We’ve written a lot of blogs over the years about school lunch. But, it’s that time of year again. With students heading back to school everywhere across the country, we want to give parents all the tools they need to pack nutritious and yummy meals for their kids! This year, we’re focusing on R.A.W. foods! R.A.W. actually stands for Reducing America’s Waistline. But, the whole idea refers to ‘getting back to the basics’… cutting out the things that are hurting our bodies and focus on the things that help our bodies. Keep an eye out for your Fall 2012 NCES catalog for all of the new R.A.W. products! Don’t get one? Request your FREE copy here!
What are you packing in your student’s lunch? The types of foods that you’re packing are probably the most important aspect to remember when you’re making lunches for your family. Picture MyPlate when you’re packing, and always remember to fill half your plate with R.A.W. fruits & veggies. So, start by packing fresh vegetables. Try to be creative though… the last thing you want to do is turn your child off to the idea of veggies because they are forced to eat ones they don’t like the taste of. Most kids will enjoy the taste of carrots, fresh broccoli and cauliflower. If it helps, don’t be afraid to provide them a dipping sauce like Light Ranch. But, you have to be responsible for controlling the amount. Only send one serving so they don’t overdo it. Also be sure to include foods from each food group. Along with your vegetable, pack a whole wheat grain, a lean protein, dairy and fruit. All of these foods contain vitamins and nutrients that will help your student perform better in school, both physically and academically.
How much are you packing in your student’s lunch? Portion control is important, even for kids. As a matter of fact, it is especially important at this age because we are helping to create habits that kids will remember as they grow. Pay attention to the suggested portion sizes of the foods you’re packing. Remember, there really is no limit to the amount of fresh vegetables you should eat. So, if after packing all of the other elements (according to portion recommendations), you feel like your student will still be hungry; fill the rest of the lunchbox with fresh vegetables and fruits.
Coming up in the Fall 2012 catalog are “Easy Lunchboxes”. Pack lunches fast with these sturdy and reusable containers; great for work, school or travel and perfect for both children and adults. They are dishwasher, microwave & freezer safe and made of non-toxic, food safe polypropylene (PP). They are also BPA, PVC & Phthalate free. It doesn’t get much better than that! These lunchboxes are in the Fall 2012 catalog (hitting mailboxes soon) and will be available at www.NCEScatalog.com next week. Want to be the first to order yours? Send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll let you know as soon as these lunchboxes are available for order!
What do you enjoy packing in your kids lunches? We all learn best from each other! So, share your tips and tricks for successful school lunches here on our blog, on Facebook or on Twitter! We love hearing from you!
Sun exposure is very important for our bodies. After all, it is our body’s primary form of receiving the Vitamin D that we need to function at our best. There are numerous benefits to maintaining optimum Vitamin D levels, including a healthier immune system and improved mood. However, it doesn’t take much sun exposure for our body to soak up the Vitamin D that it needs. In fact, excessive, unprotected sun exposure can be very damaging for our bodies. This is true for people of all ages, but especially for children. “Most kids rack up between 50% and 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18…” (www.kidshealth.org) So, how do we protect ourselves, and our children, from the damaging effects of the sun?
The most important thing you can do is to use sunscreen frequently. Every time you will be spending time in the sun, be sure to lather on the sunscreen. Sunscreen is designed to filter the UV Rays from the sun before they reach your skin. Using it appropriately will significantly reduce your risk of getting a sunburn. Not only are sunburns painful and unpleasant, they are also very dangerous. It only takes one blistering sunburn to double a child’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. (www.sunsafetyalliance.org)
The second thing you can do is to monitor sun exposure. Although summer days are best spent running around the neighborhood with friends and practicing canon balls at the local pool, too much sun exposure can be harmful for our bodies. Not only do you run the risk of getting sun burnt. But, there is also the risk of overheating and/or getting dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water! As a general rule, consuming 8 oz. of water per hour (that you are exposed to the sun) will keep your body hydrated and help regulate your body temperature.
