock a few Plum Organics frozen kids meals in the freezer. I use these on "babysitter nights" --they ensure my daughter eats healthy and are a breeze to prepare (no chopping, mixing, or mess). Available in most Whole Foods stores starting in August. Four flavors in all.