Adding balance

28 Aug 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

Healthy lunches and snacks are a must for all schoolchildren, but getting them to eat up can often be easier said than done. Y has compiled some great tips to help you get them on track

When you give children nutritious and sensible choices, you’re ensuring a productive day in the classroom and beyond. It’s simple to make lunch and snack time fun by tossing in new, wholesome options that add variety and appeal to your little learner.

But one Muscat mum, Anna Gardiner, confesses that it is a challenge to tempt her child with healthy, tasty snacks and school lunches.

“I am sure many mums experience the same daily battle as me,” she says. “My daughter is a creature of habit and will have the same thing for school lunch day in and day out, until one day she’ll come home with an untouched lunch box because she suddenly doesn’t like it any more.

“It is frustrating as you worry about what they eating at school, especially if her classmates are bringing in junk food and they are sharing, which they inevitably do.”

The most important nutrients parents seek when selecting the foods they feed their children are protein, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D and iron.

While stocking up on foods rich in these nourishing elements is certainly helpful, there’s no way to ensure your child will eat them. But recent studies have found that children are actually more likely than their parents to be the first of their friends to try new foods or nutrition products.

Start nutritious eating habits at a young age by using flavourful food combinations that create balance at snack and meal times. For instance, pair a Mini Babybel cheese with their favourite fruit or vegetable – a recent study found that replacing snack foods that aren’t rich in nutrients, such as chips, with a combination of cheese and vegetables can help reduce calories by 72 per cent and keep youngsters feeling fuller for longer.

To help parents make better choices while grocery shopping, Catherine McCord, author of Weelicious Lunches and, and an advocate of the Mini Babybel brand, offers these tasty ideas to make lunches and snacks more wholesome for the whole family:

Protein Picks:  To keep them feeling satisfied and fuller for longer, include a few protein-packed choices in their lunch bag. Some options include roasted chicken, legumes – such as chickpeas – hard-boiled eggs, or a Mini Babybel cheese.

Sweet Additions:  Make their midday meal and snack time more complete with the addition of one or two servings of fruit. Some delicious options include apples, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, kiwis or pears. And if they don’t appeal, you can rely on the old standby of a banana.

Fresh Finds:  Many vegetables offer fibre and other nutrients not found in other snacks. Team a bag of chopped veggies, such as baby carrots, broccoli florets, celery, red bell peppers or sugar snap peas with a small serving of child-friendly hummus for a healthy snack that is easy to prepare for busy parents.

With a balanced approach to eating, you’ll be able to send the whole family off to school or work prepared for whatever their busy day brings. And you never know – they may discover some new favourite foods!

Recipe: Five-minute carrot and avocado dip



  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large carrot (or 2 small ones)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Choice of veggies for dipping (such as carrot sticks, celery and cucumber)


With a sharp knife, slice all the way around the avocado lengthwise, twist and open into two halves. Use a spoon to remove the pit and flesh. Grate the carrots and roughly chop the garlic and parsley. Mix the avocado, grated carrots, garlic, parsley and lemon juice and blend. Taste and add some sea salt if you think it necessary to enhance the taste. Serve with a choice of thinly sliced veggie sticks. 


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