Healthy Meals for Kids | Jackson Health System

Healthy Meals for Kids | Jackson Health System

As you prepare to send you child back to school, think about involving them in making sure that nutrition is a top priority. Research has shown that with proper nutrition, your child will have more energy to concentrate in class and have better test scores.

Nutritious, balanced meals can help prevent diseases and promote good health and proper growth in kids. Healthy meals must consist of at least one food item of the following six categories:

  • Lean meats
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low fat dairy
  • Healthy fats
  • Water

Children can help in preparing and planning weekly meals, which can be fun and less stressful. It has been proven that kids who are involved in the planning process are more likely to consume their packed lunch because they are excited that they helped prepare and cook the meals.

Let’s begin with the most important meal of the day – breakfast. Make sure to serve your child a balanced breakfast. Some examples of healthy options are:

  • Granola
  • Mixed berries
  • Greek yogurt with honey
  • Egg, ham, and cheese dishes
  • Breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese with added veggies of choice wrapped in a whole grain tortilla)
  • Oatmeal made with milk with added cinnamon and apples
  • Whole grain English muffin with peanut or almond butter toped with strawberries or banana.

As part of the National School Breakfast program and its new Lean and Green menu, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will provide a healthy breakfast to all students, free of charge – before school starts. Healthy options, such as fruit, smoothies and a guavalito (a low sugar, whole wheat version of a guava and cheese pastry), will be on the menu. School lunch will consist of complex carbohydrates, lean meats, low fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables. The new menu will ensure your child will be eating a nutritious meal at school.

For those students who prefer to eat a packed lunch from home, here are a few ideas of healthy and fun foods to pack.

  • Turkey wrap (deli turkey with a slice of cheese on a whole grain tortilla with mixed greens and tomatoes topped with low fat dressing), a cup of grapes, sweet potato chips
  • Macaroni and cheese in a properly insulated container to keep it warm, baby carrots with low-fat ranch dressing for dipping, and sliced apples with caramel dipping sauce
  • Baked chicken nuggets with a side salad, low-fat ranch dressing, and mixed berries with a Greek yogurt

Afterschool snacks are also important to keep children energized for homework, studying, and extracurricular activities, like sports, karate, or dance classes.

Snacks can have different combinations of food groups. Healthy snack ides include:

  • Hummus with vegetables
  • Cheese with fruit and whole-grain crackers
  • Deli meat and cheese rolled and served with whole grain crackers
  • Greek yogurt with mixed fruits and sliced almonds  In addition to making sure your children eat a healthy diet, encourage them to be physically active by playing outside, being involved in a sports league, or joining an afterschool club.