Lunch Time

September 10, 2019

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As the glorious summer comes to an end and we enter the new season of Autumn we embrace the changes that are to come. The one element that springs to mind are the children returning to school. The uniform shopping and stationery shopping can be all too stressful and then the next challenging task for any guardian or parent is what are the children going to eat for lunch? The first decision is to decide whether or not your child is going to have school dinners or packed lunch. In some cases alternating between the two is an excellent idea as children often get bored, so mixing it up can be a good idea and also a way to keep an eye on what they’re eating.

All children who start school in reception, Year One and Two automatically qualify for free school dinners. Qualifying for free school dinners, from Year Three, is then linked to benefits, and the system of calculating and claiming benefits is forever changing, therefore it is always a good idea to check with the Gov.uk website, the school that your child attends/will be attending or the city council. The council website is where you can also obtain information on school dinner menus and information on which catering service that provides the school meals.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the choices of what to include in the lunch box. The first thing to think about is the age of the child and whether or not they enjoy hot or cold snacks. Think about what sort of food they like to eat but also be ready to throw them in new things to try so that their tastebuds get used to a variety of tastes.

We would highly recommend that you purchase a lunch box with different compartments. That way your child can clearly see what is available to them and separates the food keeping everything fresh. They often come with an extra container for some yoghurt or sauce like mayonnaise or salad cream.

With toast is a popular breakfast choice in the mornings, some children may get fed up with the same bread. Therefore try something different like wraps, which come in a variety of flavours nowadays. Another alternative is pitta bread, thins, toastie pockets and bagels which are a great option for children to try. In the sandwich, you could include left-over meat from the night before, you could also include leftover pizza...who doesn't like leftover pizza? Or stick to the traditional, cheese, ham, turkey slices, peanut butter, sour cream and chive dip (used as a spread).

Make the time to cut the sandwiches into interesting shapes. We all know that children eat with their eyes, so if something looks fun and interesting they might be more likely to eat it!

Try cold pasta with a nice cheesy sauce or pesto, include the child in the making process again allowing them to arouse interest in what they are eating! Looking for a healthy dip? Humous comes in a variety of flavours and is very healthy and works well with crackers, pitta bread and another alternative healthy alternative to butter.

Salads can be boring and very green to a child’s eye and bland on the palate. Add grapes, raisins, apple pieces and try different lettuces which are seasonal like Boston in the winter and Iceberg in the warmer months. If the child is still not likely to eat the salad try adding some celery sticks with carrots, sweet peas in a pod, your child will love popping these out. Try homemade popcorn or rice cakes instead of crisps and apple and peanut butter dip, or choco-dipped tangerines and you just can’t beat natural yoghurt with fresh fruit (put the fruit into a separate container, so that your child can add the fruit themselves).

The NHS choices website www.nhs.uk/change4life/recipes/healthier-lunchboxes is always an excellent choice if you would like extra information and advice. The website recommends that the lunch box should always contain foods such as: Starchy foods like bread, rice, potatoes or pasta Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs or beans A dairy item, like cheese or yoghurt Vegetables or salad and a portion of fruit

Flapjacks are great as they are packed with slow-burning energy goodness, especially if they are made from home. Below is a simple recipe for you to try! Rainbow fruit skewers and cheese and Pineapple is a winner! The list is endless, try to focus on healthy and fun, trying something new. You just have to think outside of the box!

Healthy Banana Flapjacks Ingredients (Makes 12 Servings) 2½ cups (around 225g) jumbo oats, 2 very ripe bananas, 1 apple, ½ cup (around 80g) mixed seeds, ½ cup (around 75g) raisins and dried apricots, 1tsp cinnamon, ½tsp ground ginger, 50g butter or ½ cup (around 125ml/100g) coconut oil, 3 tbsp runny honey.

Method Line a small baking tray with baking paper and turn on the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Measure the oats, seeds and raisins and place in a bowl. Then chop up the apricots and add them to the oat mix. In another bowl, mash the two bananas with a fork. Then coarsely grate the apple into the bananas and add the cinnamon and ground ginger. Next, take a saucepan and place it on low heat. Add the honey and butter or oil. Once the butter has melted, add the banana/apple mix and the oats/dried fruit mix. Stir well until the honey and butter or oil has completely covered the fruit and oats and it’s all well mixed. Pour this mixture into the baking tray and flatten with the back of a spoon or spatula so that the flapjacks will be the same height all over. Place in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes, until the top starts to go golden brown.
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