Spending time playing and being active outside has so many health benefits. Therefore, we always encourage finding activities for you and your family to enjoy outdoors. This time of year, it is just extra important to pay close attention to our bodies and be sure we are taking care of them properly. Now, take these tips so you can get out there and enjoy your summer!
When you walk out the door, there is no denying that summer is here. At least that is true here in the Midwest. Summer means that the kids are out of school, and you are likely going crazy by now trying to come up with activities to keep them entertained throughout the day. Well, here’s one you may not have thought of; go out for a picnic. Picnics provide a great opportunity for families to spend time together. Everyone can get involved in preparing the picnic, transporting the food and enjoying the fun! Here are 5 tips to ensure that your picnic is a big hit with your kids!
- Pack a well balanced meal – This is important to remember when preparing any meal, especially for your children. Be sure to include a protein, grain, veggie, fruit and dairy. Tip: Freeze some mixed berries ahead of time. They’ll make a great dessert to satisfy their sweet tooth and keep them cool!
- Take plenty of H20 – Our bodies are composed of 60-70% water. Therefore, it is important that we consume plenty of H2O, especially when it is hot outside. Make it a goal that everyone consume 8 oz. of water each hour while you are out in the heat enjoying your picnic.
- Keep the cold stuff cold – Always remember food safety! To reduce the risk of sicknesses due to bacteria, cold food needs to remain cold throughout your trip. For any non-perishable items, a picnic basket is great. However, you’ll need to keep the cold items in a cooler with ice. Tip: Reserve the bottom of the cooler for the cold items. They’ll stay cooler down there.
- Think about the extras – Of course you’ll need food on your picnic. But, what else do you need? A couple things to take would be bug spray and sun screen. Always make sure that everyone is wearing sun screen when you are going to be spending time out in the hot summer sun.
- 5. Take a long a good ground-cover – Don’t you want to be comfortable? Sometimes, grass can leave your legs a little itchy. A good ground cover will keep you clean, and itch-free.
At NCES, we love helping you keep your family happy and healthy! If you ever have any questions, visit us at www.ncescatalog.com, or on Facebook or Twitter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chat Live with our Dietitian! Plus, be sure to check out our new MyPyramid Handouts for Adults, Kids and Tots.
Okay, we know that kids all across the country are jumping for joy over summer break! But, we also know that parents everywhere are cringing. Summer break provides a new set of challenges for parents everywhere. One of those challenges is what to serve for lunch. When the kids are in school, it is so easy to send them to school with a few dollars to purchase their lunch. However, that option typically isn’t available during the summer. So, that’s where we want to help! We’ve found the ultimate lunch that your kids will enjoy making and will also give them the fuel they need to power through the day! (Kids Cook 1-2-3)
In many Middle Eastern countries, ground beef or lamb is grilled on sticks or skewers. These are known as kebabs. Press the mixture with your hands onto 8-inch wooden skewers and broil (or grill) them to your liking.
¼ pound ground beef chuck
1 small garlic clove
½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Turn the broiler (or grill) on high.
- Put the ground beef in a medium-sized bowl. Peel the garlic and push it through a garlic press. Add to the beef. Add the cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
- Divide the mixture into 4 mounds. Using your ahnds, squeeze the mixture onto 4 wooden skewers, making a long cylinder that is about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. Flatten the mixture slightly and put the skewers on a rimmed baking sheet (if broiling). Cover the exposed wood of skewers with foil so the skewers don’t burn.
- Broil for 3 to 4 minutes (or grill for 8), until just cooked through. Do not overcook. Serve immediately.
Hopefully, this recipe will get you started planning and making nutritious lunches for your active kids. Summer is a great time for all of us, especially kids, to get outside and remain active. It’s important to remember that our bodies need fuel to operate at their best! We’ve got some great books that will help you as you continue making lunches for your kids. A couple of these books are ‘Bag Lunches and Snacks to Fit your Food Plan’, ‘Funky Lunch’ and ‘Kids Cook 1-2-3’. They can be found by clicking the title or by visiting www.ncescatalog.com. Ya never know. You may even like them so much that you decide to keep packing your kids a balanced lunch throughout the school year, not just during summer break. And, don’t forget, if you ever have any questions about NCES products, feel free to go online or give us a call to chat live with a dietitian.
