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Tag: snacks

Stocking the Back-to-School Pantry

This is a guest post by Cindy Santa Ana, CHC. Know of a food blogger, nutrition guru, farmer or passionate storyteller who may be interested? Contact us or provide details in your comment.

As summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to be packing in those lunch boxes, snack bags, and what you’ll be feeding the kiddos when they come bounding off the bus. First and foremost is to feed them a nutritious, protein-packed breakfast to start their day. And, no, a Pop-Tart doesn’t count. Those tasty pastries are essentially a giant candy bar filled with sugar, HFCS, trans fats, artificial colors and sodium. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them growing up, but the over 50 ingredients inside can lead to a myriad of health problems down the road and a sugar crash before they even finish first period.

A great start to the day could include a scrambled egg with whole grain toast, whole grain waffle with peanut butter, oatmeal with berries, or a protein smoothie (blend berries, whey protein powder, nut butter, spinach, yogurt, milk or milk alternative).

There are many prepackaged options out there for lunches, but be careful of dangerous preservatives, trans fats, excessive amounts of sodium and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are often laden in those foods. The worst offenders are Lunchables, 100-calorie snacks, packages of chips, cheez-its and juice boxes. The winner for worst offender is the Uncrustable sandwich. It contains 38 ridiculous ingredients (5 of which are sugar and more than a dozen are chemicals) like HFCS, trans fats, sorbates, sulfates, and phosphates. A simple PB & jelly takes 1 minute to make – please make them from scratch. I’m disgusted that my children’s school offers these as alternatives to a hot lunch.

So, here’s my shopping list for the Back-to-School Pantry:

  • Lots of whole fruits – bananas, organic apples, organic peaches, pears, watermelon slices, organic grapes, organic berries or melon balls/cubes, orange slices, small boxes of organic raisins. Make a fun fruit kebab! Whole fruits provide fiber, potassium, antioxidants and tons of vitamins that they need for fuel during the day. (I suggest the organic option of those fruits listed on the Dirty Dozen). Remember to shop/eat seasonally – some of these fruits won’t be available this fall and winter.
  • Trail mix – make your own with raw, unsalted nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped pitted dates, small amount of chocolate chips & dried apricots. (NO M&M’s!!)
  • Wraps – I like whole grain options to wrap up turkey slices, PB& jelly, cream cheese and veggies, chicken salad, tuna salad
  • Whole grain English muffins (make mini-pizzas or slather w/ PB & jelly)
  • Organic string cheese
  • Newman’s Own High Protein Pretzels
  • Gluten-free? Buy large lettuce leafs and wrap over creamy chicken salad, tuna salad with lots of crunchy pickles, turkey slices (not deli meat)
  • Make extra for dinner. Leftovers make for a great school lunch. Pack hot items in stainless steel or a thermos to retain their heat. My kids’ faves are homemade chicken strips, leftover quinoa spaghetti and ravioli.
  • Unsweetened organic apple sauce
  • Plain organic yogurt – place in a blender with berries, kale, nut or sunflower butter, process and freeze in a flexible popsicle mold
  • Organic ham and cheese roll ups
  • Veggies – sliced cucumbers with hummus, organic celery with nut butter and raisins, carrots with hummus or homemade ranch dip, red & yellow pepper slices with hummus or dip, kale chips
  • Whole grain crackers, like Triscuits or Multi-Seed (Goldfish don’t make the cut)
  • Brown rice cakes, real popcorn (not microwaved in a chemical-filled bag)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted chickpeas with honey & cinnamon
  • Whole grain waffles (great for after school snacks topped with PB)
  • Reusable bottle of ice cold water – no sugary juice needed

It’s important that lunch contain a protein item, a whole grain carb option, fruit and lots of water. Kids don’t need a sugary treat or cookie for lunch. Between all the treats and birthday parties at school, they get enough sugar! They need a highly nutritious meal that can carry them through the rest of the day for optimal learning.

Some of my favorite containers:

Top photo by o5com via Flickr


About the author:
Cindy Santa Ana, CHC

Cindy Santa Ana is a Certified Health Coach dedicated to helping clients discover the healing properties of real food. Successfully healing her own allergies, high cholesterol and migraines with health-promoting foods and exercise was the catalyst that transformed Cindy’s life, health and profession, and she is passionate about sharing this information with others. www.UnlockBetterHealth.com


Kids Konserve Set of 2 Leak-Proof Stainless-Steel Food Containers

Lunchskins Sandwich Bag (in Mango Slices) and Two Snack Bags (in Berry Flower & Green Stripe)

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Your family is visiting a friend’s family for the holiday weekend. The friend generously offers to have you stay at their house. Things are going great until it’s lunchtime and out comes the florescent orange mac & cheese and fake lemonade. What do you do? Well, you have a few options: (1) tell yourself that it’s only a few meals and it won’t seriously impact the kids’ health (2) tell your host that you’d never feed your child that crap (3) come prepared in anticipation of this possible scenario.

Health is incredibly important and I’m generally in favor of doing whatever you have to do to eat healthy. However, friendship is also precious and waving your nose in the air at her meal suggestion is not advisable either. No one likes to be made to feel bad about the way they feed their family. Instead, come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to survive a junk food weekend.
Continue reading…

This Ingredient Spotlight is a regular feature from Be Food Smart. Check back daily to see the ingredient of the day.

FD&C Red No. 40

The next time you are tempted to pop a candy cane in your mouth, think again. Red No.40 is the most commonly used artificial red food coloring used in the US today and is banned in many other countries.

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Alternate Names: Allura Red AC, FD&C Red. No. 40 Calcium Lake, FD&C Red. No. 40 Aluminum Lake

E Number: E129

Uses: Coloring

Found In: soft drinks, candy, children’s medications, cereal, beverages, snacks, gelatin desserts, baked goods, ice cream

Description: An azo dye produced from petroleum to create shades of red. Also see Food, Drug & Cosmetic Colors (FD&C). One of the newest colors to be permanently listed by the FDA. It is extremely prevalent in foods and is one of the most commonly used of all the food dyes. Due to several studies on children and hyperactivity, the European Union requires food containing this colorant to have a label which states: “may have an adverse effect on activity in children” (see In the News section on full ingredient report). This can be problematic for parents since this food dye is found in thousands of products marketed specifically to children. Red No. 40 is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Sweden and Switzerland. The safety of this colorant is highly controversial.

Possible Health Effects: Known to cause hyperactivity in children. Some animal studies indicate that chemicals used in the preparation of this colorant are carcinogenic and may cause cancer. Developmental… Read more on Red No. 40

Related Ingredient: Tartrazine

Copyright August 8, 2010 Be Food Smart

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Be Food Smart was created to educate and inform the public about what’s really in the foods we eat every day. The site has a huge database of food additives, chemicals, food colorings, sweeteners, and preservatives and allows one to search for over 400 ingredient names. Our unique ingredient reports contain simple and easy to understand descriptions, alternate names, possible health effects, and allergy information. The site is completely free and is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, health care professionals, dietitians, and concerned consumers.