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Lunch Box Fun

The school year is upon us, today is AJ’s first day of school.  This year is a big one for us, the Babe is beginning to go to preschool and AJ is starting kindergarten.  Like every other parent who has gone through this and will go through it in the future, life is just happening too fast.  The kids are so excited to start at their respective schools, meet new friends and teachers, play and learn all day long.  But you know what I am most excited about, school lunch.  Yep, I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for all of the fun food to pack in the kids lunches, letting AJ pick out what he would like to eat and planning on what to fill their little bellies so that they will be at their very best for the school day.  Hopefully the task will still be as appealing a couple of months into the school year, because we are at the beginning of this game.   It is a fun challenge to figure out that fine balance between what they will definitely eat and  what is yummy and good for them.  The plan is to utilize some prepackaged “kid” food along with fresher foods and beverages, cover most if not all of the food groups and make sure they are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  So today when I let AJ choose what he wanted in his very first kindergarten lunch, he more than eagerly started rattling off a list of his favorites to but in his brand new shiny lunch box (there is NO question whose child he is).   He selected whole wheat crackers, natural peanut butter to dip them in, two Baby Bell mozzarella cheese rounds, two clementines, water and a juice box.  There is just something so appealing to kids about miniature foods that seem to be just their size.  We talked about washing our hands before we eat, his ability to open any of the packages on his own (and in retrospect, we should of discussed not sharing- in case of allergies).  All in all, I think he is more than prepared for a successful first big kid lunch in a real school cafeteria.

Let’s just hope he eats it.

What does your body good?

Whole, skim, almond, organic and everything in between. There are so many options for “milk” out there it can be incredibly daunting deciding which one is right for you and your family. Some people have allergies/intolerances to dairy, nuts or soy that limit their selection. For the majority of Americans, all the possiblilities are available so they must choose the best one for them. According to the USDA general guidelines, children ages 2-3 years old need about 2 cups of milk a day, children ages 4-8 need 2 1/2 cups, and anyone ages 9 and older need about 3 cups a day. It is also important to know that babies under 12 months of age should not be fed any milk other than breast for formula and that toddlers under the age of two should be drinking whole milk. (The USDA guidelines provide other options that equal one cup, such as 1 1/2 oz hard cheese, 1/3 cup shredded cheese or 1 cup yogurt). Now, one of the main purposes of consuming dairy is to have enough calcium in the diet, which brings us to having many more choices besides cow’s milk due to fortification and other products that naturally contain calcium.
The body needs calcium and vitamin D for bone health. However, more is not necessarily better, too much calcium can cause kidney stones or impair the body’s absorption of other important nutrients. Here are the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) for both calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium Vitamin D
0-6 months* 200 mg 400 IU
6-12 months* 260 mg 400 IU
1-3 years 700 mg 600 IU
4-8 years 1000 mg 600 IU
9-13 years 1300 mg 600 IU

*Adequate intake (AI) for babies under 1 year.  Over 12 months recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is given.

Some of other options for those who choose not to or cannot consume cow’s milk or other dairy are as follows:

Cheese (swiss) 1 oz has 270mg calcium           Cod liver oil, 1 T has 1,360IU vitamin D

Yoghurt (nonfat, plain), 8oz, 490mg                Salmon, 3oz, 497 IU

OJ, (Calcium fortified) 3/4 c, 260mg                Tuna (canned), 3oz,  154 IU

Ice cream, 1/2c, 90mg                                           Yogurt (varies by brand), 6oz, 80 IU

Let’s begin the great organic versus conventional debate. There are positives and negatives on both sides of the argument. Conventional cow’s milk is considerably less expensive and easily available to most people. Also in a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Organic Foods, Health and Environmental Advantages, they found NO nutritional difference between organic and non-organic milk. The negative aspects of conventional milk centers around the farming practices of the cows. Some of the largest concerns are related to hormone and medication delivery and feed composition.
Organic milk has a high set of standards that the farmers must abide by to be certified organic. These include cows that are fed exclusively organic feed, no administration of hormones/growth promoters or antibiotics in the absence of disease. It is often ultra-pasteurized, which gives it a longer refrigerated shelf-life. This could be a plus or a minus depending on your point of view as there are many that oppose pasteurization due to the vitamins, minerals and other properties that may be lost during the process. (Personally I believe, along with the federal government, that it is a necessity to ensure a safe product for the masses). But when you pay an upwards of $4 a half-gallon, you don’t want a single drop to go to bad. Which brings us to the major negative aspect of organic milk. It seems like if you can find it for around $3 a half-gallon you are getting a great deal and anything less is a steal. Now in case you were wondering, in our house we use a milk delivery service that brings us regionally sourced whole and 2% milk. The milk is not organic, but the cows are humanely raised, only given medication when ill and are not administered hormones. Extravagant? Yes, but it is a premium we are willing to budget in for the product and the convenience for this family of four that consumes much of three different types of dairy. We also have soy milk in the house since I am lactose intolerant.
Here are the nutrition facts for some commonly used “milk” products that can help you to decided what one is best for you and your family.

Whole 2% Skim Soy* Almond* Rice**
Calories 146 122 90 90 60 120
Fat 7.9g 4.8g 0g 3.5g 2.5g 2.5g
Saturated Fat 4.6g 3.1g 0g 0.5g 0g 0g
Protein 7.9g 8.1g 8g 6g 1g 1g
Calcium 275 mg 285.5mg 300mg 450mg 200mg 250mg
Vitamin D1 25% 25% 25% 30% 25% 25%
Cholesterol 24mg 20mg 5mg 0mg 0mg 0mg
Potassium 348.9mg 366mg 400mg 300mg 180mg ~

All values are based on 8oz or 1 cup.

*Silk brand, unsweetend

**Rice Dream Brand

1- Percentage based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

These are some helpful websites and documents that I used when researching this blog.

iom.edu 

usda.gov (Organic Foods Production Act of 1990)

Calorieking.com

ods.od.nih.gov