Theresa Albert is a nutritionist, best-selling cookbook author, and Food Network personality, and we're thrilled to have her with us for the next few weeks to provide her unique brand of cooking and nutritional knowledge.
I shared with some of my colleagues the fact that I am working with the Chicken Farmers of Canada to help Canadians get wholesome, simple meals on their tables. Luckily, my colleagues are some of the smartest, busiest women and mothers around. Even more luckily, they agreed to let me mine their lives and share their tips for doing just that. What you will find over the next 6 blogs are those interviews. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent; in fact, they are proudly displayed so we can all see that every family has its way of doing things and learn from each other!
This edition’s interviewee
Lianne Phillipson-Webb is the author of the recently released ‘Sprout Right – Nutrition from Tummy to Toddler’ book, mother of two daughters, registered nutritionist and founder of her company, Sprout Right.
You are a busy woman who knows how important it is to fuel the body throughout the day. How do you handle lunch?
Lunch can be as dreaded a meal as dinner if you aren’t prepared. I’ve started a trend in our house that we have leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day. Whether it’s a stir-fry with rice and vegetables, shepherd’s pie or chicken and salad, it gets packed off in the lunch bag without a fuss or more work on my part. My daughters are quite fine with cold food; potatoes, noodles, lasagna, pizza, rice and chicken. There’s a bit of resistance to cold fish, but I just hide it somewhere else (like in a fish cake) and it’s polished off in no time.
If last night’s dinner didn’t go over so well, they let me know that they aren’t keen on the same food for lunch and we talk about another option.
What are some healthy, great tasting ideas for kids’ lunches?
I’m not a huge fan of sandwiches – too much bread and not enough filling, typically. So I usually suggest a wrap or pita packed with nutritious fillings such as:
- Grated carrot with cucumber, sprouts and hummus
- Brie with sprouts and cranberry sauce
- Cheddar with sliced apples and sprouts
- Cooked chicken, avocado and tomato with basil pesto mayo
- Sliced chicken or turkey (leftovers) with chopped up arugula or spinach, apple butter and mustard
- Mashed hard boiled egg and watercress
- Mashed sardines or mackerel in tomato sauce (really some kids like fish!)
- Pressed cottage cheese and sweet corn
- Tuna and sweet corn and a little salad dressing of your choice
- Tuna/salmon mayonnaise and sliced or chopped cucumber
- Mashed banana and tahini or almond butter
- Bean burger or falafel, lettuce, and tomato with yogurt dip
Serve with a large plate of chopped vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber chunks, cauliflower florets, red pepper sticks and a handful of raisins in the middle.
I also like baked potatoes loaded with tuna, chili or organic baked beans. I have been known to default to a carrot muffin with cheese, cut up peppers and some fresh peas in their shell (which is so much fun for them to eat) when I’m stuck.
What would you say to other busy women who currently skip lunch?
I’ve been known to skip lunch here and there—sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day! But I don’t feel great when I do it. My energy crashes just as it’s time to collect the girls from after school care and make dinner. I’m crabby and not fun to be around. I then eat my way thorough the evening, trying to make up those calories as I’m still hungry after dinner, and that’s not good for my waist line.
Planning is key here. Even a healthy muffin (not a cake in disguise) and a couple of slices of cheese is better than nothing. Throw a couple of carrot sticks into that with some hummus and presto – a fast, nutritious and energy-balancing lunch.
Whether you are trying to lose or stabilize your weight, skipping meals is going to backfire on you. Eating regular meals keeps your metabolism turning over and burning calories all day long.
Eating a good lunch is going to help you stay on top of things for the rest of the day without the family running for cover once they see your grumpy self at pickup, or just help you feel good for yourself!
Do you have any tips on packing lunches so they stay fresh and safe?
There’s nothing worse than the contents of your lunch ending up smooshed into what else is in your food container. Find separated compartment trays or containers to store your mid day meal in. If you are making a salad, put crackers in another compartment or section of your lunch and the dressing in another leak-proof container. Trying to make up a salad and dress it in the morning makes for a very soggy lunch.
I like Greentainers lunch containers. They are stainless steel, easy to wash and some have layers to them to keep dips from the rest of your lunch contents.
If you are adding meat to your lunch, then an ice pack must go along with it in an insulated lunch box so that it stays cool in transit, or if lunch isn’t seeing the inside of a fridge before it’s eaten.
Hot lunches can be put in a good thermos, and then also into an insulated lunch bag (but without the ice pack obviously). Warm up the thermos with boiling water before putting your hot food into it.
I don’t recommend sending seafood with lunch unless there’s a fridge to keep it cool in until lunchtime.
Theresa’s Wrap Up
Wow! Lianne has covered the topic like the food-loving nutritionist that she is. Thanks, Lianne – these tips are invaluable.