Eating healthy as a family can often be difficult, especially for busy families that are on the go. But just because you are busy during the middle of the day doesn’t mean that your nutrition has to suffer. Lunchtime meals should contain foods that offer protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat in healthy amounts in order to ensure optimal health. Below are some great lunch options for families.
Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
This easy lunchtime meal can be eaten at home, at the office, or in the car. Peanut butter is a great source of dietary protein, which is essential to maintaining and promoting new muscle growth. In addition, protein helps prevent feelings of hunger and helps keep you fuller longer, preventing overeating at future meals.
Though peanut butter is relatively high in fat, the fat found in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat, which is actually a “healthy” fat. Monounsaturated fat helps to promote heart health and prevents strokes and certain cancers. Whole wheat bread is a rich source of fiber, which is slow-digesting and like protein helps to keep you feeling full. In addition, whole wheat bread is a great source of healthy carbohydrate, which can provide the energy you need to make it through a long afternoon. Bananas contain many essential vitamins and minerals that are important for optimal growth and health.
Wash the sandwich down with a glass of calcium-rich milk. Calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth. Make sure to look for low or nonfat milk in order to limit fat and calorie intake.
Chicken Salad in a Whole Wheat Pita
Like peanut butter, chicken is a great source of protein, which will keep you feeling full and prevent dinner-time binges. Instead of eating chicken salad plain try eating it in a sandwich with cottage cheese and strawberries. This easy, on-the-go meal can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Cottage cheese is a great source of dietary calcium and is more filling than drinking a glass of milk. Cottage cheese also digests very slowly. This means that it will stay in your stomach for a longer period and help keep you feeling fuller.
Strawberries contain high levels of fiber, which as discussed earlier helps prevent hunger pains. In addition, strawberries contain vitamin C and other important vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimal growth and health. When choosing strawberries for an afternoon meal, be aware that they don’t need to be fresh. Research has found that frozen fruits and vegetables contain the same amounts of vitamins and minerals as their fresh counterparts. If you do decide to go with the frozen route, check the package for nutritional information. Try to buy frozen strawberries that contain limited amounts of added sugar and preservatives in order to get the highest level of nutrition available. You’ll get the same health benefits.