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Back to School Nutrition: Sara Lee Summit

Last month I had the opportunity to spend time with a small group of bloggers for the Sara Lee Summit at the Kitchens of Sara Lee outside of Chicago. The event kicked off my time in the windy city for the BlogHer Conference and was a unique opportunity to learn about everything from how to sneak healthy items into your child’s lunch to how to choose a bread with higher whole grain content.

We wore paper coats and hairnets…
(Amy Clark from Mom Advice looking adorable as always!)
We taste-tested some fabulous food…

And we brainstormed some back-to-school lunch tips…

While the information and recipes that the Sara Lee chefs and dietitians shared were extremely valuable, in my opinion the time sharing our strategies and concerned in the presence of other moms…with experts there to help!…was absolutely priceless.

Here are some of my favorite tips from the day:

  • Add to What They Like: If your child loves cheese sandwiches, there is no reason to fight with her to eat a salad. Instead, ease into the veggies by adding a thin slice of cucumber to her sandwich and switching your white bread to a soft wheat.
  • Give Them Choices: If you create a menu of possible lunch choices and allow your child to choose one for each day of the week, he’ll feel engaged in the process and will be more likely to eat what you send.
  • Use Fun Containers: Sometimes it is all about presentation. Rather than sending their lunch in re-closeable bags, which they will toss at the end of lunch, take them to the store to pick out some fun, re-usable containers, and then let them decorate those containers with stickers or indelible markers.
  • Prepare the Night – or Week! – Before: Simply by preparing the night before or making and freezing a week’s worth of PBJ, you’ve removed a bit of the early morning chaos from your schedule and made it more likely that you will send the quick and often unhealthy choices along with your child for lunch.
  • Read a Good Book: A favorite book of my daughter’s is A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. In it, a little girl fears what will happen if she doesn’t conform, and in the end is saved by admitting she loves Lima beans. While the overall message is for children to fight the power of peer pressure, the message that it is okay to eat healthy foods that you love is perfect for back-to-school lunch preparation.

During the Summit, we competed in a Back to School Lunch Challenge, and I am happy to report that I was on the winning team! My favorite lunch item from our winning brown bag was the trail mix, and I would like to share the recipe with all of you:

  • ΒΌ c. pretzel sticks
  • 1 tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.

What is your favorite school lunch tip?

*During my time at the Sara Lee Summit I received delicious meals as well as a Sara Lee Tote with several goodies. Participants are not paid representatives of Sara Lee.

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