Healthy Lunch Box Swaps
With all the children’s snacks available and clever marketing, it can be hard to differentiate between the healthy and not-so-healthy options for your child. Here are some easy and tasty substitutions to keep in mind next time you’re doing a grocery shop. By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
1) Swap Flavoured or ‘Fruit’ Yoghurt for Unsweetened Yoghurt with Mix-Ins:
Those chocolate desserts in yoghurt containers marketed at kids fool us too; We’re made to think ‘yoghurt’, when really they’re highly processed desserts in disguise, without any yoghurt culture (that means no probiotic content). They’re also loaded with refined sugar and unnatural ingredients like ‘thickener (1442)’; Not exactly something you’d keep for your kids in the pantry…I’m also not sure if ‘chocolate’ and ‘yoghurt’ really belong together.
Fruit yoghurt may seem like a healthier option, but read the ingredients and you’ll likely find that sugar (AKA fructose, glucose, evaporated cane juice or maltodextrin) is listed before the strawberries or mango; Worth noting because ingredients in packaged foods are listed in descending order.
Unsweetened, natural full fat yoghurt is a much healthier option because apart from being a wholesome source of calcium, it
i) Contains good bacteria to support the gut health of your little ones, and
ii) You can play ‘choose your favourite flavour’ and decide on some healthy mix-ins (mix with the yoghurt in a little container) for natural flavour and sweetness, like:
- Stewed fruit - apples or pears with cinnamon are yum
- Carob powder - naturally sweet and unlike cocoa powder, caffeine free
- A drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup; Adding it yourself means you can monitor how much sugar is going in
2) Swap Dried Fruit Straps with Real fruit
The first ingredient in a popular dried ‘fruit’ roll is maltodextrin, i.e. sugar. This is followed by a heap of other forms of sugar like concentrated fruit paste, apple juice concentrate and straight-up sugar - so this is really a stick-to-your-teeth sugar strap, with other funny ingredients like inulin – an isolated fibre that serves as a thickening agent, as well as a gut irritant.
The healthiest swap you can make for this is the real deal: a piece of fresh fruit. Unlike a ‘fruit’ strap, an actual banana or sliced orange (both lunchbox friendly) is a wholefood, giving your child fibre, plus essential vitamins and minerals. And instead of the sugar high and energy crash induced by the fruit strap, the fibre in a piece of real fruit takes time to digest – meaning a steady supply of energy and better concentration post morning tea.
For an occasional treat, organic dried fruit is a more wholesome, less processed option to a fruit strap; Non-organic varieties often contain sulphites, a preservative which children with asthma in particular can be intolerant to.
3) Swap Potato Chips with Veggie Crudités
I know, I know, this sounds a bit ambitious, but hear me out. If a bag of crisps is a regular in your child’s lunchbox, try adding carrot and cucumber crudites alongside these for a week, then alternating between the two, then making the chips a once a week treat.
You could also try swapping super commercial chips, like cheesy corn chips, with cleaner vegetable chips, like the ones from Thomas Chipman. While the former contains added sugar and a long list of funny ingredients like cheese powder, wheat starch and flavour enhancers - AKA MSG, Thomas Chipman Beetroot Chips are gluten free, certified organic, and with a short list of real food ingredients…We love them too!
Thomas Chipman Beetroot Chips are made from all-Australian beetroot, the uniquely Australian taste is gluten-free and contains no added MSG, preservatives, artificial colours or flavours. To find out more head to www.yarravalleysnackfoods.com/brands/thomas-chipman