Three tasty and healthy alternatives to the sandwich your kids will love

Like the rest of us, children love variety when it comes to eating! Particularly at lunchtime when they see all the other yummy treats their friends are devouring. The humble sandwich -- once a fool-proof option for parents -- doesn't always satisfy hungry and fussy playground warriors craving different tastes! You want your children to eat healthily and they want something new and delicious! So, here are three alternatives to the sandwich to satisfy your children's taste buds.

1. Charcuterie skewers 

skewers
With a small pack of skewers small enough to fit in a lunch box, begin stacking the with diced leg ham, cheddar cheese, and tomato, and repeat until the skewer is full.
The only thing worse than children talking in class is their stomachs doing the same! The key to fighting hungry bellies is protein, which will keep your children fuller than a source of carbohydrate or fat (1). So, be super generous with the ham!

The cheese will also provide a good source of protein (2), as well as an impeccable source of vitamin K2 (3), which plays a vital role in the metabolism of calcium to promote your child's bone, teeth, and heart health (4).

Protein consumption will also strengthen your child's immune system (5), very beneficial given how quick classroom bugs can spread.

Moreover, the tomatoes will provide a great source of fiber, that will pair well with the protein and cheese to keep tummies fuller for longer (6). Also, tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin C (7), another powerful way of strengthening young immune systems! (8). 

 

2. Peanut butter and honey waffles 

waffles

Wait, waffles? You'd be forgiven for thinking waffles are an unhealthy treat packed with enough sugar to frighten Willy Wonka!

But they're not.

Waffles are simply just flour, milk, and eggs. They are a really healthy alternative that your kids will love, and you can make them easily. Here's how:
      - 1 Cup Unbleached flour
      - 1 Cup Milk
      - 1 Tsp baking powder
      - 1 Egg
      - Pinch of salt
***(As you can see, no sugar has been added!)
    Mix all of this together in a bowl till combined, and toast in a waffle iron. Apply the peanut butter to the waffle as if you're buttering bread, and do the same with your honey.

Peanut butter is a vastly underrated food that is a great source of protein (9) that also contains all the 20 amino acids (9). Peanut butter also boasts fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals; as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (9).

This makes peanut butter a great source of protein and healthy fats, which is why we recommended it for active school children. Peanut butter is also utilised around the world in third-world nations to provide healthy calories to malnourished infants and children, which ends up saving their lives!

The waffles themselves provide a great source of carbohydrates for energy and brain function (10), and honey is a tremendous source of antioxidants, with the ability to provide anti-inflammatory (11), antibacterial (12), antidiabetic (13), respiratory, gastrointestinal (14), cardiovascular, and nervous system (15), protective effects.

3. Pasta salad 

pasta salad

Like the waffles, pasta isn't unhealthy or high calorie if prepared correctly. Here's what to do:

- Use a Penne pasta, or a pasta they can use their hands if needed
- Add Protein (boiled egg, diced chicken or ham)
- Add Veg (corn, carrots and peas. Use veg your child enjoys)
- Use Italian salad dressing for topping

The pasta is a great source of playground and brain energy via its low GI carbohydrates (16) and is a flavoursome alternative to bland wraps or bread.

Cover your protein bases with the chicken (or eggs as outlined above) which will deliver a healthy dose of zinc; vital for healing any of your child's wounds (17) and supporting their metabolism (18).

The added green peas are a great source of iron (19) and fiber, which will -- along with chicken -- also put a stop to those rumbling bellies! (6). The corn and carrots are another good source of fiber (20), though the corn is exponentially better. 

The Italian salad dressing is low in calories (21), yet adds the perfect amount of flavour to ensure no taste buds are left scratching their heads!

So there are three strong alternatives to the sandwich that taste great, are healthy, and that your children will be happy with.

All the best for the new school year!

How to pack a healthy lunch

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References

(1) Soenen S, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Proteins and satiety: implications for weight management. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Nov;11(6):747-51. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328311a8c4. PMID: 18827579.

