School’s Out: Balancing Kids’ Lunchtime with MyPlate

NawalToday’s blog post is written by Nawal Al-Nouri, ENC’s Dietetic Intern. Nawal studies Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and will be eligible to sit for the RD exam in December of 2013. She maintains a balanced lifestyle by staying active and exposing herself to new ideas, and enjoys cooking and experimenting with different food genres and flavors.Summer is known for a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, but frozen sugary treats, drinks and other goodies can often sneak in to our eating habits. Learning to balance meals will help curb these cravings, while keeping these classic summer foods as occasional treats.

Summer is one of the simplest times to be active as a family. Biking or skating, swimming or surfing, amusement parks or museums—summer recess and a warmer climate are meant to help kids both increase outdoor activities and decrease screen time. Providing children a MyPlate friendly lunch can assure they are receiving the energy they need to run around throughout the day. The following ideas can be used with your clients, as well as with your own families too. Here at ENC, we advocate bundling convenience and health into one. Below are some ideas on how to develop MyPlate friendly lunches:

Go PRO(tein)-Choose  protein options such as lean meat and poultry, fish, beans, or eggs.  Scrambled Mini Pizzas and Hard-Boiled Egg Dippers egg-dipper-150x150 are fun, nutritious and easy –requiring 20 minutes or less of prep & cook time.

Make Most of Mother Nature- Watermelon, peaches, cherries, and other fruits are at peak mouth-watering season during the summer. Embrace these summer fruits to make meals colorful and full of vitamins and minerals.

Sneak in Some Green- For a fun treat, make a refreshing kid-sized smoothie chock full of seasonal fruit and spinach or kale.  Veggies and dip are a great choice too.

 Add Whole Grain- Whole grains add vitamins and texture for a balanced snack. Whole wheat crackers with cheese or a hardboiled egg on half a toasted whole wheat english muffin are two easy choices.

Do up the Dairy– It is recommended that children and adolescents consume two to three cups of dairy per day. Consider freezing low-fat yogurt with fruit for a tasty and nutritious treat or add it to the above kid-sized smoothie.


The key to success is to think and plan ahead, filling your fridge and pantry with smart choices. Spend some time preparing hardboiled eggs, salads, vegetables, and fruits. Turn meal preparation into a family activity—as is age appropriate, teach them how to cut and slice fruits and vegetables, peel hardboiled eggs, and prepare sandwiches. Finally, consider taking them on a picnic to reward them for their (and your) hard work.

A final tip: keep everyone well-hydrated by drinking water through the fun and active summer heat!