Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

Project Bread, Massachusetts’ leading antihunger organization, believes healthy school meals are a vital source of fresh and nutritious food for children whose families struggle to put food on the table. And for food-insecure kids, every calorie has to count. Nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are frequently more expensive than processed foods that are high in empty calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Through school meals, food service directors have a unique opportunity to give hungry children access to nutritious foods that also help them develop healthy eating habits at a young age. Project Bread’s Better Meals Initiative, with its Better Breakfast Better Lunch, and Marketing Health Foods Toolkits, is intended to guide food service directors in their menu planning and product ordering so low-income kids receive the healthiest food possible.

What are some simple changes schools or parents can make to improve the nutritional quality of meals?

Schools and parents should focus on reducing fat, sodium, and sugar in their recipes and increasing fiber with these simple changes:

• Increase the use of vegetables and beans in recipes. Substitute spinach and other greens in place of iceberg lettuce. Generally speaking, the more colorful the meal is, that is the more fruits and vegetables it has, the healthier it is.
• Purchase reduced fat, low-sodium, or “no sugar added” versions of products.
• Substitute some or all of the butter, margarine, or shortening in baked goods with applesauce or prune puree.
• Replace oil-based marinades with balsamic or other vinegars or fat-free, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broths.
• Purchase lean cuts of meat and poultry and remove the skin from poultry.
• Add zest and improve the nutritional quality of recipes with fresh herbs and spices.

Direct Substitutions

White rice
All purpose flour
White bread or rolls
Ground beef
Chicken legs or wings
Pork chops
Sour cream
Evaporated milk
Creamy salad dressing
Soy sauce
Brown rice, bulgur, or pearl barley
Whole wheat pasta
Whole wheat flour
Whole wheat bread or rolls
Low-fat or fat-free cheese
Ground turkey (preferably turkey breast)
Chicken breast
Pork loin
Low-fat or “light” mayonnaise or mustard
Low-fat sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt
Evaporated skim milk
Low-fat or “light” salad dressing
Low-sodium soy sauce

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Lots of great information here Cheri. i know the schools are starting to change their ways, I've noticed some changes on our kid's menus.

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