(2) el-Sayed MM, Abdel Hamid FF, Ahmed YM, Ali SH, Mansour OY, Abdallah NM. Biochemical studies on proteins from cheese whey and blood plasma by-products. Nahrung. 1998 Feb;42(1):12-5. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1521-3803(199802)42:01<12::aid-food12>3.3.co;2-2. PMID: 9584275.

(3) Dekker LH, Vinke PC, Riphagen IJ, et al. Cheese and Healthy Diet: Associations With Incident Cardio-Metabolic Diseases and All-Cause Mortality in the General Population. Front Nutr. 2019;6:185. Published 2019 Dec 17. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00185

(4) Maresz K. Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015;14(1):34-39.

(5) Daly JM, Reynolds J, Sigal RK, Shou J, Liberman MD. Effect of dietary protein and amino acids on immune function. Crit Care Med. 1990 Feb;18(2 Suppl):S86-93. PMID: 2105184. 

(6) Warrilow A, Mellor D, McKune A, Pumpa K. Dietary fat, fibre, satiation, and satiety-a systematic review of acute studies. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019 Mar;73(3):333-344. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0295-7. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30166637.

(7) Riso P, Visioli F, Erba D, Testolin G, Porrini M. Lycopene and vitamin C concentrations increase in plasma and lymphocytes after tomato intake. Effects on cellular antioxidant protection. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;58(10):1350-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601974. PMID: 15054415.

(8) Huijskens MJ, Walczak M, Koller N, Briedé JJ, Senden-Gijsbers BL, Schnijderberg MC, Bos GM, Germeraad WT. Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells. J Leukoc Biol. 2014 Dec;96(6):1165-75. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1TA0214-121RR. Epub 2014 Aug 25. PMID: 25157026.

(9) Arya SS, Salve AR, Chauhan S. Peanuts as functional food: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016;53(1):31-41. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-2007-9

(10) Mergenthaler P, Lindauer U, Dienel GA, Meisel A. Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends Neurosci. 2013;36(10):587-597. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2013.07.001

(11) Khalil I, Moniruzzaman M, Boukraâ L, Benhanifia M, Islam A, Islam N, et al. Physicochemical and antioxidant properties of Algerian honey. Molecules. 2012;17:11199–215.

(12) Attia WY, Gabry MS, El-Shaikh KA, Othman GA. The anti-tumor effect of bee honey in Ehrlich ascite tumor model of mice is coincided with stimulation of the immune cells. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2008;15:169–83.

(13) Estevinho L, Pereira AP, Moreira L, Dias LG, Pereira E. Antioxidant and antimicrobial effects of phenolic compounds extracts of Northeast Portugal honey. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008;46:3774–9.

(14) Abdulrhman M, El-Hefnawy M, Ali R, El-Goud AA. Honey and type 1 diabetes mellitus. In: Liu CP, editor. Type Diabetes – Complications, Pathogenesis, and Alternative Treatments. Croatia: In Tech; 2008.

(15) Ghosh S, Playford RJ. Bioactive natural compounds for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Clin Sci (Lond) 2003;104:547–56.

(16) Vitale M, Masulli M, Rivellese AA, et al. Pasta Consumption and Connected Dietary Habits: Associations with Glucose Control, Adiposity Measures, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in People with Type 2 Diabetes-TOSCA.IT Study. Nutrients. 2019;12(1):101. Published 2019 Dec 30. doi:10.3390/nu12010101

(17) Kogan S, Sood A, Garnick MS. Zinc and Wound Healing: A Review of Zinc Physiology and Clinical Applications. Wounds. 2017 Apr;29(4):102-106. PMID: 28448263.

(18) Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013;18(2):144-157.

(19) Moore KL, Rodríguez-Ramiro I, Jones ER, et al. The stage of seed development influences iron bioavailability in pea (Pisum sativum L.). Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):6865. Published 2018 May 2. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25130-3

(20) Dhingra D, Michael M, Rajput H, Patil RT. Dietary fibre in foods: a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2012;49(3):255-266. doi:10.1007/s13197-011-0365-5

(21) https://www.calorieking.com/us/en/foods/f/calories-in-salad-dressings-italian-salad-dressing/fHZqQ5frShqzvUWmuZRWOg