Parents usually dread the thought of making their children’s lunches for the year, and can also get tired of their own packed lunches, which may lead to purchasing lunches more often (usually a less healthy choice!). Healthy lunches don’t have to be complicated. To balance your lunch, dietitians recommend that half of your meal be vegetables and fruit, a quarter protein and the other quarter grains and starches.
Carbohydrates found in grains and starches, as well as fruit and milk products, provide your main source of energy. Choosing grain products that are higher in fibre will take longer to digest and will therefore provide longer-lasting energy – which may mean no mid-afternoon crashes. In addition to bread and pasta, other grain and starch options to try include quinoa, oats, sweet potato, brown rice and bulgur, just to name a few.
Packed lunches don’t always have to consist of sandwiches – that gets boring very quickly for both kids and adults. Think beyond the grains and starches you would typically choose in order to increase the variety of foods you eat. Here are some ideas:
Get creative with quinoa or pasta salads, rice and lentil bowls, stir fries with bulgur, or a snack-like lunch with cheese, hummus, egg or tuna, crackers and veggie sticks. If you choose crackers to go along with your salad or soup, make them whole grain! The cracker recipe below is simple to make, using a new time-saving blend of grains and seeds that includes buckwheat, millet, and amaranth (all of which are ancient grains), as well as flax, chia and hemp seed. You can also add this blend to yogurt, cereals, smoothies, or homemade baking for a source of omega 3 fats and to increase your fibre intake.
Challenge yourself to try something new in your lunch routine this year!
Ancient Grains and Super Seeds Crackers
2/3 cup (150 mL) PC® Blue Menu Ancient Grains & Super Seeds Blend
1/2 cup (125 mL) PC® Organics Quinoa Flour
2 tbsp (25 mL) PC® Blue Menu Sun-Dried Tomato & Herb Seasoning Blend
1-¼ tsp (6 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) warm water
2 tbsp (25 mL) PC® Blue Menu Omega Oil
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
2. Stir together seeds blend, flour, seasoning blend and salt in large bowl. Add warm water and oil; stir until dough forms.
3. Transfer to parchment paper-lined large baking sheet. Arrange separate sheet of parchment paper over top of dough; using hands or spatula, press out dough to 12 x 10-inch (30 x 25 cm) rectangle. Remove top sheet of parchment. Cut dough into 2-inch (5 cm) squares.
4. Bake until golden and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet. Break along cut lines into squares.
Chef’s Tip: Store crackers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Makes about 3 dozen crackers
Per serving (about 3 crackers): 90 calories, fat 5 g (1 g of which is saturated), sodium 240 mg, carbohydrate 10 g, fibre 2 g, sugars 0 g, protein 3 g
Recipe source: pc.ca
Upcoming event: Join me for a meal planning class on Sept. 18, 2-3 p.m. at the New Glasgow Atlantic Superstore. Get tips on quick and easy meals and try a tasty sample! Registration is required – please contact Courtney.
Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or educational store tour for yourself or your community group or business? Contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at email@example.com.
Courtney Masey is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.