Teenagers have rapidly developing bodies, and they require nutrient levels higher than any other time in life, according to Oregon dietitian and author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness,” Elizabeth Somer. She believes that parents should play a key role in encouraging their adolescent children to resist fast food temptations and opt for healthy lunches-even when at school.
Since school lunches are high in the wrong ingredients-fat, salt, sugar, refined grains and calories-Somer suggests teenagers pack brown-bag lunches most days of the week. She shared six healthy lunch options with me that include foods from all four food groups. They are not only good choices for a lean physique, but will also boost memory, mind and mood and protect against a host of ills.
Peanut Butter Candy Sandwich
Mix equal parts wheat germ and peanut butter-sweetened with honey-and spread over whole wheat bread. Somer says nutrients most likely to be low in a child’s diet are iron, calcium and zinc, and one-fourth cup of wheat germ supplies hefty amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E and trace minerals, such as iron and zinc. Add a thermos filled with fat-free omega-3 DHA fortified milk, such as Horizon Organic, and a piece of fruit.
Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad
Pack a cold pasta salad and a plastic fork, and your pasta lover will love you too! Make the salad with lean meat or low-fat cheese (so it has some protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a light vinaigrette made with olive oil or canola oil, such as Puritan Canola Oil with omega-3 DHA. Add a carton of orange juice and a healthy energy bar, such as a KIND all-fruit and nut bar, for dessert.
Whole Wheat Pita Sandwich
Fill a whole wheat pita with turkey, chicken breast, black beans, grated vegetables and brown rice. Pack with a tub of yogurt and a bottle of OJ.
Wheat Tortilla Roll-ups
Rolled up whole wheat tortillas like those from Mission Life Balance contain omega-3 fat DHA and the calcium equivalent of a glass of milk. Fill the tortillas with a thin layer of fat-free cream cheese and chicken or fish-maybe smoked salmon-or fill with rice, beans and cheese. Serve with grapes, whole wheat fig bars and a carton of chocolate milk, such as Horizon Organic Low-Fat Chocolate Milk Plus DHA Omega-3.
Make a yogurt parfait with plain yogurt and cut-up fresh fruit. Sprinkle with raisins or granola or trail mix as a topping. Pack in an insulated food jar thermos. Serve with graham crackers and peanut butter, a thermos of Silk Soymilk with DHA Omega-3 and Calcium, and an oatmeal cookie.
A new line of heart-healthy pasta sauces-Franceso Rinaldi’s ToBe Healthy Pasta Sauces-are lower in sugar and sodium and are free of cholesterol. Combine sauce with leftover spaghetti and pack into a wide-mouth thermos. Throw in a carton of OJ, raw pea pods dunked in low-fat Ranch dressing, and an apple.
Click here to read more education articles by this author.
Source: Interview: Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.; Oregon