1) Give the food pyramid some equality. Try to have a representative from each of the food groups. This ensures a good mix of vitamins and nutrients, and gives a great opportunity to vary up your lunch on a daily basis.
2) Put variety in the most mundane of places. Instead of using the same bread every day, try cycling between white, whole wheat and multi-grain. Maybe you could use bagels, wraps, or rolls instead. Give each ingredient of your lunch some thought as to how you can make it more interesting.
3) Recycle your meat. Don’t use processed lunch meat, which are normally high in sodium, try using your leftover meats from the dinner the night before. Chicken can be shopped up and put in a sandwich, or made into chicken salad.
4) Break outside of the sandwich mold. If you cringe at the thought of putting ingredients between two slabs of bread day in and day out, vary things up by substituting a good soup or stew. Try a pasta dish as well.
5) Keep your snacking in check. If you have to have your chips, try a 100-calorie pack to keep your consumption in check. Curb your cravings the healthy way.
6) Fruits and veggies are friends. Even if fruits and vegetables aren’t your best friends when it comes to eating, you can still make things appetizing by including a dipping sauce for them, or mixing them into your yogurt.
Eating the same lunch day-in and day-out can be very boring and make it hard to eat a well-rounded, healthy lunch. Use these tips and visit our website at http://www.ncescatalog.com to keep your lunch interesting!
We’ve had so many responses to our music video! Thanks to everyone who helped with the video, and to everyone that keeps passing it along.
To answer some of your more common questions:
1.We shot this over a few days in various locations. A lot came from a local middle school’s library. (hence, all the books) Other locations included a grocer, and a local farmer’s market.
2.The Pom Boms are Kirsten, Mikayla, and Sophia, they love to dance and sing (and be on camera!).
3.Yes, this video and song are free to download and share with whoever wants to listen to it. This was a non-profit endeavor, and we want everyone to have fun with it.
If you know someone who’s related to someone who knows someone that wants to give this music video a little love in a big way, then get ahold of us! First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign needs as much national support as it can get (which is why we named the song ‘Let’s Move’!). Please join us in the fight against childhood obesity!
As you may be aware, August is National Healthy Lunch Month, which provides a good opportunity to talk about making healthy lunches, for you and your loved ones.
Feeding a picky child doesn’t necessarily have to be a big chore. In fact, there are several little tips that you can employ in order to help your child be a little more ‘open-minded’ when it comes to the fruits and vegetables that are good for them.
Let your child be a part of the process. You can do this by letting them help grow the fruits or veggies in question. Or, even by letting them help pick it out at the store. You may see some surprising results in their willingness to eat the vegetables. The more a child is involved in what they’re eating, the better and easier it is to instill good eating habits early on in life, that will stick with them as they get older.
Letting your child help prepare the dish also can go a long way towards getting them to eat it. A matter of pride then pops up, and they might choose to eat it, and might even accidentally like it, since they provided it for the family (and themselves). Even at very young ages, some children have enough fine motor skills to shell peas, wash lettuce and pop beans.
Presenting the vegetable or fruit in a different manner can also help. Now, we’re not suggesting dipping it into honey glaze or anything like that, but allowing for a light ranch dip, or peanut butter can make that celery a bit more appetizing. Even sprinkling parmesan cheese on top goes a long way to improve the appeal of vegetables and fruits.
Tips like these, as well as helpful recipes, can be found in the book “Meals Without Squeals.” A good guide for parents, and a great guide for childcare providers when it comes to what foods you choose for your children. Look in the ‘Educated Kids’ section of our catalog, or search for item #3925 at www.ncescatalog.com.