Many a time’s kids are fussy when it comes to eating their lunch boxes and they return with them home untouched. Snacks in a lunch box should comprise of healthy, nutritious components, however making them effective for your child is the number one aspect. In observance of National Nutrition Week, let us look at 5 super easy and healthy lunch box ideas to fill your little one's hunger as well as make them content.

Say YES to whole Fruits and NO to cut fruits-

At times, school’s stress parents to provide fruits and salads in tiffin boxes, taking nutritional value into consideration, but we should understand that nutrients get oxidised if fruits and veggies are cut and stored for a longer time. Apart from deterioration of nutritional content, these also attract infectious germs. Too much moisture and humidity in the air can cause food to spoil quickly. Prevent packing raw and semi-cooked food to keep infection at bay. It’s wise to provide whole fruits like Apple, Banana, Peach, Pear, Plums, Jamuns and Cherries, which are packed with various disease-fighting Antioxidants and thus help boost your child’s immunity. Soak whole fruits in salt water solution or white Vinegar water solution for 5mins and wash off with cold water thoroughly. This will remove dirt, germs pesticide residues if any. Avoid watermelons during this season, and avoid non-seasonal fruits, as these can get infected with worms.

 Say YES to stir-fried vegetables and NO to Bread Sandwiches-

Stir-frying is quick and easy during morning hours; it preserves the nutrients which get lost during routine cooking, as these maintain their colour, texture and flavour. Long cooking times and over-cooking food, destroys its nutritional value and thus preferring this short time method can be a boon to your child’s health. Cut vegetables in medium sized diamond shapes or squares, during monsoons, you can avoid using Tomatoes, so the preparation remains fresh. Use Sesame Oil or Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Sauté lightly and top with roasted Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseeds or Pumpkin Seeds. Use variety in spices like Ajwain, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove, among others and oil seeds too, as these are good sources of minerals like Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc; these also aid digestion. You can also stuff these stir-fried vegetables in parathas, top these on whole wheat pizza or toss with whole wheat pasta. These can be an alternative to bread sandwiches, which have raw Cucumber, raw Tomatoes, Paneer, and Mayonnaise which become moist and/or can breed microbes.

Say YES to sprout Pancakes or Cutlets and NO to Sprout Salad-

Monsoon is the time when parents are most worried about their children falling sick, as the season brings with it Cold, Fever and Gastroenteritis along with low immunity levels. Raw sprouts can lead to foodborne illnesses. Sprouts salad with raw onions and tomatoes can be replaced with other food preparations which will remain fresh. Steam the sprouts, grind them and incorporate with a variety of whole grains and millets like Ragi, Quinoa, Oats, Barley etc. or Brown Rice, to prepare pancakes which will last longer. These can also be combined with vegetables and shallow fried to prepare cutlets. Presence of Dietary Fiber in these preparations will help prevent constipation and minerals like Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc, and Magnesium will help immune system function at its best.

Say YES to air fried, baked or steamed dry Snacks and Say “NO” to Fried Snacks-

Humidity slows down the body's digestive ability, making the digestive system vulnerable to infections. Fried snacks like Potato Wada, Medu Wada, Bread Rolls, Pooris etc. can cause bloating and Gastrointestinal disturbances; therefore, avoid packing oily and fried food. Moreover, extremely high temperatures used in deep frying method causes the production of Trans Fats (bad fats), which can take a toll on your child's overall health. Instead, go for roasted, baked, air fried and steamed snacks like roasted Makhana and Corns, baked or roasted Potatoes, steamed Muthias, baked Khakras etc. Restrict use of Maida, Sooji and Besan, rather incorporate fibre-rich grains, pulses and vegetables. Use your creativity to develop new recipes which your child will relish. These should be nutritious, flavourful and should remain fresh, preventing the chances of food poisoning during this season.

Say YES to seasonal vegetables and NO to Leafy Vegetables-

In monsoons, there is increased risk of dirt and worms remaining on leafy vegetables, leading to stomach infections. These are grown in swamps and lack of sunlight during monsoon causes the growth of bacteria on them. Though extremely nutritious, it is best to avoid Spinach, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage and other leafy vegetables in this season. Pack healthy vegetables like lauki/doodhi (Bottle Gourd), Turai (Ridge Gourd), Tinda (Round Gourd), Parwal/Potol (Pointed Gourd), kantola/bhat karela (Teasel gourd), Corn, Beetroot, Muli (Radish), Kaddu/Bhopla (Pumpkin) cooked in various interesting ways. These vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, contain anti-inflammatory compounds, enhance immunity and maintain a healthy gut. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are less prone to bacterial infestation and can be packed in kid's tiffin boxes during monsoon.

(This article is contributed by Swati Bhushan, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Hiranandani Hospital Vashi) 

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 06, 2018 11:19 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website