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Raising Vegetarian Kids
Healthy School Lunch !

Making a healthy lunch for your child can be easy, cheap, delicious -- and a great investment.

By Marie Oser

Marie Oser

Commercial fast food is rearing its unhealthy head in lunchrooms across America, and excess fat, calories and cholesterol are a serious concern.

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, almost 5 million children ages 6 to 17 are seriously overweight, a number that has more than doubled in the last 30 years. Increasing numbers of children, often as young as 10, are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes is most often referred to as "adult-onset diabetes" and frequently found in obese people.

It's important to encourage good eating habits as early as possible because this will have a positive effect on future health, weight and medical expense.

Health-conscious parents planning their children's school lunches are looking for healthy options that their kids will want to eat.

Preparing a wholesome lunch for the family each day doesn't require a great deal of time. With a little planning you can have a tasty lunch that is nutritious and economical.

Children like to fit in and it is so easy these days to make a lunch that doesn't scream sprouts and granola. There are healthful sandwich-stuffers that mimic the taste, texture and appearance of traditional deli meats. Look for plant-based alternatives such as Light Life Roast Turkey, Country Ham, Foney Baloney, Three Peppercorn Pastrami and Tofurky Hickory Smoked and Original Slices and Jerky. Yves brand makes Veggie Canadian Bacon, Salami and Pepperoni.

A healthy lunch can come together as quickly as its unhealthy counterpart, and it's a real time-saver to make sandwiches the night before.

Spread frozen slices of multigrain bread lightly with eggless mayonnaise or Dijon mustard, add slices of hickory or savory baked tofu, and lettuce and tomato. Include a piece of fruit, wholesome cookies and soymilk. Wrap and set aside in the refrigerator overnight.

Many American parents are buying prepackaged boxed lunches for their kids that typically contain deli slices, processed cheese and a candy bar, despite concerns regarding their nutritional value. The popularity of these prepackaged lunchboxes among schoolchildren has parents heading to the stores, fueling a $600-million industry in America alone. Traditional lunchboxes have come under fire from the American College of Cardiologists because of their high salt content. Typically these lunchboxes include meat, cheese, crackers and a dessert and can contain nearly three-fourths of the recommended daily salt allowance.

The Enlightened Healthy Lunch featured here is made with healthful alternatives that are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores. And those prepackaged lunchboxes? You will find a wholesome alternative you can feel good about and that your children will enjoy. Yves Veggie Cuisine has introduced two styles of their "Good Lunch." You can offer a wholesome box lunch that looks and tastes like its traditional counterpart but has less than 300 calories and only 7 grams of fat. Widely available and priced competitively, healthy school lunch options have arrived and they are as close as your supermarket or local health food store.

Servings: 1

2 slices multigrain bread
1 Tbs. eggless mayonnaise
1 1/2 ounces baked tofu, sliced on an angle
3 slices fresh tomato
1 leaf romaine lettuce
1 medium orange
2 Health Valley cookies
6 ounces enriched soymilk

Enlightened Healthy Lunch nutrition analysis per serving: protein 17g, carbohydrates 63g, fiber 9g, fat 6g, sat fat 0g, cholesterol 0mg, calcium 235 mg, sodium 484 mg.
Calories: 369
Calories from protein: 18%
Calories from carbohydrates: 68%
Calories from fat: 14%

Traditional lunch nutrition analysis per serving: protein 22g, carbohydrates 71g, fiber 5g,
fat 31g, sat fat 11g, cholesterol 77mg, calcium 323 mg, sodium 1108mg.
Calories: 640
Calories from protein: 13%
Calories from carbohydrates: 44%
Calories from fat: 43%

If you are like most people, you might think that healthy eating means that all of your family favorites are suddenly off-limits. Perhaps you feel that it must be difficult to make meals that are good tasting AND good for you. Not so, according to Marie Oser, author and newspaper columnist. Making food choices that lead to optimal health and well being has never been easier, if you follow her wholesome approach.

In addition to writing for Vegetarian Times Magazine, Marie authors The Enlightened Kitchen, a weekly column showing ways to enlighten the menu and incorporate health-supporting, and nutritious plant foods into your diet.