SHAPING UP: Three healthy packed lunch ideas

Bagel pizza.

Bagel pizza.

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One of the things I’m very passionate about is health and nutrition education for children.

There has been some good progress over the last few years but there still needs to be big improvements to help the younger generation.

A lunch box salad.

A lunch box salad.

It is well recognised that children are now leaving school more over weight than when they first started. And The Royal Society Of Public Health have recently announced that 25% of schoolchildren between the ages of 13 and 18 have ordered a takeaway to be delivered to the school playground.

The school curriculum should include more nutrition advice, supermarkets can make more effort to promote healthier foods, food packaging/labelling can be made easier to understand and fast food outlets can take more responsibility.

But it all starts at home; as adults we need to take more responsibility and make sure children are eating and drinking the correct things.

Instead of giving your child a few quid dinner money to spend on fizzy pop and crisps, why not make up a healthy packed lunch?

Tortilla wraps.

Tortilla wraps.

If they are taking ham sanwiches, crisps and a chocolate biscuit every day it’s not healthy and it’s boring. So mix it up a little bit and try some of these healthy packed lunch ideas ...

BAGEL PIZZAS

They are so easy to make. Just get some wholemeal bagels. Spread on a little tomato puree, top with a bit of mozzarella cheese (and other toppings if you like), and pop in the oven – 200 degrees for roughly 12 minutes is about right.

You can make a big batch of these to last all week. If you bake them on a sheet of parchment paper on the baking tray, then you can just pop the whole sheet in the freezer after it cools. The next day, when they are good and frozen, peel them off and put them in a ziploc bag. Then you can just grab them out a couple at a time for really easy lunch packing.

You can pack them while still frozen. This works perfectly if you are packing the night before.

If you want to pack these in the morning, then pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, just to give them a little head start with defrosting so they aren’t still frozen at lunchtime.

If you had your pizzas made ahead, and you prepped fruit and veggies ahead of time for the week, I think you could literally throw this lunch together in about a minute.

WHOLEMEAL TORTILLA WRAPS

These are wholemeal tortilla wraps with the round edges trimmed off, spread with stuff, rolled up, and sliced. You can use a bamboo skewer to keep them together.

You can use any healthy filing that you like but I think cream cheese, turkey and baby spinach works well.

Roll it up tightly and sliced in even pieces. Add a cheese stick, a carrot, couple of strawberries and an apple to finish the lunch.

LUNCH BOX SALAD

Most kids don’t like salad on a plate but if you create a little buffet in a lunch box they love picking at it.

Put a layer of lettuce on the bottom, and then a little variety of veggies depending on what your child will eat, layered on top and in separate sections so as to keep them mostly separated.

The veggies include: sugar snap peas, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and sweet red peppers. Add some cheese or turkey for protein.

On the side you could have grapes and rice crackers.

You could also add a little pot of almond butter for them to dip the crackers in. The best place to get almond butter is MyProtein (www.myprotein.com)

HEALTHY EATING TIP

Always prepare ahead. If you’re making packed lunches for dinner, prepare them the night before.

All that you have to do is make extra food when you’re preparing your evening meal and put it in the fridge overnight.

It will save a lot of time on a morning and prevents you from throwing an unhealthy/convenient lunch together when you’re in a rush.

EAST COAST WORKOUT: UP IN TWOS

Perform two repetitions of the below exercises.

BURPEES

PRESS UPS

LUNGES

Then four,six, eight and 10.

Once you have completed 10 reps of each exercise take a 60-second rest and then repeat again, and complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes.

Take a look at my Facebook page www.facebook.com/eastcoastfitnessseaham for a full demo of the workout.

Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email graham@eastcoast-fitness.com or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com